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.
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.
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.