I am the wife of an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) and living in an exclusive subdivision. My husband is working abroad full-time and comes home to me and our two children only twice a year since 2014. We have been residents of this subdivision since my husband and I got married in the 1990s. We have known our neighbors through the years although I have always kept my distance from them to avoid chismis going around our village as we have decided to start seeing other people.
One day, I was informed by one of our neighbors that a picture of my husband with his alleged female lover was circulating in social media in what appears to be a post showing that my husband is indeed happier with the other woman and that we have already separated, to my humiliation and my two children’s. I found out that this was perpetuated by one of my bitter neighbors who has always been jealous of me. What legal actions can I take against my neighbor who publicized our domestic issues? Can I file a case?
Dear Mrs. XYZ,
Based on the facts you have mentioned, your recourse against your prying neighbor is to file a civil action for damages based on a violation of Article 26 of the New Civil Code (NCC). The provision of law expressly provides:
“Article 26. 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.” [Emphasis supplied.]
Applying the above-quoted provision of the NCC, it clearly appears that your bitter neighbor’s circulation of a social media post, although not constituting as a criminal offense, has caused a violation of your right to privacy and peace of mind. Worse, the act of circulating a photo of your husband is a form of prying into your privacy and a disturbance of your peaceful private life and family relations. Lastly, the consequence of such circulation may have also caused you intrigues, which resulted in alienation from your friends. Verily, Article 26 of the NCC provides you with sufficient legal basis for you to claim damages against your jealous neighbor for the circulation of private matters pertaining to your family.
We find it necessary to mention that this option is only but one of many other actions you may choose to pursue against your neighbor. Moreover, this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Thus, 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