Can You Record Conversations in The Philippines?
The Philippines is a two-party consent state which means you must obtain the consent of all the parties to a conversation before recording.
So if you’re trying to record a phone call or conversation, you need to make sure everyone taking part has consented to the recording, regardless of whether or not you’re taking part in the communication.
Recording, in this case, refers to using a recording device to capture information. Examples of such devices include cameras, phones, voice recorders, etc.
Failure to obtain consent will result in a violation of The Philippines Anti-Wiretapping Law.
Section 1 of the Anti-Wiretapping Act states 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 walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described.”
In addition, Section 1 of the Act also makes it illegal to possess recordings recorded illegally in violation of the act or disseminate or spread such recordings to other parties, regardless of whether or not you were a participant in the illegal recording.
The Supreme Court, in the cases of Mamba vs. Garcia (G.R. No. 93833, 28 September 1995), and Office of the Court Administrator vs. Floro (G.R. No. RTJ-99-1460, 31 March 2006), ruled that recordings of a conversation between a judge and another person (s) cannot be conducted in a judge’s chambers without the consent of all the parties to the conversation.
Are Recordings Admissible in Court?
Unlawful recordings recorded in violation of Section 1 of the Anti-Wiretapping Act are NOT admissible as evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation, regardless of whether or not the recordings are relevant to the case.
This is according to Section 4 of the Anti-Wiretapping Act.
Note: Section 3 of the Act allows law enforcement to obtain court orders allowing them to record with or without consent communications in cases involving crimes such as treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping as defined by the Revised Penal Code, and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616, punishing espionage and other offences against national security.
Philippines Video Recording Laws
When it comes to recording videos, the Anti-Wiretapping Law only addresses recording videos during communications. In this case, it is illegal to record videos of communications without the consent of all the participants in the communication.
When it comes to recording videos of others in public and private places that do not capture communications, the law is not clear whether this is illegal.
However, it is advisable to avoid recording people in places where they expect to be free from surveillance or with a reasonable expectation of privacy. Such places include inside homes, washrooms, hotel rooms, changing rooms, etc.
Failure to do this may result in a violation of privacy according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which The Philippines is a signatory.
The UDHR states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy” and “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
Any person who willfully, knowingly violates or who aids, permits, or causes to be done any violation of a provision under the Anti-Wiretapping Law shall be punished, upon conviction, by imprisonment of between 6 months to 6 years.
If the offender is a public official at the time of the offence, he or she shall be dismissed, and if the offender is an alien, he or she shall be subject to deportation proceedings.