Writ of habeas data
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WRIT OF HABEAS DATA. Beleno|Laconico|Silva. Habeas Data as a Legal Notion. “ The writ of habeas data is a relatively new legal notion compared to the traditional writ of habeas corpus and the recently promulgated writ of amparo .”

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Habeas Data as a Legal Notion

“The writ of habeas data is a relatively new legal notion compared to the traditional writ of habeas corpus and the recently promulgated writ of amparo.”

Habeas data literally means ‘you should have the data,’ and is defined by Latin American legal scholars as a writ ‘designed to protect through a petition or complaint, the image, privacy, honor, information self-determination and freedom of information of a person.”

The Philippine Habeas Data

The Rule on Habeas Data, promulgated by the Supreme Court on January 22, 2008 through AM 08-1-16 was born in the midst of worsening human rights condition in the country through extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance and torture (Annotation to the Rule on the Writ of Amparo).

Nature and Scope

Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data

provides that:

“The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.”

Nature and Scope

The writ of habeas data is an independent and summary remedy;

It seeks to protect a person’s right to control information regarding oneself, particularly in instances in which such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends.

  • Image

  • Privacy

  • Honor

  • Information; and

  • Freedom of information of an individual; and

  • To provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy.

Gamboav. ChanG.R. No. 193636, 24 July2012.

FACTS: Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued AO no. 275 “Creating an Independent Commission to Address Existence of Private Armies in the Country.” Its goal is to eliminate private armies before May 10, 2010 elections.

Gamboa, a mayor of DingrasIlocos Norte, then filed a petition alleging that the PNP – Ilocos Norte conducted surveillance operations against her and her aides and classified her as someone who keeps private armies without the benefit of data-verification.

Gamboa v. ChanG.R. No. 193636, 24 July2012.

Issue: Whether the RTC rightfully dismissed the case.

Ruling: Case dismissed. It must be emphasized that in order for the privilege of the writ to be granted, there must exist a nexus between the right to privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on the other.

Nature and Scope

Note that under the Rule, the respondent may be:

  • A public official or employee; or

  • A private individual or entity, who is engaged in the gathering, collecting, or storing of data “regarding a the person, family, home and correspondence.”

    The writ of habeas data cannot be invoked in labor disputes where there is no unlawful violation of the right to life, liberty, or security.

    Habeas data cannot be invoked when respondents in the petition for issuance of the writ are not gathering, collecting, or storing data or information.

Who has standing to file the petition?

  • Any aggrieved party may file a petition for the writ of habeas data. However, in cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance, the petition may be filed by:

  • any member of the immediate family of the aggrieved party, namely: the spouse, children or parents; or

  • any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the aggrieved party within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, in default of those mentioned in the preceding paragraph.


Under Section 3, the petition may be filed, at the “option of the petitioner”, with:

  • The “regional trial court where the respondent or petitioner resides.”

  • The regional trial court which has jurisdiction over the place “where the data or information is gathered, collected or stored.”

  • The Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or the Sandiganbayan when the action “concerns public data files of government offices.’

Docket Fees

Section 5 states that, “(N)o docket and other lawful fees are required from an indigent petitioner. The petition of the indigent shall be docketed and acted upon immediately without prejudice to the subsequent submission of proof of indigency not later than 15 days from the filing of the petition.”

When is a writ issued ?


Upon the filing of the petition, the CJJ shall immediately order the issuance of the writ

if on its face it ought to issue.

The clerk shall issue the writ under the seal of the court and cause it to be served within three (3) days from its issuance


in case of urgent necessity, the justice or judge may issue the writ under his or her hand, and may deputize any officer or person to serve it.

The writ shall set the date and time for summary hearing of the petition

which shall not be later than ten (10) work days from the date of issuance.

How is the writ served?


… served upon the respondent by a judicial officer


by a person deputized by the court, justice or judge


by substituted service



A clerk of court who refuses to issue the writ


a deputized person who refuses to serve the same

shall be punished for contempt

without prejudice to other disciplinary actions.

May a petition for habeas data be filed if there is a pending criminal action?


When a criminal action has been commenced,

no separate petition for the writ shall be filed.

The reliefs under the writ shall be available to the aggrieved party by motion in the criminal case. The procedure under this rule shall govern

the disposition of the reliefs available under the writ of habeas data.

What if a criminal and a separate civil action is filed after the petition is filed?


The filing of a petition for the writ of habeas data

shall not preclude the filing of separate criminal, civil or administrative actions.


When a criminal action is filed subsequent to the filing of a petition for the writ,

the latter shall be consolidated with the criminal action.

When a criminal action & a separate civil action are filed subsequent to a petition for the writ,

the petition shall be consolidated with the criminal action.

In any case, the procedure under the rule on habeas data shall govern the disposition of the reliefs prayed for in a “habeas data motion” filed before the court hearing the criminal case.

Castillo v. Cruz (G.R. No. 182165)

WON Habeas Data is proper when there is a criminal case already filed

Castillo v. Cruz (G.R. No. 182165)

“…respondents’ filing of the petitions for writs of amparo and habeas data should have been barred, for criminal proceedings against them had commenced after they were arrested in flagrante delicto and proceeded

against …”

Castillo v. Cruz (G.R. No. 182165)

“Validity of the arrest or the proceedings conducted thereafter is a defense that may be set up by respondents during trial and not before a petition for writs of amparo and habeas data. The reliefs afforded by the writs may, however, be made available to the aggrieved party by motion in the criminal proceedings.”

Respondent’s Return


The respondent shall file a verified written return together with supporting affidavitswithin five work days from service of the writ

What should the respondent’s Return contain?

(a) The lawful defenses;

(b) If the respondent is in charge, in possession or in control of the data or information subject of the petition:

(i) a disclosure of the data or information about the petitioner, the nature of such data or information, and the purpose for its collection;

(ii) the steps or actions taken by the respondent to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data or information; and,

(iii) the currency and accuracy of the data or information held; and,

(c) Other allegations relevant to the resolution of the proceeding.

A general denial of the allegations in the petition shall not be allowed.

How will the hearing be conducted in cases of ‘sensitive’ data?


Hearing in Chambers

  • the release of the data or information in question shall compromise national security or state secrets or

  • when the information cannot be divulged to the public due to its nature or privileged character

What if the respondent fails to make a return?

Sec. 14— CJJ shall proceed to hear the petition ex parte, granting the petitioner such relief as the petition may warrant unless the court in its discretion requires the petitioner submit evidence.

No return filed within the period allowed: the court may hear the petition ex parte and may immediately grant the relief prayed for.

Is there a penalty for refusing to make or making a false return?

Yes. Sec. 11 Contempt—The court, justice or judge may punish with imprisonment or fine a respondent who commits contempt by making a false return, or refusing to make a return or any person who otherwise disobeys or resists a lawful process or order of the court.

Can the respondent file a pleading other than a return?

No. Section 13 enumerates prohibited pleadings such as, inter alia, motions “to dismiss, for extension of time, dilatory motion for postponement, bill of particulars, motion to declare respondent in default, intervention, motion for reconsideration of interlocutory orders, Memorandum, counter claim, or reply”.

Is there a period within which the court must decide the petition?

The rule requires the immediate issuance of the writ possibly in recognition of the urgency of remedy particularly in cases involving threat to life or liberty. However, there is no period set for the resolution of the petition except that it should be resolved within ten (10) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision. (Sec. 16)

How should the court adjudge the case?

Sec. 16 - If the allegations in the petition are proven by substantial evidence, the court shall:

  • ENJOIN the act

  • ORDER the DDR (deletion, destruction or rectification) of the erroneous data or information and GRANT reliefs as may be just and equitable

    Otherwise (no substantial evidence)

     The privilege of the writ shall be DENIED.

How is a decision appealed?

Sec. 19 - Any party may appeal from the judgment or final order to the Supreme Court under Rule 45. The appeal may raise questions of fact or law or both. The period of appeal shall be five (5) days from the date of notice or judgment or final order. The appeal shall be given the same priority as habeas corpus or amparo cases.

SAEZ v. MACAPAGAL-ARROYOG.R. No. 183533 (2012)


  • Petition to be granted the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data

  • Court issued writ of amparo, commanding return, referred the case to the CA (hearing & decision)

  • Being followed by “Joel”; afraid of Pvt. Osio in Calapan pier

SAEZ v. MACAPAGAL-ARROYOG.R. No. 183533 (2012)

CA’s Ruling

  • CA denied on formal and substantial grounds the reliefs prayed for in the petition and dropping former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as a respondent.

  • Section 16, Rule on the WHB - the parties shall establish their claims by substantial evidence.

     This, the petitioner failed to do

SAEZ v. MACAPAGAL-ARROYOG.R. No. 183533 (2012)

  • Petition for Review filed before the SC was, at first, denied

  • Upon MR, the Court took cognizance of salient matters


    Whether there were substantial evidence to prove petitioner’s claims

SAEZ v. MACAPAGAL-ARROYOG.R. No. 183533 (2012)


  • Section 19 of both the Rules on the Writ of Amparoand Habeas Data is explicit that questions of fact and law can be raised before the Court in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.

  • The Court agrees with the CA that the petitioner failed to discharge the burden of proof imposed upon him by the rules to establish his claims.


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