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ART BORJAL and MA !MO SOL!"EN, petitioners, vs. COURT O# APPEALS and #RANC!SCO $ENCESLAO, respondents. BELLOS!LLO, J.: PERPE !"##$ %"&RIDDEN as the public is about losin' one of the (ost basic )et oft hotl) contested freedo(s of (an, the issue of the ri'ht of free e*pression be stirs and presents itself ti(e and a'ain, in c)clic occurrence, to invei'le, na), challen'e the courts to re+surve) its ever shiftin' terrain, e*plore and furro, its heretofore uncharted (oors and valle)s and finall) redefine the (etes and bounds of its controversial do(ain. his, pro(inentl), is one such case. Perhaps, never in -urisprudential histor) has an) freedo( of (an under'one radical doctrinal (eta(orphoses than his ri'ht to freel) and openl) e*press his vie,s. .lac/stone0s pontifical co((ent that 1,here blasphe(ous, i((oral, treasonable, schis(atical, seditious, or scandalous libels are punished b) En'lish la, ... the libert) of the press, properl) understood, is b) no (eans infrin'ed or violated,1 found /indred e*pression in the land(ar/ opinion of En'land0s Star Cha(ber in the Libelis Famosis case in 2345. 1 hat case established t,o (a-or propositions in the prosecution of defa(ator) re(ar/s6 first, that libel a'ainst a public person is a 'reater offense than one directed a'ainst an ordinar) (an, and second, that it is i((aterial that the libel be true. !ntil republicanis( cau'ht fire in earl) "(erica, the vie, fro( the top on libel ,as no less dis(al. Even the venerable 7ustice %ol(es appeared to ,affle as he s,a)ed fro( the concept of cri(inal libel liabilit) under the clear and present dan'er rule, to the other end of the spectru( in defense of the constitutionall) protected status of unpopular opinion in free societ). Vie,ed in (odern ti(es and the current revolution in infor(ation and co((unication technolo'), libel principles for(ulated at one ti(e or another have ,a*ed and ,aned throu'h the )ears in the constant ebb and flo, of -udicial revie,. "t the ver) least, these principles have lost (uch of their flavor, dro,ned and s,a(ped as the) have been b) the ceaseless cacophon) and din of thou'ht and discourse e(anatin' fro( -ust about ever) source and direction, aided no less b) an increasin'l) po,erful and irrepressible (ass (edia. Public discourse, la(ents 8ni'ht, has been devalued b) its utter co((onalit)9 and ,e a'ree, for its lo'ical effect is to benu(b thou'ht and sensibilit) on ,hat (a) be considered as cri(inal ille'iti(ate encroach(ents on the ri'ht of persons to en-o) a 'ood, honorable
and reputable na(e. his (a) e*plain the i(perceptible de(ise of cri(inal prosecutions for libel and the trend to rel) instead on inde(nit) suits to repair an) da(a'e on one0s reputation. In this petition for revie,, ,e are as/ed to reverse the Court of "ppeals in 1:rancisco ;enceslao v. "rturo .or-al and Ma*i(o Soliven,1 C"+&.R. No. <4<=3, holdin' on >? March 2==3 that petitioners "rturo .or-al and Ma*i(o Soliven are solidaril) liable for da(a'es for ,ritin' and publishin' certain articles clai(ed to be dero'ator) and offensive to private respondent :rancisco ;enceslao. Petitioners "rturo .or-al and Ma*i(o Soliven are a(on' the incorporators of Philippines oda), Inc. @P IA, no, PhilS "R Dail), Inc., o,ner of he Philippine Star, a dail) ne,spaper. "t the ti(e the co(plaint ,as filed, petitioner .or-al ,as its President ,hile Soliven ,as @and still isA Publisher and Chair(an of its Editorial .oard. "(on' the re'ular ,riters of he Philippine Star is .or-al ,ho runs the colu(n Jaywalker. Private respondent :rancisco ;enceslao, on the other hand, is a civil en'ineer, business(an, business consultant and -ournalist b) profession. In 2=BB he served as a technical adviser of Con'ress(an :abian Sison, then Chair(an of the %ouse of Representatives Sub+Co((ittee on Industrial Polic). Durin' the con'ressional hearin's on the transport crisis so(eti(e in Septe(ber 2=BB underta/en b) the %ouse Sub+Co((ittee on Industrial Polic), those ,ho attended a'reed to or'aniCe the :irst National Conference on #and ransportation @:NC# A to be participated in b) the private sector in the transport industr) and 'overn(ent a'encies concerned in order to find ,a)s and (eans to solve the transportation crisis. More i(portantl), the ob-ective of the :NC# ,as to draft an o(nibus bill that ,ould e(bod) a lon'+ter( land transportation polic) for presentation to Con'ress. he conference ,hich, accordin' to private respondent, ,as esti(ated to cost around P2,B2?,444.44 ,ould be funded throu'h solicitations fro( various sponsors such as 'overn(ent a'encies, private or'aniCations, transport fir(s, and individual dele'ates or participants. 2 On >B :ebruar) 2=B=, at the or'aniCational (eetin' of the :NC# , private respondent :rancisco ;enceslao ,as elected E*ecutive Director. "s such, he ,rote nu(erous solicitation letters to the business co((unit) for the support of the conference. .et,een Ma) and 7ul) 2=B= a series of articles ,ritten b) petitioner .or-al ,as published on different dates in his colu(n Jaywalker. he articles dealt ,ith the alle'ed ano(alous activities of an 1or'aniCer of a conference1 ,ithout na(in' or identif)in' private respondent. Neither did it refer to the :NC# as the conference therein (entioned. Duoted hereunder are e*cerpts fro( the articles of petitioner to'ether ,ith the dates the) ,ere published. % 31 May 1989 "nother self+proclai(ed 1hero1 of the EDS" Revolution 'oes around or'aniCin' 1se(inars and conferences1 for a hu'e fee. his is a si(ple plo) coated in -aCC) letterheads and slic/
No.ho.ill be (ain spea/ers in the conference. Dic/ and %arr) and to al(ost all 'overn(ent a'encies. in his usual strai'htfor.ent alon'. and the li/e.oard headed b) rade and Industr) !ndersecretar) &loria Macapa'al+"rro)o .ho . %e is hopin' for a broad po.al/er that the sche(er once . .spapers. %e has tried to operate under a 'uise of a . the 1or'aniCer1 could fill up his letterheads . here is one 1or'aniCer1 .ard st)le. %is notoriet).ould confront an)bod) e)eball to e)eball .1 he or'aniCer left in a huff.ith the aid of so(e naive ne.as fired.ould li/e to reiterate () reEuest that )ou delete () na(e. $et. ransportation Secretar) Rainerio 1Ra)1 Re)es. It . e*port and F his favorite F the 'ar(ents sector. I . his thic/ face ver) pale.444 persons and a'encies approached b) the or'aniCer shelled out 2.44.al/er (ore 1dope1 on the 1or'aniCer. . *** *** *** he 1or'aniCer0s1 principal 'a(el) . he conference pro'ra( bein' circulated clai(s that President "Euino and Re)es . "nd the letterheads carried the na(es of Re)es and PeriEuet.e have been .hat a (an could do to pursue his dubious . after . Ra) Re)es.as ver) poor and the fe.444 each.as all about.ere sent b) the or'aniCer to ever) o(. 22 June 1989 he sche(in' 1or'aniCer1 . call still concoct . 3 July 1989 " supposed conference on transportation .1 Re)es said6 1I .oard. . 9 June 1989 "nother Euestionable portion of the so+called conference is its unauthoriCed use of the na(es of President "Euino and Secretar) Ra) Re)es. 19 June 1989 . . be stric/en off fro( the letterheads the 1hero1 has been usin' to i(ple(ent one of his pet 1se(inars.ell+(eanin'. %e has been turnin' out a lot of funn)+ loo/in' advice on invest(ents. *** *** *** he first infor(ation sa)s that the 1or'aniCer1 tried to (ulct half a (illion pesos fro( a 'ar(ent producer and e*porter . .1 Note that Ra) Re)es is an honest (an .as bein' investi'ated for violation of the rules of the &ar(ents. has reached the Pre(ier &uest %ouse .as to initiate hearin's and round+the+table discussions . so(e 5.ith buc/s to spare. thin/in' that his 1consultant1 had nothin' but the 'ood of these sectors in (ind.1 he 1consultant1 . *** *** *** " cabinet secretar) has one bi' .hat the pro-ect .as approached b) the or'aniCer to e*pedite the 'ar(ent license application of the P244. even if ph)sicall) banned. in effect.ish. and reputable people fro( the private sector to shore up his shad) reputation and cover up his notoriet). not )ou.al/er continues to receive infor(ation about the (an0s dubious deals.in's too far. he 1hero1 has the 'all to solicit fees fro( an)bod) .spaper people. that0s easil) P5 (illion to a pro-ect that see(s so unsophisticated. %e has intellectual pretensions F and so(eti(es he succeeds in 'ettin' his thou'hts in the inside pa'es of so(e ne. na(es of Cabinet (e(bers.ith a burst of ener') 1in aid of e*tortion. .a)s of doin' his thin'. E(broider) and "pparel .ill be hearin' (ore of the 1or'aniCer0s1 e*ploits fro( this corner soon.ho .444 donor. he attendance .)ers. refor(ist. he 1or'aniCer1 told the 'ar(ent e*porter that the case could be fi*ed for a su( of P?44. e*tile. he 7a). the . " con'ressional source has infor(ed the 7a).ut the Cabinet (an (i'ht not 'et his . *** *** *** :riends in 'overn(ent and the private sector have pro(ised the 7a). Recentl).444. as/ed that his na(e.prose. 21 June 1989 " 1conference or'aniCer1 associated .as onl) later that he realiCed that the 1consultant1 .ritin' about see(s to have been spreadin' his .a)s.ill hire the best la.ithout blin/in'. e*port 'ro. he first thin' the 1or'aniCer1 did .aste bas/et. advised 7uico to put the fund solicitation letter in the . in accordin' to reliable sources.ord is that Cor) and Re)es have not accepted the invitation to appear in this confab. Ra) Re)es even sa)s that the conference should be un(as/ed as a (one)(a/in' 'i((ic/.as not onl) indiscreet9 he even failed to cover his trac/s. "'rarian Refor( Secretar) on leave Philip 7uico received one.ith.as a bi' failure.444.or/ed for a con'ress(an fro( the North as so(e sort of a consultant on econo(ic affairs. if the 5. con'ress(en. $ou . *** *** *** here see(s to be no end to .er to ban croo/s and influence+peddlers fro( enterin' the pre(ises of his depart(ent.hich the &ar(ents Re'ulator) .444 fund solicitation letters .as actin' .ho participated .hen the e*porter told hi(6 1If I have that a(ount.ut note that one 'ar(ent co(pan) 'ave P244.th.ith people fro( the business. but he decided to find out front Re)es hi(self .here his na(e is spo/en li/e dun'.ish.ith shad) deals see(s to have a lot of trash tuc/ed inside his closet. he or'aniCer 'ot the shoc/ of his life .. .ithout a tin'e of re(orse.1 It see(s that he .
444 co(panies and individuals to contribute to the affair. None of the 'overn(ent officials involved in re'ulatin' public transportation . It . On their part. %e sent a letter to he Philippine Star insistin' that he .as unavailin' since the privile'ed character of the articles . he bi' na(es in the industr) also did not participate.spaper of 'eneral circulation9 that petitioner could have perfor(ed his officer as a ne.444.or-al and Soliven to inde(nif) private respondent P2.or-al and Soliven.arded hi( b) filin' . %ence the instant petition for revie.ith the affair and tried so hard to convince 5.1 1thic/ face. %o. he should resi'n fro( the S "R and never a'ain ..enceslao . lac/ed the univocal indorse(ent of the responsible 'overn(ent officials.arnin' the public a'ainst contributin' to a conference that. On >4 Nove(ber 2==3 . their support after findin' out the bac/'round of the or'aniCer of the conference.onders . *** *** *** he conference . P>44.ith .as sustained b) the Depart(ent of 7ustice and later b) the Office of the President. 2><5=3 had alread) been disposed of b) the Second Division al(ost si* @3A (onths earlier.ho count in the field of transpiration refused to attend the affair or . in addition to P>44.as sufficientl) identifiable. he personalities .rite a colu(n.as not sufficientl) identified in the Euestioned articles.44 actual da(a'es.or-al of usin' his colu(n as a for( of levera'e to obtain contracts for his public relations fir(. he petitioners contend that the Court of "ppeals erred6 @aA in rulin' that private respondent . and to pa) the costs of suit.as doo(ed fro( the start.ith this Court a Petition for E*tension of i(e to :ile Petition and a Motion for Suspension of i(e to :ile Petition.as usin' his colu(n for character assassination.as lost b) their publication in a ne.or-al has the 'uts to bac/ up his holier than thou attitude. On the other hand.or-al0s colu(ns.hich to consolidate this case since &.444. I a( prepared to relinEuish this position in case it is found that I have (isappropriated even one peso of :NC# (one). the Second Division denied both (otions6 the first. %o. the trial court decided in favor of private respondent . in a Resolution dated H "u'ust 2==4.h) the conference or'aniCers . private respondent filed a cri(inal case for libel a'ainst petitioners . the "ssistant Prosecutor handlin' the case dis(issed the co(plaint for insufficienc) of evidence.hich . if I can prove that . "" .ent ahead . plus attorne)0s fees and costs.hen he i(puted dishonest). (oral and e*e(plar) da(a'es.in. in a Resolution dated >H Ma) 2==3. private respondent filed a co(plaint .as in fact defa(ed b) petitioner .as there.or-al b) describin' hi( variousl) as a 1self+ proclai(ed hero.444.44 for e*e(plar) da(a'es.as sufficientl) identified b) petitioner . petitioners interposed co(pulsor) counterclai(s for actual. or si(pl) infor(in' the public of the letters . one . there .enceslao acted. and the second.rote and the favors he reEuested or de(anded9 and.ever.spaper(an .er. he Court of "ppeals affir(ed the decision of the court a quo but reduced the a(ount of the (onetar) a.ron' re(ed).enceslao .hich is si'nificantl) less than the preponderance of evidence reEuired in civil cases9 @cA in rulin' that the sub-ect articles do not constitute Eualifiedl) privile'ed co((unication9 @dA in refusin' to appl) the 1public .ithstandin' that the de'ree of proof reEuired in a preli(inar) investi'ation is (erel) prima facieevidence . could a conference on transportation succeed .444. for bein' a .ever. 4 In a subseEuent letter to he Philippine Star. for bein' pre(ature. 6 In turn.44 for (oral da(a'es.or-al has used his colu(n as a 1ha((er1 to 'et clients for his PR :ir(.or-al for unethical conduct.as bound to fail.R.44 (oral da(a'es and PH?.444.or-al crossed the thin but clear line that separated fair co((ent fro( actionable defa(ation. Private respondent (anifested his desire to appeal that portion of the appellate court0s decision .44 for attorne)0s fees.444.ith such a poor attendance.ard to P224. accordin' to his perception. .enceslao. the appellate court ruled inter alia that private respondent . this not. petitioner .444.ith the NPC. the affair .hen the :irst Division consolidated and transferred the present case to the Second Division.ho has a lot of trash tuc/ed inside his closet.ithdre.1 1a conference or'aniCer associated .or-al in the Euestioned articles9 @bA in refusin' to accord serious consideration to the findin's of the Depart(ent of 7ustice and the Office of the President that private respondent .as no lon'er an) case thereat .ithout the participation of the bi' na(es in the industr) and 'overn(ent polic)+(a/ersG Private respondent reacted to the articles.44 for actual and co(pensator) da(a'es.ith shad) deals . he dis(issal .or-al published a re-oinder to the challen'e of private respondent not onl) to protect his na(e and honor but also to refute the clai( that he . Is it a dealG & hereafter. petitioner . ( In their ans. 9 %o. petitioners filed a (otion for reconsideration but the Court of "ppeals denied the (otion in its Resolution of 2> Septe(ber 2==3. sha(elessness and intellectual pretentions to . On 52 October 2==4 private respondent instituted a'ainst petitioners a civil action for da(a'es based on libel sub-ect of the instant case. althou'h not na(ed. falsehood and (isrepresentation. No.enceslao b) callin' the attention of the 'overn(ent offices concerned to e*a(ine the authorit) b) . P>44. P244. .ith the National Press Club @NPCA a'ainst petitioner .or-al "ssociates. that .1 and 1a person .or-al0s colu(ns and openl) challen'ed hi( in this (anner F o test if . %e accused petitioner . a(on' others. "fter due consideration.hich reduced the a(ount of da(a'es a.ere (ostl) leaders of -eepne) drivers0 'roups.444. In a >4+pa'e Decision pro(ul'ated >? March 2==3.44 attorne)0s fees plus costs.ithout necessaril) trans'ressin' the ri'hts of .enceslao and ordered petitioners .ith his co(plaint . in the Euestioned articles9 that private respondent .as the 1or'aniCer1 alluded to in petitioner .a)s91 that petitioner0s clai( of privile'e co((unication . private respondent refuted the (atters contained in petitioner . ' "pparentl) not satisfied .ith dubious .enceslao . "" .or-al "ssociates.
1 It cited the :irst National Conference on #and ransportation. 1' %is letter to the editor published in the < 7une 2=B= issue of he Philippine Star even sho. the Court of "ppeals found that . In rulin' for private respondent.ise.enceslaoA .hether the disputed articles constitute privile'ed co((unications as to e*e(pt the author fro( liabilit). and .as onl) a part of the or'aniCation. of an) -udicial or other official proceedin's . $or/ i(es v.hich are not of confidential nature.ith hi(. 1) Re'rettabl).ritin's sufficientl) identified .hile the tentative pro'ra( onl) deno(inated private respondent as 1Vice Chair(an and E*ecutive Director. 5?< of he Revised Penal Code .ithstandin'. 16 Si'nificantl).1 "s a (atter of fact.as described as E*ecutive Director and Spo/es(an and not as a conference or'aniCer.as the head of the technical panel of the %ouse of Representatives Sub+ Co((ittee on Industrial Polic) that too/ care of con'ressional hearin's.as invited then because I .or-al . No less than private respondent hi(self ad(itted that the :NC# had several or'aniCers and that he . the Depart(ent of 7ustice. In order to (aintain a libel suit.enceslao0s uncertaint) F "lthou'h he used a subterfu'e.ard of da(a'es on their counterclai(. ReEuire(ent for publicit). he first of theJaywalker articles . he trial court ruled that petitioner . It is therefore clear that on the ele(ent of identifiabilit) alone the case falls.ere devoid of an) indication of .as the one referred to in the sub-ect articles. the donation of P244. and on the assu(ption arguendo that private respondent has been sufficientl) identified as the sub-ect of . It is also not sufficient that the offended part) reco'niCed hi(self as the person attac/ed or defa(ed.hich appeared in the 52 Ma) 2=B= issue of he Philippine Star )ielded nothin' to indicate that private respondent .enceslao as the 1conference or'aniCer. .or-al should be held liable. had alread) resolved that there . as observed b) petitioners. the public . and the a.or-al0s colu(n . the letterheads used listin' different telephone nu(bers. .444. (oral or social dut)9 and. private respondent hi(self entertained doubt that he .n in Ne.as the ob-ect of the verbal attac/.ould li/e to clarif) for the record that I .ho had pled'ed their assistance to it. 1% he printout 14 and tentative pro'ra( 1& of the conference .or-al do not identif) private respondent . it is essential that the victi( be identifiable althou'h it is not necessar) that he be na(ed.ere (illions of 1heroes1 of the EDS" Revolution and an)one of the( could be 1self+proclai(ed1 or an 1or'aniCer of se(inars and conferences. . there .e no.ho /ne.or-al0s colu(ns.hich contained an article entitled 1.or-al0s disputed co((ents. hese conclusions are at variance .official doctrine1 laid do.e hold other.spaper of 'eneral circulation9 @fA in rulin' that private respondent has a valid cause of action for libel a'ainst petitioners althou'h he failed to prove actual (alice on their part.enceslao for those . even if it be true. %ad private respondent not revealed that he .as onl) a part of the or'aniCation.or-al referred to the :irst National Conference on #and ransportation @7une >=+54A and (e in the second para'raph of his Ma) 52 colu(n .enceslao as or'aniCer.ho . F Ever) defa(ator) i(putation is presu(ed to be (alicious. @'A assu(in' arguendo that .ere present at its inception. thus F I .hen even the alle'ed offended part) is hi(self unsure that he .n that at least a third person could identif) hi( as the ob-ect of the libelous publication. he petition is i(pressed . the dis(issal of the co(plaint a'ainst the( for lac/ of (erit.ith in the case at bar. about the :NC# . and eventuall). these reEuisites have not been co(plied .as the person spo/en of in . or of an) . >A " fair and true report.rote about the 1so+called :irst National Conference on #and ransportation . Surel). he above disEuisitions not. (ade in 'ood faith. Sullivan9 @eA in rulin' that the Euestioned articles lost their privile'ed character because of their publication in a ne. but it (ust be sho. fifth and si*th assi'ned errors all revolve around the pri(ar) Euestion of .ell to note that the revelation of the identit) of the person alluded to ca(e not fro( petitioner . in his = 7une 2=B= colu(n petitioner . I . It is .ould have re(ained in blissful i'norance of his identit). he third.as no sufficient evidence to prove the e*istence of libel9 and.as al(ost certain that "rt .or-al cannot hide behind the proposition that his articles are privile'ed in character under the provisions of "rt.n.as the person referred to therein. .here private respondent :rancisco . 5?<.ith the evidence at hand.enceslao as the or'aniCer of the conference. 1( Identification is 'rossl) inadeEuate . the Office of the President.hich state F "rt. in ad-ud'in' petitioner Soliven solidaril) liable .hen he supplied the infor(ation throu'h his < 7une 2=B= letter to the editor.hose principal or'aniCers are not specified1 @e(phasis suppliedA.1 and not as or'aniCer.enceslao . and that the prosecutors of the Cit) of Manila. fourth. . . proceed to resolve the other issues and pass upon the pertinent findin's of the courts a quo.or-al but fro( private respondent hi(self9 .ho Or'aniCed the NC# G1 did not even (ention private respondent0s na(e. if no 'ood intention and -ustifiable (otive for (a/in' it is sho. hus.or-al articles.or-al to inEuire if he @. 11Neither did the :NC# letterheads 12 disclose the identit) of the conference or'aniCer since these contained onl) an enu(eration of na(es . he Euestioned articles .ritten b) .ithout an) co((ents or re(ar/s. e*cept in the follo. he printout .as the 1or'aniCer1 of the :NC# referred to in the .in' cases6 2A " private co((unication (ade b) an) person to another in the perfor(ance of an) le'al. I .44 fro( 7uliano #i( and the reference to the 01or'aniCer of the conference1 F the ver) sa(e appellation e(plo)ed in all the colu(n ite(s F as havin' sufficientl) established the identit) of private respondent .ed private respondent .ith (erit. petitioners pra) for the reversal of the appellate court0s rulin'. he for(er even called up colu(nist .
in the .. that it is protective solel) of self+e*pression .hile in 'eneral ever) discreditable i(putation publicl) (ade is dee(ed false.o @>A cases resonates the rule that privile'ed co((unications (ust. report or speech delivered in said proceedin's. %o. It is therefore clear that the restrictive interpretation vested b) the Court of "ppeals on the penal provision e*e(ptin' fro( liabilit) onl) private co((unications and fair and true report .ill e(bod) a lon' ter( land transportation polic) for presentation to Con'ress in its ne*t re'ular session in 7ul).ords of $ale Sterlin' Professor O. 21 here is no den)in' that the Euestioned articles dealt .ithout an) co((ents or re(ar/s.ise privile'ed. in this first letter. o be sure. . 2& Private respondent li/e. nevertheless. o reiterate.ithout an) co((ents or re(ar/s. In order that such discreditable i(putation to a public official (a) be actionable. his constitutional ri'ht cannot be abolished b) the (ere failure of the le'islature to 'ive it e*press reco'nition in the statute punishin' libels. the) are neither private co((unications nor fair and true report . in nited !tates "# $a%ete. "n e*a(ple is found in Sec. . the enu(eration under "rt. or of an) other act perfor(ed b) public officers in the e*ercise of their functions. it (ust either be a false alle'ation of fact or a co((ent based on a false supposition.ritin's are not . the . 19 "s earl) as 2=2B.ut this is incorrect. the ob-ective of the rule on privile'ed co((unications. he inevitable and incontestable result has been the develop(ent and adoption of the doctrine of privile'e. 2) this Court ruled that publications .ith a draft of an O(nibus . it is not necessaril) actionable.ithin the e*ceptions of "rt. . )ou have attached a bud'et and it sa)s here that in this se(inar of the :irst National Conference on #and ransportation. 22.ill of Ri'hts of the Constitution 'uaranteein' freedo( of speech and of the press. Respondent court e*plained that the .1 he doctrine for(ulated in these t.ell put b) 7ustice Malcol( in . to suppress the health) effloresence of public debate and opinion as shinin' linchpins of trul) de(ocratic societies.hich are not actionable even if the author has acted in bad faith. 5?< of he Revised Penal Code for. and the orderl) ad(inistration of 'overn(ent have de(anded protection of public opinion.hen the discreditable i(putation is directed a'ainst a public person in his public capacit).as the bud'et esti(ate.ise testified that the :NC# .1 . because ever) (an is presu(ed innocent until his 'uilt is -udiciall) proved. based on established facts.ith (atters of public interest. " privile'ed co((unication (a) be either absolutel) privile'ed or Eualifiedl) privile'ed. Eualifiedl) privile'ed co((unications containin' defa(ator) i(putations are not actionable unless found to have been (ade . fair co((entaries on (atters of public interest are privile'ed and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander.s the strictl) libertarian vie. he principal conference ob-ective is to co(e up .ell. be protective of public opinion. the National Conference on #and ransportation @NC# A. of the 2=BH Constitution .ithout 'ood intention -ustifiable (otive.state(ent.ritin's in Euestion did not fall under an) of the e*ceptions described in the above+Euoted article since these .VI.ever this does not necessaril) (ean that the) are not privile'ed. private respondent spelled out the ob-ectives of the conference thus F .en :iss. In his testi(on). sadl) contrivin' as it does. he concept of privile'ed co((unications is i(plicit in the freedo( of the press.ithout doin' violence to the concept of privile'ed co((unications i(plicit in the freedo( of the press. "s held in &li'alde "# (utierre' 21and reiterated in !antos "# $ourt of )ppeals 22 F o be (ore specific. )ou .or-al0s Euestioned . rather than pro(otes. is that ri'htG "6 hat .ill that . !pon the other hand.ill need around One (illion ei'ht hundred fifteen thousand pesos.hich are privile'ed for reasons of public polic) are protected b) the constitutional 'uarant) of freedo( of speech. o this 'enre belon' 1private co((unications1 and 1fair and true report . fro( sponsors such as 'overn(ent a'encies and private sectors or or'aniCations . he doctrine of fair co((ent (eans that . no culpabilit) could be i(puted to petitioners for the alle'ed offendin' publication . 5?< is not an e*clusive list of Eualifiedl) privile'ed co((unications since fair co((entaries on (atters of public interest are li/e. . petitioner . 2% (a/es its appeal to the individualistic ethos that so do(inates our popular and political culture.hich. then it is i((aterial that the opinion happens to be (ista/en. to raise this fund of )our se(inarG "6 .as raisin' funds throu'h solicitation fro( the public + D6 No. "rt.ithout co((ents or re(ar/s defeats.ithout an) co((ents or re(ar/s. Since last 7anuar).ere neither 1private co((unications1 nor 1fair and true report .hich e*e(pts a (e(ber of Con'ress fro( liabilit) for an) speech or debate in the Con'ress or in an) Co((ittee thereof. he rule on privile'ed co((unications had its 'enesis not in the nation0s penal code but in the .ustos6 1Public polic).1 Indisputabl). sui generis. as lon' as it (i'ht reasonabl) be inferred fro( the facts. D6 %o. .elfare of societ). his closel) adheres to the de(ocratic theor) of free speech as essential to collective self+deter(ination and esche. . "s . as correctl) observed b) the appellate court.as so . and ever) false i(putation is dee(ed (alicious. "bsolutel) privile'ed co((unications are those . sir. do )ou intend as e*ecutive officer. If the co((ent is an e*pression of opinion. the conference secretariat. has been enlistin' support fro( all sectors to ensure the success of the pro-ect.
since .ith (atters of public interest.ithin the purvie.ith actual (alice.ith rec/less disre'ard of .ere believed to be true. and or'aniCed b) top 'overn(ent officials and pro(inent business(en. "t an) rate. for that (atter. inte(perate or deprecator) the utterances appear to be.ild blue )onder1 of free speech in this -urisdiction. he raison d. it cannot but invite close scrutin) b) the (edia obli'ed to infor( the public of the le'iti(ac) of the purpose of the activit) and of the Eualifications and inte'rit) of the personalities behind it. despite the position he occupied in the :NC# .hich 'ives the public a le'iti(ate interest in his doin's.ut no (atter ho. ruled a'ainst Sullivan holdin' that honest criticis(s on the conduct of public officials and public fi'ures are insulated fro( libel -ud'(ents. 1JDKebate on public issues should be uninhibited. he list is. properl) spea/in'.as not a public official or at least a public fi'ure. and no less a persona'e than the &reat E*alted Ruler of the lod'e. :or this reason.hich the public has the ri'ht to be infor(ed. a person . and the (anner b) . S. 7ustice . it cannot suddenl) beca(e less so (erel) because a private individual is involved or because in so(e sense the individual did not voluntaril) choose to beco(e involved.rennan 7r. $or/ i(es on the basis of . It insisted that private respondent . a 1public official1 nor a 1public fi'ure. Concededl). the privile'e is not to be defeated nor rendered inutile for.as air underta/in' infused .as sufficientl) identified in the ad as the perpetrator of the outra'e9 conseEuentl).ho have achieved so(e de'ree of reputation b) appearin' before the public. Supre(e Court spea/in' throu'h Mr. . "s its E*ecutive Director and spo/es(an.1 .ell. Obviousl) to be included in this cate'or) are those .1 One is te(pted to . %) here is no den)in' that the Euestioned articles dealt . "s such. " readin' of the i(putations of petitioner .onder if it . an)one .as decided b) the !.hether it could be proved or because of fear of the e*pense of havin' to prove it. his affairs and his character.illia( 7. it attracted (edia (ilea'e and dre. has beco(e a 1public persona'e.s of the countr) and see/in' to source its funds for the pro-ect fro( the public at lar'e cannot dissociate itself fro( the public character of its (ission.ell as individual transport fir(s and fro( individual dele'atesIparticipants.ho. and that it (a) . hese are (atters about . fa(ous inventors and e*plorers. or an) other entertainer.imes "# !ulli"an .hich included solicitation of funds.ide open.as intended to be funded no doubt lend to its activities as bein' 'enuinel) i(bued .as .ever. . for he could be. not the participant0s prior anon)(it) or notoriet). as in the case of an actor.ould also dare test the li(its of the 1. Sullivan of Mont'o(er).ut even assu(in' e12gratia argumenti that private respondent.rennan in *ew +ork . . his in effect is the stron' (essa'e in *ew +ork .as b) so(e (ischievous 'a(bit that he .. 26 he declared ob-ective of the conference.h) the defa(ator) i(putations a'ainst hi( had nothin' to do . It includes.hich is . in other .s that all these necessaril) bore upon the latter0s official conduct and his (oral and (ental fitness as E*ecutive Director of the :NC# .ere libelous utterances a'ainst hi(. *ew +ork . ta/in' into account the ver) public character of the conference itself. effect and si'nificance of the conduct.e have also defined 1public fi'ure1 in )yers /roduction /ty#0 Ltd# "# $apulong 29 as F .as (ade . ho. It includes public officers. a pu'ilist..hich the appellate court failed to consider or. private respondent conseEuentl) assu(ed the status of a public fi'ure.hat he believed . 2( In the present case.as pro(oted as a -oint pro-ect of the 'overn(ent and the private sector. he !.ould be critics .ith /no.ords.ould lead to self+censorship. . .enceslao sho. fa(e.as false or . he :NC# . If a (atter is a sub-ect of public or 'eneral interest. . "s co((issioner havin' char'e over police actions Sullivan felt that he .ho has arrived at a position . it does not necessaril) follo. S.imes "# !ulli"an. that he could not validl) be the sub-ect of a public co((ent even if he . disse(ination of infor(ation about the :NC# in order to 'enerate interest in the conference.led'e that it . of the Ne.as false or not.ould be deterred fro(.hether it . (ode of livin'. the co(position of its (e(bers and participants. "n or'aniCation such as the :NC# ai(in' to reinvent and reshape the transportation la. he then Cit) Co((issioner #. he nature and functions of his position .1 %e is. .or-al a'ainst respondent . or b) adoptin' a profession or callin' .as not. Supre(e Court in the 2=34s at the hei'ht of the blood) riotin' in the "(erican South over racial se're'ation. .ith public interest. because of doubt . .ere in fact true. $or/ i(es doctrine . a professional baseball pla)er. .as that to reEuire critics of official conduct to 'uarantee the truth of all their factual assertions on pain of libel -ud'(ents . robust and . as succinctl) e*pressed b) Mr.e. in short. It .ith his tas/ of or'aniCin' the :NC# . . sued Ne. to heed.. 7ustice . inte'rit) and co(petence.or-al (a) have 'one overboard in the lan'ua'e e(plo)ed describin' the 1or'aniCer of the conference.here the public attention is focused upon hi( as a person.hich it .e dee( private respondent a public fi'ure . or . broader than this.tre for the Ne. b) his acco(plish(ents. he sued Ne. as lon' as he .ould not Eualif) as a public fi'ure. $or/ i(es rulin'.as involved in a public issue. infant prodi'). i. a celebrit). "laba(a.imes "# !ulli"an 2' . $or/ i(es for publishin' a paid political advertise(ent espousin' racial eEualit) and describin' police atrocities co((itted a'ainst students inside a colle'e ca(pus. he public0s pri(ar) interest is in the event9 the public focus is on the conduct of the participant and the content. . he 'uarantees of freedo( of speech and press prohibit a public official or public fi'ure fro( recoverin' da(a'es for a defa(ator) falsehood relatin' to his official conduct unless he proves that the state(ent . public attention not onl) to the conference itself but to the personalities behind as . and the (ana'e(ent and coordination of the various activities of the conference de(anded fro( hi( ut(ost honest). petitioner .ar heroes and even ordinar) soldiers. voicin' out their criticis(s even if such .ith public interest.
should be free to report on events and develop(ents in . (alice can be presu(ed fro( defa(ator) .ithin the 'eneral co((unit).spaper(an. Moved b) a sense of civic dut) and prodded b) his responsibilit) as a ne.ith the & E. (ere error. %6 In the (ilieu obtainin'.ith 'ood faith and reasonable care. o avoid the self+censorship that .ere still included in the. Co(plete libert) to co((ent on the conduct of public (en is a scalpel in the case of free speech.in' are supported b) docu(entar) evidence6 @aA that private respondent reEuested &loria Macapa'al+"rro)o. in e*chan'e for (onetar) contributions to the :NC# 9 4% @bA he included the na(e of then Secretar) of ransportation Rainerio Re)es in the pro(otional (aterials of the conference not. in processin' applications and clarif)in' that all applicants . his is not to sa) ho.ere . the follo.e find petitioner .hat he perceived to be a public deception. %2 he onus of provin' actual (alice then lies on plaintiff.ould necessaril) acco(pan) strict liabilit) for erroneous state(ents. Onl) b) 'ivin' the( (uch lee.led'e that these are false or in rec/less disre'ard of .ritten and published wit4out good moti"es or 3ustifiable ends. or that the articles .enceslao herein. .n to have been . On the other hand. the Euestion of privile'e is i((aterial.ith reference to co((ents upon his official acts. so lon' as the ne.ell as for (is-ud'(ent. he sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdo(. .ith (ini(u( fear of bein' hauled to court b) one 'roup or another on cri(inal or civil char'es for libel.a)s presu(ed in the publication of defa(ator) (atters in the absence of proof to the contrar).e nevertheless find these at least to have been based on reasonable 'rounds for(ed after the colu(nist conducted several personal intervie. for honest (ista/es or i(perfections in the choice of lan'ua'e. 4( that 1the interest of societ) and the (aintenance of 'ood 'overn(ent de(and a full discussion of public affairs. %' 1Rec/less disre'ard of .ere treated eEuall)9 4) @bA that "ntonio PeriEuet .e cannot be'rud'e hi( for that.. %% Malice connotes ill .ound (a) be assua'ed b) the bal( of a clear conscience. petitioner . "t an) rate.1 .led'e that the) are false or in rec/less disre'ard of . to be considered (alicious.ithstandin' that he had previousl) declined the offer9 41 and. then head of the &ar(ents and e*tile E*port . $or/ i(es doctrine reEuires that liabilit) for defa(ation of a public official or public fi'ure (a) not be i(posed in the absence of proof of 1actual (alice1 on the part of the person (a/in' the libelous state(ent. 46 In 5ulletin /ublis4ing $orp# "# *oel4' .hich necessitated a repl) fro( the office of &loria Macapa'al+"rro)o e*plainin' the procedure of the & E.ithstandin' the latter0s refusal to lend his na(e to and participate in the :NC# 9 44 and. 42 "dded to these are the ad(issions of private respondent that6 @aA he assisted 7uliano #i( in his application for a Euota allocation . . . caustic and so(eti(es unpleasantl) sharp attac/s on the 'overn(ent and public officials.spaper especiall) one national in reach and covera'e. he proceeded to e*pose and denounce .or-al acted . @cA he used different letterheads and telephone nu(bers. Errors or (isstate(ents are inevitable in an) sche(e of trul) free e*pression and debate. . rules 'overnin' liabilit) for in-ur) to reputation are reEuired to allo. the libelous state(ents (ust be sho. %1 he Court of "ppeals concluded that since (alice is al. 7ustice Malcol( e*pressed in #!# "# 5ustos.ill or spite and spea/s not in response to dut) but (erel) to in-ure the reputation of the person defa(ed.ith the /no.as desi'nated Chair(an of the E*ecutive Co((ittee of the :NC# not.or-al to have acted in 'ood faith. 'enerall). Men in public life (a) suffer under a hostile and un-ust accusation9 the . and i(plies an intention to do ulterior and un-ustifiable har(. an adeEuate (ar'in of error b) protectin' so(e inaccuracies. the privile'ed character of a co((unication destro)s the presu(ption of (alice.oard @& E.A. Surel).ith /no.hat is false or not. the press should not be held to account. It is for the sa(e reason that the Ne.or-al herein.ithin the standards of (oralit) and civilit) prevailin' . @cA that despite the fact that then President "Euino and her Secretar) of ransportation Rainerio Re)es declined the invitation to be 'uest spea/ers in the conference. %9 he articles sub-ect of the instant case can hardl) be said to have been . 4& Even assu(in' that the contents of the articles are false.hether the) are false or not.ever that the ver) serious alle'ations of petitioner . Ever) citiCen has the ri'ht to en-o) a 'ood na(e and reputation.ith (aliceG Pri(aril). " public official (ust not be too thin+s/inned .hile. Consistent .or-al assu(ed b) private respondent to be directed a'ainst hi( are true.areness of their probable falsit). their na(es . inaccurac) or even falsit) alone does not prove actual (alice. it (a) be salutar) for private respondent to ponder upon the advice of Mr.ords. but .ritin' and publishin' the articles in Euestion petitioner .ell include vehe(ent. the e*istence of (alice as the true (otive of his conduct. here (ust be so(e roo( for (isstate(ent of fact as . private respondent failed to substantiate b) preponderant evidence that petitioner .a) and tolerance can the) coura'eousl) and effectivel) function as critical a'encies in our de(ocrac). .or-al has violated that ri'ht in this case nor abused his press freedo(. private respondent .ut . %& It is the essence of the cri(e of libel.ritten . %( or that he possesses a hi'h de'ree of a. can it be reasonabl) inferred that in . %e (ust brin' ho(e to the defendant.as ani(ated b) a desire to inflict un3ustifiable 4arm on his reputation.s and after considerin' the varied docu(entar) evidence provided hi( b) his sources.e held + " ne. %4 Malice is bad faith or bad (otive.e do not consider that petitioner .e re-ect this postulate.hat is false or not1 (eans that the defendant entertains serious doubt as to the truth of the publication. hus. to e*pedite the processin' and release of the i(port approval and certificate of availabilit) of a 'ar(ent fir( in e*chan'e for the (onetar) contribution of 7uliano #i(. printout of the :NC# . :urther(ore. to a point of suppression.ritten or published .hich the public has a le'iti(ate interest .spaper respects and /eeps .
as the conference he . hence. oppressivel).ith bated breath.as filed before the SC contendin' that private respondent .ith his ar().elfare.hich . and a health) and robust ri'ht of free public discussion. " cler')(an . that freedo( of e*pression is (an0s birthri'ht +constitutionall) protected and 'uaranteed. 1J.hich is li(ned b) the freedo( of others.enceslaso .e do no. he lo.as affir(ed b) the Court of "ppeals. hese reEuisites have not been co(plied .ever . it is essential that the victi( be identifiable althou'h it is not necessar) that he be na(ed. the petition is &R"N ED. . . Petitioners0 counterclai( for da(a'es is li/e.he fore'oin' disposition renders the second and seventh assi'ned errors (oot and acade(ic.ins a suit. of our court has been thus stated6 1It is onl) in despotis(s that one (ust spea/sub rosa. and its freedo( does not carr) . thereb) entitlin' the latter to da(a'es.as or'aniCin'. REVERSED and SE "SIDE. as . he doctrine of fair co((ent (eans that .ith hostilit) to the press9 or that he acted (aliciousl).hile in 'eneral ever) discreditable . he dan'er of an unbridled irrational e*ercise of the ri'ht of free speech and press.e find no necessit) to pass upon the(.n. is the eventual self+destruction of the ri'ht and the re'ression of hu(an societ) into a veritable %obbesian state of nature .as never na(ed in an) of the articles nor . on one hand.ould not have /no. No costs.a)s stron'l) (aintained.as pro(pted b) a sinister desi'n to ve* and hu(iliate a person (ust be clearl) and preponderantl) established to entitle the victi( to da(a'es. he vie.enceslao ho. nor should counsel0s fees be a. or in . herefore.n of the la. nast) and brutish.isdo( in 6arren "# /ulit'er /ublis4ing $o. . .e be (isconstrued.hether or not there are sufficient 'rounds to constitute 'uilt of petitioners for libel. a 'eneral .ritin' and publishin' articles that are alle'edl) dero'ator) and offensive a'ainst :rancisco .antonl).e have al. of the citiCenr). It is also not sufficient that the offended part) reco'niCed hi(self as the person attac/ed or defa(ed. a -ud'e . on the other.ut it is also . private respondent cannot be said to have instituted the present suit in abuse of the le'al processes and . he la. 'enuine freedo( bein' that . attac/in' a(on' others the solicitation letters he send to support aconference to be launch concernin' resolvin' (atters on transportation crisis that is tainted .e find the evidence too (ea'er to sustain an) a. he concept of privile'ed co((unications is i(plicit in the freedo( of the press and that privile'ed co((unications (ust be protective of public opinion. this is not to di(inish nor constrict that space in . a free press (a) readil) beco(e a po. not the (aster. &2 * Ever) (an has a ri'ht to discuss (atters of public interest. all of us.ithin his ri'hts to protect his honor fro( . private respondent acted . :or . ou'ht there not also be freedo( fro( the pressG It is in this sense that self+ re'ulation as distin'uished fro( self+censorship beco(es the ideal (ean for.hat he perceived to be (alicious i(putations a'ainst hi(.Kithout .ise re(ind (edia practitioners of the hi'h ethical standards attached to and de(anded b) their noble profession.ith in the case at bar.orth /eepin' in (ind that the press is the servant. and the co(plaint for da(a'es a'ainst petitioners is DISMISSED.17wp4i1#n. .enceslao.as the or'aniCer of said conference and had he not done so the public .as filed before the court a'ainst .n that at least a third person could identif) hi( as the ob-ect of the libelous publication. the sub-ect of public discussion. a livel) sense of responsibilit). %eld6 In order to (aintain a libel suit.illful disre'ard of the cu(brous responsibilities inherent in it. or in the dar/ on a sub-ect touchin' the co((on . " petition for revie. It is the bri'htest -e.ever ta/e this opportunit) to li/e. as Mr. but it (ust be sho.ith ano(alous activities. If there is freedo( of the press. Indeed. around the corner.e (ust ho.or-al and Soliven for . could not have (eant to i(pose a penalt) on the ri'ht to liti'ate. fraudulentl) and for the sole purpose of harassin' petitioners. .ith the . /uno0 Mendo'a0 Martine' and 5uena0 JJ#0 concur# :acts6 " civil action for da(a'es based on libel .ith his -ur)9 . :air co((entaries on (atters of public interest are privile'ed and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander.hispers. &1 :or. . to reco'niCe that there can be no absolute 1unrestraint1 in speech is to trul) co(prehend the Euintessence of freedo( in the (ar/etplace of social thou'ht and action.een defa(ation. .e are.here life is short. Issue6 . . in utter conte(pt of the ri'hts of others and in .t SO ORDERED.hich e*pression freel) flourishes and operates. to spea/ and (aintain the 'olden (ean bet. concludin' .ith his floc/. and that it has beco(e the sin'ular role of the press to act as its 1defensor fidei1 in a de(ocratic societ) such as ours. he ele(ent of identifiabilit) .ise DISMISSED for lac/ of (erit. &) On petitioners0 counterclai( for da(a'es.%ERE:ORE.ith his fleet..arned. . an ad(iral .as .as not sufficientl) identified to be the sub-ect of the published articles. On the contrar).erful instru(ent of in-ustice. that is. Proof and (otive that the institution of the action .ith it an restricted huntin' license to pre) on the ordinar) citiCen.arded ever) ti(e a part) .as not (et since it . . he Decision of the Court of "ppeals of >? March 2==3 and its Resolution of 2> Septe(ber 2==3 den)in' reconsideration are.1 49 #est . 7ustice :ran/furter has .ard.el in the cro.er court ordered petitioners to inde(nif) the private respondent for da(a'es .ho revealed he .
Respondent is also dee(ed to be a public fi'ure and even other. . it (ust either be a false alle'ation of fact or a co((ent based on a false supposition.i(putation publicl) (ade is dee(ed false. nevertheless.as intended to be funded no doubt lend to its activities as bein' 'enuinel) i(bued . he court held that freedo( of e*pression is constitutionall) 'uaranteed and protected . then it is i((aterial that the opinion happens to be (ista/en. and ever) false i(putation is dee(ed (alicious.ith (atters of public interest as the declared ob-ective of theconference. based on established facts. he Euestioned article dealt .ith the re(inder a(on' (edia (e(bers to practice hi'hest ethical standards in the e*ercise thereof. If the co((ent is an e*pression of opinion. as lon' as it (i'ht reasonabl) be inferred fro( the facts.hich it .ithpublic interest. because ever) (an is presu(ed innocent until his 'uilt is -udiciall) proved. and the (anner b) .hen the discreditable i(putation is directed a'ainst a public person in his public capacit). the co(position of its (e(bers and participants.ise is involved in a public issue. . it is not necessaril) actionable. In order that such discreditable i(putation to a public official (a) be actionable.
The concept of privileged communications is implicit in the freedom of the press and that privileged communications must be protective of public opinion. In order that such discreditable imputation to a public official may be actionable.Facts: A civil action for damages based on libel was filed before the court against Borjal and Soliven for writing and publishing articles that are allegedly derogatory and offensive against Francisco Wenceslao. based on established facts. then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken. A petition for review was filed before the SC contending that private respondent was not sufficiently identified to be the subject of the published articles. nevertheless. Respondent is also deemed to be a public figure and even otherwise is involved in a public issue. as long as it might reasonably be inferred from the facts. The element of identifiability was not met since it was Wenceslaso who revealed he was the organizer of said conference and had he not done so the public would not have known. when the discreditable imputation is directed against a public person in his public capacity. it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition. The lower court ordered petitioners to indemnify the private respondent for damages which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Issue: Whether or not there are sufficient grounds to constitute guilt of petitioners for libel. and the manner by which it was intended to be funded no doubt lend to its activities as being genuinely imbued withpublic interest. . it is not necessarily actionable. attacking among others the solicitation letters he send to support aconference to be launch concerning resolving matters on transportation crisis that is tainted with anomalous activities. but it must be shown that at least a third person could identify him as the object of the libelous publication. Held: In order to maintain a libel suit. The doctrine of fair comment means that while in general every discreditable imputation publicly made is deemed false. the composition of its members and participants. Wenceslao however was never named in any of the articles nor was the conference he was organizing. It is also not sufficient that the offended party recognized himself as the person attacked or defamed. and every false imputation is deemed malicious. it is essential that the victim be identifiable although it is not necessary that he be named. If the comment is an expression of opinion. Fair commentaries on matters of public interest are privileged and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander. The court held that freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed and protected with the reminder among media members to practice highest ethical standards in the exercise thereof. because every man is presumed innocent until his guilt is judicially proved. The questioned article dealt with matters of public interest as the declared objective of theconference. These requisites have not been complied with in the case at bar.
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