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Libel; elements.

A charge is sufficient if the words
are calculated to induce the hearers to suppose
and understand that the person or persons
against whom they were uttered were guilty of
certain offenses or are sufficient to impeach the
honesty, virtue or reputation or to hold the person
or persons up to public ridicule. Dionisio Lopez y
Aberasturi v. People of the Philippines, et al,

Freedom of expression enjoys an exalted place in the
hierarchy of constitutional rights. Free expression
however, is not absolute for it may be so regulated that [its
exercise shall neither] be injurious to the equal enjoyment
of others having equal rights, nor injurious to the rights of
the community or society.[1] Libel stands as an exception to
the enjoyment of that most guarded constitutional right.

before the word NEVER thus making the billboard appear
as follows
For which the words in the signboards/billboards were
obviously calculated to induce the readers/passers-by to
suppose and understand that something fishy was going
on, therefore maliciously impeaching the honesty, virtue
and reputation of Mayor Salvador G. Escalante, Jr., and
hence were highly libelous, offensive and defamatory to
the good name, character and reputation of the offended
party and his office and that the said billboards/signboards
were read by thousands if not hundred[s] of thousands of
persons, which caused damage and prejudice to the
offended party by way of moral damages in the amount
P5, 000,000.00 as moral damages.

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by Dionisio Lopez
(petitioner) assailing the Decision[2] dated August 31, 2005
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
28175. The CA affirmed with
modification the
Decision[3] rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Cadiz City, Branch 60 finding petitioner guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of libel.

Upon arraignment on May 8, 2003, petitioner, as accused,
entered a plea of not guilty. During the pre-trial, the parties
stipulated, among others, on the identity of the accused,
that the private complainant is the incumbent City Mayor
of Cadiz City and is popularly known by the nickname
Bading and that the petitioner calls the private complainant
Bading. Thenceforth, trial on the merits commenced in due

Procedural and Factual Antecedents

Evidence introduced for the prosecution reveals that in the
early part of November 2002, while exercising his official
duties as Mayor of Cadiz City, private respondent saw
billboards with the printed phrase CADIZ FOREVER with a
blank space before the word NEVER directly under said
phrase. Those billboards were posted on the corner of
Gustilo and Villena streets, in front of Cadiz Hotel and
beside the old Coca-Cola warehouse in Cadiz City. He
became intrigued and wondered on what the message
conveyed since it was incomplete.

On April 3, 2003, petitioner was indicted for libel in an
Information dated March 31, 2003, the accusatory portion
of which reads in full as follows:
That on or about the early part of November 2002 in the
City of Cadiz, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the herein accused did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with intent to impeach
the integrity, reputation and putting to public ridicule and
dishonor the offended party MAYOR SALVADOR G.
ESCALANTE, JR., City Mayor of Cadiz City and with
malice and intent to injure and expose the said offended
party to public hatred, contempt and ridicule put up
billboards/signboards at the fence of Cadiz Hotel, Villena
Street, Cadiz City and at Gustilo Boulevard, Cadiz City,
which billboards/signboards read as follows:
Thereby deliberately titillating the curiosity of and drawing
of Cadiz City and passers-by over what would be placed
before the word NEVER. Later on November 15, 2002,
accused affixed the nickname of the herein private
complainant BADING and the name of the City of SAGAY

Some days later, on November 15, 2002, private
respondent received a phone call relating that the blank
space preceding the word NEVER was filled up with the
added words BADING AND SAGAY. The next day, he saw
the billboards with the phrase CADIZ FOREVER BADING
AND SAGAY NEVER printed in full. Reacting and feeling
that he was being maligned and dishonored with the
printed phrase and of being a tuta of Sagay, private
respondent, after consultation with the City Legal Officer,
caused the filing of a complaint for libel against petitioner.
He claimed that the incident resulted in mental anguish
and sleepless nights for him and his family. He thus
prayed for damages.

The accused is hereby ordered immediately committed to the BJMP. When she went around Cadiz City. According to her. submitted a Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Comment [8] on even date. 2003. He wondered what fault the person alluded therein has done as the message is so negative. With the message. a retired government employee of Cadiz City.00 by way of moral damages. The fallo of the Decision reads: WHEREFORE. was at Delilahs Coffee [Shop] in the morning of November 19. She and the tricycle drivers drinking coffee were told by petitioner You watch out I will add larger billboards. Bading. thus confirming what petitioner had said. He mentioned BADING because he was not in conformity with the many things the mayor had done in Cadiz City. petitioner has an ax to grind against the mayor. however the penalty of Fine adjudged against the accused is hereby ordered deducted from the cash bond posted by the accused pursuant to Section 22 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court and the remaining balance ordered returned to the accused. all the elements of libel are present. Ruling of the Regional Trial Court On December 17. He felt that the message is an insult to the mayor since it creates a negative impression. Petitioner and private respondent submitted their respective memoranda as required. He contended that it was private respondent who referred to Bading as Tuta of Sagay. the message is an insult not only to the person of the mayor but also to the people of Cadiz City. she was not also forced or rewarded in giving her testimony. affirming with modification the Decision of the RTC.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. which the appellate court denied in its Resolution[6] dated April 7. Petitioner then filed his Motion for Reconsideration. rendered judgment on August 31. she saw larger billboards with the phrase CADIZ FOREVER BADING AND SAGAY NEVER. 2006 while the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) representing public respondent People of the Philippines. Cadiz Cityfor the service of his sentence. petitioner is now before us via the instant petition. 2002 when she heard the petitioner shouting Bading. this Court finds accused DIONISIO LOPEZ y ABERASTURI (bonded) GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Libel defined and penalized under Article 353 in relation to Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code and there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances attendant thereto hereby sentences him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of FOUR MONTHS AND TWENTY DAYS of Arresto Mayor maximum as the minimum to TWO YEARS.000. According to her. in view of all the foregoing. He claimed that he was giving his testimony voluntarily and he was not being rewarded. we further requested the parties to submit their respective memoranda. ELEVEN MONTHS AND TEN DAYS of Prision Correccional Medium as the maximum and a FINE of P5. While on a licensing campaign. she felt as if the people were trying to disown the private respondent. the amount of moral damages to P500. Like Jude. Like the trial court.] BADING AND SAGAY NEVER CONTAINED IN THE BILLBOARDS/SIGNBOARDS SHOW THE INJURIOUS NATURE OF THE IMPUTATIONS MADE AGAINST THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT AND TENDS TO INDUCE . The OSG filed a Manifestation in Lieu of Memorandum. He insisted that he has no intention whatsoever of referring to Bading as the Tuta of Sagay. Per our directive. Petitioner admitted having placed all the billboards because he is aware of all the things happening around Cadiz City. The cash bond posted by the accused is hereby ordered cancelled and returned to the accused. private respondent filed his Comment[7] on August 29. the Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Comment it earlier filed. coerced or forced by anybody. He concluded that the message in the billboards is just a wake-up call for Cadiz City.000. Disgruntled. adopting as its memorandum. Nenita Bermeo (Nenita). 2005. Never. Never. Issues Petitioner raised the following arguments in support of his petition: -WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE WORDS CADIZ FOREVER[. It reduced however. the RTC rendered judgment convicting petitioner of libel. The accused is further ordered to pay the private complainant the sum of P5. 2006. The trial court ruled that from the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution vs-a-vs that of the defense. he was able to read the message on the billboards.000. Bernardita Villaceran (Bernardita) also found the message unpleasant because Mayor Escalante is an honorable and dignified resident of Cadiz City. After the filing of petitioners Reply to private respondents Comment. the appellate court found the presence of all the elements of the crime of libel. Ruling of the Court of Appeals Petitioner appealed the Decision of the RTC to the CA which. as if he was being rejected by the people of Cadiz City.Jude Martin Jaropillo (Jude) is a licensing officer of the Permit and License Division of Cadiz City.000. He further maintained that his personal belief and expression was that he will never love Bading and Sagay.00. as stated earlier.

Indeed. real or imaginary or any act. surmises and conjectures. status or circumstance which will either dishonor. following the general rule. 6. When the findings of fact are conflicting. IV WHETHER X X X THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING PETITIONER OF THE CHARGE OF LIBEL AND IN HOLDING HIM LIABLE FOR MORAL DAMAGES IN THE AMOUNT OF P500. and 2) whether the controversial words used constituted privileged communication. III WHETHER X X X THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE PRESUMPTION OF MALICE IN THE CASE AT BAR HAS NOT BEEN OVERTHROWN. instead of the general rule. 4. INTEGRITY AND REPUTATION AS MAYOR OF CADIZ CITY.SUSPICION ON HIS CHARACTER. BADING AND SAGAY NEVER tends to induce suspicion on private respondents character. condition. we are constrained to apply one of the exceptions specifically paragraph 4 above. The OSG. 5. the following requisites must concur: a) it must be defamatory. A libel is defined as a public and malicious imputation of a crime or of a vice or defect. unless the case falls under any of the following recognized exceptions: 1. DID THE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN NOT HOLDING THAT THEY COMPRISE FAIR COMMENTARY ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST WHICH ARE THEREFORE PRIVILEGED? 9. Where there is a grave abuse of discretion. integrity and reputation of private respondent. When the inference made is manifestly mistaken. discredit. When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation. absurd or impossible. He avers that there is nothing in said printed matter tending to defame and induce suspicion on the character. omission. discredit or contempt of a natural or juridicial person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. b) it must be malicious. vice or defect. When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court. the CA affirmed the factual findings of the RTC that all the elements of the crime of libel are present in this case. went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee. When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. it argued that the words printed on the billboards somehow bordered on the incomprehensible and the ludicrous yet they were so deliberately crafted solely to induce suspicion and cast aspersion against private respondents honor and reputation. At the outset. BADING AND SAGAY NEVER is libelous. However. 8. We ought to reverse the CA ruling. When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based. When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents. or any act. When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. Thus. we are precluded from making further evaluation of the factual antecedents of the case. ASSUMING WITHOUT CONCEDING THAT THE WORDS CADIZ FOREVER. 3. 2.[9] Summed up. the focal issues tendered in the present petition boil down to the following: 1) whether the printed phrase CADIZ FOREVER. condition. BADING AND SAGAY NEVER CONTAINED IN THE BILLBOARDS ERECTED BY PETITIONER ARE DEFAMATORY. Hence.[13] For an imputation to be libelous. only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. 7. c) it must be given publicity and d) the . and. integrity and reputation as mayor of Cadiz City. or put him into contempt. asserts that there is nothing in the phrase CADIZ FOREVER and BADING AND SAGAY NEVER which ascribe to private respondent any crime. The factual findings of the lower courts are final and conclusive and are not reviewable by this Court.000.[10] Petitioner takes exception to the CAs ruling that the controversial phrase CADIZ FOREVER. in its Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Comment. When the Court of Appeals. Our Ruling 10. status or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor. we cannot lose sight of the fact that both lower courts have greatly misapprehended the facts in arriving at their unanimous conclusion. Citing well-established jurisprudence[12] holding that [w]ords calculated to induce suspicion are sometimes more effective to destroy reputation than false charges directly made and that [i]ronical and metaphorical language is a favored vehicle for slander. omission. in making its findings.[11] The prosecution maintains that the appellate court correctly sustained the trial courts finding of guilt on petitioner.

In its ordinary sense. I know the intention because to answer your question. it is our considered view to appropriately consider it as mere epithet or personal reaction on private respondents performance of official duty and not purposely designed to malign and besmirch his reputation and dignity more so to deprive him of public confidence.[16] Tested under these established standards. we cannot subscribe to the appellate courts finding that the phrase CADIZ FOREVER. according to the OSG. you cannot see it in [sic] a glance. vehemently praying for his acquittal. We quote with approval the OSGs analysis of the issue which was the basis for its observation. Prudently. Contrary to private respondents assertion. We disagree. Neither does the phrase in its entirety. Jr. They could have verbicide the meaning of the word NEVER. as a tuta or puppet of Sagay City. virtue or reputation or to hold the person or persons up to public ridicule. a tuta or puppet of Sagay City. not a single prosecution witness testified that the billboards portray Mayor Bading Escalante. integrity and reputation as mayor of Cadiz City. it will not only require those BADING AND SAGAY NEVER billboard[s]. very small. But the trustworthiness of these witnesses is doubtful considering the moral ascendancy exercised over them by the private respondent such that it is quite easy for them to draw such negative impression. These witnesses. Thus: Q: You do not know of course the intention of putting those billboards BADING AND SAGAY NEVER? A: Definitely. condition. the prosecution could have presented witnesses within the community with more independent disposition than these witnesses who are beholden to private respondent. condition. the OSG adopted a position contrary to the interest of the People. An allegation is considered defamatory if it ascribes to a person the commission of a crime. Indeed. BADING AND SAGAY NEVER[18] . A: That is the meaning of the signboard[s]. either directly or indirectly. Obviously. there is nothing in the subject billboards which state. Malice is necessarily rendered immaterial. real or imaginary or any act. According to the private respondent. thus: During the proceedings in the trial court. Were the words imputed not defamatory in character. Although all the elements must concur. Strangely. the controversial word NEVER used by petitioner was plain and simple. Jude was employed as a licensing officer under the Permit and License Division of the Cadiz City Hall and Nenita held the position of Utility Worker II of the General Services Office of Cadiz City. Except for private respondent. the prosecution witnesses were able to read the message printed in the billboards and gave a negative impression on what it says.[15] Moreover. at the least.victim must be identifiable. To determine whether a statement is defamatory. There are no derogatory imputations of a crime. The billboards erected by petitioner simply say CADIZ FOREVER. natural and ordinary meaning as they would naturally be understood by persons reading them. omission. that he is. ginkuha sang Sagay. directly or indirectly. very very small. in his words. BADING AND SAGAY NEVER tends to induce suspicion on private respondents character. to cause his dishonor. They imply that the message conveys something as if the private respondent was being rejected as city mayor of Cadiz. In its Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Comment. a libel charge will not prosper. would naturally testify in his favor. the defamatory nature of the subject printed phrase must be proved first because this is so vital in a prosecution for libel. [a] charge is sufficient if the words are calculated to induce the hearers to suppose and understand that the person or persons against whom they were uttered were guilty of certain offenses or are sufficient to impeach the honesty. these witnesses were either employed in the Cadiz City Hall or active in the project of the city government. The message that the signboards would like to convey to the people of Cadiz. I am being maligned because of those billboards that states and I repeat: Ang Tubig san Cadiz. employ any unpleasant language or somewhat harsh and uncalled for that would reflect on private respondents integrity. Welcome to Brgy. that I am being a Tuta of Sagay. the possession of a vice or defect. omission. the word did not cast aspersion upon private respondents integrity and reputation much less convey the idea that he was guilty of any offense. the OSG surprisingly joined stance with him. Simply worded as it was with nary a notion of corruption and dishonesty in government service. As observed by the OSG. status or circumstance tending. at the time the billboards were erected and during the incumbency of private respondent as mayor of Cadiz City. Bernardita was a member of the Clean and Green Program of Cadiz City. instead of contesting the arguments of the petitioner. Zone 2. private respondent testified that the subject billboards maligned his character and portrayed him as a puppet of Sagay City. the words used are to be construed in their entirety and should be taken in their plain.[14] Absent one of these elements precludes the commission of the crime of libel. that the Mayor of Cadiz City is a Tuta or Puppet of Sagay City. unless it appears that they were used and understood in another sense. it was after which additional billboards were put up. the message in the billboards would like to convey to the people of Cadiz that he is a tuta of Sagay City. vice or defect or any act. Cadiz and there is a small word under it. That strengthen. status or circumstance which tends to dishonor or discredit or put him in contempt or which tends to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

even if real. Islamic Da Wah Council of the Phils. private respondent refers to the circumstances mentioned in another billboard that is not the subject matter in the present charge. several teachers were signifying to resign and leave Baguio forever. 1988 issue of the Baguio Midland Courier (BMC). Bustos.[22] the policy of a public official may be attacked. 2005 in CA-G. FACTS: 1. 1988 column at the Courier: “I heard that the ‘Dumpty in the Egg’ is campaigning for Cortes. filed a complaint for Damages before the regional trial Court of Baguio City as he claimed said articles were libelous. As the Court held in United States v. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 31. fundamental is the requirement that the elemental acts constituting the offense be established with moral certainty as this is the critical and only requisite to a finding of guilt. still. Inc. Not fair. the prosecution failed to prove that the controversial phrase CADIZ FOREVER. any discussion on the issue of malice is rendered moot. Pursuant to Article 361 of the Revised Penal Code.” 3. ill-natured. Cecille Afable.Apparently.R. JR. If he wins. the wound can be assuaged by the balm of a clear conscience. In criminal prosecutions. the petition is GRANTED. While it may be that the Court is not bound by the analysis and observation of the OSG. private respondent nevertheless did not specify any actionable wrong or particular act or omission on petitioners part that could have defamed him or caused his alleged injury. the public has the right to be informed on the mental. The public officer may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation. He likewise filed a separate criminal complaint . is not automatically equivalent to defamation. Labo has the most imponderables about him. both lower courts heavily relied on the testimony of the petitioner pertaining to the reasons behind the printing of the phrase CADIZ FOREVER BADING AND SAGAY NEVER.000 only. 28175 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the petitioner is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. Inc. Be that as it may. Jr. Since he is donating millions he should also settle his small debts like the reportedly insignificant amount of P27. Ramon Labor. A public [official] must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comments upon his official acts. CR No. moral and physical fitness of candidates for public office.. In this light. v.” 2. The aforesaid facts dismally failed to support the allegations in the instant information. In the same column. granting that the controversial phrase is considered defamatory. Truth be told that somehow the private respondent was not pleased with the controversial printed matter. We will accept all advertisements for him if he pays his old account first. the Court finds that it deserves meritorious consideration. In the January 3. WHEREFORE. COURT OF APPEALS & RAMON LABO.[20] In arriving at an analogous finding of guilt on petitioner. 2004] Freedom of Expression. whether written or spoken. For that matter. rightly or wrongly with every argument which ability can find or ingenuity invent. contrary to the conclusion of the trial court as affirmed by the appellate court. do not constitute bases for an action for defamation in the absence of an allegation for special damages. [P]ersonal hurt or embarrassment or offense. BAGUIO MIDLAND COURIER & CECILLE AFABLE VS. 444 SCRA 28 [November 25. Cecille Afable wrote the following comments in her January 10.. no liability attaches on petitioner.[21] Our in-depth scrutiny of his testimony.[23] In this case. the Editor-inChief. or vexatious. the accused will be entitled to an acquittal even though he does not prove that the imputation was published with good motives and for justifiable ends. The fact that the language is offensive to the plaintiff does not make it actionable by itself. Some real doctors are also busy campaigning against Labo because he has not also paid their medical services with them. if the defamatory statement is made against a public official with respect to the discharge of his official duties and functions and the truth of the allegations is shown. and mere words of general abuse however opprobrious. BADING AND SAGAY NEVER imputes derogatory remarks on private respondents character. As a result of the above articles. as the Court ruled in MVRS Publications. still. People would ask: “can he read and write”? Why is he always talking about his Japanese father-in-law? Is he really a Japanes Senator or a barrio Kapitan? Is it true that he will send P18M aid to Baguio? Somebody wanted to put an advertisement of Labo in the Midland Courier but was refused because he has not yet paid his account of the last time he was a candidate for Congress. reveals that the reasons elicited by the prosecution mainly relate to the discharge of private respondents official duties as City Mayor of Cadiz City. The prosecution never indulged to give any reason persuasive enough for the court not to adopt it. reputation and integrity. in her column “In and Out of Baguio” made the following comments: “Of all the candidates for Mayor of Baguio City). But that is grossly insufficient to make it actionable by itself. however. [19] words which are merely insulting are not actionable as libel or slander per se. and Pangasinan will be the franca-liqua of Baguio.

4. damages in the total amount of P350.000. that ‘it is also not sufficient that the offended party recognized himself as the person attacked or defamed. Was Labo the “Dumpty in the Egg” described in the questioned article/ 2. the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC Decision and ordered the petitioners to pay Ramon Labo.00 for the ads placed by his campaigners for the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections. 2167. that they more than counterbalance the inconvenience of private persons whose conduct may be involved. Labo claimed that the said articles were tainted with malice because he was allegedly described as “Dumpty in the Egg” or one “who is a failure in his business” which is false because he is a very successful businessman or to mean “zero or a big lie”. were able to prove that Labo has an unpaid obligation to the Courier in the amount of P27. and occasional injury to the reputations of individuals must yield to the public welfare. 1990 Freedom of expression and of the press Facts: 1. January 29. the case should be dismissed since Labo utterly failed to dispose of this responsibility. 2. Ifugao and KalingaApayao. moral and physical fitness of candidates for public office. 1989 but was reset to January 30. The importance to the State and to society of such discussions is so vast. that such discussion must be privileged. In line with the doctrine in BORJAL VS. SANIDAD VS. It is unbelievable that Labo campaigned for his opponent and against himself. which he actually did. RA 6766.S. As such. Jr. Hence. 1990 dismissed Labo’s complaint for damages on the ground that the article of petitioner Afable was privileged and constituted fair comment on matters of public interest as it dealt with the integrity. Pursuant to said law. G. however. Baguio City. reputation and honesty of private respondent Labo who was a candidate for Mayor of Baguio City. On January 7. Although such gracious attitude on the part of Labo would have been commendable. that he is a “balasubas” due to his alleged failure to pay his medical expenses. Branch 6. This is so because the article stated that “The Dumpty in the Egg is campaigning for Cortes”. but it must be shown that at least a 3rd person could identify him as the object of the libelous “…it is of the utmost consequence that the people should discuss the character and qualifications of candidates for their suffrages. COMELEC. As pointed out by the petitioners. Abra. 3. Section 19 of which provides: “Section 19. commentators or announcers. the Petition to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals is wrong when it held that Labo is the “Dumpty in the Egg” in the questioned article. 14 Phil. had he done that. another candidate for mayor and opponent of Labo himself. By virtue of the 1987 Constitution and the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881). 376 U. and the advantages derived so great. it is contrary to common human experience.R. although at times such injury may be great. in its Decision dated June 14. 2. entitled “AN ACT PROVIDING FOR AN ORGANIC ACT FOR THE CORDILLERA AUTONOMOUS REGION” was enacted into law. Mt. 90878. SEDANO. This was recognized as early as the case of US VS.415. CA. ISSUES: 1. PABLITO V.00 after concluding that the “Dumpty in the Egg” refers to no one but Labo himself. 1990 specifically for the ratification or rejection of the said act. NO.before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio but was dismissed. the City of Baguio and Provinces of Benguet. 254 where the US Supreme Court held: The petitioners. publication’. 1992. “ Clearly. 310 SCRA 1. the questioned articles constitute fair comment on a matter of public interest as it dealt with the character of the private respondent who was running for the top elective post in Baguio City at that time. This argument is without merit since he was already a candidate for City mayor of Baguio. The Regional Trial Court. SULLIVAN. 1989. Labo claims that the petitioners could not invoke “public interest” to justify the publication since he was not yet a public official at that time. The public benefit from publicity is so great and the chance of injury to private character so small.. Prohibition on columnist. on . the article is still within the mantle of protection guaranteed by the freedom of expression provided in the Constitution since it is the public’s right to be informed of the mental. it is doubtful whether he could have won as City Mayor of Baguio in the 1988 elections. all comprising the autonomous region shall take part in a plebiscite originally scheduled for December 27. On October 23. Were the articles subject of the case libelous or privileged/ HELD: 1. Province. the Comelec issued Comelec Resolution No. 338 [1909] and the case of NEW YORK TIMES VS.During the plebiscite campaign period.

2ND PAR. and the right to reply. he may still express his views or campaign for or against the act through the Comelec space and airtime. for public information campaigns and forums among candidates are insured. 2011. 10-11-7-SC. 2167. This is so because IT IS STILL A RESTRICTION ON HIS CHOICE OF THE FORUM WHERE HE MAY EXPRESS HIS VIEW. Right to fair trial v. 1989. 57 people including 32 journalists and media practitioners were killed on their way to Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao. ACCORDINGLY. No. OF RA 6646 CAN BE CONSTRUED TO MEAN THAT THE COMELEC HAS ALSO BEEN GRANTED THE RIGHT TO SUPERVISE AND REGULATE THE EXERCISE BY MEDIA PRACTITIONERS THEMSELVES OF THEIR RIGHT TO EXPRESSION DURING THE PLEBISCITE PERIODS. 1990. On November 20. SANIDAD who is a columnist (“OVERVIEW”) for the Baguio Midland Courier. No.the day before and on plebiscite day. petitioner PABLITO V. Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. This tragic incident came to be known as ³Maguindanao massacre´ spawned charges for 57 counts of murder and additional charges of rebellion against 197 accused. On January 9.. Media practitioners exercising their freedom of expression during the plebiscite periods are neither the franchise holders nor the candidates. 5. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. A. Re: Petition for radio and television coverage of the multiple murder cases against Maguindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan. 6. the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondent from enforcing Section 19 of Resolution No. In fact. said fact does not cure the constitutional infirmity of Section 19. 2009. freedom of the press. announcer or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for or against the plebiscite issues. Prejudicial publicity insofar as it undermines the righto a fair trial must pass the ³totality of circumstances´ test that the right of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a free press. NEITHER ARTICLE IX-C OF THE CONSTITUTION NOR SECTION 11(B). permits or other grants issued for the operation of transportation or other public utilities to the end that equal opportunity. IX-C of the Constitution to the Comelec is the power to supervise and regulate the use and enjoyment of franchises. recording devises be permitted inside the court room to assist the working journalists. no mass media columnist. filed a petition for Prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction against the Comelec to enjoin the latter from enforcing Section 19 of resolution No. While it is true that the petitioner is not absolutely barred from campaigning for or against the Organic Act. time and space. GMA Network Inc. . INCLUDING THE FORUM. 10-11-5-SC/A. freedom of the press. and that there must be allegation and proof of the impaired capacity of a judge to render a bias-free decision. Almost a year later on November 19 2010. 2167. The evil sought to be prevented by this provision is the possibility that a franchise holder may favor or give undue advantage to a candidate in terms of advertising time and space. that pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to a fair trial. Comelec through the Solicitor General filed its Comment and moved for the dismissal of the petition on the ground that Section 19 of Resolution No.M. 2167. relatives of the victims. June 14. individual journalists from various media entities and members of the academe filed a petition before this court praying that live television and radio coverage of the trial in this criminal cases be allowed.. 10-11-6-SC/A. a weekly newspaper circulated in the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras. commentator or announcer is required to take a leave of absence from his work during the campaign period if he is a candidate. The people affected by the issues presented in a plebiscite should not be unduly burdened by restrictions on the forum where the right to expression may be exercised. equal rates therefor. et al. ISSUE: Whether or not the petition for radio and television coverage of the Maguindanao Massacre should be allowed. Plebiscite issues are matters of public concern and importance. the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). The people’s right to be informed and to be able to freely and intelligently make a decision would be better served by access to an unabridged discussion of the issues. No. there are no candidates in a plebiscite. 2167 does not absolutely bar the petitioner from expressing his views because under Section 90 and 92 of BP 881. Comelec Resolution No. Petitioner claims that the said provision is violative of his constitutional freedom of expression and of the press and it also constitutes a prior restraint because it imposes subsequent punishment for those who violate the same. 2167 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL. commentator. and reasonable guidelines be formulated to govern the broadcast coverage and the use of devices. Held: What is granted by Art. Right to fair trial v. FACTS: On November 23.” 4. HOWEVER. 1989.M. including reasonable.M. This is also the reason why a columnist. On November 28.

. The present petition which asserts the exercise of the freedom of the press. and freedom of association. Jr. subject to regulations to be issued by the Court. Teehankee. and interfere with the integrity. and that there must be allegation and proof of the impaired capacity of a judge to render a bias-free decision. Desierto. Law and technology can work to the advantage and furtherance of the various rights involved. right to a fair and public trial. sacrifice press freedom and allied rights. within the guidelines. Technology per se has always been neutral. that the right of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a free press. Respecting the possible influence of media coverage on the impartiality of trial court judges. right to information.HELD: AFFIRMATIVE. applied in People v. that pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to a fair trial. right of free access to courts. it is about time to craft a win-win situation that shall not compromise rights in the criminal administration of justice. In this day and age. The Court partially grants pro hac vice petitioners¶ prayer for a live broadcast of the trial court proceedings. petitioners correctly explain that prejudicial publicity insofar as it undermines the right to a fair trial must pass the ³totality of circumstances´ test. dignity and solemnity of judicial proceedings. right to assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Indeed. It is the use and regulation thereof that need finetuning. Mere fear of possible undue influence is not tantamount to actual prejudice resulting in the deprivation of the right to a fair trial. and Estrada v. subject to certain guidelines as enumerated. the Court cannot gloss over what advances technology has to offer in distilling the abstract discussion of key constitutional precept into the workable context.