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Case Title Case #86 Ople vs Torres

G.R. no. G.R. No. 127685

Main Topic Privacy of Communications and Correspondence
Other Related Topic Legislative Power
Date: July 23, 1998


 A.O. No. 308 was issued by Fidel Ramos on Dec 12, 1996
- Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System
- Requires computerized system to properly and efficiently identify persons seeking
basic social services.
- Creates a decentralized Identification Reference System among key basic services
- Population Reference Number (PRN) shall coordinate to standardize use of
Biometrics Technology
- Funds for implementation to be sourced from respective budgets of agencies
- NSO, GSIS, and SS to undertake tri-media information dissemination (Inter-Agency)
(In summation, details of biometrics etc will be collected for the government)
 Petioner Ople filed against Exec Secretary Torres and heads of the Inter-Agency
Committee, and court issued TRO on implementation. Grounds:
- Unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power
- Unconstitutional usurpation of the exclusive right of Congress to appropriate funds
- A.O. No. 308 lays groundwork which violates the Bill of Rights
 Respondents Counter arguments
- Instant petition is not a justiciable case warranting judicial review
- A.O. 308 issue within the executive and admin power of President without
- Funds are sourced from budgets concerned agencies
- A.O. 308 protects individual’s interest in privacy.

1. Issue of Justiciable Case
2. Issue of invalid encroachment of legislative power
3. Issue of constitutional violation of right to privacy

 Issue of Justiciable Case

- Respondents claim that petitioner has no legal interest, court rules that Ople is a
member of senate who possess the required standing to raise the issue.
- He is also a taxpayer and member of GSIS, he can therefore impugn legality of the
misalignment of public funds
- Ripeness not affected by non-promulgation. Given that guidelines are already being
made and announced, we do not need to wait for the formality of rules to be passed.

 Issue on A.O. No. 308 is not admin order but a law, hence beyond Presidential Powers
- Peitioner contends that said A.O. establishes system of identification that is all-
encompassing in scope. Affecting life and liberty of both Filipino and foreign
- Blurring demarcation line between power to legislate and power to execute will
disturb delicate balance of power, hence necessitates stricter scrutiny by Court.
Legislative Power – authority under Consti to make laws, and to alter and repeal them
Executive Power – Power to enforce and administer laws
- Administrative Power is concerned with the work of applying polices and enforcing
orders as determined by proper governmental organs. It enables the President to fix
uniform standard of administrative efficiency and check official conduct of agents.
- Administrative orders must not be violate laws
- Court rejects argument that A.O. 308 implements Admin Code of 1987
1. Code is general law and is divided into 7 books that contains provisions on
organizations and general administration.
2. A.O. No. 308 establishes the National Computerized Identification Reference
System that requires adjustments of various state policies.
Conclusion: Administrative order redefines the parameters of some basic rights as
well as the line that separates administrative power of President to make rules. The
subject should therefore be covered by law.
- Moreover, citizens are being required to avail of a identification card before
transacting with the government (given the scope, it needs to be a law)
- Court cites:
As well stated by Fisher: ". . . Many regulations however, bear directly on the
public. It is here that administrative legislation must be restricted in its scope and
application. Regulations are not supposed to be a substitute for the general policy-
making that Congress enacts in the form of a public law. Although administrative
regulations are entitled to respect, the authority to prescribe rules and regulations is
not an independent source of power to make laws."

 Issue on even if it doesn’t need to be a subject of law, it still violates constitutional right
to privacy
- Privacy – “right to be let alone”
- Grisworld vs Connecticut: Specific guarantees in Bill of Rights guarantees life and
First amendment – Rights to association
Third amendment – Prohibition against the quartering of soldiers in any house at time
of peace without consent
Fourth amendment – affirms the right of the people to be secure in their houses and
Fifth amendment – enumeration in Constitution shall not be construed to deny or
disparage others.
- Morfe v. Mutuc: There is a right to Privacy
The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification
with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection.
Prof Emerson: 'The concept of limited government has always included the idea that
governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the
citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited
- Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the
hallmark of the absolute state.
- In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which
belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the
state can control.
- All the forces of a technological age — industrialization, urbanization, and
organization — operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In
modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks
the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society.
- Phil Constitution, Sec 3, expressly recognize right to Privacy
“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."
- Court reiterates that Zones of Privacy are recognized and protected in our laws.
Ie. Civil Code and RVP. Anti-wiretapping law.
- Government has the burden to prove that there is compelling state interest narrowly
- A.O. 308 is predicated on 1. Providing easier transactions with government and 2.
Reduce fraudulent transactions. However if approved, it risks the people’s right to
privacy is clear and present danger. (Especially in biometrics, attached is his file)
- Lack of safeguards also increases he assurance of protection of information. It also
allows the possibility of abuses and misuse of the information.
- Solicitor General : test of persons expectation of privacy
1. Whether by his conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy
2. Whether this expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable
Court: as technology advances so does the level of reasonable expected privacy
- Solicitor General:
(1) to streamline and speed up the implementation of basic government services,
(2) eradicate fraud by avoiding duplication of services, and
(3) generate population data for development planning.
Using Anti-Graft and Corupt Practices Act as basis of said A.O.
- However not the same with case at bar, RA. 3019 is a law, not A.O. 2nd the law was
made to prevent abuses in the government.
- Solicitor General: using Whalen vs Roe (US Case)
Court: Ruling on Roe was was based on legislative decision made by
recommendations by appointed commissions and was narrowly drawn and contained
safeguards. (Such is not available in present case)

 The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a mass society
- Case wants to pressure people to surrender their privacy
- Kalvin Jr: Result could end up that everyone will be burdened with unerasable record
of his past .
- Court Ruled A.O. 308 null and void.

Separate Opinions:

J. Romeo, concurring

So terrifying are the possibilities of a law such as Administrative Order No. 308 in making
inroads into the private lives of the citizens, a virtual Big Brother looking over our shoulders,
that it must, without delay, be "slain upon sight" before our society turns totalitarian with each of
us, a mindless robot.

J. Vitug, concurring

Prescinding from the foregoing, and most importantly to this instance, the subject covered by the
questioned administrative order can have far-reaching consequences that can tell on all
individuals, their liberty and privacy, that, to my mind, should make it indispensable and
appropriate to have the matter specifically addressed by the Congress of the Philippines, the
policy-making body of our government, to which the task should initially belong and to which
the authority to formulate and promulgate that policy is constitutionally lodged.

J. Panganiban, concurring

I concur only in the result and only on the ground that an executive issuance is not legally
sufficient to establish an all-encompassing computerized system of identification in the country.
The subject matter contained in AO 308 is beyond the powers of the President to regulate
without a legislative enactment.

J. Kapunan, dissenting

The new identification system would tremendously improve and uplift public service in our
country to the benefit of Filipino citizens and resident aliens. It would promote, facilitate and
speed up legitimate transactions with government offices as well as with private and business

- National Computerized identification reference system is valid given that NSO, GSIS,
and SSS are government offices under Executive branch. Hence within Pres ambits.
- It is a case of blending of powers that has happened. (quasi-legislative power of Pres)
- No actual case or controversy given that A.O only provides the general framework
- No basis of right to privacy is being violated
J. Mendoza, dissenting

- No violation of right to Privacy given that the text on creates a committee.

- Information that is subject by A.O has already been being used by the agencies concerned

- No basis that A.O will be used for illegal purposes, hence claim is unfounded.