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26. Malabanan vs.



Petitioners were officers of the Supreme Student Council of respondent University.

They sought and were granted by the school authorities a permit to hold a meeting.
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. 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.


Whether or not petitioners were deprived of their constitutional right of freedom of

peaceable assembly


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. 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

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.

It would be most appropriate then, as was done in the case of Reyes v. Bagatsing,
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 non-academic personnel. Even if, however, there be violations of its
terms, the penalty incurred should not be disproportionate to the offense.
27. De la Cruz vs. Court of Appeals


Petitioners, the above-named teachers, participated in the mass action/illegal strike

on Sept. 19-21, 1990 and subsequently defied the return-to-work order dated
September 17, 1990 issued by this Office, which acts constitute grave misconduct,
gross neglect of duty, gross violation of Civil Service Law, Rules and Regulations and
reasonable office regulations, refusal to perform official duty, gross insubordination,
conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and absence without official
leave (AWOL), in violation of Presidential Decree 807, otherwise known as the Civil
Service Decree of the Philippines. Required to explain within a period of not less
than 72 hours but not more than 5 days from receipt of the complaint, respondents
failed to submit the required answer within the given time up to the present, and
despite the denial of their request for extension of 30 days. The Department of
Education, Culture and Sports found the respondents guilty as charged.

Petitioners appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and then to the
Civil Service Commission (CSC). In 1993 the CSC found petitioners guilty of conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service" for having participated in the mass
actions and imposed upon them the reduced penalty of six (6) months' suspension.
However, in view of the length of time that petitioners had been out of the service
by reason of the immediate implementation of the dismissal orders of Secretary
Cario, the CSC likewise ordered petitioners' automatic reinstatement in the service
without back wages.

Petitioners were unhappy with the CSC decision. They initially filed petitions for
certiorari with this Court. The Special Third Division of the Court of Appeals rendered
a joint decision in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 37619-20 dismissing the petitions for lack of
merit. appellate court ruled that the questioned resolutions of the Civil Service
Commission finding petitioners guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of
the service were based on reasonable and justifiable grounds; that petitioners'
perceived grievances were no excuse for them not to conduct classes and defy the
return-to-work order issued by their superiors; that the immediate execution of the
dismissal orders of Secretary Cario was sanctioned by Sec. 47, par. (2), of the
Administrative Code of 1987 (E.O. No. 292) as well as Sec. 37, par. (b), Art. IX of PD
No. 807, and Sec. 32, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.0.
No. 292.

Meanwhile, on 24 April 1998 the Tenth Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a
joint decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 37784 and Nos. 37808-14 likewise dismissing the
petitions for lack of merit. The appellate court rejected petitioners' contention that
they should not have been penalized for participating in the September/October
1990 mass actions because they were merely exercising their constitutional right to
free assembly.

Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals grievously erred in affirming the CSC
resolutions finding them guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the
service when their only "offense" was to exercise their constitutional right to
peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of their grievances.
Moreover petitioners insist that the mass actions of September/October 1990 were
not "strikes" as there was no actual disruption of classes. Petitioners therefore ask
for exoneration or, in the alternative, award of back wages for the period of three
(3) years when they were not allowed to work while awaiting resolution of their
appeals by the MSPB and CSC, deducting the period of six (6) months' suspension
eventually meted them.

Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the CSC resolutions finding
them guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service when their only
"offense" was to exercise their constitutional right to peaceably assemble and
petition the government for redress of their grievances


The petitions must be denied in view of previous rulings of this Court already
settling all the issues raised by petitioners. It is a very desirable and necessary
judicial practice that when a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a
certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases
where the facts are substantially the same. Stare decisis et non quieta movere.
Stand by the decisions and disturb not what is settled.

As early as 18 December 1990 we have categorically ruled in the consolidated

cases of Manila Public School Teachers Association v. Laguio Jr. and Alliance of
Concerned Teachers v. Hon. Isidro Cario that the mass actions of
September/October 1990 staged by Metro Manila public school teachers "amounted
to a strike in every sense of the term, constituting as they did, a concerted and
unauthorized stoppage of or absence from work which it was said teachers' sworn
duty to perform, carried out for essentially economic reasons -- to protest and
pressure the Government to correct what, among other grievances, the strikers
perceived to be the unjust or prejudicial implementation of the salary
standardization law insofar as they were concerned, the non-payment or delay in
payment of various fringe benefits and allowances to which they were entitled, and
the imposition of additional teaching loads and longer teaching hours."

In Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals we added that the persistent refusal of the striking
teachers to call the mass actions by the conventional term "strike" did not erase the
true nature of the mass actions as unauthorized stoppages of work the purpose of
which was to obtain a favorable response to the teachers' economic grievances. We
again stressed that the teachers were penalized not because they exercised their
right to peaceably assemble but because of the manner by which such right was
exercised, i.e., going on unauthorized and unilateral absences thus disrupting
classes in various schools in Metro Manila which produced adverse effects upon the
students for whose education the teachers were responsible. But herein petitioners
contend that classes were not actually disrupted because substitute teachers were
immediately appointed by Secretary Cario. Besides being a purely factual assertion
which this Court cannot take cognizance of in a petition for review, the fact that the
prompt remedial action taken by Secretary Cario might have partially deflected the
adverse effects of the mass protests did not erase the administrative liability of
petitioners for the intended consequences thereof which were the very reason why
such prompt remedial action became necessary.
28. PBM Employees v. Philippine Blooming Mills


Petitioners decided to stage a mass demonstration at Malacanang in protest against

alleged abuses of the Pasig police, to be participated in by the workers in the first
shift (from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M.) as well as those in the regular second and third shifts
(from 7 A.M. to 4 P.M. and from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., respectively); and that they
informed the respondent Company of their proposed demonstration.

Because the petitioners and their members numbering about 400 proceeded with
the demonstration despite the pleas of the respondent Company that the first shift
workers should not be required to participate in the demonstration and that the
workers in the second and third shifts should be utilized for the demonstration from
6 A.M. to 2 P.M. on March 4, 1969, respondent Company prior notice of the mass
demonstration on March 4, 1969, with the respondent Court, a charge against
petitioners and other employees who composed the first shift, charging them with a
"violation of Section 4(a)-6 in relation to Sections 13 and 14, as well as Section 15,
all of Republic Act No. 875, and of the CBA providing for 'No Strike and No Lockout.'

Judge Salvador found herein petitioner PBMEO guilty of bargaining in bad faith and
here petitioners as directly responsible for perpetrating the said unfair labor
practice and were, as a consequence, considered to have lost their status as
employees of the respondent Company


Whether or not the constitutional freedoms of speech and expression of the

petitioners were violated by the respondent company in preventing some of its
employees to participate in the rally and later dismissed some of its employees


The respondent company is the one guilty of unfair labor practice. Because the
refusal on the part of the respondent firm to permit all its employees and workers to
join the mass demonstration against alleged police abuses and the subsequent
separation of the eight (8) petitioners from the service constituted an
unconstitutional restraint on the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and
freedom petition for redress of grievances, the respondent firm committed an unfair
labor practice defined in Section 4(a-1) in relation to Section 3 of Republic Act No.
875, otherwise known as the Industrial Peace Act. Section 3 of Republic Act No. 8
guarantees to the employees the right "to engage in concert activities for ... mutual
aid or protection"; while Section 4(a-1) regards as an unfair labor practice for an
employer interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise their rights
guaranteed in Section Three."

We repeat that the obvious purpose of the mass demonstration staged by the
workers of the respondent firm on March 4, 1969, was for their mutual aid and
protection against alleged police abuses, denial of which was interference with or
restraint on the right of the employees to engage in such common action to better
shield themselves against such alleged police indignities. The insistence on the part
of the respondent firm that the workers for the morning and regular shift should not
participate in the mass demonstration, under pain of dismissal, was as heretofore
stated, "a potent means of inhibiting speech."
Such a concerted action for their mutual help and protection deserves at least equal
protection as the concerted action of employees in giving publicity to a letter
complaint charging bank president with immorality, nepotism, favoritism and
discrimination in the appointment and promotion of ban employees. We further
ruled in the Republic Savings Bank case, supra, that for the employees to come
within the protective mantle of Section 3 in relation to Section 4(a-1) on Republic
Act No. 875, "it is not necessary that union activity be involved or that collective
bargaining be contemplated," as long as the concerted activity is for the
furtherance of their interests.

As stated clearly in the stipulation of facts embodied in the questioned order of

respondent Court dated September 15, 1969, the company, "while expressly
acknowledging, that the demonstration is an inalienable right of the Union
guaranteed by the Constitution," nonetheless emphasized that "any demonstration
for that matter should not unduly prejudice the normal operation of the company"
and "warned the PBMEO representatives that workers who belong to the first and
regular shifts, who without previous leave of absence approved by the Company,
particularly the officers present who are the organizers of the demonstration, who
shall fail to report for work the following morning (March 4, 1969) shall be
dismissed, because such failure is a violation of the existing CBA and, therefore,
would be amounting to an illegal strike (;)" (p. III, petitioner's brief). Such threat of
dismissal tended to coerce the employees from joining the mass demonstration.
However, the issues that the employees raised against the local police, were more
important to them because they had the courage to proceed with the
demonstration, despite such threat of dismissal. The most that could happen to
them was to lose a day's wage by reason of their absence from work on the day of
the demonstration. One day's pay means much to a laborer, more especially if he
has a family to support. Yet, they were willing to forego their one-day salary hoping
that their demonstration would bring about the desired relief from police abuses.
But management was adamant in refusing to recognize the superior legitimacy of
their right of free speech, free assembly and the right to petition for redress.

Because the respondent company ostensibly did not find it necessary to demand
from the workers proof of the truth of the alleged abuses inflicted on them by the
local police, it thereby concedes that the evidence of such abuses should properly
be submitted to the corresponding authorities having jurisdiction over their
complaint and to whom such complaint may be referred by the President of the
Philippines for proper investigation and action with a view to disciplining the local
police officers involved.

On the other hand, while the respondent Court of Industrial Relations found that the
demonstration "paralyzed to a large extent the operations of the complainant
company," the respondent Court of Industrial Relations did not make any finding as
to the fact of loss actually sustained by the firm. This significant circumstance can
only mean that the firm did not sustain any loss or damage. It did not present
evidence as to whether it lost expected profits for failure to comply with purchase
orders on that day; or that penalties were exacted from it by customers whose
orders could not be filled that day of the demonstration; or that purchase orders
were cancelled by the customers by reason of its failure to deliver the materials
ordered; or that its own equipment or materials or products were damaged due to
absence of its workers on March 4, 1969. On the contrary, the company saved a
sizable amount in the form of wages for its hundreds of workers, cost of fuel, water
and electric consumption that day. Such savings could have amply compensated for
unrealized profits or damages it might have sustained by reason of the absence of
its workers for only one day.
29.Bayan vs. Ermita


Petitioners allege that they are citizens and taxpayers of the Philippines and that
their rights as organizations and individuals were violated when the rally they
participated in on October 6, 2005 was violently dispersed by policemen
implementing Batas Pambansa (B.P.) No. 880. Malacanang also issued a policy
denominated as Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR) on all rallies. Said CPR
Policy provides, among others:

The rule of calibrated preemptive response is now in force, in lieu

of maximum tolerance. The authorities will not stand aside while
those with ill intent are herding a witting or unwitting mass of
people and inciting them into actions that are inimical to public
order, and the peace of mind of the national community.

Unlawful mass actions will be dispersed. The majority of law-

abiding citizens have the right to be protected by a vigilant and
proactive government. We appeal to the detractors of the
government to engage in lawful and peaceful conduct befitting of
a democratic society.

They assail Batas Pambansa No. 880 as well as the policy of Calibrated Preemptive
Response" or CPR and seek to stop violent dispersals of rallies under the "no permit,
no rally" policy and the CPR policy recently announced.

Respondents argue that:

1. Petitioners have no standing because they have not presented evidence that
they had been "injured, arrested or detained because of the CPR," and that
"those arrested stand to be charged with violating Batas Pambansa [No.] 880
and other offenses."
2. Neither B.P. No. 880 nor CPR is void on its face. Petitioners cannot honestly
claim that the time, place and manner regulation embodied in B.P. No. 880
violates the three-pronged test for such a measure, to wit: (a) B.P. No. 880 is
content-neutral, i.e., it has no reference to content of regulated speech; (b)
B.P. No. 880 is narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest,
i.e., the interest cannot be equally well served by a means that is less
intrusive of free speech interests; and (c) B.P. No. 880 leaves open alternative
channels for communication of the information.
3. B.P. No. 880 is content-neutral as seen from the text of the law. Section 5
requires the statement of the public assemblys time, place and manner of
conduct. It entails traffic re-routing to prevent grave public inconvenience
and serious or undue interference in the free flow of commerce and trade.
Furthermore, nothing in B.P. No. 880 authorizes the denial of a permit on the
basis of a rallys program content or the statements of the speakers therein,
except under the constitutional precept of the "clear and present danger
test." The status of B.P. No. 880 as a content-neutral regulation has been
recognized in Osmea v. Comelec.
4. Adiong v. Comelec8 held that B.P. No. 880 is a content-neutral regulation of
the time, place and manner of holding public assemblies and the law passes
the test for such regulation, namely, these regulations need only a
substantial governmental interest to support them.
5. Sangalang v. Intermediate Appellate Court9 held that a local chief executive
has the authority to exercise police power to meet "the demands of the
common good in terms of traffic decongestion and public convenience."
Furthermore, the discretion given to the mayor is narrowly circumscribed by
Sections 5 (d), and 6 (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), 13 and 15 of the law.
6. The standards set forth in the law are not inconsistent. "Clear and convincing
evidence that the public assembly will create a clear and present danger to
public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public
health" and "imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil" both express
the meaning of the "clear and present danger test."
7. CPR is simply the responsible and judicious use of means allowed by existing
laws and ordinances to protect public interest and restore public order. Thus,
it is not accurate to call it a new rule but rather it is a more pro-active and
dynamic enforcement of existing laws, regulations and ordinances to prevent
chaos in the streets. It does not replace the rule of maximum tolerance in B.P.
No. 880.

Respondent Mayor Joselito Atienza, for his part, submitted in his Comment that the
petition in G.R. No. 169838 should be dismissed on the ground that Republic Act No.
7160 gives the Mayor power to deny a permit independently of B.P. No. 880; that his
denials of permits were under the "clear and present danger" rule as there was a
clamor to stop rallies that disrupt the economy and to protect the lives of other
people; that J. B. L. Reyes v. Bagatsing,11 Primicias v. Fugoso,12 and Jacinto v.
CA,13 have affirmed the constitutionality of requiring a permit; that the permit is for
the use of a public place and not for the exercise of rights; and that B.P. No. 880 is
not a content-based regulation because it covers all rallies.


1. On the constitutionality of Batas Pambansa No. 880, specifically Sections 4, 5,

6, 12 13(a) and 14(a) thereof, and Republic Act No. 7160:
a. Are these content-neutral or content-based regulations?
b. Are they void on grounds of overbreadth or vagueness?
c. Do they constitute prior restraint?


B.P. 880 is constitutional.

The first point to mark is that the right to peaceably assemble and petition for
redress of grievances is, together with freedom of speech, of expression, and of the
press, a right that enjoys primacy in the realm of constitutional protection. For these
rights constitute the very basis of a functional democratic polity, without which all
the other rights would be meaningless and unprotected. As stated in Jacinto v. CA,
the Court, as early as the onset of this century, in U.S. v. Apurado,16 already upheld
the right to assembly and petition, as follows:
There is no question as to the petitioners rights to peaceful assembly to petition
the government for a redress of grievances and, for that matter, to organize or form
associations for purposes not contrary to law, as well as to engage in peaceful
concerted activities. These rights are guaranteed by no less than the Constitution,
particularly Sections 4 and 8 of the Bill of Rights, Section 2(5) of Article IX, and
Section 3 of Article XIII. Jurisprudence abounds with hallowed pronouncements
defending and promoting the peoples exercise of these rights. As early as the onset
of this century, this Court in U.S. vs. Apurado, already upheld the right to assembly
and petition and even went as far as to acknowledge:

"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
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 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, 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."

Again, in Primicias v. Fugoso, the Court likewise sustained the primacy of freedom of
speech and to assembly and petition over comfort and convenience in the use of
streets and parks.

Next, however, it must be remembered that the right, while sacrosanct, is not
absolute. In Primicias, this Court said:

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. But
it is a settled principle growing out of the nature of well-ordered 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, nor 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 by
authorizing their legislative bodies called municipal and city councils to enact
ordinances for the purpose.

Reyes v. Bagatsing19 further expounded on the right and its limits, as follows:

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." 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. There is to be then no previous restraint on the
communication of views or subsequent liability whether in libel suits,
prosecution for sedition, or action for damages, or contempt proceedings
unless there be a "clear and present danger of a substantive evil that [the
State] has a right to prevent." Freedom of assembly connotes the right of the
people to meet peaceably for consultation and discussion of matters of public
concern. It is entitled to be accorded the utmost deference and respect. It is
not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing, as is the case with
freedom of expression, of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil
that the state has a right to prevent. Even prior to the 1935 Constitution,
Justice Malcolm had occasion to stress that it is a necessary consequence of
our republican institutions and complements the right of free speech. To
paraphrase the opinion of Justice Rutledge, speaking for the majority of the
American Supreme Court in Thomas v. Collins, it was not by accident or
coincidence that the rights to freedom of speech and of the press were
coupled in a single guarantee with 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. In every case, therefore, where
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.

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." 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:
"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." 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 ones 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.

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:
"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 must not, in the guise of
regulation, be abridged or denied." The above excerpt was quoted with
approval in Primicias v. Fugoso. Primicias made explicit what was implicit in
Municipality of Cavite v. Rojas, 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," 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 proposed march and rally starting from a public park 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 blocks 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 v. 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 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, * * *. "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."


6. x x x 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." 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."


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, they 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. x x x.

It is very clear, therefore, that B.P. No. 880 is not an absolute ban of public
assemblies but a restriction that simply regulates the time, place and manner of the
assemblies. This was adverted to in Osmea v. Comelec,20 where the Court referred
to it as a "content-neutral" regulation of the time, place, and manner of holding
public assemblies.
A fair and impartial reading of B.P. No. 880 thus readily shows that it refers to all
kinds of public assemblies22 that would use public places. The reference to "lawful
cause" does not make it content-based because assemblies really have to be for
lawful causes, otherwise they would not be "peaceable" and entitled to protection.
Neither are the words "opinion," "protesting" and "influencing" in the definition of
public assembly content based, since they can refer to any subject. The words
"petitioning the government for redress of grievances" come from the wording of
the Constitution, so its use cannot be avoided. Finally, maximum tolerance is for the
protection and benefit of all rallyists and is independent of the content of the
expressions in the rally.
Furthermore, the permit can only be denied on the ground of clear and present
danger to public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public
health. This is a recognized exception to the exercise of the right even under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.

Contrary to petitioners claim, the law is very clear and is nowhere vague in its
provisions. "Public" does not have to be defined. Its ordinary meaning is well-known.
Websters Dictionary defines it, thus: public, n, x x x 2a: an organized body of
people x x x 3: a group of people distinguished by common interests or
characteristics x x x.

Not every expression of opinion is a public assembly. The law refers to "rally,
demonstration, march, parade, procession or any other form of mass or concerted
action held in a public place." So it does not cover any and all kinds of gatherings.

Neither is the law overbroad. It regulates the exercise of the right to peaceful
assembly and petition only to the extent needed to avoid a clear and present
danger of the substantive evils Congress has the right to prevent.

There is, likewise, no prior restraint, since the content of the speech is not relevant
to the regulation.