Dindo, who is a friend of my husband, always accompanies the latter in his trips in the province. I have no problem with that from the beginning, but my relationship with my husband began to turn sour when Dindo’s suggestions or recommendations with respect to my family’s affairs were always followed by my husband. This was the source of our quarrels until such time that my husband left our house.
I have already filed a complaint before our Barangay, but the proceedings conducted proved futile. I intended to file a complaint for oral defamation against Dindo, but the Barangay Chairman told me that Dindo’s action does not fall under the elements of Oral Defamation. What should I do?
Your Barangay Chairman is correct in saying that Dindo cannot be made liable for Oral Defamation (Slander). Slander is libel committed by oral (spoken) means, instead of in writing. The term oral defamation or slander as now understood, has been defined as the speaking of base and defamatory words which tend to prejudice another in his reputation, office, trade, business or means of livelihood (Villanueva vs People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 160351, April 10, 2006).
In your situation, Dindo’s action may fall under Article 26 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which states that: “Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief: 1) prying into the privacy of another’s residence; 2) meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another; 3) intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends; 4) vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect or other personal condition.”
The Supreme Court explained the rationale of the said provision in the case of Manaloto et. al., vs Veloso III (G.R. No. 171365, October 6, 2010):
The philosophy behind Art. 26 underscores the necessity for its inclusion in our civil law.
The Code Commission stressed in no uncertain terms that the human personality must be exalted. The sacredness of human personality is a concomitant consideration of every plan for human amelioration. The touchstone of every system of law, of the culture and civilization of every country, is how far it dignifies man. If the statutes insufficiently protect a person from being unjustly humiliated, in short, if human personality is not exalted – then the laws are indeed defective. Thus, under this article, the rights of persons are amply protected, and damages are provided for violations of a person’s dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind.
Thus, if you have enough evidence, you can file for civil action for damages based on Article 26 of the Civil Code of the Philippines against Dindo because he is meddling with your family relations.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org