celebrity deaths

Ronaldo Valdez case: A grieving family’s pushback vs invasion of privacy

Jairo Bolledo

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Ronaldo Valdez case: A grieving family’s pushback vs invasion of privacy
The QCPD says five cops will face administrative charges, with dismissal from service as possible maximum penalty

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran actor Ronaldo Valdez left an indelible mark on the Philippine entertainment industry due to his unforgettable performances in countless movies and television shows.

He passed away in December last year at age 76. Valdez’s death did not only crush his loved ones’ hearts, but also signaled the start of a painful battle.

Singer Janno Gibbs held a press conference on January 15 to air their sentiments about the unfortunate events that followed after his father’s passing. Gibbs, speaking to media, slammed the Philippine National Police (PNP) and demanded an apology from them due to the leak of his father’s video.

“Such reckless actions of certain individuals in leaking sensitive information are deeply alarming, not just for my family, but for society as a whole. We therefore demand that the PNP and the officers directly accountable for the lapses in the investigation make a public apology for the breach of trust and the trauma caused to my family,” the singer said.

On the same day, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) of the National Capital Region Police Office issued an apology.

“The QCPD extends its sincere apologies to the Gibbs family regarding the recent incident where a member of our police force inappropriately took a video of the late Mr. Ronaldo Valdez.  We acknowledge the gravity of this lapse in judgment of some of our personnel, and we deeply regret any distress this may have caused,” it said.

A video showing the retrieval of Valdez’s bloodied body made the rounds on social media. Gibbs said the video went viral on the same day the incident happened. Not only that, their family address, as well as the confidential details behind his father’s passing, also circulated, the singer added.

Ang sagot sa ‘kin, ‘Naku, sir. Hindi natin maiiwasan ‘yan kasi pinapasa talaga namin sa mga superiors sa iba-ibang ano. Hindi talaga maiiwasan ‘yan,‘” Gibbs said, narrating the police’s response to him about the leak. (Their response to me: “That’s inevitable, sir, because we send those information to our superiors and to others. That’s really inevitable.”)

What made things worse was the disinformation on Gibbs – some vloggers accused him of being involved in his father’s demise. During the presser, Gibbs mentioned the vloggers’ names and the misleading headlines they used.

Ganito na ba kababa, kadesperado ang mga vloggers for likes and views at the expense of our lives, my father’s reputation, my family? Gano’n na ba talaga kadesperado?” Gibbs said.

Sa kanilang lahat, ‘yong mga binanggit ko, at pati sa lahat ng netizens na nag-share, nagpasa ng video, I want to say shame on you, or better yet, fuck you. I think that’s the better statement,” he added.

(Is this how low, desperate vloggers are for likes and views, at the expense of our loves, my father’s reputation, my family. Is this how desperate you really are? To all those I’ve mentioned and to all the netizens who shared the video, I want to say shame on you, or better yet, fuck you. I think that’s the better statement.)

An article by Rappler also fact-checked a claim that Gibbs was involved in his father’s passing over an alleged inheritance feud. The Rappler’s fact-check team rated the claim as false.

Must Read

FACT CHECK: Janno Gibbs not involved in death of father Ronaldo Valdez

FACT CHECK: Janno Gibbs not involved in death of father Ronaldo Valdez
How did the video end up being leaked?

In a report, the QCPD explained that the video in question was taken by personnel of QCPD station 11 (Galas) who first responded to the incident.

Citing the investigation of the Quezon City Anti-Cybercrime Team, the QCPD said another personnel of Galas police station posted Valdez’s video in a Viber group. The probe also disclosed that three Facebook accounts of civilians were identified as the first to upload the video and compilation of photos.

QCPD chief Police Brigadier General Redrico Maranan ordered the relief of the Galas police station commander, citing command responsibility. The two police personnel who took and shared the video were also relieved from their assignments.

The commander and the two personnel were reassigned to the QCPD’s personnel holding administrative section, the QCPD said, pending the investigation.

Relief from posts is different from dismissal because the latter means the cops would no longer be part of the police force. Relief, meanwhile, means they would be removed from their current positions and would be reassigned to a different post.

Privacy concerns

The Valdez incident was high-profile not only because it involved a celebrity, but also because it revealed lapses in the police’s handling of a crime scene. It involved a breach of the family’s privacy.

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, Gibbs’ counsel, reiterated that the Gibbs’ family has a right to privacy.

For ongoing investigation, dapat walang leakage. Meron tayong privacy ng family, meron din tayong confidential data and information. So mishandling talaga (There should not be leakage for any ongoing investigation. The family should have privacy, and there’s also confidential data and information. So this is really mishandling,” the family’s counsel said.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun reiterated Kapunan’s point.

“Yes, you may take pics and videos to document. Definitely not to be carelessly released especially to the public,” Fortun said.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Ephraim Cortez, meanwhile, also believes there is liability on the part of authorities: “As to the liability of the police officers who leaked the photo, they are administratively liable. While its publication, without consent of the relative, violates their right to privacy.”

Valdez is not the first celebrity death that involves privacy concerns.

When basketball superstar Kobe Bryant passed away due to a helicopter crash in January 2020, some photos of the incident were leaked. Vanessa Bryant, the basketball superstar’s wife, sued some agencies and employees of the Los Angeles County for sharing the said photos. The New York Times summarized Vanessa’s legal battle in a comprehensive report.

Bryant shared in her testimony the pain she went through after finding out about the leakage. She accused the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and employees of the fire department of negligence and invasion of privacy, the US-based news agency reported.

During the court proceedings, Bryant’s lawyers noted that “close-up pictures” of the basketball superstar and his daughter “were passed around on at least 28 Sheriff’s Department devices and by at least a dozen firefighters.” Bryant’s arguments also mentioned that some social media users also saw the photos, the New York Times added.

In response, the Los Angeles County said the photos were shared, but argued they were deleted. Last year, on February 28, the New York Times reported that Bryant and the county had a settlement, where the latter agreed to pay the family $28.85 million over the leak.

Ronaldo Valdez case: A grieving family’s pushback vs invasion of privacy
What happens now?

Unlike the Bryant family, Gibbs said they have decided not to pursue a complaint against those involved in the leak.

Naisip ko, no amount of damages, pera, no amount of that can erase ‘yong trauma. Nandiyan na eh, nangyari na…No amount of money or jail time can erase this,” the singer explained. (I thought, no amount of damages, money, no amount of that can erase the trauma. It’s there, it already happened.)

“I do not wish this on anybody else that’s why I’m doing this. Ayoko nang mangyari sa ibang tao itong nangyari sa amin (I don’t want others to experience what we went through),” he added.

Regardless, the cops involved in the leakage of Valdez’s video will face necessary sanctions. The QCPD said a total of five cops will face the following administrative charges, with dismissal from service as possible maximum penalty.

  • Neglect of duty
  • Grave irregularity in the performance of duty
  • Grave misconduct in relation to Republic Act (RA) No. 10173 (Data Privacy Act of 2012) and RA No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012)
  • Conduct unbecoming of a police officer
  • Grave misconduct in relation to Presidential Decree No. 1829 (Obstruction of Justice)

Three police officers will also face a charge for neglect of duty due to command responsibility. Aside from the cops, the QCPD said “legal actions” will also be initiated against civilians under data privacy and cybercrime prevention acts over the unauthorized dissemination of Valdez’s video. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.