Last Updated on May 18, 2023
Are you in need of a private investigator in the Philippines? Do you feel like you’re at a loss because you don’t know if it’s legal?
The thought of hiring someone to investigate your personal or business affairs can be daunting and stressful, especially when you’re unsure of the legalities around it.
In this article, however, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about private investigations in the Philippines, so you can make an informed decision and alleviate any worries you may have.
The Legal Framework for Private Investigation in the Philippines
Private investigation is legal in the Philippines but subject to certain laws and regulations.
This section will discuss the country’s legal framework for private investigation.
The Private Detective and Watchman Agency Law
The Private Detective and Watchman Agency Law, also known as Republic Act No. 5487, is the primary law that governs private investigation in the Philippines.
The law defines a private detective agency as a “person or entity engaged in the detective, watchman, or security guard business for hire or reward.” It requires all private detective agencies to obtain a license from the Philippine National Police (PNP) before engaging in any private detective work.
Under the law, private detectives are authorized to conduct investigations related to crimes, offenses, or any matter of public interest. They can also provide security services, such as watchman and guard duties.
However, the law prohibits private detectives from carrying firearms or other deadly weapons on duty.
The Data Privacy Act of 2012
Private detectives are also subject to the Data Privacy Act of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10173.
It regulates public and private entities’ collection, use, storage, and disclosure of personal information. It also requires all entities that process personal information to register with the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and comply with specific data protection principles.
Since private investigators gather evidence and personal information, they must ensure they have a legal basis for processing them, such as consent from the data subject or legitimate interest.
They must also implement appropriate security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, disclosure, or destruction.
Licensing and Registration Requirements for Private Investigators
Private investigation is regulated in the Philippines, and investigators must comply with licensing and registration requirements to operate legally.
These requirements ensure that private investigators are qualified and trustworthy and conduct their activities lawfully and ethically.
Below are two types of private investigators that must operate with a license and the requirements that each must submit to obtain it:
Requirements for Individual Private Investigators
Individuals who wish to work as private investigators in the Philippines must obtain a license from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
To be eligible for a license, an individual must meet the following requirements:
Be a Filipino citizen
Be at least 25 years old
Have a bachelor’s degree in criminology, law, or any related field
Have at least three years of experience in law enforcement or investigation
Pass a written examination conducted by the PNP
After obtaining a license, they must renew it every two years and undergo continuing education and training.
Requirements for Private Detective and Watchman Agencies
Private detective and watchman agencies must also register with the PNP to operate legally in the Philippines.
To register, agencies must meet the following requirements:
Have a valid business permit and clearance from the Department of Trade and Industry
Have a registered office in the Philippines
Have at least one licensed private investigator as a principal officer
Have a minimum capitalization of PHP 100,000 for a single proprietorship or PHP 500,000 for a corporation
Provide proof of insurance coverage for its operations
In addition, private detective and watchman agencies must comply with various rules and regulations governing their activities, including:
Conducting investigations only for lawful purposes
Obtaining written consent from the subject of an investigation before conducting surveillance or gathering information about them
Maintaining confidentiality and not disclosing information obtained during an investigation to unauthorized parties
Private investigators and agencies that violate these rules and regulations may face disciplinary action, including revocation of their license or registration and criminal charges.
Limitations and Restrictions on Private Investigation in the Philippines
Since private investigations in the Philippines, individuals and agencies are subject to several limitations and restrictions. They must comply with the laws and regulations set forth by the government to avoid legal consequences.
Prohibited Acts for Private Investigators
Licensed private investigators in the Philippines cannot engage in certain activities. These prohibited acts include:
Engaging in actions that violate an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, such as trespassing on private property
Violating existing local and federal laws, including the Data Privacy Act
Impersonating a government official, employee, or a law enforcement officer
Carrying firearms or any deadly weapon while conducting an investigation
Using force or intimidation to obtain information
Interfering with activities of law enforcement officers, such as obstructing a criminal investigation
Engaging in activities that may be harmful to public order, safety, or morals
If the private investigator you hired is committing any of the acts below and breaking other local laws in your area, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement and report this person.
Limitations on the Use of Electronic Surveillance and Other Investigative Techniques
Philippine private investigators are also subject to limitations on electronic surveillance and other investigative techniques. The use of these techniques must comply with the following guidelines:
The use of electronic surveillance must be authorized by a court order or warrant
The use of GPS tracking devices must be approved by a court order or warrant
The use of hidden cameras or other recording devices must comply with the Data Privacy Act and other relevant laws
Private investigators must not engage in hacking, phishing, or other illegal activities to obtain information
If private investigators hack the social media accounts of people you want to track, these people are not trustworthy. Again, report these investigators to a law enforcement or police officer to avoid legal trouble.
Penalties for Violations of Private Investigation Laws in the Philippines
Private investigators must follow strict regulations and laws to ensure that they do not infringe on the privacy rights of individuals.
Violations of these laws can result in severe administrative and criminal penalties.
Private investigators who violate the regulations the National Privacy Commission (NPC) set forth can face administrative penalties. These penalties include fines, suspension or revocation of their license, and even imprisonment.
According to NPC Circular No. 2021-01, private investigators who fail to comply with the rules of procedure for investigations can be fined up to PHP 500,000. Additionally, their license can be suspended or revoked, and they may be barred from practicing as a private investigator.
In addition to administrative penalties, private investigators who violate the law can face criminal charges. The penalties for criminal violations can include imprisonment and fines.
Under Republic Act No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, private investigators who engage in cybercrime activities can be punished with imprisonment and a fine. The severity of the penalty depends on the nature of the crime committed.
Similarly, Republic Act No. 7438, also known as the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, or Under Custodial Investigation Act, sets forth penalties for private investigators who violate the rights of individuals during an investigation. Private investigators who fail to provide the arrested or detained person with their rights can be punished with imprisonment and a fine.
Private investigators in the Philippines must adhere to the laws and regulations set forth by the NPC and other governing bodies to avoid penalties. Violations of these laws can lead to severe consequences, including administrative and criminal penalties.
Private investigation is legal in the Philippines but must follow certain limitations and regulations. Understanding these regulations before hiring a private investigator is important to ensure you’re not breaking any laws.
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