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A. Concept of Bill of Rights

The protection of fundamental liberties in the essence of constitutional democracy. Protection against whom? Protection against the state. The Bill of Rights governs the relationship between the individual and the state. Its concern is not the relation between individuals, between a private individual and other individuals. What the Bill of Rights does is to declare some forbidden zones in the private sphere inaccessible to any power holder. (Sponsorship Speech of Commissioner Bernas; Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. 1, p. 674; July 17,1986; Italics supplied)

That the Bill of Rights embodied in the Constitution is not meant to be invoked against acts of private individuals. (People v. Marti, G.R. No. 81561, 18 January 1991)

Simply put, the Bill of Rights affords protection against possible State oppression against its citizens, but not against an unjust or repressive conduct by a private party towards another. (J. Tinga, Separate Opinion in Agabon v. NLRC, G.R. No. 158693, 17 November 2004)

1. Privacy and autonomy

The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. (Morfe v. Mutuc, En Banc, G.R. No. L-20387, 31 January 1968)

Liberty in the constitutional sense must mean more than freedom from unlawful governmental restraint; it must include privacy as well, if it is to be a repository of freedom. The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom. (Justice Douglas in Public Utilities Commission v. Pollak, 343 U. S. 451, 467 (1952) cited in Morfe v. Mutuc, supra.)

As a matter of fact, this right to be let alone is, to quote from Mr. Justice Brandeis “the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” (Morfe v. Mutuc, supra.)

Ople v. Torres reveals how the Supreme Court has come to recognize privacy as a component of liberty under the Due Process Clause and as a constitutional right arising from zones created by several other provisions of the Constitution. Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, for this Court, explained that privacy finds express recognition in Section 3 of Article III of the Constitution which speaks of the privacy of communication and correspondence. He further stated that there are other facets of privacy protected under various provisions of the Constitution such as the Due Process Clause, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the liberty of abode and of changing the same, the right of association and the right against self-incrimination. (J. Jardeleza, Concurring Opinion in Capin-Cadiz v. Brent Hospital and Colleges, Inc, G.R. No. 187417, 24 February 2016)

2. Relation to human rights

a. PRIMACY OF HUMAN RIGHTS

While the Bill of Rights also protects property rights, the primacy of human rights over property rights is recognized. Because these freedoms are “delicate and vulnerable, as well as supremely precious in our society” and the “threat of sanctions may deter their exercise almost as potently as the actual application of sanctions,” they “need breathing space to survive,” permitting government regulation only “with narrow specificity.” (Philippine Blooming Mills Employment Organization v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., En Banc, G.R. No. L-31195, 05 June 1973)

As heretofore stated, the primacy of human rights – freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of petition for redress of grievances – over property rights has been sustained. (Ibid.)

The right of free expression stands as a hallmark of the modern democratic and humane state. Not only does it assure a person’s right to say freely what is thought freely, it likewise evinces the polity’s freedom from psychological insecurity. This fundamental liberty is translated into the constitutional guarantee that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or the press, contained in the Bill of Rights, which itself obtains a position of primacy in our fundamental law. (Guingguing v. CA, G.R. No. 128959, 30 September 2005)

Freedom of expression is a “preferred” right and, therefore, stands on a higher level than substantive economic or other liberties. The primacy, the high estate accorded freedom of expression is a fundamental postulate of our constitutional system. (Salonga v. Paño, En Banc, G.R. No. L-59524, 18 February 1985)

The freedom of religion enjoys a preferred status among the rights conferred to each citizen by our fundamental charter. (Almores v. Achacoso, G.R. No. 217453, 19 July 2017)

Next B. Due process of law
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