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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pandora's box re-opened

I was supposed to blog about the President's apology for her "lapse of judgment" talking with a Comelec official during the elections to "protect her votes". However, I was busy working and had not enough time to gather materials and write a fairly accurate opinion, at least from my layman's point of view, anyway. So, I had to pass on this "bloggable" phenomenon in Philippine politics. Last night, as I was watching the news, I heard that legal experts (that included Fr. Bernas, who was not present but submitted his opinion anyway) have presented their opinion on the matter of whether Congress should hear the tapes containing the conversations Gloria had with said Commissioner. Reading Sassy's entry on the matter gives an excellent opinion on the matter, The media proclaimed 'legal experts' say that the people's right to public information is paramount and, hence, there is no legal impediment to the playing of the tapes in the Congressional inquiry.

In the news last night, a Dean from a certain law school read his opinion in the hearing. (Neither the name nor the school stuck as I was doing something else. Multi tasking, hehe) If I remember correctly, (I couldn't find any copy hence couldn't verify it) his main contentions were that the tapes were no longer private since copies are all over the place, even citing ringtones in particular, and that since Gloria admitted it to be in her own voice, the right to privacy no longer holds. Maybe my interpretation/recollection of what he said was erroneous so I will welcome comments correcting my understanding.

In view of the fact that that was what I heard, and assuming that my interpretation is correct, then I am troubled by this turn of events. I have always believed that the Bill of Rights is sacred. Marvin Aceron another lawyer, puts it succinctly in his entry "Sun Tzu Advice No. 10: Time to use the "P" word" when he said The right to privacy has primacy

What is contained in Sec 3 of the Bill of Rights? It states that:
SEC. 3.
(1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

If the President of the Philippines could not be protected by this right, what can I, an ordinary individual, have to hold on to?

Obviously, the contentions of these legal experts (I am assuming that they were expressing the same opinion as the news did not say someone had a dissenting opinion) are founded on the seemingly majority perception that Gloria cheated in the last elections and that this can be proven by the tapes. Hence, it is of their opinion that it was imperative for Congress to hear them in making the public's right to information rule over the Bill of Rights in spite of the fact that the taped conversations might not even fall within the purview of what information the public has a right to know. I have forgotten which among the rules of statutory construction should apply but when there are enumerations in the law, other similar items not written may be included. Hmm, probably, noscitur a sociis or "the context rule" (Sassy help!) But even then, the one that can only be included are those within the same context as those enumerated.

Now, going back to the arguments. "The tapes are no longer private because of the proliferation of copies of the same everywhere." Now, that is dangerous. It implies that If I wanted to violate the privacy of, say a philandering husband, all I have to do is put a bug on his phone and innocently distribute hundreds of copies to every Juan and Juana I meet together with an original copy which I put on his wife's door. This will of course be admissible evidence as it is now public property. Oh, maybe that is not a good example as I am not sure if the law works that way. Maybe if I change the word husband to a public official, say a mayor. Maybe that would work within my context. Is this how we shall interpret it? We may be opening another Pandora's box, don't you think?

Gloria may have cheated in the elections one way or another. Thanks to my boss who gave me a copy of Dr. Hans Koechler's report which can also be found here I am reminded that there had been allegations of cheating in Mindanao even right after the elections. Of course, it is now common knowledge that most of these so called leaders cheat one way or another, but I say, let's fight it using legal ways. I would like to believe that we are a country governed by laws. Unfortunately, we are being lured to the easier way of emotionalism, drama and fanfare. What a circus Philippine politics has become.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Like you, I believe everyone should be very conscious about our rights. As such, your apprehension is well taken (sounds like the Chair of a congressional hearing). Lest we forget, however, from a rights-based perspective there are two entities that constantly interact--the duty holder (normally those who are in the State and exercise the powers of reasonable command and control) and the claim holders. As a duty-holder, the civil liberties that one innately possesses applies only to a person's private affairs and must not be used to rid him/her of his/her accountability as a duty holder. In this regard, PGMA's right to privacy (although it is really disturbing that a president has been wiretapped) cannot take primacy when she engages in affairs of the State.


9:38 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Ronnie Well, the distinction between the duty holder and the claim holders is not clear yet. I have always believed the Constitution holds true to all. Maybe the ensuing events would set a precedent.

10:33 AM  
Blogger botak-leceh said...

This latest episode on the tapes that has led to GMA's apology and her admission of her lapse in judgement has given life to so many opinions and arguments but no concrete constructive development in the direction of resolution of the problem.

This drama has no winners. It is tragic. Will a change in leadership change the fortunes of the massa for the better? I have doubts. Almost all the players have selfish interests and while they talk about the country, the country's interests come after theirs. The others offer no concrete proposals to better the lives of the Filipinos. They waffle a lot.

GMA's team is shaken by the latest developments. The team is showing signs of giving in. It's a matter of time now. But there is no viable alternative leader in sight.

The country has a right to better leaders.

12:17 AM  
Blogger ting-aling said...

What a political circus indeed ano, Tito Rolly?

We can only hope for the better from our end.

3:18 PM  
Blogger pepseeh said...

A tip to the president and his allies: File charges against the wiretapper. From what we know, the wiretapping wasn't legal, which means, both sides are at fault - one accused of cheating, and one invading privacy illegally.

4:08 PM  
Blogger samantha said...

I seriously doubt that a change in leadership will do us any good. As much as I'd hate to sound like a GMA supporter, I think that maybe we should heed buisnessmen's call to give her another shot. If only for the economy's sake. I mean think about it, who the hell would replace her? I think the suggested "6-month probation" is only fair. Well the British people forgave Tony Blair and even re-elected him. They're not doing to bad. But then again what do I know right? Maybe I thought wrong.
Well whatever the "responsible grownups" decide, I hope they do take the time to ruminate on the matter. After all its our future they're playing with here.

2:44 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

botak Yes, I see your point. It will be what had been happening all the time. just changing the players, not the game.

Tingaling Yes, in spite of how we want to believe we can do something by not being passive, we are still stuck with the same people.

pepseeh interesting. Who's the wiretapper?

Samantha Seems like we've been messing with your future a long time ago you should've learned to live with it.

6:07 PM  
Blogger pepseeh said...

sir yun na na ang problema eh. di natin alam; someone just came up with the tapes, right?

10:04 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

sympre wala akong macocomment sayo..ndi ko naman naintindihan e..hehe..computer time ngayon..tapos nako kaya tinitignan nalang namin blog mo..tuwang tuwa nga si rocky e..kaya talaga ako nagcomment kasi gusto ko sabihin na..36/40 ako sa geom!yahoo!royal celebration na to!hehe..nagaaral nako kaya dapat sundin mo lahat ng sasabihin ko..hehe..cge na..bye!tnx kasi tinuruan mko sa geom..

11:37 AM  
Anonymous rocky said...

hi! :) ang cute niyo naman ng family mo! haha.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Wowie said...

Sir Rolly,

Your post is truly a work of art. your post was really well written. And I'd have to say I agree with what you said.

7:26 PM  
Blogger NvyBlu789 said...

Tito Rolly, si Liz ito...from the network. Anyway, I'm just browsing thru your blog about the present state of the Phils. It's disenheartening. Kami dito, nanunood ng hearings, you know naman ang media and how they portray the key players. I am losing my apetite to hear what all the politicians have to say. Even a simple Presidential election becomes a big circus!

I don't know what kind of government is ideal for the Philippines? Democracy, Socialist Republic, or 'Benevolent' Dictatorship? I don't know what it will take to straighten out the homeland. Sayang ang bansa natin kung maiiwan lang sa gulo.

4:35 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Pepseeh :-)

Kim KAya dapat mag-aral kang maige para maintindihan mo sinasabi ni Papa. hehe, KAtulad nyan, hindi birong subject ang Geometry pero nakayanan mo. You know I've always been proud of you. Keep up the good work, sweetheart.

rocky Thanks.

Wowie Thanks a lot, too. Come back again, ha.

NvyBlu789 Hi. Welcome to my blog. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope you'll like it here. I'll pay you a visit, too.

There are some who think we should be in a semi-dictatorship having Lee Kwan Yew as a model. I don't know what that truly means but there are times when I feel the same way. Oh well...

5:16 PM  

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