Gaanan vs. IAC G.R. No. L-69809, October 16, 1986 145 SCRA 113 (1986)

Facts: complainant and his client were in the living room of complainant’s residence discussing the terms for the withdrawal of the complaint for direct assault which they filed with the the City Fiscal against Laconico. After they had decided on the proposed conditions, complainant made a telephone call to Laconico. Laconico telephoned appellant, to advise him on the settlement of the direct assault. When complainant called up, Laconico requested appellant to secretly listen to the telephone conversation through a telephone extension so as to hear personally the proposed conditions for the settlement. Appellant heard complainant enumerate the following conditions for withdrawal of the complaint for direct assault. Twenty minutes later, complainant called up again to ask Laconico if he was agreeable to the conditions. Laconico answered ‘Yes’. Complainant then told Laconico to wait for instructions on where to deliver the money. Complainant called up again and instructed Laconico to give the money to his wife at the office of the then Department of Public Highways. Laconico who earlier alerted his friend Colonel Zulueta of the Criminal Investigation Service of the Philippine Constabulary, insisted that complainant himself should receive the money. When he received the money at the Igloo Restaurant, complainant was arrested by agents of the Philippine Constabulary. Appellant executed an affidavit stating that he heard complainant demands for the withdrawal of the case for direct assault. Laconico attached the affidavit of appellant to the complainant for robbery/extortion which he filed against complainant. Since appellant listened to the telephone conversation without complainant’s consent, complainant charged appellant and Laconico with violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act. After trial on the merits, the lower court, in a decision dated November 22, 1982, found both Gaanan and Laconico guilty of violating Section 1 of Republic Act No. 4200. Not satisfied with the decision, the petitioner appealed to the appellate court who affirmed the decision of the trial court, holding that the communication between the complainant and accused Laconico was private in nature and, therefore, covered by Rep. Act No. 4200;

Issue: Whether “any other device or arrangement” includes extension phones and listening thru it is a violation of RA 4200.

Held: No, an extension telephone cannot be placed in the same category as a dictaphone, dictagraph or the other devices enumerated in Section 1 of RA No. 4200 as the use thereof cannot be considered as “tapping” the wire or cable of a telephone line. The telephone extension in this case was not installed for that purpose. It just happened to be there for ordinary office use. It is a rule in statutory construction that in order to determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses and phrases of the statute should not be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts. Likewise, Article 1372 of the Civil Code stipulates that ‘however general the terms of a contract may be, they shall not be understood to comprehend things that are distinct and cases that are different from those upon which the parties intended to agree.’ Similarly, Article 1374 of the same Code provides that ‘the various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly. The law refers to a “tap” of a wire or cable or the use of a “device or arrangement” for the purpose of secretly overhearing, intercepting, or recording the communication. There must be either a physical interruption through a wiretap or the deliberate installation of a device or arrangement in order to overhear, intercept, or record the spoken words.

Hence, the phrase “device or arrangement” in Section 1 of RA No. 4200, although not exclusive to that enumerated therein, should be construed to comprehend instruments of the same or similar nature, that is, instruments the use of which would be tantamount to tapping the main line of a telephone. It refers to instruments whose installation or presence cannot be presumed by the party or parties being overheard because, by their very nature, they are not of common usage and their purpose is precisely for tapping, intercepting or recording a telephone conversation.


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