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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Capalla v. Commissions on Elections, G.R. No. 201112, 13 June 2012.

[FACTS: on issue of digital signatures; based on transcription in the case]

During the oral arguments of the case in the Supreme Court, it was challenged that PCOS machines do not comply with the requirement of the law on automated elections that electronic transmissions must be digitally signed. Contrary to the belief of Justice Carpio, Atty. Lazatin explained that the 2010 automated elections already used digital signatures. According to Atty. Lazatin, such digital signatures were contained in iButtons (gadget). Justice Carpio asked how were it possible if Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) did not input their private keys because allegedly there was no time and it would require five (5) months. Atty. Lazatin clarified that it was not a customized or personal digital signature but assigned by the COMELEC.

ISSUE

Whether or not the PCOS machines are capable of producing digitally signed-transmissions as required by law.

HELD

YES.

The Rules of Court, defines digital signature as the first one it is electronic signature consisting of a transformation of an electronic document or an electronic data message using an asymmetric or public cryptosystem such that a person having the initial untransformed electronic document and the signers public key can accurately determine: (i) whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signers public key; and (ii) whether the initial electronic document has been altered after the transformation was made.

Digital signature requires private key and public key generated by an algorithm. There is another algorithm (second) which, if you match if you put together the private key and the message, will generate the signature.  The third algorithm, that if you put together the public key and the signature it will accept or reject the message.

In the 2010 elections for example, the private key is embedded in the iButtons which are used to start the PCOS machines. For authentication, all of the three BEIs are required. Each of them has an 8-digit PIN given to them in a sealed envelope. The COMELEC on the other hand controls the public key. Whoever in possession of the iButton and in possession of the set of PINs can send a transmission. Whoever wants to send transmission, he will have to get the private key from the BEI Chairman and the PIN numbers from the other members. If they can send an electronic transmission that’s digitally signed and when received by the COMELEC and matched with the public key will result with an official election return. Hence the statutory requirement of digital signature is complied accordingly.

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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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Nogales v. People, G.R. No. 191080, 21 November 2011.

FACTS

Several electronic devices including desktop computer CPUs and softwares were seized by virtue of a search warrant in violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended in relation to R.A. No. 8972.The RTC issued an order to keep the seized items in the NBI evidence room with the undertaking to make said confiscated items available whenever the court would require them. Aggrieved by the issuance of the said order, the named persons in the search warrant filed a Motion to Quash Search Warrant and Return Seized Properties, but were denied.

The Court of Appeals, in resolving the petition for certiorari filed with it against the RTC judge, ordered the release of the seized CPUs and softwares with the condition that the hard disk be removed from the CPUs and be destroyed, and if the softwares are determined to be unlicensed or pirated copies, they shall be destroyed in the manner allowed by law.

Petitioners argue that there is no evidence showing that they were the source of pornographic printouts presented by the NBI to the RTC or to the City Prosecutor of Manila. Since the hard disks in their computers are not illegal per se unlike shabu, opium, counterfeit money, or pornographic magazines, said merchandise are lawful as they are being used in the ordinary course of business, the destruction of which would violate not only procedural, but substantive due process.

ISSUE

Whether or not the removal and destruction of the hard disks containing the pornographic and obscene materials violates the property rights of its owner, considering the criminal case for violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code was dismissed.

RULING

NO.

The argument of petitioners is totally misplaced considering the undisputed fact that the seized computer units contained obscene materials or pornographic files. Had it been otherwise, then, petitioners argument would have been meritorious as there could be no basis for destroying the hard disks of petitioners computer units.

While it may be true that the criminal case for violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code was dismissed as there was no concrete and strong evidence pointing to them as the direct source of the subject pornographic materials, it cannot be used as basis to recover the confiscated hard disks. At the risk of being repetitious, it appears undisputed that the seized computer units belonging to them contained obscene materials or pornographic files. Clearly, petitioners had no legitimate expectation of protection of their supposed property rights.

[T]he Court holds that the destruction of the hard disks and the softwares used in any way in the violation of the subject law (Article 201, RPC) addresses the purpose of minimizing if not totally eradicating pornography. This will serve as a lesson for those engaged in any way in the proliferation of pornography or obscenity in this country. The Court is not unmindful of the concerns of petitioners but their supposed property rights must be balanced with the welfare of the public in general.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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Garcillano v. House of Representatives Committee on Public Information, G.R. No. 170338, 23 December 2008

FACTS

Petitioners in G.R. No. 179275 seek to disallow the Senate to continue with the conduct of the questioned legislative inquiry on the issue of “Hello Garci” tapes containing the wiretapped communication of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, without duly published rules of procedure, in clear derogation of the constitutional requirement.

The respondents in G.R. No. 179275 admit in their pleadings and even on oral argument that the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation had been published in newspapers of general circulation only in 1995 and in 2006. With respect to the present Senate of the 14th Congress, however, of which the term of half of its members commenced on June 30, 2007, no effort was undertaken for the publication of these rules when they first opened their session. Respondents justify their non-observance of the constitutionally mandated publication by arguing that the rules have never been amended since 1995 and, despite that, they are published in booklet form available to anyone for free, and accessible to the public at the Senates internet web page, invoking R.A. No. 8792.

ISSUE

Whether or not the invocation by the respondents of the provisions of R.A. No. 8792, otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, to support their claim of valid publication through the internet is a substantial compliance of the constitutional requirement of publication.

RULING

NO.

Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides that [t]he Senate or the House of Representatives, or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The requisite of publication of the rules is intended to satisfy the basic requirements of due process.

R.A. 8792 considers an electronic data message or an electronic document as the functional equivalent of a written document only for evidentiary purposes. In other words, the law merely recognizes the admissibility in evidence (for their being the original) of electronic data messages and/or electronic documents. It does not make the internet a medium for publishing laws, rules and regulations.

 

Given this discussion, the respondent Senate Committees, therefore, could not, in violation of the Constitution, use its unpublished rules in the legislative inquiry subject of these consolidated cases. The conduct of inquiries in aid of legislation by the Senate has to be deferred until it shall have caused the publication of the rules, because it can do so only in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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Gamboa v. Chan, G.R. No. 193636, 24 July 2012

FACTS

Gamboa alleged that the Philippine National Police in Ilocos Norte (PNP–Ilocos Norte) conducted a series of surveillance operations against her and her aides, and classified her as someone who keeps a Private Army Group (PAG). Purportedly without the benefit of data verification, PNP–Ilocos Norte forwarded the information gathered on her to the Zeñarosa Commission, thereby causing her inclusion in the Report’s enumeration of individuals maintaining PAGs. Contending that her right to privacy was violated and her reputation maligned and destroyed, Gamboa filed a Petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against respondents in their capacities as officials of the PNP-Ilocos Norte.

ISSUE

Whether or not the petition for the issuance of writ of habeas data is proper when the right to privacy is invoked as opposed to the state’s interest in preserving the right to life, liberty or security.

RULING

NO.

The writ of habeas data is an independent and summary remedy designed to protect the image, privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an individual, and to provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy. It seeks to protect a person’s right to control information regarding oneself, particularly in instances in which such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends. It must be emphasized that in order for the privilege of the writ to be granted, there must exist a nexus between the right to privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on the other.

In this case, the Court ruled that Gamboa was unable to prove through substantial evidence that her inclusion in the list of individuals maintaining PAGs made her and her supporters susceptible to harassment and to increased police surveillance. In this regard, respondents sufficiently explained that the investigations conducted against her were in relation to the criminal cases in which she was implicated. As public officials, they enjoy the presumption of regularity, which she failed to overcome. [T]he state interest of dismantling PAGs far outweighs the alleged intrusion on the private life of Gamboa, especially when the collection and forwarding by the PNP of information against her was pursuant to a lawful mandate. Therefore, the privilege of the writ of habeas data must be denied.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006

[FACTS]

This is a case of child who allegedly raped by her own father. The mother of the child abuse victim sent a letter addressed to the Chief Justice expressing anxiety over the posting of full text decisions of the Supreme Court on its Internet Web Page. The mother submitted that confidentiality and the best interest of the child must prevail over public access to information and pleaded that her daughter’s case, as well as those of a similar nature, be excluded from the Web Page. The Court required the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), National Press Club (NPC), Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to comment on the issue:

The position of the OSG in its Comment is noteworthy. The OSG submits that the posting of the full text of decisions in cases involving child abuse on the Supreme Court Web Page violates the right to privacy of the aggrieved parties. In order to determine whether the subject matter upon which the right to privacy being invoked falls within the constitutionally-protected zone of privacy, it must be shown that the person’s expectation of privacy is reasonable. The reasonableness of such expectancy depends on a two–part test: (1) whether by his conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and (2) whether this expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable.

According to the OSG, the fact that the aggrieved child may have consented, through a parent or guardian, to a public hearing of the case does not negate the expectation of privacy which the child may later invoke because child victims cannot be presumed to have intended their initial agreement to extend beyond the termination of their case to the posting of the decision reached by the Court on the Web Page. Moreover, such an expectation of privacy is reasonable considering the various statutes and rules which reveal the intention of the State to maintain the confidentiality of information pertaining to child abuse cases.

The DSWD imparted the same sentiment. It submits that the court records of child abuse cases should be treated with strict confidentiality not only throughout the court proceedings, but even after the promulgation of the decision in order to protect the right to privacy of the child and her family and to preclude instances where undue disclosure of information may impair the treatment and rehabilitation of the child-victim.

The Court likewise appreciates the separate comments of the KBP and NPC. The KBP informs the Court that its members have agreed not to identify in their broadcasts the names of children who are victims of abuse or are in conflict with the law. The NPC, on the other hand, tells us that the prevailing media practice is to inquire whether these individuals wish to have their names appear in the report. If they do not, media would normally take off the names and merely provide a very general description of the individual in recognition of the need to carefully balance the right to information with the welfare of the parties involved.

ISSUE

Whether or not it is proper to post the full text of decisions of similar cases on the Supreme Court Web Page in cases involving child sexual abuse.

HELD

This case presents an opportunity for the Court not only to once again dispense due requital for the sufferings of a child who has been defiled by her own father, but also to effectuate the provisions of Republic Act No. 7610 (RA 7610), otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, and its implementing rules, RA 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, and its implementing rules, and our own Rule on Violence Against Women and their Children.

The provisions on confidentiality of these enactments uniformly seek to respect the dignity and protect the privacy of women and their children. Sec. 29 of RA 7610 provides:

Sec. 29. Confidentiality. — at the instance of the offended party, his name may be withheld from the public until the court acquires jurisdiction over the case.

It shall be unlawful for any editor, publisher, and reporter or columnist in case of printed materials, announcer or producer in the case of television and radio broadcasting, producer and director in the case of the movie industry, to cause undue and sensationalized publicity of any case of a violation of this Act which results in the moral degradation and suffering of the offended party.

Sec. 44 of RA 9262 similarly provides:

Sec. 44. Confidentiality.—All records pertaining to cases of violence against women and their children including those in the barangay shall be confidential and all public officers and employees and public or private clinics or hospitals shall respect the right to privacy of the victim. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer, or other identifying information of a victim or an immediate family member, without the latter’s consent, shall be liable to the contempt power of the court.

Any person who violates this provision shall suffer the penalty of one (1) year imprisonment and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00).

Likewise, the Rule on Violence Against Women and their Children states:

Sec. 40. Privacy and confidentiality of proceedings.—All hearings of cases of violence against women and their children shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the dignity of women and their children and respect for their privacy.

Records of the cases shall be treated with utmost confidentiality. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer or other identifying information of the parties or an immediate family or household member, without their consent or without authority of the court, shall be liable for contempt of court and shall suffer the penalty of one year imprisonment and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) Pesos.

Taking all these opinions into account and in view of recent enactments which unequivocally express the intention to maintain the confidentiality of information in cases involving violence against women and their children, in this case and henceforth, the Court shall withhold the real name of the victim-survivor and shall use fictitious initials instead to represent her. Likewise, the personal circumstances of the victims-survivors or any other information tending to establish or compromise their identities, as well those of their immediate family or household members, shall not be disclosed.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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Disini, et al. v. The Secretary of Justice, et al., G.R. No. 203335, 11 February 2014

FACTS

Petitioners lament that libel provisions of the penal code and, in effect, the libel provisions of the cybercrime law carry with them the requirement of “presumed malice” even when the latest jurisprudence already replaces it with the higher standard of “actual malice” as a basis for conviction. Petitioners argue that inferring “presumed malice” from the accused’s defamatory statement by virtue of Article 354 of the penal code infringes on his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.

ISSUE

Whether or not Section 4(c)(4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act on cyberlibel affected the requirement of “actual malice” as opposed to “presumed malice” as basis for conviction of libel.  

RULING

The prosecution bears the burden of proving the presence of actual malice in instances where such element is required to establish guilt. The defense of absence of actual malice, even when the statement turns out to be false, is available where the offended party is a public official or a public figure, as in the cases of Vasquez (a barangay official) and Borjal (the Executive Director, First National Conference on Land Transportation). Since the penal code and implicitly, the cybercrime law, mainly target libel against private persons, the Court recognizes that these laws imply a stricter standard of “malice” to convict the author of a defamatory statement where the offended party is a public figure. Society’s interest and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs.

But, where the offended party is a private individual, the prosecution need not prove the presence of malice. The law explicitly presumes its existence (malice in law) from the defamatory character of the assailed statement. For his defense, the accused must show that he has a justifiable reason for the defamatory statement even if it was in fact true.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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