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David v. Arroyo

Subsequent Punishment
People v. Perez

Policarpio v. Manila Times
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan


Miller v. California
Gonzales v. Kalaw-Katigbak


Assembly and Petition

Navarro v. Villegas
PBM Employees v. PBM


Soriano v. Laguardia


Freedom of Religion
Estrada v. Escritor


David v. Arroyo
Moot and Academic, Locus Standi, Political Question(Calling-out Power),
Emergency Powers of the President, Facial Challenge (Overbreadth
Doctrine), Facial Challenge (Vagueness), Section 17, Article VII (Take Care
Power or Control Power of the President), Section 17, Article XII (Take Over
Power of the President), 'As Applied' Challenge,Acts of Terrorism, Right to
Peacably Assemble,
On February 24, 2006, as the nation celebrated the 20th Anniversary of
the Edsa People Power I, President Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation
No. 1017 (PP 1017) 'declaring a state of national emergency'. On the same
day, the President also issued General Order No. 5 implementing PP 1017
and directing the AFP and PNP to take appropriate actions 'to suppress and
prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence'
Thereafter, during the dispersal of the rallyists along EDSA, police arrested
(without warrant) Randolf S. David, a UP professor and newspaper

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columnist, and Ronald Llamas, president of party-list Akbayan.
Also, in the early morning of February 25, 2006,operatives of the Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the PNP,on the basis of PP 1017
and G.O. No. 5, raided the Daily Tribune offices in Manila.
One week after the issuance of PP 1017 and GO No. 5, President Arroyo
issued Proclamation No. 1021 declaring that the state of national emergency
has ceased to exist.
Petitions were filed challenging the constitutionality of and G.O. No. 5 and PP
The factual basis cited by the Arroyo camp for the executive issuances was
the alleged existence of plot attempts from the political opposition and NPA
to unseat or assassinate President Arroyo. The plot attempts were a clear
and present danger that justified the orders.
Moot and Academic

A moot and academic case is one that ceases to present a justiciable

controversy by virtue of supervening events so that a declaration
thereon would be of no practical use or value.


As a general rule, courts decline jurisdiction over cases rendered

moot. However, courts will decide cases, otherwise moot and
academic, in the following situations:
there is a grave violation of the Constitution;
(ii) the exceptional character of the situation and the paramount
public interest is involved;
(iii) when constitutional issue raised requires formulation of
controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public;
(iv) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.


President Arroyo's issuance of PP 1021 did not render the present

petitions moot and academic. During the eight days that PP 1017 was
operative, the police officers committed illegal acts in implementing it.
Moreover, all the above exceptions are present to justify the Court's
assumption of jurisdiction over the petitions.

Locus Standi

In public suits, our courts adopt the 'direct injury' test which
states that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have
'a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has
sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a result.


However,being a mere procedural technicality, the requirement

of locus standi maybe waived. Thus, even where the petitioners have

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failed to show direct injury,they have been allowed to sue under the
principle of 'transcendental importance.'

Petitioners David, Llamas and the Tribune suffered 'direct injury'

resulting from the 'illegal arrest' and 'unlawful search' committed by
police operatives pursuant to PP 1017.


KMU's assertion that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 violated its right to
peaceful assembly may be deemed sufficient to give it legal
standing. Organizations may be granted standing to assert the rights
of their members. The courts took judicial notice of the announcement
by the Office of the President banning all rallies and canceling all
permits for public assemblies following the issuance of PP 1017 and
G.O. No. 5.


The national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

have no legal standing,having no direct or potential injury which the
IBP as an institution or its members may suffer as a consequence of
the issuance of PP No. 1017 and G.O. No.5. The mere invocation by
the IBP of its duty to preserve the rule of law istoo general an interest.
However, in view of the transcendental importance ofthe issue, the
Court vested them with locus standi.

Political Question, Calling-Out Power


While the President's 'calling-out' power is a discretionary power

solely vested in his wisdom, 'this does not prevent an examination of
whether such power was exercised within permissible constitutional
limits or whether it was exercised in a manner constituting grave
abuse of discretion.'

10. As to how the Court may inquire into the President's exercise of
power, the standard is not correctness, but arbitrariness. The test is
that 'judicial inquiry can go no further than to satisfy the Court not
that the President's decision is correct,' but that 'the President did not
act arbitrarily.'(citing Lansang v. Garcia)
11. To show arbitrariness, it must be shown that the President's decision
is totally bereft of factual basis'. If this is not proven, the Court cannot
thereafter undertake an independent investigation beyond the
pleadings.' (citing IBP v Zamora)
12. Petitioners failed to show thatPresident Arroyo's exercise of the
calling-out power, by issuing PP 1017, istotally bereft of factual basis.
The government presented reports of events leadingto the issuance PP
1017 (i.e. escape and threats of Magdalo group, defectionsin military,
etc.) which was not contradicted by petitioners. Hence, thePresident
was justified in issuing PP 1017 calling for military aid.
Facial Challenge (Overbreadth Doctrine)

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13. The overbreadth doctrine is an analytical tool developed for testing
'on their faces' statutes in free speech cases. PP 1017 is not
primarily directed to speech or even speech-related conduct. It is
actually a call upon the AFP to prevent or suppress all forms of lawless
14. Claims of facial overbreadth are entertained in cases involving
statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only 'spoken words'
and 'overbreadth claims have been curtailed when invoked against
ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected
Facial Challenge (Vagueness)
15. Related to the 'overbreadth' doctrine is the 'void for vagueness
doctrine' which holds that 'a law is facially invalid if men of common
intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its
application.' It is subject to the same principles governing overbreadth
doctrine. For one, it is also an analytical tool for testing 'on their faces'
statutes in free speech cases. And like overbreadth,it is said that a
litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it isvague in all its
possible applications.
Calling Out Power (First Provision of PP 1017)
16. Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution grants the President, as
Commander-in-Chief, a 'sequence' of graduated powers. From the
most to the least benign, these are: the calling-out power, the power
to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and the power to
declare Martial Law. Citing IBP v. Zamora, the Court ruled that the
only criterion for the exercise of the calling-out power is
that 'whenever it becomes necessary ,' the President may call the
armed forces 'to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion
or rebellion.'
17. Considering the circumstances then prevailing, President Arroyo
found it necessary to issue PP 1017. Owing to her Office's vast
intelligence network, she is in the best position to determine the actual
condition of the country.
18. There is a distinction between the President's authority to declare a
'state of rebellion' and the authority to proclaim a ?state of national
emergency?. In declaring a state of national emergency, President
Arroyo did not only rely on Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, a
provision calling on the AFP to prevent or suppress lawless violence,
invasion or rebellion. She also relied on Section 17, Article XII, a
provision on the State's extraordinary power to take over privatelyowned public utility and business affected with public interest.
19. PP 1017 is not a declaration of Martial Law. It is merely an exercise
of President Arroyo's calling-out power . As such, it cannot be used to

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justify acts that only under a valid declaration of Martial Law can be
done. specifically, (a) arrests and seizures without judicial warrants;
(b) ban on public assemblies; (c) take-over of news media and
agencies and press censorship; and (d) issuance of Presidential
Decrees, are powers which can be exercised by the President as
Commander-in-Chief only where there is a valid declaration of Martial
Law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
'Take Care' Power (Second Provision of PP 1017)
20. The second provision pertains to the power of the President to
ensure that the laws be faithfully executed. This is based on Section
17, Article VII of the Constitution.
21. PP 1017 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants President Arroyo the
authority to promulgate 'decrees.' Legislative power is peculiarly within
the province of the Legislature. Neither Martial Law nor a state of
rebellion nor a state of emergency can justify President Arroyo's
exercise of legislative power by issuing decrees. Presidential Decrees
are laws which are of the same category and binding force as statutes
because they were issued by then President Marcos in the exercise of
his legislative power during the period of Martial Law under the 1973
22. President Arroyo has no authority to enact decrees. It follows that
these decrees are void and, therefore, cannot be enforced. With
respect to 'laws,' she cannot call the military to enforce or implement
certain laws, such as customs laws, laws governing family and
property relations, laws on obligations and contracts and the like. She
can only order the military, under PP 1017, to enforce laws pertinent to
its duty to suppress lawless violence.
Take Over Power (Third Provision of PP 1017)
23. PP 1017 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants the President, during
a ?state of emergency?, authority to temporarily take over or direct
the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected
with public interest, without authority or delegation from Congress.
24. A distinction must be drawn between the President's authority to
declare 'a state of national emergency' and to exercise emergency
powers. While the President alone can declare a state of national
emergency, however, the exercise of emergency powers , such as
the taking over of privately owned public utility or business affected
with public interest, requires a delegation from Congress. The
President has no absolute authority to exercise allthe powers of the
State under Section 17, Article VII in the absence of an emergency
powers act passed by Congress.
25. Congressmay grant emergency powers to the President, subject to

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certain conditions,thus:
(1) There must be a war or other emergency.
(2) The delegation must be for a limited period only.
(3) The delegation must be subject to such restrictions as the
Congress may prescribe.
(4) The emergency powers must be exercised to carry out a
national policy declared by Congress.
'As Applied' Challenge
26. Courts do not declare statutes invalid merely because they may
afford an opportunity for abuse in the manner of application. The
validity of a statute or ordinance is to be determined from its general
purpose and its efficiency to accomplish the end desired, not from its
effects in a particular case.
'Acts of Terrorism'
27. G.O. No. 5 mandates the AFP and the PNP to immediately carry out
the 'necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and
prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence.'
28. The Court declares that the 'acts of terrorism' portion of G.O. No. 5 is
unconstitutional. Since there is no law defining 'acts of terrorism,' it is
President Arroyo alone, under G.O. No. 5, who has the discretion to
determine what acts constitute terrorism. Consequently,there can be
indiscriminate arrest without warrants, breaking into offices and
residences, taking over the media enterprises. These acts go far
beyond the calling-out power of the President. Yet these can be
effected in the name of G.O. No. 5 under the guise of suppressing acts
of terrorism.
Right to Peacably Assemble
29. David's warrantless arrest was unjustified. David, et al. were
arrested while they were exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
They were not committing any crime, neither was there a showing of a
clear and present danger that warranted the limitation of that right. As
can be gleaned from circumstances, the charges of inciting to sedition
and violation of BP 880 were mere afterthought.
30. The wholesale cancellation of all permits to rally is a blatant
disregard of the principle that 'freedom of assembly is not to be
limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and present
danger of a substantive evil that the State has a right to prevent.'
31. Moreover, under BP 880, the authority to regulate assemblies and
rallies is lodged with the local government units. They have the power
to issue permits and to revoke such permits after due notice and
hearing on the determination of the presence of clear and present

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danger. Here, petitioners were not even notified and heard on the
revocation of their permits.

People v. Perez
G.R. No. 21049 (1923)
On 1 April 1922, while in a public place, Isaac Perez and Fortunato Ladovice were
discussing the administration of Governor-General Wood. Perez shouted a number of
times: The Filipinos, like myself, must use bolos for cutting off Wood's head for having
recommended a bad thing for the Filipinos, for he has killed our independence.
Consequently, Perez was charged of violation of article 256 of the Penal Code which
provides for the crime of contempt of ministers of the Crown or other persons in
Did Perez commit a crime? (Taking into consideration freedom of speech AND
As to Freedom of Speech
In this instance, the attack on the Governor-General passes the furthest bounds of free
speech was intended. There is a seditious tendency in the words used, which could easily
produce disaffection among the people and a state of feeling incompatible with a
disposition to remain loyal to the Government and obedient to the laws.
In the case of United States vs. Helbig ([1920], R. G. No. 14705), the accused was
charged with having uttered the following language: "To hell with the President of the
United States and his proclamation!" Mr. Helbig was prosecuted under article 256, and
though the case was eventually sent back to the court of origin for a new trial, the
appellate court by majority vote held as a question of law that article 256 is still in force.
As to Sovereignty
In the case of People vs. Perfecto ([1922], 43 Phil., 887), the accused was charged with
having published an article reflecting on the Philippine Senate and its members in
violation of article 256 of the Penal Code. In this court, Mr. Perfecto was acquitted by
unanimous vote, with three members of the court holding that article 256 was abrogated

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completely by the change from Spanish to American sovereignty over the Philippines,
and with six members holding that the Libel Law had the effect of repealing so much of
article 256 as relates to written defamation, abuse, or insult, and that under the
information and the facts, the defendant was neither guilty of a violation of article 256 of
the Penal Code nor of the libel Law.

Policapio v. Manila Times

G.R. No. L-16027 (1962)
Policarpio is a lawyer. She was the executive secretary of the local UNESCO
National Commission. As such officer, she charged Reyes, one of her subordinates, and
caused her to be separated from the service. In turn, Reyes filed a complaint against
Policarpio for estafa thru falsification of public documents and malversation of public
funds. Later, the Manila Times and Saturday Mirror, newspapers of general circulation in
the Philippines, published the picture of Policarpio, and the charge of malversation and
estafa against him was published in news page.
Whether the exercise of freedom of speech through publication of news articles exceeded
its limit?
Yes. Newspaper may publish news items relative to judicial, legislative or other
official proceedings, which are not of confidential nature, because the public is entitled to
know the truth with respect to such proceedings, which, being official and nonconfidential, are open to public consumption. But, to enjoy immunity, a publication
containing derogatory information must be not only true, but, also, fair, and it must be
made in good faith and without any comments or remarks.
It is obvious that the filing of criminal complaints with the city fiscal's office by
another agency of the Government, like the PCAC, particularly after an investigation
conducted by the same, imparts the idea that the probability of guilt on the part of the
accused is greater than when the complaints are filed by a private individual. In the case
at bar, aside from containing information derogatory to the plaintiff, the article published
on August 11, 1956, presented her in a worse predicament than that in which she, in fact,

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New York Times Co. v. Sulivan

376 U.S. 254 (1964)
Sullivan is the Commissioner of Public Affairs, and the duties are supervision of
the Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Cemetry and Department of
Scales. New York Times published an article entitled Heed Their Rising Voices.
The article contained issue on Southern Negro students engaged in non-violent
demonstrations in positive affirmation of the right to live in human dignity as guaranteed
by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, in their efforts to uphol these
guarantees, they are being met by an unprecedented wave of terror.
The term wave of terror was further described in the article.
1. 3rd Paragraph. After students sang My Country, 'Tis of Thee, in Aalabama, their
leaders were expelled from school, and truckloads of police armed with shotguns
and tear-gas ringed the Alabama State College Campus. When the entire student
body protested to state authorities by refusing to reregister, their dining hall was
padlocked in an attempt to starve them into submission.
2. 6th Paragraph. Again and again, the Southern violators have answered Dr. King's
peaceful protests with intimidation and violence. They have bombed his home,
almost killing his wife and child. They have assaulted his person. They have
arrested him seven times -- for "speeding," "loitering" and similar "offenses." And
now they have charged him with "perjury" -- a felony under which they could
imprison him for ten years. . . .
Although neither of these statements mentions respondent by name, he contended that the
word "police" in the third paragraph referred to him as the Montgomery Commissioner
who supervised the Police Department, so that he was being accused of "ringing" the
campus with police. Sullivan filed a complaint for libel.
Whether the State may award damages in a libel action brought by a public official
against critiscs of his official conduct?
No. State cannot, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, award damages to a
public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves
"actual malice" -- that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with
reckless disregard of whether it was true or false.
The jury was instructed that, because the statements were libelous per se, "the
law . . . implies legal injury from the bare fact of publication itself," "falsity and malice
are presumed," "general damages need not be alleged or proved, but are presumed," and

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"punitive damages may be awarded by the jury even though the amount of actual
damages is neither found nor shown." An award of punitive damages -- as distinguished
from "general" damages, which are compensatory in nature -- apparently requires proof
of actual malice under Alabama law, and the judge charged that mere (gross) negligence
or carelessness is not evidence of actual malice or malice in fact, and does not justify an
award of exemplary or punitive damages.
(a) Application by state courts of a rule of law, whether statutory or not, to award a
judgment in a civil action, is "state action" under the Fourteenth Amendment.
(b) Expression does not lose constitutional protection to which it would otherwise
be entitled because it appears in the form of a paid advertisement.
(c) Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient
to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless "actual malice" -knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth -- is
alleged and proved.
(d) State court judgment entered upon a general verdict which does not
differentiate between punitive damages, as to which, under state law, actual malice
must be proved, and general damages, as to which it is "presumed," precludes any
determination as to the basis of the verdict, and requires reversal, where
presumption of malice is inconsistent with federal constitutional requirements.
(e) The evidence was constitutionally insufficient to support the judgment for
respondent, since it failed to support a finding that the statements were made with
actual malice or that they related to respondent.
* Libel is a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or
imaginary, or any act, ommission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause the
discredit, dishonor, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory
of one who is already dead.
* Test of defamatory character of the words used.
The words must be construed in their entirety and taken in their plain, natural and
ordinary meaning as they would naturally be understood by persons reading them, unless
understood in another sense.
* Malice-in-Fact-- May be shown by proof of ill-will, hatred or purpose to injure.
* Malice-in-law-- is presumed from a defamatory imputation. In other words, there is a
presumption of malice when defamatory imputations are made.
* When is this presumption of malice rebuttable?
There is no presumption of malice when:
1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of
any legal, moral or social duty; and
2. 2. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of
any judicial, legislative or other official proceedings which are not of confidential
nature, or of any statement, report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of
any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.

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* Exception/Immunity to/from Libel: Privileged communication

A communication is said to be absolutely privileged when it is not actionable, even if its
author has acted in bad faith.
e.g. Privilege Speech of members of Congress, Attorney-Client communication, DoctorPatient Communication, Executive privilege

Neri v. Senate Committee, et al.

G.R. No. 180643 (2008)
Neri was the Director General of NEDA. He was invited by Senate Committees to
attend their investigation on alleged anomalies in the National Broadband Network
(NBN) project. This project was contracted by the Philippines with Zhong Xing
Telecommuniactions Equipment (ZTE). When he testified, he disclosed that COMELEC
Chairman Abalos offered Neri P200M if he will approve the NBN project. Neri informed
Pres. Arroyo about the bribery. When the committee was probing further on their
communication, Neri only answered that he was instructed by GMA to refuse the bribe.
However, Neri invoked the executive privilege, when the following questions were
1. Whether the President followed up the NBN project;
2. Whether she directed him to prioritize it; and
3. Whether she directed him to approve it.
The executive secretary, Eduardo Ermita, invoked the privilege on the ground that the
information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as well as economic
relations with the Peoples Republic of China, and given the confidential nature in which
these information were conveyed to the President, Neri cannot provide the Committee
any further details of these conversations, without disclosing the very thing the privilege
is designed to protect.
Whether the executive privilege may be invoked?
Yes. The elements of executive privilege to be invoked, are:
1.) The protected communication must relate to a quintessential and non-delegable
presidential power;
2.) It must be authored, solicited, and received by a close advisor of the President or
the President himself. The judicial test is that an advisor must be in operational
proximity with the President; and
3.) It may be overcome by a showing of adequate need, such that the information
sought likely contains important evidence, and by the unavailability of the
information elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority.

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Obscenity refers to something offensive to chastity, decency or delicacy. (U.S v.

Writing obscene literature is only punished when it is published with the author's
Miller v. California
413 US 15 (1973)
Appellant conducted a mass mailing campaign to advertise the sale of illustrated
books, euphemistically called "adult" material. He sent five unsolicited advertising
brochures to a restaurant in Newport Beach, California. The envelope was opened by the
manager of the restaurant and his mother. The brochures advertise four books entitled
"Intercourse," "Man-Woman," "Sex Orgies Illustrated," and "An Illustrated History of
Pornography," and a film entitled "Marital Intercourse." While the brochures contain
some descriptive printed material, primarily they consist of pictures and drawings very
explicitly depicting men and women in groups of two or more engaging in a variety of
sexual activities, with genitals often prominently displayed. They had not requested the
brochures; they complained to the police. After a jury trial, he was convicted of for
knowingly distributing obscene matter.
An issue was posed as to the determination of obscenity of the material. In the
state of California, "Obscene" means that to the average person, applying contemporary
standards, the predominant appeal of the matter, taken as a whole, is to prurient interest,
i.e., a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion, which goes substantially
beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters and is
matter which is utterly without redeeming social importance.
Webster's Dictionary definesw obscene as:
1a: disgusting to the senses . . . b: grossly repugnant to the generally accepted
notions of what is appropriate . . . 2: offensive or revolting as countering or
violating some ideal or principle.
In Roth v. U.S., obscene material is one which deals with sex in a manner
appealing to prurient interest.
Eventually, during the trial, both the prosecution and the defense assumed that the
relevant "community standards" in making the factual determination of obscenity were
those of the State of California, not some hypothetical standard of the entire United States
of America.

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Whether or not the materials are obscene?

Obscenity is presumed to be utterly without redeeming social importance. It is not
protected by the constitutional guaranty of freedom of speech or press.
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be:
(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards"
would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual
conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and
(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or
scientific value. If a state obscenity law is thus limited, First Amendment values are
adequately protected by ultimate independent appellate review of constitutional claims
when necessary.
Under a National Constitution, fundamental First Amendment limitations on the
powers of the States do not vary from community to community, but this does not mean
that there are, or should or can be, fixed, uniform national standards of precisely what
appeals to the "prurient interest" or is "patently offensive." These are essentially questions
of fact, and our Nation is simply too big and too diverse for this Court to reasonably
expect that such standards could be articulated for all 50 States in a single formulation,
even assuming the prerequisite consensus exists.
Dissent: Justice Douglas
Today we leave open the way for California to send a man to prison for
distributing brochures that advertise books and a movie under freshly written standards
defining obscenity which until today is decision were never the part of any law.
Today we would add a new three-pronged test:
(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards," would
find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, . . . (b) whether the
work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically
defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks
serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Roth v. US
Facts of the Case:
Roth operated a book-selling business in New York and was convicted of mailing
obscene circulars and an obscene book in violation of a federal obscenity statute. Roth's
case was combined with Alberts v. California, in which a California obscenity law was
challenged by Alberts after his similar conviction for selling lewd and obscene books in
addition to composing and publishing obscene advertisements for his products.
Did either the federal or California's obscenity restrictions, prohibiting the sale or transfer
of obscene materials through the mail, impinge upon the freedom of expression as
guaranteed by the First Amendment?

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Decision: 6 votes for United States, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 18 U.S.C. 1461
The Court held that obscenity was not "within the area of constitutionally protected
speech or press." The Court noted that the First Amendment was not intended to protect
every utterance or form of expression, such as materials that were "utterly without
redeeming social importance." The Court held that the test to determine obscenity was
"whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the
dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest." The Court
held that such a definition of obscenity gave sufficient fair warning and satisfied the
demands of Due Process. Brennan later reversed his position on this issue in Miller v.
California (1973).
Memoirs v. Massachusetts
383 US 413 (1966)
Facts of the Case
A special provision of Massachusetts law allowed the Attorney General to initiate legal
proceedings against an "obscene" book, 'Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.' The book,
also known as Fanny Hill, was written by John Cleland in about 1750.
Memoirs is nothing more than a series of minutely and vividly described sexual episodes.
The book starts with Fanny Hill, a young 15-year-old girl, arriving in London to seek
household work. She goes to an employment office where, through happenstance, she
meets the mistress of a bawdy house. This takes 10 pages. The remaining 200 pages of
the book detail her initiation into various sexual experiences, from a lesbian encounter
with a sister prostitute to all sorts and types of sexual debauchery in bawdy houses and as
the mistress of a variety of men. This is presented to the reader through an uninterrupted
succession of descriptions by Fanny, either as an observer or participant. of sexual
adventures so vile that one of the male expert witnesses in the case was hesitant to repeat
any one of them in the courtroom.
Massachusetts courts, despite the defenses put forward by the book's publisher and
copyright holder, judged the work to be obscene.
Is the material obscene?
Decision: 6 votes for Memoirs, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly
No. The Court held that the Massachusetts courts erred in finding Memoirs of a Woman
of Pleasure to be obscene. The Court, applying the test for obscenity established in Roth
v. United States, held that the book was not "utterly without redeeming social value." The
Court reaffirmed that books could not be deemed obscene unless they were unqualifiedly
worthless, even if the books possessed prurient appeal and were "patently offensive."
Memoirs v. Massachusetts, elaborating Roth case:
Three elements must coalesce: it must be established that (a) the dominant theme of the
material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest in sex; (b) the material is patently
offensive because it affronts contemporary community standards relating to the

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description or representation of sexual matters; and (c) the material is utterly without
redeeming social value.

Gonzales v. Kalaw Katigbak

Petitioner was the producer of the movie Kapit sa Patalim which the Board of
Review for Motion Pictures and Televisions allowed on condition that certain deletions
were made and that it was shown on adults only. The petitioner brought an action,
claiming violation of their freedom of expression.
The Board committed an abuse of discretion in subjecting petitioner to difficulty
and travail before the movie was classified as "For adults only" without deletion.
However there is not enough votes to consider the abuse of discretion grave as it
explained that there were reasons for its action because of the scenes showing women
erotically dancing naked and kissing and caressing each other like lesbians.
Motion pictures are important both as a method for the communication of ideas
and the expression of the artistic impulse. The power of the Board is limited to the
classification of films. For freedom of expression is the rule and restrictions the
exception. The power to impose prior restraint is not to be presumed, rather the
presumption is against its validity. Censorship is allowable only under the clearest proof
of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil to public safety, public morals, public
health or any other legitimate public interest.
Notes: The movie involved in this case was "Kapit sa Patalim" which the censors wanted
to cut in some part and to label "For Adults". The SC rules that movies are within the
constitutional protection of freedom of expression, so that censorship is presumed to be
valid as constituting prior restraint. The only case whe the Board of Censors can order a
deletion is when there is a clear and present danger of a substantive evil against national
security or public morals or other public interest. In all other cases, the Board can only
But a different standard must be followed in television because of the pervasive and
intrusive influence of the medium on people who watch its programs without having to
pay anything.
On the issue of obscenity, the SC held that sex along is not necessarily obscenity, the test
being whether, using contemporary community standards, the dominant appeal us to the
prurient interest. (Miller v. California). Thus on this score, it found abuse of discretion of
the part of the Board for subjecting the producer to difficulty and for entertaining a
narrow view of obscenity, but it lacked the votes to rules that the abuse was grave.

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Assembly and Petition

Navarro v. Villegas
G.R. No. L-31687 (1970)
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court of even date:
"In Case G.R. No. L-31687 (Navarro vs. Villegas), the Court, after considering the
pleadings and arguments of the parties, issued the following Resolution:
Without prejudice to a more extended opinion and taking into account the following
That respondent Mayor has not denied nor absolutely refused the permit sought by
That as stated in Primicias v. Fugoso, 80 Phil. 75, respondent Mayor possesses
reasonable discretion to determine or specify the streets or public places to be used for
the assembly in order to secure convenient use thereof by others and provide adequate
and proper policing to minimize the risks of disorder and maintain public safety and
That respondent Mayor has expressly stated his willingness to grant permits for peaceful
assemblies at Plaza Miranda during Saturdays, Sundays and holidays when they would
not cause unnecessarily great disruption of the normal activities of the community and
has further offered Sunken Gardens as an alternative to Plaza Miranda as the site of the
demonstration sought to be held this afternoon;
That experiences in connection with present assemblies and demonstrations do not
warrant the Court's disbelieving respondent Mayor's appraisal that a public rally at Plaza
Miranda, as compared to one at the Sunken Gardens as he suggested, poses a clearer and
more imminent danger of public disorders, breaches of the peace, criminal acts, and even
bloodshed as an aftermath of such assemblies, and petitioner has manifested that it has no
means of preventing such disorders;
That, consequently, every time that such assemblies are announced, the community is
placed in such a state of fear and tension that offices are closed early and employees
dismissed, storefronts boarded up, classes suspended, and transportation disrupted, to the
general detriment of the public:
That civil rights and liberties can exist and be preserved only in an order society;
The petitioner has failed to show a clear specific legal duty on the part of respondent
Mayor to grant their application for permit unconditionally;
The Court resolved to DENY the writ prayed for and to dismiss the petition.

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PBM Employees v. PBM

Philippine Blooming Employees Organization (PBMEO) decided to stage a mass
demonstration in front of Malacaang to express their grievances against the alleged
abuses of the Pasig Police.
After learning about the planned mass demonstration, Philippine Blooming Mills Inc.,
called for a meeting with the leaders of the PBMEO. During the meeting, the planned
demonstration was confirmed by the union. But it was stressed out that the demonstration
was not a strike against the company but was in fact an exercise of the laborers
inalienable constitutional right to freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom
for petition for redress of grievances.
The company asked them to cancel the demonstration for it would interrupt the normal
course of their business which may result in the loss of revenue. This was backed up with
the threat of the possibility that the workers would lose their jobs if they pushed through
with the rally.
A second meeting took place where the company reiterated their appeal that while the
workers may be allowed to participate, those from the 1st and regular shifts should not
absent themselves to participate , otherwise, they would be dismissed. Since it was too
late to cancel the plan, the rally took place and the officers of the PBMEO were
eventually dismissed for a violation of the No Strike and No Lockout clause of their
Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The lower court decided in favor of the company and the officers of the PBMEO were
found guilty of bargaining in bad faith. Their motion for reconsideration was
subsequently denied by the Court of Industrial Relations for being filed two days late.
Issue: Whether or not the workers who joined the strike violated the CBA.
Held: No. While the Bill of Rights also protects property rights, the primacy of human
rights over property rights is recognized. Because these freedoms are "delicate and
vulnerable, as well as supremely precious in our society" and the "threat of sanctions may
deter their exercise almost as potently as the actual application of sanctions," they "need
breathing space to survive," permitting government regulation only "with narrow
specificity." Property and property rights can be lost thru prescription; but human rights
are imprescriptible. In the hierarchy of civil liberties, the rights of free expression and of
assembly occupy a preferred position as they are essential to the preservation and vitality
of our civil and political institutions; and such priority "gives these liberties the sanctity
and the sanction not permitting dubious intrusions."

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The freedoms of speech and of the press as well as of peaceful assembly and of petition
for redress of grievances are absolute when directed against public officials or "when
exercised in relation to our right to choose the men and women by whom we shall be

Soriano vs. La Guardia

G.R. No. 164785. April 29, 2009
On August 10, 2004, at around 10:00 p.m., petitioner, as host of the program Ang
Dating Daan, aired on UNTV 37, made the following obscene remarks against INC,
particularly to Sandoval:
Lehitimong anak ng demonyo; sinungaling;
Gago ka talaga Michael, masahol ka pa sa putang babae o di ba. Yung putang babae ang
gumagana lang doon yung ibaba, [dito] kay Michael ang gumagana ang itaas, o di ba!
O, masahol pa sa putang babae yan. Sabi ng lola ko masahol pa sa putang babae yan.
Sobra ang kasinungalingan ng mga demonyong ito.

Two days after, before the MTRCB, separate but almost identical affidavit-complaints
were lodged by Jessie L. Galapon and seven other private respondents, all members of
the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), against petitioner in connection with the above broadcast.
Respondent Michael M. Sandoval, who felt directly alluded to in petitioners remark, was
then a minister of INC and a regular host of the TV program Ang Tamang Daan.

Whether or not Sorianos statements during the televised Ang Dating Daan part of the
religious discourse and within the protection of Section 5, Art.III.


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No. Under the circumstances obtaining in this case, therefore, and considering the
adverse effect of petitioners utterances on the viewers fundamental rights as well as
petitioners clear violation of his duty as a public trustee, the MTRCB properly
suspended him from appearing in Ang Dating Daan for three months. Furthermore, it
cannot be properly asserted that petitioners suspension was an undue curtailment of his
right to free speech either as a prior restraint or as a subsequent punishment. Aside from
the reasons given above (re the paramount of viewers rights, the public trusteeship
character of a broadcasters role and the power of the State to regulate broadcast media),
a requirement that indecent language be avoided has its primary effect on the form, rather
than the content, of serious communication. There are few, if any, thoughts that cannot be
expressed by the use of less offensive language.
This balancing of interest test, to borrow from Professor Kauper, rests on the
theory that it is the courts function in a case before it when it finds public interests
served by legislation, on the one hand, and the free expression clause affected by it, on
the other, to balance one against the other and arrive at a judgment where the greater
weight shall be placed.
In this setting, the assertion by petitioner of his enjoyment of his freedom of
speech is ranged against the duty of the government to protect and promote the
development and welfare of the youth.

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Estrada v. Escritor
A.M. No. P-02-16514 (2003)
Freedom of Religion (Free Exercise Clause. Non-Establishment Clause), Strict
Neutrality vs. Benevolent Neutrality
Alejandro Estrada wrote a letter to the judge of RTC Branch 253, Las Pinas
City, complaining of immoral acts committed by Soledad Escritor, a court
interpreter in said court, who is allegedly living with a man not her husband.
During the investigation, Escritor admitted that she has been living with
Luciano Quilapio, Jr. without the benefit of marriage for twenty years and
that they have a son. But as a member of the religious sect known as
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society, their
conjugal arrangement is in conformity with their religious beliefs. In fact,
after ten years of living together, she executed on July 28, 1991 a
"Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness." Quilapio executed a similar pledge. At
the time Escritor executed her pledge, her husband was still alive but living
with another woman. Insofar as the congregation is concerned, there is
nothing immoral about the conjugal arrangement between Escritor and
Quilapio and they remain members in good standing in the congregation.
Moreover, at the time Escritor joined the judiciary, her husband has already
died and there was no longer any legal impediment to marry on her part,
although Quilapio was still married to another but separated.
Escritor, who is charged with committing "gross and immoral conduct" under
the Revised Administrative Code, invokes the moral standards of her
religion, the Jehovah's Witnesses, in asserting that her conjugal
arrangement with a man not her legal husband does not constitute
disgraceful and immoral conduct for which she should be held
administratively liable.
Free exercise clause
1. The Free Exercise Clause embraces two concepts - freedom to believe
and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the
second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection

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of society.
Evolution of Different Tests employed by the courts
under the Free Exercise Clause

(a) The belief-action test Under this test, regulation of

religiously dictated conduct would be upheld no matter how
central the conduct was to the exercise of religion and no
matter how insignificant was the government's non-religious
regulatory interest so long as the government is proscribing
action and not belief.
(b) The Court abandoned the simplistic belief-action distinction and
instead recognized the deliberate-inadvertent distinction, i.e., the
distinction between deliberate state interference of religious
exercise for religious reasons which was plainly unconstitutional
and government's inadvertent interference with religion in pursuing
some secular objective.
(c) The two-part balancing test of validity of the infringing
regulation where the first step was for plaintiff to show that the
regulation placed a real burden on his religious exercise. Next, the
burden would be upheld only if the state showed that it was
pursuing an overriding secular goal by the means which imposed
the least burden on religious practices.
(d) Then came the stricter compelling state interest test, this latter
test stressed that the state interest was not merely any colorable
state interest, but must be paramount and compelling to override
the free exercise claim. A compelling state interest is the highest
level of constitutional scrutiny short of a holding of a per se
violation. Thus, when general laws conflict with scruples of
conscience, exemptions ought to be granted unless some
'compelling state interest' intervenes.
Non-Establishment Clause
2. U.S. Supreme Court adopted Jefferson's metaphor of "a wall of
separation between church and state" as encapsulating the meaning of the
Establishment Clause.
3. The Lemon v. Kurtzman test requires a challenged policy to meet the
following criteria to pass scrutiny under the Establishment Clause.
(i) the statute must have a secular legislative purpose
its primary or principal effect must be one that neither
advances nor inhibits religion

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(iii) the statute must not foster 'an excessive entanglement with
Strict Neutrality vs. Benevolent Neutrality
4. The two main standards used by the Court in deciding religion clause
cases: separation (strict neutrality) and accommodation (benevolent
(a) Under the strict neutrality approach, the government
should base public policy solely on secular considerations,
without regard to the religious consequences of its actions. It
adopts a policy of religious blindness. This approach has been
used in education cases where the court refused to allow any
form of prayer, spoken or silent, in public schools. However,
this separationist approach has become problematic in
contemporary times when both the government and religion
are growing and expanding their spheres of involvement and
activity, resulting in the intersection of government and
religion at many points.
(b) The benevolent neutrality approach allows for interaction
between the church and state as called for by necessity or
practicality. Benevolent neutrality allows accommodation of religion
under certain circumstances. Accommodations are government
policies that take religion specifically into account not to promote
the government's favored form of religion, but to allow individuals
and groups to exercise their religion without hindrance. Their
purpose or effect therefore is to remove a burden on, or facilitate
the exercise of, a person's or institution's religion. As Justice
Brennan explained, the "government [may] take religion into
account . . .to exempt, when possible, from generally applicable
governmental regulation individuals whose religious beliefs and
practices would otherwise thereby be infringed, or to create without
state involvement an atmosphere in which voluntary religious
exercise may flourish."

Accommodation theory

5. A three-step process (also referred to as the "two-step

balancing process" when the second and third steps are
combined) is followed in weighing the state's interest and
religious freedom when these collide. Three questions are
answered in this process:

Has the statute or government action

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created a burden on the free exercise of
religion? The courts often look into the sincerity
of the religious belief, but without inquiring into
the truth of the belief because the Free Exercise
Clause prohibits inquiring about its truth. The
sincerity of the claimant's belief is ascertained
to avoid the mere claim of religious beliefs to
escape a mandatory regulation.

Is there a sufficiently compelling state
interest to justify this infringement of religious
liberty? In this step, the government has to
establish that its purposes are legitimate for the
state and that they are compelling.

(c) Has the state in achieving its legitimate

purposes used the least intrusive means
possible so that the free exercise is not
infringed any more than necessary to achieve
the legitimate goal of the state?
Philippine jurisdiction adopts Benevolent Neutrality approach
6. The Philippine constitution's religion clauses prescribe not a strict but a
benevolent neutrality. Benevolent neutrality recognizes that government
must pursue its secular goals and interests but at the same time strives to
uphold religious liberty to the greatest extent possible within flexible
constitutional limits. Thus, although the morality contemplated by laws is
secular, benevolent neutrality could allow for accommodation of morality
based on religion, provided it does not offend compelling state interests.
7. In other words, in the absence of legislation granting exemption from a
law of general applicability, the Court can carve out an exception when the
religion clauses justify it.
Tests applied on exercise of religious freedom
8. The case at bar does not involve speech where the "clear and present
danger" and "grave and immediate danger" tests were appropriate.
9. The present case involves purely conduct arising from religious belief.
The "compelling state interest" test is proper where conduct is involved.
Under this test, not any interest of the state would suffice to prevail over the
right to religious freedom as this is a fundamental right that enjoys a
preferred position in the hierarchy of rights.

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10. In determining which shall prevail between the state's interest and
religious liberty, reasonableness shall be the guide.
Religious clauses and Morality
11. The morality referred to in the law is public and secular morality, not
religious morality. The distinction is important because the jurisdiction of the
Court extends only to public and secular morality. Whatever pronouncement
the Court makes in the case at bar should be understood only in this realm.
Application of Benevolent Neutrality and the Compelling State
Interest Test
12. In ruling on Escritors claim of religious freedom, the court applied the
compelling state interest test from a benevolent neutrality stance - i.e. the
claim of religious freedom would warrant carving out an exception from the
Civil Service Law, unless the government succeeds in demonstrating a more
compelling state interest.
13. Applying the balancing process earlier discussed, the court found that
Escritor's right to religious freedom has been burdened as she is made to
choose between keeping her employment and following her religious
precept. She appears to be sincere in her religious belief and practice and is
not merely using the "Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness" to avoid
punishment for immorality.
14. However, the case must be remanded to the Office of the Court
Administrator to properly settle the issue of the existence of a compelling
state interest. The government should be given the opportunity to
demonstrate the compelling state interest it seeks to uphold which can
override respondent's religious belief and practice. The burden of evidence
should be discharged by the proper agency of the government which is the
Office of the Solicitor General.