MANILA - The Supreme Court has ordered the Court of Appeals to conduct hearings on a petition filed questioning the surveillance funds of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The high court issued today a writ of habeas data on behalf of the Automated Election System (AES) Watch.
The issuance of the writ is only procedural, which means that the Court of Appeals will have to source comments from the parties involved.
A writ of habeas data protects the image and privacy of a person. It can be used to find out what information is being kept against a person.
“The issuance of a writ of habeas data will prompt the procedure of submission [of the parties’ replies]. Upon submission, the court may conduct a summary hearing and render judgment,” SC spokesman Theodore Te said.
Only then can the court “grant” the writ of habeas data.
Petitioners led by former Comelec Commissioner Augusto “Gus” Lagman, UP law professor Harry Roque Jr. and whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. earlier questioned the legality of the intelligence funds.
They alleged that the “illegally-gathered information are being used to prosecute critics of the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) automated elections technology suite for election sabotage and other applicable offenses or crimes.”
They also asked the SC to order the Comelec to disclose the pieces of information they have in their keeping and then “permanently suppress, destroy or permanently seal” these.
The AES Watch has long been criticizing the use of the precinct count optical scan machines.