BSCBN News Maven Cheche Lazaro had a sparkling discussion on the Rights of Privacy on Media in Focus last night. Her primo guest was former Senator and bona fide freedom fighter, Rene Saguisag, who is a compleat counter-example to the allegation that there is no intelligent life in the Archipelago. (Compleat for having a wicked sense of humor and a self-effacing equanimity.) His weekly email and newspaper essays make much appreciated appearances in my Inbox, as they are always quiet lightning bolts into the inanities of the unjust, the corrupt, the stupid.
Privacy is a broad subject, but the definition given by Sen. Saguisag, from a favorite classic on the subject by Warren and Brandeis (Harvard Law Review, 1890) is a memorable and pithy one: Privacy is the right to be let alone! Written at a time when the great controversy was whether a newspaper could publish the hand-drawn likeness or blurry photograph of a well known socialite, it is still relevant today in the form of the controversies which arise from the public's ceaseless curiosity about celebrities and personalities and the willingness of the paparazzi and the Media and Internet uploaders to indulge them. On the show, PDI's Rina Jimenez David, lawyer Raymond Fortun, and talk show host Mo Twister were discussing brouhaha involving a minor sexy starlet, Maui Taylor. (I am not so sure however that in this case the real subject matter is the Right of Publicity, on which showbiz thrives and would wither and die without.)
GARCI AS VICTIM
There were two main points I tried to make on last night's show:
(1) That the "right of the public to know" ends where the "right against self-incrimination begins." This is relevant to the Media, who are the focus of Cheche's show, but who don't seem to know the limits of Press Freedom in this sense. I believe that this principle is independent of the idea that "public persons" such as government officials and their spouses, celebrities and other well known personalities cannot expect the same degree of privacy (and lack of curiosity) that truly private persons have. Even a completely public person like the President or a Comelec Commissioner never loses the right to remain silent, which is the Fifth Amendment form of the right to be let alone, and can never be required to CONFESS to alleged crimes or to testify against themselves. The line against self-incrimination cannot be breached by merely being a public personality. Not understanding this was the source of the widespread frustration felt during the interrogations of Virgilio Garcillano in the Congress after he surfaced from hiding in December, 2005.
(2) The second point was that the Garci Recordings are not directly evidence of election fraud. Rather they are electronic evidence that a CRIME against national security has been committed, specifically against Republic Act No. 4200, The Antiwiretapping Law. These recordings represent evidence of a clear violation of Section 1 of that law which makes any such recording illegal without a Court Order. The fact that the voices of certain military men are not denied to be present in these recordings, as discovered in Senate Defense Committee investigations of Sgt. Vidal Doble and the ISAFP, means that the Philippine Military has been involved in violations of National Security laws at the highest levels. The wiretapping of the President, a Comelec Commissioner and dozens of private and public personalities without Court Orders are clear violations of the AntiWiretapping Law. The victim of these crimes was not only Virgilio Garcillano and the others as persons, but also their respective high offices, whose privacy of communications has evidently been breached.,