Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-1800

January 27, 1948

CIPRIANO P. PRIMICIAS, General Campaign Manager of Coalesced Minority
Parties, petitioner,
vs.
VALERIANO E. FUGOSO, Mayor of City of Manila, respondent.
Ramon Diokno for petitioner.
City Fiscal Jose P. Bengzon and Assistant City Fiscal Julio Villamor for respondent.
FERIA, J.:
This is an action of mandamus instituted by the petitoner, Cipriano Primicias, a campaig manager of
the Coalesced Minority Parties against Valeraino Fugoso, as Mayor of the City of Manila, to compel
the latter to issue a permit for the holding of a public meeting at Plaza Miranda on Sunday afternoon,
November 16, 1947, for the purpose of petitioning the government for redress to grievances on the
groun that the respondent refused to grant such permit. Due to urgency of the case, this Court, after
mature deliberation, issued a writ of mandamus, as prayed for in the petition of November 15, 1947,
without prejudice to writing later an extended and reasoned decision.
The right of freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress
of grievances, are fundamental personal rights of the people recognized and guaranteed by the
Constitutions of democratic countries. But it a casettled principle growing out of the nature of wellordered civil societies that the exercise of those rights is not absolute for it may be so regulated that
it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having equal rights, not injurious to the
rights of the community or society. The power to regulate the exercise of such and other
constitutional rights is termed the sovereign "police power" which is the power to prescribe
regulations, to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety, and general
welfare of the people. This sovereign police power is exercised by the government through its
legislative branch by the enactment of laws regulating those and other constitutional and civil rights,
and it may be delegated to political subdivisions, such as towns, municipalities, and cities authorizing
their legislative bodies, called municipal and city councils to enact ordinances for the purpose.
The Philippine legislature has delegated the exercise of the police power to the Municipal Board of
the City of Manila, which according to section 2439 of the Administrative Code is the legislative body
of the City. Section 2444 of the same Code grants the Municipal Board, among others, the following
legislative power, to wit: "(p) to provide for the prohibition and suppression of riots, affrays,
disturbances, and disorderly assemblies, (u) to regulate the use of streets, avenues ... parks,
cemeteries and other public places" and "for the abatement of nuances in the same," and "(ee) to
enact all ordinances it may deem necessary and proper for sanitation and safety, the furtherance of
prosperity and the promotion of morality, peace, good order, comfort, convenience, and general
welfare of the city and its inhabitants."
Under the above delegated power, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila, enacted sections 844
and 1119. Section of the Revised Ordinances of 1927 prohibits as an offense against public peace,
and section 1262 of the same Revised Ordinance penalizes as a misdemeanor, "any act, in any

public place, meeting, or procession, tending to disturb the peace or excite a riot; or collect with
other persons in a body or crowd for any unlawful purpose; or disturb or disquiet any congregation
engaged in any lawful assembly." And section 1119 provides the following:
"SEC. 1119 Free for use of public — The streets and public places of the city shall be kept
free and clear for the use of the public, and the sidewalks and crossings for the pedestrians,
and the same shall only be used or occupied for other purposes as provided by ordinance or
regulation: Provided, that the holding of athletic games, sports, or exercise during the
celebration of national holidays in any streets or public places of the city and on the patron
saint day of any district in question, may be permitted by means of a permit issued by the
Mayor, who shall determine the streets or public places or portions thereof, where such
athletic games, sports, or exercises may be held: And provided, further, That the holding of
any parade or procession in any streets or public places is prohibited unless a permit
therefor is first secured from the Mayor who shall, on every such ocassion, determine or
specify the streets or public places for the formation, route, and dismissal of such parade or
procession: And provided, finally, That all applications to hold a parade or procession shall
be submitted to the Mayor not less than twenty-four hours prior to the holding of such parade
or procession."
As there is no express and separate provision in the Revised Ordinance of the City regulating the
holding of public meeting or assembly at any street or public places, the provisions of saif section
1119 regarding the holding of any parade or procession in any street or public paces may be applied
by analogy to meeting and assembly in any street or public places.
Said provision is susceptible to two constructions: one is that the Mayor of the City of Manila is
vested with unregulated discretion to grant or refuse, to grant permit for the holding of a lawful
assembly or meeting, parade, or procession in the streets and other public places of the City of
Manila; and the other is that the applicant has the right to a permit which shall be granted by the
Mayor, subject only to the latter's reasonable discretion to determine or specify the streets or public
places to be used for the purpose, with the view to prevent confusion by overlapping, to secure
convenient use of the streets and public places by others, and to provide adequate and proper
policing to minimize the risk of disorder.
After a mature deliberation, we have arrived at the conclusion that we must adopt the second
construction, that is construe the provisions of the said ordinance to mean that it does not confer
upon the Mayor the power to refuse to grant the permit, but only the discretion, in issuing the permit,
to determine or specify the streets or public places where the parade or procession may pass or the
meeting may be held.
Our conclusions find support in the decision in the case of Willis Cox vs. State of New Hampshire,
312 U.S., 569. In that case, the statute of New Hampshire P.L. Chap. 145, section 2, providing that
"no parade or procession upon any ground abutting thereon, shall be permitted unless a special
license therefor shall first be obtained from the select men of the town or from licensing committee,"
was construed by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire as not conferring upon the licensing board
unfetted discretion to refuse to grant the license, and held valid. And the Supreme Court of the
United States in its decision (1941) penned by Chief Justice Hughes firming the judgement of the
State Supreme Court, held that " a statute requiring pewrsons using the public streets for a parade
or procession to procure a special license therefor from the local authorities is not an
unconstitutional abridgement of the rights of assembly or a freedom of speech and press, where, as
the statute is construed by the state courts, the licensing authorities are strictly limited, in the
issuance of licenses, to a consideration, the time, place, and manner of the parade and procession,

with a view to conserving the public convenience and of affording an opportunity to provide proper
policing and are not invested with arbitrary discretion to issue or refuse license, ... ."
We can not adopt the alternative construction or constru the ordinance under consideration as
conferring upon the Mayor power to grant or refuse to grant the permit, which would be tantamount
to authorizing him to prohibit the use of the streets and other public places for holding of meetings,
parades or processions, because such a construction would make the ordinance invalid and void or
violative of the constitutional limitations. As the Municipal Boards is empowered only to regulate the
use of streets, parks, and the other public places, and the word "regulate," as used in section 2444
of the Revised Administrative Code, means and includes the power to control, to govern, and to
restrain, but can not be construed a synonimous with construed "suppressed" or "prohibit" (Kwong
Sing vs. City of Manila, 41 Phil., 103), the Municipal Board can not grant the Mayor a power that it
does not have. Besides, the powers and duties of the Mayor as the Chief Executive of the City are
executive and one of them is "to comply with and enforce and give the necessary orders for the
faithful performance and execution of laws and ordinances" (section 2434 [b] of the Revised
Administrative Code), the ligislative police power of the Municipal Board to enact ordinances
regulating reasonably the excercise of the fundamental personal rights of the citizens in the streets
and other public places, can not be delgated to the Mayor or any other officer by conferring upon him
unregulated discretion or without laying down rules to guide and control his action by which its
impartial execution can be secured or partiality and oppression prevented.
In City of Chicago vs. Trotter, 136 Ill., 430, it was held by the Supreme Court of Illinois that, under
Rev. ST. Ill. c. 24, article 5 section 1, which empowers city councils to regulate the use of public
streets, the council has no power to ordain that no processions shall be allowed upon the streets
until a permit shall be obtained from the superintendent of police, leaving the issuance of such
permits to his discretion, since the powers conferred on the council cannot be delegated by them.
The Supreme COurt of Wisconsin in State ex rel. Garrabad vs. Dering, 84 Wis., 585; 54 N.W., 1104,
held the following:
"The objections urged in the case of City of Baltimore vs. Radecke, 49 Md., 217, were also,
in substance, the same, for the ordinance in that case upon its face committed to the
unrestrained will of a single public officer the power to determine the rights of parties under it,
when there was nothing in the ordinance to guide or cintrol his action, and it was held void
because "it lays down no rules by which its impartial execution can be secured, or partiality
and oppression prevented." and that "when we remember that action or nonaction may
proceed from enmity or prejudice, from partisan zeal or animosity, from favoritism and other
improper influences and motives easy of concealment and difficult to be detected and
exposed, it becomes unnecessary to suggest or to comment upon the injustice capable of
being wrought under cover of such a power, for that becomes apparent to every one who
gives to the subject a moment's consideration. In fact, an ordinance which clothes a single
individual with such power hardly falls within the domain of law, and we are constrained to
pronounce it inoperative and void." ... In the exercise of police power, the council may, in its
discretion, regulate the exercise of such rights in a reasonable manner, but can not suppress
them, directly or indirectly, by attempting to commit the power of doing so to the mayor or
any other officer. The discretion with which the council is vested is a legal discretion, to be
exercised within the limits of the law, and not a discretion to transcend it or to confer upon
any city officer and arbitrary authority, making him in its exercise a petty tyrant."
In re Frazee, 63 Michigan 399, 30 N.W., 72, a city or ordinance providing that "no person or persons,
or associations or organizations shall march, parade, ride or drive, in ou upon or through the public
streets of the City of Grand Rapids with musical instrument, banners, flags, ... without first having

obtained the consent of the mayor or common council of said city;" was held by the Supreme Court
of Michigan to be unreasonable and void. Said Supreme Court in the course of the decision held:
". . . We must therefore construe this charter, and the powers it assumes to grant, so far as it
is not plainly unconstitutional, as only conferring such power over the subjects referred to as
will enable the city to keep order, and suppress mischief, in accordance with the limitations
and conditions required by the rights of the people themselves, as secured by the principles
of law, which cannot be less careful of private rights under the constitution than under the
common law."
"It is quite possible that some things have a greater tendency to produce danger and
disorder in cities than in smaller towns or in rural places. This may justify reasonable
precautionary measures, but nothing further; and no inference can extend beyond the fair
scope of powers granted for such a purpose, and no grant of absolute discretion to suppress
lawful action altogther can be granted at all. . . . ."
"It has been customary, from time immemorial, in all free countries, and in most civilized
countries, for people who are assembled for common purposes to parade together, by day or
reasonable hours at night, with banners and other paraphernalia, and with music of various
kinds. These processions for political, religious, and social demonstrations are resorted to for
the express purpose of keeping unity of feeling and enthusiasm, and frequently to produce
some effect on the public mind by the spectacle of union and numbers. They are a natural
product and exponent of common aims, and valuable factors in furthering them. ... When
people assemble in riotous mobs, and move for purposes opposed to private or public
security, they become unlawful, and their members and abettors become punishable. . . ."
"It is only when political, religious, social, or other demonstrations create public disturbances,
or operate as a nuisance, or create or manifestly threaten some tangible public or private
mischief, that the law interferes."
"This by-law is unreasonable, because it suppresses what is in general perfectly lawful, and
because it leaves the power of permitting or restraining processions, and thier courses, to an
unregulated official discretion, when the whole matter, if regualted at all, must be permanent,
legal provisions, operating generally and impartially."
In Rich vs. Napervill, 42 Ill., App. 222, the question was raised as to the validity of the city ordinance
which made it unlawful for any person, society or club, or association of any kind, to parade any of
the streets, with flags, banners, or transparencies, drums, horns, or other musical instruments,
without the permission of the city council first had and obtained. The appellants were members of
the Salvation Army, and were prosecuted for a violation of the ordinance, and the court in holding
the ordinance invalid said, "Ordinances to be valid must be reasonable; they must not be oppressive;
they must be fair and impartial; they must not be so framed as to allow their enforcement to rest on
official discretion ... Ever since the landing of the Pilgrims from the Mayflower the right to assemble
and worship accordingto the dictates of one's conscience, and the right to parade in a peaceable
manner and for a lawful purpose, have been fostered and regarded as among the fundamental rights
of a free people. The spirit of our free institutions allows great latitude in public parades and
emonstrations whether religious or political ... If this ordinance is held valid, then may the city council
shut off the parades of those whose nations do not suit their views and tastes in politics or religion,
and permit like parades of those whose nations do. When men in authority are permitted in their
discretion to exercise power so arbitrary, liberty is subverted, and the spirit of of our free institutions
violated. ... Where the granting of the permit is left to the unregulated discretion of a small body of

city eldermen, the ordinance cannot be other than partial and discriminating in its practical operation.
The law abhors partiality and discrimination. ... (19 L.R.A., p. 861)
In the case of Trujillo vs. City of Walsenburg, 108 Col., 427; 118 P. [2d], 1081, the Supreme Court of
Colorado, in construing the provision of section 1 of Ordinance No. 273 of the City of Walsenburg,
which provides: "That it shall be unlawful for any person or persons or association to use the street
of the City of Walsenburg, Colorado for any parade, procession or assemblage without first obtaining
a permit from the Chief of Police of the City of Walsenburg so to do," held the following:
"[1] The power of municipalities, under our state law, to regulate the use of public streets is
conceded. "35 C.S.A., chapter 163, section 10, subparagraph 7. "The privilege of a citizen of
the United States to use the streets ... may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not
absolute, but relative, and must be excercised in subordination to the general, be abridged or
denied." Hague, Mayor vs. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.S., 496, 516; 59 S.
Ct., 954, 964; 83 Law, ed., 1423.
[2, 3] An excellent statement of the power of a municipality to impose regulations in the use
of public streets is found in the recent case of Cox vs. New Hampshire, 312 U.S., 569; 61 S.
Ct., 762, 765; 85 Law, ed. 1049; 133 A.L.R., 1936, in which the following appears; "The
authority of a municipality to impose regulations in order to assure the safety and
convenience of the people in the use of public highways has never been regarded as
inconsistent with civil liberties but rather as one of the means of safeguarding the good order
upon which they ultimately depend. The control of travel on the streets of cities is the most
familiar illustration of this recognition of social need. Where a restriction of the use of
highways in that relation is designed to promote the public convenience in the interest of all,
it cannot be disregarded by the attempted excercise of some civil right which in other
circumstances would be entitled to protection. One would not be justified in ignoring the
familiar red traffic light because he thought it his religious duty to disobey the municipal
command or sought by that means to direct public attention to an announcement of his
opinions. As regulation of the use of the streets for parades and processions is a traditional
excercise of control by local government, the question in a particular case is whether that
control is exerted so as not to deny or unwarrantedly abridge the right of assembly and the
opportunities for the communication of thought and the discussion of public questions
immemorially associated with resort to public places. Lovellvs. Criffin, 303 U.S., 444, 451;58
S. Ct., 666, 668, 82 Law. ed., 949 [953]; Hague vs. Committee for Industrial Organization,
307 U. S., 496, 515, 516; 59 S. Ct., 954, 963, 964; 83 Law. ed., 1423 [1436, 1437];
Scheneider vs. State of New Jersey [Town of Irvington]; 308 U.S., 147, 160; 60 S. Ct., 146,
150; 84 Law. ed., 155 [164]; Cantwell vs. Connecticut, 310 U. S., 296, 306, 307; 60 S. Ct.,
900, 904; 84 Law. ed., 1213 [1219, 1220]; 128 A.L.R. 1352."
[4] Our concern here is the validity or nonvalidity of an ordinance which leaves to the
uncontrolled official discretion of the chief of police of the municipal corporation to say who
shall, who shall not, be accorded the privilege of parading on its public streets. No standard
of regulation is even remotely suggested. Moreover, under the ordinance as drawn, the chief
of police may for any reason which he may entertain arbitrarily deny this privelege to any
group. in Cox vs. New Hampshire, 312 U. S., 569, 85 Law. ed., 1049, 1054, said:
"In the instant case the uncontrolled official suppression of the privilege of using the public
streets in a lawful manner clearly is apparent from the face of the ordinance before us, and
we therefore hold it null and void."

The Supreme Court of the United States in Hague vs. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.
S., 496, 515, 516; 83 Law. ed., 1423, declared that a municipal ordinance requiring the obtaining of
a permit for a public assembly in or upon the public streets, highways, public parks, or public
buildings of the city and authorizing the director of public safety, for the purpose of preventing riots,
disturbances, or disorderly assemblage, to refuse to issue a permit when after investigation of all the
facts and circumstances pertinent to the application he believes it to be proper to refuse to issue a
permit, is not a valid exercise of the police power. Said Court in the course of its opinion in support of
the conclusion said:
". . . Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in
trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of
assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such
use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges,
immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege of a citizen of the United States to
use the streets and parks for communication of views on national questions may be
regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and must be exercised in
subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in consonance with peace and
good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or denied.
"We think the court below was right in holding the ordinance quoted in Note 1 void upon its
face. It does not make comfort or convenience in the use of streets or parks the standard of
official action. It enables the Director of Safety to refuse a permit on his mere opinion that
such refusal will prevent 'riots, disturbances or disorderly assemblage.' It can thus, as the
record discloses, be made the instrument of arbitrary suppression of free expression of views
on national affairs for the prohibition of all speaking will undoubtedly 'prevent' such
eventualities. But uncontrolled official suppression of the privilege cannot be made a
substitute for the duty to maintain order in connection with the exercise of the right."
Section 2434 of the Administrative Code, a part of the Charter of the City of Manila, which provides
that the Mayor shall have the power to grant and refuse municipal licenses or permits of all classes,
cannot be cited as an authority for the Mayor to deny the application of the petitioner, for the simple
reason that said general power is predicated upon the ordinances enacted by the Municipal Board
requiring licenses or permits to be issued by the Mayor, such as those found in Chapters 40 to 87 of
the Revised Ordinances of the City of Manila. It is not a specific or substantive power independent
from the corresponding municipal ordinances which the Mayor, as Chief Executive of the City, is
required to enforce under the same section 2434. Moreover "one of the settled maxims in
constitutional law is that the power conferred upon the Legislature to make laws cannot be delegated
by that department to any other body or authority," except certain powers of local government,
specially of police regulation which are conferred upon the legislative body of a municipal
corporation. Taking this into consideration, and that the police power to regulate the use of streets
and other public places has been delegated or rather conferred by the Legislature upon the
Municipal Board of the City (section 2444 [u] of the Administrative Code) it is to be presumed that
the Legislature has not, in the same breath, conferred upon the Mayor in section 2434 (m) the same
power, specially if we take into account that its exercise may be in conflict with the exercise of the
same power by the Municipal Board.
Besides, assuming arguendo that the Legislature has the power to confer, and in fact has conferred,
upon the Mayor the power to grant or refuse licenses and permits of all classes, independent from
ordinances enacted by the Municipal Board on the matter, and the provisions of section 2444 (u) of
the same Code and of section 1119 of the Revised Ordinances to the contrary notwithstanding, such
grant of unregulated and unlimited power to grant or refuse a permit for the use of streets and other
public places for processions, parades, or meetings, would be null and void, for the same reasons
stated in the decisions in the cases above quoted, specially in Willis Cox vs. New Hampshire, supra,

wherein the question involved was also the validity of a similar statute of New Hamsphire. Because
the same constitutional limitations applicable to ordinances apply to statutes, and the same
objections to a municipal ordinance which grants unrestrained discretion upon a city officer are
applicable to a law or statute that confers unlimited power to any officer either of the municipal or
state governments. Under our democratic system of government no such unlimited power may be
validly granted to any officer of the government, except perhaps in cases of national emergency. As
stated in State ex rel. Garrabad vs. Dering, supra, "The discretion with which the council is vested is
a legal discretion to be exercised within the limits of the law, and not a discretion to transcend it or to
confer upon any city officer an arbitrary authority making in its exercise a petty tyrant."
It is true that Mr. Justice Ostrand cited said provision of article 2434 (m) of the Administrative Code
apparently in support of the decision in the case of Evangelista vs. Earnshaw, 57 Phil., 255- 261, but
evidently the quotation of said provision was made by the writer of the decision under a mistaken
conception of its purview and is an obiter dictum, for it was not necessary for the decision rendered.
The popular meeting or assemblage intended to be held therein by the Communist Party of the
Philippines was clearly an unlawful one, and therefore the Mayor of the City of Manila had no power
to grant the permit applied for. On the contrary, had the meeting been held, it was his duty to have
the promoters thereof prosecuted for violation of section 844, which is punishable as misdemeanor
by section 1262 of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Manila. For, according to the decision, "the
doctrine and principles advocated and urged in the Constitution and by-laws of the said Communist
Party of the Philippines, and the speeches uttered, delivered, and made by its members in the public
meetings or gatherings, as above stated, are highly seditious, in that they suggest and incite
rebelious conspiracies and disturb and obstruct the lawful authorities in their duty."
The reason alleged by the respondent in his defense for refusing the permit is, "that there is a
reasonable ground to believe, basing upon previous utterances and upon the fact that passions,
specially on the part of the losing groups, remains bitter and high, that similar speeches will be
delivered tending to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government, and in the
duly constituted authorities, which might threaten breaches of the peace and a disruption of public
order." As the request of the petition was for a permit "to hold a peaceful public meeting," and there
is no denial of that fact or any doubt that it was to be a lawful assemblage, the reason given for the
refusal of the permit can not be given any consideration. As stated in the portion of the decision in
Hague vs. Committee on Industrial Organization, supra, "It does not make comfort and convenience
in the use of streets or parks the standard of official action. It enables the Director of Safety to refuse
the permit on his mere opinion that such refusal will prevent riots, disturbances or disorderly
assemblage. It can thus, as the record discloses, be made the instrument of arbitrary suppression of
free expression of views on national affairs, for the prohibition of all speaking will undoubtedly
'prevent' such eventualities." To this we may add the following, which we make our own, said by Mr.
Justice Brandeis in his concurring opinion in Whitney vs. California, 71 U. S. (Law. ed.), 1105-1107:
"Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men
feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage
of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech there must be reasonable ground to
fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground
to believe that the danger apprehended is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to
believe that the evil to be prevented is a serious one . . .
"Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear
political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. . . .
"Moreover, even imminent danger cannot justify resort to prohibition of these functions
essential effective democracy, unless the evil apprehended is relatively serious. Prohibition

of free speech and assembly is a measure so stringent that it would be inappropriate as the
means for averting a relatively trivial harm to a society. . . . The fact that speech is likely to
result in some violence or in destruction of property is not enough to justify its suppression.
There must be the probability of serious injury to the state. Among freemen, the deterrents
ordinarily to be applied to prevent crimes are education and punishment for violations of the
law, not abridgment of the rights of free speech and assembly." Whitney vs. California, U. S.
Sup. Ct. Rep., 71 Law., ed., pp. 1106-1107.)
In view of all the foregoing, the petition for mandamus is granted and, there appearing no reasonable
objection to the use of the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, for the meeting applied for, the respondent is
ordered to issue the corresponding permit, as requested. So ordered.
Moran, C. J., Pablo, Perfecto, Bengzon and Briones, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
PARAS, J., concurring:
The subject-matter of the petition is not new in this jurisdiction. Under Act No. 2774, section 4,
amending section 2434, paragraph (m) of the Revised Administrative Code, the Mayor has
discretion to grant or deny the petition to hold the meeting. (See Evangelista vs. Earnshaw, 57 Phil.,
255.) And, in the case of U. S. vs. Apurado, 7 Phil., 422, 426, this Court said:
"It is rather to be expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of the
people to protest against grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such occasions
feeling is always wrought to a high pitch of excitement, and the greater the grievance and the
more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as a rule, will be the disciplinary control of the
leaders over their irresponsible followers. But if the prosecution be permitted to seize upon
every instance of such disorderly conduct by individual members of a crowd as an excuse to
characterize the assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against the authorities, then
the right to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances would become a delusion and
snare and the attempt to exercise it on the most righteous occasion and in the most
peaceable manner would expose all those who took part therein to the severest and most
unmerited punishment, if the purposes which they sought to attain did not happen to be
pleasing to the prosecuting authorities. If instances of disorderly conduct occur on such
occasions, the guilty individuals should be sought out and punished therefor."
The petitioner is a distinguished member of the bar and Floor Leader of the Nacionalista Party in the
House of Representatives; he was the chief campaigner of the said party in the last elections. As the
petition comes from a responsible party, in contrast to Evangelista's Communist Party which was
considered subversive, I believe that the fear which caused the Mayor to deny it was not well
founded and his action was accordingly far from being a sound exercise of his discretion.

BRIONES, M., conforme:

En nombre del Partido Nacionalista y de los grupos oposicionistas aliados, Cipriano P. Primicias,
director general de campaña de las minorias coaligadas en las ultimas elecciones y "Floor Leader"
de dichas minorias en la Camara de Representantes, solicito del Alcalde de Manila en comunicacion
de fecha 14 de Noviembre, 1947, permiso "para celebrar un mitin publico en la Plaza Miranda el
Domingo, 16 de Noviembre, 1947, desde las 5:00 p.m. hasta la 1:00 a.m., a fin de pedir al gobierno
el remedio de ciertos agravios." Tambien se pedia en la comunicacion licencia para usar la
plataforma ya levantada en dicha Plaza.
El Vice-Alcalde Cesar Miraflor actuo sobre la solicitud en aquel mismo dia dando permiso tanto para
la celebracion del mitin como para el uso de la plataforma, "en la inteligencia de que no se
pronunciaran discursos subversivos, y ademas, de que usted (el solicitante) sera responsable del
mantenimiento de la paz y orden durante la celebracion del mitin."
Sin embargo, al dia siguiente, 15 de Noviembre, el Alcalde Valeriano E. Fugoso revoco el permiso
concedido, expresandose los motivos de la revocacion en su carta de tal fecha dirigida al Rep.
Primicias.
"Sirvase dar por informado — dice el Alcalde Fugoso en su carta — que despues de haber
leido los periodicos metropolitanos da esta mañana en que aparece que vuestro mitin va a
ser un 'rally' de indignacion en donde se denunciaran ante el pueblo los supuestos fraudes
electorales perpetrados en varias partes de Filipinas para anular la voluntad popular, por la
presente se revoca dicho permiso.
"Se cree — añade el Alcalde — que la paz y el orden en Manila sufriran daño en dicho 'rally'
considerando que las pasiones todavia no se han calmado y la tension sigue alta como
resultado de la ultima contienda politica.
"Segun los mismos periodicos, delegados venidos de provincias y estudiantes de las
universidades locales participaran en el 'rally,' lo cual, a mi juicio, no haria mas que causar
disturbios, pues no se puede asegurar que concurriran alli solamente elementos de la
oposicion. Desde el momento en que se mezclen entre la multitud gentes de diferentes
matices politicos, que es lo que probablemente va a ocurrir, el orden queda en peligro una
vez que al publico se le excite, como creo que sera excitado, teniendo en cuenta los fines
del mitin tal como han sido anunciados en los periodicos mencionados.
"Se dice que los resultados de las ultimas elecciones seran protestados. No hay base para
este proceder toda vez que los resultados todavia no han sido oficialmente anunciados.
"Por tanto — termina el Alcalde su orden revocatoria — la accion de esta oficina se toma en
interes del orden publico y para prevenir la perturbacion de la paz en Manila."
De ahi el presente recurso de mandamus para que se ordene al Alcalde recurrido a que expida
inmediatamente el permiso solicitado. Se pide tambien que ordenemos al Procurador General para
que investigue la fase criminal del caso y formule la accion que justifiquen las circunstancias.
Dada la premura del asunto, se llamo inmediatamente a vista arguyendo extensamente los
abogados de ambas partes ante esta Corte en sus informes orales.1
El recurso se funda, respecto de su aspecto civil, en el articulo III, seccion 1, inciso 8 de la
Constitucion de Filipinas, el cual preceptua "que no se aprobara ninguna ley que coarte la libertad
de la palabra, o de la prensa, o el derecho del pueblo de reunirse pacificamente y dirigir petiticiones
al gobierno para remedio de sus agravios." Con respecto al posible aspecto criminal del caso se

invoca el articulo 131 del Codigo Penal Revisado, el cual dispone que "la pena de prision
correccional en su periodo minimo, se impondra al funcionario publico o empleado que, sin
fundamento legal, prohibiere o interrumpiere una reunion pacifica, o disolviere la misma."
La defensa del recurrido invoca a su favor los llamados poderes de policia que le asisten como
guardian legal de las plazas, calles y demas lugares publicos. Se alega que como Alcalde de la
Ciudad de Manila tiene plena discrecion para conceder o denegar el uso de la Plaza Miranda, que
es una plaza publica, para la celebracion de un mitin o reunion, de conformidad con las exigencias
del interes general tal como el las interpreta. Especificamente se citan dos disposiciones, a saber: el
articulo 2434 (b), inciso (m) del Codigo Administrativo Revisado, y el articulo 1119, capitulo 118 de
la Compilacion de las Ordenanzas Revisadas de la Ciudad de Manila, edicion de 1927. El articulo
aludido del Codigo Administrativo Revisado se lee como sigue:
xxx

xxx

xxx

"(m) To grant and refuse municipal license or permits of all classes and to revoke the same
for violation of the conditions upon which they were granted, or if acts prohibited by law or
municipal ordinance are being committed under the protection of such licenses or in the
premises in which the business for which the same have been granted is carried on, or for
any other good reason of general interest." La ordenanza municipal indicada reza lo
siguiente:
La ordenanza municipal indicada reza lo siguiente:
"SEC. 1119. Free for use of public. — The streets and public places of the city shall be kept
free and clear for the use of the public, and the sidewalks and crossings for the pedestrians,
and the same shall only be used or occupied for other purposes as provided by the
ordinance or regulation: Provided, That the holding of athletic games, sports, or exercises
during the celebration of national holidays in any streets or public places of the city and on
the patron saint day of any district in question, may be permitted by means of a permit issued
by the Mayor, who shall determine the streets or public places, or portions thereof, where
such athletic games, sports, or exercises may be held: And provided, further, That the
holding of any parade or procession in any streets or public places is prohibited unless a
permit therefor is first secured from the Mayor, who shall, on every occasion, determine or
specify the streets or public places for the formation, route, and dismissal of such parade or
procession: And provided, finally, That all applications to hold a parade or procession shall
be submitted to the Mayor not less than twenty-four hours prior to the holding of such parade
or procession."
Parece conveniente poner en claro ciertos hechos. El mitin o "rally" de indignacion de que habla el
Alcalde recurrido en su carta revocando el permiso ya concedido no consta en la peticion del
recurrente ni en ningun documenmento o manifestacion verbal atribuida al mismo, sino solamente
en las columnas informativas de la prensa metropolitana. El recurrente admite, sin embargo, que el
objeto del mitin era comunicar al pueblo la infinidad de telegramas y comunicaciones que como jefe
de campaña de las oposiciones habia recibido de varias partes del archipielago denunciando
tremendas anomalias, escandalosos fraudes, actos vandalicos de terrorismo politico, etc., etc.,
ocurridos en las elecciones de 11 de Noviembre; llamar la atencion del Gobierno hacia tales
anomalias y abusos; y pedir su pronta, eficaz y honrada intervencion para evitar lo que todavia se
podia evitar, y con relacion a los hechos consumados urgir la pronta persecucion y castigo
inmediato de los culpables y malhechores. De esto resulta evidente que el objeto del mitin era
completamente pacifico, absolutamente legal. No hay ni la menor insinuacion de que el recurrente y
los partidos oposicionistas coaligados que representa tuvieran el proposito de utilizar el mitin para

derribar violentamente al presente gobierno, o provocar una rebelion o siquiera un motin. En
realidad, teniendo en cuenta las serias responsabilidades del recurrente como jefe de campaña
electoral de las minorias aliadas y como "Floor Leader" en el Congreso de dichas minorias, parecia
que esta consideracion debia pesar decisivamente en favor de la presuncion de que el mitin seria
una asamblea pacifica, de ciudadanos conscientes, responsables y amantes de la ley y del orden.2
Se ha llamado nuestra atencion a que en el articulo arriba citado y transcrito de las Ordenanzas
Revisadas de Manila no figura el mitin entre las materias reglamentadas, sino solo la procesion o
parada por las calles. Esto demuestra, se sostiene, que cuando se trata de un mitin en una plaza o
lugar publico, la concesion del permiso es ineludible y el Alcalde no tiene ninguna facultad
discrecional. Pareceme, sin embargo, que no es necesario llegar a este extremo. Creo no debe
haber inconveniente en admitir que el mitin esta incluido en la reglamentacion, por razones de
conveniencia publica. Verbigracia, es perfectamente licito denegar el permiso para celebrar un mitin
en una plaza publica en un dia y una hora determinados cuando ya previamente se ha concedido de
buena fe el uso del mismo lugar a otro a la misma hora. La prevencion de esta clase de conflictos
es precisamente uno de los ingredientes que entran en la motivacion de la facultad reguladora del
Estado o del municipio con relacion al uso de calles, plazas y demas lugares publicos. Por ejemplo,
es tambien perfectamente licito condicionar el permiso atendiendo a su relacion con el movimiento
general del trafico tanto de peatones como de vehiculos. Estas consideraciones de comfort y
conveniencia publica son por lo regular la base, el leit-motif de toda ley u ordenanza encaminada a
reglamentar el uso de parques, plazas y calles. Desde luego que la regla no excluye la
consideracion a veces de la paz y del buen orden, pero mas adelante veremos que este ultimo, para
que sea atendible, requiere que exista una situacion de peligro verdadero, positivo, real, claro,
inminente y substancial. La simple conjetura, la mera aprension, el temor mas o menos exagerado
de que el mitin, asamblea o reunion pueda ser motivo de desorden o perturbacion de la paz no es
motivo bastante para denegar el permiso, pues el derecho constitucional de reunirse pacificamente,
ya para que los ciudadanos discutan los asuntos publicos o se comuniquen entre si su pensamiento
sobre ellos, ya para ejecer el derecho de peticion recabando del gobierno el remedio a ciertos
agravios, es infinitamente superior a toda facultad reguladora en relacion con el uso de los parques,
plazas y calles.
La cuestion, por tanto, que tenemos que resolver en el presente recurso es bien sencilla. ¿Tenia
razon el Alcalde recurrido para denegar el permiso solicitado por el recurrente, ora bajo los terminos
de la ordenanza pertinente, ora bajo la carta organica de Manila, y sobre todo, bajo el precepto
categorico, terminante, expresado en el inciso 8, seccion 1, del Articulo III de la Constitucion? ¿No
constituye la denegacion del permiso una seria conculcacion de ciertos privilegios fundamentales
garantizados por la Constitucion al ciudadano y al pueblo?
Resulta evidente, de autos, que el recurrido denego el permiso bajo lo que el mismo llama "allpervading power of the state to regulate," temiendo que el mitin solicitado iba a poner en peligro la
paz y el orden publico en Manila. No se fundo la denegacion en razones de "comfort" o
conveniencia publica, vgr., para no estorbar el trafico, o para prevenir un conflicto con otro mitin ya
previamente solicitado y concedido, sino en una simple conjetura, en un mero temor o aprension —
la aprension de que, dado el tremendo hervor de los animos resultante de una lucha electoral harto
reñida y apasionada, un discurso violento, una arenga incendiaria podria amotinar a la gente y
provocar serios desordenes. La cuestion en orden es la siguiente: ¿se puede anular o siquiera
poner en suspenso el derecho fundamentalisimo de reunion o asamblea pacifica, garantizado por la
Constitucion, por razon de esta clase de conjetura, temor o aprension? Es obvio que la contestacion
tiene que ser decididamente negativa. Elevar tales motivos a la categoria de razon legal equivaldria
practicamente a sancionar o legitimar cualquier pretexto, a colocar los privilegios y garantias
constitucionales a merced del capricho y de la arbitrariedad. Si la vigencia de tales privilegios y
garantias hubiera de depender de las suspicacias, temores, aprensiones, o hasta humor del
gobernante, uno podria facilmente imaginar los resultados desastrosos de semejante proposicion;

un partido mayoritario dirigido por caudillos y liders sin escrupulos y sin conciencia podria facilmente
anular todas las libertades, atropellar todos los derechos incluso los mas sagrados, ahogar todo
movimiento legitimo de protesta o peticion, estrangular, en una palabra, a las minorias, las cuales —
como sabe todo estudiante de ciencia politica — en el juego y equilibrio de fuerzas que integran el
sistema democratico son tan indispensables como las mayorias. ¿Que es lo que todavia podria
detener a un partido o a un hombre que estuviera en el poder y que no quisiera oir nada
desagradable de sus adversarios si se le dejara abiertas las puertas para que, invocando probables
peligros o amagos de peligro, pudiera de una sola plumada o de un solo gesto de repulsa anular o
poner en suspenso los privilegios y garantias constitucionales? ¿No seria esto retornar a los dias de
aquel famoso Rey que dijo: "El Estado soy yo," o de aquel notorio cabecilla politico de uno de los
Estados del Sur de America que asombro al resto de su pais con este nefasto pronunciamiento: "I
am the only Constitution around here"? Es inconcebible que la facultad de reglamentar o el llamado
poder de policia deba interpretarse en el sentido de justificar y autorizar la anulacion de un derecho,
privilegio o garantia constitucional. Sin embargo, tal seria el resultado si en nombre de un concepto
tan vago y tan elastico como es el "interes general" se permitiera in terdecir la libertad de la palabra,
de la cual los derechos de reunion y de peticion son nada mas que complemento logico y necesario.
Una mujer famosa de Francia 3 en la epoca del terror, momentos antes de subir al cadalso y
colocar su hermoso cuello bajo la cuchilla de la guillotina, hizo historica esta exclamacion:
"¡Libertad, cuantos crimenes se cometen en tu nombre!" Si se denegara el presente recurso
legitimando la accion del recurrido y consiguientemente autorizando la supresion de los mitines so
pretexto de que la paz y el orden publico corren peligro con ellos, un desengañado de la democracia
en nuestro pais acaso exprese entonces su suprema desilusion parafraseando la historica
exclamacion de la siguiente manera: "¡Interes general, paz, orden publico, cuantos atentados se
cometen en vuestro nombre contra la libertad!"
El consenso general de las autoridades en los paises constitucionalmente regidos como Filipinas,
particularmente en Estados Unidos, es que el privilegio del ciudadano de usar los parques, plazas y
calles para el intercambio de impresiones y puntos de vista sobre cuestiones nacionales si bien es
absoluto es tambien relativo en el sentido de que se puede regular, pero jamas se puede denegar o
coartar so pretexto o a guisa de regulacion (Hague vs. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.
S., 515-517). Este asunto, planteado y decidido en 1938, ha venido a ser clasico en la
jurisprudencia americana sobre casos del mismo tipo que el que nos ocupa. La formidable
asociacion obrera Committee for Industrial Organization conocida mas popularmente por la famosa
abreviatura CIO, planteo una queja ante los tribunales de New Jersey contra las autoridades de
Jersey City, (a) atacando, por fundamentos constitucionales, la validez de una ordenanza municipal
que regulaba y restringia el derecho de reunion; y (b) tachando de inconstitucionales los metodos y
medios en virtud de los cuales ponian en vigor la ordenanza las referidas autoridades.
Los hechos del caso, brevemente expuestos, son, a saber: La CIO trataba de celebrar mitines y
asambleas publicas en Jersey City a fin de comunicar a los ciudadanos sus puntos de vista sobre la
"National Labor Relations Act." Las autoridades de la ciudad, comenzando por el Alcalde Hague el
famoso cabecilla de la muy notoria maquina politica de New Jersey, rehusaron consistentemente
conceder licencia para dichos mitines bajo la especiosa alegacion de que los miembros de la
organizacion obrera solicitante eran comunistas y del orden publico corria peligro de grave
perturbacion; es decir, casi, casi la misma alegacion que en el presente caso. La denegacion de la
licencia se fundaba en una ordenanza municipal que trataba de reglamentar el derecho
constitucional de reunion y asamblea pacifica.
Los tribunales de New Jersey, declarando inconstitucionales la ordenanza en cuestion y los
metodos por los cuales se trataba de poner en vigor, sentenciaron a favor de la CIO permitiendole
celebrar los mitines solicitados. Elevado el asunto en casacion e la Corte Suprema Federal, esta
confirmo la sentencia con solo una ligera modificacion. Entre otros pronunciamientos se dijo que: (a)
donde quiera este alojado el titulo sobre las calles, parques y plazas, desde tiempo inmemorial los

mismos siempre se han considerado como un fideicomiso para uso del publico, y desde tiempos
remotos que la memoria no alcanza se han usado siempre para fines de reunion y de intercambio
de impresiones y puntos de vista entre los ciudadanos, asi como para la libre discusion de los
asuntos publicos; (b) que el uso de las calles y plazas publicas para tales fines ha sido siempre,
desde la antiguedad, una parte importante y esencial de los privilegios, inmunidades, derechos y
libertades de los ciudadanos; (c) que el privilegio del ciudadano de los Estados Unidos de usar las
calles, plazas y parques para la comunicacion de impresiones y puntos de vista sobre cuestiones
nacionales puede ser regulado en interes de todos; es en tal sentido absoluto pero relativo, y debe
ser ejercitado con sujecion al "comfort" y conveniencia generales y en consonancia con la paz y el
buen orden; pero no puede ser coartado o denegado so pretexto y forma de regulacion; (d) que el
tribunal inferior estuvo acertado al declarar invalida la ordenanza en su faz, pues no hace del
"comfort" o conveniencia en el uso de calles y plazas la norma y patron de la accion official; por el
contrario, faculta al Director de Seguridad a rehusar el permiso en virtud de su simple opinion de
que la denegacion es para prevenir motines, trastornos o reuniones turbulentas y desordenadas; (e)
que, de esta manera, y conforme lo demuestra el record, la denegacion puede ser utilizada como
instrumento para la supresion arbitraria de la libre expression de opiniones sobre asuntos
nacionales, pues la prohibicion de hablar producira indudablemente tal efecto: (f) y, por ultimo, que
no puede echarse mano de la supresion official del privilegio para ahorrarse el trabajo y el deber de
mantener el orden en relacion con el ejercicio del derecho. En otras palabras, traduciendo
literalmente la fraseologia de la sentencia, aun a riesgo de incurrir en un anglicismo, "no puede
hacerse de la supresion official incontrolada del privilegio un sustituto del deber de mantener el
orden en relacion con el ejercicio del derecho." He aqui ad verbatim la doctrina:
"5. Regulation of parks and streets. — "Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they
have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have
been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and
discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient
times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege
of the citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for communication of views on
national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and
must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in
consonance with peace and good order; but it must not in the guise of regulation be abridged
or denied. We think the court below was right in holding the ordinance . . . void upon its face.
It does not make comfort or convenience in the use of streets or parks the standard of official
action. It enables the Director of Safety to refuse a permit on his mere opinion that such
refusal will prevent riots, disturbances, or disorderly assemblage. It can thus, as the record
discloses, be made the instrument of arbitrary suppression of free expression of views on
national affairs for the prohibition of all speaking will undoubtedly 'prevent' such eventualities.
But uncontrolled official suppression of the privilege cannot be made a substitute for the duty
to maintain order in connection with the exercise of the right." (Hague vs. Committee for
Industrial Organization, 307 U. S. 496, 515-516.)
Durante la audiencia del presente asunto se hizo mencion del caso de Evangelista contra
Earnshaw, 57 Jur. Fil., 255, como un precedente en apoyo de la accion del Alcalde recurrido. Pero
la similitud es solo en el hecho de que el entonces Alcalde D. Tomas Earnshaw tambien revoco el
permiso previamente concedido al partido comunista que representaba Crisanto Evangelista para
celebrar mitines en Manila, pero las circunstancias en ambos casos son enteramente diferentes. El
Alcalde Earnshaw revoco el permiso despues de una minuciosa investigacion en que se habian
encontrado pruebas indubitables no solo de que en los estatutos y documentos del partido
comunista se preconizaba como uno de sus primordiales objetivos el derribar al gobierno americano
en Filipinas — gobierno que ellos calificaban de imperialista y capitalistico — sino que de hecho en
mitines celebrados con anterioridad los comunistas habian pronunciado discursos clara y
positivamente sediciosos predicando una abierta rebelion e incitando un alzamiento para liberar,

segun ellos, al proletariado filipino de las garras del imperialismo capitalista. La accion, por tanto,
del Alcalde Earnshaw se fundo no en una simple conjetura, en un mero temor o aprension, sino en
la existencia de un peligro inminente, claro, real, sustantivo — ingrediente unico y excepcionalisimo
que permite una salvedad suspensiva singularisima en el ejercicio de los privilegios constitucionales
de que se trata.
¿Existe ese ingrediente en el caso que nos ocupa? Indudablemente que no. Ni siquiera se ha hecho
la mas pequeña insinuacion de que las minorias coaligadas en cuyo nombre se ha pedido la
celebracion del mitin en cuestion tuvieran el proposito de derribar al gobierno por metodos y
procedimientos violentos. El mismo Fiscal Villamor, en su informe oral, admitio francamente la
legalidad de la coalicion y de sus fines. Podemos tomar conocimiento judicial de que esas minorias
coaligadas lucharon en todas las provincias y municipios de Filipinas presentando candidatos para
todos los cargos — nacionales, provinciales y locales, y de que su candidatura senatorial triunfo en
21 provincias de las 50 que componen el mapa electoral, y en 5 ciudades con carta especial de las
8 que existen, incluyendose entre dichas 5 la de Manila, capital del archipielago.
Que la coalicion minoritaria no es una organizacion subversiva como la que fue proscripta en el
caso de Evangelista contra Earnshaw, sino que por el contrario propugna la balota, no la bala, como
el instrumento normal y democratico para cambiar los gobiernos y las administraciones, lo
demuestra, ademas del hecho ya apuntado de que lucho en las ultimas elecciones prevaliendose de
las armas proveidas por la legalidad y sacando partido de los medios de que disponia frente a la
natural superioridad del partido gobernante, lo demuestra, repito, la circunstancia de que despues
de hechas las votaciones y mientras se estaban contando los votos y cuando vio que, segun ella, se
habia escamoteado o se estaba escamoteando la voluntad popular en varias partes mediante
engaños, abusos y anomalias de diferentes clases, no busco la violencia ni recurrio a la accion
directa para hallar remedio a sus agravios o vengarlos, sino que trato de cobijarse bajo la
Constitucion reuniendo al pueblo en asamblea magna al aire libre para comunicar y discutir sus
quejas y recabar del gobierno el correspondiente remedio. Y esto lo hizo la coalicion oficialmente,
con todas las rubricas del protocolo, formulando la peticion del mitin el hombre que mejor podia
representarla y ofrecer garantias de legalidad y orden ante los poderes constituidos — el recurrente
en este caso, cuya solvencia moral y politica esta doblemente garantida por su condicion de lider de
las minorias en el Congreso y jefe de campaña de las mismas en las pasadas elecciones. ¿Que
mejor prueba de legalidad y de propositos pacificos y ordenados?
Por tanto, las circunstancias han venido a situar al gobierno en una encrucijada: por un lado, el
camino angosto de la represion, de una politica de fuerza y de cordon ferreo policiaco; por otro lado,
la amplia avenida de la libertad, una politica que consista en abrir espitas y valvulas por donde
pueda extravasarse no ya la protesta sino inclusive la indignacion del pueblo, previniendo de esta
manera que los vapores mal reprimidos hagan estallar la caldera, o que la desesperacion lo arrastre
a conspirar en la sombra o a confiar su suerte a los azares de una cruenta discordia civil. Creo que
entre ambas politicas la eleccion no es dudosa.
Se alega que antes del 11 de Noviembre, dia de las elecciones, el Alcalde recurrido habia
concedido a las minorias coaligadas permisos para celebrar varios mitines politicos en diferentes
sitios de Manila; que en dichos mitines se habian pronunciado discursos altamente inflamatorios y
calumniosos llamandose ladrones y chanchulleros a varios funcionarios del gobierno nacional y de
la Ciudad de Manila, entre ellos el Presidente de Filipinas, el Presidente del Senado y el mismo
recurrido, suscitandose contra ellos la animadversion y el desprecio del pueblo mediante la
acusacion de que han estado malversando propiedades y fondos publicos con grave detrimento del
bienestar e interes generales; que, dado este antecedente, habia motivo razonable para creer que
semejantes discursos se pronunciarian de nuevo, minandose de tal manera la fe y la confianza del
pueblo en su gobierno y exponiendose consiguientemente la paz y el orden a serias perturbaciones,

teniendo en cuenta la temperatura elevadisima de las pasiones, sobre todo de parte de los grupos
perdidosos y derrotados.
Estas alegaciones son evidentemente insostenibles. Darles valor equivaldria a instituir aqui un
regimen de previa censura, el cual no solo es extraño sino que es enteramente repulsivo e
incompatible con nuestro sistema de gobierno. Nuestro sistema, mas que de prevencion, es de
represion y castigo sobre la base de los hechos consumados. En otras palabras, es un sistema que
permite el amplio juego de la libertad, exigiendo, sin embargo, estricta cuenta al que abusase de
ella. Este es el espiritu que informa nuestras leyes que castigan criminalmente la calumnia, la
difamacion oral y escrita, y otros delitos semejantes. Y parafraseando lo dicho en el citado asunto
de Hague vs. Committee for Industrial Organization, la supresion incontrolada del privilegio
constitucional no puede utilizarse como sustituto de la operacion de dichas leyes.
Se temia — dice el recurrido en su contestacion — que la probable virulencia de los discursos y la
fuerte tension de los animos pudiesen alterar seriamente la paz y el orden publico. Pero — cabe
preguntar — ¿de cuando aca la libertad, la democracia no ha sido un peligro, y un peligro perpetuo?
En realidad, de todas las formas de gobierno la democracia no solo es la mas dificil y compleja, sino
que es la mas peligrosa. Rizal tiene en uno de sus libros inmortales una hermosa imagen que es
perfectamente aplicable a la democracia. Puede decirse que esta es como la mar: serena, inmovil,
sin siquiera ningun rizo que arrugue su superficie, cuando no lo agita ningun viento. Pero cuando
sopla el huracan — lease, Vientos de la Libertad — sus aguas se alborotan, sus olas se encrespan,
y entonces resulta horrible, espantosa, con la espantabilidad de las fuerzas elementales que se
desencadenan liberrimamente.
¿Ha dejado, sin embargo, el hombre de cruzar los mares tan solo porque pueden encresparse y
enfurecerse a veces? Pues bien; lo mismo puede decirse de la democracia: hay que tomarla con
todos sus inconvenientes, con todos sus peligros. Los que temen la libertad no merecen vivirla. La
democracia no es para pusilanimes. Menos cuando de la pusilanimidad se hace pretexto para
imponer un regimen de fuerza fundado en el miedo. Porque entonces el absolutismo se disfraza
bajo la careta odiosa de la hipocresia. Ejemplo: los Zares de Rusia. Y ya se sabe como terminaron.
El Magistrado Sr. Carson describio con mano maestra los peligros de la libertad y democracia y
previno el temor a ellos con las luminosas observaciones que se transcriben a continuacion,
expuestas en la causa de Estados Unidos contra Apurado, 7 Fur. Fil., 440 (1907), a saber:
"Es de esperar que haya mas o menos desorden en una reunion publica del pueblo para
protestar contra agravios ya sean reales o imaginarios porque en esos casos los animos
siempre estan excesivamente exaltados, y mientras mayor sea el agravio y mas intenso el
resentimiento, tanto menos perfecto sera por regla general el control disciplinario de los
directores sobre sus secuaces irresponsables. Pero si se permitiese al ministerio fiscal
agarrarse de cada acto aislado de desorden cometido por individuos o miembros de una
multitud como pretexto para caracterizar la reunion como un levantamiento sedicioso y
tumultuoso contra las autoridades, entonces el derecho de asociacion, y de pedir reparacion
de agravios seria completamente ilusorio, y el ejercicio de ese derecho en la ocasion mas
propia y en la forma mas pacifica expondria a todos los que tomaron parte en ella, al mas
severo e inmerecido castigo si los fines que perseguian no fueron del agrado de los
representantes del ministerio fiscal. Si en tales asociaciones ocurren casos de desorden
debe averiguarse quienes son los culpables y castigarseles por este motivo, pero debe
procederse con la mayor discrecion al trazar la linea divisoria entre el desorden y la
sedicion, y entre la reunion esencialmente pacifica y un levantamiento tumultuoso."

En el curso de los informes se pregunto al Fiscal, defensor del recurrido, si con motivo de los
discursos que se dicen calumniosos y difamatorios pronunciados en los mitines de la oposicion
antes de las elecciones ocurrio algun serio desorden: la contestacion fue negativa. Como se dice
mas arriba, en el mitin monstruo que despues se celebro en virtud de nuestra decision en el
presente asunto tampoco ocurrio nada. ¿Que demuestra esto? Que los temores eran exagerados,
por no llamarlos fantasticos; que el pueblo de Manila, con su cordura, tolerancia y amplitud de
criterio, probo ser superior a las aprensiones, temores y suspicacias de sus gobernantes.
La democracia filipina no puede ni debe sufrir un retroceso en la celosa observancia de las
garantias constitucionales sobre la libertad de la palabra y los derechos concomitantes — el de
reunion y peticion. Se trata de derechos demasiado sagrados, harto metidos en el corazon y alma
de nuestro pueblo para ser tratados negligentemente, con un simple encogimiento de hombros.
Fueron esas libertades las que inspiraron a nuestros antepasados en sus luchas contra la opresion
y el despotismo. Fueron esas libertades la base del programa politico de los laborantes precursores
del '96. Fueron esas libertades las que cristalizaron en la carta organizacional de Bonifacio,
generando luego el famoso Grito de Balintawak. Fueron esas libertades las que despues informaron
los documentos politicos de Mabini y la celebre Constitucion de Malolos. Y luego, durante cerca de
medio siglo de colaboracion filipino — americana, fueron esas mismas libertades la esencia de
nuestras instituciones, la espina dorsal del regimen constitucional y practicamente republicano aqui
establecido. Nada mejor, creo yo, para historiar el proceso de esas libertades que los atinados y
elocuentes pronunciamientos del Magistrado Sr. Malcolm en la causa de Estados Unidos contra
Bustos, 37 Jur. Fil., 764 (1918). Es dificil mejorarlos; asi que opto por transcribirlos ad verbatim a
continuacion:
"Hojeando las paginas de la historia, no decimos nada nuevo al afirmar que la libertad de la
palabra, tal y como la han defendido siempre todos los paises democraticos, era
desconocida en las Islas Filipinas antes de 1900. Por tanto, existia latente la principal causa
de la revolucion. Jose Rizal en su obra 'Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años' (paginas 62 y
siguientes) describiendo 'las reformas sine quibus non,' en que insistian los filipinos, dijo:
"El ministro, . . . que quiera que sus reformas sean reformas, debe principiar por declarar la
prensa libre en Filipinas, y por crear diputados filipinos.
"Los patriotas filipinos que estaban en España, por medio de las columnas de La Solidaridad
y por otros medios, al exponer los deseos del Pueblo Filipino, pidieron invariablemente la
'libertad de prensa, de cultos y de asociacion.' (Vease Mabini, 'La Revolucion Filipina.') La
Constitucion de Malolos, obra del Congreso Revolucionario, en su Bill de Derechos,
garantizaba celosamente la libertad de la palabra y de la prensa y los derechos de reunion y
de peticion.
"Tan solo se mencionan los datos que anteceden para deducir la afirmacion de que una
reforma tan sagrada para el pueblo de estas Islas y a tan alto precio conseguida, debe
ampararse ahora y llevarse adelante en la misma forma en que se protegeria y defenderia el
derecho a la libertad.
"Despues sigue el periodo de la mutua colaboracion americano-filipina. La Constitucion de
los Estados Unidos y las de los diversos Estados de la Union garantizan el derecho de la
libertad y de la palabra y de la prensa y los derechos de reunion y de peticion. Por lo tanto,
no nos sorprende encontrar consignadas en la Carta Magna de la Libertad Filipina del
Presidente McKinley, sus Instrucciones a la Segunda Comision de Filipinas, de 7 de abril de
1900, que sientan el siguiente inviolable principio:

"Que no se aprobara ninguna ley que coarte la libertad de la palabra o de la prensa o de los
derechos del pueblo para reunirse pacificamente y dirigir peticiones al Gobierno para
remedio de sus agravios."
"El Bill de Filipinas, o sea la Ley del Congreso de 1.° de Julio de 1902, y la Ley Jones, o sea
la Ley del Congreso de 29 de Agosto de 1916, que por su naturaleza son leyes organicas de
las Islas Filipinas, siguen otorgando esta garantia. Las palabras entre comillas no son
extrañas para los estudiantes de derecho constitucional, porque estan calcadas de la
Primera Enmienda a la Constitucion de los Estados Unidos que el pueblo americano pidio
antes de otorgar su aprobacion a la Constitucion.
"Mencionamos los hechos expuestos tan solo para deducir la afirmacion, que no debe
olvidarse por un solo instante, de que las mencionadas garantias constituyen parte
integrante de la Ley Organica — La Constitucion — de las Islas Filipinas.
"Estos parrafos que figuran insertos en el Bill de Derechos de Filipinas no son una huera
palabreria. Las palabras que alli se emplean llevan consigo toda la jurisprudencia que es de
aplicacion a los grandes casos constitucionales de Inglaterra y America. (Kepner vs. U. S.
[1904], 195 U. S., 100; Serra vs. Mortiga [1917], 214 U. S., 470.) Y ¿cuales son estos
principios? Volumen tras volumen no bastaria a dar una contestacion adecuada. Pero entre
aquellos estan los siguientes:
"Los intereses de la sociedad y la conservacion de un buen gobierno requieren una
discusion plena de los asuntos publicos. Completa libertad de comentar los actos de los
funcionarios publicos viene a ser un escalpelo cuando se trata de la libertad de la palabra.
La penetrante incision de la tinta libra a la burocracia del absceso. Los hombres que se
dedican a la vida publica podran ser victimas de una acusacion injusta y hostil; pero podra
calmarse la herida con el balsamo que proporciona una conciencia tranquila. El funcionario
publico no debe ser demasiado quisquilloso con respecto a los comentarios de sus actos
oficiales. Tan solo en esta forma puede exaltarse la mente y la dignidad de los individuos.
Desde luego que la critica no debe autorizar la difamacion. Con todo, como el individuo es
menos que el Estado, debe esperarse que sobrelleve la critica en beneficio de la
comunidad. Elevandose a mayor altura que todos los funcionarios o clases de funcionarios,
que el Jefe Ejecutivo, que la Legislatura, que el Poder Judicial — que cualesquiera o sobre
todas las dependencias del Gobierno — la opinion publica debe ser el constante manantial
de la libertad y de la democracia. (Veanse los casos perfectamente estudiados de Wason
vs. Walter, L. R. 4 Q. B., 73, Seymour vs. Butterworth, 3 F. & F., 372; The Queen vs. Sir R.
Carden, 5 Q. B. D., 1.)
Ahora que ya somos independientes es obvio que la republica no solo no ha de ser menos celosa
que la antigua colonia en la tenencia y conservacion de esas libertades, sino que, por el contrario,
tiene que ser muchisimo mas activa y militante. Obrar de otra manera seria como borrar de una
plumada nuestras mas preciosas conquistas en las jornadas mas brillantes de nuestra historia.
Seria como renegar de lo mejor de nuestro pasado: Rizal; Marcelo H. del Pilar, Bonifacio, Mabini,
Quezon, y otros padres inmortales de la patria. Seria, en una palabra, como si de un golpe
catastrofico se echara abajo la recia fabrica de la democracia filipina que tanta sangre y tantos
sacrificios ha costado a nuestro pueblo, y en su lugar se erigiera el tinglado de una dictadura de
opera bufa, al amparo de caciquillos y despotillas que pondrian en ridiculo el pais ante el mundo . . .
Es evidente que no hemos llegado a estas alturas, en la trabajosa ascension hacia la cumbre de
nuestros destinos, para permitir que ocurra esa tragedia.

No nos compete determinar el grado de certeza de los fraudes e irregularidades electorales que la
coalicion minoritaria trataba de airear en el mitin en cuestion con vistas a recabar del gobierno y del
pueblo el propio y correspondiente remedio. Pudieran ser reales o pudieran ser imaginarios, en todo
o en parte. Pero de una cosa estamos absolutamente seguros y es que la democracia no puede
sobrevivir a menos que este fundada sobre la base de un sufragio efectivo, sincero, libre, limpio y
ordenado. El colegio electoral es el castillo, mejor todavia, el baluarte de la democracia. Suprimid
eso, y la democracia resulta una farsa.
Asi que todo lo que tienda a establecer un sufragio efectivo4 no solo no debe ser reprimido, sino que
debe ser alentado. Y para esto, en general para la salud de la republica, no hay mejor profilaxis, no
hay mejor higiene que la critica libre, la censura desembarazada. Solamente se pueden corregir los
abusos permitiendo que se denuncien publicamente sin trabas sin miedo.5 Esta es la mejor manera
de asegurar el imperio de la ley por encima de la violencia.

HILADO, J., dissenting:
Because the constitutional right of assembly and petition for redress of grievances has been here
invoked on behalf of petitioner, it has been considered doubly necessary to expound at length the
grounds of my dissent. We are all ardent advocates of this right, whenever and wherever properly
exercisable. But, in considering the legal problem here presented serenely and dispassionately, as I
had to, I arrived at a different conclusion from that of the majority.
(a) Right not absolute but subject to regulation. — It should be recognized that this right is not
absolute and is subject to reasonable regulations. (Philippine Constitutional Law by Malcolm and
Laurel, 3d ed., p. 407; Commonwealth vs. Abrahams, 156 Mass., 57, 30 N.E. 79.)
Messers. Malcolm and Laurel say: "The right of peaceful assemblage is not an absolute one.
Assemblies are subject to reasonable regulations."
In the above cited case of Commonwealth vs. Abrahams, which is cited in support of the text on
page 407 of the above cited work on Philippine Constitutional Law by Malcolm and Laurel, the
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts considered and decided a case involving a regulation by
the Board of Park Commissioners forbidding all persons "to make orations, harangues, or loud
outcries" in a certain park, under penalty of $20, except upon prior consent of the board. The
defendant requested permission to deliver an oration in the park, which was refused by the board,
and thereafter entered the park, and delivered an "oration or harangue" about ten or fifteen minutes
in length. In a criminal trial of said defendant for violating the rules promulgated by the Board of Park
Commissioners, said rules were held valid and reasonable, and not inconsistent with article 19 of the
Bill of Rights (of the Massachusetts Constitution), providing that "the people have a right, in an
orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good, give instructions to
their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions, or
remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer." In that case
the defendant admitted that the people would not have the right to assemble for the purposes
specified in the public streets, and might not have such right in the public gardens or on the
common, because such an assembly would or might be inconsistent with the public use for which
these places are held. And the Supreme Court of Massachusetts said:
". . . . The same reasons apply to any particular park. The parks of Boston are designed for
the use of the public generally; and whether the use of any park or a part of any park can be

temporarily set aside for the use of any portion of the public, is for the park commissioners to
decide, in the exercise of a wise discretion."
In the above-quoted case it appears from the statement of facts preceding the opinion that within the
limits of Franklin Park, there involved, were large areas not devoted to any special purpose and not
having any shrubbery that would be injured by the gathering thereon of a large concourse of people;
that defendant's speech contained nothing inflammatory or seditious, and was delivered in an
ordinary oratorical tone; that at the close of the oration the audience quietly dispersed; and that no
injury of any kind was done to the park. Still, it was held that the regulation under which the Board of
Park Commissioners denied the permission to deliver said oration requested by the defendant was
valid and was not inconsistent with that provision of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights guaranteeing to
the people the "right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common
good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of
addresses, petitions, or remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances
they suffer."
In the case at bar, the Mayor of Manila had the duty and the power, inter alia, "to grant and refuse
municipal . . . permits of all classes . . . for any (other) good reason of general interest" (Rev. Ad.
Code, section 2434 [b]-[m]; italics ours); and "to comply with and enforce and give the necessary
orders for the faithful enforcement and execution of the laws and ordinances in effect within the
jurisdiction of the city." [Ibid., section 2434 (b)-(a)]; and among the general powers and duties of the
Municipal Board, whose ordinances the said Mayor was at once bound and empowered to comply
with and enforce, were such as "regulate the use of streets, . . . parks, . . . and other public places."
[Ibid., section 2444 (u); italics ours.]
Another legal doctrine which should not be lost sight of is that, without abridging the right of
assembly and petition, the government may regulate the use of places — public places — wholly
within its control, and that the state or municipality may require a permit for public gatherings in
public parks and that, while people have the right to assemble peaceably on the highways and to
parade on streets, nevertheless the state may regulate the use of the streets by requiring a permit
(16 C. J. S., p. 642). In our government the state, through the Charter of Manila, has conferred
certain powers pertinent to the subject under consideration upon the City Mayor, and upon the
Municipal Board. Among these is the duty and power of said Mayor "to grant and refuse municipal . .
. permits of all classes . . . for any good reason of general interest" (italics ours), and the power and
duty of the Municipal Board "to regulate the use . . . of street, . . . parks, . . . and other public places .
. ." (italics ours), already above discussed.
Plaza Miranda in a way is a public square or plaza, and in another sense, in view of its more
frequent public use, is a public place devoted to traffic between several streets which empty into it
within the district of Quiapo. It is a fact of common knowledge and within the judicial notice of this
Court that said plaza is one of the public places constantly used by an usually great number of
people during all hours of the day and up to late hours of the night, both for vehicular and for
pedestrian traffic. It is one of the centers of the city where a heavy volume of traffic during those
hours converges and from which it again proceeds in all directions; and the holding during those
hours of a meeting, assembly or rally of the size and nature of that contemplated by petitioner and
those belonging to the Coalesced Minority Parties when the permit in question was requested from
the City Mayor, must have been expected to greatly inconvenience and interfere with the right of the
public in general to devote said plaza to the public uses for which it has been destined since time
immemorial.
The rule may perhaps be more aptly stated by saying that the right of peaceful assembly and petition
is not absolute but subject to regulation as regards the time, place, and manner of its exercise. As to

time, it seems evident, for example, that the State, directly or through the local government of the
city or municipality, by way of regulation of the right of free speech, may validly prohibit the delivery
of speeches on public streets near private residences between midnight and dawn. As to place, we
have the example of the instant case involving Plaza Miranda or any other public place. And as to
manner, it is a familiar rule that the freedom of speech does not authorize the speaker to commit
slander or defamation, and that laws and ordinances aimed at preventing such abuses are valid
regulations of the right. Among other cases which may be cited on the same point, we have that of
Hague vs. Committee on Industrial Organization, 307 U. S., 496, 83 Law. ed., 1423, cited in the
majority opinion and from which the following passage is copied from the quotation therefrom in the
said opinion:
". . . The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for
communication of views on national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not
absolute, but relative, and must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and
convenience, and in consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of
regulation, be abridged or denied." (Italics ours.)
I construe this declaration of principles by the United States Supreme Court to imply that where the
regulatory action is predicated upon the "general comfort and convenience," and is "in consonance
with peace and good order," as in the instant case, such action is regulation and not "guise of
regulation," and therefore does not abridge or deny the right.
(b) No constitutional right to use public places under government control, for exercise of right
of assembly and petition, etc. —
Indeed, carefully analyzed, the action taken by the City Mayor was not even a regulation of the
constitutional right of assembly and petition, or free speech, claimed by petitioner, but rather of the
use of a public place under the exclusive control of the city government for the exercise of that right.
This, I submit, is a distinction which must be clearly maintained throughout this discussion. No
political party or section of our people has any constitutional right to freely and without government
control make use of such a public place as Plaza Miranda, particularly if such use is a deviation from
those for which said public places have been by their nature and purpose immemorially dedicated. In
other words, the City Mayor did not attempt to have anything to do with the holding of the
"indignation rally" or the delivery of speeches thereat on the date desired at any place over which
said mayor had no control — his action was exclusively confined to the regulation of the use of Plaza
Miranda for such a purpose and at such a time. Chief Justice Hughes, speaking for a unanimous
court in Cox vs. New Hampshire, 312 U. S., 569, 85 Law. ed., 1049, 1054, said:
If a municipality has authority to control the uses of its public streets for parades or
processions, as it undoubtedly has, it can not be denied authority to give consideration,
without unfair discrimination, to time, place, and manner in relation to the other proper uses
of the streets. We find it impossible to say that the limited authority conferred by the licensing
provisions of the statute in question as thus construed by the state court contravened any
constituional right. (emphasis ours).
That case was concerened with a prosecution of sixty-eigth "Jehovah's Witnesses" in a municipal
court in the State of New Hampshire for violation of a state statute prohibiting a "parade or
procession" upon a public street without a special license. The appellants invoked the constitutional
right of free speech and press, as well as that of the assembly. The judgment of the municipal court
was affirmed by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire and that of the latter was affirmed by the
United States Supreme Court. Among other things, the United States Supreme Court said that the
appellants were not prosecuted for distributing leaflets, or for conveying information by placards or

otherwise, or for issuing invitations to a public meeting, or for holding a public meeting, of for
maintaining or expressing religious beliefs. Their right to do any of these things apart from engaging
in a "parade or procession," upon a public street was not involved in the case. The question of the
validity of a statute addressed to any other sort of conduct than that complained of was declared not
to be before the court (85 Law. ed., 1052). By analogy, I may that in the instant case the
constitutional rights of free speech, assmebly, and petition are not before the court but merely the
privilege of petitioner and the Coalesced Minorities to exercise any or all of said rights by using
Plaza Miranda, a public place under the complete control of the city government. In the same case
of Cox vs. New Hampshire, supra, Chief Justice Hughes, in his opinion, used the following eloquent
language:.
"Civil liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society
maintaining public order without which liberty itself would be lost in the excesses of
unrestrained abuses. The authority of a municipality to impose regulations in order to assure
the safety and convenience of the people in the use of public highways has never been
regarded as inconsistent with civil liberties but rather as one of the means of safeguarding
the good order upon which they ultimately depend. The control of travel on the streets of
cities is the most familiar illustration of this recognition of social need. Where a restriction of
the use of highways in that relation is designed to promote the public convenience in the
interest of all, it can not be disregarded by the attempted exercise of some civil right which in
other circumstances would be entitled to protectio. One would not be justified in ignoring the
familiar red lightbecause he thought it his religious duty to disobey the municipal command
or sought by that means to direct public attention to an announcement of his opinion...." (85
Law. ed., 1052-1053.).
In other words, when the use of public streets or places is involved, public convenience, public
safety and public order take precedence over even particular civil rights. For if the citizen asserting
the civil right were to override the right of the general public to the use of such streets or places, just
because it is guaranteed by the constitution, it would be hard to conceive how upon the same
principle that citizen be prevented from using the private property of his neighbor for the exercise of
the asserted right. The constitution, in guaranteeing the right of peaceful assembly and petition, the
right of free speech, etc., does not guarantee their exercise upon public places, any more than upon
private premises, without government regulation in both cases, of the owners' consent in the
second..
In Davis vs. Commonwealth, 167 U. S. 43, 42 Law. ed., 71, 72, the United States Supreme Court, in
affirming the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts written by Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes, then of the latter tribunal, quoted from said decision as follows:.
"...As representatives of the public it (legislature) may and does excercise control over the
use which the public may make of such places (public parks and streets), and it may and
does delegate more or less of such control to the city or town immediately concerned. For
the legislature absolutely or conditionally to forbid public speaking in a highway or public park
is no more an infringement of the rights of the member of the public than for the owner of a
private house to forbid it in his house. When no proprietary right interferes the legislature
may end the right of the public to enter upon the public place by putting an end to the
dedication to public uses. So it may take the lesser step of limiting the public use to certain
purposes. See Dill. Mun. Corp. secs. 393, 407, 651, 656, 666; Brooklyn Park Comrs. vs.
Armstrong, 45 N. Y. 234, 243, 244 (6 Am. Rep. 70)....".
(c) Authorities cited.--.

I have examined the citations of authorities in the majority opinion. Most of the cases therin cited are,
I think, inapplicable to the oune under consideration, and those which may have some application, I
believe reinforce this dissent. None of them was for mandamus to compel the granting of a permit for
holding a meeting, assembly or the like, upon a public place within the control of the general or local
government..
The fact that a law or municipal ordinance under which a person had been prosecuted for delivering
a speech without the required permit, for example, was declared unconstitutional or otherwise void
for delegating an unfettered or arbitrary discretion upon the lisencing authority, thus completely
failing to confer the discretion, does not mean that such person has the right by mandamus to force
said authority to grant him the permit. If, in such case, the law or ordinance, conferring the discretion,
is unconstitutional or void, the mandamus suit becomes entirely idle. Such a suit would involve selfcontradictory proposition, for the very idea of a permit is something which may be granted or witheld.
He who has the power to grant permission for the doing of an act necessarily has the correlative
power to deny the permission. A "permit" which under no conditions or circumstances and at no time
can be refused needs a different name..
Willis Cox vs. State of New Hampshire, 312 U. S., 569, was concerned with a statute of the State of
New Hampshire which was construed by the Supreme Court of the same State as not conferring
upon the licensing board unfettered discretion to refuse the license, and was held valid both by said
Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States..
In our case, section 2434 (b)-(m) of the Revised Administrative Code does not confer upon the
Mayor of Manila an unfettered discretion to grant or refuse the permit--his power to grant or to refuse
the permit is controlled and limited by the all important requirement of the same section that
whatever his determination, it should be "for any good reason of general interest.".
In City of Chicago vs. Trotter, 136 Ill., 430, the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois held that the
power of City councils under the state law to regulate the use of the public streets could not be
delegated by them, and therefore could not be delegated to the superintendent of police. But in our
case, the power of the City Mayor under the Revised Administrative Code has not been delegated
by the Municipal Board of Manila but has been directly conferred by the State through its legislature.
.
In State ex rel. Garrabad vs. Dering, 84 Wis., 585, what was involved was a city ordinance
committing to the unrestrained will of public officer the power to determine the rights of parties under
the ordinance without anything (to guide or control his action.) In our case, as already stated, the city
mayor received his power from the State through the Legislature which enacted the Revised
Administrative Code, and moreover, his action therein provided to be guided and controlled by the
already mentioned requirement that whether he grants or refuses a municipal premit of any class it
shall be for some "good reason of general interest," and not as his unfettered will may dictate..
The case of In re Fradzee, 63 Mich., 399, involved a city ordinance declared unreasonable and void
by the Supreme Court of Michigan, the ordinance prohibiting certain uses of the public streets of the
City of Grand Rapids "without having first obtained the consent of the Mayor or Common Council of
said City." The ordinance did not prescribe any guide, control or limitation for, of, and to, the exercise
of the power thus conferred upon the mayor or common council. The following passage from the
quotation from the decision of the Supreme Court of Michigan made in the majority opinion would
seem to reinforce the stand taken in this dissent..
"...We must therefore construe this Charter and the powers it assumes to grant, so far as it is
not plainly unconstitutional, as only conferring such power over the subjects referred to as

will enable the city to keep order, and suppress mischief, in accordance with the limitations
and conditions required by the rights of the people themselves, as secured by the principles
of law, which cannot be less careful of private rights under a constitution than under the
common law..
"It is quite possible that some things have a greater tendency to produce danger and
disorder in the cities than in smaller towns or in rural places. This may justify reasonable
precautionary measures, but nothing further; and no inference can extend beyond the fair
scope of powers granted for such a purpose and no grant of absolute discretion to suppress
lawful action altogether can be granted at all...." (emphasis ours.)
The instant case is concerned with an "indignation rally" to be held at one of the busiest and most
frequented public places in this big cosmopolitan city, with a present population estimated to be 150
per cent larger than its prewar population, and the public officer who was being called upon to act on
the petition for permit was the chief executive of the city who was by reason of his office the officer
most directly responsible for the keeping and maintenance of peace and public order for the
common good. And as stated elsewhere in this dissent, his power in the premises was not without
control, limitation or guide and, lastly, the action taken by him was not an absolute suppression of
the right claimed but was merely a postponement of the use of a public place for the excercise of
that right when popular passions should have calmed down and public excitement cooled off
sufficiently to better insure the avoidance of public peace and order being undermined..
Rich vs. Mapervill, 42 Ill. Ap., 222, had to do with another city ordinance. The court there held that
when men in authority are permitted in their discretion to excercise "power so arbitrary , liberty is
subverted, and the spirit of our free institution violated." (Emphasis ours.) This is not our case, as the
power of the Manila Mayor now under consideration is not at all arbitrary. It was further held in that
case that where the granting of the permit is left to the unregulated discretion of a small body of city
alderman, th ordinance can not be other than partial and discriminating in its practical operation. The
case at bar is radically different for, as already shown, the discretion of the City Mayor here is not
unregulated, for the phrase "any good reason of general interest" is certainly an effective regulatory
condition precedent to the exercise of the power one way or the other. And just as certainly the
reasons alleged by the respondent Mayor for his action stated in his letters dated November 15 and
17, 1947, addressed to petitioner and in his affidavit Annex 1, seem entirely well founded and well
taken, consideration being had of his grave responsibilities as the immediate keeper of peace and
public order in the city. Elsewhere in this dissent we quote from said documents textually..
On page 13 of the majority opinion there is aquotation of anothe passage from the case of Cox vs.
New Hampshire, supra, which says:.
"As regualtion of the use of the streets for parades or processions is a traditional exercise of
control by local government, the question in a particular case is whether that control is
exerted so as not to deny or unwarrantedly abridge the right of assembly and the
opportunities for the communication of thought and the discussion of public questions
immemorially associated with resort to public places.".
The above rule means that if the control exerted does not deny or unwarrantedly abridge the right of
assembly, such control is legally valid. This is precisely our case, since the respondent Mayor
neither denied not unwarrantedly abridged the right asserted by petitioner and his companions. If the
postponement of the granting of the permit should be taken as a denial of the right, then we would
practically be denying the discretion of the proper official for it would be tantamount to compelling
him to grant the permit outright, which could necessarily mean that he can never refuse the permit,
for one who cannot even postpone the granting of such permit much less can altogether refuse it. .

Hague vs, Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U. S. 496, 83 Law. ed., 1423, apart from being
clearly distinguishable from the instant case as later demonstrated, contains the passage quoted on
page 7 of this dissent, which decidedly supports it. The distinction between that case and this is that
there "the ordinance deals only with the exercise of the right of assembly for the purpose of
communicating views entertained by speakers, and is not a general measure to promote the public
convenience in the use of the streets or parks" (83 Law. ed., 1436); while in the instant case section
2434 (b)-(m) of the Revised Administrative Code is not solely aimed at prhibition of any particular act
for it likewise provides permission, and in both cases is expressly aimed at promoting the "general
interest." .
Cox vs. State of New Hampshire, 312 U. S., 569, 95 Law, ed., 1049, is equally in solid support of
this dissent as appears from No. 2 of the syllabus therein:.
"A statute requiring persons using the public streets for a parade or procession to procure a
special license therefor from the local authorities is not an unconstitutional abridgement of
the rights of assembly or of freedom of speech and press, where, as the statute is construed
by the state courts, the licensing authorities are strictly limited, in the issuance of licenses, to
a consideration of time, place, and manner, of the parade or procession, with a view to
conserving the public convenience and of affording an opportunity to provide proper policing,
and are not invested with arbitrary discretion to issue or refuse licenses, but are required to
exercise their discretion free from the improper or inappropriate consideration and from
unfair discrimination." (Emphasis ours.).
In empowering and directing the City Mayor to grant or refuse permits "for any...good reason of
general interest," the Revised Administrative Code plainly has in view only the common good and
excludes all "improper or inappropriate considerations" and "unfair discrimination" in the exercise of
the granted discretion.
Lastly, as between Hague vs, Committee fro Industrial Organization, supra, and Cox vs. State of
New Hampshiresupra, the choice is obvious with regard to their authoritative force, when it is
considered that in the former out of the nine Justices of the United States Supreme Court two did not
take part and of the seven who dis only two, Justices Roberts and Black, subscribed the opinion
from which the majority here quote, while in the latter (Cox vs. State of New Hampshire) the decision
was unanimous..
(d) Mandamus unavailable.--- .
Mc Quillin on Municipal Cororations, 2nd ed., Revised, Volume 6, p. 848, section 2714, expresses
the rule obtaining in the United States that the immunity from judicial control appertaining to the
Office of the Governor of the State, or to the Presidency of the United States, does not attach to the
mayoralty of a city. But on page 878, section 2728, ha has the following to say on the unavailability
of mandamus to compel the granting of licenses and permits by municipal officers:.
"SEC. 2728. To compel the granting of licenses and permits.--If the issuance of the license
or permit is discretionary with the officer or municipal board, it is clear that it cannot be
compelled by mandamus. The cases rarely, if ever, depart from this well established rule,
and in consequence in doubtful cases the judicial decisions uniformly disclose a denial of the
remedy. As already stated, the fundamental condition is that the petition must show a clear
legal right to the writ and a plain neglect of duty on the part of the public officer to perform the
act sought to be enforced. For example, one who seeks to compel a city to issue to him a
permit for the erection of a buiding must show compliance with all valid requirements of the
building ordinances and regulations..

"The granting of licenses or permits by municipal or other public authorities, as mentioned, is
usually regarded as a discretionary duty, and hence, ordinarily mandamus will not lie to
compel them to grant a license or issue a permit to one claiming to be entitled thereto,
especially where it is not alleged and shown that the exercise of such discretion was
arbitrary. All the court can do is to see that the licensing authorities have proceeded
according to law. Their decision will not be reviewed on its merits. Where, however, refusal
to grant a license or to issue a permit, as said above, is arbitrary or
capricious mandamus will lie to compel the appropriate official action...." .
To my mind, the following reasons, alleged by the respondent mayor, negative all element of
arbitrariness in his official action:.
"...please be advised that upon reading the metropolitan newspapers this morning wherein it
appears that your meeting will be an indignation rally at which all the supposed election
frauds allegedly perpetrated in many parts of the Philippines for the purpose of overriding the
popular will, will be bared before the people, this office hereby revokes the said permit..
"It is believed that public peace and order in Manila will be undermined at the proposed rally
considering the passions have not as yet subsided and tension remains high as an aftermath
of the last political contest..
"According to the same newspapers, delegates from the provinces and students from local
universities will particpate in the said rally which, in my opinion, would only precipitate trouble
since no guarantee can be given that only the opposition elements will be there. The moment
the crowd becomes mixed with people of different political colors which is most likely to
happen, public order is exposed to danger once the people are incited, as they will be
incited, considering the purposes for which the meeting will be held as reported in the
newspapers above mentioned..
"...." (Mayor's letter dated November 15, 1947.).
"I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 7, 1947, requesting for a
permit to hold a public meeting at Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, on Saturday, November 22, 1947,
for the purpose of denouncing the alleged fraudulent manner in which the last elections have
been conducted and the alleged nationwide flagrant violation of the Election Law, and of
seeking redress therefor. It is regretted that for the same reasons stated in my letter of
November 15, 1947, your request can not be granted for the present. This Office has
adopted the policy of not permitting meetings of this nature which are likely to incite the
people and disrupt the peace until the results of the elections shall have been officially
announced. After this announcement, requests similar to yours will be granted..
"...." (Mayor's letter dated November 17, 1947.).
"That according to Congressman Primicias, the meeting will be an indignation rally for the
purpose of denouncing the alleged fraudulent manner the said elections were conducted and
the nationwide falgrant violations of the Election Law;.
"2. That it is a fact that the returns of the last elections are still being recounted in the City of
Manila in the Commission on Elections, and pending the final announcement of the results
thereof, passions, especially on the part of the losing groups, remain bitter and high;.

"3. That allusions have been made in the metropolitan newspapers that in the case of defeat,
there will be minority resignations in Congress, rebellion and even revolution in the country;.
"4. That I am sure that the crowd that will attend said meeting will be a multitude of people of
different and varied political sentiments;.
"5. ....... .
"6. That judging from the tenor of the request for permit and taking into consideration the
circumstances under which said meeting will be held, it is safe to state that once the people
are gathered thereat are incited, there will surely be trouble between the opposing elements,
commotion will follow, and then peace and order in Manila will be disrupted; and.
"7. That the denial of said request for permit has been made for no other reasons except to
perform my duty as Mayor of Manila to maintain and preserve peace and order in this City..
8. That I have assured Congressman Primicias that immediately after the election returns
shall have been officially announced, the Nacionalista Party or any party will be granted
permit to hold meetings of indignation and to denounce alleged faruds." (Annex 1, Answer.).
For these and other reasons which could be advanced in corroboration, I am of the considered
opinion that the respondent Mayor had under the law the requisite discretion to grant or refuse the
permit requested, and therefore to revoke that which had previously been granted, and that the
reasons for such revocation alleged in his letters dated November 15 and 17, 1947, to petitioner and
in his affidavit Annex 1 were amply sufficient to justify his last action. And be it distinctly observed
that this last action was not an absolute denial of the permit, but a mere postponement of the time
for holding the "rally" for good reasons "of general interest" in the words of section 2434 (b)-(m) of
the Revised Admninistrative Code..

TUASON, J., dissenting:.
I join in Mr. Hilado's dissent and wish to add a few remarks..
As Mr. Justice Hilado says, freedom of speech, of the press, and of peaceble assemblage, is only an
incidental issue in this case. No one will contest the proposition that the mayor or the Congress itself
may stop the petitioner and his men from meeting peacebly and venting their grievances in a private
place. The main issue rather is the extent of the right of any group of people to use a public street or
a public plaza for a purpose other than that for which it is dedicated..
The constitutional guaranty of free speech does not prevent the government from regulating the use
of places within its control. A law or ordinance may forbid the delivery of addresses on the public
parks, or on the streets as a valid exrcise of police power. (12 C. J., 954) Rights of assembly and of
petition are not absolute rights and are to be construed with regard to the general law. (16 C.J.S.,
640) Indeed, "the privileges of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for the
communication of views on national questions...must be exercised in subordination to the general
comfort and convenience." (Hague vs. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U. S., 496, 83
Law. ed., 1433) And so long as the municpal authorities act within the legitimate scope of their police

power their discretion is not subject to outside interference or judicial revsion or reversal (14 C. J.,
931.).
The mayor did not act capriciously or arbitrarily in withholding or postponing the permit applied for by
the petitioner. His reasons were real, based on contemporary events of public knowledge, and his
temporary refusal was reasonably calculated to avoid possible disturbances as well as to adavance
and protect the public in the proper use of the most congested streets and public plaza in an
overcrowded city. There was reason to fear disturbances, not from the petitioner and his men but
from elements who had no connection with the holding of the meeting but who, having gripes, might
be easily excited to violence by inflammatory harangues when nerves were on edge. The fact that
no untoward incident occurred does not prove the judiciousness of this Court's resolution. The court
is not dealing with an isolated case; it is laying down a rule of transcendental importance and farreaching consequences, in the administration of cities and towns. If nothing happened, it is well to
remember that, according to newspapers, 500 policemen were detailed to prevent possible disorder
at the gathering. It should also be borne in mind that vehicular traffic in the vicinity of Plaza Miranda
had to be suspended and vehicles had to be rerouted, during and after the meeting. All of which
entailed enormous expense by the city and discomforts to the general public..
No individual citizen or group of citizens certainly has a right to claim the use of a public plaza or
public streets at such great expense and sacrifice on the part of the city and of the rest of the
community. Yet, by virtue of this Court's resolution any person or group of persons invoking political,
civil or religious freedom under the constitution is at liberty to stage a rally or parade or a religious
procession, with the mayor powerless to do anything beyond seeing to it that no two meetings or
parades were held in the same place or close to each other. No precedent in the United States, after
whose institutions ours are modelled, approaches this Court's resolution in its disregard of the
government's authority to control public streets and to maintain peace and order. In an infant
republic where the state of peace and order is still far from normal, where the forces of law are far
from adequate to cope with lawlessness; in a city where conditions of traffic are among the worst if
not the worst on earth, this Court sets down a principle that outstrips its prototype in "liberality",
forgetting that personal rights can only exist in a properly regulated society. As Mr. Chief Justice
Hughes said in Cox vs. New Hampshire, 61 S. Ct., 762, "Civil liberties, as guaranteed by the
Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society maintaining public order without which
liberty itself would be lsot in the excesses of unrestrained abuses. The authority of the municipality to
impose regulations in order to assure the safety and convenience of the people in the use public
highways has never been regarded as inconsistent with civil liberties, but rather as one of the means
of safeguarding the good order upon which they ultimately depend." To be logical, peddlers and
merchants should be given, as a matter of right, the freedom to use public streets and public
squares to ply their trade, for the freedom of expression and of assemblage is no more sacred than
the freedom to make a living. Yet no one has dared make such a claim..
The cases cited in the resolution are not applicable. It will be seen that each of these cases involved
the legality of a law and municipal ordinance. And if in some of said cases a law or an ordinance was
declared void, the grounds of invalidation were either discrimination or lack of authority of the
Legislature or the municipal council under the state constitution or under the law to adopt the
contested measure..
As applied to Manila, there are both a law and an ordiance regulating the use of public places and
the holding of meetings and parades in such places. As long as this law and this ordinance are in
force the mayor does not only have the power but it is his sworn duty to grant or refuse a permit
according to what he believes is in consonance with peace and order or is proper to promote the
general comfort and convenience of the inhabitants..

The Court says that section 2434 (m) of the Revised Administrative Code "is not a specific of
substantive power independent from the corresponding municipal ordinance which the Mayor, as
Chief Executive of the City, is required to enforceunder the same section 2434." The Court advances
the opinion that because section 2444 confers upon the municipal board "the police power to
regulates the use of streets and othe public places," "It is to be presumed that the Legislature has
not, in the same breath, conferred upon the Mayor in section 2434 (m), the same power, specially if
we take into account that its exercise may be in conflict with the exercise of the same power by the
municipal board.".
Section 2434 (m) is written in the plainest language for any casual reader to understand, and it is
presumed that it means what it says. This provision certainly was not inserted in the city charter,
which must have been drawn with painstaking care, for nothing. And I am aware of no constitutional
provision or constitutional maxim which prohibits the delegation by the Legislature of part of its police
power affacting local matters, directly upon the mayor instead of through the municipal board. Nor is
there incompatibilty between section 2434 (m) and section 2444 or the ordinance enacted under the
latter. At any rate, section 2434 (m) is of special character while section 2444 is general, so that, if
there is any conflict between section 2434 (m) and the ordinance passed under section 2444, the
former is to prevail..
This Court has already set at rest the validity, meaning any scope of section 2434 (m) in a
unanimous decision with all the nine members voting, when it sustained the mayor's refusal to grant
a permit for a public meeting on a public plaza to be followed by a parade on public streets.
(Evangelista vs. Earnshaw, 57 Phil., 255) The reference to section 2434 (m) in that decision was not
an obiter dictum as the majority say. The sole question presented there, as we gather from the facts
disclosed, was the legality of the mayor's action, and the court pointed to section 2434 (m) as the
mayor's authority for his refusal. The fact that the mayor could have denied the petitioner's
application under the general power to prohibit a meeting for unlawful purposes did not make the
disposition of the case on the strength of section 2434 (m) obiter dictum. An adjudication on any
point within the issues presented by the case cannot be considered a dictum; and this rule applies
as to all pertinent questions, although only incidentally involved, which are presented and decided in
the regular course of the consideration of the case, and lead up to the final conclusion, and to any
statement in the opinion as to a matter on which the decision is predicated. Accordingly, a point
expressly decided does not lose its value as a precedent because the disposition of the case is or
might have been on some other ground, or even though, by reason of other points in the case, the
result reached might have been the same if the court had held, on the particular point, otherwise
than it did. (1 C. J. S. 314-315.).
But the Court asserts that if the meaning of section 2434 (m) is what this Court said in EvangelistaEarnshaw case, then section is void. I do not think that that provision is void--at least not yet. Until it
is invalidated in the proper case and in the proper manner, the mayor's authority in respect of the
issuance of permits is to be measured by section 2434 (m) and by the municipal ordinance in so far
as the ordinance does not conflict with the law. The validity of that provision is not challenged and is
nowhere in issue. It is highly improper, contrary to the elementary rules of practice and procedure for
this Court to say or declare that the provision is void. Moreover, Article VIII, section 10, of the
Constitution provides that "all cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty or a law shall be heard
and decided by the Supreme Court in banc, and no treaty or law may be declared unconstitutional
without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the court." Only seven voted in favor of
the resolution...
1 El letrado Sr. D. Ramon Diokno, en representacion del recurrente, y el Fiscal Auxiliar de Manila D.
Julio Villamor, en representacion del recurrido..

2 Los hechos confirmaron plenamente esta presuncion; el mitin monstruo ques se celebro en la
noche del 22 de Noviembre en virtud de nuestra resolucion concediendo el presente recurso
de mandamus-- el mas grande que se ghaya celebrado jamas en Manila, segun la prensa, y al cual
se calcula que assistieron unas 80,000 personas--fue completamente pacifico y ordenado, no
registrandose el menor incidente desagradable. Segun los periodicos, el mitin fue un magnifico acto
de ciudadania militante y responsable, vindicatoria de la fe de todos aquellos que jamas habian
dudado de la sensatez y cultura del pueblo de Manila. .
3 Madame Roland..
4 En Mejico el lema, la consigna political es: "Sufragio efectivo, sin reelecion." Los que conocen
Mejico aseguran que, merced a esta consigna, la era de las convulsiones y guerras civiles en
aquella republica ha pasado definitivamente a la historia. .
5 "No puedo pasar por alto una magistratura que contribuyo mucho a sostener el Gobierno de
Roma; fue la de los censores. Hacian el censo del pueblo, y, ademas, como la fuerza de la
republica consistia en la disciplina, la austeridad de las costumbres y la observacion constante de
ciertos ritos, los censores corregian los abusos que la ley no habia previsto o que el magistrado
ordinario no podia castigar.....
"El Gobierno de Roma fue admirable, porque desde su nacimiento, sea por el espiritu del pueblo, la
fuerza del Senado o la autoridad de ciertos magistrados, estaba constituido de tal modo, que todo
abuso de poder pudo ser siempre corregido. .
"El Gobierno de Inglaterra es mas sabio, porque hay un cuerpo encargado de examinarlo
continuamente y de examinarse a si mismo; sus errores son de suerte que nunca se prolongan, y
por el espiritu de atencion que despiertan en el pais, son a menudo utiles. .
"En una palabra: un Gobierno libre, siempre agitado, no podria mantenerse, si no es por sus propias
leyes capaz de corregirse." ("Grandeza y decadencia de los romanos," por Montesquieu, pags. 74,
76 y 77.) .

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. L-31687 February 26, 1970
NAVARRO, petitioner,
vs.
CITY MAYOR ANTONIO J. VILLEGAS, respondent.
RESOLUTION

GENTLEMEN:
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 considerations:
That respondent Mayor has not denied nor absolutely refused the permit sought by petitioner;
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 order;
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.

Separate Opinions

VILLAMOR, J., concurring:
The right to freedom of assembly is not denied; but this right is neither unlimited nor absolute. It is
not correct to say that the Mayor has refused to grant the permit applied for; he offered an alternative
which, in my opinion, is not unreasonable. There being no arbitrary refusal to grant permit, petitioner
is not entitled to the writ.
CASTRO and FERNANDO, JJ., dissenting:
Two members of the Court, Castro and Fernando, find themselves unable to concur with their
brethren and would vote to grant the petition. The right to freedom of assembly while not unlimited is
entitled to be accorded the utmost deference and respect. If respondent Mayor premised his refusal
to grant the permit as sought by petitioner on a clear showing that he was so empowered under the
criteria supplied by Primicias W. Fugoso, then this petition should not prosper as petitioner himself
did invoke such authority. The grounds for his refusal are however, set forth thus in his letter of
February 24, 1970 addressed to petitioner: "In the greater interest of the general public, and in order
not to unduly disturb the life of the community, this Office, guided by a lesson gained from the events
of the past few weeks, has temporarily adopted the policy of not issuing any permit for the use of
Plaza Miranda for rallies or demonstrations during week days."1 They do not, in the opinion of the
above two justices, meet the standard of the Primicias ruling. Under the circumstances, the effect is one
of prior restraint of a constitutional right. This is not allowable. An excerpt from a 1969 American Supreme
Court decision is persuasive. Thus: "For in deciding whether or not to withhold a permit, the members of
the Commission were to be guided only by their own ideas of 'public welfare, peace, safety, health,
decency, good order, morals or convenience.' This ordinance as it was written, therefore, fell squarely
within the ambit of the many decisions of this Court over the last 30 years, holding that a law subjecting
the exercise of First Amendment freedoms to the prior restraint of a license, without narrow, objective,
and definite standards to guide the licensing authority, is unconstitutional."2 This is without prejudice to a
more extended opinion being written later.

Footnotes
1. Annex B, Petition.
2. Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 22 L. Ed. 2d 162, 167 (1969).

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-65366 November 9, 1983
JOSE B.L. REYES, in behalf of the ANTI-BASES COALITION (ABC), petitioner,
vs.
RAMON BAGATSING, as Mayor of the City of Manila, respondent.
Lorenzo M. Tañada Jose W. Diokno and Haydee B. Yorac for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondent.

FERNANDO, C.J.:

ñé+.£ªwph! 1

This Court, in this case of first impression, at least as to some aspects, is called upon to delineate
the boundaries of the protected area of the cognate rights to free speech and peaceable
assembly, 1 against an alleged intrusion by respondent Mayor Ramon Bagatsing. Petitioner, retired
Justice JB L. Reyes, on behalf of the Anti-Bases Coalition sought a permit from the City of Manila to hold
a peaceful march and rally on October 26, 1983 from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, starting from the
Luneta, a public park, to the gates of the United States Embassy, hardly two blocks away. Once there,
and in an open space of public property, a short program would be held. 2 During the course of the oral
argument, 3 it was stated that after the delivery of two brief speeches, a petition based on the resolution
adopted on the last day by the International Conference for General Disbarmament, World Peace and the
Removal of All Foreign Military Bases held in Manila, would be presented to a representative of the
Embassy or any of its personnel who may be there so that it may be delivered to the United States
Ambassador. The march would be attended by the local and foreign participants of such conference.
There was likewise an assurance in the petition that in the exercise of the constitutional rights to free
speech and assembly, all the necessary steps would be taken by it "to ensure a peaceful march and
rally." 4

The filing of this suit for mandamus with alternative prayer for writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction on October 20, 1983 was due to the fact that as of that date, petitioner had not been
informed of any action taken on his request on behalf of the organization to hold a rally. On October
25, 1983, the answer of respondent Mayor was filed on his behalf by Assistant Solicitor General
Eduardo G. Montenegro. 5 It turned out that on October 19, such permit was denied. Petitioner was
unaware of such a fact as the denial was sent by ordinary mail. The reason for refusing a permit was due
to police intelligence reports which strongly militate against the advisability of issuing such permit at this
time and at the place applied for." 6 To be more specific, reference was made to persistent intelligence
reports affirm[ing] the plans of subversive/criminal elements to infiltrate and/or disrupt any assembly or
congregations where a large number of people is expected to attend." 7 Respondent Mayor suggested,
however, in accordance with the recommendation of the police authorities, that "a permit may be issued
for the rally if it is to be held at the Rizal Coliseum or any other enclosed area where the safety of the
participants themselves and the general public may be ensured." 8

The oral argument was heard on October 25, 1983, the very same day the answer was filed. The
Court then deliberated on the matter. That same afternoon, a minute resolution was issued by the
Court granting the mandatory injunction prayed for on the ground that there was no showing of the

existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that could justify the denial of a permit.
On this point, the Court was unanimous, but there was a dissent by Justice Aquino on the ground
that the holding of a rally in front of the US Embassy would be violative of Ordinance No. 7295 of the
City of Manila. The last sentence of such minute resolution reads: "This resolution is without
prejudice to a more extended opinion." 9 Hence this detailed exposition of the Court's stand on the
matter.

1. It is thus clear that the Court is called upon to protect the exercise of the cognate rights to free
speech and peaceful assembly, arising from the denial of a permit. The Constitution is quite explicit:
"No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances." 10 Free speech, like
free press, may be Identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public concern
without censorship or punishment. 11 There is to be then no previous restraint on the communication of
views or subsequent liability whether in libel suits, 12 prosecution for sedition, 13 or action for
damages, 14 or contempt proceedings 15 unless there be a clear and present danger of a substantive evil
that [the State] has a right to prevent." 16 Freedom of assembly connotes the right people to meet
peaceably for consultation and discussion of matters Of public concern. 17 It is entitled to be accorded the
utmost deference and respect. It is hot to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing, as 's the
case with freedom of expression, of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the state has a
right to prevent. 18 Even prior to the 1935 Constitution, Justice Maicolm had occasion to stress that it is a
necessary consequence of our republican institutions and complements the right of free speech. 19 To
paraphrase opinion of Justice Rutledge speaking for the majority of the American Supreme Court Thomas
v. Collins, 20 it was not by accident or coincidence that the right to freedom of speech and of the press
were toupled in a single guarantee with the and to petition the rights of the people peaceably to assemble
and to petition the government for redress of grievances. All these rights, while not Identical, are
inseparable. the every case, therefo re there is a limitation placed on the exercise of this right, the
judiciary is called upon to examine the effects of the challenged governmental actuation. The sole
justification for a limitation on the exercise of this right, so fundamental to the maintenance of democratic
institutions, is the danger, of a character both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety, public
morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest. 21

2. Nowhere is the rationale that underlies the freedom of expression and peaceable assembly better
expressed than in this excerpt from an opinion of Justice Frankfurter: "It must never be forgotten,
however, that the Bill of Rights was the child of the Enlightenment. Back of the guaranty of free
speech lay faith in the power of an appeal to reason by all the peaceful means for gaining access to
the mind. It was in order to avert force and explosions due to restrictions upon rational modes of
communication that the guaranty of free speech was given a generous scope. But utterance in a
context of violence can lose its significance as an appeal to reason and become part of an
instrument of force. Such utterance was not meant to be sheltered by the Constitution." 22 What was
rightfully stressed is the abandonment of reason, the utterance, whether verbal or printed, being in a
context of violence. It must always be remembered that this right likewise provides for a safety valve,
allowing parties the opportunity to give vent to their-views, even if contrary to the prevailing climate of
opinion. For if the peaceful means of communication cannot be availed of, resort to non-peaceful means
may be the only alternative. Nor is this the sole reason for the expression of dissent. It means more than
just the right to be heard of the person who feels aggrieved or who is dissatisfied with things as they are.
Its value may lie in the fact that there may be something worth hearing from the dissenter. That is to
ensure a true ferment of Ideas. There are, of course, well-defined limits. What is guaranteed is peaceable
assembly. One may not advocate disorder in the name of protest, much less preach rebellion under the
cloak of dissent. The Constitution frowns on disorder or tumult attending a rally or assembly. resort to
force is ruled out and outbreaks of violence to be avoided. The utmost calm though is not required. As
pointed out in an early Philippine case, penned in 1907 to be precise, United States v. Apurado: 23 "It is
rather to be expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of the people to protest
against grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such occasions feeling is always wrought to a
high pitch of excitement, and the greater the grievance and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect,
as a rule, will be the disciplinary control of the leaders over their irresponsible followers." 24 It bears

repeating that for the constitutional right to be invoked, riotous conduct, injury to property, and acts of
vandalism must be avoided, To give free rein to one's destructive urges is to call for condemnation. It is to
make a mockery of the high estate occupied by intellectual liberty in our scheme of values.

3. There can be no legal objection, absent the existence of a clear and present danger of a
substantive evil, on the choice of Luneta as the place where the peace rally would start. The
Philippines is committed to the view expressed in the plurality opinion, of 1939 vintage, of Justice
Roberts in Hague v. CIO: 25 Whenever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially
been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of
assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the
streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and
liberties of citizens. The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for
communication of views on national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but
relative, and must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in
consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or
denied. 26 The above excerpt was quoted with approval in Primicias v. Fugoso. 27 Primicias made explicit
what was implicit in Municipality of Cavite v. Rojas," 28 a 1915 decision, where this Court categorically
affirmed that plazas or parks and streets are outside the commerce of man and thus nullified a contract
that leased Plaza Soledad of plaintiff-municipality. Reference was made to such plaza "being a
promenade for public use," 29 which certainly is not the only purpose that it could serve. To repeat, there
can be no valid reason why a permit should not be granted for the or oposed march and rally starting from
a public dark that is the Luneta.

4. Neither can there be any valid objection to the use of the streets, to the gates of the US Embassy,
hardly two block-away at the Roxas Boulevard. Primicias v. Fugoso has resolved any lurking doubt
on the matter. In holding that the then Mayor Fugoso of the City of Manila should grant a permit for a
public meeting at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, this Court categorically declared: "Our conclusion finds
support in the decision in the case of Willis Cox vs. State of New Hampshire, 312 U.S., 569. In that
case, the statute of New Hampshire P. L. chap. 145, section 2, providing that 'no parade or
procession upon any ground abutting thereon, shall 'De permitted unless a special license therefor
shall first be explained from the selectmen of the town or from licensing committee,' was construed
by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire as not conferring upon the licensing board unfettered
discretion to refuse to grant the license, and held valid. And the Supreme Court of the United States,
in its decision (1941) penned by Chief Justice Hughes affirming the judgment of the State Supreme
Court, held that 'a statute requiring persons using the public streets for a parade or procession to
procure a special license therefor from the local authorities is not an unconstitutional abridgment of
the rights of assembly or of freedom of speech and press, where, as the statute is construed by the
state courts, the licensing authorities are strictly limited, in the issuance of licenses, to a
consideration of the time, place, and manner of the parade or procession, with a view to conserving
the public convenience and of affording an opportunity to provide proper policing, and are not
invested with arbitrary discretion to issue or refuse license, ... " 30 Nor should the point made by Chief
Justice Hughes in a subsequent portion of the opinion be ignored, "Civil liberties, as guaranteed by the
Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society maintaining public order without which liberty
itself would be lost in the excesses of unrestricted abuses. The authority of a municipality to impose
regulations in order to assure the safety and convenience of the people in the use of public highways has
never been regarded as inconsistent with civil liberties but rather as one of the means of safeguarding the
good order upon which they ultimately depend. The control of travel on the streets of cities is the most
familiar illustration of this recognition of social need. Where a restriction of the use of highways in that
relation is designed to promote the public convenience in the interest of all, it cannot be disregarded by
the attempted exercise of some civil right which in other circumstances would be entitled to protection." 31

5. There is a novel aspect to this case, If the rally were confined to Luneta, no question, as noted,
would have arisen. So, too, if the march would end at another park. As previously mentioned though,
there would be a short program upon reaching the public space between the two gates of the United

States Embassy at Roxas Boulevard. That would be followed by the handing over of a petition based
on the resolution adopted at the closing session of the Anti-Bases Coalition. The Philippines is a
signatory of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations adopted in 1961. It was concurred in by
the then Philippine Senate on May 3, 1965 and the instrument of ratification was signed by the
President on October 11, 1965, and was thereafter deposited with the Secretary General of the
United Nations on November 15. As of that date then, it was binding on the Philippines. The second
paragraph of the Article 22 reads: "2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take appropriate
steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any
disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity. " 32 The Constitution "adopts the
generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. ..." 33 To the extent that the
Vienna Convention is a restatement of the generally accepted principles of international law, it should be
a part of the law of the land. 34 That being the case, if there were a clear and present danger of any
intrusion or damage, or disturbance of the peace of the mission, or impairment of its dignity, there would
be a justification for the denial of the permit insofar as the terminal point would be the Embassy.
Moreover, respondent Mayor relied on Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila prohibiting the holding or
staging of rallies or demonstrations within a radius of five hundred (500) feet from any foreign mission or
chancery and for other purposes. Unless the ordinance is nullified, or declared ultra vires, its invocation
as a defense is understandable but not decisive, in view of the primacy accorded the constitutional rights
of free speech and peaceable assembly. Even if shown then to be applicable, that question the confronts
this Court.

6. There is merit to the observation that except as to the novel aspects of a litigation, the judgment
must be confined within the limits of previous decisions. The law declared on past occasions is, on
the whole, a safe guide, So it has been here. Hence, as noted, on the afternoon of the hearing,
October 25, 1983, this Court issued the minute resolution granting the mandatory injunction allowing
the proposed march and rally scheduled for the next day. That conclusion was inevitable ill the
absence of a clear and present danger of a substantive, evil to a legitimate public interest. There
was no justification then to deny the exercise of the constitutional rights of tree speech and
peaceable assembly. These rights are assured by our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. 35 The participants to such assembly, composed primarily of those in attendance at the
International Conference for General Disbarmament, World Peace and the Removal of All Foreign Military
Bases would start from the Luneta. proceeding through Roxas Boulevard to the gates of the United
States Embassy located at the same street. To repeat, it is settled law that as to public places, especially
so as to parks and streets, there is freedom of access. Nor is their use dependent on who is the applicant
for the permit, whether an individual or a group. If it were, then the freedom of access becomes
discriminatory access, giving rise to an equal protection question. The principle under American doctrines
was given utterance by Chief Justice Hughes in these words: "The question, if the rights of free speech
and peaceable assembly are to be preserved, is not as to the auspices under which the meeting is held
but as to its purpose; not as to The relations of the speakers, but whether their utterances transcend the
bounds of the freedom of speech which the Constitution protects." 36 There could be danger to public
peace and safety if such a gathering were marked by turbulence. That would deprive it of its peaceful
character. Even then, only the guilty parties should be held accountable. It is true that the licensing
official, here respondent Mayor, is not devoid of discretion in determining whether or not a permit would
be granted. It is not, however, unfettered discretion. While prudence requires that there be a realistic
appraisal not of what may possibly occur but of what may probably occur, given all the relevant
circumstances, still the assumption — especially so where the assembly is scheduled for a specific public
— place is that the permit must be for the assembly being held there. The exercise of such a right, in the
language of Justice Roberts, speaking for the American Supreme Court, is not to be "abridged on the
plea that it may be exercised in some other place." 37

7. In fairness to respondent Mayor, he acted on the belief that Navarro v. Villegas 38 and Pagkakaisa
ng Manggagawang Pilipino (PMP.) v. Bagatsing, 39 called for application. While the General rule is that a
permit should recognize the right of the applicants to hold their assembly at a public place of their choice,
another place may be designated by the licensing authority if it be shown that there is a clear and present

danger of a substantive evil if no such change were made. In the Navarro and the Pagkakaisa decisions,
this Court was persuaded that the clear and present danger test was satisfied. The present situation is
quite different. Hence the decision reached by the Court. The mere assertion that subversives may
infiltrate the ranks of the demonstrators does not suffice. Not that it should be overlooked. There was in
this case, however, the assurance of General Narciso Cabrera, Superintendent, Western Police District,
Metropolitan Police Force, that the police force is in a position to cope with such emergency should it
arise That is to comply with its duty to extend protection to the participants of such peaceable assembly.
Also from him came the commendable admission that there were the least five previous demonstrations
at the Bayview hotel Area and Plaza Ferguson in front of the United States Embassy where no untoward
event occurred. It was made clear by petitioner, through counsel, that no act offensive to the dignity of the
United States Mission in the Philippines would take place and that, as mentioned at the outset of this
opinion, "all the necessary steps would be taken by it 'to ensure a peaceful march and rally.' " 40 Assistant
Solicitor General Montenegro expressed the view that the presence of policemen may in itself be a
provocation. It is a sufficient answer that they should stay at a discreet distance, but ever ready and alert
to cope with any contingency. There is no need to repeat what was pointed out by Chief Justice Hughes
in Cox that precisely, it is the duty of the city authorities to provide the proper police protection to those
exercising their right to peaceable assembly and freedom of expression.

8. By way of a summary The applicants for a permit to hold an assembly should inform the licensing
authority of the date, the public place where and the time when it will take place. If it were a private
place, only the consent of the owner or the one entitled to its legal possession is required. Such
application should be filed well ahead in time to enable the public official concerned to appraise
whether there may be valid objections to the grant of the permit or to its grant but at another public
place. It is an indispensable condition to such refusal or modification that the clear and present
danger test be the standard for the decision reached. If he is of the view that there is such an
imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil, the applicants must be heard on the matter.
Thereafter, his decision, whether favorable or adverse, must be transmitted to them at the earliest
opportunity. Thus if so minded, then, can have recourse to the proper judicial authority. Free speech
and peaceable assembly, along with the other intellectual freedoms, are highly ranked in our
scheme of constitutional values. It cannot be too strongly stressed that on the judiciary, — even
more so than on the other departments — rests the grave and delicate responsibility of assuring
respect for and deference to such preferred rights. No verbal formula, no sanctifying phrase can, of
course, dispense with what has been so felicitiously termed by Justice Holmes "as the sovereign
prerogative of judgment." Nonetheless, the presumption must be to incline the weight of the scales
of justice on the side of such rights, enjoying as they do precedence and primacy. Clearly then, to
the extent that there may be inconsistencies between this resolution and that of Navarro v. Villegas,
that case is pro tantomodified. So it was made clear in the original resolution of October 25, 1983.
9. Respondent Mayor posed the issue of the applicability of Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila
prohibiting the holding or staging of rallies or demonstrations within a radius of five hundred (500)
feet from any foreign mission or chancery and for other purposes. It is to be admitted that it finds
support In the previously quoted Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. There
was no showing, however, that the distance between the chancery and the embassy gate is less
than 500 feet. Even if it could be shown that such a condition is satisfied. it does not follow that
respondent Mayor could legally act the way he did. The validity of his denial of the permit sought
could still be challenged. It could be argued that a case of unconstitutional application of such
ordinance to the exercise of the right of peaceable assembly presents itself. As in this case there
was no proof that the distance is less than 500 feet, the need to pass on that issue was obviated,
Should it come, then the qualification and observation of Justices Makasiar and Plana certainly
cannot be summarily brushed aside. The high estate accorded the rights to free speech and
peaceable assembly demands nothing less.
10. Ordinarily, the remedy in cases of this character is to set aside the denial or the modification of
the permit sought and order the respondent official, to grant it. Nonetheless, as there was urgency in

this case, the proposed march and rally being scheduled for the next day after the hearing, this
Court. in the exercise of its conceded authority, granted the mandatory injunction in the resolution of
October 25, 1983. It may be noted that the peaceful character of the peace march and rally on
October 26 was not marred by any untoward incident. So it has been in other assemblies held
elsewhere. It is quite reassuring such that both on the part of the national government and the
citizens, reason and moderation have prevailed. That is as it should be.
WHEREFORE, the mandatory injunction prayed for is granted. No costs.
Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Melencio-Herrera, Escolin, Relova and Gutierrez, , Jr.,JJ., concur.
De Castro, J, is on leave.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:
The Chief Justice's opinion of the Court reaffirms the doctrine of Primicias vs. Fugoso 1 that "the right
to freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances
are fundamental personal rights of the people recognized and guaranteed by the constitutions of
democratic countries" and that the city or town mayors are not conferred "the power to refuse to grant the
permit, but only the discretion, in issuing the permit, to determine or specify the streets or public places
where the parade or procession may pass or the meeting may be held." The most recent graphic
demonstration of what this great right of peaceful assembly and petition for redress of grievances could
accomplish was the civil rights march on Washington twenty years ago under the late assassinated black
leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (whose birthday has now been declared an American national holiday)
which subpoenaed the conscience of the nation," and awakened the conscience of millions of previously
indifferent Americans and eventually (after many disorders and riots yet to come) was to put an end to
segregation and discrimination against the American Negro.

The procedure for the securing of such permits for peaceable assembly is succintly set forth in the
summary given by the Court Justice in paragraph 8 of the Court's opinion, with the injunction that
"the presumption must be to incline the weight of the scales of justice on the side of such rights,
enjoying as they do, precedence and primacy," The exception of the clear and present danger rule,
which alone would warrant a limitation of these fundamental rights, is therein restated in paragraph
1, thus: "The sole justification for a limitation on the exercise of this right, so fundamental to the
maintenance of democratic institutions, is the danger, of a character both grave and imminent, of a
serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest. "
It bears emphasis that the burden to show the existence of grave and imminent danger that would
justify adverse action on the application lies on the mayor as licensing authority. There must be
objective and convincing, not subjective or conjectural proof of the existence of such clear and
present danger. As stated in our Resolution of October 25, 1983, which granted the mandatory
injunction as prayed for, "It is essential for the validity of a denial of a permit which amounts to a

previous restraint or censorship that the licensing authority does not rely solely on his own appraisal
of what public welfare, peace or safety may require. To justify such a limitation there must be proof
of such weight and sufficiency to satisfy the clear and present danger test. The possibility that
subversives may infiltrate the ranks of the demonstrators is not enough." As stated by Justice
Brandeis in his concurring opinion in Whitney vs. California. 2
têñ.£îhqwâ£

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly.
Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from
the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech there must be
reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced.
There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended
is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the evil to be
prevented is a serious one * * *.
Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear
political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. * * *
Moreover, even imminent danger cannot justify resort to prohibition of these
functions essential (for) effective democracy, unless the evil apprehended is
relatively serious. Prohibition of free speech and assembly is a measure so stringent
that it would be inappropriate as the means for averting a relatively trivial harm to a
society. * * * The fact that speech is likely to result in some violence or in destruction
of property is not enough to justify its suppression. There must be the probability of
serious injury to the state. Among freemen the deterrents ordinarily to be applied to
prevent crimes are education and punishment for violations of the law, not
abridgment of the rights of free speech and assembly. (Emphasis supplied)
The Court's opinion underscores that the exercise of the right is not to be "abridged on the plea that
it may be exercised in some other place" (paragraph 6), and that "it is the duty of the city authorities
to provide the proper police protection to those exercising their right to peaceable assembly and
freedom of expression," (at page 14) The U.S. Supreme Court's pronouncement in Hague vs.
Committee for Industrial Organization 3 cited in Fugoso is worth repeating:
têñ.£îhqwâ£

* * * Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been
held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for
purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing
public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times,
been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege
of a citizen * * * to use the streets and parks for communication of views on national
questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and
must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in
consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be
abridged or denied.
We think the court below was right in holding the ordinance quoted in Note I void
upon its face. It does not make comfort or convenience in the use of streets or parks
the standard of official action. It enables the Director of Safety to refuse a permit on
his mere opinion that such refusal will prevent 'riots, disturbances or disorderly
assemblage. It can thus, as the record discloses, be made theinstrument of arbitrary
suppression of free expression of views on national affairs for the prohibition of all
speaking will undoubtedly 'prevent' such eventualities. But uncontrolled official

suppression of the privilege cannot be made a substitute for the duty to maintain
order in connection with the exercise of the right. (Emphasis supplied)
Needless to say, the leaders of the peaceable assembly should take all the necessary measures to
ensure a peaceful march and assembly and to avoid the possibility of infiltrators and troublemakers
disrupting the same, concommitantly with the duty of the police to extend protection to the
participants "staying at a discreet distance, but ever ready and alert to perform their duty." But
should any disorderly conduct or incidents occur, whether provoked or otherwise, it is well to recall
former Chief Justice Ricardo Paras' injunction in his concurring opinion inFugoso, citing the 1907
case of U.S. vs. Apurado, 4 that such instances of "disorderly conduct by individual members of a crowd
(be not seized) as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against
the authorities" and render illusory the right of peaceable assembly, thus:
têñ.£îhqwâ£

It is rather to be expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of
the people to protest against grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such
occasions feeling is always wrought to a high pitch of excitement, and the greater the
grievance and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as a rule, will the
disciplinary control of the leaders over their irresponsible followers. But if the
prosecution be permitted to seize upon every instance of such disorderly conduct by
individual members of a crowd as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a
seditious and tumultous rising against the authorities, 'then the right to assemble and
to petition for redress of grievances would become a delusion and snare and the
attempt to exercise it on the most righteous occasion and in the most peaceable
manner would expose all those who took part therein to the severest and most
unmerited punishment, if the purposes which they sought to attain did not happen to
be pleasing to the prosecuting authorities. If instances of disorderly conduct occur on
such occasions, the guilty individuals should be sought out and punished therefor.
(Emphasis supplied).
As it turned out, the demonstration was held on October 26, 1983 peaceably and without any
untoward event or evil result, as pledged by the organizers (like at least five previous peaceful
demonstrations in the area). However, even if there had been any incidents of disorder, this would in
no way show the Court's mandatory injunction to have been wrongfully issued. The salutary desire
on the part of respondent to prevent disorder cannot be pursued by the unjustified denial and
suppression of the people's basic rights, which would thereby turn out to be mere paper rights.

MAKASIAR, J., concurring:
With the justification that in case of conflict, the Philippine Constitution — particularly the Bill of
Rights — should prevail over the Vienna Convention.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:
To add anything to the learned opinion of the Chief Justice is like bringing coal to Newcastle, I just
want to state for the record that I voted for the issuance ex-parte of a preliminary mandatory
injunction.

PLANA, J., concurring:
On the whole, I concur in the learned views of the distinguished Chief Justice. I would like however
to voice a reservation regarding Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila which has been invoked
by the respondent.
The main opinion yields the implication that a rally or demonstration made within 500 feet from the
chancery of a foreign embassy would be banned for coming within the terms of the prohibition of the
cited Ordinance which was adopted, so it is said, precisely to implement a treaty obligation of the
Philippines under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
In my view, without saying that the Ordinance is obnoxious per se to the constitution, it cannot be
validly invoked whenever its application would collide with a constitutionally guaranteed right such as
freedom of assembly and/or expression, as in the case at bar, regardless of whether the chancery of
any foreign embassy is beyond or within 500 feet from the situs of the rally or demonstration.
AQUINO, J., dissenting:
Voted to dismiss the petition on the ground that the holding of the rally in front of the US Embassy
violates Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:
The Chief Justice's opinion of the Court reaffirms the doctrine of Primicias vs. Fugoso 1 that "the right
to freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances
are fundamental personal rights of the people recognized and guaranteed by the constitutions of
democratic countries" and that the city or town mayors are not conferred "the power to refuse to grant the
permit, but only the discretion, in issuing the permit, to determine or specify the streets or public places
where the parade or procession may pass or the meeting may be held." The most recent graphic
demonstration of what this great right of peaceful assembly and petition for redress of grievances could
accomplish was the civil rights march on Washington twenty years ago under the late assassinated black
leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (whose birthday has now been declared an American national holiday)
which subpoenaed the conscience of the nation," and awakened the conscience of millions of previously
indifferent Americans and eventually (after many disorders and riots yet to come) was to put an end to
segregation and discrimination against the American Negro.

The procedure for the securing of such permits for peaceable assembly is succintly set forth in the
summary given by the Court Justice in paragraph 8 of the Court's opinion, with the injunction that
"the presumption must be to incline the weight of the scales of justice on the side of such rights,
enjoying as they do, precedence and primacy," The exception of the clear and present danger rule,
which alone would warrant a limitation of these fundamental rights, is therein restated in paragraph
1, thus: "The sole justification for a limitation on the exercise of this right, so fundamental to the
maintenance of democratic institutions, is the danger, of a character both grave and imminent, of a
serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest. "

It bears emphasis that the burden to show the existence of grave and imminent danger that would
justify adverse action on the application lies on the mayor as licensing authority. There must be
objective and convincing, not subjective or conjectural proof of the existence of such clear and
present danger. As stated in our Resolution of October 25, 1983, which granted the mandatory
injunction as prayed for, "It is essential for the validity of a denial of a permit which amounts to a
previous restraint or censorship that the licensing authority does not rely solely on his own appraisal
of what public welfare, peace or safety may require. To justify such a limitation there must be proof
of such weight and sufficiency to satisfy the clear and present danger test. The possibility that
subversives may infiltrate the ranks of the demonstrators is not enough." As stated by Justice
Brandeis in his concurring opinion in Whitney vs. California. 2
têñ.£îhqwâ£

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly.
Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from
the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech there must be
reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced.
There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended
is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the evil to be
prevented is a serious one * * *.
Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear
political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. * * *
Moreover, even imminent danger cannot justify resort to prohibition of these
functions essential (for) effective democracy, unless the evil apprehended is
relatively serious. Prohibition of free speech and assembly is a measure so stringent
that it would be inappropriate as the means for averting a relatively trivial harm to a
society. * * * The fact that speech is likely to result in some violence or in destruction
of property is not enough to justify its suppression. There must be the probability of
serious injury to the state. Among freemen the deterrents ordinarily to be applied to
prevent crimes are education and punishment for violations of the law, not
abridgment of the rights of free speech and assembly. (Emphasis supplied)
The Court's opinion underscores that the exercise of the right is not to be "abridged on the plea that
it may be exercised in some other place" (paragraph 6), and that "it is the duty of the city authorities
to provide the proper police protection to those exercising their right to peaceable assembly and
freedom of expression," (at page 14) The U.S. Supreme Court's pronouncement in Hague vs.
Committee for Industrial Organization 3 cited in Fugoso is worth repeating:
têñ.£îhqwâ£

* * * Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been
held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for
purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing
public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times,
been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege
of a citizen * * * to use the streets and parks for communication of views on national
questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and
must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in
consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be
abridged or denied.
We think the court below was right in holding the ordinance quoted in Note I void
upon its face. It does not make comfort or convenience in the use of streets or parks
the standard of official action. It enables the Director of Safety to refuse a permit on

his mere opinion that such refusal will prevent 'riots, disturbances or disorderly
assemblage. It can thus, as the record discloses, be made theinstrument of arbitrary
suppression of free expression of views on national affairs for the prohibition of all
speaking will undoubtedly 'prevent' such eventualities. But uncontrolled official
suppression of the privilege cannot be made a substitute for the duty to maintain
order in connection with the exercise of the right. (Emphasis supplied)
Needless to say, the leaders of the peaceable assembly should take all the necessary measures to
ensure a peaceful march and assembly and to avoid the possibility of infiltrators and troublemakers
disrupting the same, concommitantly with the duty of the police to extend protection to the
participants "staying at a discreet distance, but ever ready and alert to perform their duty." But
should any disorderly conduct or incidents occur, whether provoked or otherwise, it is well to recall
former Chief Justice Ricardo Paras' injunction in his concurring opinion inFugoso, citing the 1907
case of U.S. vs. Apurado, 4 that such instances of "disorderly conduct by individual members of a crowd
(be not seized) as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against
the authorities" and render illusory the right of peaceable assembly, thus:
têñ.£îhqwâ£

It is rather to be expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of
the people to protest against grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such
occasions feeling is always wrought to a high pitch of excitement, and the greater the
grievance and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as a rule, will the
disciplinary control of the leaders over their irresponsible followers. But if the
prosecution be permitted to seize upon every instance of such disorderly conduct by
individual members of a crowd as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a
seditious and tumultous rising against the authorities, 'then the right to assemble and
to petition for redress of grievances would become a delusion and snare and the
attempt to exercise it on the most righteous occasion and in the most peaceable
manner would expose all those who took part therein to the severest and most
unmerited punishment, if the purposes which they sought to attain did not happen to
be pleasing to the prosecuting authorities. If instances of disorderly conduct occur on
such occasions, the guilty individuals should be sought out and punished therefor.
(Emphasis supplied).
As it turned out, the demonstration was held on October 26, 1983 peaceably and without any
untoward event or evil result, as pledged by the organizers (like at least five previous peaceful
demonstrations in the area). However, even if there had been any incidents of disorder, this would in
no way show the Court's mandatory injunction to have been wrongfully issued. The salutary desire
on the part of respondent to prevent disorder cannot be pursued by the unjustified denial and
suppression of the people's basic rights, which would thereby turn out to be mere paper rights.

MAKASIAR, J., concurring:
With the justification that in case of conflict, the Philippine Constitution — particularly the Bill of
Rights — should prevail over the Vienna Convention.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

To add anything to the learned opinion of the Chief Justice is like bringing coal to Newcastle, I just
want to state for the record that I voted for the issuance ex-parte of a preliminary mandatory
injunction.

PLANA, J., concurring:
On the whole, I concur in the learned views of the distinguished Chief Justice. I would like however
to voice a reservation regarding Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila which has been invoked
by the respondent.
The main opinion yields the implication that a rally or demonstration made within 500 feet from the
chancery of a foreign embassy would be banned for coming within the terms of the prohibition of the
cited Ordinance which was adopted, so it is said, precisely to implement a treaty obligation of the
Philippines under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
In my view, without saying that the Ordinance is obnoxious per se to the constitution, it cannot be
validly invoked whenever its application would collide with a constitutionally guaranteed right such as
freedom of assembly and/or expression, as in the case at bar, regardless of whether the chancery of
any foreign embassy is beyond or within 500 feet from the situs of the rally or demonstration.

AQUINO, J., dissenting:
Voted to dismiss the petition on the ground that the holding of the rally in front of the US Embassy
violates Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila.

Footnotes

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1 Section 9, Article IV of the Constitution.
2 Petition. par. 4.
3 Petitioner was represented by Professor Haydee Yorac of the College of Law,
University of the Philippines, assisted by former Senator Jose W. Diokno.
Respondent was represented by Assistant Solicitor General Montenegro.
4 Petition, 2.
5 He was assisted by Solicitor Roberto A. Abad.
6 Answer of Respondent, 2, Annex 1.
7 Ibid, Annex 1-A.
8 Ibid, Annex 1.

9 Minute resolution dated October 25, 1983, 4.
10 Article IV, Section 9 of the Constitution.
11 Cf. Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 US 88 (1940). Justice Malcolm identified freedom of
expression with the right to a full discussion of public affairs." (U.S. v. Bustos, 37 Phil.
731, 740 [1918]). Justice Laurel was partial to the ringing words of John Milton, "the
liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all
liberties." (Planas v. Gil, 67 Phil. 81 [1939]). Justice Johnson spoke of freedom of
expression in terms of "a full and free discussion of all affairs of public interest." For
him then, free speech includes complete liberty to "comment upon the administration
of Government as well as the conduct of public men." U S. v. Perfecto,
43 Phil. 58, 62 [1922]). When it is remembered further that time has upset many
fighting faiths" there is like] to be a more widespread acceptance of the view of
Justice Holmes "that the ultimate good, desired is better reached by free trade in
ideas that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get accepted that the
competition of the market; and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes
safely can be carried out." (Abrams v. United States, 250 US 616, 630 [1919]).
12 U.S. v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 1131 (1918); Quisumbing v. Lopez, 96 Phil. 510 (1935).
13 U.S. v. Perfecto, 43 Phil. 58 (1922).
14 Yap v. Boltron 100 Phil. 324 (1956).
15 People v. Alarcon, 69 Phil. 265 (1939); Cabansag v. Fernandez, 102 Phil. 152
(1957); People v. Castelo H. Abaya, 114 Phil. 892 (1962); Bridges v. California, 314
US 252 (1941); Pennekamp v. Florida, 328 US 331 (1946); Craio v. Harney 331 US
367 (1947); Woods v. Georgia, 370 US 375 (1962).
16 Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, L-27833, April 18, 1969, 27 SCRA 835,
857.
17 Cf. Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 Cf. United States v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731 (1918).
20 323 US 516 (1945).
21 Cf. Schneider v. Irvington 308 US 147 (1939).
22 Milk Wagon Drivers Union of Chicago, Local 753 v Meadowmoor Dairies, Inc.,
312 US 287, 293 (1940).
23 7 Phil. 422.
24 Ibid, 426.

25 307 US 495.
26 ibid 515.
27 80 Phil. 71 (1948).
28 30 Phil. 602.
29 Ibid, 606.
30 80 Phil. at 78.
31 312 US at 524.
32 Cf. Brownlie Principles of Public International Law, 2nd ed., 339-341. 3,3
33 Article 11, Section 3 reads in full:
34 The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the
generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and
adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with
all nations," 31 The Philippines can rightfully take credit for the acceptance, as early
as 1951, of the binding force of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights even if
the rights and freedoms therein declared are considered by other jurisdictions as
merely a statement of aspirations and not law until translated into the appropriate
covenants. In the following cases decided in 1951, Mejoff v. Director of Prisons, 90
Phil. 70; Borovsky v. Commissioner of Immigration, 90 Phil. 107; Chirskoff v.
Commissioner of Immigration, 90 Phil. 256; Andreu v. Commissioner of Immigration,
90 Phil. 347, the Supreme Court applied the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
35 According to its Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
seek, receive, and impart information and Ideas through any media and regardless of
frontiers." The first paragraph of Article 20 reads; "Everyone has the right to freedom
of peaceful assembly and association.
36 De Jorge v. Oregon, 299 US 353, 364 (1937).
37 Schneider v. IrvIngton 308 US 147,163 (1939).
38 G.R. No. L-31687, February 26, 1970, 31 SCRA 731. Two justices dissented,
Justice, later Chief Justice, Castro and the present Chief Justice, then a Justice.
39 G.R. No. 60294, April 30, 1982.
40 Opinion citing par. 4 of Petition.
Teehankee, J.:

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1 80 Phil. 1.

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2 71 U.S. Law ed., 1105-1107.
3 307 U.S. 496, 515, 83 Law ed., 1423.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-32066 August 6, 1979
MANUEL LAGUNZAD, petitioner,
vs.
MARIA SOTO VDA. DE GONZALES and THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
Diosdado P. Peralta for petitioner.
Manuel S. Tonogbanua for private respondent.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
Before us is a Petition for Review by certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
No. 34703, promulgated on January 13, 1970, affirming the Decision of the Court of First Instance of
Negros Occidental, dated June 30, 1964, in Civil Case No. 6414 entitled "Maria Soto Vda. de
Gonzales vs. Manuel Lagunzad," for a Sum of Money and Attachment.
The present controversy stems from a "Licensing Agreement" entered into by and between petitioner
Manuel M. Lagunzad and private respondent Maria Soto Vda. de Gonzales on October 5, 1961,
which contract petitioner claims to be null and void for having been entered into by him under
duress, intimidation and undue influence.
The antecedental facts follow: Sometime in August, 1961, petitioner Manuel Lagunzad, a
newspaperman, began the production of a movie entitled "The Moises Padilla Story" under the name
of his own business outfit, the "MML Productions." It was based mainly on the copyrighted but
unpublished book of Atty. Ernesto Rodriguez, Jr., entitled "The Long Dark Night in Negros" subtitled
"The Moises Padilla Story," 1 the rights to which petitioner had purchased from Atty. Rodriguez in the
amount of P2,000.00. 2

The book narrates the events which culminated in the murder of Moises Padilla sometime between
November 11 and November 17, 1951. Padilla was then a mayoralty candidate of the Nacionalista
Party (then the minority party) for the Municipality of Magallon, Negros Occidental, during the
November, 1951 elections. Governor Rafael Lacson, a member of the Liberal Party then in power
and his men were tried and convicted for that murder inPeople vs. Lacson, et al. 3 In the book, Moises
Padilla is portrayed as "a martyr in contemporary political history."

Although the emphasis of the movie was on the public life of Moises Padilla, there were portions
which dealt with his private and family life including the portrayal in some scenes, of his mother,
Maria Soto Vda. de Gonzales, private respondent herein, and of one "Auring" as his girl friend. 4
The movie was scheduled for a premiere showing on October 16, 1961, or at the very latest, before
the November, 1961 elections.

On October 3, 1961, petitioner received a telephone call from one Mrs. Nelly Amante, half-sister of
Moises Padilla, objecting to the filming of the movie and the "exploitation" of his life. Shown the early
"rushes" of the picture, Mrs. Amante and her sister, Mrs. Gavieres, objected to many portions thereof
notwithstanding petitioner's explanation that the movie had been supervised by Ernesto Rodriguez,
Jr., based on his book "The Long Dark Night in Negros." On October 5, 1961, Mrs. Amante, for and
in behalf of her mother, private respondent, demanded in writing for certain changes, corrections and
deletions in the movie. 5 Petitioner contends that he acceded to the demands because he had already
invested heavily in the picture to the extent of mortgaging his properties, 6in addition to the fact that he
had to meet the scheduled target date of the premiere showing.

On the same date, October 5, 1961, after some bargaining as to the amount to be paid, which was
P50,000.00 at first, then reduced to P20,000.00, 7 petitioner and private respondent, represented by
her daughters and Atty. Ernesto Rodriguez, at the law office of Jalandoni and Jamir, executed a
"Licensing Agreement" reading as follows:

LICENSING AGREEMENT
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:
This Agreement, made and executed at the City of Manila, Philippines, this 5th day of
October, 1961, by and between:
MANUEL M. LAGUNZAD, of legal age, married, presently engaged in
the business of producing motion pictures under the style of "MML
Productions" with residence at 76 Central Boulevard, Quezon City
and with offices at 301 Cu Unjieng Bldg., Escolta, Manila and
hereinafter referred to as LICENSEE,
— and —
MARIA SOTO VDA. DE GONZALES, of legal age, widow, resident of
the Municipality of Moises Padilla, Province of Negros Occidental,
represented in this Act by her Attorneys-in-fact Atty. Ernesto
Rodriguez, Jr. of legal age and resident of 393F-Buencamino St., San
Miguel, Manila; Maria Nelly G. Amazite, of legal age and resident of
121 South 13, Quezon City; and Dolores G, Gavieres, of legal age,
and resident of 511 San Rafael Street, Quiapo, Manila, also duly
authorized and hereinafter referred to as LICENSOR,
WITNESSETH:
That, the LICENSEE is currently producing a motion picture entitled "The Moises
Padilla Story" (hereinafter referred to as the PICTURE, for short) based on certain
episodes in the life of Moises Padilla, now deceased:
That the LICENSOR is the legitimate mother and only surviving compulsory heir of
Moises Padilla, the latter not having married during his lifetime and having died
without any descendants, legitimate or illegitimate;
That, in the PICTURE and in all incidents thereof, such as scenarios,
advertisements, etc., the LICENSEE has, without the prior consent and authority of
LICENSOR, exploited the life story of Moises Padilla for pecuniary gain and other

profit motives, and has, furthermore encroached upon the privacy of Moises Padilla's
immediate family, and has in fact, included in the PICTURE'S cast, persons
portraying some of MOISES PADILLA's kin, including LICENSOR herself;
That, for and in consideration of the foregoing premises and the other covenants and
conditions hereunder stated, the LICENSOR hereby grants authority and permission
to LICENSEE to exploit, use, and develop the life story of Moises Padilla for
purposes of producing the PICTURE, and in connection with matters incidental to
said production, such as advertising and the like, as well as authority and permission
for the use of LICENSOR's name in the PICTURE and have herself portrayed
therein, the authority and permission hereby granted, to retroact to the date when
LICENSEE first committed any of the acts herein authorized.
THE CONDITIONS AND OTHER COVENANTS OF THIS AGREEMENT ARE AS
FOLLOWS:
1. For and in consideration of the authority and permission hereby granted by
LICENSOR to LICENSEE, LICENSEE shall pay LICENSOR, through Atty. Lope E.
Adriano at the Pelaez and Jalandoni Law Office, 6th Floor, Magsaysay Bldg., San
Luis, Ermita, Manila, the following:
a) The sum of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00),
Philippine Currency, payable without need of further demand, as
follows: P5,000.00 on or before Oct. 10, 1961; P10,000.00 on or
before Oct. 31, 1961; and P5,000.00 on or before November 30,
1961. In default of the payment of any of these amounts as they fall
due, the others become immediately due and demandable.
b) A royalty in such amount corresponding to TWO AND A HALF
PER CENTUM (2-½ %) of all gross income or receipts derived by,
and/or for and in behalf of, LICENSEE as rentals and or percentage
of box office receipts from exhibitors and others for the right to
exploit, use, distribute and/or exhibit the picture anywhere here in the
Philippines or abroad.
2) The LICENSEE agrees to keep complete, true and accurate books of accounts,
contracts and vouchers relating to the exploitation, distribution and exhibition of the
PICTURE, the bookings thereof and the rentals and gross receipts therefrom, and to
give to LICENSOR and/or her accredited representatives, full access at all
reasonable times to all of the said books, accounts, records, vouchers and all other
papers.
3) The LICENSEE shall furnish LICENSOR monthly statements in duplicate, showing
in detail the gross receipts accruing from the picture, which monthly statements shall
be delivered to the LICENSOR with reasonable promptness, and upon verification
and approval of said statements by LICENSOR, the LICENSEE shall pay the
corresponding royalties due to the LICENSOR.
4) The authority and permission herein granted is subject to the condition that
LICENSEE shall change, delete, and/or correct such portions in the PICTURE as the
LICENSOR may require, in writing before final printing of the PICTURE, and shall,

furthermore, not be understood as a consent to anything in the picture that is, or
tends to be, derogatory to the deceased MOISES PADILLA or to LICENSOR.
5) The LICENSOR shall not in any way be liable on any claim from third persons as a
result of, or arising from, the manner by which the PICTURE is put together, nor on
any claim arising from the production, distribution and exhibition of the PICTURE,
and in the event of any such claim being asserted against LICENSOR, the
LICENSEE undertakes to hold LICENSOR harmless thereon.
6) This agreement shall be binding upon the parties hereto, their representatives,
administrators, successors and assigns.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have hereunto set their hands on the date and
at the place first above stated.
MARIA SOTO VDA. DE GONZALES MANUEL M. LAGUNZAD
Licensor Licensee
By:
(Sgd.) ERNESTO R. RODRIGUEZ, Jr.
(Sgd.) MARIA NELLY G. AMANTE
(Sgd.) DOLORES G. GAVIERES
Attorneys-in-fact
SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF:
LOPE E. ADRIANO ILLEGIBLE
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Petitioner takes the position that he was pressured into signing the Agreement because of private
respondent's demand, through Mrs. Amante, for payment for the "exploitation" of the life story of
Moises Padilla, otherwise, she would "call a press conference declaring the whole picture as a fake,
fraud and a hoax and would denounce the whole thing in the press, radio, television and that they
were going to Court to stop the picture." 8
On October 10, 1961, petitioner paid private respondent the amount of P5,000.00 but contends that
he did so not pursuant to their Agreement but just to placate private respondent. 9
On October 14, 1961, the filming of the movie was completed. On October 16, 1961, a premiere
showing was held at the Hollywood Theatre, Manila, with the Moises Padilla Society as its
sponsor. 10 Subsequently, the movie was shown in different theaters all over the country.
Because petitioner refused to pay any additional amounts pursuant to the Agreement, on December
22, 1961, private respondent instituted the present suit against him praying for judgment in her favor
ordering petitioner 1) to pay her the amount of P15,000.00, with legal interest from the filing of the
Complaint; 2) to render an accounting of the proceeds from the picture and to pay the corresponding
2-1/2% royalty therefrom; 3) to pay attorney's fees equivalent to 20% of the amounts claimed; and 4)
to pay the costs.

Traversing the Complaint, petitioner contended in his Answer that the episodes in the life of Moises
Padilla depicted in the movie were matters of public knowledge and occurred at or about the same
time that the deceased became and was a public figure; that private respondent has no property
right over those incidents; that the Licensing Agreement was without valid cause or consideration
and that he signed the same only because private respondent threatened him with unfounded and
harassing action which would have delayed production; and that he paid private respondent the
amount of P5,000.00 in October, 1961, only because of the coercion and threat employed upon him.
By way of counterclaim, petitioner demanded that the Licensing Agreement be declared null and
void for being without any valid cause; that private respondent be ordered to return to him the
amount of P5,000.00; and that he be paid P50,000.00 by way of moral damages, and P7,500.00 as
attorney's fees.
Private respondent duly filed her Answer to Counterclaim alleging that the transaction between her
and petitioner was entered into freely and voluntarily.
On June 30, 1964, the trial Court rendered a Decision, and decreed in its dispositive portion:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant Manuel
Lagunzad to pay the plaintiff the sum of P15,000.00 with interest at the rate of 6%
per annum from December 22, 1961 up to its complete payment; to order the
defendant to render an accounting of the gross income or proceeds derived from the
exhibition, use and/or rental of the motion picture of "The Moises Padilla Story" and
to pay the plaintiff 2- 1/2% of said gross income; to pay the plaintiff the amount
equivalent to 20% of the amount due the plaintiff under the first cause of action as
attorney's fees; and to pay the costs.
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the latter Court affirmed the judgment. Reconsideration having
been denied by the Court, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari.
Initially, or on June 16, 1970, this Court denied the Petition for lack of merit, but resolved
subsequently to give it due course after petitioner moved for reconsideration on the additional
argument that the movie production was in exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of
expression, and that the Licensing cement is a form of restraint on the freedom of speech and of the
press.
In his Brief, petitioner assigns the following errors to the appellate Court:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN EXERCISING JURISDICTION IN THE
CASE BECAUSE THE JUDGMENT APPEALED FROM WAS INTERLOCUTORY IN
NATURE AND CHARACTER;
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS FAILURE TO MAKE COMPLETE
FINDINGS OF FACTS ON ALL ISSUES BEFORE IT;
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THE LICENSING
AGREEMENT, EXHIBIT "A", NULL AND VOID FOR LACK OF, OR FOR HAVING
AN ILLEGAL CAUSE OR CONSIDERATION OF CONTRACT, PETITIONER
HAVING PREVIOUSLY OBTAINED THE AUTHORITY AND/OR PERMISSION
PURPOSELY GRANTED TO HIM BY RESPONDENT UNDER SAID LICENSING
AGREEMENT;

IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE LICENSING
AGREEMENT, EXHIBIT "A", IS NULL AND VOID; RESPONDENT NOT HAVING
HAD ANY PROPERTY NIGHTS OVER THE INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF MOISES
PADILLA WHO WAS A PUBLIC FIGURE.
V. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE LICENSING
AGREEMENT, EXHIBIT "A", WAS NULL AND VOID, PETITIONER'S CONSENT
HAVING BEEN PROCURED BY MEANS OF DURESS, INTIMIDATION AND
UNDUE INFLUENCE;
VI. THE COURT OF APPEALS, IN UPHOLDING THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY OF
RESPONDENT AS DEFINED IN ART. 26 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE OVER THE
RIGHT OF PETITIONER TO FILM THE PUBLIC LIFE OF A PUBLIC FIGURE,
INFRINGED UPON THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF PETITIONER TO FREE
SPEECH AND FREE PRESS.
We find the assigned errors bereft of merit.
Petitioner's contention that because an accounting had been ordered, respondent Court of Appeals
did not have jurisdiction over the case as the Decision of the lower Court was not yet final and
appealable, is untenable. The doctrine enunciated in Fuentebella vs. Carrascoso 11 relied upon by
petitioner, which held that whether or not the action for accounting is the principal action or is merely
incidental to another, the judgment requiring such accounting cannot be final, has been abandoned
in Miranda vs. Court of Appeals 12 which ruled:

For the guidance of bench and bar, the Court declares as abandoned the doctrine
of Fuentebella vs. Carrascoso and adopts the opposite rule that judgments for
recovery with accounting are final and appealable (without need of awaiting the
accounting) and would become final and executory if not appealed within the
reglementary period.
In other words, where there is complete adjudication and determination of the rights and obligations
of the parties, as in the instant case, an order for accounting in that judgment does not affect its final
character, said accounting being merely incidental to the judgment.
Petitioner's contention that respondent Court failed to make complete findings of fact on all issues
raised before it is without basis. A careful study of the Decision reveals that respondent Court has
substantially and sufficiently complied with the injunction that a decision must state clearly and
distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. The rule remains that the ultimate test as to the
sufficiency of a Court's findings of fact is "whether they are comprehensive enough and pertinent to
the issues raised to provide a basis for decision." 13 The judgment sought to be reviewed sufficiently
complies with this requirement.

Neither do we agree with petitioner's submission that the Licensing Agreement is null and void for
lack of, or for having an illegal cause or consideration. While it is true that petitioner had purchased
the rights to the book entitled "The Moises Padilla Story," that did not dispense with the need for
prior consent and authority from the deceased heirs to portray publicly episodes in said deceased's
life and in that of his mother and the members of his family. As held in Schuyler v. Curtis, 14 "a
privilege may be given the surviving relatives of a deceased person to protect his memory, but the
privilege exists for the benefit of the living, to protect their feelings and to prevent a violation of their own
rights in the character and memory of the deceased."

Petitioner's averment that private respondent did not have any property right over the life of Moises
Padilla since the latter was a public figure, is neither well taken. Being a public figure ipso facto does
not automatically destroy in toto a person's right to privacy. The right to invade a person's privacy to
disseminate public information does not extend to a fictional or novelized representation of a person,
no matter how public a figure he or she may be.15 In the case at bar, while it is true that petitioner
exerted efforts to present a true-to-life story of Moises Padilla, petitioner admits that he included a little
romance in the film because without it, it would be a drab story of torture and brutality. 16

We also find it difficult to sustain petitioner's posture that his consent to the Licensing Agreement
was procured thru duress, intimidation and undue influence exerted on him by private respondent
and her daughters at a time when he had exhausted his financial resources, the premiere showing of
the picture was imminent, and "time was of the essence." As held in Martinez vs. Hongkong &
Shanghai Bank, 17 it is necessary to distinguish between real duress and the motive which is present
when one gives his consent reluctantly. A contract is valid even though one of the parties entered into it
against his own wish and desires, or even against his better judgment. In legal effect, there is no
difference between a contract wherein one of the contracting parties exchanges one condition for another
because he looks for greater profit or gain by reason of such change, and an agreement wherein one of
the contracting parties agrees to accept the lesser of two disadvantages. In either case, he makes a
choice free and untramelled and must accordingly abide by it. The Licensing Agreement has the force of
law between the contracting parties and since its provisions are not contrary to law, morals, good
customs, public order or public policy (Art. 1306, Civil Code), petitioner Should comply with it in good
faith.

Lastly, neither do we find merit in petitioner's contention that the Licensing Agreement infringes on
the constitutional right of freedom of speech and of the press, in that, as a citizen and as a
newspaperman, he had the right to express his thoughts in film on the public life of Moises Padilla
without prior restraint. The right of freedom of expression, indeed, occupies a preferred position in
the "hierarchy of civil liberties." 18 It is not, however, without limitations. As held in Gonzales vs.
Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA 835, 858 (1969):

From the language of the specific constitutional provision, it would appear that the
right is not susceptible of any limitation. No law may be passed abridging the
freedom of speech and of the press. The realities of life in a complex society
preclude however, a literal interpretation. Freedom of expression is not an absolute.
It would be too much to insist that at all times and under all circumstances it should
remain unfettered and unrestrained. There are other societal values that press for
recognition.
The prevailing doctrine is that the clear and present danger rule is such a limitation. Another criterion
for permissible limitation on freedom of speech and of the press, which includes such vehicles of the
mass media as radio, television and the movies, is the "balancing-of-interests test." 19 The principle i
requires a court to take conscious and detailed consideration of the interplay of interests observable in a
given situation or type of situation." 20

In the case at bar, the interests observable are the right to privacy asserted by respondent and the
right of -freedom of expression invoked by petitioner. Taking into account the interplay of those
interests, we hold that under the particular circumstances presented, and considering the obligations
assumed in the Licensing Agreement entered into by petitioner, the validity of such agreement will
have to be upheld particularly because the limits of freedom of expression are reached when
expression touches upon matters of essentially private concern.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is denied and the judgment appealed from hereby affirmed.
Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
Makasiar, Fernandez, Guerrero and De Castro, JJ., concur.
Teehankee, (Chairman), J, concur in the result.

#Footnotes
1 T.s.n., Oct. 2, 1962, p. 6, see also EXH. 1, p. 49, Folder of Exhibits.
2 T.s.n., October 2, 1962, p. 18.
3 111 Phil. 1 (1 961).
4 Exh. 2, Film Treatment, p. 76, Folder of Exhibits.
5 Exh. B-Deposition, pp. 170-171, Ibid.
6 T.s.n., October 2, 1962, p. 38.
7 T.s.n., Oct. 2, 1962, p. 40; T.s.n., Jan. 10, 1963, p. 14.
8 T.s.n., Oct. 2, 1962, pp. 35-37
9 T.s.n., Oct. 2, 1962, pp. 43-44.
10 p. 114, Folder of Exhibits.
11 G.R. No. L-48102, May 27, 1942, Unreported.
12 71 SCRA 259 (1976).
13 Ceriñan vs. Consolacion, 5 SCRA 722 (1962).
14 (1895), 147 NY 434, 42 NE, 31 LRA 286, 49 Am St Rep 671.
15 Garner vs. Triangle Publications, DCNY, 97 F. Supp., 564, 549 (1951).
16 T.s.n., Oct. 2,1962, p. 21.
17 15 Phil. 252 (1910).
18 Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization vs. Philippine Blooming Mills
Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 191 (1963).
19 Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando on the Bill of Rights, 1970 ed., p. 79,

20 Separate Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro in Gonzales vs. Commission on
Elections,supra, p. 899.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 82380 April 29, 1988
AYER PRODUCTIONS PTY. LTD. and McELROY & McELROY FILM
PRODUCTIONS, petitioners,
vs.
HON.IGNACIO M. CAPULONG and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, respondents.
G.R. No. 82398 April 29, 1988
HAL MCELROY petitioner,
vs.
HON. IGNACIO M. CAPULONG, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court
of Makati, Branch 134 and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, respondents.

FELICIANO, J.:
Petitioner Hal McElroy an Australian film maker, and his movie production company, Petitioner Ayer
Productions pty Ltd. (Ayer Productions), 1 envisioned, sometime in 1987, the for commercial viewing
and for Philippine and international release, the histolic peaceful struggle of the Filipinos at EDSA
(Epifanio de los Santos Avenue). Petitioners discussed this Project with local movie producer Lope V.
Juban who suggested th they consult with the appropriate government agencies and also with General
Fidel V. Ramos and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who had played major roles in the events proposed to be
filmed.

The proposed motion picture entitled "The Four Day Revolution" was endorsed by the Movie
Television Review and Classification Board as wel as the other government agencies consulted.
General Fidel Ramos also signified his approval of the intended film production.
In a letter dated 16 December 1987, petitioner Hal McElroy informed private respondent Juan Ponce
Enrile about the projected motion picture enclosing a synopsis of it, the full text of which is set out
below:
The Four Day Revolution is a six hour mini-series about People Power—a unique
event in modern history that-made possible the Peaceful revolution in the Philippines
in 1986.
Faced with the task of dramatising these rerkble events, screenwriter David
Williamson and history Prof Al McCoy have chosen a "docu-drama" style and created
[four] fictitious characters to trace the revolution from the death of Senator Aquino, to
the Feb revolution and the fleeing of Marcos from the country.
These character stories have been woven through the real events to help our huge
international audience understand this ordinary period inFilipino history.

First, there's Tony O'Neil, an American television journalist working for major
network. Tony reflects the average American attitude to the Phihppinence —once a
colony, now the home of crucially important military bases. Although Tony is aware of
the corruption and of Marcos' megalomania, for him, there appears to be no
alternative to Marcos except the Communists.
Next, Angie Fox a fiery Australian photo-journalist. A 'new girl in town,' she is quickly
caught up in the events as it becomes dear that the time has come for a change.
Through Angle and her relationship with one of the Reform Army Movement Colonels
(a fictitious character), we follow the developing discontent in the armed forces. Their
dislike for General Ver, their strong loyalty to Defense Minister Enrile, and ultimately
their defection from Marcos.
The fourth fictitious character is Ben Balano, a middle-aged editor of a Manila
newspaper who despises the Marcos regime and is a supporter an promoter of Cory
Aquino. Ben has two daughters, Cehea left wing lawyer who is a secret member of
the New People's Army, and Eva--a -P.R. girl, politically moderate and very much in
love with Tony. Ultimately, she must choose between her love and the revolution.
Through the interviews and experiences of these central characters, we show the
complex nature of Filipino society, and thintertwining series of events and characters
that triggered these remarkable changes. Through them also, we meet all of the
principal characters and experience directly dramatic recreation of the revolution.
The story incorporates actual documentary footage filmed during the period which we
hope will capture the unique atmosphere and forces that combined to overthrow
President Marcos.
David Williamson is Australia's leading playwright with some 14 hugely successful
plays to his credit(Don's Party,' 'The Club,' Travelling North) and 11 feature films
(The Year of Living Dangerously,' Gallipoli,' 'Phar Lap').
Professor McCoy (University of New South Wales) is an American historian with a
deep understanding of the Philippines, who has worked on the research for this
project for some 18 months. Together with Davi Wilhamgon they have developed a
script we believe accurately depicts the complex issues and events that occurred
during th period .
The six hour series is a McElroy and McElroy co-production with Home Box Office in
American, the Australian Broadcast Corporation in Australia and Zenith Productions
in the United Kingdom
The proposed motion picture would be essentially a re-enact. ment of the events that made possible
the EDSA revolution; it is designed to be viewed in a six-hour mini-series television play, presented
in a "docu-drama" style, creating four (4) fictional characters interwoven with real events, and
utilizing actual documentary footage as background.
On 21 December 1987, private respondent Enrile replied that "[he] would not and will not approve of
the use, appropriation, reproduction and/or exhibition of his name, or picture, or that of any member
of his family in any cinema or television production, film or other medium for advertising or
commercial exploitation" and further advised petitioners that 'in the production, airing, showing,
distribution or exhibition of said or similar film, no reference whatsoever (whether written, verbal or

visual) should not be made to [him] or any member of his family, much less to any matter purely
personal to them.
It appears that petitioners acceded to this demand and the name of private respondent Enrile was
deleted from the movie script, and petitioners proceeded to film the projected motion picture.
On 23 February 1988, private respondent filed a Complaint with application for Temporary
Restraining Order and Wilt of Pretion with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, docketed as Civil Case
No. 88-151 in Branch 134 thereof, seeking to enjoin petitioners from producing the movie "The Four
Day Revolution". The complaint alleged that petitioners' production of the mini-series without private
respondent's consent and over his objection, constitutes an obvious violation of his right of privacy.
On 24 February 1988, the trial court issued ex-parte a Temporary Restraining Order and set for
hearing the application for preliminary injunction.
On 9 March 1988, Hal McElroy flied a Motion to Dismiss with Opposition to the Petition for
Preliminary Injunction contending that the mini-series fim would not involve the private life of Juan
Ponce Enrile nor that of his family and that a preliminary injunction would amount to a prior restraint
on their right of free expression. Petitioner Ayer Productions also filed its own Motion to Dismiss
alleging lack of cause of action as the mini-series had not yet been completed.
In an Order 2 dated 16 March 1988, respondent court issued a writ of Preliminary Injunction against the
petitioners, the dispositive portion of which reads thus:

WHEREFORE, let a writ of preliminary injunction be issued, ordering defendants,
and all persons and entities employed or under contract with them, including actors,
actresses and members of the production staff and crew as well as all persons and
entities acting on defendants' behalf, to cease and desist from producing and filming
the mini-series entitled 'The Four Day Revolution" and from making any reference
whatsoever to plaintiff or his family and from creating any fictitious character in lieu of
plaintiff which nevertheless is based on, or bears rent substantial or marked
resemblance or similarity to, or is otherwise Identifiable with, plaintiff in the
production and any similar film or photoplay, until further orders from this Court, upon
plaintiff's filing of a bond in the amount of P 2,000,000.00, to answer for whatever
damages defendants may suffer by reason of the injunction if the Court should finally
decide that plaintiff was not entitled thereto.
xxx xxx xxx
(Emphasis supplied)
On 22 March 1988, petitioner Ayer Productions came to this Court by a Petition for certiorari dated
21 March 1988 with an urgent prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Restraining Order, which petition
was docketed as G.R. No. L-82380.
A day later, or on 23 March 1988, petitiioner Hal McElroy also filed separate Petition for certiorari
with Urgent Prayer for a Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction, dated 22 March 1988, docketed
as G.R. No. L-82398.
By a Resolution dated 24 March 1988, the petitions were consolidated and private respondent was
required to file a consolidated Answer. Further, in the same Resolution, the Court granted a
Temporary Restraining Order partially enjoining the implementation of the respondent Judge's Order
of 16 March 1988 and the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued therein, and allowing the petitioners

to resume producing and filming those portions of the projected mini-series which do not make any
reference to private respondent or his family or to any fictitious character based on or respondent.
Private respondent seasonably filed his Consolidated Answer on 6 April 1988 invoking in the main a
right of privacy.
I
The constitutional and legal issues raised by the present Petitions are sharply drawn. Petitioners'
claim that in producing and "The Four Day Revolution," they are exercising their freedom of speech
and of expression protected under our Constitution. Private respondent, upon the other hand,
asserts a right of privacy and claims that the production and filming of the projected mini-series
would constitute an unlawful intrusion into his privacy which he is entitled to enjoy.
Considering first petitioners' claim to freedom of speech and of expression the Court would once
more stress that this freedom includes the freedom to film and produce motion pictures and to
exhibit such motion pictures in theaters or to diffuse them through television. In our day and age,
motion pictures are a univesally utilized vehicle of communication and medium Of expression. Along
with the press, radio and television, motion pictures constitute a principal medium of mass
communication for information, education and entertainment. In Gonzales v. Katigbak, 3 former Chief
Justice Fernando, speaking for the Court, explained:

1. Motion pictures are important both as a medium for the communication of Ideas
and the expression of the artistic impulse. Their effect on the perception by our
people of issues and public officials or public figures as well as the pre cultural traits
is considerable. Nor as pointed out inBurstyn v. Wilson (343 US 495 [19421) is the
Importance of motion pictures as an organ of public opinion lessened by the fact that
they are designed to entertain as well as to inform' (Ibid, 501). There is no clear
dividing line between what involves knowledge and what affords pleasure. If such a
distinction were sustained, there is a diminution of the basic right to free expression.
... 4
This freedom is available in our country both to locally-owned and to foreign-owned motion picture
companies. Furthermore the circumstance that the production of motion picture films is a commercial
activity expected to yield monetary profit, is not a disqualification for availing of freedom of speech
and of expression. In our community as in many other countries, media facilities are owned either by
the government or the private sector but the private sector-owned media facilities commonly require
to be sustained by being devoted in whole or in pailt to revenue producing activities. Indeed,
commercial media constitute the bulk of such facilities available in our country and hence to exclude
commercially owned and operated media from the exerciseof constitutionally protected om of
speech and of expression can only result in the drastic contraction of such constitutional liberties in
our country.
The counter-balancing of private respondent is to a right of privacy. It was demonstrated sometime
ago by the then Dean Irene R. Cortes that our law, constitutional and statutory, does include a right
of privacy. 5 It is left to case law, however, to mark out the precise scope and content of this right in
differing types of particular situations. The right of privacy or "the right to be let alone," 6 like the right of
free expression, is not an absolute right. A limited intrusion into a person's privacy has long been
regarded as permissible where that person is a public figure and the information sought to be elicited from
him or to be published about him constitute of apublic character. 7 Succinctly put, the right of privacy
cannot be invoked resist publication and dissemination of matters of public interest. 8 The interest sought
to be protected by the right of privacy is the right to be free from unwarranted publicity, from

the wrongful publicizing of the private affairs and activities of an individual which are outside the realm of
legitimate public concern. 9

Lagunzad v. Vda. de Gonzales, 10 on which private respondent relies heavily, recognized a right to
privacy in a context which included a claim to freedom of speech and of expression. Lagunzad involved a
suit fortion picture producer as licensee and the widow and family of the late Moises Padilla as licensors.
This agreement gave the licensee the right to produce a motion Picture Portraying the life of Moises
Padilla, a mayoralty candidate of the Nacionalista Party for the Municipality of Magallon, Negros
Occidental during the November 1951 elections and for whose murder, Governor Rafael Lacson, a
member of the Liberal Party then in power and his men were tried and convicted. 11 In the judgment of the
lower court enforcing the licensing agreement against the licensee who had produced the motion picture
and exhibited it but refused to pay the stipulated royalties, the Court, through Justice Melencio-Herrera,
said:

Neither do we agree with petitioner's subon that the Licensing Agreement is null and
void for lack of, or for having an illegal cause or consideration, while it is true that
petitioner bad pled the rights to the book entitled "The Moises Padilla Story," that did
not dispense with the need for prior consent and authority from the deceased heirs to
portray publicly episodes in said deceased's life and in that of his mother and the
member of his family. As held in Schuyler v. Curtis, ([1895],147 NY 434,42 NE 31
LRA 286.49 Am St Rep 671), 'a privilege may be given the surviving relatives of a
deperson to protect his memory, but the privilege wts for the benefit of the living, to
protect their feelings and to preventa violation of their own rights in the character and
memory of the deceased.'
Petitioners averment that private respondent did not have any property right over the
life of Moises Padilla since the latter was a public figure, is neither well taken. Being
a public figure ipso facto does not automatically destroy in toto a person's right to
privacy. The right to invade a person's privacy to disseminate public information does
not extend to a fictional or novelized representation of a person, no matter how public
a he or she may be (Garner v. Triangle Publications, DCNY 97 F. Supp., SU 549
[1951]). In the case at bar, while it is true that petitioner exerted efforts to present a
true-to-life Story Of Moises Padilla, petitioner admits that he included a little romance
in the film because without it, it would be a drab story of torture and brutality. 12
In Lagunzad, the Court had need, as we have in the instant case, to deal with contraposed claims to
freedom of speech and of expression and to privacy. Lagunzad the licensee in effect claimed, in the
name of freedom of speech and expression, a right to produce a motion picture biography at least
partly "fictionalized" of Moises Padilla without the consent of and without paying pre-agreed royalties
to the widow and family of Padilla. In rejecting the licensee's claim, the Court said:
Lastly, neither do we find merit in petitioners contention that the Licensing Agreement
infringes on the constitutional right of freedom of speech and of the press, in that, as
a citizen and as a newspaperman, he had the right to express his thoughts in film on
the public life of Moises Padilla without prior restraint.The right freedom of
expression, indeed, occupies a preferred position in the "hierarchy of civil liberties"
(Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co.,
Inc., 51 SCRA 191 [1963]). It is not, however, without limitations. As held in Gonzales
v. Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA 835, 858 [1960]:
xxx xxx xxx

The prevailing doctine is that the clear and present danger rule is such a limitation.
Another criterion for permissible limitation on freedom of speech and the press,
which includes such vehicles of the mass media as radio, television and the movies,
is the "balancing of interest test" (Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando on the Bill of
Rights, 1970 ed. p. 79). The principle "requires a court to take conscious and detailed
consideration of the interplay of interests observable in given situation or type of
situation" (Separation Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro in Gonzales v.
Commission on Elections, supra, p. 899).
In the case at bar, the interests observable are the right to privacy asserted by
respondent and the right of freedom of expression invoked by petitioner. taking into
account the interplay of those interests, we hold that under the particular
circumstances presented, and considering the obligations assumed in the Licensing
Agreement entered into by petitioner, the validity of such agreement will have to be
upheld particularly because the limits of freedom of expression are reached when
expression touches upon matters of essentially private concern." 13
Whether the "balancing of interests test" or the clear and present danger test" be applied in respect
of the instant Petitions, the Court believes that a different conclusion must here be reached: The
production and filming by petitioners of the projected motion picture "The Four Day Revolution" does
not, in the circumstances of this case, constitute an unlawful intrusion upon private respondent's
"right of privacy."
1. It may be observed at the outset that what is involved in the instant case is a prior and direct
restraint on the part of the respondent Judge upon the exercise of speech and of expression by
petitioners. The respondent Judge has restrained petitioners from filming and producing the entire
proposed motion picture. It is important to note that in Lagunzad, there was no prior restrain of any
kind imposed upon the movie producer who in fact completed and exhibited the film biography of
Moises Padilla. Because of the speech and of expression, a weighty presumption of invalidity
vitiates. 14 The invalidity of a measure of prior restraint doesnot, of course, mean that no subsequent
liability may lawfully be imposed upon a person claiming to exercise such constitutional freedoms. The
respondent Judge should have stayed his hand, instead of issuing an ex-parte Temporary Restraining
Order one day after filing of a complaint by the private respondent and issuing a Preliminary Injunction
twenty (20) days later; for the projected motion picture was as yet uncompleted and hence not exhibited
to any audience. Neither private respondent nor the respondent trial Judge knew what the completed film
would precisely look like. There was, in other words, no "clear and present danger" of any violation of any
right to privacy that private respondent could lawfully assert.

2. The subject matter of "The Four Day Revolution" relates to the non-bloody change of government
that took place at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in February 1986, and the trian of events which led
up to that denouement. Clearly, such subject matter is one of public interest and concern. Indeed, it
is, petitioners' argue, of international interest. The subject thus relates to a highly critical stage in the
history of this countryand as such, must be regarded as having passed into the public domain and
as an appropriate subject for speech and expression and coverage by any form of mass media. The
subject mater, as set out in the synopsis provided by the petitioners and quoted above, does not
relate to the individual life and certainly not to the private life of private respondent Ponce Enrile.
Unlike in Lagunzad, which concerned the life story of Moises Padilla necessarily including at least
his immediate family, what we have here is not a film biography, more or less fictionalized, of private
respondent Ponce Enrile. "The Four Day Revolution" is not principally about, nor is it focused upon,
the man Juan Ponce Enrile' but it is compelled, if it is to be historical, to refer to the role played by
Juan Ponce Enrile in the precipitating and the constituent events of the change of government in
February 1986.

3. The extent of the instrusion upon the life of private respondent Juan Ponce Enrile that would be
entailed by the production and exhibition of "The Four Day Revolution" would, therefore, be limited in
character. The extent of that intrusion, as this Court understands the synopsis of the proposed film,
may be generally described as such intrusion as is reasonably necessary to keep that film a truthful
historical account. Private respondent does not claim that petitioners threatened to depict in "The
Four Day Revolution" any part of the private life of private respondent or that of any member of his
family.
4. At all relevant times, during which the momentous events, clearly of public concern, that
petitioners propose to film were taking place, private respondent was what Profs. Prosser and
Keeton have referred to as a "public figure:"
A public figure has been defined as a person who, by his accomplishments, fame, or
mode of living, or by adopting a profession or calling which gives the public a
legitimate interest in his doings, his affairs, and his character, has become a 'public
personage.' He is, in other words, a celebrity. Obviously to be included in this
category are those who have achieved some degree of reputation by appearing
before the public, as in the case of an actor, a professional baseball player, a pugilist,
or any other entertainment. The list is, however, broader than this. It includes public
officers, famous inventors and explorers, war heroes and even ordinary soldiers, an
infant prodigy, and no less a personage than the Grand Exalted Ruler of a lodge. It
includes, in short, anyone who has arrived at a position where public attention is
focused upon him as a person.
Such public figures were held to have lost, to some extent at least, their tight to
privacy. Three reasons were given, more or less indiscrimately, in the decisions" that
they had sought publicity and consented to it, and so could not complaint when they
received it; that their personalities and their affairs has already public, and could no
longer be regarded as their own private business; and that the press had a privilege,
under the Constitution, to inform the public about those who have become legitimate
matters of public interest. On one or another of these grounds, and sometimes all, it
was held that there was no liability when they were given additional publicity, as to
matters legitimately within the scope of the public interest they had aroused.
The privilege of giving publicity to news, and other matters of public interest, was
held to arise out of the desire and the right of the public to know what is going on in
the world, and the freedom of the press and other agencies of information to tell
it. "News" includes all events and items of information which are out of the ordinary
hum-drum routine, and which have 'that indefinable quality of information which
arouses public attention.' To a very great extent the press, with its experience or
instinct as to what its readers will want, has succeeded in making its own definination
of news, as a glance at any morning newspaper will sufficiently indicate. It includes
homicide and othe crimes, arrests and police raides, suicides, marriages and
divorces, accidents, a death from the use of narcotics, a woman with a rare disease,
the birth of a child to a twelve year old girl, the reappearance of one supposed to
have been murdered years ago, and undoubtedly many other similar matters of
genuine, if more or less deplorable, popular appeal.
The privilege of enlightening the public was not, however, limited, to the
dissemination of news in the scene of current events. It extended also to information
or education, or even entertainment and amusement, by books, articles, pictures,
films and broadcasts concerning interesting phases of human activity in general, as

well as the reproduction of the public scene in newsreels and travelogues. In
determining where to draw the line, the courts were invited to exercise a species of
censorship over what the public may be permitted to read; and they were
understandably liberal in allowing the benefit of the doubt. 15
Private respondent is a "public figure" precisely because, inter alia, of his participation as a principal
actor in the culminating events of the change of government in February 1986. Because his
participation therein was major in character, a film reenactment of the peaceful revolution that fails to
make reference to the role played by private respondent would be grossly unhistorical. The right of
privacy of a "public figure" is necessarily narrower than that of an ordinary citizen. Private
respondent has not retired into the seclusion of simple private citizenship. he continues to be a
"public figure." After a successful political campaign during which his participation in the EDSA
Revolution was directly or indirectly referred to in the press, radio and television, he sits in a very
public place, the Senate of the Philippines.
5. The line of equilibrium in the specific context of the instant case between the constitutional
freedom of speech and of expression and the right of privacy, may be marked out in terms of a
requirement that the proposed motion picture must be fairly truthful and historical in its presentation
of events. There must, in other words, be no knowing or reckless disregard of truth in depicting the
participation of private respondent in the EDSA Revolution. 16 There must, further, be no
presentation of the private life of the unwilling private respondent and certainly no revelation of
intimate or embarrassing personal facts. 17 The proposed motion picture should not enter into what
Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera in Lagunzad referred to as "matters of essentially private concern."
18 To the extent that "The Four Day Revolution" limits itself in portraying the participation of private
respondent in the EDSA Revolution to those events which are directly and reasonably related to
the public facts of the EDSA Revolution, the intrusion into private respondent's privacy cannot be
regarded as unreasonable and actionable. Such portrayal may be carried out even without a license
from private respondent.
II
In a Manifestation dated 30 March 1988, petitioner Hal McElroy informed this Court that a
Temporary Restraining Order dated 25 March 1988, was issued by Judge Teofilo Guadiz of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 147, in Civil Case No. 88-413, entitled "Gregorio B. Honasan
vs. Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd., McElroy Film Productions, Hal McElroy, Lope Juban and PMP Motion
for Pictures Production" enjoining him and his production company from further filimg any scene of
the projected mini-series film. Petitioner alleged that Honasan's complaint was a "scissors and
paste" pleading, cut out straight grom the complaint of private respondent Ponce Enrile in Civil Case
No. 88-151. Petitioner Ayer Productions, in a separate Manifestation dated 4 April 1988, brought to
the attention of the Court the same information given by petitoner Hal McElroy, reiterating that the
complaint of Gregorio B. Honasan was substantially identical to that filed by private respondent
herein and stating that in refusing to join Honasan in Civil Case No. 88-151, counsel for private
respondent, with whom counsel for Gregorio Honasan are apparently associated, deliberately
engaged in "forum shopping."
Private respondent filed a Counter-Manifestation on 13 April 1988 stating that the "slight similarity"
between private respondent's complaint and that on Honasan in the construction of their legal basis
of the right to privacy as a component of the cause of action is understandable considering that court
pleadings are public records; that private respondent's cause of action for invasion of privacy is
separate and distinct from that of Honasan's although they arose from the same tortious act of
petitioners' that the rule on permissive joinder of parties is not mandatory and that, the cited cases

on "forum shopping" were not in point because the parties here and those in Civil Case No. 88-413
are not identical.
For reasons that by now have become clear, it is not necessary for the Court to deal with the
question of whether or not the lawyers of private respondent Ponce Enrile have engaged in "forum
shopping." It is, however, important to dispose to the complaint filed by former Colonel Honasan
who, having refused to subject himself to the legal processes of the Republic and having become
once again in fugitive from justice, must be deemed to have forfeited any right the might have had to
protect his privacy through court processes.
WHEREFORE,
a) the Petitions for Certiorari are GRANTED DUE COURSE, and the Order dated 16 March 1988 of
respondent trial court granting a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is hereby SET ASIDE. The limited
Temporary Restraining Order granted by this Court on 24 March 1988 is hereby MODIFIED by
enjoining unqualifiedly the implementation of respondent Judge's Order of 16 March 1988 and made
PERMANENT, and
b) Treating the Manifestations of petitioners dated 30 March 1988 and 4 April 1988 as separate
Petitions for Certiorari with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Restraining Order, the Court, in the
exercise of its plenary and supervisory jurisdiction, hereby REQUIRES Judge Teofilo Guadiz of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 147, forthwith to DISMISS Civil Case No. 88-413 and
accordingly to SET ASIDE and DISSOLVE his Temporary Restraining Order dated 25 March 1988
and any Preliminary Injunction that may have been issued by him.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Yap, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin,
Sarmiento, Cortes and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 On April 7, 1988, petitioners, in G.R. No. 82380 asked for deletion Production's as
party petitioner qqqt company but merely a corporate tradename used by Ayer
Productions. "McElroy and McElroy Film Production's" will therefore be disregarded
in this Decision.
2 Annex "A" of the Petitions.
3 137 SCRA 717 (1985).
4 137 SCRA at 723.
5 The Constitutional Foundations of Privacy," in Cortes, Emerging Trends in Law,
pp.1-70 (Univ. of the Philippines Press, 1983). This lecture was originally delivered in
1970.

6 See Cortes, supra, Note 5 at 12 et seq. where she traces the history of the
development of privacy as a concept
7 Prosser and Keeton on Torts, 5th ed., pp. 854-863 (1984); and see, e.g., Strykers
v. Republic Producers Corp., 238 P. 2d 670 (1952).
8 Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S. 425, 63 L Ed. 2d 867 (1977).
9 Smith v. National Broadcasting Co., 292 P 2d 600 (1956); underscoring supplied.
10 92 SCRA 476 (1979).
11 People v. Lacson, et al., 111 Phil. 1 (1961).
12 92 SCRA 486-487.
13 92 SCRA at 488-489; Emphasis supplied.
14 Mutuc v. Commission on Elections, 36 SCRA 228 (1970); New York Items Co. v.
United States,403 U.S. 713, 29 L Ed, 2d 822 (1971); Times Film Corporation v. City
of Chicago, 365 U.S. 43 5 L Ed. 2d 403 (1961); Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 67 L Ed.
1357 (1931).
15 Prosper and Keeton on Torts, 5th ed. at 859-861 (1984); underscoring supplied

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
VICENTE SOTTO

January 21, 1949

In re VICENTE SOTTO, for contempt of court.
Vicente Sotto in his own behalf.
FERIA, J.:
This is a proceeding for contempt of our court against the respondent Atty. Vicente Sotto, who was
required by their Court on December 7, 1948, to show cause why he should not be punished for
contempt to court for having issued a written statement in connection with the decision of this Court
in In re Angel Parazo for contempt of court, which statement, as published in the Manila Times and
other daily newspapers of the locality, reads as follows:
As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic Act No. 53.) interpreted by the Supreme
Court in the case of Angel Parazo, reporter of a local daily, who now has to suffer 30 days
imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge the source of a news published in his paper, I regret
to say that our High Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is once
more putting in evidence the incompetency of narrow mindedness o the majority of its
members, In the wake of so many mindedness of the majority deliberately committed during
these last years, I believe that the only remedy to put an end to so much evil, is to change
the members of the Supreme Court. To his effect, I announce that one of the first measures,
which as its objects the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now
constituted, a constant peril to liberty and democracy. It need be said loudly, very loudly, so
that even the deaf may hear: the Supreme Court very of today is a far cry from the
impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino
Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the
Philippine Judiciary.
Upon his request, the respondent was granted ten days more besides the five originally given him to
file his answer, and although his answer was filed after the expiration of the period of time given him
the said answer was admitted. This Court could have rendered a judgment for contempt after
considering his answer, because he does not deny the authenticity of the statement as it has been
published. But, in order to give the respondent ample opportunity to defend himself or justify the
publication of such libelous statement, the case was set for hearing or oral argument on January 4,
the hearing being later postponed to January 10, 1949. As the respondent did not appear at the date
set for hearing, the case was submitted for decision.
In his answer, the respondent does not deny having published the above quoted threat, and
intimidation as well as false and calumnious charges against this Supreme Court. But he therein
contends that under section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, which confers upon this Supreme
Court the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure, "this Court has
no power to impose correctional penalties upon the citizens, and that the Supreme Court can only
impose fines and imprisonment by virtue of a law, and has to be promulgated by Congress with the
approval of the Chief Executive." And he also alleges in his answer that "in the exercise of the
freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, the respondent made his statement in the press

with the utmost good faith and with no intention of offending any of the majority of the honorable
members of this high Tribunal, who, in his opinion, erroneously decided the Parazo case; but he has
not attacked, or intended to attack the honesty or integrity of any one.' The other arguments set forth
by the respondent in his defenses observe no consideration.
Rules 64 of the rules promulgated by this court does not punish as for contempt of court an act
which was not punishable as such under the law and the inherent powers of the court to punish for
contempt. The provisions of section 1 and 3 of said Rule 64 are a mere reproduction of section 231
and 232 of the old Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, amended, in connection with the doctrine
laid down by this Court on the inherent power if the superior courts to punish for contempt is several
cases, among them In re Kelly, 35 Phil., 944. That the power to punish for contempt is inherent in all
courts of superior statue, is a doctrine or principle uniformly accepted and applied by the courts of
last resort in the United States, which is applicable in this jurisdiction since our Constitution and
courts of justice are patterned as expounded in American Jurisprudence is as follows:
The power of inflicting punishment upon persons guilty of contempt of court may be regarded
as an essential element of judicial authority, IT is possessed as a part of the judicial authority
granted to courts created by the Constitution of the United States or by the Constitutions of
the several states. It is a power said to be inherent in all courts general jurisdiction, whether
they are State or Federal; such power exists in courts of general jurisdiction independently of
any special express grant of statute. In many instances the right of certain courts of tribunals
to punish for contempt is expressly bestowed by statue, but such statutory authorization is
unnecessary, so far as the courts of general jurisdiction are concerned, and in general adds
nothing statutory authority may be necessary as concerns the inferior courts statutory
authority may be necessary to empower them to act. (Contempt, 12 Jur., pp. 418, 419.)
In conformity with the principle enunciated in the above quotation from American Jurisprudence, this
Court, in In re Kelly, held the following:
The publication of a criticism of a party or of the court to a pending cause, respecting the
same, has always been considered as misbehavior, tending to obstruct the administration of
justice, and subjects such persons to contempt proceedings. Parties have a constitutional
right to have their fairly in court, by an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publications or
public clamor. Every citizen has a profound personal interest in the enforcement of the
fundamental right to have justice administered by the courts, under the protection and forms
of law, free from outside coercion or interference. Any publication, pending a suit, reflecting
upon the upon court, the parties, the officers of the court, the counsel, etc., with reference to
the suit, or tending to influence the decision of the controversy, is contempt of court and is
punishable. The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all court. The summary power to
commit and punish for contempt tending to obstructed or degrade the administration of
justice, as inherent in courts as essential to the execution of their powers and to the
maintenance of their authority is a part of the law of the land. (In reKelly, 35 Phil., 944, 945.)
Mere criticism or comment on the correctness or wrongness, soundness or unsoundness of the
decision of the court in a pending case made in good faith may be tolerated; because if well founded
it may enlighten the court and contribute to the correction of an error if committed; but if it is not well
taken and obviously erroneous, it should, in no way, influence the court in reversing or modifying its
decision. Had the respondent in the present case limited himself to as statement that our decision is
wrong or that our construction of the intention of the law is not correct, because it is different from
what he, as proponent of the original bill which became a law had intended, his criticism might in that
case be tolerated, for it could not in any way influence the final disposition of the Parazo case by the
court; inasmuch as it is of judicial notice that the bill presented by the respondent was amended by

both Houses of Congress, and the clause "unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded
by the interest of the State" was added or inserted; and that, as the Act was passed by Congress
and not by any particular member thereof, the intention of Congress and not that of the respondent
must be the one to be determined by this Court in applying said act.
But in the above-quoted written statement which he caused to be published in the press, the
respondent does not merely criticize or comment on the decision of the Parazo case, which was
then and still is pending reconsideration by this Court upon petition of Angel Parazo. He not only
intends to intimidate the members of this Court with the presentation of a bill in the next Congress, of
which he is one of the members, reorganizing the Supreme Court and reducing the members,
reorganizing the Supreme Court and reducing the members of Justices from eleven to seven, so as
to change the members of this Court which decided the Parazo case, who according to his
statement, are incompetent and narrow minded, in order to influence the final decision of said case
by this Court, and thus embarrass or obstruct the administration of justice. But the respondent also
attacks the honesty and integrity of this Court for the apparent purpose of bringing the Justices of
this Court into disrepute and degrading the administration of justice, for in his above-quoted
statement he says:
In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last
years, I believe that the only remedy to put an end to so much evil, is to change the
members of the Supreme Court. To this effect, I announce that one of the first measures,
which I will introduce in the coming congressional sessions, will have as its object the
complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now the Supreme Court of today
constitutes a constant peril to liberty and democracy.
To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately "so many
blunders and injustices," that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that
the law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision
was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily to undermine the
confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and consequently
to lower or degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines
is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for
their grievances or protection of their rights when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose
their confidence in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they
cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and
disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts
Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court,
to which he owes fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote
distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other
institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation.
Respondent's assertion in his answer that "he made his statement in the press with the utmost good
faith and without intention of offending any of the majority of the honorable members of this high
Tribunal," if true may mitigate but not exempt him from liability for contempt of court; but it is belied
by his acts and statements during the pendency of this proceeding. The respondent in his petition of
December 11, alleges that Justice Gregorio Perfecto is the principal promoter of this proceeding for
contempt, conveying thereby the idea that this Court acted in the case through the instigation of Mr.
Justice Perfecto.
It is true that the constitutional guaranty of freedom of speech and the press must be protected to its
fullest extent, but license or abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizen should not be confused
with liberty in its true sense. As important as the maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free

exercise of the right of the citizen, is the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary. As Judge
Holmes very appropriately said U. S vs Sullens (1929), 36 Fed. (2nd), 230, 238, 239: "The
administration of justice and the freedom of the press, though separate and distinct, are equally
sacred, and neither should be violated by the other. The press and the courts have correlative rights
and duties and should cooperate to uphold the principles of the Constitution and laws, from which
the former receives its prerogatives and the latter its jurisdiction. The right of legitimate publicity must
be scrupulously recognized and care taken at all times to avoid impinging upon it. In a clear case
where it is necessary, in order to dispose of judicial business unhampered by publications which
reasonably tend to impair the impartiality of verdicts, or otherwise obstruct the administration of
justice, this court will not hesitate to exercise its undoubted power to punish for contempt. This Court
must be permitted to proceed with the disposition if its business in an orderly manner free from
outside interference obstructive of its constitutional functions. This right will be insisted upon as vital
to an impartial court, and, as a last resort, as a individual exercises the right of self-defense, it will
act to preserve its existence as an unprejudiced tribunal. . . ."
It is also well settled that an attorney as an officer of the court is under special obligation to be
respectful in his conduct and communication to the courts, he may be removed from office or
stricken from the roll of attorneys as being guilty of flagrant misconduct (17 L. R. A. [N.S.], 586, 594).
In view of all the foregoing, we find the respondent Atty. Vicente Sotto guilty of contempt of this
Court by virtue of the above-quoted publication, and he is hereby sentenced to pay, within the period
of fifteen days from the promulgation of this judgment, a fine of P1,000, with subsidiary imprisonment
in case of insolvency.
The respondent is also hereby required to appear, within the same period, and show cause to this
Court why he should not be disbarred form practicing as an attorney-at-law in any of the courts of
this Republic, for said publication and the following statements made by him during the pendency of
the case against Angel Parazo for contempt of Court.
In his statement to the press as published in the Manila Times in its issue of December 9, 1948, the
respondent said "The Supreme Court can send me to jail, but it cannot close my mouth; " and in his
other statement published on December 10, 1948, in the same paper, he stated among others: "It is
not the imprisonment that is degrading, but the cause of the imprisonment." In his Rizal day speech
at the Abellana High School in Cebu, published on January 3, 1949, in the Manila Daily Bulletin, the
respondent said that "there was more freedom of speech when American Justices sat in the Tribunal
than now when it is composed of our countrymen;" reiterated that "even if it succeeds in placing him
behind bars, the court can not close his mouth," and added: "I would consider imprisonment a
precious heritage to leave for those who would follow me because the cause is noble and lofty." And
the Manila Chronicle of January 5 published the statement of the respondent in Cebu to the effect
that this Court "acted with malice" in citing him to appear before this Court on January 4 when "the
members of this Court know that I came here on vacation." In all said statements the respondent
misrepresents to the public the cause of the charge against him for contempt of court. He says that
the cause is for criticizing the decision of this Court in said Parazo case in defense of the freedom of
the press, when in truth and in fact he is charged with intending to interfere and influence the final
disposition of said case through intimidation and false accusations against this Supreme Court. So
ordered.
Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Perfecto, Bengzon, Briones, Tuason, Montemayor and Reyes,
JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
PERFECTO, J., concurring:
Respondent published in the Manila newspapers of Sunday, December 5, 1948, a written statement
in relation with the decision rendered by this Court sentencing Angel Parazo to 30 days
imprisonment for contempt.
On December 7, 1948, considering the statement as "intended not only to intimidate the members of
this Court or influence the final disposition of said (Parazo) case, but also to degrade and vilify the
administration of justice," this Court adopted a resolution ordering respondent to show cause within
five days why he should not be punished for contempt, "without prejudice to taking further action
against him as attorney."
Alleging to be suffering from myologenous leukemia, with moderately severe anemia, and that his
physician had advised him to have "absolute rest and to avoid any form of mental and physical strain
for a few weeks," respondent prayed for a 15-day extension to file his answer. He was granted a 10day extension.
In the resolution of December 13, 1948, granting said extension, this Court branded as false
respondent's allegations the effect that he had formal charges pending in this Court against Mr.
Justice Perfecto and that the latter is the "moving spirit" of these contempt proceedings.
Two days after the expiration of the 10-day extension granted to him, respondent filed his answer.
The belated filing of said answer was overlooked by this Court in order not to deprive respondent of
the benefits of his answer. Filed out of time, due to his unexplained fault, it could legally have been
rejected.
In said answer, dated December 24, 1948, respondent repeated one of his allegations which, in the
resolution of December 13, 1948, this Court had already declared to be false.
Respondent has not denied that he is the author of the statement for which he has been summoned
to our bar for contempt and he has not denied the correctness of the text published in the Manila
Chronicle and other daily newspapers and which is reproduced in the resolution of this Court of
December 7, 1948.
In his statement, respondent does not limit himself to saying that this Tribunal has erroneously
interpreted Republic Act No. 53, but alleges that said erroneous interpretation "is once more putting
in evidence the incompetency or narrow-mindedness of the majority of its members," coupled with
this sweeping and calumnious accusation:
In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last
years, I believe that the only remedy to put an end to so much evil, is to change the
members of the Supreme Court.
To fittingly crown this dastard imputation of deliberately committing blunders and injustice,
respondent would bully the members of this Court, by making the following intimidating
announcement:

To this effect, I announce that one of the first measures, which I will introduce in the coming
congressional sessions, will have as its objects the complete reorganization of the Supreme
Court.
There are other rhetorical passages in respondent's statement, aimed to emphasize the nuclear
ideas of the statement, to the effect that the majority of the members of the Supreme Court are
incompetent and narrow-minded and guilty of "so many blunders and injustices deliberately
committed" and that the author will introduce in the coming congressional sessions a measure "to
change the members of the Supreme Court" and to effect a "complete reorganization of the
Supreme Court.
Among such maximizing expressions intended to stress the main ideas and purposes of the
statement are the following:
1. As it is now constituted, the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty
and democracy.
2. It need be said loudly, very loudly so that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme Court if
today is far cry from the impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of
Cayetano Arellano, Victoriano Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the
glory of the Philippine judiciary.
3. The reporter, who is erroneously convicted of contempt and unjustly sentenced to 30 days
imprisonment by the Supreme Court, should be immediately and spontaneously pardoned by
the Executive Power, to serve as lesson in law to the majority of the members of that High
Tribunal.
4. That sentence is intolerable, and should be protested by all newspapers throughout the
country, under the cry of "The press demands better qualified justices for the Supreme
Court."
There can be no question that respondent knowingly published false imputations against the
members of this Court. He accused them of such depravity as to have committed "blunders and
injustices deliberately." He has maliciously branded them to be incompetent, narrow-minded,
perpetrators of evil, "a constant peril to liberty and democracy," to be the opposite of those who were
the honor and glory of the Philippines judiciary, to be needing a lesson in law, to be rendering an
intolerable sentence, to be needing replacement by better qualified justices.
Respondent has not presented any evidence or offered any to support his slanderous imputations,
and no single word can be found in his answer showing that he ever believed that the imputations
are based on fact.
Respondent appears to belong to the class of individuals who have no compunction to resort to
falsehood of falsehoods. The record of this case indicates that the practice of falsehoods seems to
be habitual in respondent, and this is proved when he reiterated in his answer one of his allegations
in a previous petition which were pronounced by this Court to be false in its resolution in its
resolution of December 3, 1948.
More than thirty years ago, using the words of respondent himself, in "those memorable times of
Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, and Manual Araullo and other learned jurists who were the glory
of the Philippines judiciary" and when it was the "impregnable bulwark of Justice," the Supreme
Court pronounced respondent guilty of falsehoods three times: first, in case in which he was

sentenced to 4 years and 2 months of prision correccionalfor criminally abducting Aquilina Vasquez,
a girl less then 18 years of age, and to pay her a dowry of P500 and to support the offspring of his
relations with her (U. S. vs. Sotto, 9 Phil., 231); second, in a sentence of disbarment as a
blackmailer (In re Sotto, 38 Phil., 532); and third, in prison sentence for false libel (U. S. vs. Sotto, 38
Phil., 666). The first and the last sentences bear the signature of Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano
himself.
In the first case the Supreme Court found that only on July 29, 1906, Vicente Sotto wrote a letter to
Aquilina Vasquez, protesting his love for her and urging her to leave her house and go with him; on
the afternoon of August 1, 1906, Sotto made an arrangement with Luis Crisologo for the renting of
his house since that night when Sotto went with Aquilina into the room of the house, where she
passed the night; Sotto had told Crisologo that he wanted the house for a forestry ranger who was
just arriving from Bohol; Sotto did not leave the room until the middle of the night; Aquilina
transferred to a house in Sambag where Sotto brought various housekeeping utensils; during the
following days and nights Aquilina was visited by respondent.
On August 10, 1906, a complaint was filed against Vicente Sotto and Pio Datan, charging them with
the crime ofrapto. As a defense, respondent offered evidence to show that on August 5, 1906, a
legal marriage was celebrated between Aquilina and the accused Pio Datan, Sotto's washerman and
accomplice in crime. Upon the evidence, the Supreme Court pronounced the celebration of the
alleged marriage to be false. The certificate of marriage offered as evidence in support of the claim
that the marriage took place had been declared a forgery.
It is not necessary to give the details of the whole disgusting affair, wherein the revolting and sinister
nature of an individual is pictured in bold relief with some of its ugliest features. The more that 4
years of imprisonment imposed upon the accused did not reform him. It only served to emphasize
the beginning of along career of falsehoods and slanders already spanning more than 40 years,
soon nearing half of a century.
Respondent also chose not to deny his intimidating announcement to introduce in the coming
sessions of Congress, among the first measures, one for the change of the members of the
Supreme Court and for the latter's complete reorganization.
He has not explained or justified why he has to intimidate the members of the Supreme Court with
change and reorganization, and why, to make the intimidation more dreadful, he had to announce
the horrible course of subverting and trampling down the Constitution, as all who can read and
understand the fundamental law know that it is beyond the powers of Congress to reorganize and
change the membership of the Supreme Court.
Because the announcement is highly subversive, being aimed at shaking the very foundations of this
Republic, it could have been no less terrible than for the respondent to have announced an intention
to attain his purposes by resorting to open rebellion. The fact that respondent is a lawyer and a
senator aggravates his flaunted purpose to assault the very Constitution he has sworn to obey and
defend.
We have devoted considerable time to respondent's answer.
As first defense, respondent alleges that he made the written press statement, not as a lawyer or as
a private citizen, but as a senator. He avers a senator should have ample liberty to discuss public
affairs and should not be annoyed with contempt proceedings.

Now law or valid authority has been invoked in support of the theory, unless we could countenance a
fictitious maxim that respondent is the sovereign. The theory lacks even the merit of novelty. Long
before the claim of respondent that, because he is a senator, he is above the law, Mussolini, Hitler
and all the tyrants and dictators who preceded them since the dawn of history had always claimed
that they were above they law and acted as if they were really so. Unfortunately for respondent,
senators are creatures of the Constitution and the Constitution makes them amenable to law.
As a second defense, respondent alleges that, not having appeared either as attorney or a witness
in the Parazo case, he cannot be held either for direct or for indirect contempt.
The defense is based on stark ignorance of the law on the subject.
Respondent alleges, as third defense, that he made his statement with "utmost good faith," with "no
intention of offending any of the majority of the honorable members of the High Tribunal," and that
he has not attacked nor intended to attack the honesty or integrity of any one.
This allegation lacks sincerity in view of his imputation, among several others equally false and
calumnious, that the majority members of the Supreme Court have committed many blunders and
injustices deliberately." The slanderous imputation can only be attributed to bad faith.
As another defense, respondent questions the validity of the penal provisions of Rule 64, implying
that said penalties are not procedural in nature, and invoking the provisions of section 13 of Article
VIII of the Constitution, limiting the rule-making power of the Supreme Court to matters of pleading,
practice, and procedure in courts, and to the admission to the practice of law.
Respondent's contention can be easily disposed of by quoting the following provisions of Act No.
190:
SEC. 231. What Contempts of Court may be Punished Summarily. — A court of First
Instance or a judge of such court at chambers, may punish summarily, by fine not exceeding
two hundred pesos, or by imprisonment not exceeding ten days, or both, a person guilty of
misbehavior in the presence of or so near the court or judge as to obstruct administration of
justice, including the refusal of a person present in court to be sworn as a witness or to
answer as a witness when lawfully required.
SEC. 232. What Other Acts are Contempts of Court. — A person guilty of any of the
following act any be punished as for contempt:
1. Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, judgment of command of a
court, or injunction granted by a court or judge;
2. Misbehavior of an officer of the court in the performance of his official duties, or in his
official transactions;
3. A failure to obey a subpoena duly served;
4. The rescue, or attempted rescue, of a person or property in the custody of an officer by
virtue of an order or process of the court held by him.
5. The persons defeated in a civil action concerning the ownership or possession of real
estate who, after being evicted by the sheriff from the realty under litigation in compliance

with judgment rendered, shall enter or attempt to enter upon the same for the purpose of
executing acts of ownership or possession or who shall in any manner disturb possession by
the person who the sheriff placed in possession of said reality.
SEC. 235. Trial of the Charge. — Upon the day fixed for the trial, the court shall proceed to
investigate the charge and shall hear any answer or testimony which the accused may make
or offer.
SEC. 236. Punishment if Found Guilty. — The court shall then determine whether the
accused is guilty off the contempt charged; and, if it be adjudged that he is guilty, he may be
fined not exceeding one thousand pesos, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. If
the contempt consist in the violation of an injunction, the person guilty of such contempt may
also be ordered to make complete restitution to the party injured by such violation.
Therefore, even on the false hypothesis that penalties for contempt are not procedural in nature,
courts of justice may impose said penalties, if not under Rule 64, under the provisions of Act No.
190.
The power to punish for contempt is inherent in courts of justice. It springs from the very nature of
their functions. Without such power, courts of justice would be unable to perform effectively their
functions. They function by orders. Every decision is a command. The power to punish disobedience
to command is essential to make the commands effective.
Respondent is in error in maintaining that the Supreme Court has no power to enact Rule 64, He is
correct in calling it judicial legislation although he fails to remember that judicial legislation in matters
of judicial practice and procedure is expressly authorized by section 13 of Article VIII of the
Constitution.
As a last defense, respondent invokes the constitutional freedom of the press, which includes the
right to criticize judges in court proceedings.
Respondent, undoubtedly, misses the point, and his citations about said freedom, with which we fully
agree, have absolutely no bearing on the question involved in these proceedings.
No one, and the members of the Supreme Court would be the last to do so, has ever denied
respondent the freedom of the press and his freedom to criticize our proceedings, this Court and its
members. Respondent's statement goes much further than mere criticism of our decision and the
majority members of this Court. The statement is an attempt to interfere with the administration of
justice, to miscarry and defeat justice, by trammelling the freedom of action of the members of the
Supreme Court, by bullying them with the menace of change, reorganization, and removal, upon the
false accusation that they have been committing "blunders and injustices deliberately," and the
menacing action constitutes a flagrant violation of the Constitution. Such a thing is not covered by
the freedom of the press or by the freedom to criticize judges and court proceedings, as no one in
his senses has ever conceived that such freedom include any form of expressed gangterism,
whether oral or written.
The freedom of the press is not involved in these proceedings. To assert otherwise is to mislead.
What is at stake in these proceedings is the integrity of our system of administration of justice and
the independence of the Supreme Court and its freedom from any outside interference intended to
obstruct it or to unduly sway it one way or another.

The freedom of the press is one of the causes which we have always endeared. The repeated
prosecution and persecutions we have endured in the past for its sake — we have been hailed to
court eight times, — are conclusive evidence of the firm stand we have taken as defender of such
freedom. It can be seen from official records that every acquittal handed down to us by the Supreme
Court had been a new step forward and new triumph for the freedom of the press. (U. S. vs.
Perfecto, 42 Phil., 113 Sept. 9, 1921; U.S. vs. Perfecto, 43 Phil., 58, March 4, 1922; U. S. vs.
Perfecto, 43 Phil., 887, March 4, 1922.) That stand has remained the same, as can be shown in our
written opinion in another contempt proceedings in the Ben Brillantes case, which failed to attract
public attention at the time.
Among the facts which we cannot ignore in deciding this case, are the following:
1. That this is not the first time respondent has been brought to a court of justice, for a grave
misbehavior and for perpetrating stark falsehoods. In a decision by the Supreme Court of September
6, 1918, respondent was removed from the office of attorney-at-law and incapacitated from
exercising the legal profession. He was found guilty of:
(a) Lack of fidelity to clients;
(b) Blackmailing, by abusing his position as director of a newspaper whose columns he used to
blacken the reputation of those who refused to yield to demands made by him in his business as
lawyer;
(c) Publication of malicious and unjustifiable insinuations against the integrity of a judge who had
fined him for the crime of libel;
(d) Giving false testimony or perjury. (38 Phil., 532.)
2. On September 24, 1918, the Supreme Court sentenced respondent to imprisonment for libel, for
besmirching the honesty of three private individuals, Lope K. Santos, Jose Turiano Santiago and
Hermenegildo Cruz with false charges. (38 Phil., 666.)
3. After having been cited for contempt in these proceedings, respondent, in order to pose as a
martyr for the freedom of the press, waged a campaign of viturperation against the Supreme Court.
He made repeated press statements and delivered speeches in his home province to show that he
cannot expect justice from the Supreme Court, that the Supreme Court will imprison him, that he will
be imprisoned for the sake of the freedom of the press, thereby posing as a false martyr for it.
4. In his persecutory obsession, respondent would make all believe that, contrary to fact, the writer
of this opinion is the moving spirit behind these contempt proceedings and that the Supreme Court is
acting merely as a tool. Apparently, respondent was irked by his failure to sit even for a single
moment in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, because of our objection. The publicity given to our
objection has exposed the illegality of respondent's designation made by the Senate President as,
under section 11 of Article VI of the Constitution, the power to choose Senators for the Electoral
Tribunal belongs to the Senate, and not to its presiding officer. At the bar of public opinion, the
Senate President and respondent appeared either to be ignorant of the Constitution or to be bent on
flagrantly violating it.
5. Respondent is the number of the bill which was enacted into Republic Act No. 53, but the
purposes of his bill were thwarted by an amendment introduced by the Senate, denying the privilege
granted therein when in conflict with the interest of the Senate. Respondent's bill was for an absolute
privilege. Because the majority decision of the Supreme Court had made his failure patent,

respondent took occasion to give vent to his grudge against the Supreme Court, wherein, of the 15
cases he had since liberation, he lost all except three, as can be seen in the records of the following
cases:
L-23, Filomena Domiit Cabiling vs. The Prison Officer of
the Military Prison of Quezon City

LOST

L-212, Narcisa de la Fuente vs Fernando Jugo, etc. et
al.

WON

L-247, Monsig. Canilo Diel vs. Felix Martinez, etc. et al.

WON

L-301, In the matter of the petition of Carlos Palanca to
be admitted a Citizen of the Philippines

LOST
(As amicus
curiae

L-307, Eufemia Evangelista et al. vs. Rafael Maninang

LOST

L-599, Amalia Rodriguez vs. Pio E. Valencia et al.

LOST

L-1201, Vicente Sotto vs. Tribunal del Pueblo et al.

LOST

L-1287, Ong Sit vs. Edmundo Piccio et al.

LOST

L-1365, Vitaliano Jurado vs. Marcelo Flores

LOST

L- 1509, Tagakotta Sotto vs. Francisco Enage

LOST

L-1510, Bernarda Ybañez de Sabido et al. vs. Juan V.
Borromeo et al.

LOST

L-1938, Vicente Sotto vs. Crisanto Aragon et al.

WON

L-1961, The People of the Philippines vs. Antonio de los
Reyes
LOST
L-2041, Quirico Abeto vs. Sotero Rodas

LOST

L-2370, Voltaire Sotto vs. Rafael Dinglasan et al.

LOST

Upon the records of his previous cases in 1918 and of these proceedings, it is inevitable to conclude
that we have before us the case of an individual who has lowered himself to unfathomable depths of
moral depravity, — a despicable habitual liar, unscrupulous vilifier and slanderer, unrepented
blackguard and blackmailer, shameful and shameless libeler, unmindful of the principles of decency
as all hardened criminals. He is a disgrace to the human species. He is a shame to the Senate.
Aghast at the baseness of his character, we felt, at first blush, the impulse of acquitting him, as his
contemptible conduct, culminating in the press statement in question, seemed compatible only with
the complete irresponsibility of schizophrenics, idiots, or those suffering from doddery.
His repeated press releases in which he tried to focus public attention to the most harmless part of
his statement, wherein he accuses the majority of the Supreme Court of incompetency or narrowmindedness, have shown, however, that respondent is not completely devoid of personal
responsibility, as he is aware that he has no possible defense for alleging that the members of the
Supreme Court have committed "blunders and injustices deliberately," for which reason he has
widely publicized his expectation that he will be sentenced in this case to imprisonment, a penalty

that, by his repeated public utterances, he himself gives the impression that he is convinced he
deserves.
Verily he deserves to be sentenced to six months imprisonment, the maximum allowed by Rule 64,
and such penalty would not be heavy enough because of the attendance of several aggravating
circumstances, namely, the falsehoods he resorted to in this case, his insolence after he was cited
for contempt, the fact that he is a lawyer and a Senator, the fact that he has already been sentenced
to imprisonment for falsely libeling three private individuals, the fact that more than 30 years ago he
had been disbarred as a blackmailer, the fact that more than 40 years ago he was sentenced to be
jailed for more than 4 years as an abductor. The majority of this Court has sentenced a young and
humble newspaperman to 30 days imprisonment only for refusing to answer a question. The offense
committed by respondent is much graver than a mere refusal to answer a question.
We concur, however, in the decision imposing upon respondent a fine of P1,000 with subsidiary
imprisonment and ordering him to show cause why he should not be completely deprived of the
privilege of practicing the profession of a lawyer. High reasons of humanity restrained us from
sending respondent to prison, unless he should voluntarily choose to enter therein, instead of paying
the fine. He is old and, according to his physician, suffering from myologenous leukemia with
moderately severe anemia, requiring absolute and avoidance of any from of mental and physical
strain, and we do not wish to endanger respondent's life by sending him to prison, and thus causing
him the mental and physical strains which his physician advised him to avoid. Although the
continued existence of respondents is more harmful than beneficial to our Republic and to human
society, we have to be consistent with our abidance by the injunction of the Sermon on the Mount:
"Thou shalt not kill." (Matth., Chapter 5, paragraph 21.) Although their segregation from the society
of decent men is advisable because of the dangers of corruptive contamination, even the lives of
moral lepers have to be spared. After all, the heaviest punishment for an evildoer is the inherent
stigma of shame of his evildoings.
Let it be clear that we are not punishing respondent because we want to curtail his freedom of the
press, but because of his wanton interference in the independence of the Supreme Court his overt
attempt to deprive us of our freedom of judgment in a pending case, his swashbuckling bravado to
intimidate the members of this Court to sway their decision in favor of a litigant.
The freedom of the press is not in the least involved in these proceedings. The offensive statements
has not been published by respondent as a newspaperman, editor or journalist. He does not appear
to be a member of the staff of any one of the newspapers which published his statement. We did not
even molest said newspapers. Their editors have not been cited for contempt. We did not interfere
with their freedom to publish the scurrilous statement.
If respondent has not attempted by his browbeating to undermine and overthrow the very
foundations of our judicial system and actually sought to defeat and miscarry the administration of
justification in a pending litigation, we would certainly have abstained from summoning him merely
for criticizing, insulting and slandering the members of the Court. After all his reputation for lack of
veracity, malice and unscrupulosity is well-known in official records branding him with the indelible
stigma of infamy.
His blatant posing, therefore, in this case as a martyr for the freedom of the press, as part of his
systematic campaign of falsehoods and slanders directed against the Supreme Court, is an
imposture that only ignorants, blockheads and other mental pachyderms can swallow.
It takes too much effrontery for such a character as respondent to pose as a martyr and no less than
for the sake of a sacred cause, the freedom of the press, which no one has no much dishonored with

his blackmailing practices and by his long list of cases in the courts of justice, starting as far back as
1901. (Julia vs. Sotto, 2 Phil., 247; U. S. vs. Sotto, 9 Phil., 231; In re Sotto, 38 Phil., 532; U. S. vs.
Sotto, 38 Phil., 666; R.G. No. 201; U. S. vs. Sotto, R.G. No. 11067; U. S. vs. Sotto, R.G. No. 14284;
U. S. vs. Vicente Sotto, R.G. No. 16004; People vs. Vicente Sotto, R.G. No. 23643.)
Respondent belongs to that gang of unprincipled politicians headed by a Senate President who
trampled down the popular will by the arbitrary and unconstitutional suspension of Senators Vera,
Diokno and Romero (Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192), who issued the false certification as to the
voting of the congressional resolution regarding the infamous Parity Amendment, thus perpetrating
falsification of public document (Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil., 1), who muzzled the people by
ordering, in usurpation of executive powers mayors all over the country not to allow the holding of
public meetings which the opposition had organized to denounce the frauds in the elections of
November 11, 1947 (Cipriano C. Primicias, as General Campaign Manager of the Coalesced
Minority Partiesvs. Valeriano E. Fugoso, as Mayor of the City of Manila, 80 Phil., 71) who wantonly
violated the Constitution by interfering with the management of the funds of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal (Suanes vs. The Chief Accountant of the Senate, 81 Phil., 819), who, again in violation of
the fundamental law, usurped the exclusive powers of the Senate when he designated respondent to
sit in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and who crowned his misdeeds by enunciating on Saturday,
January 15, 1949, the most immoral political philosophy — that of open toleration of rackets, graft
and corruption in public office.
According to Rizal, the victims immolated in the altar of great ideals, to be acceptable, have to be
noble, spotless and pure. They should, therefore, be as noble and pure as Socrates, Christ, Joan of
Arc, Lincoln, Bonifacio, Mabini, Gandhi and Rizal himself. Then and only then will martyrdom be
hallowed and glorified because it is will worthy of the effulgent grandeur of sacred ideals. "Hate
never produces anything but monsters and crime criminals!" Love alone realizes wonderful works,
virtue alone can save! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love! Pure and
spotless must the victim be that the sacrifice may be acceptable!" (El Filibusterismo.)
Respondent complains in his answer that he is not accorded fair dealing because the writer of this
opinion has not abstained from taking part in this case. The complaint is absolutely groundless. It is
based on two false premises, concocted by respondent to make it appear that he is a victim of
persecution, and on a conclusion, also false, because based on the two false premises.
Respondent alleges that there are pending in the Supreme Court certain charges he filed against the
writer and that the undersigned is the "moving spirit" behind these proceedings. Both trump-up
allegations are false, and the Supreme Court has declared it to be so in its resolution of December
13, 1948.
The records of the Supreme Court show that no such charges have been filed. Respondent ought to
know, if he can read and understand the Constitution, that if he has any charge to file against a
justice of the Supreme Court to seek his ouster, he has to file it with the House of Representatives,
the only agency authorized by the fundamental law to institute impeachment proceedings.
If the House of Representatives should institute it, the respondent will have the opportunity to sit in
judgment as a senator as, under the Constitution, the Senate is the sole tribunal on cases of
impeachment.
No justice with full sense of responsibility should commit a dereliction of official duty by inhibiting
himself in a case upon imaginary or fabricated grounds. The members of the Supreme Court are not
such moral weaklings as to easily yield to dishonest appeals to a false sense of delicacy. A cowardly

surrender to groundless challenges of unscrupulous parties is unbecoming to a judge, and much
more to a Justice of the Highest Tribunal of the Republic.
It is true that, after respondent had failed to sit in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, because we objected
to the designation issued to him by Senate President Avelino on constitutional grounds, he
requested the Chief Justice to relieve us one of the members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and
respondent would make it appear that for his move we are prejudiced against him.
He is absolutely wrong. His request to the Chief Justice did not disturb us the least. The Constitution
does not grant anyone the power to oust, replace, or dismiss any member of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal, judicial or senatorial, during his term of office in the Tribunal. Although an illegal
substitution has been made once in the case of Senators Sebastian and Cuenco, such precedent
did not make constitutional what is unconstitutional, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has
made clear his stand to uphold the Constitution by stating it in black and white in the decision he
penned in the Suanes case L-2460. Respondent's failure was so obvious for us to mind his move.
After all, should we waste time and energy by entertaining any kind of prejudice against respondent,
when there are so many great minds, beautiful characters, and wonderful personalities that are
demanding our attention and whose spiritual companionship makes life enjoyable?
If we had entertained any prejudice against respondent, we would have meted out to him the penalty
of imprisonment which he well deserves ,without minding the ill consequences it may entail to his
health and life and without heeding the promptings of our pity and sense of humanity. Fortunately,
very many years have already elapsed since we acquired the state of mind with which we can judge
things and persons with an open and free conscience, truly emancipated from the shackles of any
prejudice. The hateful events during the Japanese occupation were the best mycelium for spawning
and the choicest fertilizers for growing prejudices against Generals Yamashita and Homma, to the
extent of justifying any measure or action that would spell their doom. Immediate members of our
family and ourselves endured agonizing sufferings and some of our near relatives were liquidated
under their regime. But when Yamashita and Homma came to this Supreme Court, seeking remedy
against the absurdly iniquitous procedure followed by the military commissions which tried them, so
iniquitous that it closed to the Japanese generals all chances of fair trial, no scintilla of prejudice
precluded us from casting the lone vote intended to give them the remedy and justice they sought
for, notwithstanding the fact that Yamashita and Homma, appeared, in the general consent of our
people, to be veritable monsters of cruelty and murder. Certainly, respondent would not pretend
having given us, if ever, stronger grounds for prejudice than Yamashita and Homma, or that he is
worse than both of them.
We are not to end this opinion without expressing our steadfast addiction to the following
propositions:
1. The independence of the judiciary from outside interference or obstruction is essential to the
effectively of its functions so that it can afford protection to fundamental rights including the freedom
of the press, against encroachments and illegal assaults.
2. The freedom of the press includes the right to comment on pending judicial cases and the right to
criticize the public and private life of all public officers, without any exception.
3. The freedom of the press does not, however, safeguard any publication intended to bully courts
and judges in order to sway their judgment on pending cases, and such interference and obstruction
should be promptly and drastically checked for the sake of an effective administration of justice.

4. Tribunal should be prompt in stopping the threatening and browbeating tactics of swaggering
political ruffians and cutthroats bend on thwarting the scale of justice, as the opposing alternative to
such a stern judicial attitude is surrendered to judicial anarchy.
5. Courts of justice annealed to face and ever ready to deal vigorously with attempts to turn them
into puppets of domineering would-be dictators are essential in maintaining the reign of law and
guaranteeing the existence of an orderly society.
This opinion has been written to modify and clarify our stand in concurring in the decision.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 36453

September 28, 1932

CRISANTO EVANGELISTA, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
TOMAS EARNSHAW, Mayor of the City of Manila, defendant-appellee.
Vicente Sotto for appellant.
City Fiscal Felix for appellee.
OSTRAND, J.:
This is an action of mandamus brought against the defendant mayor of the City of Manila. The
plaintiff alleges that he is the president of the Communist Party in the Philippine Islands, a political
group seeking the speedy granting of independence in these Islands and the redemption of the
proletariat, numbering over 300,000 men and woman in its ranks; that on the 2d of March, 1931, by
means of a letter to the defendant mayor of the city, the plaintiff requested the necessary permission
to hold a popular meeting at Plaza Moriones in that city, on the afternoon of March 12, 1931, to be
followed by a parade through the streets of Juan Luna, Azcarraga, Avenida Rizal, Echague, and
General Solano in order to deliver to the Governor-General a message from the laboring class; that
on the 3d of March, 1931, the mayor of the city denied the plaintiff's petition, instructing his
subaltern, the chief of police, to prohibit all kinds of meetings held by the Communist Party
throughout the city, because he had revoked their permits and licenses; that consequently, the
Communist Party has not been able to hold any private or public meetings in the city since the 6th
day of March, 1931; that in refusing the requested permission and in prohibiting all meetings of the
party within the city, the defendant deprived the Communist Party of a constitutional right. The
plaintiff further prays "that a writ of mandamus be issued against the herein defendant compelling
him to issue a permit for the holding of meetings and parades by the Communist Party in Manila."
The defendant in his answer and special defense stated that subsequent to the issuance of the
above-mentioned permit, it was discovered after an investigation conducted by the office of the fiscal
for the City of Manila, that said Communist Party of the Philippines is an illegal association, or
organization, which having for its principal object to incite the revolt of the proletariat or laboring
class, according to its constitution and by-laws, states as follows:
The Philippines, as a subject nation, in order to establish an independent government, has to
revolt under the leadership of the laborers.
. . . It is clear that the different political parties of the burgesses (Nacionalista-Consolidado,
Democrata, etc.) are no different from another. They have but one aim; to rise into power
and exploit, with independence or not; to enrich themselves and strengthen the control of a
government which is procapitalist and proimperialist.
Because of these, we need a Communist Party, one that is not reformist but revolutionary.
Only by revolutionary means can we demolish the slavery of man by another and of one
nation by another nation. . .

The principal ideal of the C. P. P. (Communist Party of the Philippines) in the desire to head
the Philippine Government is different from that of the burgees political parties. Its aim is not
to strengthen the capitalist government but to engender — as it cannot be avoided — the
war of the classes and to bring about its downfall. Therefore, the aims of the C. P. P. are the
following:
1. To lead the movement for the immediate and complete independence of the Philippines.
2. To fight and bring about the downfall of American imperialism which oppresses the
Philippines;
3. To stop the exploitation of the laborers and defend their rights and interests;
4. To establish in the Philippines a Soviet Government under the laborers.
5. To bring about the downfall of capitalism.
6. Under the dictatorship of the laborers, to emancipate and redeem the laborers and farm
hands, — to embrace communism.
With these high ideals the Communist Party of the Philippines will be established. And
inasmuch as these ideals are the same as those of the C. I. (Communist International), the
C. P. P. will extend its full help for the redemption and welfare of the laborers.
. . . Here in the Philippines, American Imperialism is being fought also. The reluctance of the
Moros in paying taxes to the Government, the disorders in the large haciendas, the farmers
resisting the owners and the Constabulary, the strike of the high-school students, the
uprising of the Colorums, and the oppression of the imperialists and capitalists of the
laborers, are symptoms of a movement, which if carried on with unity, will perforce bring
about the downfall of American imperialism and the obtaining of Philippine independence.
Before achieving this ultimate ideal of the C. P. P. we will have you take other steps. First, to
overthrow American imperialism which oppresses the Philippines; second, to overthrow
capitalism and feudalism; third, to seize the power in the government; fourth, the
establishment of labor dictatorship; fifth, the bringing about of class consciousness and class
struggle and the prompt establishment of communism.
Under this state of affairs, a struggle is indespensable. This struggle may be peaceful or
violent, but just the same it will be a bitter struggle, where life and death will be staked.
For the prompt overthrow of the institutions of capitalism and for the purpose of opening the
eyes of the people that the imperialists are not really in earnest about giving subject peoples
their independence — because independence is an enemy of oppression and exploitation —
unless their downfall is brought about, it is necessary to struggle, not only during elections.
The difference of the revolutionary movement advocated by the C. P. P. is not found only in
its principal ideal but in the steps that it will take. While the reformists advocate
understanding and cooperation with the burgesses or capitalists, the movement of the
laborers is based on the principle of class struggle. Instead of cooperating with the enemy
we should master our own strength and fight our enemies. And in order to achieve this union,

strong and powerful, it is necessary that we should counteract every move that will tend to
prejudice the laborers.
In view of the revolutionary campaign of the C. P. P. for the sake of the laborers and farm
workers, the capitalists and imperialists will become more violent and antagonistic toward
them. And inasmuch as the capitalists and imperialists have control of the government, it is
not impossible that they will use their power to more violently oppress us; in such a case they
will make it clear that their ideals are inconsistent with those of the laborers. When that day
comes, the class struggle and the revolution will redouble their force, for they will be forced
to defend themselves by rising in revolt against the oppression they are being subject to by
means of the power of the state.
For the obtaining of the partial demands to be made by the C. P. P., it is necessary that all
the laborers and farm hands, now divided by their different industrial organization, be united.
. . . If the factory laborers and farm hands organizations are already established and ready
for the struggle, and if their movement is already under the leadership of the proletariat thru
the C. P. P., it will endeavor to make the movement more vigorous for the purpose of
obtaining its partial demands until the time comes when the factory laborers and farm hands
are able to wrest the control of the Government from the capitalists and imperialists and
place it in the hands of the sons of the sweat;
By virtue of the original permits granted by the defendant mayor to the said Communist Party of the
Philippines, several public meetings were held under the auspices of the aforesaid association in
different parts of the City of Manila, in which seditious speeches were made urging the laboring class
to unite by affiliating to the Communist Party of the Philippines in order to be able to overthrow the
present government, and stirring up enmity against the insular and local police forces by branding
the members thereof as the enemies of the laborers and as tools of the capitalists and imperialists
for oppressing the said laborers.
The communists further insisted that it was the duty of the laborers to bring the government into their
hands and to run it by themselves and for themselves, like the laboring class in Russia; that when
the laborers were united, neither the Constabulary nor the United States Army nor the imperialist
Governor-General could stop them when they rose up as one body in order to free themselves from
slavery by the capitalists; that America was cunning and a coward, as evidenced by the fact that
when she entered the World War, her enemies were already weak; that the Constabulary and the
police were the ones who made trouble for the laborers because they were the agents of the
American imperialists in the Islands and they were used as instruments by the American Imperialist
Government; that united together, the laborers could down the American Imperialist Government;
and other terms and expression of similar tenor and import.
It will be readily seen that the doctrines and principles advocated and urged in the constitution and
by-laws of the said Communist Party of the Philippines, and the speeches uttered, delivered, and
made by its members in the public meetings or gatherings, as above stated, are highly seditious, in
that they suggest and incite rebellious conspiracies and disturb and obstruct the lawful authorities in
their duty.
Considering the actions of the so-called president of the Communist Party, it is evident that he
cannot expect that the defendant will permit the Communist Party to hold meetings or parades in the
manner herein described. Furthermore, it may be noted that the complaint of the case is written
merely in general terms and calls only for a judicial declaration upon a question which is not at
present an issue between the parties to this case. But be that as it may, it must be considered that
the respondent mayor, whose sworn duty it is "to see that nothing should occur which would tend to

provoke or excite the people to disturb the peace of the community or the safety or order of the
Government," did only the right thing under the circumstances, that is, cancel and withdraw, as was
done, the permit previously issued by him to said Communist Party, in accordance with the power
granted him by law — "To grant and refuse municipal licenses or permits of all classes and to revoke
the same for violation of the conditions upon which they were granted, or if acts prohibited by law or
municipal ordinance are being committed under the protection of such licenses or in the premises in
which the business for which the same have been granted is carried on, or for any other good
reason of general interest." (Act No. 2774, sec. 4, amending sec. 2434, par [m], Administrative
Code.)
Instead of being condemned or criticised, the respondent mayor should be praised and commended
for having taken a prompt, courageous, and firm stand towards the said Communist Party of the
Philippines before the latter could do more damage by its revolutionary propaganda, and by the
seditious speeches and utterances of its members. In the case of Gitlow vs. New York (268 U. S.,
652), the Supreme Court of the United States said:
Such utterances, by their very nature, involve danger to the public peace and to the security
of the state. They threaten breaches of the peace and ultimate revolution. And the immediate
danger is none the less real and substantial because the effect of the given utterance cannot
be accurately foreseen. The state cannot reasonably be required to measure the danger
from every such utterance in the nice balance of a jeweler's scale. A single revolutionary
spark may kindle a fire that, smoldering for a time, may burst into a sweeping and destructive
conflagration. It cannot be said that the state is acting arbitrarily on unreasonably when, in
the exercise of its judgment as to the measures necessary to protect the public peace and
safety, it seeks to extinguish the spark without waiting until it has enkindled the flame or
blazed into the conflagration. It cannot reasonably be required to defer the adoption of
measures for its own peace and safety until the revolutionary utterances lead to actual
disturbances of the public peace or imminent and immediate danger of its own destruction;
but it may, in the exercise of its judgment, suppress the threatened danger in its incipiency.
In People vs. Lloyd, supra, p. 35 (136 N. E., 505)., it was aptly said: "Manifestly, the
legislature has authority to forbid the advocacy of a doctrine designed and intended to
overthrow the government without waiting until there is a present and imminent danger of the
success of the plan advocated. If the state were compelled to wait until the apprehended
danger became certain, then its right to protect itself would come into being simultaneously
with the overthrow of the government, when there would be neither prosecuting officers nor
courts for the enforcement of the law."
At any rate, the right of peaceful assemblage is not an absolute one. In the case of People vs.
Perez (45 Phil., 599, 605), this court said:
. . . when the intention and effect of the act is seditious, the constitutional guaranties of freedom of
speech and press and of assembly and petition must yield to punitive measures designed to
maintain the prestige of constituted authority, the supremacy of the constitution and the laws, and
the existence of the State. (Citing III Wharton's Criminal Law, pp. 2127 et seq.; U. S. vs. Apurado
[1907], 7 Phil., 422; People vs. Perfecto [1922], 43 Phil., 887.)
The judgment appealed from is affirmed with the costs against the appellant. So ordered.
Avanceña, C.J., Malcolm, Villamor, Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Hull, Vickers and Imperial, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-62270 May 21, 1984
CRISPIN MALABANAN, EVELIO JALOS, BEN LUTHER LUCAS, SOTERO LEONERO, and
JUNE LEE,petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE ANASTACIO D. RAMENTO, in his capacity as the Director of the National
Capital Region of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, THE GREGORIO ARANETA
UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION; CESAR MIJARES, in his capacity as the President of the
Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, GONZALO DEL ROSARIO, in his capacity as the
Director for Academic Affairs of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation; TOMAS B.
MESINA, in his capacity as the Dean of Student Affairs of the Gregorio Araneta University
Foundation; ATTY. LEONARDO PADILLA, in his capacity as Chief Legal Counsel & Security
Supervisor of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation; ATTY. FABLITA AMMAY,
ROSENDO GALVANTE and EUGENIA TAYAO, in their capacities as members of the Ad Hoc
Committee of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, respondents.
Honesto N. Salcedo for petitioners.
The Solicitor General and Leonardo G. Padilla & Pablita G. Ammay for respondents.

FERNANDO, CJ.:
The failure to accord respect to the constitutional rights of freedom of peaceable assembly and free
speech is the grievance alleged by petitioners, students of the Gregorio Araneta University
Foundation, in this certiorari, prohibition and mandamus proceeding. The principal respondents are
Anastacio D. Ramento, Director of the National Capital Region of the Ministry of Education, Culture
and Sports and the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation. 1 The nullification of the decision of respondent
Ramento affirming the action taken by respondent Gregorio Araneta University Foundation finding petitioners guilty of illegal assembly and
suspending them is sought in this petition.

The facts are not open to dispute. Petitioners were officers of the Supreme Student Council of
respondent University. They sought and were granted by tile school authorities a permit to hold a
meeting from 8:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M, on August 27, 1982. Pursuant to such permit, along with other
students, they held a general assembly at the Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science basketball
court (VMAS), the place indicated in such permit, not in the basketball court as therein stated but at
the second floor lobby. At such gathering they manifested in vehement and vigorous language their
opposition to the proposed merger of the Institute of Animal Science with the Institute of Agriculture.
At 10:30 A.M., the same day, they marched toward the Life Science Building and continued their
rally. It was outside the area covered by their permit. They continued their demonstration, giving
utterance to language severely critical of the University authorities and using megaphones in the
process. There was, as a result, disturbance of the classes being held. Also, the non-academic
employees, within hearing distance, stopped their work because of the noise created. They were
asked to explain on the same day why they should not be held liable for holding an illegal assembly.
Then on September 9, 1982, they were formed through a memorandum that they were under

preventive suspension for their failure to explain the holding of an illegal assembly in front of the Life
Science Building. The validity thereof was challenged by petitioners both before the Court of First
Instance of Rizal in a petition for mandamus with damages against private respondents 2 and before
the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports. On October 20, 1982, respondent Ramento, as Director of
the National Capital Region, found petitioners guilty of the charge of having violated par. 146(c) of the
Manual for Private Schools more specifically their holding of an illegal assembly which was characterized
by the violation of the permit granted resulting in the disturbance of classes and oral defamation. The
penalty was suspension for one academic year. Hence this petition.

On November 16, 1982, this Court issued the following resolution: "Acting on the urgent exparte motion for the immediate issuance of a temporary mandatory order filed by counsel for
petitioners, dated November 12, 1982, the Court Resolved to ISSUE A TEMPORARY
RESTRAINING ORDER enjoining all respondents or any person or persons acting in their place or
stead from enforcing the order of the Ministry of' Education and Culture dated October 20, 1982
finding the petitioners guilty of the charges against them and suspending them for one (1) academic
year with a stern warning that a commission of the same or another offense will be dealt with utmost
severity, effective as of this date and continuing until otherwise ordered by this Court, thus allowing
them to enroll, if so minded. 3
Both public and private respondents submitted their comments. Private respondents prayed for the
dismissal of the petition "for lack of factual and legal basis and likewise [prayed] for the lifting of the
temporary restraining order dated November 16, 1982." 4 Public respondent Ramento, on the other
hand, through the Office of the Solicitor General, prayed for the dismissal of the petition based on the
following conclusion: "Consequently, it is respectfully submitted that respondent Director of the MECS did
not commit any error, much less abused his discretion, when he affirmed the decision of respondent
University finding petitioners guilty of violations of the provisions of the Manual of Regulations for Private
Schools and the Revised Student's Code of Discipline .and ordering their suspension for one (1)
academic school year. However, since said suspension has not been enforced except only briefly,
thereby enabling petitioners Leonero, Jr., Lucas and Malabanan to finish their courses, and allowing
petitioners Lee and Jalos to continue their schooling, if they so desire, this proceeding is now moot and
academic. 5

With the submission of such comments considered as the answers of public and private
respondents, the case was ready for decision.
This petition may be considered moot and academic if viewed solely from the fact that by virtue of
the temporary restraining order issued by this Court petitioners were allowed to enroll in the ensuing
semester, with three of them doing so and with the other two equally entitled to do so. Moreover,
there is the added circumstance of more than a year having passed since October 20, 1982 when
respondent Ramento issued the challenged decision suspending them for one year. Nonetheless,
with its validity having been put in issue, for being violative of the constitutional rights of freedom of
peaceable assembly and free speech, there is need to pass squarely on the question raised.
This Court accordingly rules that respect for the constitutional rights of peaceable assembly and free
speech calls for the setting aside of the decision of respondent Ramento, the penalty imposed being
unduly severe. It is true that petitioners held the rally at a place other than that specified in the permit
and continued it longer than the time allowed. Undeniably too, they did disturb the classes and
caused the work of the non-academic personnel to be left undone. Such undesirable consequence
could have been avoided by their holding the assembly in the basketball court as indicated in the
permit. Nonetheless, suspending them for one year is out of proportion to their misdeed. The petition
must be granted and the decision of respondent Ramento nullified, a much lesser penalty being
appropriate.

1. As is quite clear from the opinion in Reyes v. Bagatsing, 6 the invocation of the right to freedom of
peaceable assembly carries with it the implication that the right to free speech has likewise been
disregarded. Both are embraced in the concept of freedom of expression which is Identified with the
liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully, any matter of public interest without censorship or punishment
and which "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." 7

2. In the above case, a permit was sought to hold a peaceful march and rally from the Luneta public
park to the gates of the united States Embassy, hardly two blocks away, where in an open space of
public property, a short program would be held. Necessarily then, the question of the use of a public
park and of the streets leading to the United States Embassy was before this Court. We held that
streets and parks have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and have been used
for purposes of assembly to communicate thoughts between citizens and to discuss public issues. 8
3. The situation here is different. The assembly was to be held not in a public place but in private
premises, property of respondent University. There is in the Reyes opinion as part of the summary
this relevant excerpt: "The applicants for a permit to hold an assembly should inform the licensing
authority of the date, the public placewhere and the time when it will take place. If it were a private
place, only the consent of the owner or the one entitled to its legal possession is
required." 9 Petitioners did seek such consent. It was granted. According to the petition: "On August 27,
1982, by virtue of a permit granted to them by the school administration, the Supreme Student Council
where your petitioners are among the officers, held a General Assembly at the VMAS basketball court of
the respondent university." 10 There was an express admission in the Comment of private respondent University as to a permit
having been granted for petitioners to hold a student assembly. 11 The specific question to be resolved then is whether on the facts as
disclosed resulting in the disciplinary action and the penalty imposed, there was an infringement of the right to peaceable assembly and its
cognate right of free speech.

4. Petitioners invoke their rights to peaceable assembly and free speech. They are entitled to do so.
They enjoy like the rest of the citizens the freedom to express their views and communicate their
thoughts to those disposed to listen in gatherings such as was held in this case. They do not, to
borrow from the opinion of Justice Fortas in Tinker v. Des Moines Community School District, 12 "shed
their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." 13 While, therefore, the authority of educational
institutions over the conduct of students must be recognized, it cannot go so far as to be violative of constitutional safeguards. On a more
specific level there is persuasive force to this formulation in the Fortas opinion: "The principal use to which the schools are dedicated is to
accommodate students during prescribed hours for the purpose of certain types of activities. Among those activities is personal
intercommunication among the students. This is not only an inevitable part of the process of attending school; it is also an important part of
the educational process. A student's rights, therefore, do not embrace merely the classroom hours. When he is in the cafeteria, or on the
playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions, even on controversial subjects like the conflict in
Vietnam, if he does so without 'materially and substantially interfer[ing] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the
school' and without colliding with the rights of others. ... But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason — whether it
stems from time, place, or type of behavior — materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others
is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech." 14

5. As tested by such a standard, what is the verdict on the complaint of petitioners that there was a
disregard of their constitutional rights to peaceable assembly and free speech. It must be in their
favor, but subject to qualification in view of their continuing their demonstration in a place other than
that specified in the permit for a longer period and their making use of megaphones therein, resulting
in the disruption of classes and the stoppage of work by the non-academic personnel in the vicinity
of such assembly.
6. Objection is made by private respondents to the tenor of the speeches by the student leaders.
That there would be a vigorous presentation of views opposed to the proposed merger of the
Institute of Animal Science with the Institute of Agriculture was to be expected. There was no
concealment of the fact that they were against such a move as it confronted them with a serious
problem (iisang malaking suliranin.") 15 They believed that such a merger would result in the increase in tuition fees, an
additional headache for their parents ("isa na naman sakit sa ulo ng ating mga magulang."). 16 If in the course of such demonstration, with
an enthusiastic audience goading them on, utterances, extremely critical, at times even vitriolic, were let loose, that is quite understandable.
Student leaders are hardly the timid, diffident types. They are likely to be assertive and dogmatic. They would be ineffective if during a rally

they speak in the guarded and judicious language of the academe. At any rate, even a sympathetic audience is not disposed to accord full
credence to their fiery exhortations. They take into account the excitement of the occasion, the propensity of speakers to exaggerate, the
exuberance of youth, They may give the speakers the benefit of their applause, but with the activity taking place in the school premises and
during the daytime, no clear and present danger of public disorder is discernible. This is without prejudice to the taking of disciplinary action
for conduct, which, to borrow from Tinker, "materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others."

7. Nor is this a novel approach to the issue raised by petitioners that they were denied the right to
peaceable assembly. In a 1907 decision, United States v. Apurado, 17 the facts disclosed that shortly before the
municipal council of San Carlos, Occidental Negros, started its session, some five hundred residents of the municipality assembled near the
municipal building, and, upon the opening of the session, a substantial number of such persons barged into the council chamber, demanding
that the municipal treasurer, the municipal secretary, and the chief of police be dismissed, submitting at the same time the proposed
substitutes. The municipal council gave its conformity. Such individuals were wholly unarmed except that a few carried canes; the crowd was
fairly orderly and well-behaved except in so far as their pressing into the council chamber during a session of that body could be called
disorder and misbehavior. It turned out that the movement had its origin in religious differences. The defendant Filomeno Apurado and many
other participants were indicted and convicted of sedition in that they allegedly prevented the municipal government from freely exercising its
duties. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed. Justice Carson, who penned the opinion, correctly pointed out that "if the prosecution be
permitted to seize upon every instance of such disorderly conduct by individual members of a crowd as an excuse to characterize the
assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against the authorities, then the right to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances
would become a delusion and a snare and the attempt to exercise it on the most righteous occasion and in the most peaceable manner
would expose all those who took part therein to the severest form of punishment, if the purposes which they sought to attain did not happen
to be pleasing to the prosecuting authorities." 18 The principle to be followed is enunciated thus: "If instances of disorderly conduct occur on
such occasions, the guilty individuals should be sought out and punished therefor, but the utmost discretion must be exercised in drawing the
line between disorderly and seditious conduct and between an essentially peaceable assembly and a tumultuous uprising." 19 A careful
reading of this decision is in order before private respondents attach, as they did in their comments, a subversive character to the rally held
by the students under the leadership of petitioners.

8. It does not follow, however, that petitioners can be totally absolved for the events that transpired.
Admittedly, there was a violation of the terms of the permit. The rally was held at a place other than
that specified, in the second floor lobby, rather than the basketball court, of the VMAS building of the
University. Moreover, it was continued longer than the period allowed. According to the decision of
respondent Ramento, the "concerted activity [referring to such assembly] went on until 5:30 p.
m. 20 Private respondents could thus, take disciplinary action. On those facts, however, an admonition,
even a censure-certainly not a suspension-could be the appropriate penalty. Private respondents could
and did take umbrage at the fact that in view of such infraction considering the places where and the time
when the demonstration took place-there was a disruption of the classes and stoppage of work of the
non-academic personnel. They would not be unjustified then if they did take a much more serious view of
the matter. Even then a one-year period of suspension is much too severe. While the discretion of both
respondent University and respondent Ramento is recognized, the rule of reason, the dictate of fairness
calls for a much lesser penalty. If the concept of proportionality between the offense connoted and the
sanction imposed is not followed, an element of arbitrariness intrudes. That would give rise to a due
process question. To avoid this constitutional objection, it is the holding of this Court that a one-week
suspension would be punishment enough.

9. One last matter. The objection was raised that petitioners failed to exhaust administrative
remedies. That is true, but hardly decisive. Here, a purely legal question is presented. Such being
the case, especially so where a decision on a question of law is imperatively called for, and time
being of the essence, this Court has invariably viewed the issue as ripe for adjudication. What
cannot be too sufficiently stressed is that the constitutional rights to peaceable assembly and free
speech are invoked by petitioners. Moreover, there was, and very likely there will continue to be in
the future, militancy and assertiveness of students on issues that they consider of great importance,
whether concerning their welfare or the general public. That they have a right to do as citizens
entitled to all the protection in the Bill of Rights.
10. It would be most appropriate then, as was done in the case of Reyes v. Bagatsing, 21 for this
Court to lay down the principles for the guidance of school authorities and students alike. The rights to
peaceable assembly and free speech are guaranteed students of educational institutions. Necessarily,
their exercise to discuss matters affecting their welfare or involving public interest is not to be subjected to
previous restraint or subsequent punishment unless there be a showing of a clear and present danger to
a substantive evil that the state, has a right to present. As a corollary, the utmost leeway and scope is
accorded the content of the placards displayed or utterances made. The peaceable character of an

assembly could be lost, however, by an advocacy of disorder under the name of dissent, whatever
grievances that may be aired being susceptible to correction through the ways of the law. If the assembly
is to be held in school premises, permit must be sought from its school authorities, who are devoid of the
power to deny such request arbitrarily or unreasonably. In granting such permit, there may be conditions
as to the time and place of the assembly to avoid disruption of classes or stoppage of work of the nonacademic personnel. Even if, however, there be violations of its terms, the penalty incurred should not be
disproportionate to the offense.

WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision dated October 20, 1982 of respondent Ramento
imposing a one-year suspension is nullified and set aside. The temporary restraining order issued by
this Court in the resolution of November 18, 1982 is made permanent. As of that date, petitioners
had been suspended for more than a week. In that sense, the one-week penalty had been served.
No costs.
Teehankee, Makasiar, Guerrero, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez,
Jr., and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.
Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., and De Castro, JJ., took no part.

Footnotes
1 The other respondents named are Cesar Mijares, in his capacity as the President
of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation: Gonzalo del Rosario, in his capacity
as the Director for Academic Affairs of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation;
Tomas B. Mesina, in his capacity as the Dean of Student Affairs of the Gregorio
Araneta University Foundation; Atty. Leonardo Padilla, in his capacity as Chief Legal
Counsel and Security Supervisor of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation:
Atty. Fablita Ammay, Rosendo Galvante and Eugenio Tayao, in their capacities as
members of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation.
2 After obtaining an order to allow petitioners to lift temporarily the suspension and
allow their attendance at classes, no further information as to what subsequently
transpired was furnished this Court.
3 Resolution of this Court dated November 16, 1982.
4 Comment of Private Respondents, 18.
5 Comment of Public Respondent, 9-10.
6 G.R. No. 65366, November 9, 1983, 125 SCRA 553.
7 Ibid, 561. Cf. Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, L-27833, April 18, 1969, 27
SCRA 835, 856-857.
8 Ibid, 563-564. Reference was made to Municipality of Roxas v. Cavite, 30 Phil. 602
(1915) and Primicias v. Fugoso, 80 Phil, 71 (1948). The above formulation of the
immemorial use of public parks comes from the plurality opinion in Hague vs. CIO,
307 US 495 (1937).

9 Ibid, 569.
10 Petition, par. 2, Annex A.
11 Comment of Private Respondents, par. 2.
12 393 US 503 (1969).
13 Ibid, 507.
14 Ibid, 513-514.
15 Comment of Private Respondents, Annex M.
16 Ibid.
17 7 Phil. 422.
18 Ibid, 426.
19 Ibid.
20 Petition, Annex J.
21 Cf. Reyes v. Bagatsing, G.R. No. 65366, November 9, 1983, 125 SCRA 553.