Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals

Rule involved: Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. Where the law makes no distinctions, one does not distinguish.

Issue: Does the anti-wiretapping law, RA 4200, allow parties to a conversation to tape it without the consent of all those involved?

What was construed:
The word “any” in Sec. 1 of RA 4200: 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 device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a Dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described.

Facts of the case: Soccoro Ramirez was scolded by Ester Garcia inside Garcia’s office. Ramirez taped the conversation and later filed charges against Garcia for insulting and humiliating her, using as evidence the transcript of the conversation, based on the tape recording.
Garcia filed criminal charges against Ramirez for violating the anti-wire tapping act, because it was done without her knowledge and consent. Ramirez claimed that what the law forbids is for other parties, who are not part of the conversation, to record it using the instruments enumerated in the law (there was an earlier case that was dismissed because the instrument used was not mentioned in the law).
The trial court ruled in favor of Ramirez, granting a motion to quash on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, but the Court of Appeals reversed it.

Ratio: First, the court noted that the provision makes it clear that it is illegal for any person to secretly record a conversation, unless authorized by all parties involved.
“The law makes no distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized by the statute ought to be a party other than or different from those involved in the private communication.”
The congressional records also showed that the intent was that permission must be sought from all parties in the conversation. “This is a complete ban on tape recorded conversations taken without the authorization of all the parties,” Sen. Tanada said during the deliberations.
“The provision seeks to penalize even those privy to the private communications. Where the law makes no distinctions, one does not distinguish.”

Decision: Petition denied. Decision of CA affirmed. Costs against Ramirez.

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One Response

  1. If the unauthorized taping is penalized under the statutory provision, but does that automatically makes the evidence inadmissible? Does the statute address this issue?

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