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Petitioners are representatives of mass media which are prevented from selling or donating space and
time for political advertisements, two candidates for office in the coming 1992 elections and taxpayers
and voters who claim that their right to be informed of election issues and of credentials of candidates is
being curtailed. They argue that Section 11(b) of REPUBLIC Act No. 6646 invades and violates the
constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. Also, they claim that the prohibition imposed by
Section 11(b) of Ra 6646 amounts to censorship because it selects and singles out for suppression and
repression with criminal sanctions, only publications of a particular content, namely, media-based election
or political propaganda during the period od the 1992 elections.

ISSUE: W/N Section 11(b) of RA No. 6646 constitutes an unconstitutional repression of freedom of speech
and of the press.

No. The points that may appropriately be underscored are that Section 11 (b) does not cut off the flow of
media reporting, opinion or commentary about candidates, their qualifications and platforms and
promises. Newspaper, radio broadcasting and television stations remain quite free to carry out their
regular and normal information and communication operations. Section 11 (b) does not authorize any
intervention and much less control on the part of Comelec in respect of the content of the normal
operations of media, nor in respect of the content of political advertisements which the individual
candidates are quite free to present within their respective allocated Comelec time and Comelec space.
There is here no "officious functionary of [a] repressive government" dictating what events or ideas
reporters, broadcasters, editors or commentators may talk or write about or display on TV screens. There
is here no censorship, whether disguised or otherwise. What Section 11 (b), viewed in context, in fact
does is to limit paid partisan political advertisements to for another than modern mass media, and to
"Comelec time" and "Comelec space" in such mass media. Whatever limitations Section 11(b) entails
bears a clear and reasonable connection with the objective set out in Article IX (C)(4) and Article II (26) of
the Constitution.

Vasquez v CA

Rodolfo Vasquez is a resident of Tondo Foreshore Area. In April 1986, he and some other 37 families from
the area went to see the National Housing Authority General Manager Lito Atienza regarding their
complaint against their Barangay Chariman, Jaime Olmedo. After their meeting with Atienza and other
NHA officials, Vasquez and his companions were met and interviewed by newspaper reporters concerning
their complaint. The next day, it appeared in a newspaper that 38 families seek help from then President
Cory Aquino for the alleged land grabbing of Olmedo, who was also claimed to have connived with the
officers of NHA. Moreover, Vasquez claimed that Olmedo was involved in illegal gambling and stealing of
chicken in their area. Olmedo filed a complaint. For libel against Vasquez alleging that the latter’s
statements cast aspersions on him and damaged his reputation.

ISSUE: W/N the actual malice standard in New York Times vs Sullivan may be applied in this case.

Yes. The first three elements of libel are present. The statements that Olmedo, through connivance with
NHA officials, was able to obtain title to several lots in the area and that he was involved in a number of
illegal activities (attempted murder, gambling and theft of fighting cocks) were clearly defamatory. The
question is whether from the fact that the statements were defamatory, malice can be presumed so that
it was incumbent upon petitioner to overcome such presumption. Under Art. 361 of the Revised Penal
Code, if the defamatory statement is made against a public official with respect to the discharge of his
official duties and functions and the truth of the allegation is shown, the accused will be entitled to an
acquittal even though he does not prove that the imputation was published with good motives and for
justifiable ends. Vaquez was able to prove the truth of his charges against Olmedo. For that matter, even
if the defamatory statement is false, no liability can attach if it relates to official conduct, unless the public
official concerned proves that the statement was made with actual malice that is, with knowledge that it
was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. This is the gist of the ruling in the
landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan. This is the rule of actual malice. In this case, the prosecution
failed to prove not only that the charges made by petitioner were false but also that petitioner made them
with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard of whether they were false or not.

Note: On the issue of Libel:

To find a person guilty of libel under Art. 353 of the Revised Penal Code, the following elements must be
proved: (a) the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another; (b) publication of the
charge; (c) identity of the person defamed; and (d) existence of malice. An allegation is considered
defamatory if it ascribes to a person the commission of a crime, the possession of a vice or defect, real or
imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance which tends to dishonor or discredit or
put him in contempt, or which tends to blacken the memory of one who is dead.
There is publication if the material is communicated to a third person. It is not required that the person
defamed has read or heard about the libelous remark. What is material is that a third person has read or
heard the libelous statement, for a man’s reputation is the estimate in which others hold him, not the
good opinion which he has of himself. On the other hand, to satisfy the element of identifiability, it must
be shown that at least a third person or a stranger was able to identify him as the object of the defamatory
Finally, malice or ill will must be present. Art. 354 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and
justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases: 1. A private communication made
by any person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or security duty; and 2. A fair and true
report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial, legislative or other official
proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of any statement, report or speech delivered in said
proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.



Several pre-taped episodes of the TV program “Ang Iglesia ni Cristo” of the religious group Iglesia ni Cristo
(INC) were classified as X or not for public viewing by the Board of Review for Moving Pictures and
Television (now MTRCB). These episodes allegedly offended and constituted an attack against other
religions which is expressly prohibited by law because of INC’s controversial biblical interpretations and
its attacks against contrary religious beliefs. Inc contends that the term television program should not
include religious programs like its program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo. A contrary interpretation, it is urged, will
contravene Section 5, Article III of the Constitution which guarantees that no law shall be made respecting
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of
religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.

Can the State regulate the exercise of religious freedom?

Yes. The Court iterates the rule that the exercise of religious freedom can be regulated by the State when
it will bring about the clear and present danger of some substantive evil which the State is duty bound to
prevent, i.e., serious detriment to the more overriding interest of public health, public morals, or public
welfare. The right to religious profession and worship has a two-fold aspect, viz., freedom to believe and
freedom to act on one’s beliefs. The first is absolute as long as the belief is confined within the realm of
thought. The second is subject to regulation where the belief is translated into external acts that affect
the public welfare.

(1) Freedom to Believe

The individual is free to believe (or disbelieve) as he pleases concerning the hereafter. He may indulge his
own theories about life and death; worship any god he chooses, or none at all; embrace or reject any
religion; acknowledge the divinity of God or of any being that appeals to his reverence; recognize or deny
the immortality of his soul in fact, cherish any religious conviction as he and he alone sees fit. However
absurd his beliefs may be to others, even if they be hostile and heretical to the majority, he has full
freedom to believe as he pleases. He may not be required to prove his beliefs. He may not be punished
for his inability to do so. Religion, after all, is a matter of faith. Men may believe what they cannot prove.
Everyone has a right to his beliefs and he may not be called to account because he cannot prove what he

(2) Freedom to Act on Ones Beliefs

But where the individual externalizes his beliefs in acts or omissions that affect the public, his freedom to
do so becomes subject to the authority of the State. As great as this liberty may be, religious freedom, like
all the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution, can be enjoyed only with a proper regard for the rights
of others. It is error to think that the mere invocation of religious freedom will stalemate the State and
render it impotent in protecting the general welfare. The inherent police power can be exercised to
prevent religious practices inimical to society. And this is true even if such practices are pursued out of
sincere religious conviction and not merely for the purpose of evading the reasonable requirements or
prohibitions of the law.

Thus, Inc’s religious program is subject to review by the Board since television is a medium that reaches
even the eyes and ears of children. However, there is no showing whatsoever of the type of harm the
tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the threatened harm. Prior restraint on
speech, including religious speech, cannot be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a
substantive and imminent evil which has taken the life of a reality already on ground.

Note: Discussion on Clear and Present Danger test

The clear and present danger test is not applied to protect low value speeches such as obscene speech,
commercial speech and defamation. Be that as it may, the test is still applied to four types of speech:
speech that advocates dangerous ideas, speech that provokes a hostile audience reaction, out of court
contempt and release of information that endangers a fair trial. Hence, even following the drift of
American jurisprudence, there is reason to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar which
concerns speech that attacks other religions and could readily provoke hostile audience reaction. It cannot
be doubted that religious truths disturb and disturb terribly. This cannot be applied in this case since the
issue involves the content of speech and not the time, place or manner of speech.