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Lagunzad vs Gonzales

,
92 SCRA 476


FACTS:

Petioner Manuel Lagnuzad, a newspaperman, began a movie production entitled
“THE MOISES PADILLA STORY” wherein the movie narrates the events which culminated the
murder of Moises Padilla who was then a mayoralty candidate of Nacionalista party. Although
the emphasis of the movie was to depict the public life of 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, and Auring as his girlfriend. This leads to the objection of Padilla’s half sister
in behalf of her mother contending that petitioner exploited the life story of padilla, and
demanded in writing for certain changes, correction and deletion in the movie. Petiotioner
Lagnuzad settles the issue and bargains and comes up with a Licensing Agreement between him
and Maria Soto whereby the petitioner Lagnuzad as Licensee is granted by Licensor Vda. De
Gonzales authority and permission to exploit, use and develop the life story of Padilla for
purposes of the movie production for consideration of P20,000.00

Lagnuzad paid Vda de Gpnzales P5,000 as first payment, subsequently the movie
was released all over the country. Petioner refused to pay any additional amount pursuant to the
agreement which leads to instituting a suit against Lagnuzad and prays that 1.) Petitioner To pay
for the remaining balance amounting to 15,000 with legal interest 2.) review the proceeds of the
movie and pay the corresponding to 2 -1/2 % of royalty therefrom.

Petitioner contended in his answer that the movie depicts the life story of padilla which are
already known by the public which makes him a public figure. Moreover petitioner also contends
that the licensing agreement was without cause or consideration and constitutes an infringement
on the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and of the press: and that he paid Vda de
Gonzales the amount of 5,000 only because of the coercion and threat employed upon him. Both
trial court and CA ruled in favour of Vda, de Gonzales.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Licensing Agreement infringes on the constitutional right of freedom of
speech and of the press.

HELD:

The courts find no merit in the contention of the petitioner that the Licensing Agreement
infringes on the constitutional right of freedom of speech and of the press, Lagnuzad 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, it is not, however, without limitations


One criterion for permissible limitation on freedom of speech and of the
press is the "balancing-of-intereststest." The principle requires a court to take
conscious and detailed consideration of the interplay of interests observable in a given
situation or type of situation.

In the case at bar, the interests observable are the right to privacy asserted by respondent
and the right of -freedom of expression invoked by petitioner. Taking into account the interplay
of those interests, the court hold that under the particular circumstances presented, and
considering the obligations assumed in 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.