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248 SCRA 590

Socorro D. Ramirez Petitioner

Honorable Court of Appeals and Ester S. Garcia Respondents

In a civil case for damages, petitioner Socorro Ramirez claims moral damages and attorneys fees
and other costs of suit against private respondent Ester Garcia before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City, alleging that the respondent, in a confrontation in the latters office, vexed, insulted and humiliated
her in a manner which is offensive to dignity and personality, contrary to morals, goods customs and
public policy. In support of her claim, petitioner produced a verbatim transcript of her confrontation with
respondent, based on a taped record of the same confrontation, which the petitioner made with a portable
tape recorder without the knowledge and/or consent of the respondent.
As a result of petitioners recording of the event and alleging that the act of secretly taping the
confrontation was illegal, private respondent filed a criminal case against petitioner before the Regional
Trial Court of Pasay City for violation of R.A. 4200, entitled An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire Tapping
and Other Related Violations of Private Communication, and Other Purposes.
Upon arraignment, in lieu of a plea, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash Information on the ground
that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, particularly a violation of R.A. 4200. The trial court
granted the motion, agreeing with petitioner that 1) the fact charged do not constitute an offense; 2) the
violation punished by R.A. 4200 refers to taping of a communication by a person other that a participant
to the communication. Private respondent filed a petition for Review on Certiorari before the Supreme
Court, which referred the case to the Court of Appeals, which then declared the decision of the trial court
null and void and promulgated that the allegations contained in the information filed private respondent do
constitute an offense.
Consequently, petitioner filed a petition for Review of the Court of Appeals decision.
1) Whether or not persons who are parties to a communication fall within the class prohibited to tape
a private communication.
2) Whether or not a private communication is the same as a private conversation

Section 1 of R.A. 4200 says: It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the
parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other
devise or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by
using a devise commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape
recorder, or however otherwise described.
It is clear from the above provision that it is illegal for any person, not authorized by all the parties
to any private communication to secretly record such communication by means of a tape recorder. The law
makes no distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized by the stature ought to be a party
other than or different from those involved in the private communication. Consequently, even a person
privy to a communication who records his private conversation with another without the knowledge of the
latter will qualify as violator. This point is made clearer in the exchange between senators Tanada and
Padilla. And between senators Tanada and Diokno (for complete transcript of quoted exchange, please see
full text of case decision)
Also, the petitioners contention that the phrase private communication in section 1 of R.A. 4200
does not include private conversations narrows the ordinary meaning of the word communication to a
point of absurdity. The word communicate comes from the latin word communicare, meaning to share or
to impart. In its ordinary signification, communication connotes the act of sharing or imparting, as in a
conversation, or signifies the process by which meanings or thoughts are shared between individuals
through a common system of symbols. These definitions are broad enough to include verbal or nonverbal, written or expressive communications of meanings or thoughts which are likely to include the
emotionally charged exchange between the petitioner and respondent.

Decision of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.