Ramirez vs. CA G.R. No. 93833 September 28, 1995

Facts: A civil case damages was filed by petitioner in the RTC alleging that the private respondent in a confrontation in the latter’s office, allegedly vexed, insulted and humiliated her in a “hostile and furious mood” and in a manner offensive to petitioner’s dignity and personality,” contrary to morals, good customs and public policy.” In support of her claim, petitioner produced a verbatim transcript of the event and sought moral damages, attorney’s fees and other expenses of litigation in the amount of P610,000.00, in addition to costs, interests and other reliefs awardable at the trial court’s discretion. The transcript on which the civil case was based was culled from a tape recording of the confrontation made by petitioner.

As a result of petitioner’s recording of the event and alleging that the said act of secretly taping the confrontation was illegal, private respondent filed a criminal case before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City for violation of Republic Act 4200, entitled “An Act to prohibit and penalize wire tapping and other related violations of private communication, and other purposes. Petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the Information on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, particularly a violation of R.A. 4200. the RTC granted the Motion. From the RTC’s order, the private respondent filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court, which forthwith referred the case to the CA. Respondent CA declared the RTC’s order null and void, and holding that the allegations sufficiently constitute an offense punishable under Section 1 of R.A. 4200. Petitioner filed a MR which the CA denied. Hence, the instant petition.

Issue: Whether the recording of a “Private Conversation” without the consent of both of the party is a violation of R.A. 4200.

 

Held: Yes, Section 1 of R.A. 4200 entitled, ” An Act to Prohibit and Penalized Wire Tapping and Other Related Violations of Private Communication and Other Purposes,” provides that 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. The aforestated provision clearly and unequivocally makes it 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 statute ought to be a party other than or different from those involved in the private communication. The statute’s intent to penalize all persons unauthorized to make such recording is underscored by the use of the qualifier “any”. Consequently, as respondent Court of Appeals correctly concluded, “even a (person) privy to a communication who records his private conversation with another without the knowledge of the latter (will) qualify as a violator. The unambiguity of the express words of the provision, therefore plainly supports the view held by the respondent court that the provision seeks to penalize even those privy to the private communications. Where the law makes no distinctions, one does not distinguish.

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