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of August 28, 1987 and relieved of their duties in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), seek the issuance of the writs of certiorari and prohibition (1) to set aside, as null and void, the "pre-trial investigation" report finding a prima facie case against them and recommending their trial for mutiny and conduct unbecoming an officer and the denial of their motion for reconsideration, and (2) to enjoin respondent General Court Martial No. 8 from further proceeding in the case of "People v. Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan, et al." Further, petitioner Kapunan seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to procure his release from confinement. In the aftermath of the failed August 28, 1987 coup d'etat where cadets of the Philippine Military Academy reportedly openly supported the plotters and issued statements to that effect. PMA Board of Officers to investigate the alleged involvement of officers and cadets of the PMA [Rollo, p. 187]. A fact-finding investigation was conducted by the PMA Board from September 1 to 11, 1987 and on September 23, 1987 it submitted its findings to the AFP Chief of Staff. Charge sheets were filed against petitioners for mutiny and conduct unbecoming an officer and a "pre-trial investigation" was conducted by respondent Maj. Baldonado. Kapunan was allegedly summoned to the General Headquarters of the AFP for a dialogue, but upon his arrival thereat on September 4, 1987 he was ordered confined under "house arrest" by then Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos. On February 19, 1988, the arrest of petitioner Kapunan, together with three (3) others, was ordered by respondent Chief of Staff De Villa in connection with the killing of Atty. Rolando Olalia and Leonore Alay-ay Issue: Whether or not the house arrest or confinement of Kapunan is illegal Ruling: the Court Resolved to DISMISS the Petition . The Court finds that petitioner Kapunan's continued confinement is not tainted with illegality. Among the grounds for the disallowance of the writ of habeas corpus is that the applicant has been charged with or convicted of in offense [Sec. 4, Rule 102, Rules of Court]. In the instant case, petitioner Kapunan had been charged with mutiny, a serious offense punishable by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct. There is a legal cause of his confinement. Art. 70. Arrest or confinement.—Any person subject to military law charged with crime or with a serious offense under these Articles shall be
placed in confinement or in arrest, as circumstances may require; but when charged with a minor offense only, such person shall not ordinarily be placed in confinement. Any person placed in arrest under the provisions of this article shall thereby be restricted to his barracks, quarters, or tent, unless such limits shall be enlarged by proper authority. ... It cannot be gainsaid that certain liberties of persons in the military service, including the freedom of speech, may be circumscribed by rules of military discipline. Thus, to a certain degree, individual rights may be curtailed, because the effectiveness of the military in fulfilling its duties under the law depends to a large extent on the maintenance of discipline within its ranks. Lagunzad vs Gonzales Facts: The present controversy stems from a "Licensing Agreement" entered into by and between petitioner Manuel M. Lagunzad and private respondent Maria Soto Vda. de Gonzales. Petitioner Manuel Lagunzad, a newspaperman, began the production of a movie entitled "The Moises Padilla Story" under the name of his own business outfit, the "MML Productions." It was based mainly on the copyrighted but unpublished book of Atty. Ernesto Rodriguez, Jr., entitled "The Long Dark Night in Negros" subtitled "The Moises Padilla Story," 1 the rights to which petitioner had purchased from Atty. Rodriguez in the amount of P2,000.00. Although the emphasis of the movie was on the public life of Moises Padilla, there were portions which dealt with his private and family life including the portrayal in some scenes, of his mother, Maria Soto Vda. de Gonzales, private respondent herein, and of one "Auring" as his girl friend. Mrs. Amante, for and in behalf of her mother, private respondent, demanded in writing for certain changes, corrections and deletions in the movie. Petitioner takes the position that he was pressured into signing the Agreement because of private respondent's demand, through Mrs. Amante, for payment for the "exploitation" of the life story of Moises Padilla, otherwise, she would "call a press conference declaring the whole picture as a fake, fraud and a hoax and would denounce the whole thing in the press, radio, television and that they were going to Court to stop the picture. Issue: Whether or not the Licensing agreement infringes his right to freedom of speech and the press Ruling: Petition for Review is denied and the judgment appealed from hereby affirmed. Costs against
petitioner . While it is true that petitioner had purchased the rights to the book entitled "The Moises Padilla Story," that did not dispense with the need for prior consent and authority from the deceased heirs to portray publicly episodes in said deceased's life and in that of his mother and the members of his family. As held in Schuyler v. Curtis, 14 "a privilege may be given the surviving relatives of a deceased person to protect his memory, but the privilege exists for the benefit of the living, to protect their feelings and to prevent a violation of their own rights in the character and memory of the deceased." Petitioner's averment that private respondent did not have any property right over the life of Moises Padilla since the latter was a public figure, is neither well taken. Being a public figure ipso facto does not automatically destroy in toto a person's right to privacy. The right to invade a person's privacy to disseminate public information does not extend to a fictional or novelized representation of a person, no matter how public a figure he or she may be. . A contract is valid even though one of the parties entered into it against his own wish and desires, or even against his better judgment. neither do we find merit in petitioner's contention that the Licensing Agreement infringes on the constitutional right of freedom of speech and of the press, in that, as a citizen and as a newspaperman, he had the right to express his thoughts in film on the public life of Moises Padilla without prior restraint. The right of freedom of expression, indeed, occupies a preferred position in the "hierarchy of civil liberties. Another criterion for permissible limitation on freedom of speech and of the press, which includes such vehicles of the mass media as radio, television and the movies, is the "balancingof-interests test. the interests observable are the right to privacy asserted by respondent and the right of -freedom of expression invoked by petitioner. the Licensing Agreement entered into by petitioner, the validity of such agreement will have to be upheld particularly because the limits of freedom of expression are reached when expression touches upon matters of essentially private concern. Adiong v Comelec FACTS: On January 13, 1992, the COMELEC
promulgated Resolution No. 2347 pursuant to its powers granted by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, Republic Acts Nos. 6646 and 7166 and other election laws. Section 15(a) of the resolution
provides: Sec. 15. Lawful Election Propaganda. The
paragraph (f) of Section 21 hereof” is DECLARED NULL and VOID. The COMELEC’s prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on “mobile” places whether public or private except in designated areas provided for by the COMELEC itself is null and void on constitutional grounds. The prohibition unduly
exceptionally convincing and irrefutable. The burden is not met in this case.) Additionally, the constitutional objective to give a rich candidate and a poor candidate equal opportunity to inform the electorate as regards their candidacies, mandated by Article II, Section 26 and Article XIII, section 1 in relation to Article IX (c) Section 4 of the Constitution, is not impaired by posting decals and stickers on cars and other private vehicles. It is to be reiterated that the posting of decals and stickers on cars, calesas, tricycles, pedicabs and other moving vehicles needs the consent of the owner of the vehicle. Hence, the preference of the citizen becomes crucial in this kind of election propaganda not the financial resources of the candidate. In sum, the prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on “mobile” places whether public or private except in the authorized areas designated by the COMELEC becomes censorship which cannot be
following are lawful election propaganda: (a) Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals Provided, That decals and stickers may be posted only in any of the authorized posting areas provided in paragraph (f) of Section 21 hereof. Section 21 (f) of the same resolution provides: Sec. 21(f). Prohibited forms of election
infringes on the citizen’s fundamental right of free speech enshrined in the Constitution (Sec. 4, Article III). Significantly, the freedom of expression curtailed by the questioned prohibition is not so much that of the candidate or the political party. The regulation strikes at the freedom of an individual to express his preference and, by displaying it on his car, to convince others to agree with him. Also, the questioned prohibition premised on the statute (RA 6646) and as couched in the resolution is void for overbreadth. The restriction as to where the decals and stickers should be posted is so broad that it encompasses even the citizen’s private property, which in this case is a privately-owned vehicle (The provisions allowing regulation are so loosely worded that they include the posting of decals or stickers in the privacy of one’s living room or bedroom.) In consequence of this prohibition, another cardinal rule prescribed by the Constitution would be violated. Section 1, Article III of the Bill of Rights provides that no person shall be deprived of his property without due process of law. (The right to
propaganda. It is unlawful: (f) To draw, paint, inscribe, post, display or publicly exhibit any election propaganda in any place, whether public or private, mobile or stationary, except in the COMELEC common posted areas and/or billboards. Petitioner Blo Umpar Adiong, a senatorial candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections assails the COMELEC’s Resolution insofar as it prohibits the posting of decals and stickers in “mobile” places like cars and other moving vehicles. According to him such prohibition is violative of Section 82 of the Omnibus Election Code and Section 11(a) of Republic Act No. 6646. ISSUE: Whether or not the COMELEC may prohibit the posting of decals and stickers on “mobile” places, public or private, and limit their location or publication to the authorized posting areas that it fixes. HELD: The petition is hereby GRANTED. The portion of Section 15 (a) of Resolution No. 2347 of the COMELEC providing that “decals and stickers may be posted only in any of the authorized posting areas provided in
justified by the Constitution. Reyes v Bagatsing
property may be subject to a greater degree of regulation but when this right is joined by a “liberty” interest, the burden of justification on the part of the Government must be
← Facts: Petitioner sought a permit from the City of Manila to hold a peaceful march and rally on October 26, 1983 from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, starting from the Luneta to the gates of the United States Embassy. Once there, and in an open space of public property, a short program would be held. The march would be attended by the local and foreign participants of such conference. That would be followed by the handing over of a petition based on the resolution adopted at the closing session of the Anti-Bases Coalition. There was likewise an assurance in the petition that in the exercise of the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, all the necessary steps would be taken by it "to ensure a peaceful march and rally. However the request was denied. Reference was made to persistent intelligence reports affirming the plans of subversive/criminal elements to infiltrate or disrupt any assembly or congregations where a large number of people is expected to attend. Respondent suggested that a permit may be issued if it is to be held at the Rizal Coliseum or any other enclosed area where the safety of the participants themselves and the general public may be ensured. An oral argument was heard and the mandatory injunction was granted on the ground that there was no showing of the existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that could justify the denial of a permit. However Justice Aquino dissented that the rally is violative of Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila prohibiting the holding of rallies within a radius of five hundred (500) feet from any foreign mission or chancery and for other purposes. Hence the Court resolves. ← ← ← Issue: Whether or Not the freedom of expression and the right to peaceably assemble violated. ← ← ← Held: Yes. The invocation of the right to freedom of peaceable assembly carries with it the implication that the right to free speech has likewise been disregarded. It is settled law that as to public places, especially so as to parks and streets, there is freedom of access. Nor is their use dependent on who is the applicant for the permit, whether an individual or a group. There can be no legal objection, absent the existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil, on the choice of Luneta as the place where the peace rally would start. Time immemorial Luneta has been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.
← ← Such use of the public places has from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. ← ← With regard to the ordinance, there was no showing that there was violation and even if it could be shown that such a condition is satisfied it does not follow that respondent could legally act the way he did. The validity of his denial of the permit sought could still be challenged. ← ← A summary of the application for permit for rally: The applicants for a permit to hold an assembly should inform the licensing authority of the date, the public place where and the time when it will take place. If it were a private place, only the consent of the owner or the one entitled to its legal possession is required. Such application should be filed well ahead in time to enable the public official concerned to appraise whether there may be valid objections to the grant of the permit or to its grant but at another public place. It is an indispensable condition to such refusal or modification that the clear and present danger test be the standard for the decision reached. Notice is given to applicants for the denial. Viva v Webb Facts: Assailed in the petition before us are the decision and resolution of respondent Court of Appeals sustaining both the order of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region (Parañaque, Branch 274 — hereinafter referred to as the Parañaque court) restraining "the exhibition of the movie 'The Jessica Alfaro Story' at its scheduled premiere showing at the New Frontier Theater on September 11, 1995 at 7:30 in the evening and at its regular public exhibition beginning September 13, 1995, as well as to cease and desist from promoting and marketing of the said movie. writ of preliminary injunction "enjoining petitioner from further proceeding, engaging, using or implementing the promotional, advertising and marketing programs for the movie entitled 'The Jessica Alfaro Story' and from showing or causing the same to be shown or exhibited in all theaters in the entire country UNTIL after the final termination and logical conclusion of the trial in the criminal action now pending before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court. Ma. Jessica M. Alfaro the star witness of the Vizconde massacre was offered a movie contract by Viva Productions, Inc. for the filming of her life story, she inked with the latter the said movie contract while the said case (I.S. 95-402) was under investigation by the Department of
Justice. The private respondent sent separate letters to Viva Productions, Inc. and Alfaro, warning them that the projected showing of subject movie on the life story of Alfaro would violate the sub judice rule, and his (Hubert J.P. Webb's) constitutional rights as an accused in said criminal case. ← Issue: WHETHER OR NOT THE PARAÑAQUE COURT CAN TOTALLY DISREGARD AND INDISCRIMINATELY CURTAIL PETITIONER'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OF THE PRESS WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER.
Rulling: , The assailed decision and order of respondent court are hereby SET ASIDE, and a new one entered declaring null and void all orders of Branch 58 of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Makati City in its Civil Case No. 95-1365 and forthwith dismissing said case, and declaring the order of the Regional Trial Court of the same National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Parañaque (Branch 274), functus officio insofar as it restrains the public showing of the movie "The Jessica Alfaro Story." INC vs CA
IGLESIA NI CRISTO VS. COURT OF APPEALS [259 SCRA 529; G.R. NO. 119673; 26 JUL 1996] Sunday, February 08, 2009 Coffeeholic Writes Labels: Case Digests, Political Law Posted by
Facts: Petitioner has a television program entitled "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" aired on Channel 2 every Saturday and on Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and propagates petitioner's religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in comparative studies with other religions. Petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television the VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series as "X" or not for public viewing on the ground that they "offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law." On November 28, 1992, it appealed to the Office of the President the classification of its TV Series No. 128 which allowed it through a letter of former Executive Secretary Edelmiro A. Amante, Sr., addressed for Henrietta S. Mendez reversing the decision of the respondent Board. According to the letter the episode in is protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech and expression and no indication that the episode poses any clear and present danger. Petitioner also filed Civil Case. Petitioner alleged that the respondent Board acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the VTR tapes of its TV program and in xrating them. It cited its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. In their Answer, respondent Board invoked its power under PD No. 19861 in relation to Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code. The Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our (Catholic) veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it is found in the bible. The board contended that it outrages Catholic and Protestant's beliefs. RTC ruled in favor of petitioners. CA however reversed it hence this petition. Issue: Whether or Not the "ang iglesia ni cristo" program is not constitutionally protected as a form of religious exercise and expression. Held: Yes. Any act that restrains speech is accompanied with presumption of invalidity. It is the burden of the respondent Board to overthrow this presumption. If it fails to discharge this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down. This is true in this case. So-called "attacks" are mere criticisms of some of the deeply held dogmas and tenets of other religions. RTC’s ruling clearly suppresses petitioner's freedom of speech and interferes with its right to free
exercise of religion. “attack” is different from “offend” any race or religion. The respondent Board may disagree with the criticisms of other religions by petitioner but that gives it no excuse to interdict such criticisms, however, unclean they may be. Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another religion. Religious dogmas and beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace among their followers, especially the fanatics, the establishment clause of freedom of religion prohibits the State from leaning towards any religion. Respondent board cannot censor the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions, even if said religion happens to be the most numerous church in our country. The basis of freedom of religion is freedom of thought and it is best served by encouraging the marketplace of dueling ideas. It is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger. There is no showing whatsoever of the type of harm the tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech, cannot be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a substantive and imminent evil. It is inappropriate to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar because the issue involves the content of speech and not the time, place or manner of speech. Allegedly, unless the speech is first allowed, its impact cannot be measured, and the causal connection between the speech and the evil apprehended cannot be established. The determination of the question as to whether or not such vilification, exaggeration or fabrication falls within or lies outside the boundaries of protected speech or expression is a judicial function which cannot be arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of Censors." A system of prior restraint may only be validly administered by judges and not left to administrative agencies. ← ← Iglesia ni Cristo v CA 259 SCRA 529 (1996)
← F: This is a petition for review on the decision of the CA affirming action of respondent Board of Review For Moving Pictures and Television that x-rated the TV Program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" classifying it not for public viewing on grounds that they offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law. Respondent contends the Board acted without jurisdiction and in grave abuse of discretion by requiring them to submit VTR tapes and x-rating them and suppression of freedom of expression. Trial court rendered judgment ordering the Board to give petitioner the permit for their TV program while ordering petitioners to refrain from attacking and offending other religious sectors from their program. In their motion for reconsideration the petitioner prays for the deletion of the order of the court to make them subject to the requirement of submitting the VTR tapes of their programs for review prior to showing on television. Such motion was granted. Respondent board appealed before the CA which reversed the decision of the lower court affirming the jurisdiction and power of the board to review the TV program. In their petition for review on certiorari, petitioner assails the jurisdiction of the Board over reviewing of their TV program and its grave abuse of discretion of its power to review if they are indeed vested with such. ← ← Issue: whether or not the Board has jurisdiction over the case at bar and whether or not it has acted with grave abuse of discretion. ←
← Held: The court affirmed the jurisdiction of the Board to review TV programs by virtue of the powers vested upon it by PD 1986. On the account of suppression of religious freedom, the court ruled that any act that restrains speech is accompanied with presumption of invalidity. The burden lies upon the Board to overthrow this presumption. The decision of the lower court is a suppression of the petitioner’s freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. Respondent board cannot censor the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions. It is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified. There is no showing whatsoever of the type of harm the tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech, cannot be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a substantive and imminent evil. Thus the court affirmed the jurisdiction of the Board to review the petitioner’s TV program while it reversed and set aside the decision of the lower court that sustained the act of respondent in x-rating the TV program of the petitioner. ←
2 fold aspects of religious profession and worship namely: ← 1. Freedom to believe (absolute) ← Freedom to act on one’s belief – where an individual externalizes his beliefs in acts or omissions affecting the public, this freedom to do so becomes subject to the regulation authority of the state. Cabansag vs Fernandez Facts: This is a contempt proceeding. Apolonio Cabansag and his lawyers Roberto V. Merrera were found guilty and sentenced the first to pay a fine of P20 and the last two P50 each with the warning that a repetition of the of offense will next time be heavily dealt with. Apolonio Cabansag filed on January 13, 1947 in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan a complaint seeking the ejectment of Geminiana Fernandez, et al. from a parcel of land. the court, presided over by Judge Villamor upon petition of both parties, ordered the stenographers who took down the notes during the previous hearings to transcribe them within 15 days upon payment of their fees, and the hearing was postponed until the transcript of said notes had been submitted. Notwithstanding the failure of the stenographers to transcribe their notes, the hearing was set. , Judge Pasicolan presiding, issued an
order suggesting to the parties to arrange with the stenographers who took down the notes to transcribe their respective notes and that the case would be set for hearing after the submission of the transcript. From December 9, 1952 to August 12, 1954, no further step was taken either by the court or any of the contending parties in the case. . , President Magsaysay assumed office, he issued Executive Order No. I creating the Presidential Complaints and Action Commission (PCAC), Apolonio Cabansag, apparently irked and disappointed by the delay in the disposition of his case, wrote the PCAC, a letter copy which he furnished the Secretary of Justice and the Executive Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. Atty. Manuel Fernandez, counsel for defendants, filed a motion before Judge Morfe praying that Apolonio Cabansag be declared in contempt of court for an alleged scurrilous remark he made in his letter to the PCAC to the effect that he, Cabansag, has long been deprived of his land "thru the careful maneuvers of a tactical lawyer", to which counsel for Cabansag replied with a counter-charge praying that Atty. Fernandez be in turn declared in contempt because of certain contemptuous remarks made by him in his pleading. Judge Morfe dismissed both charges but ordered Cabansag to show cause in writing within 10 days why he should not be held liable for contempt for sending the above letter to the PCAC which tended to degrade the court in the eyes of the President and the people. Cabansag filed his answer stating that he did not have the idea to besmirch the dignity or belittle the respect due the court nor was he actuated with malice when he addressed the letter to the PCAC. order requiring also said attorneys to show cause why they should not likewise be held for contempt for having committed acts which tend to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice Issue: whether or not the Cabansag should be held in contempt for his remarks. Ruling: the decision appealed from is reversed, without pronouncement as to costs. the criticism refers, not to the court, but to opposing counsel whose tactical maneuvers" has allegedly caused the undue delay of the case. The grievance or complaint, if any, is addressed to the stenographers for their apparent indifference in transcribing their notes. The only disturbing effect of the letter which perhaps has been the motivating factor of the lodging of the contempt charge by the trial judge is the fact that the letter was sent to the Office of the President asking for help because of the precarious predicament of Cabansag. To be so the danger must cause a serious imminent
threat to the administration of justice. Nor can we infer that such act has "a dangerous tendency" to belittle the court or undermine the administration of justice for the writer merely exercised his constitutional right to petition the government for redress of a legitimate grievance.
← The fact is that even the trial court itself has at the beginning entertained such impression when it found that the criticism was directed not against the court but against the counsel of the opposite party, and that only on second thought did it change its mind when it developed that the act of Cabansag was prompted by the advice of his lawyers. Cabansag cannot certainly be blamed for entertaining the belief that the only way by which he could obtain redress of his grievance is to address his letter to the PCAC which after all is the office created by the late President to receive and hear all complaints against officials and employees of the government to facilitate which the assistance and cooperation of all the executive departments were enjoined ← Sanidad vs. Comelec ← ← Facts: ← This is a petition for certiorari assailing the constitutionality of Section 19 of Comelece Resolution No. 2167 on the ground that it violates the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of expression and of the press. On October 23, 1989, Republic Act. No. 6766, entitled “AN ACT PROVIDING FOR AN ORGANIC ACT FOR THE CORDILLERA AUTONOMOUS REGION” was enacted into law. Pursuant to said law, the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras which consist of the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga-Apayao, all comprising gthe Cordillera Autonomous Region, shall take part in a plebiscite for the ratification of said Organic Act originally scheduled last December 27, 1989 which was however, reset to January 30, 1990 by virtue of Comelec Resolution No. 2226 dated December 27, 1989. The Commission on Elections, by virtue of the power vested by the 1987 Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881), said R.A. 6766 and other pertinent election laws, promulgated Resolution No. 2167, to govern the conduct of the plebiscite on the said Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region. ← ← In a petition dated November 20, 1989, herein petitioner Pablito Sanidad, who claims to be a newspaper columnist of the “OVERVIEW” for the BAGUIO MIDLAND COURIER, a weekly newspaper circulated in the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras, assailed the constitutionality of Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167, which Provides: ←
← Section 19: Prohibition on columnists, commentators or announcers. – During the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on the plebiscite day, no mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for the plebiscite issue. ← ← It is alleged by petitioner that said provision is void and unconstitutional because it violates the constitutional guarantees of the freedom of expression and of the press enshrined in the Constitution. Unlike a regular news reporter or news correspondent who merely reports the news, petitioner maintains that as a columnist, his column obviously and necessarily contains and reflects his opinions, view and beliefs on any issue or subject about which he writes. Petitioner likewise maintains that if media practitioners were to express their views, beliefs and opinions on the issue submitted to a plebiscite, it would in fact help in the government drive and desire to disseminate information, and hear, as well as ventilate, all sides of the issue. ← ← Issue: ← Whether or not Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 is unconstitutional ← ← ← ← Ruling: ← The Supreme Court ruled that Section 19 of Comelec Res. No. 2167 is unconstitutional. ←
It is clear from Art. IX-C of the 1987 Constitution that what was granted to the Comelec was the power to supervise and regulate the use and enjoyment of franchises, permits or other grants issued for the operation of transportation or other public utilities, media of communication or information to the end that equal opportunity, time and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefore, for the public information campaigns and forums among candidates are ensured. The evil sought to be prevented by this provision is the possibility that a franchise holder may favor or give any undue advantage to a candidate in terms of advertising space or radio or television time. This is also the reason why a “columnist, commentator, announcer or personality, who is a candidate for any elective office to required to take a leave of absence from his work during the campaign period (2nd par. Section 11(b) R.A. 6646). It cannot be gainsaid that columnist or commentator who is also a candidate would be more exposed to the voters to the prejudice of other candidates unless required to take a leave of absence. ←
Gonzales v COMELEC Facts: A statute designed to maintain the purity and integrity of the electoral process by Congress calling a halt to the undesirable practice of prolonged political campaign bringing in their wake serious evils not the least of which is the ever increasing cost of seeking public office, is challenged on constitutional grounds. More precisely, the basic liberties of free speech and free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are invoked to nullify the act. Petitioners challenged the validity of two new sections now included in the Revised Election Code, under Republic Act No. 4880, which was approved and took effect on June 17, 1967, prohibiting the too early nomination of candidates 2 and limiting the period of election campaign or partisan political activity. The former according to Act No. 4880 "refers to any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office regarded of whether or not said person has already filed his certificate of candidacy or has been nominated by any political party as its candidate." "Election campaign" or "partisan political activity" refers to acts designed to have a candidate elected or not or promote the candidacy of a person or persons to a public office." Then the acts were specified. There is a proviso that simple expression of opinion and thoughts concerning the election shall not be considered as part of an election campaign. There is the further proviso that nothing stated in the Act "shall be understood to prevent any person from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of the candidates for public office whom he supports." petitioner Gonzales. is a private individual, a registered voter in the City of Manila and a political leader of his co-petitioner. It is their claim that "the enforcement of said Republic Act No. 4880 in question [would] prejudice [their] basic rights..., such as their freedom of speech, their freedom of assembly and their right to form associations or societies for purpose not contrary to law, guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution," and that therefore said act is unconstitutional. Issue:
However, neither Article IX-C of the Constitution nor Section 11 (b), 2nd par. Of R.A. 6646 can be construed to mean that the Comelec has also been granted the right to supervise and regulate the exercise of media practitioners themselves of their right of expression during plebiscite periods. Media practitioners exercising their freedom of expression during plebiscite periods are neither the franchise holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no candidates involved in plebiscite. Therefore, section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 has no statutory basis. ← ← Plebiscite Issue are matters of public concern and importance. The people’s right to be informed and to be able to freely and intelligently make a decision would be better served by access to an unabridged discussion of the issue, including the forum. The people affected by the Issue presented in a plebiscite should not be unduly burdened by restrictions on the forum where the right to expression but they do not guarantee full dissemination of information to the public concerned because they are limited to either specific portions in newspapers or to specific radio or television times. ← ← The instant petition is granted, Section 19 of Comelec Res. No, 2167 is declared null and void and unconstitutional.
Ruling: we now consider the validity of the prohibition in Republic Act No. 4880 of the too early nomination of candidates and the limitation found therein on the period of election campaign or partisan political activity alleged by petitioners to offend against the rights of free speech, free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. we cannot ignore of course the legislative declaration that its enactment was in response to a serious substantive evil affecting the electoral process, not merely in danger of happening, but actually in existence, and likely to continue unless curbed or remedied. that simple expressions of opinion and thoughts concerning the election shall not be considered as part of an election campaign," and in the other proviso "that nothing herein stated shall be understood to prevent any person from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of the candidates for public office whom he supports." Political parties have less freedom as to the time during which they may nominate candidates. Neither is there infringement of their freedom to assemble. They can do so, but not for such a purpose. We sustain in validity Such being the case, it is the judgment of this Court that Republic Act No. 4880 cannot be declared unconstitutional Political parties have less freedom as to the time during which they may nominate candidates. Neither is there infringement of their freedom to assemble. They can do so, but not for such a purpose. We sustain in validity