SC Issues Writ of Habeas Data for De Venecia

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — The Supreme Court has granted the petition filed by national broadband network (NBN) project whistleblower Joey de Venecia III seeking the issuance of the writ of habeas data to enjoin government agents from conducting wiretapping and surveillance activities over his personal communications.

In a two-page resolution issued in Baguio City, the Court has directed the respondents — Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Philippine National Pol ice Di rector Avel ino Razon, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, former Commission on Elect ions (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos — to make a verified return of the writ of habeas before the Court of Appeals, where the petitioner has been referred to for hearing.

The Court directed the CA to hear the petition on April 15 2008 at 1:30 pm and to decide on the petition in accordance with the rules on writ of habeas data.

“Now therefore, you respondents and all persons acting on your behalf or upon your instructions or orders, are hereby required to make a verified return of the writ of habeas data before the CA within five working days from service of the writ,” the resolution stated.

In his petition for writ of habeas data, De Venecia accused the military, through the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces, and the police of conducting surveillance operations on him and tapping his private phone conversations and those of other personalities involved in the controversial NBN-ZTE deal.

Likewise, De Venecia asked the SC to enjoin respondents to produce all materials, including recordings and transcriptions in their possession obtained through their wiretapping activities on petitioner’s private communications, and stop them from sending his wiretapped conversations over the YouTube, an online video and audio sharing forum.

De Venecia also asked that Abalos and Enrile be enjoined from making public any of his illegally taped phone conversations that would discredit his testimony relating to the NBN-ZTE deal presently under investigation by the Senate.

De Venecia filed the petition following the airing over YouTube of his alleged conversation with Abalos, ZTE starwitness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. and his former colleagues at the Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI), which also vied for the NBN project.

According to him,sometime last month, he got informat ion that a recording of a supposed wiretapped conversation between himself and Lozada was uploaded in the YouTube website.

The Rule on Habea s Data was promulgated on February 2, 2008 to serve as an independent remedy to enforce the r ight to informational privacy and the complementary “right to truth” as well as an additional remedy to protect the right to life, liberty, or security of a person.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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