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Atty. Mel Sta. Maria teaches at the Ateneo School of Law, and is the resident legal analyst of TV5. He co-hosts the radio program Relasyon every weekday on Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM.
You might not want to read what I am going to say but here goes.
The video of a girl berating a security guard has gone viral. This is unfortunate. I pity the girl. For me, there is something wrong in the posting of that video. While anyone is free to take pictures or videos, he or she must nevertheless not abuse that right.
This means the photographer or the videoer must not use it to hurt, embarass, or humiliate other people in the exercise of his or her right.
If there is abuse, he or she can be held accountable for the injury to the one embarrassed. This is what we call in law the ABUSE OF RIGHT DOCTRINE. This precept is embodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code providing that "every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith".
Also Article 26 relevantly provides that "every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons" by not, among others, "intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends" or "disturbing the private life or family relations of another."
Upon the posting of the video, how much of the girl's "peace of mind" was seriously disturbed and how much did this affect her "private life or relations with her family"? Could it even have caused her "to be alienated from her friends"?
Under this doctrine, you might technically do something "legal" but you can still hurt people and may be held liable.
That the actions of the "berating" girl occurred in a public place is not even relevant. True, the girl might have overreacted in that incident and true, based only on the video, the security guard appears to be soft spoken. It is probably also true that the reaction of the girl might be wrong. But this does not give any other person the license to humiliate and embarass her with millions of people by posting the video (especially if he - or she - has nothing to do with the incident).
A wrong cannot be corrected by another wrong. The one who posted the video may claim some "justifiable" motive for his actions, but the sincerity, truthfulness and repercussions of his deed must more importantly be judged by the most elementary tenets of decency, prudence, fairness and respect for the rights of others.
Surely the video can potentially be seen many times over by millions of netizens worldwide. It can be duplicated and commented upon over and over again. These are the foreseeable consequences. The potential for damage to another is quite predictable.
Posting the video was hugely unfair to the girl. And this unfairness could cause and probably might have caused her already enormous anguish and a degree of shame beyond the acceptable.
There is no such thing as the liberty to hurt people. By the way, the Cybercrime law is irrelevant in this case. You do not need that law to hold accountable an abuser of right. As I said, if warranted, there are already appropriate laws to address this situation. You have the “abuse of right doctrine” under the Civil Code, and if criminal intent is proven, the posting may even be tantamount to slander by deed under the Revised Penal Code.
As the legal anecdote goes, you have the right to sway your arms and hands, but when you sway them without regard to the rights of the person in front of you, and you hit him, you will be liable on the basis of the abuse of right doctrine.
And so I think, the girl might have overreacted, but the one who posted this video might have also done the same.
Who did the most harm?
Pasensya na kung medyo hindi ako tumugma sa nakakaraming opinyon. Iyan lang ang sa akin. Naawa rin ako sa batikos na natanggap ng babae. Mukhang hindi naman dapat karapatdapat.