Monday, February 6, 2012

Meralco v Lim (2010) GR No 184769

J. Carpio-Morales

A letter was sent to the Meralco admin department in bulacan denouncing Lim, an administrative clerk. She was ordered to be transferred to Alabang due to concerns over her safety. She complained under the premise that the transfer was a denial of her due process. She wrote a letter stating that:
“It appears that the veracity of these accusations and threats to be [sic] highly suspicious, doubtful or are just mere jokes if they existed at all.” She added, “instead of the management supposedly extending favor to me, the net result and effect of management action would be a punitive one.” She asked for deferment thereafter. Since the company didn’t respond, she filed for a writ of habeas data in the Bulacan RTC due to meralco’s omission of provding her with details about the report of the letter. To her, this constituted a violation of her liberty and security. She asked for disclosure of the data and measures for keeping the confidentiality of the data.
Meralco filed a reply saying that the jurisdiction was with the NLRC and that the petition wasn’t in order.
Trial court ruled in her favor.
In the SC, Meralco petitioned that Habeas Data applies to entities engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding an aggrieved party’s person, family or home

Issue: Is Habeas Data the right remedy for Lim?

Held: No, petition dismissed

“Section 1. Habeas Data. – 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 of 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”
It’s a forum for enforcing one’s right to the truth. Like amparo, habeas data was a response to killings and enforced disappearances.
Castillo v Cruz- and habeas data will NOT issue to protect purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds invoked in support of the petitions therefor are vague or doubtful.
Employment is a property right in the due process clause. Lim was concerned with her employment, one that can be solved in the NLRC.
There was no violation of respondent’s right to privacy. Respondent even said that the letters were mere jokes and even conceded the fact that the issue was labor related due to references to “real intent of management”.

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