Friday, February 1, 2008

Can the Constitutionality of Amparo and Habeas Data Be Challenged? How? Where?

DID THE SUPREME COURT strictly adhere to the Constitution when it promulgated The Rule on Amparo and the Rule on Habeas Data? The Supreme Court has the power to make RULES of COURT but only within certain limits:
1987 Constitution Art VIII Sec. 5(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to the under-privileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
Based on this power, two new Rules of Court have recently been created and swiftly promulgated by the Philippine Supreme Court purportedly to address the issue of alleged extrajudicial killings of leftist activists by the Philipine Military.

It has been touted by no less than Chief Justice Reynato Puno that the Supreme Court's new rules are as "gifts to the Filipino People" in defense of their human rights. Indeed, when one examines in detail the breadth and scope of these two Rules of Court, one finds the entire Letter and Spirit of AMPARO and HABEAS DATA at the heart of Latin American Constitutions now suddenly present in writ and subpoena within the Philippine jurisdiction where before they were entirely absent!

The new Philippine Rules of Court compleatly embody the full panoply of features, rights, powers and prerogatives contained in those Latin American Constitutional rights and special protections which are found in nothing ever less than ratified Constitutions of Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and others, not mere rules of procedure.

Since neither amparo nor habeas data are found in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, yet they are clearly taken to be CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS in Latin American models openly adopted by the Supreme Court, one is rightly led to wonder about the constitutionality of the Supreme Court's act of promulgating the two new Rules on Amparo and Habeas Data.

That is to say, since amparo and habeas data are borrowed from Latin American Constitutions where they are fully ratified RIGHTS, has not the Supreme Court effectively smuggled in and established new Constitutional rights and prerogatives for certain classes of people, by the mere creation of these new "Rules" of Court--in direct violation of OUR Constitution?

But how can we even challenge the Constitutionality of the Supreme Court's own newly begotten Rules? Which it touts as the solution to grave human rights abuses? We would find the Petition for Certiorari in the kangkungan of Padre Faura wouldn't we?

Surely what are substantive rights to Latin Americans are substantive rights to Filipino citizens? If so, then fifteen Supreme Court Justices ought to be impeached if we are truly a Nation of Laws and not of Unelected Judges redacting and violating our Social Contract as if it were their Bible, that only they can understand. Don't they know it's just English Grammar and Composition and even lowly Bloggers can see beneath their Holy Robes of Good Intentions, down to the very core error of their ways?

Since amparo and habeas data are certainly substantive rights under Latin American Constitutions, and they did not exist as such in the Philippine Constitution before today, has not the Supreme Court VIOLATED Art.VIII Sec.5(5)'s prohibition on diminishing, increasing or modifying substantive rights by establishing the Rules of Amparo and Habeas Data?

Quod Erap Demonstrandum.


manuelbuencamino said...


Hay naku, DJ no new rights were added. The court simply promulgated rules that wuld enhance the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights.

Obviously Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and others were wise enough to include those two things in their constitutions.

Puno saw the wisdom of their constitutions and adopted it to make sure that national security nuts would wear reinforced straight jackets.

To repeat: No substantive rights were added. The new rules are there for better enforcement and protection of our constitutional rights.

DJB Rizalist said...

There must be no decrease, increase or modification of substantive rights.... Let me tell you that on all three counts Puno should be impeached! And I shall show that in detail on habeas data!

But first things first, MB. First answer the question: how do we even TEST the constitutionality. Where?

And if these are rights present in Latin America but not in our constitution, how can amparo and habeas data rights now suddenly part of our entitlements???

Fred said...

DJB, allow me to re-post my reply to your comment at my site:

I have known you as an astute observer of the Constitution (and highly respect you for that), that I can’t help thinking this is a trick question. The rights to life, privacy and security are protected under the Constitution and Philippine laws. You could see these rights in Article III of the Constitution. In fact, the first case involving the national ID system (Ople vs. Torres) has a relevant discussion on this matter. I quote:

In the 1968 case of Morfe v. Mutuc, we adopted the Griswold ruling that there is a constitutional right to privacy. xxx

xxx The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. xxx

Indeed, if we extend our judicial gaze we will find that the right of privacy is recognized and enshrined in several provisions of our Constitution. It is expressly recognized in Section 3(1) of the Bill of Rights:

“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.”

Other facets of the right to privacy are protected in various provisions of the Bill of Rights, viz:

“Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
x x x.

Sec. 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.
x x x.

Sec. 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.

Sec. 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.”

Zones of privacy are likewise recognized and protected in our laws. The Civil Code provides that “[e]very person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons” and punishes as actionable torts several acts by a person of meddling and prying into the privacy of another. It also holds a public officer or employee or any private individual liable for damages for any violation of the rights and liberties of another person, and recognizes the privacy of letters and other private communications. The Revised Penal Code makes a crime the violation of secrets by an officer, the revelation of trade and industrial secrets, and trespass to dwelling. Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Secrecy of Bank Deposit Act and the Intellectual Property Code. The Rules of Court on privileged communication likewise recognize the privacy of certain information.

In other words, those rights are there in the Constitution. On the other hand, the Constitution itself (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[5]) expressly gives the Supreme Court the power and authority to promulgate rules for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights.

manuelbuencamino said...


Susmariosep, DJ, there is no need for a constitutional test nga kc hindi naman ginalaw ang constitution.

Like I said, "The court simply promulgated rules that would enhance the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. "

DJB Rizalist said...


Thanks for the great riposte. Nice of you to drop by!

It was not a trick question. How is it even possible to question the Constitutionality of the Rules of amparo and habeas data?

Can one file a petition for certiorari? Who would the respondents be? Who the court that would decide such a case?

Or must we simply accept the Rules of Court AS IF they really were just mere sets of new "procedures" and not the purported active solution to a vexing legal, moral and political conundrum in the extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances allegedly by the duly constituted authorities against leftist activists of the CPP NPA NDF and/or various NGOs.

Amparo and habeas data have evidently been designed and deployed with a very ambitious and lofty goal: To solve the hundreds of extrajudicial killings, some 900 at last Karapatan count, as well as to protect present and future victims.

I worry that mere Rules of Court are being touted as a magick solution to that vexing problem. These are highly complex cases as the fates of many persons involved in terrible crimes on both sides of the Law, are at stake.

If any of their substantive rights have effectively been increased, decreased or modified in any way by amparo or habeas data, it would be a grave injustice.

So the question of Constitutionality would seem to have substantive motivation in the gravity of the cases sought to be impacted by the new Rules.

We must be more circumspect. While I agree all those rights you enumerated exist, does the formulation "right to privacy in life, liberty, or security" increase, decrease, or modify that same set of rights.

I am just now plowing through each provision of the new Rule on HD.

I don't know, Fred, ... but every single one of them smacks of some new entitlement, for indigents, Judges, and Courts; whilst individuals and institutions involved in data gathering, such as journalists and academicians and corporations and NGOs, and researchers of all kinds, could suffer unreasonable search and seizures in the guise of writ of habeas data orders.

Oh, I think there is plenty of reason to question these new Rules and the manner of their adoption.

I pose it to you again (no trick!):

How can the Constitutionality and legality of the Rules of Amparo and habeas data be challenged?

Dissenting Opinion said...

Dean, the Supreme Court is like an ugly woman. It has no APPEAL.