THE reminder of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi to the Filipino community of taking of photos and videos in restricted areas, including consular missions and military facilities in the UAE, and that taking photos or videos of people and posting these online without their permission is punishable by law, which may lead to fines and arrest by local authorities, is timely given the huge time allotted by individuals to online media nowadays.
The right to privacy of communication is a constitutionally guaranteed right under Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that:
Section 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.
Text messages are also considered private communications. Any unauthorized intrusion into such exchanges is illegal and betrays the Constitution.
The act of unauthorized prying into an exchange of private text messages and the subsequent act of making it public, and without authority, is a flagrant violation of Republic Act no. 4200 or the Anti-Wire Tapping Act.
The Philippine law prohibiting and penalizing wire tapping and violating the privacy of communications is very clear:
Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described:
It shall also be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next preceding sentence, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person or persons; or to communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person: Provided, That the use of such record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses mentioned in Sec. 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition.
Sec. 2. Any person who willfully or knowingly does or who shall aid, permit, or cause to be done any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the preceding Sec. or who violates the provisions of the following Sec. or of any order issued thereunder, or aids, permits, or causes such violation shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months or more than six years and with the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification from public office if the offender be a public official at the time of the commission of the offense, and, if the offender is an alien he shall be subject to deportation proceedings.
Just like in the UAE, persons responsible for violating the right to privacy of communications in the Philippines may land in jail, too.
Quoting Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II: “No secrets. No privacy. No sanctity. No respect. No peace of mind.”