I replied, in part, as follows:
Zones of privacy are recognized and protected under Philippine laws. The Civil Code provides that "[e]very person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons" and punishes as actionable torts several acts for meddling and prying into the privacy of another. Xxx. Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law.
Moreover, the right of privacy is recognized and enshrined in several provisions of the Philippines Constitution. It is expressly recognized in Section 3(1) of the Bill of Rights :
"Sec. 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law."
Other facets of the right to privacy are protected in various provisions of the Bill of Rights, viz:ry
"Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
Sec. 2 . The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a mass society. The threats emanate from various sources-- governments, journalists, employers, social scientists, etc”. In no uncertain terms, the right to privacy does not bar all incursions into individual privacy. Xxx. The right is not intended to stifle scientific and technological advancements that enhance public service and the common good.
Within the zones of privacy, any form of intrusion is impermissible unless excused by law and in accordance with customary legal process. Xxx the right to privacy is a 'constitutional right and 'the right most valued by civilized men, xxx adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which mandates 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.
Based on the foregoing discussion, I believe that the intended installation of hidden video surveillance cameras to primarily “bait” its employees is an intrusive invasion of privacy of the employees and is in violation of Philippine privacy laws particularly Republic Act No. 4200, and otherwise known as “An Act To Prohibit And Penalize Wire Tapping And Other Related Violations Of The Privacy Of Communication, And For Other Purposes” (for brevity “Anti-Wire Tapping Law”).
Under the statute, however, there is a way to make the installation of video surveillance lawful and not in violation of the right to privacy of the employees.
The Anti – Wire Tapping Law makes it
"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 detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described.
It shall also be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next preceding sentence, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person or persons; or to communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person: Provided, That the use of such record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses mentioned in Sec. 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition.
Any person who wilfully or knowingly does or who shall aid, permit, or cause to be done any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the preceding Sec. or who violates the provisions of the following Sec. or of any order issued thereunder, or aids, permits, or causes such violation shall, upon conviction thereof.
Any communication or spoken word, or the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the same or any part thereof, or any information therein contained obtained or secured by any person in violation of the preceding Section of this Act shall not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation."
Thus, in accordance with the above-quoted provisions of the Anti-Wire Tapping Law, surveillance cameras can be set up and used for a variety of different security applications in the workplace, provided that the same is authorized by all the parties. “Parties” can include employees, officers, visitors, contractors and all persons who come in the building. The way to get the authorization of these “Parties” is through posting of “signs” on the wall and “notices” on conspicuous places. The fact that employees might have already known the existence of the surveillance cameras around is not enough. There should be a sign legible enough for ALL the Parties (not just employees) to know that surveillance cameras are actually in placed and is working. Lacking these required notices makes the recording a real “bait” or a “fishing expedition" and the same is inadmissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation as provided for in the Anti-Wire Tapping Law.
2.) If an employee is committing theft in the workplace, could he/she be dismissed?
Yes. The Philippine Labor Code authorizes an employer to terminate the services of an employee for loss of trust and confidence, provided that the loss of confidence arises from particular proven facts.
Article 282(c) of the Labor Code, provides that “employer may terminate an employment for “fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or his duly authorized representative.”
One jurisprudence provides that “A company has the right to dismiss its erring employees if only as a measure of self-protection against acts inimical to its interest”. In another decision of the Supreme Court, it states that “Loss of confidence is established as a valid ground for the dismissal of an employee. The law does not require proof beyond reasonable doubt of the employee’s misconduct to invoke such a justification. It is sufficient that there is some basis for the loss of trust or that the employer has reasonable grounds to believe that the employee is responsible for the misconduct and his participation therein renders him unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded of his position”.
Dismissal of an employee caught of committing theft (by means of a video surveillance) is a recognized right of the employer as a measure of self-protection against acts inimical to its interest. An employer cannot be compelled to continue in employment an employee guilty of acts inimical to its interest, justifying loss of confidence in him.
May I reiterate, however, that in view of the right to privacy of the employees again as sanctioned under the Bill of Rights, due process has to be observed in cases of termination. Due process in terminating employee on this ground (or any ground for that matter) demands that the employer should furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the cause[s] for termination and afford him ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of a representative if he so desires. Specifically, the employer must furnish the worker with two written notices before termination of employment can be legally effected:  notice which apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and  the subsequent notice which informs the employee of the employer's decision to dismiss him.