Sunday, March 30, 2008


What is the writ of habeas data?

Section 1. Habeas Data. - The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.

Who may file?

Any aggrieved party may file a petition for the writ of habeas data. However, in cases of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, the petition may be filed by:

(a) Any member of the immediate family of the aggrieved party, namely: the spouse, children and parents; or

b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the aggrieved party within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, in default of those mentioned in the preceding paragraph;

Where to file?

SEC. 3. Where to File. ? The petition may be filed with the Regional Trial Court where the petitioner or respondent resides, or that which has jurisdiction over the place where the data or information is gathered, collected or stored, at the option of the petitioner.

The petition may also be filed with the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals or the Sandiganbayan when the action concerns public data files of government offices.

When is the Writ issued?

SEC. 7. Issuance of the Writ. ? Upon the filing of the petition, the court, justice or judge shall immediately order the issuance of the writ if on its face it ought to issue. The clerk of court shall issue the writ under the seal of the court and cause it to be served within three (3) days from the issuance; or, in case of urgent necessity, the justice or judge may issue the writ under his or her own hand, and may deputize any officer or person serve it.

The writ shall also set the date and time for summary hearing of the petition which shall not be later than ten (10) work days from the date of its issuance.

Effect of service of writ to respondent?

SEC. 10. Return; Contents. ? The respondent shall file a verified written return together with supporting affidavits within five (5) working days from service of the writ, which period may be reasonably extended by the Court for justifiable reasons. The return shall, among other things, contain the following:

(a) The lawful defenses such as national security, state secrets, privileged communications, confidentiality of the source of information of media and others;

(b) In case of respondent in charge, in possession or in control of the data or information subject of the petition;

(i) a disclosure of the data or information about the petitioner, the nature of such data or information, and the purpose for its collection;

(ii) the steps or actions taken by the respondent to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data or information; and,

(iii) the currency and accuracy of the data or information held; and,

(c) Other allegations relevant to the resolution of the proceeding.

When is there HEaring of Defenses?

SEC. 12. When Defenses May be Heard in Chambers. ? A hearing in chambers may be conducted where the respondent invokes the defense that the release of the data or information in question shall compromise national security or state secrets, or when the data or information cannot be divulged to the public due to its nature or privileged character.

A general denial of the allegations in the petition shall not be allowed.

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