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Kapunan vs de Villa

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 83177 December 6, 1988

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LT. COL. EDUARDO KAPUNAN, JR., PAF, and LT. COL. NELSON ESLAO, PAF, petitioners, vs. AFP CHIEF OF STAFF GEN. RENATO S. DE VILLA, BRIG. GEN. MANUEL CASACLANG, AFP, COMMODORE VIRGILIO Q. MARCELO, AFP, PMA SUPERINTENDENT COMMODORE ROGELIO DAYAN, AFP, GENERAL COURT MARTIAL NO. 8, MAJ. PEDRO ROSAL, JAGS, MAJ. FELIX V. BALDONADO, JAGS, LT. COL. RODULFO MUNAR, JAGS and AFP BOARD OF OFFICERS, respondents. Roco, Bunag & Kapunan Law Offices for petitioners. Office of the Solicitor General for respondents. RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM: In this petition for certiorari, prohibition and/or habeas corpus, petitioners, who were implicated in the unsuccessful coup d'etat of August 28, 1987 and relieved of their duties in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), seek the issuance of the writs of certiorari and prohibition (1) to set aside, as null and void, the "pre-trial investigation" report finding a prima facie case against them and recommending their trial for mutiny and conduct unbecoming an officer and the denial of their motion for reconsideration, and (2) to enjoin respondent General Court Martial No. 8 from further proceeding in the case

of "People v. Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan, et al." Further, petitioner Kapunan seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to procure his release from confinement. On May 19, 1988, the Court issued an order restraining respondent General Court Martial No. 8 from proceeding with the arraignment of petitioners scheduled for that date [Rollo, pp. 124-125]. The Solicitor General filed a comment in behalf of the respondents, to which petitioners filed a reply. After petitioners moved for the early resolution of the case and respondents filed the required rejoinder, the Court considered the case ripe for resolution. In brief, the pertinent facts are as follows: In the aftermath of the failed August 28, 1987 coup d'etat where cadets of the Philippine Military Academy reportedly openly supported the plotters and issued statements to that effect, respondent PMA Superintendent Dayan created on August 31, 1987 a PMA Board of Officers to investigate the alleged involvement of officers and cadets of the PMA [Rollo, p. 187]. A factfinding investigation was conducted by the PMA Board from September 1 to 11, 1987 and on September 23, 1987 it submitted its findings to the AFP Chief of Staff [Rollo, p. 195]. On the basis of the findings of the PMA Board, respondent AFP Board of Officers recommended on October 8, 1987 the filing of charges against Maj. Doromal and Lts. Catapang and Baltazar and the reprimand of cadets Paredes, Tutaan, D. Macasaet, F. Macasaet, Lenterio, Rulloda and Balisi [Rollo, pp. 34-36]. A few days later, respondent PMA Superintendent Dayan verbally instructed the PMA Board of Officers to take the testimonies of certain witnesses, which it did from October 12 to 16,1987 [Rollo, p. 195]. These statements were submitted to the Chief of Staff [Rollo, p. 37] and became the basis for the recommendation of the AFP Board, dated October 30, 1987, for the filing of charges against petitioners [Rollo, pp. 38-40]. Charge sheets (and amended charge sheets) were filed against petitioners for mutiny and conduct unbecoming an officer (Arts. 67 and 96 of the Articles of War) [Rollo, pp. 42-

45; 72-75] and a "pre-trial investigation" was conducted by respondent Maj. Baldonado. Petitioners were subpoenaed and required by Maj. Baldonado to file their counter-affidavits or testify in the "pre-trial investigation" [Rollo, p. 41], but instead of doing so, petitioners filed an untitled pleading seeking the dismissal of the charges against them [Rollo, pp. 46-68]. In a "pre-trial investigation" report dated February 1, 1988, a prima facie case was found against petitioners and the case was recommended for trial by a general court martial [Rollo, pp. 76-80]. Petitioners' motion to dismiss was also denied. Thereafter, petitioners were served subpoenas to appear before respondent General Court Martial No. 8 for arraignment. The first scheduled hearing for petitioners' arraignment was reset after three (3) members of the general court martial inhibited themselves. Petitioners, in the meantime, filed a motion for reconsideration of the "pre-trial investigation" report. In the next hearing, petitioners objected to their arraignment and moved for a deferment thereof. When this was denied, petitioners' civilian counsel (their counsel in this case) moved to be excused from the proceedings. The general court martial granted the motion and postponed the hearing to May 19, 1988, directing petitioners to secure the services of new counsel. It was at this point that the instant petition was filed before the Court. In the meantime, petitioner Kapunan was allegedly summoned to the General Headquarters of the AFP for a dialogue, but upon his arrival thereat on September 4, 1987 he was ordered confined under "house arrest" by then Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos. On February 19, 1988, the arrest of petitioner Kapunan, together with three (3) others, was ordered by respondent Chief of Staff De Villa in connection with the killing of Atty. Rolando Olalia and Leonore Alay-ay [Rollo, p. 69]. On May 19, 1988, Gen. De Villa ordered the release of Kapunan in connection with the Olalia case since no charges had been filed therein, but ordered that he remain under confinement as an accused in the case before respondent General Court Martial No. 8 [Rollo, p. 200]. He has been so detained since then. Likewise, petitioners Kapunan and Eslao were relieved of their duties and functions as

Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Assistant Commandant of Cadets of the PMA, respectively. After the instant petition was filed, petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the "pre-trial investigation" report was denied by Gen. De Villa [Rollo, pp 128-129]. The issues raised in the petition are three-fold: (1) whether or not petitioners have been denied due process of law in the investigation of the charges against them; (2) whether or not respondent Maj. Baldonado gravely abused his discretion in finding a prima facie case and recommending the trial of petitioners before a court martial; and (3) whether or not the continued confinement of petitioner Kapunan is legal. These issues shall be discussed ad seriatim. 1. Petitioners contend that they have been denied due process primarily because the procedure followed in the investigation of the charges against them was not in compliance with the requirements of the Articles of War (Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended) and the law on preliminary investigations (Presidential Decree No. 77, as amended by P.D. No. 911). Under military law, the conduct of investigations is primarily governed by Art. 71 of the Articles of War, to wit: Art. 71 Charges; Action upon.Charges and specifications must be signed by a person subject to military law, and under the oath either that he has personal knowledge of, or has investigated, the matters set forth therein and that the same are true in fact, to the best of his knowledge and belief. No charge will be referred to a general court-martial for trial until after a thorough and impartial investigation thereof shall have been made. This investigation will include inquiries as to the truth of the matter set forth in said charges, form of charges, and what disposition of the case should be made in the interest of justice and discipline. At such investigation full opportunity shall be given to the accused to cross-examine witnesses

against him if they are available and to present anything he may desire in his own behalf, either in defense or mitigation, and the investigating officer shall examine available witnesses requested by the accused. If the charges are forwarded after such investigation, they shall be accompanied by a statement of the substance of the testimony taken on both sides. xxx xxx xxx On the other hand, P.D. No. 77, as amended by P.D. No. 911, which respondent Maj. Baldonado applied suppletorily to the Articles of War by requiring petitioners to file their counter-affidavits [Rollo, p. 41], provides: Sec. 1. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary and except when an investigation has been conducted by a judge of first instance, city or municipal judge or other officer in accordance with law and the Rules of Court of the Philippines, no information for an offense cognizable by the Court of First Instance shall be filed by the provincial or city fiscal or his assistants or by a state prosecutor, without first conducting a preliminary investigation in the following manner: a. All complaints shall be accompanied by statements of the complainant and his witnesses as well as other supporting documents. The statements of the complainant and his witnesses shall be sworn to before any fiscal or state prosecutor or before any government official authorized to administer oath. The officer administering the oath must certify that he has personally examined the affiants and that he is satisfied that they voluntarily executed and understood their affidavits. b. If on the basis of the complainant's sworn statements and documents submitted, the investigating fiscal or state prosecutor finds no probable cause to conduct a preliminary investigation, he shall dismiss the case. If probable cause is established by complainant's evidence, he shall notify the respondent by issuing a subpoena requiring him to submit his counteraffidavit and the affidavit of his witnesses, if any, and other supporting documents, within ten (10) days from receipt of such subpoena. If respondent cannot be subpoenaed, or if subpoenaed he does not appear

before the investigating fiscal or state prosecutor, the preliminary investigation shall proceed without him. To such subpoena shall be attached a copy of the complaint, the sworn statements and other documents submitted. Other evidence submitted shall be made available for examination of the respondent or his counsel. The statements of the respondent and his witnesses shall be sworn to before any fiscal or state prosecutor or before any government official authorized to administer oath and with the same certification as above-mentioned. The respondent shall furnish the complainant copies of his counter-affidavits and other supporting documents. c. If a prima-facie case is established by the evidence, the investigating fiscal or state prosecutor shall immediately file the corresponding information in court. If he finds that there is no prima facie case, he shall dismiss the case unless he believes there are matters to be clarified in which case he may propound clarificatory questions to the parties or their witnesses affording both parties opportunity to be present but without right to examine or cross-examine. If the parties or their counsel so desire, they may submit questions to the fiscal which the latter may in his discretion propound to the parties concerned. xxx xxx xxx The Court finds that, contrary to the contention of petitioners, there was substantial compliance with the requirements of law as provided in the Articles of War and P.D. No. 77, as amended by P.D. No. 911. The amended charge sheets, charging petitioners and their co-respondents with mutiny and conduct unbecoming an officer [Rollo, pp. 42-45; 72-75], were signed by Maj. Antonio Ruiz, a person subject to military law, after he had investigated the matter through an evaluation of the pertinent records, including the reports of respondent AFP Board of Officers [Rollo, pp. 34-36; 38-40], and was convinced of the truth of the testimonies on record. The charge sheets were sworn to by Maj. Ruiz, the "accuser", in accordance with and in the manner provided under Art. 71 of the Articles of War [Rollo, pp. 45, 75]. Considering that P.D. No. 77, as amended by P.D. No. 911, is only

of suppletory application, the fact that the charge sheets were not certified in the manner provided under said decrees, i.e., that the officer administering the oath has personally examined the affiant and that he is satisfied that they voluntarily executed and understood his affidavit, does not invalidate said charge sheets. Thereafter, a "pre-trial investigation" was conducted by respondent Maj. Baldonado, wherein, pursuant to P.D. No. 77, as amended by P.D. No. 911, petitioners were subpoenaed and required to file their counter-affidavits [Rollo, p. 41]. However, instead of doing so, they filed an untitled pleading seeking the dismissal of the charges against them [Rollo, pp. 46-68]. That petitioners were not able to confront the witnesses against them was their own doing, for they never even asked Maj. Baldonado to subpoena said witnesses so that they may be made to answer clarificatory questions in accordance with P.D. No. 77, as amended by P. D. No. 911. Further, petitioners cannot complain that they were denied the opportunity to be heard, considering that the arguments in their pleading seeking the dismissal of the charges were considered in Maj. Baldonado's "pre-trial investigation" report, as can be clearly seen from the text of the report itself [Rollo, pp. 76-80]. Anent petitioners' contention that they were denied due process when they were not given the opportunity to be heard in the inquiry conducted by the PMA Board of Officers, it must be stressed that such was in the nature of a fact-finding inquiry, as distinguished from the "pre-trial investigation" conducted by Maj. Baldonado which corresponds to the preliminary investigation under P.D. No. 77, as amended by P.D. No. 911, where the object is to determine the existence of a prima facie case that would warrant the prosecution of the accused. Viewed from another angle, the investigations conducted by the PMA Board were akin to the investigations conducted by the police and other investigative agencies to gather facts to support the subsequent filing of the appropriate charges against suspects. Collaterally, petitioners argue that they were denied due process because the investigators, Chief of Staff de Villa, who denied the motion to reconsider

the "pre-trial investigation" report, and PMA Superintendent Dayan, who constituted the PMA Board of Officers and ordered the inquiry, were themselves culpable for the acts of the PMA cadets and officers on the basis of the doctrine of command responsibility. This argument must however fail as the doctrine finds no application to the facts of the case. The acts imputed to petitioners were allegedly in furtherance of the failed coup d'etat of August 28, 1987, which constituted a breach of and was directed against the chain of command of the AFP, which De Villa and Dayan formed part of. The fallacy in petitioners' reliance on the doctrine of command responsibility becomes apparent when their argument is pursued to its logical end. Under their theory, even the President, as Commander-in-Chief, can ultimately be held culpable for the unsuccessful August 28, 1987 coup d' etat. 2. The next issue raised by petitioners is the alleged insufficiency of the evidence to establish a prima facie case to warrant their prosecution. They argue that the factual findings of Maj. Baldonado in his "pre-trial investigation" report are insufficient to support a prima facie case for mutiny and conduct unbecoming an officer under Arts. 67 and 96 of the Articles of War and, therefore, he gravely abused his discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in finding a prima facie case and recommending the trial of petitioners by court martial. The Court finds the contention unmeritorious. No grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction can be attributed to Maj. Baldonado for finding a prima facie case, for such is supported by the evidence on record. Thus, the "pre-trial investigation" report states: xxx xxx xxx 5. On or about 2400H 28 Aug 87, CAPT ALFREDO BAMBICO JR. PA a member of the Tactics Group briefed PMA Cadets at the Officer's Lounge about the camp defense plan and the movements of cadets from PMA to Baguio City. Present at the briefing were respondents LT. COL. EDUARDO KAPUNAN and LT. COL. NELSON ESLAO and about thirty (30) junior officers. On or about 0200H 29 Aug 87, CAPT CELSO DEL ROSARIO CO Transportation Maintenance Company, PMA received a call from LT. COL.

KAPUNAN J-3, PMA to dispatch two (2) 6 x 6 trucks and one (1) bus to proceed near the vicinity of the J-3 Office. On or about 0200H - 0300H 29 Aug 87 said vehicles moved out with cadets on board, and led by respondent l LT. CATAPANG who was on board a jeep. CADET (1 C) JOHN BULALACAO stated that LT. BALTAZAR was with them in the bus. This movement of cadets and officers was not sanctioned by the PMA Superintendent. According to SGT. MARBI RIMANDO, driver of one of the 6 x 6 trucks, the cadets were in fatigue uniform, wore black bonnets, had blackened their faces, and were armed. 6. SGT. RICARDO LAGMAY, Truck Driver, Motor Pool, TMC PMA averred that he was the driver of the other 6 x 6 truck with about forty (40) cadets on board, which moved out on that occasion. The column was, however, stopped at the checkpoint by an MP officer and they halted and parked thereat for about thirty (30) minutes, after which they returned to the mess hall. CADET (1C) BULALACAO stated that the cadets were met at the mess hall by LT. COL. KAPUNAN and were informed by the latter that the cause or coup was already finished. CADET (1C) NEMESIO GACAL stated that he heard LT. COL. KAPUNAN say, that "we are a hell of a corps". [Rollo, pp. 77]. Maj. Baldonado's findings are also supported by those of the AFP Board of Officers, which considered the testimonies of witnesses taken by the PMA Board of Officers pursuant to the order of PMA Superintendent Dayan [see Rollo, pp. 38-40]. 3. Finally, petitioner Kapunan questions the legality of his confinement under "house arrest" and seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to procure his release. The Court finds that petitioner Kapunan's continued confinement is not tainted with illegality. Among the grounds for the disallowance of the writ of habeas corpus is that the applicant has been charged with or convicted of in offense [Sec. 4, Rule 102, Rules of Court]. In the instant case, petitioner Kapunan had been

charged with mutiny, a serious offense punishable by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct [Art. 67, Articles of War], for which he may be arrested or confined under Art. 70 of the Articles of War, to wit: Art. 70. Arrest or confinement.Any person subject to military law charged with crime or with a serious offense under these Articles shall be placed in confinement or in arrest, as circumstances may require; but when charged with a minor offense only, such person shall not ordinarily be placed in confinement. Any person placed in arrest under the provisions of this article shall thereby be restricted to his barracks, quarters, or tent, unless such limits shall be enlarged by proper authority. ... Thus, at the time petitioner Kapunan applied to this Court for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus, there was legal cause for his confinement. On this score, the writ prayed for will not issue. On the matter of the restriction imposed on petitioner Kapunan as conditions for his "house arrest", particularly that he may not issue any press statements or give any press conference during the period of his detention at his quarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City [Rollo, p. 70], the Court is of the view that such is justified by the requirements of military discipline. It cannot be gainsaid that certain liberties of persons in the military service, including the freedom of speech, may be circumscribed by rules of military discipline. Thus, to a certain degree, individual rights may be curtailed, because the effectiveness of the military in fulfilling its duties under the law depends to a large extent on the maintenance of discipline within its ranks. Hence, lawful orders must be followed without question and rules must be faithfully complied with, irrespective of a soldier's personal views on the matter. It is from this viewpoint that the restrictions imposed on petitioner Kapunan, an officer in the AFP, have to be considered. ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the Petition. The temporary restraining order issued by the Court on May 19, 1988 is hereby LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

Lagunzad vs Gonzales
Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-32066 August 6, 1979 MANUEL LAGUNZAD, petitioner, vs.

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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 in People 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, 6 in 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- %) 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.

Blo vs Comelec
G.R. No. 103956 March 31, 1992 BLO UMPAR ADIONG, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

6/21/2011 6:55:00 PM

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: The specific issue in this petition is whether or not the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) may prohibit the posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places, public or private, and limit their location or publication to the authorized posting areas that it fixes. On January 13, 1992, the COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. 2347 pursuant to its powers granted by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, Republic Acts Nos. 6646 and 7166 and other election laws. Section 15(a) of the resolution provides: Sec. 15. Lawful Election Propaganda. The following are lawful election propaganda: (a) Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals, stickers, handwritten or printed letters, or other written or printed materials not more than eight and onehalf (8-1/2) inches in width and fourteen (14) inches in length. Provided, That decals and stickers may be posted only in any of the authorized posting areas provided in paragraph (f) of Section 21 hereof. Section 21 (f) of the same resolution provides: Sec. 21(f). Prohibited forms of election propaganda. It is unlawful: xxx xxx xxx (f) To draw, paint, inscribe, post, display or publicly exhibit any election propaganda in any place, whether public or private, mobile or stationary, except in the COMELEC common posted areas and/or billboards, at the campaign headquarters of the candidate or political party, organization or coalition, or at the candidate's own residential house or one of his residential houses, if he has more than one: Provided, that such posters or election propaganda shall not exceed two (2) feet by three (3) feet in size. (Emphasis supplied) xxx xxx xxx The statutory provisions sought to be enforced by COMELEC are Section 82 of the Omnibus Election Code on lawful election propaganda which provides:

Lawful election propaganda. Lawful election propaganda shall include: (a) Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals, stickers or other written or printed materials of a size not more than eight and one-half inches in width and fourteen inches in length; (b) Handwritten or printed letters urging voters to vote for or against any particular candidate; (c) Cloth, paper or cardboard posters, whether framed or posted, with an area not exceeding two feet by three feet, except that, at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally, or in announcing the holding of said meeting or rally, streamers not exceeding three feet by eight feet in size, shall be allowed: Provided, That said streamers may not be displayed except one week before the date of the meeting or rally and that it shall be removed within seventy-two hours after said meeting or rally; or (d) All other forms of election propaganda not prohibited by this Code as the Commission may authorize after due notice to all interested parties and hearing where all the interested parties were given an equal opportunity to be heard: Provided, That the Commission's authorization shall be published in two newspapers of general circulation throughout the nation for at least twice within one week after the authorization has been granted. (Section 37, 1978 EC) and Section 11(a) of Republic Act No. 6646 which provides: Prohibited Forms of Election Propaganda. In addition to the forms of election propaganda prohibited under Section 85 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, it shall be unlawful: (a) to draw, paint, inscribe, write, post, display or publicly exhibit any election propaganda in any place, whether private, or public, except in the common poster areas and/or billboards provided in the immediately preceding section, at the candidate's own residence, or at the campaign headquarters of the candidate or political party: Provided, That such posters or election propaganda shall in no case exceed two (2) feet by three (3) feet in area: Provided, Further, That at the site of and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally, streamers, not more than two (2) and not exceeding three (3) feet by eight (8) feet each may be displayed five (5) days before the date of the meeting or rally, and shall be removed within twenty-four (24) hours after said meeting or rally; . . . (Emphasis supplied) Petitioner Blo Umpar Adiong, a senatorial candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections now assails the COMELEC's Resolution insofar as it prohibits the

posting of decals and stickers in "mobile" places like cars and other moving vehicles. According to him such prohibition is violative of Section 82 of the Omnibus Election Code and Section 11(a) of Republic Act No. 6646. In addition, the petitioner believes that with the ban on radio, television and print political advertisements, he, being a neophyte in the field of politics stands to suffer grave and irreparable injury with this prohibition. The posting of decals and stickers on cars and other moving vehicles would be his last medium to inform the electorate that he is a senatorial candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections. Finally, the petitioner states that as of February 22, 1992 (the date of the petition) he has not received any notice from any of the Election Registrars in the entire country as to the location of the supposed "Comelec Poster Areas." The petition is impressed with merit. The COMELEC's prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places whether public or private except in designated areas provided for by the COMELEC itself is null and void on constitutional grounds. First the prohibition unduly infringes on the citizen's fundamental right of free speech enshrined in the Constitution (Sec. 4, Article III). There is no public interest substantial enough to warrant the kind of restriction involved in this case. There are various concepts surrounding the freedom of speech clause which we have adopted as part and parcel of our own Bill of Rights provision on this basic freedom. All of the protections expressed in the Bill of Rights are important but we have accorded to free speech the status of a preferred freedom. (Thomas v. Collins, 323 US 516, 89 L. Ed. 430 [1945]; Mutuc v. Commission on Elections, 36 SCRA 228 [1970]) This qualitative significance of freedom of expression arises from the fact that it is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other freedom. (Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 [1937]; Salonga v. Pao, 134 SCRA 438 [1985]) It is difficult to imagine how the other provisions of the Bill of Rights and the right to free elections may be guaranteed if the freedom to speak and to convince or persuade is denied and taken away. We have adopted the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public

officials. (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 11 L. Ed. 686 [1964]; cited in the concurring opinion of then Chief Justice Enrique Fernando in Babst v. National Intelligence Board, 132 SCRA 316 [1984]) Too many restrictions will deny to people the robust, uninhibited, and wide open debate, the generating of interest essential if our elections will truly be free, clean and honest. We have also ruled that the preferred freedom of expression calls all the more for the utmost respect when what may be curtailed is the dissemination of information to make more meaningful the equally vital right of suffrage. (Mutuc v. Commission on Elections, supra) The determination of the limits of the Government's power to regulate the exercise by a citizen of his basic freedoms in order to promote fundamental public interests or policy objectives is always a difficult and delicate task. The so-called balancing of interests individual freedom on one hand and substantial public interests on the other is made even more difficult in election campaign cases because the Constitution also gives specific authority to the Commission on Elections to supervise the conduct of free, honest, and orderly elections. We recognize the fact that under the Constitution, the COMELEC during the election period is granted regulatory powers vis-a-vis the conduct and manner of elections, to wit: Sec. 4. The Commission may, during the election period supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all grants special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation or its subsidiary. Such supervision or regulation shall aim to ensure equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable equal rates therefore, for public information campaigns and forms among candidates in connection with the object of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. (Article IX(c) section 4) The variety of opinions expressed by the members of this Court in the recent case of National Press Club v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No. 102653, March 5, 1991) and its companion cases underscores how difficult it is to draw a dividing line between permissible regulation of election campaign

activities and indefensible repression committed in the name of free and honest elections. In the National Press Club, case, the Court had occasion to reiterate the preferred status of freedom of expression even as it validated COMELEC regulation of campaigns through political advertisements. The gray area is rather wide and we have to go on a case to case basis. There is another problem involved. Considering that the period of legitimate campaign activity is fairly limited and, in the opinion of some, too short, it becomes obvious that unduly restrictive regulations may prove unfair to affected parties and the electorate. For persons who have to resort to judicial action to strike down requirements which they deem inequitable or oppressive, a court case may prove to be a hollow remedy. The judicial process, by its very nature, requires time for rebuttal, analysis and reflection. We cannot act instantly on knee-jerk impulse. By the time we revoke an unallowably restrictive regulation or ruling, time which is of the essence to a candidate may have lapsed and irredeemable opportunities may have been lost. When faced with border line situations where freedom to speak by a candidate or party and freedom to know on the part of the electorate are invoked against actions intended for maintaining clean and free elections, the police, local officials and COMELEC, should lean in favor of freedom. For in the ultimate analysis, the freedom of the citizen and the State's power to regulate are not antagonistic. There can be no free and honest elections if in the efforts to maintain them, the freedom to speak and the right to know are unduly curtailed. There were a variety of opinions expressed in the National Press Club v. Commission on Elections (supra) case but all of us were unanimous that regulation of election activity has its limits. We examine the limits of regulation and not the limits of free speech. The carefully worded opinion of the Court, through Mr. Justice Feliciano, shows that regulation of election campaign activity may not pass the test of validity if it is too general in its terms or not limited in time and scope in its application, if it restricts one's expression of belief in a candidate or one's opinion of his or her qualifications, if it cuts off the flow of media reporting, and if the regulatory measure bears no clear and reasonable nexus with the constitutionally sanctioned objective.

Even as the Court sustained the regulation of political advertisements, with some rather strong dissents, in National Press Club, we find the regulation in the present case of a different category. The promotion of a substantial Government interest is not clearly shown. A government regulation is sufficiently justified if it is within the constitutional power of the Government, if it furthers an important or substantial governmental interest; if the governmental interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and if the incidental restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is no greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest. (Id., at 377, 20 L Ed 2d 672, 88 S Ct 1673. (City Council v. Taxpayers For Vincent, 466 US 789, 80 L Ed 2d 772, 104 S Ct 2118 [1984]) The posting of decals and stickers in mobile places like cars and other moving vehicles does not endanger any substantial government interest. There is no clear public interest threatened by such activity so as to justify the curtailment of the cherished citizen's right of free speech and expression. Under the clear and present danger rule not only must the danger be patently clear and pressingly present but the evil sought to be avoided must be so substantive as to justify a clamp over one's mouth or a writing instrument to be stilled: The case confronts us again with the duty our system places on the Court to say where the individual's freedom ends and the State's power begins. Choice on that border, now as always delicate, is perhaps more so where the usual presumption supporting legislation is balanced by the preferred place given in our scheme to the great, the indispensable democratic freedom secured by the first Amendment . . . That priority gives these liberties a sanctity and a sanction not permitting dubious intrusions and it is the character of the right, not of the limitation, which determines what standard governs the choice . . . For these reasons any attempt to restrict those liberties must be justified by clear public interest, threatened not doubtfully or remotely, but by clear and present danger. The rational connection between the remedy provided and the evil to be curbed, which in other context might support legislation against attack on due process grounds, will not suffice. These rights rest on firmer foundation. Accordingly, whatever occasion would restrain orderly discussion and persuasion, at appropriate time and place, must have clear

support in public danger, actual or impending. Only the greatest abuses, endangering permanent interests, give occasion for permissible limitation. (Thomas V. Collins, 323 US 516 [1945]). (Emphasis supplied) Significantly, the freedom of expression curtailed by the questioned prohibition is not so much that of the candidate or the political party. The regulation strikes at the freedom of an individual to express his preference and, by displaying it on his car, to convince others to agree with him. A sticker may be furnished by a candidate but once the car owner agrees to have it placed on his private vehicle, the expression becomes a statement by the owner, primarily his own and not of anybody else. If, in the National Press Club case, the Court was careful to rule out restrictions on reporting by newspapers or radio and television stations and commentators or columnists as long as these are not correctly paid-for advertisements or purchased opinions with less reason can we sanction the prohibition against a sincere manifestation of support and a proclamation of belief by an individual person who pastes a sticker or decal on his private property. Second the questioned prohibition premised on the statute and as couched in the resolution is void for overbreadth. A statute is considered void for overbreadth when "it offends the constitutional principle that a governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulations may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms." (Zwickler v. Koota, 19 L ed 2d 444 [1967]). In a series of decisions this Court has held that, even though the governmental purpose be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved. The breadth of legislative abridgment must be viewed in the light of less drastic means for achieving the same basic purpose. In Lovell v. Griffin, 303 US 444, 82 L ed 949, 58 S Ct 666, the Court invalidated an ordinance prohibiting all distribution of literature at any time or place in Griffin, Georgia, without a license, pointing out that so broad an interference was unnecessary to accomplish legitimate municipal aims. In Schneider v. Irvington, 308 US 147, 84 L ed 155, 60 S Ct. 146, the Court dealt with ordinances of four different municipalities which either banned or imposed prior restraints upon the distribution of handbills. In holding the

ordinances invalid, the court noted that where legislative abridgment of fundamental personal rights and liberties is asserted, "the courts should be astute to examine the effect of the challenged legislation. Mere legislative preferences or beliefs respecting matters of public convenience may well support regulation directed at other personal activities, but be insufficient to justify such as diminishes the exercise of rights so vital to the maintenance of democratic institutions," 308 US, at 161. In Cantwell v Connecticut, 310 US 296, 84 L ed 1213, 60 S Ct. 900, 128 ALR 1352, the Court said that "[c]onduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society," but pointed out that in each case "the power to regulate must be so exercised as not, in attaining a permissible end, unduly to infringe the protected freedom." (310 US at 304) (Shelton v. Tucker, 364 US 479 [1960] The resolution prohibits the posting of decals and stickers not more than eight and one-half (8-1/2) inches in width and fourteen (14) inches in length in any place, including mobile places whether public or private except in areas designated by the COMELEC. Verily, the restriction as to where the decals and stickers should be posted is so broad that it encompasses even the citizen's private property, which in this case is a privately-owned vehicle. In consequence of this prohibition, another cardinal rule prescribed by the Constitution would be violated. Section 1, Article III of the Bill of Rights provides that no person shall be deprived of his property without due process of law: Property is more than the mere thing which a person owns, it includes the right to acquire, use, and dispose of it; and the Constitution, in the 14th Amendment, protects these essential attributes. Property is more than the mere thing which a person owns. It is elementary that it includes the right to acquire, use, and dispose of it. The Constitution protects these essential attributes of property. Holden v. Hardy, 169 U.S. 366, 391, 41 L. ed. 780, 790, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 383. Property consists of the free use, enjoyment, and disposal of a person's acquisitions without control or diminution save by the law of the land. 1 Cooley's Bl. Com. 127. (Buchanan v. Warley 245 US 60 [1917]) As earlier stated, we have to consider the fact that in the posting of decals and stickers on cars and other moving vehicles, the candidate needs the consent of the owner of the vehicle. In such a case, the prohibition would not only deprive the owner who consents to such posting of the decals and

stickers the use of his property but more important, in the process, it would deprive the citizen of his right to free speech and information: Freedom to distribute information to every citizen wherever he desires to receive it is so clearly vital to the preservation of a free society that, putting aside reasonable police and health regulations of time and manner of distribution, it must be fully preserved. The danger of distribution can so easily be controlled by traditional legal methods leaving to each householder the full right to decide whether he will receive strangers as visitors, that stringent prohibition can serve no purpose but that forbidden by the constitution, the naked restriction of the dissemination of ideas." (Martin v. City of Struthers, Ohio, 319 U.S. 141; 87 L. ed. 1313 [1943]) The right to property may be subject to a greater degree of regulation but when this right is joined by a "liberty" interest, the burden of justification on the part of the Government must be exceptionally convincing and irrefutable. The burden is not met in this case. Section 11 of Rep. Act 6646 is so encompassing and invasive that it prohibits the posting or display of election propaganda in any place, whether public or private, except in the common poster areas sanctioned by COMELEC. This means that a private person cannot post his own crudely prepared personal poster on his own front door or on a post in his yard. While the COMELEC will certainly never require the absurd, there are no limits to what overzealous and partisan police officers, armed with a copy of the statute or regulation, may do. The provisions allowing regulation are so loosely worded that they include the posting of decals or stickers in the privacy of one's living room or bedroom. This is delegation running riot. As stated by Justice Cardozo in his concurrence in Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan (293 U.S. 388; 79 L. Ed. 446 [1935), "The delegated power is unconfined and vagrant . . . This is delegation running riot. No such plentitude of power is susceptible of transfer." Third the constitutional objective to give a rich candidate and a poor candidate equal opportunity to inform the electorate as regards their candidacies, mandated by Article II, Section 26 and Article XIII, section 1 in relation to Article IX (c) Section 4 of the Constitution, is not impaired by posting decals and stickers on cars and other private vehicles. Compared to the paramount interest of the State in guaranteeing freedom of expression,

any financial considerations behind the regulation are of marginal significance. Under section 26 Article II of the Constitution, "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, . . . while under section 1, Article XIII thereof "The Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good." (Emphasis supplied) It is to be reiterated that the posting of decals and stickers on cars, calesas, tricycles, pedicabs and other moving vehicles needs the consent of the owner of the vehicle. Hence, the preference of the citizen becomes crucial in this kind of election propaganda not the financial resources of the candidate. Whether the candidate is rich and, therefore, can afford to doleout more decals and stickers or poor and without the means to spread out the same number of decals and stickers is not as important as the right of the owner to freely express his choice and exercise his right of free speech. The owner can even prepare his own decals or stickers for posting on his personal property. To strike down this right and enjoin it is impermissible encroachment of his liberties. In sum, the prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places whether public or private except in the authorized areas designated by the COMELEC becomes censorship which cannot be justified by the Constitution: . . . The concept of the Constitution as the fundamental law, setting forth the criterion for the validity of any public act whether proceeding from the highest official or the lowest functionary, is a postulate of our system of government. That is to manifest fealty to the rule of law, with priority accorded to that which occupies the topmost rung in the legal hierarchy. The three departments of government in the discharge of the functions with which it is entrusted have no choice but to yield obedience to its commands. Whatever limits it imposes must be observed. Congress in the enactment of statutes must ever be on guard lest the restrictions on its authority, either substantive or formal, be transcended. The Presidency in the execution of the laws cannot ignore or disregard what it ordains. In its task of applying the law to the facts as found in deciding cases, the judiciary is called upon to maintain inviolate what is decreed by the fundamental law. Even its power of

judicial review to pass upon the validity of the acts of the coordinate branches in the course of adjudication is a logical. corollary of this basic principle that the Constitution is paramount. It overrides any governmental measure that fails to live up to its mandates. Thereby there is a recognition of its being the supreme law. (Mutuc v. Commission on Elections, supra) The unusual circumstances of this year's national and local elections call for a more liberal interpretation of the freedom to speak and the right to know. It is not alone the widest possible dissemination of information on platforms and programs which concern us. Nor are we limiting ourselves to protecting the unfettered interchange of ideas to bring about political change. (Cf. New York Times v. Sullivan, supra) The big number of candidates and elective positions involved has resulted in the peculiar situation where almost all voters cannot name half or even two-thirds of the candidates running for Senator. The public does not know who are aspiring to be elected to public office. There are many candidates whose names alone evoke qualifications, platforms, programs and ideologies which the voter may accept or reject. When a person attaches a sticker with such a candidate's name on his car bumper, he is expressing more than the name; he is espousing ideas. Our review of the validity of the challenged regulation includes its effects in today's particular circumstances. We are constrained to rule against the COMELEC prohibition. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The portion of Section 15 (a) of Resolution No. 2347 of the Commission on Elections providing that "decals and stickers may be posted only in any of the authorized posting areas provided in paragraph (f) of Section 21 hereof" is DECLARED NULL and VOID. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero and Nocon, J.J., concur. Feliciano and Bellosillo, JJ., are on leave.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J.: concurring: I join Mr. Justice Gutierrez and reiterate the views expressed in my dissent in National Press Club v. Commission on Elections. The stand taken by the Court in the case at bar is a refreshing change from its usual deferential attitude toward authoritarianism as a persistent vestige of the past regime. After the disappointing decision in the ad ban case, I hope that the present decision will guide us to the opposite direction, toward liberty and the full recognition of freedom of expression. This decision is a small step in rectifying the errors of the past, but it is a step just the same, and on the right track this time. Regarding the sticker ban, I think we are being swamped with regulations that unduly obstruct the free flow of information so vital in an election campaign. The Commission on Elections seems to be bent on muzzling the candidates and imposing all manner of silly restraints on their efforts to reach the electorate. Reaching the electorate is precisely the purpose of an election campaign, but the Commission on Elections obviously believes that the candidates should be as quiet as possible. Instead of limiting the dissemination of information on the election issues and the qualifications of those vying for public office, what the Commission on Elections should concentrate on is the education of the voters on the proper exercise of their suffrages. This function is part of its constitutional duty to supervise and regulate elections and to prevent them from deteriorating into popularity contests where the victors are chosen on the basis not of their platforms and competence but on their ability to sing or dance, or play a musical instrument, or shoot a basketball, or crack a toilet joke, or exhibit some such dubious talent irrelevant to their ability to discharge a public office. The public service is threatened with mediocrity and indeed sheer ignorance if not stupidity. That is the problem the Commission on Elections should try to correct instead of wasting its time on much trivialities as where posters shall be allowed and stickers should not be attached and speeches may be delivered. The real threat in the present election is the influx of the unqualified professional entertainers whose only asset is the support of their drooling fans, the demagogues who drumbeat to the clink of coins their professed present virtues and past innocence, the opportunists for whom flexibility is a means of political survival and even of financial gain, and, most dangerous

of all, the elements of our electorate who would, with their mindless ballots, impose these office-seekers upon the nation. These are the evils the Commission on Elections should try to correct, not the inconsequential and inane question of where stickers should be stuck. I have nothing but praise for the zeal of the Commission on Elections in pursuing the ideal of democratic elections, but I am afraid it is barking up the wrong tree. Separate Opinions CRUZ, J., concurring: I join Mr. Justice Gutierrez and reiterate the views expressed in my dissent in National Press Club v. Commission on Elections. The stand taken by the Court in the case at bar is a refreshing change from its usual deferential attitude toward authoritarianism as a persistent vestige of the past regime. After the disappointing decision in the ad ban case, I hope that the present decision will guide us to the opposite direction, toward liberty and the full recognition of freedom of expression. This decision is a small step in rectifying the errors of the past, but it is a step just the same, and on the right track this time. Regarding the sticker ban, I think we are being swamped with regulations that unduly obstruct the free flow of information so vital in an election campaign. The Commission on Elections seems to be bent on muzzling the candidates and imposing all manner of silly restraints on their efforts to reach the electorate. Reaching the electorate is precisely the purpose of an election campaign, but the Commission on Elections obviously believes that the candidates should be as quiet as possible. Instead of limiting the dissemination of information on the election issues and the qualifications of those vying for public office, what the Commission on Elections should concentrate on is the education of the voters on the proper exercise of their suffrages. This function is part of its constitutional duty to supervise and regulate elections and to prevent them from deteriorating into popularity contests where the victors are chosen on the basis not of their platforms and competence but on their ability to sing or dance, or play a musical instrument, or shoot a basketball, or crack a toilet joke, or exhibit some such dubious talent irrelevant to their ability to discharge a public office. The public service is threatened with mediocrity and indeed sheer ignorance if not stupidity. That is the problem the Commission on Elections should try to correct instead of wasting its time on

much trivialities as where posters shall be allowed and stickers should not be attached and speeches may be delivered. The real threat in the present election is the influx of the unqualified professional entertainers whose only asset is the support of their drooling fans, the demagogues who drumbeat to the clink of coins their professed present virtues and past innocence, the opportunists for whom flexibility is a means of political survival and even of financial gain, and, most dangerous of all, the elements of our electorate who would, with their mindless ballots, impose these office-seekers upon the nation. These are the evils the Commission on Elections should try to correct, not the inconsequential and inane question of where stickers should be stuck. I have nothing but praise for the zeal of the Commission on Elections in pursuing the ideal of democratic elections, but I am afraid it is barking up the wrong tree.

Reyes vs Bagatsing

6/21/2011 6:55:00 PM

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. Taada Jose W. Diokno and Haydee B. Yorac for petitioner. The Solicitor General for respondent. FERNANDO, C.J.:+.wph!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 nonpeaceful 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 plaintiffmunicipality. 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 AntiBases 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 tanto modified. 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 t.hqw 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: t.hqw * * * 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 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. (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 in Fugoso, 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: t.hqw 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 t.hqw 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: t.hqw * * * 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 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. (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 in Fugoso, 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: t.hqw 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.

Reyes v Bagatsing 125 SCRA 553 (1983) Facts: Petitioner 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 to the gates of the United States Embassy. Once there, and in an open space of public property, a short program would be held. The march would be attended by the local and foreign participants of such conference. 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. 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. However the request was denied. Reference was made to persistent intelligence reports affirming the plans of subversive/criminal elements to infiltrate or disrupt any assembly or congregations where a large number of people is expected to attend. Respondent suggested that a permit may be issued 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. An oral argument was heard and the mandatory injunction was granted 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. However Justice Aquino dissented that the rally is violative of Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila prohibiting the holding of rallies within a radius of five hundred (500) feet from any foreign mission or chancery and for other purposes. Hence the Court resolves.

Issue: Whether or Not the freedom of expression and the right to peaceably assemble violated.

Held: Yes. 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. 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. 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. Time immemorial Luneta has been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the public places has from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. With regard to the ordinance, there was no showing that there was violation and even if it could be shown that such a condition is satisfied it does not follow that respondent could legally act the way he did. The validity of his denial of the permit sought could still be challenged. A summary of the application for permit for rally: 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. Notice is given to applicants for the denial.

Viva vs Webb

6/21/2011 6:55:00 PM

[G.R. No. 123881. March 13, 1997] VIVA PRODUCTIONS, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND HUBERT J.P. WEBB, respondents. DECISION MELO, J.: Assailed in the petition before us are the decision and resolution of respondent Court of Appeals sustaining both the order of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region (Paraaque, Branch 274 hereinafter referred to as the Paraaque court) restraining "the exhibition of the movie 'The Jessica Alfaro Story' at its scheduled premiere showing at the New Frontier Theater on September 11, 1995 at 7:30 in the evening and at its regular public exhibition beginning September 13, 1995, as well as to cease and desist from promoting and marketing of the said movie" (Order; p. 96, Rollo); and the order of the Regional Trial Court also of the National Capital Judicial Region (Makati, Branch 58 hereinafter referred to as the Makati court) issuing a writ of preliminary injunction "enjoining petitioner from further proceeding, engaging, using or implementing the promotional, advertising and marketing programs for the movie entitled 'The Jessica Alfaro Story' and from showing or causing the same to be shown or exhibited in all theaters in the entire country UNTIL after the final termination and logical conclusion of the trial in the criminal action now pending before the Paraaque Regional Trial Court" (Order; p. 299, Rollo). Without filing any motion for reconsideration with the two regional trial courts, petitioner elevated the matter to respondent Court of Appeals via a petition for certiorari, with an urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction, thereafter docketed and consolidated as C.A. G.R. No. SP-38407 and SP-38408. The factual antecedents were summarized by respondent court in this manner: Both petitions are inexorably linked to the Rape with Homicide case, in connection with what is now known as the "Vizconde Massacre". On June 19, 1995, after the dismissal of two (2) sets of suspects, another group of nine (9), private respondent Hubert J.P. Webb included were charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with the crime of Rape With Homicide, on the strength of a sworn statement of Ma. Jessica M. Alfaro, which complaint was docketed as I.S. No. 95- 402 before the Department of Justice.

It is of public knowledge, nay beyond cavil, that the personalities involved in this development of the Vizconde Massacre engendered a media frenzy. For at least two successive months, all sorts of news and information about the case, the suspects and witnesses occupied the front pages of newspapers. Focus of attention was Ma. Jessica M. Alfaro (Alfaro, for short), alluded to as the NBI star witness. Offered a movie contract by Viva Productions, Inc. for the filming of her life story, she inked with the latter the said movie contract while the said case (I.S. 95-402) was under investigation by the Department of Justice. On August 10, 1995, after the conclusion of preliminary investigation before the Department of Justice, an Information for Rape With Homicide was filed against Hubert J.P. Webb and eight (8) others, docketed as Criminal Case No. 95-404 before the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, Branch 274. On August 25, 1995, the private respondent sent separate letters to Viva Productions, Inc. and Alfaro, warning them that the projected showing of subject movie on the life story of Alfaro would violate the sub judice rule, and his (Hubert J.P. Webb's) constitutional rights as an accused in said criminal case. But such letters from private respondent notwithstanding, petitioner persisted in promoting, advertising and marketing "The Jessica Alfaro Story" in the print and broadcast media and, even on billboards. Premier showing of the movie in question was then scheduled for September 11, 1995, at the New Frontier Theater, with regular public exhibition thereof set for September 13, 1995, in some sixty (60) theaters. And so, on September 6, 1995, Hubert J.P. Webb, the herein private respondent, filed a Petition for Contempt in the same Criminal Case No. 95404; complaining that the acts of petitioner and Alfaro concerning "The Jessica Alfaro Story" movie were contumacious, within the contemplation of Section 3, Rule 71 of the Revised Rules of Court. Following the full day of hearing on September 8, 1995, and viewing of the controversial movie itself, the respondent Regional Trial Court of Paraaque came out with its Cease and Desist Order aforequoted. On September 8, 1995, respondent Hubert J.P. Webb instituted a case for Injunction With Damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 951365 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 58, which court issued, ex parte, before the matter could be heard on notice, the Temporary Restraining Order under attack.

(pp. 61-62, Rollo.) On December 13, 1995, respondent court dismissed the consolidated petitions. Following the denial of petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the instant petition was filed wherein the following issues are ventilated: I WHETHER OR NOT THE PARAAQUE COURT CAN TOTALLY DISREGARD AND INDISCRIMINATELY CURTAIL PETITIONER'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OF THE PRESS WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. II WHETHER OR NOT THE MAKATI COURT HAS JURISDICTION TO TAKE COGNIZANCE OF THE INJUNCTION CASE FILED BEFORE IT WHICH IS IDENTICAL TO THE CASE PENDING BEFORE THE PARAAQUE COURT WHICH HAS ALREADY ACQUIRED JURISDICTION OVER THE ACT COMPLAINED OF. III WHETHER OR NOT PRIVATE RESPONDENT COMMITTED FORUM SHOPPING BY FILING TWO (2) CASES WITH EXACTLY THE SAME FACTUAL SET-UP, ISSUES INVOLVED AND RELIEFS SOUGHT BEFORE TWO (2) DIFFERENT COURTS OF COORDINATE JURISDICTION. (p. 20, Rollo.) We rule to grant the petition, reversing and setting aside the orders of respondent Court of Appeals, thus annulling and setting aside the orders of the Makati court and lifting the restraining order of the Paraaque court for forum shopping. The key issue to be resolved is whether or not respondent court ruled correctly in upholding the jurisdiction of the Makati court to take cognizance of the civil action for injunction filed before it despite the fact that the same relief, insofar as preventing petitioner from showing of the movie is concerned, had also been sought by the same private respondent before the Paraaque court in proceedings for contempt of court. Corollarily, it may be asked if private respondent and/or his counsel can be held guilty of forum shopping. Petitioner contends that the Makati court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the action for damages because the same had been impliedly instituted in the contempt proceedings before the Paraaque court, which

after acquiring and exercising jurisdiction over the case, excludes all other courts of concurrent jurisdiction from taking cognizance of the same. Moreover, citing Circular No. 28-91, petitioner accuses private respondent of forum shopping. Private respondent, on the other hand, posits that the Makati court's jurisdiction cannot be validly and legally disputed for it is invested with authority, by express provision of law, to exercise jurisdiction in the action for damages, as may be determined by the allegations in the complaint. The temporary restraining order and writ of injunction issued by the Makati court are mere provisional remedies expressly sanctioned under Rule 58 of the Revised Rules of Court. He also maintains that there is no forum shopping because there is no identity of causes of action. Besides, the action for damages before the Makati court cannot be deemed instituted in the contempt proceedings before the Paraaque court because the rightful parties therein are only the court itself, as the offended party, and petitioner and witness Jessica Alfaro, as accused. We find the shrewd and astute maneuverings of private respondent illadvised. It will not escape anybody's notice that the act of filing the supposed action for injunction with damages with the Makati court, albeit a separate and distinct action from the contempt proceedings then pending before the Paraaque court, is obviously and solely intended to obtain the preliminary relief of injunction so as to prevent petitioner from exhibiting the movie on its premiere showing on September 11, 1995 and on its regular showing beginning September 13, 1995. The alleged relief for damages becomes a mere subterfuge to camouflage private respondent's real intent and to feign the semblance of a separate and distinct action from the contempt proceedings already filed and on-going with the Paraaque court. Significantly, the primordial issue involved in the Makati court and the Paraaque court is one and the same whether or not the showing of the movie "The Jessica Alfaro Story" violates the sub-judice rule. Should the Paraaque court find so, it would have no alternative but to enjoin petitioner from proceeding with the intended contumacious act lest it may be cited for contempt. In the case of the Makati court, if it finds such violation, it will have to enjoin petitioner from proceeding with the prejudicial act lest it may be held liable for damages.

The query posed before respondent court, simply stated, is whether or not the Paraaque court and the Makati court, obviously having concurrent jurisdiction over the subject matter, can both take cognizance of the two actions and resolve the same identical issue on the alleged violation of the sub judice rule. Respondent court erred in ruling in the affirmative. This is the very evil sought to be avoided by this Court in issuing Circular No. 28-91 which pertinently reads: The attention of the Court has been called to the filing of multiple petitions and complaints involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or different Divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, with the result that said tribunals or agency have to resolve the same issues. (Emphasis supplied.) On February 8, 1994, this was magnified through Administrative Circular No. 04-94, effective on April 1, 1994, to include all courts and agencies other than the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, to prevent forum shopping or the multiple filing of such pleadings even at that level. Sanctions for violation thereof are expressly stated as follows: (2) Any violation of this Circular shall be a cause for the dismissal of the complaint, petition, application or other initiatory pleading, upon motion and after hearing. However, any clearly willful and deliberate forum shopping by any party and his counsel through the filing of multiple complaints or other initiatory pleadings to obtain favorable action shall be a ground for summary dismissal thereof and shall constitute direct contempt of court. Furthermore, the submission of a false certification or non-compliance with the undertaking therein, as provided in Paragraph 1 hereof, shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to disciplinary proceedings against counsel and the filing of a criminal action against the guilty party. Private respondent's intention to engage in forum shopping becomes manifest with undoubted clarity upon the following considerations. Notably, if not only to ensure the issuance of an injunctive relief, the significance of the action for damages before the Makati court would be nil. What damages against private respondent would there be to speak about if the Paraaque court already enjoins the performance of the very same act complained of in the Makati court? Evidently, the action for damages is premature if not for the preliminary injunctive relief sought. Thus, we find grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Makati court, being a mere co-equal of the

Paraaque court, in not giving due deference to the latter before which the issue of the alleged violation of the sub-judice rule had already been raised and submitted. In such instance, the Makati court, if it was wary of dismissing the action outrightly under Administrative Circular No. 04-94, should have, at least, ordered the consolidation of its case with that of the Paraaque court, which had first acquired jurisdiction over the related case in accordance with Rule 31 of the Revised Rules of Court (Superlines Trans. Co. vs. Victor, et al., 124 SCRA 939 [1983]; Vallacar Transit Inc. vs. Yap, 126 SCRA 500 [1983]), or it should have suspended the proceedings until the Paraaque court may have ruled on the issue (Salazar vs. CFI of Laguna, 64 Phil. 785 [1937]). Ordinarily, where a litigant sues the same party against whom another action or actions for the alleged violation of the same right and the enforcement of the same relief or reliefs is or are still pending, any one action may be dismissed on the ground of litis pendentia and a final judgment in any one case would constitute res judicata on the other. In either instance, there is a clear and undeniable case of forum shopping, another ground for the summary dismissal of both actions, and at the same time an act of direct contempt of court, which includes a possible criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the erring lawyer (Buan vs. Lopez, Jr., 145 SCRA 34 [1986]). In First Philippine International Bank vs. Court of Appeals (252 SCRA 259 [1996]), this Court, through the same herein Division, per Justice Panganiban, found therein petitioner bank guilty of forum shopping because . . . the objective or the relief being sought, though worded differently, is the same, namely, to enable the petitioner Bank to escape from the obligation to sell the property to respondent. In Danville Maritime vs. Commission on Audit, this Court ruled that the filing by any party of two apparently different actions, but with the same objective, constituted forum shopping: "In the attempt to make the two actions appear to be different, petitioner impleaded different respondents therein PNOC in the case before the lower court and the COA in the case before this Court and sought what seems to be different reliefs. Petitioner asks this Court to set aside the questioned letter-directive of the COA dated October 10, 1988 and to direct said body to approve the Memorandum of Agreement entered into by and

between the PNOC and petitioner, while in the complaint before the lower court petitioner seeks to enjoin the PNOC from conducting a rebidding and from selling to other parties the vessel "T/T Andres Bonifacio," and for an extension of time for it to comply with the paragraph 1 of the memorandum of agreement and damages. One can see that although the relief prayed for in the two (2) actions are ostensibly different, the ultimate objective in both actions is the same, that is, the approval of the sale of vessel in favor of petitioner, and to overturn the letter directive of the COA of October 10, 1988 disapproving the sale." (p. 285) In Palm Avenue Realty Development Corporation vs. PCGG (153 SCRA 579 [1987]), we have these words from then Justice, now Chief Justice Narvasa: . . . the filing by the petitioners of the instant special civil action for certiorari and prohibition in this Court despite the pendency of their action in the Makati Regional Trial Court, is a species of forum shopping. Both actions unquestionably involve the same transactions, the same essential facts and circumstances. The petitioners' claim of absence of identity simply because the PCGG had not been impleaded in the RTC suit, and the suit did not involve certain acts which transpired after its commencement, is specious. In the RTC action, as in the action before this Court, the validity of the contract to purchase and sell of September 1, 1986, i.e., whether or not it had been efficaciously rescinded, and the propriety of implementing the same . . . were the basic issues. So, too, the relief was the same: the prevention of such implementation and/or the restoration of the status quo ante. When the acts sought to be restrained took place anyway despite the issuance by the Trial Court of a temporary restraining order, the RTC suit did not become functus officio. It remained an effective vehicle for obtention of relief; and petitioners' remedy in the premises was plain and patent; the filing of an amended and supplemental pleading in the RTC suit, so as to include the PCGG as defendant and seek nullification of the acts sought to be enjoined but nonetheless done. The remedy was certainly not the institution of another action in another forum based on essentially the same facts. The adoption of this latter recourse renders the petitioner amenable to disciplinary action and both their actions, in this Court as well as in the Court a quo dismissible. (pp. 591-592)

Thus, while we might admit that the causes of action before the Makati court and the Paraaque court are distinct, and that private respondent cannot seek civil indemnity in the contempt proceedings, the same being in the nature of criminal contempt, we nonetheless cannot ignore private respondent's intention of seeking exactly identical reliefs when it sought the preliminary relief of injunction in the Makati court. As earlier indicated, had private respondent been completely in good faith, there would have been no hindrance in filing the action for damages with the regional trial court of Paraaque and having it consolidated with the contempt proceedings before Branch 274, so that the same issue on the alleged violation of the sub judice rule will not have to be passed upon twice, and there would be no possibility of having two courts of concurrent jurisdiction making two conflicting resolutions. Yet from another angle, it may be said that when the Paraaque court acquired jurisdiction over the said issue, it excluded all other courts of concurrent jurisdiction from acquiring jurisdiction over the same. To hold otherwise would be to risk instances where courts of concurrent jurisdiction might have conflicting orders. This will create havoc and result in an extremely disordered administration of justice. Therefore, even on the assumption that the Makati court may acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action for damages, without prejudice to the application of Administrative Circular No. 04-94, it cannot nonetheless acquire jurisdiction over the issue of whether or not petitioner has violated the sub judice rule. At best, the Makati court may hear the case only with respect to the alleged injury suffered by private respondent after the Paraaque court shall have ruled favorably on the said issue. In fine, applying the sanction against forum shopping under Administrative Circular No. 04-94, the action filed by private respondent with the Makati court, may be ordered summarily dismissed. Considering the nature and purpose of contempt proceedings before the Paraaque court and the public policy of protecting the integrity of the court, we reserve the imposition of a similar sanction to dismiss the same and leave that matter to the discretion of the presiding judge concerned, although it is worthy to stress that insofar as injunctive relief against the showing of the movie before the Paraaque court is concerned, we resolved to also dismiss the same by reason of forum shopping. The sanction of twin dismissal under Buan vs. Lopez is applicable.

This, however, is without prejudice to the other aspects of the contempt proceedings which may still be pending before the Paraaque court. In view of the foregoing disposition, we find no further need to resolve the issue of whether or not there was valid and lawful denial by both lower courts of petitioner's right to free speech and expression. Suffice it to mention, however, that the Court takes note of the rather unreasonable period that had elapsed from the time of the issuance of the restraining order by the Paraaque court up to the writing of this decision. The Court also notes that the order of the said court specifically failed to lay down any factual basis constituting a clear and present danger which will justify prior restraint of the constitutionally protected freedom of speech and expression save its plea for time to hear and resolve the issues raised in the petition for contempt. WHEREFORE, the assailed decision and order of respondent court are hereby SET ASIDE, and a new one entered declaring null and void all orders of Branch 58 of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Makati City in its Civil Case No. 95-1365 and forthwith dismissing said case, and declaring the order of the Regional Trial Court of the same National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Paraaque (Branch 274), functus officio insofar as it restrains the public showing of the movie "The Jessica Alfaro Story." Private respondent and his counsel are admonished to refrain from repeating a similar act of forum shopping, with the stern warning that any repetition of similar acts will be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED.

Iglesia vs Court of appeals

6/21/2011 6:55:00 PM

EN BANC [G.R. No. 119673. July 26, 1996] IGLESIA NI CRISTO (INC.), petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, BOARD OF REVIEW FOR MOTION PICTURES AND TELEVISION and HONORABLE HENRIETTA S. MENDEZ, respondents. DECISION PUNO, J.: This is a petition for review of the Decision dated March 24, 1995 of the respondent Court of Appeals affirming the action of the respondent Board of Review for Motion Pictures and Television which x-rated the TV Program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo. Petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo, a duly organized religious organization, has a television program entitled Ang Iglesia ni Cristo aired on Channel 2 every Saturday and on Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and propagates petitioners religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in comparative studies with other religions. Sometime in the months of September, October and November 1992, petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Motion Pictures and Television the VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series as X or not for public viewing on the ground that they offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law. Petitioner pursued two (2) courses of action against the respondent Board. On November 28, 1992, it appealed to the Office of the President the classification of its TV Series No. 128. It succeeded in its appeal for on December 18, 1992, the Office of the President reversed the decision of the respondent Board. Forthwith, the Board allowed Series No. 128 to be publicly telecast. On December 14, 1992, petitioner also filed against the respondent Board Civil Case No. Q-92-14280, with the RTC, NCR, Quezon City.i[1] Petitioner alleged that the respondent Board acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the VTR tapes of its TV program and in x-rating them. It cited its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. In their

Answer, respondent Board invoked its power under P.D. No. 1986 in relation to Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code. On January 4, 1993, the trial court held a hearing on petitioners prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. The parties orally argued and then marked their documentary evidence. Petitioner submitted the following as its exhibits, viz.: (1) Exhibit A, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its September 9, 1992 action on petitioners Series No. 115 as follows:ii[2] REMARKS: There are some inconsistencies in the particular program as it is very surprising for this program to show series of Catholic ceremonies and also some religious sects and using it in their discussion about the bible. There are remarks which are direct criticism which affect other religions. Need more opinions for this particular program. Please subject to more opinions. (2) Exhibit A-1, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its September 11, 1992 subsequent action on petitioners Series No. 115 as follows:iii[3] REMARKS: This program is criticizing different religions, based on their own interpretation of the Bible. We suggest that the program should delve on explaining their own faith and beliefs and avoid attacks on other faith. (3) Exhibit B, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its October 9, 1992 action on petitioners Series No. 119, as follows:iv[4] REMARKS: The Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our (Catholic) veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it is found in the bible that we should do so. This is intolerance and robs off all sects of freedom of choice, worship and decision.

(4) Exhibit C, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its October 20, 1992 action on petitioners Series No. 121 as follows:v[5] REMARKS: I refuse to approve the telecast of this episode for reasons of the attacks, they do on, specifically, the Catholic religion. I refuse to admit that they can tell, dictate any other religion that they are right and the rest are wrong, which they clearly present in this episode. (5) Exhibit D, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its November 20, 1992 action on petitioners Series No. 128 as follows:vi[6] REMARKS: The episode presented criticizes the religious beliefs of the Catholic and Protestants beliefs. We suggest a second review. (6) Exhibits E, E-1, petitioners block time contract with ABSCBN Broadcasting Corporation dated September 1, 1992.vii[7] (7) Exhibit F, petitioners Airtime Contract with Island Broadcasting Corporation.viii[8] (8) Exhibit G, letter dated December 18, 1992 of former Executive Secretary Edelmiro A. Amante, Sr., addressed to Henrietta S. Mendez reversing the decision of the respondent Board which xrated the showing of petitioners Series No. 129. The letter reads in part: xxx xxx xxx The television episode in question is protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech and expression under Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution. We have viewed a tape of the television episode in question, as well as studied the passages found by MTRCB to be objectionable and we find no indication that the episode poses any clear and present danger sufficient to limit the said constitutional guarantee. (9) Exhibits H, H-1, letter dated November 26, 1992 of Teofilo C. Ramos, Sr., addressed to President Fidel V. Ramos appealing the action of the respondent Board x-rating petitioners Series No. 128.

On its part, respondent Board submitted the following exhibits, viz.: (1) Exhibit 1, Permit Certificate for Television Exhibition No. 15181 dated December 18, 1992 allowing the showing of Series No. 128 under parental guidance. (2) Exhibit 2, which is Exhibit G of petitioner. (3) Exhibit 3, letter dated October 12, 1992 of Henrietta S. Mendez, addressed to the Christian Era Broadcasting Service which reads in part: xxx In the matter of your television show Ang Iglesia ni Cristo Series No. 119, please be informed that the Board was constrained to deny your show a permit to exhibit. The material involved constitute an attack against another religion which is expressly prohibited by law. Please be guided in the submission of future shows. After evaluating the evidence of the parties, the trial court issued a writ of preliminary injunction on petitioners bond of P10,000.00. The trial court set the pre-trial of the case and the parties submitted their pre-trial briefs.ix[9] The pre-trial briefs show that the parties evidence is basically the evidence they submitted in the hearing of the issue of preliminary injunction. The trial of the case was set and reset several times as the parties tried to reach an amicable accord. Their efforts failed and the records show that after submission of memoranda, the trial court rendered a Judgment,x[10] on December 15, 1993, the dispositive portion of which reads: x x x WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondent Board of Review for Motion Pictures and Television (BRMPT) to grant petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo the necessary permit for all the series of Ang Iglesia ni Cristo program. Petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo, however, is directed to refrain from offending and attacking other existing religions in showing Ang Iglesia ni Cristo program. SO ORDERED. Petitioner moved for reconsiderationxi[11] praying: (a) for the deletion of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Decision, and (b) for the Board to be perpetually enjoined from

requiring petitioner to submit for review the tapes of its program. The respondent Board opposed the motion.xii[12] On March 7, 1993, the trial court granted petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. It ordered:xiii[13] x x x WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is granted. The second portion of the Courts Order dated December 15, 1993, directing petitioner to refrain from offending and attacking other existing religions in showing Ang Iglesia ni Cristo program is hereby deleted and set aside. Respondents are further prohibited from requiring petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo to submit for review VTR tapes of its religious program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo. Respondent Board appealed to the Court of Appeals after its motion for reconsideration was denied.xiv[14] On March 5, 1995, the respondent Court of Appealsxv[15] reversed the trial court. It ruled that: (1) the respondent board has jurisdiction and power to review the TV program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo, and (2) the respondent Board did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it denied permit for the exhibition on TV of the three series of Ang Iglesia ni Cristo on the ground that the materials constitute an attack against another religion. It also found the series indecent, contrary to law and contrary to good customs. In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, petitioner raises the following issues: I WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO PROGRAM IS NOT CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED AS A FORM OF RELIGIOUS EXERCISE AND EXPRESSION. II WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT BEING AN EXERCISE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, THE ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO THE POLICE POWER OF THE STATE ONLY IN THE EXTREME CASE THAT IT POSES A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. III

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE MTRCB IS VESTED WITH THE POWER TO CENSOR RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS. IV WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO, A PURELY RELIGIOUS PROGRAM IS INDECENT AND CONTRARY TO LAW AND GOOD CUSTOMS. The basic issues can be reduced into two: (1) first, whether the respondent Board has the power to review petitioners TV program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo, and (2) second, assuming it has the power, whether it gravely abused its discretion when it prohibited the airing of petitioners religious program, series Nos. 115, 119 and 121, for the reason that they constitute an attack against other religions and that they are indecent, contrary to law and good customs. The first issue can be resolved by examining the powers of the Board under P.D. No. 1986. Its Section 3 pertinently provides: Sec. 3 Powers and Functions. The BOARD shall have the following functions, powers and duties: xxx xxx xxx b) To screen, review and examine all motion pictures as herein defined, television programs, including publicity materials such as advertisements, trailers and stills, whether such motion pictures and publicity materials be for theatrical or non-theatrical distribution for television broadcast or for general viewing, imported or produced in the Philippines and in the latter case, whether they be for local viewing or for export. c) To approve, delete objectionable portion from and/or prohibit the importation, exportation, production, copying, distribution, sale, lease, exhibition and/or television broadcast of the motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials, subject of the preceding paragraph, which, in the judgment of the BOARD applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard, are objectionable for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its

people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong or crime, such as but not limited to: i) Those which tend to incite subversion, insurrection, rebellion or sedition against the State, or otherwise threaten the economic and/or political stability of the State; ii) Those which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people, their government and/or duly constituted authorities; iii) Those which glorify criminals or condone crimes; iv) Those which serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence or pornography; v) Those which tend to abet the traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; vi) Those which are libelous or defamatory to the good name and reputation of any person, whether living or dead; vii) Those which may constitute contempt of court or of any quasijudicial tribunal, or pertain to matters which are sub-judice in nature (emphasis ours). The law gives the Board the power to screen, review and examine all television programs. By the clear terms of the law, the Board has the power to approve, delete x x x and/or prohibit the x x x exhibition and/or television broadcast of x x x television programs x x x. The law also directs the Board to apply contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard to determine those which are objectionable for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong or crime. Petitioner 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.

We reject petitioners submission which need not set us adrift in a constitutional voyage towards an uncharted sea. Freedom of religion has been accorded a preferred status by the framers of our fundamental laws, past and present. We have affirmed this preferred status well aware that it is designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good.xvi[16] We have also laboriously defined in our jurisprudence the intersecting umbras and penumbras of the right to religious profession and worship. To quote the summation of Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz, our well-known constitutionalist:xvii[17] Religious Profession and Worship The right to religious profession and worship has a two-fold aspect, viz., freedom to believe and freedom to act on ones 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. Every one has a right to his beliefs and he may not be called to account because he cannot prove what he believes. (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. Justice Frankfurter put it succinctly: The constitutional provision on religious freedom terminated disabilities, it did not create new privileges. It gave religious liberty, not civil immunity. Its essence is freedom from conformity to religious dogma, not freedom from conformity to law because of religious dogma. Accordingly, while one has full freedom to believe in Satan, he may not offer the object of his piety a human sacrifice, as this would be murder. Those who literally interpret the Biblical command to go forth and multiply are nevertheless not allowed to contract plural marriages in violation of the laws against bigamy. A person cannot refuse to pay taxes on the ground that it would be against his religious tenets to recognize any authority except that of God alone. An atheist cannot express his disbelief in acts of derision that wound the feelings of the faithful. The police power can be validly asserted against the Indian practice of the suttee born of deep religious conviction, that calls on the widow to immolate herself at the funeral pile of her husband. We thus reject petitioners postulate that its religious program is per se beyond review by the respondent Board. Its public broadcast on TV of its religious program brings it out of the bosom of internal belief. Television is a medium that reaches even the eyes and ears of children. 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. A laissez faire policy on the exercise of religion can be seductive to the liberal

mind but history counsels the Court against its blind adoption as religion is and continues to be a volatile area of concern in our country today. Across the sea and in our shore, the bloodiest and bitterest wars fought by men were caused by irreconcilable religious differences. Our country is still not safe from the recurrence of this stultifying strife considering our warring religious beliefs and the fanaticism with which some of us cling and claw to these beliefs. Even now, we have yet to settle the near century old strife in Mindanao, the roots of which have been nourished by the mistrust and misunderstanding between our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters. The bewildering rise of weird religious cults espousing violence as an article of faith also proves the wisdom of our rule rejecting a strict let alone policy on the exercise of religion. For sure, we shall continue to subject any act pinching the space for the free exercise of religion to a heightened scrutiny but we shall not leave its rational exercise to the irrationality of man. For when religion divides and its exercise destroys, the State should not stand still. It is also petitioners submission that the respondent appellate court gravely erred when it affirmed the ruling of the respondent Board xrating its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. The records show that the respondent Board disallowed the program series for attacking other religions. Thus, Exhibits A, A-1, (respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television) reveal that its reviewing members x-rated Series 115 for x x x criticizing different religions, based on their own interpretation of the Bible. They suggested that the program should only explain petitioners x x x own faith and beliefs and avoid attacks on other faiths. Exhibit B shows that Series No. 119 was x-rated because the Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it is found in the bible that we should do so. This is intolerance x x x. Exhibit C shows that Series No. 121 was xrated x x x for reasons of the attacks, they do on, specifically, the Catholic religion. x x x (T)hey can not tell, dictate any other religion that they are right and the rest are wrong x x x. Exhibit D also

shows that Series No. 128 was not favorably recommended because it x x x outrages Catholic and Protestants beliefs. On second review, it was x-rated because of its unbalanced interpretations of some parts of the Bible.xviii[18] In sum, the respondent Board xrated petitioners TV program series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128 because of petitioners controversial biblical interpretations and its attacks against contrary religious beliefs. The respondent appellate court agreed and even held that the said attacks are indecent, contrary to law and good customs. We reverse the ruling of the appellate court. First. Deeply ensconced in our fundamental law is its hostility against all prior restraints on speech, including religious speech. Hence, any act that restrains speech is hobbled by the presumption of invalidity and should be greeted with furrowed brows.xix[19] It is the burden of the respondent Board to overthrow this presumption. If it fails to discharge this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down. It failed in the case at bar. Second. The evidence shows that the respondent Board x-rated petitioners TV series for attacking other religions, especially the Catholic church. An examination of the evidence, especially Exhibits A, A-1, B, C, and D will show that the so-called attacks are mere criticisms of some of the deeply held dogmas and tenets of other religions. The videotapes were not viewed by the respondent court as they were not presented as evidence. Yet they were considered by the respondent court as indecent, contrary to law and good customs, hence, can be prohibited from public viewing under Section 3(c) of PD 1986. This ruling clearly suppresses petitioners freedom of speech and interferes with its right to free exercise of religion. It misappreciates the essence of freedom to differ as delineated in the benchmark case of Cantwell v. Connecticut,xx[20] viz.: xxx xxx xxx In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields, the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to

exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are prominent in church or state or even to false statements. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history that inspite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of democracy. The respondent Board may disagree with the criticisms of other religions by petitioner but that gives it no excuse to interdict such criticisms, however, unclean they may be. Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another religion. Religious dogmas and beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace among their followers, especially the fanatics, the establishment clause of freedom of religion prohibits the State from leaning towards any religion. Vis-a-vis religious differences, the State enjoys no banquet of options. Neutrality alone is its fixed and immovable stance. In fine, respondent board cannot squelch the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions, even if said religion happens to be the most numerous church in our country. In a State where there ought to be no difference between the appearance and the reality of freedom of religion, the remedy against bad theology is better theology. The bedrock of freedom of religion is freedom of thought and it is best served by encouraging the marketplace of dueling ideas. When the luxury of time permits, the marketplace of ideas demands that speech should be met by more speech for it is the spark of opposite speech, the heat of colliding ideas that can fan the embers of truth. Third. The respondents cannot also rely on the ground attacks against another religion in x-rating the religious program of petitioner. Even a sideglance at Section 3 of PD 1986 will reveal that it is not among the grounds to justify an order prohibiting the broadcast of petitioners television program. The ground attack against another religion was merely added by the respondent Board in its Rules.xxi[21] This rule is void for it runs smack against the hoary doctrine that administrative rules and regulations cannot expand the letter and spirit of the law they seek to enforce.

It is opined that the respondent board can still utilize attack against any religion as a ground allegedly x x x because Section 3 (c) of PD 1986 prohibits the showing of motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials which are contrary to law and Article 201 (2) (b) (3) of the Revised Penal Code punishes anyone who exhibits shows which offend any race or religion. We respectfully disagree for it is plain that the word attack is not synonymous with the word offend. Moreover, Article 201 (2) (b) (3) of the Revised Penal Code should be invoked to justify the subsequent punishment of a show which offends any religion. It cannot be utilized to justify prior censorship of speech. It must be emphasized that E.O. 876, the law prior to PD 1986, included attack against any religion as a ground for censorship. The ground was not, however, carried over by PD 1986. Its deletion is a decree to disuse it. There can be no other intent. Indeed, even the Executive Department espouses this view. Thus, in an Opinion dated November 28, 1985 then Minister of Justice, now President of the Senate, Neptali Gonzales explained: x x x However, the question whether the BRMPT (now MTRCB) may preview and censor the subject television program of INC should be viewed in the light of the provision of Section 3, paragraph (c) of PD 1986, which is substantially the same as the provision of Section 3, paragraph (c) of E.O. No. 876-A, which prescribes the standards of censorship, to wit: immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines or its people or with dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence, or of a wrong as determined by the Board, applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard. As stated, the intention of the Board to subject the INCs television program to previewing and censorship is prompted by the fact that its religious program makes mention of beliefs and practices of other religion. On the face of the law itself, there can conceivably be no basis for censorship of said program by the Board as much as the alleged reason cited by the Board does not appear to be within the

contemplation of the standards of censorship set by law. (Italics supplied) Fourth. In x-rating the TV program of the petitioner, the respondents failed to apply the clear and present danger rule. In American Bible Society v. City of Manila,xxii[22] this Court held: The constitutional guaranty of free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship carries with it the right to disseminate religious information. Any restraint of such right can be justified like other restraints on freedom of expression on the ground that there is a clear and present danger of any substantive evil which the State has the right to prevent. In Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers Union,xxiii[23] we further ruled that x x x it is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger. The records show that the decision of the respondent Board, affirmed by the respondent appellate court, is completely bereft of findings of facts to justify the conclusion that the subject video tapes constitute impermissible attacks against another religion. 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. It is suggested that we re-examine the application of clear and present danger rule to the case at bar. In the United States, it is true that the clear and present danger test has undergone permutations. It was Mr. Justice Holmes who formulated the test in Schenck v. US,xxiv[24] as follows: x x x the question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. Admittedly, the test was originally designed to determine the latitude which should be given to speech that espouses anti-

government action. Bannered by Justices Holmes and Brandeis, the test attained its full flowering in the decade of the forties, when its umbrella was used to protect speech other than subversive speech.xxv[25] Thus, for instance, the test was applied to annul a total ban on labor picketing.xxvi[26] The use of the test took a downswing in the 1950s when the US Supreme Court decided Dennis v. United States involving communist conspiracy.xxvii[27] In Dennis, the components of the test were altered as the High Court adopted Judge Learned Hands formulation that x x x in each case [courts] must ask whether the gravity of the evil, discounted by its improbability, justifies such invasion of free speech as is necessary to avoid the danger. The imminence requirement of the test was thus diminished and to that extent, the protection of the rule was weakened. In 1969, however, the strength of the test was reinstated in Brandenburg v. Ohio,xxviii[28] when the High Court restored in the test the imminence requirement, and even added an intent requirement which according to a noted commentator ensured that only speech directed at inciting lawlessness could be punished.xxix[29] Presently in the United States, 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.xxx[30] 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. It is also opined that it is inappropriate to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar because the issue involves the content of speech and not the time, place or manner of speech. Allegedly, unless the speech is first allowed, its impact cannot be measured, and the causal connection between the speech and the evil apprehended cannot be established. The contention overlooks

the fact that the case at bar involves videotapes that are pre-taped and hence, their speech content is known and not an X quantity. Given the specific content of the speech, it is not unreasonable to assume that the respondent Board, with its expertise, can determine whether its sulphur will bring about the substantive evil feared by the law. Finally, it is also opined by Mr. Justice Kapunan that x x x the determination of the question as to whether or not such vilification, exaggeration or fabrication falls within or lies outside the boundaries of protected speech or expression is a judicial function which cannot be arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of Censors. He submits that a system of prior restraint may only be validly administered by judges and not left to administrative agencies. The same submission is made by Mr. Justice Mendoza. This thoughtful thesis is an attempt to transplant another American rule in our jurisdiction. Its seedbed was laid down by Mr. Justice Brennan in his concurring opinion in the 1962 case of Manual Enterprise v. Day.xxxi[31] By 1965, the US Supreme Court in Freedman v. Marylandxxxii[32] was ready to hold that the teaching of cases is that, because only a judicial determination in an adversary proceeding ensures the necessary sensitivity to freedom of expression, only a procedure requiring a judicial determination suffices to impose a valid final restraint.xxxiii[33] While the thesis has a lot to commend itself, we are not ready to hold that it is unconstitutional for Congress to grant an administrative body quasi-judicial power to preview and classify TV programs and enforce its decision subject to review by our courts. As far back as 1921, we upheld this set-up in Sotto vs. Ruiz,xxxiv[34] viz.: The use of the mails by private persons is in the nature of a privilege which can be regulated in order to avoid its abuse. Persons possess no absolute right to put into the mail anything they please, regardless of its character. On the other hand, the exclusion of newspaper and other publications from the mails, in the exercise of executive power, is extremely delicate in nature and can only be justified where the

statute is unequivocably applicable to the supposed objectionable publication. In excluding any publication for the mails, the object should be not to interfere with the freedom of the press or with any other fundamental right of the people. This is the more true with reference to articles supposedly libelous than to other particulars of the law, since whether an article is or is not libelous, is fundamentally a legal question. In order for there to be due process of law, the action of the Director of Posts must be subject to revision by the courts in case he had abused his discretion or exceeded his authority. (Ex-parte Jackson [1878], 96 U.S., 727; Public Clearing House vs. Coyne [1903], 194 U.S., 497; Post Publishing Co. vs. Murray [1916], 23-Fed., 773) As has been said, the performance of the duty of determining whether a publication contains printed matter of a libelous character rests with the Director of Posts and involves the exercise of his judgment and discretion. Every intendment of the law is in favor of the correctness of his action. The rule is (and we go only to those cases coming from the United States Supreme Court and pertaining to the United States Postmaster-General), that the courts will not interfere with the decision of the Director of Posts unless clearly of opinion that it was wrong. (Bates & Guilid Co. vs. Payne [1904], 194 U.S., 106; Smith vs. Hitchcock [1912], 226 U.S., 63; Masses Pub. Co. vs. Patten [1917], 246 Fed., 24. But see David vs. Brown [1900], 103 Fed., 909, announcing a somewhat different doctrine and relied upon by the Attorney-General). To be sure, legal scholars in the United States are still debating the proposition whether or not courts alone are competent to decide whether speech is constitutionally protected.xxxv[35] The issue involves highly arguable policy considerations and can be better addressed by our legislators. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated March 24, 1995 is affirmed insofar as it sustained the jurisdiction of the respondent MTRCB to review petitioners TV program entitled Ang Iglesia ni Cristo, and is reversed and set aside insofar as it sustained the action of the respondent MTRCB x-

rating petitioners TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, and 121. No costs. SO ORDERED. IGLESIA NI CRISTO VS. COURT OF APPEALS [259 SCRA 529; G.R. NO. 119673; 26 JUL 1996] Sunday, February 08, 2009 Posted by Coffeeholic Writes Labels: Case Digests, Political Law Facts: Petitioner has a television program entitled "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" aired on Channel 2 every Saturday and on Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and propagates petitioner's religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in comparative studies with other religions. Petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television the VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series as "X" or not for public viewing on the ground that they "offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law." On November 28, 1992, it appealed to the Office of the President the classification of its TV Series No. 128 which allowed it through a letter of former Executive Secretary Edelmiro A. Amante, Sr., addressed for Henrietta S. Mendez reversing the decision of the respondent Board. According to the letter the episode in is protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech and expression and no indication that the episode poses any clear and present danger. Petitioner also filed Civil Case. Petitioner alleged that the respondent Board acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the VTR tapes of its TV program and in x-rating them. It cited its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. In their Answer, respondent Board invoked its power under PD No. 19861 in relation to Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code. The Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our (Catholic) veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it is found in the bible. The board contended that it outrages Catholic and Protestant's beliefs. RTC ruled in favor of petitioners. CA however reversed it hence this petition.

Issue: Whether or Not the "ang iglesia ni cristo" program is not constitutionally protected as a form of religious exercise and expression.

Held: Yes. Any act that restrains speech is accompanied with presumption of invalidity. It is the burden of the respondent Board to overthrow this presumption. If it fails to discharge this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down. This is true in this case. So-called "attacks" are mere criticisms of some of the deeply held dogmas and tenets of other religions. RTCs ruling clearly suppresses petitioner's freedom of speech and interferes with its right to free exercise of religion. attack is different from offend any race or religion. The respondent Board may disagree with the criticisms of other religions by petitioner but that gives it no excuse to interdict such criticisms, however, unclean they may be. Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another religion. Religious dogmas and beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace among their followers, especially the fanatics, the establishment clause of freedom of religion prohibits the State from leaning towards any religion. Respondent board cannot censor the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions, even if said religion happens to be the most numerous church in our country. The basis of freedom of religion is freedom of thought and it is best served by encouraging the marketplace of dueling ideas. It is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger. 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. It is inappropriate to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar because the issue involves the content of speech and not the time, place or manner of speech. Allegedly, unless the speech is first allowed, its impact cannot be measured, and the causal connection between the speech and the evil apprehended cannot be established. The determination of the question as to whether or not such vilification,

exaggeration or fabrication falls within or lies outside the boundaries of protected speech or expression is a judicial function which cannot be arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of Censors." A system of prior restraint may only be validly administered by judges and not left to administrative agencies. Iglesia ni Cristo v CA 259 SCRA 529 (1996) F: This is a petition for review on the decision of the CA affirming action of respondent Board of Review For Moving Pictures and Television that x-rated the TV Program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" classifying it not for public viewing on grounds that they offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law. Respondent contends the Board acted without jurisdiction and in grave abuse of discretion by requiring them to submit VTR tapes and x-rating them and suppression of freedom of expression. Trial court rendered judgment ordering the Board to give petitioner the permit for their TV program while ordering petitioners to refrain from attacking and offending other religious sectors from their program. In their motion for reconsideration the petitioner prays for the deletion of the order of the court to make them subject to the requirement of submitting the VTR tapes of their programs for review prior to showing on television. Such motion was granted. Respondent board appealed before the CA which reversed the decision of the lower court affirming the jurisdiction and power of the board to review the TV program. In their petition for review on certiorari, petitioner assails the jurisdiction of the Board over reviewing of their TV program and its grave abuse of discretion of its power to review if they are indeed vested with such. Issue: whether or not the Board has jurisdiction over the case at bar and whether or not it has acted with grave abuse of discretion. Held: The court affirmed the jurisdiction of the Board to review TV programs by virtue of the powers vested upon it by PD 1986. On the account of suppression of religious freedom, the court ruled that any act that restrains speech is accompanied with presumption of invalidity. The burden lies upon the Board to overthrow this presumption. The decision of the lower court is a suppression of the petitioners freedom of speech and free exercise of

religion. Respondent board cannot censor the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions. It is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified. 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. Thus the court affirmed the jurisdiction of the Board to review the petitioners TV program while it reversed and set aside the decision of the lower court that sustained the act of respondent in xrating the TV program of the petitioner. 2 fold aspects of religious profession and worship namely: 1. Freedom to believe (absolute) Freedom to act on ones belief where an individual externalizes his beliefs in acts or omissions affecting the public, this freedom to do so becomes subject to the regulation authority of the state.

Cabansag vs Fernandez

6/21/2011 6:55:00 PM

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-8974 October 18, 1957 APOLONIO CABANSAG, plaintiff, vs. GEMINIANA MARIA FERNANDEZ, ET AL., defendants. APOLONIO CABANSAG, ROBERTO V. MERRERA and RUFINO V. MERRERA, respondents-appellants. Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla, Assistant Solicitor General Jose G. Bautista and Solicitor Troadio T. Quiazon, Jr., appellee. Merrera and Merrera for appellants. BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.: This is a contempt proceeding which arose in Civil Case No. 9564 of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan wherein Apolonio Cabansag and his lawyers Roberto V. Merrera were found guilty and sentenced the first to pay a fine of P20 and the last two P50 each with the warning that a repetition of the of offense will next time be heavily dealt with. Apolonio Cabansag filed on January 13, 1947 in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan a complaint seeking the ejectment of Geminiana Fernandez, et al. from a parcel of land. Defendants filed their answer on January 31, 1947 and a motion to dismiss on February 2, 1947 and a motion of plaintiff's counsel, set the case for hearing on July 30, 1947. The meeting was postponed to August 8, 1947. On that day only one witness testified and the case was postponed to August 25, 1947. Thereafter, three incidents developed, namely: one regarding a claim for damages which was answered by defendants, another concerning the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction which was set for on March 23, 1948, and the third relative to an alleged contempt for violation of an agreement of the parties approved by the court. Pleadings were filed by the parties on these incidents and the court set the case for hearing on October 27, 1948. Hearing was postponed to December 10, 1948. On this date, only part of the evidence was received and the next hearing was scheduled for January 24,1949 when again only a part of the evidence was received and the case was continued to October 4, 1949.

On October 4, 1949, the court, presided over by Judge Villamor upon petition of both parties, ordered the stenographers who took down the notes during the previous hearings to transcribe them within 15 days upon payment of their fees, and the hearing was postponed until the transcript of said notes had been submitted. Notwithstanding the failure of the stenographers to transcribe their notes, the hearing was set for March 17, 1950. Two more postponements followed for March 23, 1950 and March 27, 1950. On August 9, 1950, August 23, 1950, September 26, 1950 and November 29, 1950, hearings were had but the case was only partly tried to be postponed again to January 30, 1951 and February 19, 1951. Partial hearings were held on February 20, 1951, March 12, 1951 and June 6,1951. These hearings were followed by three more postponements and on August 15, 1951, the case was partially heard. After this partial hearing, the trial was continued on March 6, 1952 only to be postponed to May 27, 1952. No hearing took place on said date and the case was set for continuation on December 9, 1952 when the court, Judge Pasicolan presiding, issued an order suggesting to the parties to arrange with the stenographers who took down the notes to transcribe their respective notes and that the case would be set for hearing after the submission of the transcript. From December 9, 1952 to August 12, 1954, no further step was taken either by the court or any of the contending parties in the case. . On December 30, 1953, President Magsaysay assumed office, he issued Executive Order No. I creating the Presidential Complaints and Action Commission (PCAC), which was later superseded by Executive Order 19 promulgated on March 17, 1954. And on August 12, 1954 Apolonio Cabansag, apparently irked and disappointed by the delay in the disposition of his case, wrote the PCAC, a letter copy which he furnished the Secretary of Justice and the Executive Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, which reads: We, poor people of the Philippines are very grateful for the creation of your Office. Unlike in the old days, poor people are not heard, but now the PCAC is the sword of Damocles ready to smite bureaucratic aristocracy. Poor people can now rely on PCAC to help them. Undaunted, the undersigned begs to request the help of the PCAC in the interest of public service, as President Magsaysay has in mind to create the said PACC, to have his old case stated above be terminated once and for all.

The undersigned has long since been deprived of his land thru the careful maneuvers of a tactical lawyer. The said case which had long been pending could not be decided due to the fact that the transcript of the records has not, as yet, been transcribed by the stenographers who took the stenographic notes. The new Judges could not proceed to hear the case before the transcription of the said notes. The stenographers who took the notes are now assigned in another courts. It seems that the undersigned will be deprived indefinitely of his right of possession over the land he owns. He has no other recourse than to ask the help of the ever willing PCAC to help him solve his predicament at an early date. Now then, Mr. Chief, the undersigned relies on you to do your utmost best to bring justice to its final destination. My confidence reposes in you. Thanks. Most confidently yours, (Sgd.) APOLONIO CABANSAG Plaintiff Upon the receipt of the letter, the Secretary of Justice indorsed it to the Clerk of Court of First Instance of Pangasinan instructing him to require the stenographers concerned to transcribe their notes in Civil Case No. 9564. The clerk of court, upon receipt of this instruction on August 27, 1954, referred the matter to Judge Jesus P. Morfe before whom the case was then informing him that the two stenographers concerned, Miss Iluminada Abello and Juan Gaspar, have already been assigned elsewhere. On the same date, Judge Morfe wrote the Secretary of Justice informing him that under provisions of Act No. 2383 and Section 12 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, said stenographers are not obliged to transcribe their notes except in cases of appeal and that since the parties are not poor litigants, they are not entitled to transcription free of charge, aside from the fact that said stenographers were no longer under his jurisdiction. Meanwhile, on September 1, 1954, Atty. Manuel Fernandez, counsel for defendants, filed a motion before Judge Morfe praying that Apolonio Cabansag be declared in contempt of court for an alleged scurrilous remark he made in his letter to the PCAC to the effect that he, Cabansag, has long been deprived of his land "thru the careful maneuvers of a tactical lawyer", to which counsel for Cabansag replied with a counter-charge praying that

Atty. Fernandez be in turn declared in contempt because of certain contemptuous remarks made by him in his pleading. Acting on these charges and counter- charges, on September 14, 1954, Judge Morfe dismissed both charges but ordered Cabansag to show cause in writing within 10 days why he should not be held liable for contempt for sending the above letter to the PCAC which tended to degrade the court in the eyes of the President and the people. Cabansag filed his answer stating that he did not have the idea to besmirch the dignity or belittle the respect due the court nor was he actuated with malice when he addressed the letter to the PCAC; that there is no single contemptuous word in said letter nor was it intended to give the Chief Executive a wrong impression or opinion of the court; and that if there was any inefficiency in the disposal of his case, the same was committed by the judges who previously intervened in the case. In connection with this answer, the lawyers of Cabansag, Roberto V. Merrera and Rufino V. Merrera' also submitted a written manifestation stating that the sending of the letter to their client to the PCAC was through their knowledge and consent because they believed that there was nothing wrong in doing so. And it appearing that said attorneys had a hand in the writing and remittance of the letter to the PCAC, Judge Morfe on, on September 29, 1954, issued another order requiring also said attorneys to show cause why they should not likewise be held for contempt for having committed acts which tend to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice. Anent the charge for contempt preferred by Judge Morfe against Apolonio Cabansag, several incidents took place touching on the right of the Special Counsel of the Department of Justice to appear as counsel for Cabansag, which were however settled when the court allowed said Special Counsel to appear as amicus curiae in his official capacity. In addition to this Special Counsel, other members of the local bar were likewise allowed to appear for respondents in view of the importance of the issues involved. After due hearing, where the counsel of respondents were allowed to argue and submit memoranda, the decision finding respondents guilty of contempt and sentencing them to pay a fine as stated in the early part of this decision. Respondents in due time appealed to this Court. The issues involved in this appeal appear well stated in the decision of the trial Court. They are: (a) Did the writing in the letter in question to the PCAC tend directly or indirectly to put the lower court into disrepute or belittle,

degrade or embarrass it in its administration of justice?; and (b) Did writing of said letter tend to draw the intervention of the PCAC in the instant case which will have the effect of undermining the court's judicial independence? We agree that the trial court that courts have the power to preserve their integrity and maintain their dignity without which their administration of justice is bound to falter or fail (Villavicencio vs. Lukban, 39 Phil., 778; Borromeo vs. Mariano, 41 Phil., 322). This is the preservative power to punish for contempt (Rule 64, Rules of Court; Villavicencio vs. Lukban, supra). This power is inherent in all courts and essential to their right of selfpreservation (Slade Perkins vs. Director of Prisons, 58 Phil., 271). In order that it may conduct its business unhampered by publications which tends to impair the impartiality of its decisions or otherwise obstruct the administration of justice, the court will not hesitate to exercise it regardless of who is affected. For, "as important as is the maintenance of unmuzzled press and the free exercise of the rights of the citizen is the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary" (In re Lozano and Quevedo, 54 Phil., 801).The reason for this is that respect of the courts guarantees the stability of their institution. Without such said institution would be resting on a very shaky foundation (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil., 724). The question that now arises is: Has the lower court legitimately and justifiably exercised this power in the instant case? The lower court tells us that it has because in its opinion the act of respondents to put it belittle or degrade or embarrass it in its administration of justice, and so it punished them for contempt to protect its judicial independence. But appellants believe otherwise, for they contend that in sending the letter in question to the PCAC, they did nothing but to exercise their right to petition the government for redress of their grievance as guaranteed by our constitution (section 1, paragraph 8, Article III). The very idea of a government, republican in form, implies a right on the part of its citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect affairs and to petition for a redress of grievances." The First Amendments of the Federal expressly guarantees that right against abridgement by Congress. But mention does not argue exclusion elsewhere. For the right is one that cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all civil and political institutions,- principles which the Fourteenth Amendment embodies in the general terms of its due

process clause. (Emerson and Haber, Political and Civil Rights in the United States, p. 419.). We are therefore confronted with a clash of two fundamental rights which lie at the bottom of our democratic institutions-the independence of the judiciary the right to petition the government for redress of grievance. How to balance and reconcile the exercise of these rights is the problem posed in the case before us. . . . A free press is not to be judiciary, nor an independent judiciary to a free press. Neither has primacy over the other; both are indispensable to a free society. The freedom of the press in itself presupposes an independent judiciary through which that freedom may, if necessary, be vindicated. And one of the potent means of assuring judges their independence is a free press. (Justice Frankfurter, concurring in Pennekamp vs. Florida, 328 U.S. 354-356) Two theoretical formulas had been devised in the determination of conflicting rights of similar import in an attempt to draw the proper constitutional boundary between freedom of expression and independence of the judiciary. These are the "clear and present danger" rule and the "dangerous tendency" rule. The first as interpreted in a number of cases, means that the evil consequence of the comment or utterance must be "extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high" before the utterance can be punished. The danger to be guarded against is the "substantive evil" sought to be prevented. And this evil is primarily the "disorderly and unfair administration of justice." This test establishes a definite rule in constitutional law. It provides the criterion as to what words maybe published. Under this rule, the advocacy of ideas cannot constitutionally be abridged unless there is a clear and present danger that such advocacy will harm the administration of justice. This rule had its origin in Schenck vs. U. S. (249) U. S. 47), promulgated in 1919, and ever since it has afforded a practical guidance in a great variety of cases in which the scope of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression was put in issue.1 In one of said cases, the United States Supreme Court has made the significant suggestion that this rule "is an appropriate guide in determining the constitutionality of restriction upon expression where the substantial evil sought to be prevented by the

restriction is destruction of life or property or invasion of the right of privacy" Thornhill vs. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88). Thus, speaking of the extent and scope of the application of this rule, the Supreme Court of the United States said "Clear and present danger of substantive evils as a result of indiscriminate publications regarding judicial proceedings justifies an impairment of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and press only if the evils are extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high. . . . A public utterance or publication is not to be denied the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and press merely because it concerns a judicial proceeding still pending in the courts, upon the theory that in such a case it must necessarily tend to obstruct the orderly and fair administration of justice. The possibility of engendering disrespect for the judiciary as a result of the published criticism of a judge is not such a substantive evil as will justify impairment of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and press." (Bridges vs. California, 314 U.S. 252, syllabi) No less important is the ruling on the power of the court to punish for contempt in relation to the freedom of speech and press. We quote; "Freedom of speech and press should not be impaired through the exercise of the punish for contempt of court unless there is no doubt that the utterances in question are a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice. A judge may hold in contempt one who ventures to publish anything that tends to make him unpopular or to belittle him. . . . The vehemence of the language used in newspaper publications concerning a judge's decision is not alone the measure of the power to punish for contempt. The fires which it kindles must constitute an imminent not merely a likely, threat to the administration of justice. (Craig vs. Harney, 331 U. S. 367, syllabi) And in weighing the danger of possible interference with the courts by newspaper criticism against the right of free speech to determine whether such criticism may constitutionally be punished as contempt, it was ruled that "freedom of public comment should in borderline instances weigh heavily against a possible tendency to influence pending cases." (Pennekamp vs. Florida, 328 U. S. 331). The question in every case, according to Justice Holmes, is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive

evils that congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree (Schenck vs. U. S., supra). The "dangerous tendency" rule, on the other hand, has been adopted in cases where extreme difficulty is confronted determining where the freedom of expression ends and the right of courts to protect their independence begins. There must be a remedy to borderline cases and the basic principle of this rule lies in that the freedom of speech and of the press, as well as the right to petition for redress of grievance, while guaranteed by the constitution, are not absolute. They are subject to restrictions and limitations, one of them being the protection of the courts against contempt (Gilbert vs. Minnesota, 254 U. S. 325.) This rule may be epitomized as follows: If the words uttered create a dangerous tendency which the state has a right to prevent, then such words are punishable. It is not necessary that some definite or immediate acts of force, violence, or unlawfulness be advocated. It is sufficient that such acts be advocated in general terms. Nor is it necessary that the language used be reasonably calculated to incite persons to acts of force, violence or unlawfulness. It is sufficient if the natural tendency and probable effect of the utterance be to bring about the substantive evil the utterance be to bring about the substantive evil which the legislative body seeks to prevent. (Gitlow vs. New York, 268 U.S. 652.). It is a fundamental principle, long established, that the freedom of speech and of the press which is secured by the Constitution does not confer an absolute right to speak or publish, without responsibility, whatever one may choose, or an unrestricted and unbridled license that gives immunity for every possible use of language, and prevents the punishment of those who abuse this freedom. . . . Reasonably limited, it was said by story in the passage cited this freedom is an inestimable privilege in a free government; without such limitation, it might become the scourge of the Republic. xxx xxx xxx And, for yet more imperative reasons, a state may punish utterances endangering the foundations of organized government and threatening its overthrow by unlawful means. These imperil its own existence as a constitutional state. . . . xxx xxx xxx

. . . And the immediate danger is none the less real and substantial because the effect of a 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 or 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 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, than 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." Gitlow va. New York, supra.) The question then to be determined is: Has the letter of Cabansag created a sufficient danger to a fair administration of justice? Did its remittance to the PCAC create a danger sufficiently imminent to come under the two rules mentioned above? Even if we make a careful analysis of the letter sent by appellant Cabansag to the PCAC which has given rise to the present contempt proceedings, we would at once see that it was far from his mind to put the court in ridicule and much less to belittle or degrade it in the eyes of those to whom the letter was addressed for, undoubtedly, he was compelled to act the way he did simply because he saw no other way of obtaining the early termination of his case. This is clearly inferable from its context wherein, in respectful and courteous language, Cabansag gave vent to his feeling when he said that he "has long since been deprived of his land thru the careful maneuvers of a tactical lawyer"; that the case which had long been pending could not be

decided due to the fact that the transcript of the records has not as yet, been transcribed by the stenographer who took the stenographic notes", and that the new Judges could not proceed to hear the case before the transcription of the said notes." Analyzing said utterances, one would see that if they ever criticize, "the criticism refers, not to the court, but to opposing counsel whose tactical maneuvers" has allegedly caused the undue delay of the case. The grievance or complaint, if any, is addressed to the stenographers for their apparent indifference in transcribing their notes. The only disturbing effect of the letter which perhaps has been the motivating factor of the lodging of the contempt charge by the trial judge is the fact that the letter was sent to the Office of the President asking for help because of the precarious predicament of Cabansag. While the course of action he had taken may not be a wise one for it would have been proper had he addressed his letter to the Secretary of Justice or to the Supreme Court, such act alone would not be contemptuous. To be so the danger must cause a serious imminent threat to the administration of justice. Nor can we infer that such act has "a dangerous tendency" to belittle the court or undermine the administration of justice for the writer merely exercised his constitutional right to petition the government for redress of a legitimate grievance. The fact is that even the trial court itself has at the beginning entertained such impression when it found that the criticism was directed not against the court but against the counsel of the opposite party, and that only on second thought did it change its mind when it developed that the act of Cabansag was prompted by the advice of his lawyers. Nor can it be contended that the latter is groundless or one motivated by malice. The circumstances borne by the record which preceded the sending of that letter show that there was an apparent cause for grievance. Thus, the record shows that on January 13, 1947, or more than 8 years ago, appellant Cabansag filed with the lower court a complaint against Geminiana Fernandez, et al. seeking to eject them from a portion of land covered by a torrens title. On October 4, 1949, or two years thereafter, the court, Judge Villamor presiding, issued an order requiring the stenographers who took down the notes to transcribe them within 15 days upon payment of their corresponding fees. On December 9, 1952, or almost 3 years thereafter, the court, Judge Pasicolan presiding, issued a similar order requiring the

stenographers to transcribe their notes and decreeing that the case be set for hearing after said notes had been transcribed. No further step was taken from his last date either by the by the court or by the opposing parties. Meanwhile, the stenographers were given assignment elsewhere, and when this matter brought to the attention of the court by its own clerk of court, said court in an indorsement sent to the Secretary of Justice expressed its inability to take action in view of the fact that the stenographers were no longer under its jurisdiction. And in said indorsement nothing was said about its readiness to continue the trial even in the absence of the transcript of the notes. Under such a state of affairs, appellant Cabansag cannot certainly be blamed for entertaining the belief that the only way by which he could obtain redress of his grievance is to address his letter to the PCAC which after all is the office created by the late President to receive and hear all complaints against officials and employees of the government to facilitate which the assistance and cooperation of all the executive departments were enjoined (Executive Order No. 1, as amended by Executive Order No. 19). And one of the departments that come under the control of the President is the Department of Justice which under the law has administrative supervision over courts of first instance.(Section 83, Revised Administrative Code) The PCAC is part of the Office of the President. It can, therefore, be said that the letter of Cabansag though sent to the PCAC is intended for the Department of Justice where it properly belongs. Consequently, the sending of that letter may be considered as one sent to the Department of Justice and as such cannot constitute undue publication that would place him beyond the mantle of protection of our constitution. . . . under the presidential type of government which we adopted and considering the departmental organization established and continued in force by paragraph, section 12, Article VII, of our Constitution, all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or the law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the secretaries of such departments,

performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. (Villena vs. The Secretary of the Interior, 67 Phil., 451, 463.) We would only add one word in connection with the participation in the incident of Cabansag's co-appellants, Attys. Roberto V. Merrera and Rufino V. Merrera. While the conduct of Cabansag may be justified considering that, being a layman, he is unaware of the technical rules of law and procedure which may place him under the protective mantle of our constitution, such does not obtain with regard to his co-appellants. Being learned in the law and officers of the court, they should have acted with more care and circumspection in advising their client to avoid undue embarrassment to the court or unnecessary interference with the normal course of its proceedings. Their duty as lawyers is always to observe utmost respect to the court and defend it against unjust criticism and clamor. Had they observed a more judicious behavior, they would have avoided the unpleasant incident that had arisen. However, the record is bereft of any proof showing improper motive on their part, much less bad faith in their actuation. But they should be warned, as we now do, that a commission of a similar misstep in the future would render them amenable to a more severe disciplinary action. Wherefore, the decision appealed from is reversed, without pronouncement as to costs.

Sanidad
Sanidad vs. Comelec

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Facts: This is a petition for certiorari assailing the constitutionality of Section 19 of Comelece Resolution No. 2167 on the ground that it violates the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of expression and of the press. On October 23, 1989, Republic Act. No. 6766, entitled AN ACT PROVIDING FOR AN ORGANIC ACT FOR THE CORDILLERA AUTONOMOUS REGION was enacted into law. Pursuant to said law, the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras which consist of the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga-Apayao, all comprising gthe Cordillera Autonomous Region, shall take part in a plebiscite for the ratification of said Organic Act originally scheduled last December 27, 1989 which was however, reset to January 30, 1990 by virtue of Comelec Resolution No. 2226 dated December 27, 1989. The Commission on Elections, by virtue of the power vested by the 1987 Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881), said R.A. 6766 and other pertinent election laws, promulgated Resolution No. 2167, to govern the conduct of the plebiscite on the said Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region. In a petition dated November 20, 1989, herein petitioner Pablito Sanidad, who claims to be a newspaper columnist of the OVERVIEW for the BAGUIO MIDLAND COURIER, a weekly newspaper circulated in the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras, assailed the constitutionality of Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167, which Provides: Section 19: Prohibition on columnists, commentators or announcers. During the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on the plebiscite day, no mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for the plebiscite issue. It is alleged by petitioner that said provision is void and unconstitutional because it violates the constitutional guarantees of the freedom of expression and of the press enshrined in the Constitution. Unlike a regular news reporter or news correspondent who merely reports the

news, petitioner maintains that as a columnist, his column obviously and necessarily contains and reflects his opinions, view and beliefs on any issue or subject about which he writes. Petitioner likewise maintains that if media practitioners were to express their views, beliefs and opinions on the issue submitted to a plebiscite, it would in fact help in the government drive and desire to disseminate information, and hear, as well as ventilate, all sides of the issue. Issue: Whether or not Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 is unconstitutional

Ruling: The Supreme Court ruled that Section 19 of Comelec Res. No. 2167 is unconstitutional. It is clear from Art. IX-C of the 1987 Constitution that what was granted to the Comelec was the power to supervise and regulate the use and enjoyment of franchises, permits or other grants issued for the operation of transportation or other public utilities, media of communication or information to the end that equal opportunity, time and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefore, for the public information campaigns and forums among candidates are ensured. The evil sought to be prevented by this provision is the possibility that a franchise holder may favor or give any undue advantage to a candidate in terms of advertising space or radio or television time. This is also the reason why a columnist, commentator, announcer or personality, who is a candidate for any elective office to required to take a leave of absence from his work during the campaign period (2nd par. Section 11(b) R.A. 6646). It cannot be gainsaid that columnist or commentator who is also a candidate would be more exposed to the voters to the prejudice of other candidates unless required to take a leave of absence.

However, neither Article IX-C of the Constitution nor Section 11 (b), 2 par. Of R.A. 6646 can be construed to mean that the Comelec has also been granted the right to supervise and regulate the exercise of media practitioners themselves of their right of expression during plebiscite periods. Media practitioners exercising their freedom of expression during plebiscite periods are neither the franchise holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no candidates involved in plebiscite. Therefore, section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 has no statutory basis.
nd

Plebiscite Issue are matters of public concern and importance. The peoples right to be informed and to be able to freely and intelligently make a decision would be better served by access to an unabridged discussion of the issue, including the forum. The people affected by the Issue presented in a plebiscite should not be unduly burdened by restrictions on the forum where the right to expression but they do not guarantee full dissemination of information to the public concerned because they are limited to either specific portions in newspapers or to specific radio or television times. The instant petition is granted, Section 19 of Comelec Res. No, 2167 is declared null and void and unconstitutional. Sanidad vs. Commission on Elections [GR L-44640, 12 October 1976]; also Guzman vs. Comelec [GR L-44684], and Gonzales vs. Commission on Elections [GR L-44714] Facts: On 2 September 1976, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree 991 calling for a national referendum on 16 October 1976 for the Citizens Assemblies ("barangays") to resolve, among other things, the issues of martial law, the interim assembly, its replacement, the powers of such replacement, the period of its existence, the length of the period for the exercise by the President of his present powers. 20 days after or on 22 September 1976, the President issued another related decree, Presidential Decree 1031, amending the previous Presidential Decree 991, by declaring the provisions of Presidential Decree 229 providing for the manner of voting and canvass of votes in "barangays" (Citizens Assemblies) applicable to the national referendum-plebiscite of 16 October 1976. Quite

relevantly, Presidential Decree 1031 repealed inter alia, Section 4, of Presidential Decree 991. On the same date of 22 September 1976, the President issued Presidential Decree 1033, stating the questions to he submitted to the people in the referendum-plebiscite on 16 October 1976. The Decree recites in its "whereas" clauses that the people's continued opposition to the convening of the interim National Assembly evinces their desire to have such body abolished and replaced thru a constitutional amendment, providing for a new interim legislative body, which will be submitted directly to the people in the referendum-plebiscite of October 16. The Commission on Elections was vested with the exclusive supervision and control of the October 1976 National Referendum-Plebiscite. On 27 September 1976, Pablo C. Sanidad and Pablito V. Sanidad, father and son, commenced L-44640 for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections from holding and conducting the Referendum Plebiscite on October 16; to declare without force and effect Presidential Decree Nos. 991 and 1033, insofar as they propose amendments to the Constitution, as well as Presidential Decree 1031, insofar as it directs the Commission on Elections to supervise, control, hold, and conduct the Referendum-Plebiscite scheduled on 16 October 1976. They contend that under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions there is no grant to the incumbent President to exercise the constituent power to propose amendments to the new Constitution. As a consequence, the ReferendumPlebiscite on October 16 has no constitutional or legal basis. On 30 September 1976, another action for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction, docketed as L-44684, was instituted by Vicente M. Guzman, a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, asserting that the power to propose amendments to, or revision of the Constitution during the transition period is expressly conferred on the interim National Assembly under action 16, Article XVII of the Constitution. Still another petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction was filed on 5 October 1976 by Raul M. Gonzales, his son Raul Jr., and Alfredo Salapantan, docketed as L-44714, to restrain the implementation of Presidential Decrees relative to the forthcoming Referendum-Plebiscite of October 16. Issue: Whether the President may call upon a referendum for the amendment of the Constitution.

Held: Section 1 of Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution on Amendments ordains that "(1) Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by the National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members, or by a constitutional convention. (2) The National Assembly may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention or, by a majority vote of all its Members, submit the question of calling such a convention to the electorate in an election." Section 2 thereof provides that "Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than three months a after the approval of such amendment or revision." In the present period of transition, the interim National Assembly instituted in the Transitory Provisions is conferred with that amending power. Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions reads "The interim National Assembly, upon special call by the interim Prime Minister, may, by a majority vote of all its Members, propose amendments to this Constitution. Such amendments shall take effect when ratified in accordance with Article Sixteen hereof." There are, therefore, two periods contemplated in the constitutional life of the nation, i.e., period of normalcy and period of transition. In times of normalcy, the amending process may be initiated by the proposals of the (1) regular National Assembly upon a vote of threefourths of all its members; or (2) by a Constitutional Convention called by a vote of two-thirds of all the Members of the National Assembly. However the calling of a Constitutional Convention may be submitted to the electorate in an election voted upon by a majority vote of all the members of the National Assembly. In times of transition, amendments may be proposed by a majority vote of all the Members of the interim National Assembly upon special call by the interim Prime Minister. The Court in Aquino v. COMELEC, had already settled that the incumbent President is vested with that prerogative of discretion as to when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly. The Constitutional Convention intended to leave to the President the determination of the time when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly, consistent with the prevailing conditions of peace and order in the country. When the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention voted on the Transitory Provisions, they were aware of the fact that under the same, the incumbent President was given the discretion as to when he could convene the interim National Assembly. The President's

decision to defer the convening of the interim National Assembly soon found support from the people themselves. In the plebiscite of January 10-15, 1973, at which the ratification of the 1973 Constitution was submitted, the people voted against the convening of the interim National Assembly. In the referendum of 24 July 1973, the Citizens Assemblies ("bagangays") reiterated their sovereign will to withhold the convening of the interim National Assembly. Again, in the referendum of 27 February 1975, the proposed question of whether the interim National Assembly shall be initially convened was eliminated, because some of the members of Congress and delegates of the Constitutional Convention, who were deemed automatically members of the interim National Assembly, were against its inclusion since in that referendum of January, 1973 the people had already resolved against it. In sensu striciore, when the legislative arm of the state undertakes the proposals of amendment to a Constitution, that body is not in the usual function of lawmaking. It is not legislating when engaged in the amending process. Rather, it is exercising a peculiar power bestowed upon it by the fundamental charter itself. In the Philippines, that power is provided for in Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution (for the regular National Assembly) or in Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions (for the interim National Assembly). While ordinarily it is the business of the legislating body to legislate for the nation by virtue of constitutional conferment, amending of the Constitution is not legislative in character. In political science a distinction is made between constitutional content of an organic character and that of a legislative character. The distinction, however, is one of policy, not of law. Such being the case, approval of the President of any proposed amendment is a misnomer. The prerogative of the President to approve or disapprove applies only to the ordinary cases of legislation. The President has nothing to do with proposition or adoption of amendments to the Constitution.

Gonzales v COMELEC
Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-27833 April 18, 1969

6/21/2011 6:55:00 PM

IN THE MATTER OF PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF RE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF REPUBLIC ACT 4880. ARSENIO GONZALES and FELICISIMO R. CABIGAO, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. F. R. Cabigao in his own behalf as petitioner. B. F. Advincula for petitioner Arsenio Gonzales. Ramon Barrios for respondent Commission on Elections. Sen. Lorenzo Taada as amicus curiae. FERNANDO, J.: A statute designed to maintain the purity and integrity of the electoral process by Congress calling a halt to the undesirable practice of prolonged political campaign bringing in their wake serious evils not the least of which is the ever increasing cost of seeking public office, is challenged on constitutional grounds. More precisely, the basic liberties of free speech and free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are invoked to nullify the act. Thus the question confronting this Court is one of transcendental significance. It is faced with the reconciliation of two values esteemed highly and cherished dearly in a constitutional democracy. One is the freedom of belief and of expression availed of by an individual whether by himself alone or in association with others of similar persuasion, a goal that occupies a place and to none in the legal hierarchy. The other is the safeguarding of the

equally vital right of suffrage by a prohibition of the early nomination of candidates and the limitation of the period of election campaign or partisan political activity, with the hope that the time-consuming efforts, entailing huge expenditures of funds and involving the risk of bitter rivalries that may end in violence, to paraphrase the explanatory note of the challenged legislation, could be devoted to more fruitful endeavors. The task is not easy, but it is unavoidable. That is of the very essence of judicial duty. To paraphrase a landmark opinion, 1 when we act in these matters we do so not on the assumption that to us is granted the requisite knowledge to set matters right, but by virtue of the responsibility we cannot escape under the Constitution, one that history authenticates, to pass upon every assertion of an alleged infringement of liberty, when our competence is appropriately invoked. This then is the crucial question: Is there an infringement of liberty? Petitioners so alleged in his action, which they entitled Declaratory Relief with Preliminary Injunction, filed on July 22, 1967, a proceeding that should have been started in the of Court of First Instance but treated by this Court as one of prohibition in view of the seriousness and the urgency of the constitutional issue raised. Petitioners challenged the validity of two new sections now included in the Revised Election Code, under Republic Act No. 4880, which was approved and took effect on June 17, 1967, prohibiting the too early nomination of candidates 2 and limiting the period of election campaign or partisan political activity. 3 The terms "candidate" and "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" are likewise defined. The former according to Act No. 4880 "refers to any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office regarded of whether or not said person has already filed his certificate of candidacy or has been nominated by any political party as its candidate." "Election campaign" or "partisan political activity" refers to acts designed to have a candidate elected or not or promote the candidacy of a person or persons to a public office." Then the acts were specified. There is a proviso that simple expression of opinion and thoughts concerning the election shall not be considered as part of an election campaign. There is the further proviso that

nothing stated in the Act "shall be understood to prevent any person from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of the candidates for public office whom he supports." 4 Petitioner Cabigao was, at the time of the filing 6f the petition, an incumbent councilor in the 4th District of Manila and the Nacionalista Party official candidate for Vice-Mayor of Manila to which he was subsequently elected on November 11, 1967; petitioner Gonzales, on the other hand, is a private individual, a registered voter in the City of Manila and a political leader of his co-petitioner. It is their claim that "the enforcement of said Republic Act No. 4880 in question [would] prejudice [their] basic rights..., such as their freedom of speech, their freedom of assembly and their right to form associations or societies for purpose not contrary to law, guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution," and that therefore said act is unconstitutional. After invoking anew the fundamental rights to free speech, free press, freedom of association and freedom of assembly with a citation of two American Supreme Court decisions, 5 they asserted that "there is nothing in the spirit or intention of the law that would legally justify its passage and [enforcement] whether for reasons of public policy, public order or morality, and that therefore the enactment of Republic Act [No.] 4880 under, the guise of regulation is but a clear and simple abridgment of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to form associations and societies for purposes not contrary to law, ..." There was the further allegation that the nomination of a candidate and the fixing of period of election campaign are matters of political expediency and convenience which only political parties can regulate or curtail by and among themselves through self-restraint or mutual understanding or agreement and that the regulation and limitation of these political matters invoking the police power, in the absence of clear and present danger to the state, would render the constitutional rights of petitioners meaningless and without effect. To the plea of petitioners that after hearing, Republic Act No. 4880 be declared unconstitutional, null and void, respondent Commission on

Elections, in its answer filed on August 1, 1967, after denying the allegations as to the validity of the act "for being mere conclusions of law, erroneous at that," and setting forth special affirmative defenses, procedural and substantive character, would have this Court dismiss the petition. Thereafter the case was set for hearing on August 3, 1967. On the same date a resolution was passed by us to the following effect: "At the hearing of case L-27833 (Arsenio Gonzales, et al. vs. Commission on Elections), Atty. F. Reyes Cabigao appeared for the petitioners and Atty. Ramon Barrios appeared for the respondent and they were given a period of four days from today within which to submit, simultaneously,, their respective memorandum in lieu of oral argument." On August 9, 1967, another resolution, self-explanatory in character, came from this Court. Thus: "In ease G.R. No. L-27833 (Arsenio Gonzales, et al. vs. Commission on Elections), the Court, with eight (8) Justice present, having deliberated on the issue of the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 4880; and a divergence of views having developed among the Justices as to the constitutionality of section 50-B, pars. (c), (d) and (e) of the Revised Election Code: considering the Constitutional provision that "no treaty or law may be declared unconstitutional without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the (Supreme) Court' (sec. 10, Art, VII), the Court [resolved] to defer final voting on the issue until after the return of the Justices now on official leave." The case was then reset for oral argument. At such hearing, one of the copetitioners, now Vice-Mayor Felicisimo Cabigao of the City of Manila acting as counsel, assailed the validity of the challenged legislation relying primarily on American Supreme Court opinion that warn against curtailment in whatever guise or form of the cherished freedoms of expression, of assemble and of association, all embraced in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Respondent Commission on Elections was duly represented by Atty. Ramon Barrios. Senator Lorenzo M. Taada was asked to appear as amicus curiae. That he did, arguing most impressively with a persuasive exposition of the existence

of undeniable conditions that imperatively called for regulation of the electoral process and with full recognition that Act No. 4880 could indeed be looked upon as a limitation on the preferred rights of speech and press, of assembly and of association. He did justify its enactment however under the clear and present danger doctrine, there being the substantive evil of elections, whether for national or local officials, being debased and degraded by unrestricted campaigning, excess of partisanship and undue concentration in politics with the loss not only of efficiency in government but of lives as well. The matter was then discussed in conference, but no final action was taken. The divergence of views with reference to the paragraphs above mentioned having continued, on Oct. 10, 1968, this Court, by resolution, invited certain entities to submit memoranda as amici curiae on the question of the validity of R.A. Act No. 4880. The Philippine Bar Association, the Civil Liberties Union, the U.P. Law Center and the U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle were included, among them. They did file their respective memoranda with this Court and aided it in the consideration of the constitutional issues involved. 1. In the course of the deliberations, a serious procedural objection was raised by five members of the Court. 6 It is their view that respondent Commission on Elections not being sought to be restrained from performing any specific act, this suit cannot be characterized as other than a mere request for an advisory opinion. Such a view, from the remedial law standpoint, has much to recommend it. Nonetheless, a majority would affirm, the original stand that under the circumstances it could still rightfully be treated as a petition for prohibition. The language of Justice Laurel fits the case "All await the decision of this Court on the constitutional question. Considering, therefore, the importance which the instant case has assumed and to prevent multiplicity of suits, strong reasons of public policy demand that [its] constitutionality ... be now resolved." 7 It may likewise be added that the exceptional character of the situation that confronts us, the paramount public interest, and the undeniable necessity for a ruling, the national elections being, barely six months away, reinforce our stand.

It would appear undeniable, therefore, that before us is an appropriate invocation of our jurisdiction to prevent the enforcement of an alleged unconstitutional statute. We are left with no choice then; we must act on the matter. There is another procedural obstacle raised by respondent to be hurdled. It is not insuperable. It is true that ordinarily, a party who impugns the validity of a statute or ordinance must have a substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement. 8 Respondent cannot see such interest as being possessed by petitioners. It may indicate the clarity of vision being dimmed, considering that one of the petitioners was a candidate for an elective position. Even if such were the case, however, the objection is not necessarily fatal. In this jurisdiction, the rule has been sufficiently relaxed to allow a taxpayer to bring an action to restrain the expenditure of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional legislative measure. 9 2. In the answer of the respondent as well as its memorandum, stress was laid on Republic Act No. 4880 as an exercise of the police power of the state, designed to insure a free, orderly and honest election by regulating "conduct which Congress has determined harmful if unstrained and carried for a long period before elections it necessarily entails huge expenditures of funds on the part of the candidates, precipitates violence and even deaths, results in the corruption of the electorate, and inflicts direful consequences upon public interest as the vital affairs of the country are sacrificed to purely partisan pursuits." Evidently for respondent that would suffice to meet the constitutional questions raised as to the alleged infringement of free speech, free press, freedom of assembly and 'freedom' of association. Would it were as simple as that? An eloquent excerpt from a leading American decision 10 admonishes though against such a cavalier approach. "The case confronts us again with the duty our system places on this Court to say where the individual's, freedom ends the State's power begins. Choice on that border, now as always delicate, is perhaps more so where the usual. presumption

supporting legislation is balanced by the preferred place given in our scheme to the great, the indispensable democratic freedoms secured by the First Amendment.... That priority gives these liberties a sanctity and a sanction not permitting dubious intrusions. And it is the character of the right, not of the limitation, which determines what standard governs the choice..." Even a leading American State court decision on a regulatory measure dealing with elections, cited in the answer of respondent, militates against a stand minimizing the importance and significance of the alleged violation of individual rights: "As so construed by us, it has not been made to appear that section 8189, Comp. Gen. Laws, section 5925, Rev. Gen. St., is on its face violative of any provision of either the state or Federal Constitution on the subject of free speech or liberty of the press, nor that its operation is in any wise subversive of any one's constitutional liberty." 11 Another leading State decision is much more emphatic: "Broad as the power of the legislature is with respect to regulation of elections, that power is not wholly without limitation. Under the guise of regulating elections, the legislature may not deprive a citizen of the right of trial by jury. A person charged with its violation may not be compelled to give evidence against himself. If it destroys the right of free speech, it is to that extent void." 12 The question then of the alleged violation of Constitutional rights must be squarely met.lawphi1.nt 3. Now as to the merits. A brief resume of the basic rights on which petitioners premise their stand that the act is unconstitutional may prove illuminating. The primacy, the high estate accorded freedom of expression is of course a fundamental postulate of our constitutional system. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press .... 13 What does it embrace? At the very least, free speech and free press may be identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public interest without censorship or punishment. 14 There is to be then no previous restraint on the communication of views or subsequent liability whether in libel suits, 15 prosecution for sedition, 16 or action for damages, 17 or contempt proceedings 18 unless there be a clear and present danger of substantive evil that Congress has a right to prevent.

The vital need in a constitutional democracy for freedom of expression is undeniable whether as a means of assuring individual self-fulfillment, of attaining the truth, of assuring participation by the people in social including political decision-making, and of maintaining the balance between stability and change. 19 The trend as reflected in Philippine and American decisions is to recognize the broadcast scope and assure the widest latitude to this constitutional guaranty. It represents a profound commitment to the principle that debate of public issue should be uninhibited, robust, and wideopen. 20 It is not going too far, according to another American decision, to view the function of free speech as inviting dispute. "It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger." 21 Freedom of speech and of the press thus means something more than the right to approve existing political beliefs or economic arrangements, to lend support to official measures, to take refuge in the existing climate of opinion on any matter of public consequence. So atrophied, the right becomes meaningless. The right belongs as well, if not more, for those who question, who do not conform, who differ. To paraphrase Justice Holmes, it is freedom for the thought that we hate, no less than for the thought that agrees with us. 22 So with Emerson one may conclude that "the theory of freedom of expression involves more than a technique for arriving at better social judgments through democratic procedures. It comprehends a vision of society, a faith and a whole way of life. The theory grew out of an age that was awakened and invigorated by the idea of new society in which man's mind was free, his fate determined by his own powers of reason, and his prospects of creating a rational and enlightened civilization virtually unlimited. It is put forward as a prescription for attaining a creative, progressive, exciting and intellectually robust community. It contemplates a mode of life that, through encouraging toleration, skepticism, reason and initiative, will allow man to realize his full potentialities. It spurns the alternative of a society that is tyrannical, conformist, irrational and stagnant." 23

From the language of the specified 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. How is it to be limited then? This Court spoke, in Cabansag v. Fernandez; 24 of two tests that may supply an acceptable criterion for permissible restriction. Thus: "These are the 'clear and present danger' rule and the 'dangerous tendency' rule. The first, as interpreted in a number of cases, means that the evil consequence of the comment or utterance must be extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high' before the utterance can be punished. The danger to be guarded against is the 'substantive evil' sought to be prevented." It has the advantage of establishing according to the above decision "a definite rule in constitutional law. It provides the criterion as to what words may be public established." The Cabansag case likewise referred to the other test, the "dangerous tendency" rule and explained it thus: "If the words uttered create a dangerous tendency which the state has a right to prevent, then such words are punishable. It is not necessary that some definite or immediate acts of force, violence, or unlawfulness be advocated. It is sufficient that such acts be advocated in general terms. Nor is it necessary that the language used be reasonably calculated to incite persons to acts of force, violence, or unlawfulness. It is sufficient if the natural tendency and probable effect of the utterance be to bring about the substantive evil which the legislative body seeks to prevent. We posed the issue thus: "Has the letter of Cabansag created a sufficient danger to a fair administration of justice? Did its remittance to the PCAC create a danger sufficiently imminent to come under the two rules mentioned above?" The choice of this Court was manifest and indisputable. It adopted the clear and present danger test. As a matter of fact, in an

earlier decision, Primicias v. Fugoso, 25 there was likewise an implicit acceptance of the clear and present danger doctrine. Why repression is permissible only when the danger of substantive evil is present is explained by Justice Branders thus: ... the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." 26 For him the apprehended evil must be "relatively serious." For "[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 society." Justice Black would go further. He would require that the substantive evil be "extremely serious." 27 Only thus may there be a realization of the ideal envisioned by Cardozo: "There shall be no compromise of the freedom to think one's thoughts and speak them, except at those extreme borders where thought merges into action." 28 It received its original formulation from Holmes. Thus: "The question in every case is whether the words used in such circumstances and of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree." 29 This test then as a limitation on freedom of expression is justified by the danger or evil a substantive character that the state has a right to prevent. Unlike the dangerous tendency doctrine, the danger must not only be clear but also present. The term clear seems to point to a causal connection with the danger of the substantially evil arising from the utterance questioned. Present refers to the time element. It used to be identified with imminent and immediate danger. The danger must not only be probable but very likely inevitable. 4. How about freedom of assembly? The Bill of Rights as thus noted prohibits abridgment by law of freedom of speech or of the press. It likewise extends the same protection to the right of the people peaceably to assemble. As was pointed out by Justice Malcolm in the case of United States v. Bustos, 30 this right is a necessary consequence of our republican institution and

complements the right of free speech. Assembly means a right on the part of citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs. From the same Bustos opinion: "Public policy, the welfare of society and orderly administration of government have demanded protection for public opinion." To paraphrase the opinion of Justice Rutledge speaking for the majority in Thomas v. Collins,31 it was not by accident or coincidence that the rights to freedom of speech and of the press were coupled in a single guaranty 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. They are cognate rights and the assurance afforded by the clause of this section of the Bill of Rights wherein they are contained, applies to all. As emphatically put in the leading case of United States v. Cruikshank, 32 "the very idea of a government, republican in form, implies a right on the part of its citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs and to petition for redress of grievances." As in the case of freedom of expression, this right is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that Congress has a right to prevent. 5. Our Constitution likewise recognizes the freedom to form association for purposes not contrary to law. 33 With or without a constitutional provision of this character, it may be assumed that the freedom to organize or to be a member of any group or society exists. With this explicit provision, whatever doubts there may be on the matter are dispelled. Unlike the cases of other guarantee which are mostly American in origin, this particular freedom has an indigenous cast. It can trace its origin to the Malolos Constitution. In the United States, in the absence of an explicit provision of such character, it is the view of Justice Douglas that it is primarily the first amendment of her Constitution, which safeguards freedom of speech and of the press, of assembly and of petition "that provides [associations] with the protection they need if they are to remain viable and continue to contribute to our Free Society." 34 He adopted the view of De Tocqueville on the importance and the significance of the freedom to associate. Thus: "The most natural privilege of man, next to the right of acting for himself, is that of combining his exertions with those of his fellow creatures and of acting in

common with them. The right of association therefore appears to me almost inalienable in its nature as the right of personal liberty. No legislator can attack it without impairing the foundation of society." 35 There can be no dispute as to the soundness of the above observation of De Tocqueville. Since man lives in social it would be a barren existence if he could not freely associate with others of kindred persuasion or of congenial frame of mind. As a matter of fact, the more common form of associations may be likely to be fraternal, cultural, social or religious. Thereby, for almost everybody, save for those exceptional few who glory in aloofness and isolation life is enriched and becomes more meaningful. In a sense, however, the stress on this freedom of association should be on its political significance. If such a right were non-existent then the likelihood of a one-party government is more than a possibility. Authoritarianism may become unavoidable. Political opposition will simply cease to exist; minority groups may be outlawed, constitutional democracy as intended by the Constitution may well become a thing of the past. Political parties which, as is originally the case, assume the role alternately of being in the majority or in the minority as the will of the electorate dictates, will lose their constitutional protection. It is undeniable therefore, that the utmost scope should be afforded this freedom of association. It is indispensable not only for its enhancing the respect that should be accorded a human personality but equally so for its assurance that the wishes of any group to oppose whatever for the moment is the party in power and with the help of the electorate to set up its own program of government would not be nullified or frustrated. To quote from Douglas anew: "Justice Frankfurter thought that political and academic affiliations have a preferred position under the due process version of the First Amendment. But the associational rights protected by the First Amendment are in my view much broader and cover the entire spectrum in political ideology as well as in art, in journalism, in teaching, and in religion. In my view, government can neither legislate with respect to nor probe the intimacies of political, spiritual, or intellectual relationships in the myriad of

lawful societies and groups, whether popular or unpopular, that exist in this country." 36 Nonetheless, the Constitution limits this particular freedom in the sense that there could be an abridgment of the right to form associations or societies when their purposes are "contrary to law". How should the limitation "for purposes not contrary to law" be interpreted? It is submitted that it is another way of expressing the clear and present danger rule for unless an association or society could be shown to create an imminent danger to public safety, there is no justification for abridging the right to form association societies.37 As was so aptly stated: "There is no other course consistent with the Free Society envisioned by the First Amendment. For the views a citizen entertains, the beliefs he harbors, the utterances he makes, the ideology he embraces, and the people he associates with are no concern to government until and unless he moves into action. That article of faith marks indeed the main difference between the Free Society which we espouse and the dictatorships both on the Left and on the Right." 38 With the above principles in mind, we now consider the validity of the prohibition in Republic Act No. 4880 of the too early nomination of candidates and the limitation found therein on the period of election campaign or partisan political activity alleged by petitioners to offend against the rights of free speech, free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. In effect what are asked to do is to declare the act void on its face evidence having been introduced as to its actual operation. There is respectable authority for the court having the power to so act. Such fundamental liberties are accorded so high a place in our constitutional scheme that any alleged infringement manifest in the wording of statute cannot be allowed to pass unnoticed. 39 In considering whether it is violative of any of the above rights, we cannot ignore of course the legislative declaration that its enactment was in response to a serious substantive evil affecting the electoral process, not merely in danger of happening, but actually in existence, and likely to continue unless curbed or remedied. To assert otherwise would be to close one's eyes to the realities of the situation. Nor can we ignore the express legislative purpose apparent in the proviso "that simple expressions of

opinion and thoughts concerning the election shall not be considered as part of an election campaign," and in the other proviso "that nothing herein stated shall be understood to prevent any person from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of the candidates for public office whom he supports." Such limitations qualify the entire provision restricting the period of an election campaign or partisan political activity. The prohibition of too early nomination of candidates presents a question that is not too formidable in character. According to the act: "It shall be unlawful for any political party political committee, or political group to nominate candidates for any elective public officio voted for at large earlier than one hundred and fifty days immediately preceding an election, and for any other elective public, office earlier than ninety days immediately preceding an election." 40 The right of association is affected. Political parties have less freedom as to the time during which they may nominate candidates; the curtailment is not such, however, as to render meaningless such a basic right. Their scope of legitimate activities, save this one, is not unduly narrowed. Neither is there infringement of their freedom to assemble. They can do so, but not for such a purpose. We sustain in validity. We do so unanimously. The limitation on the period of "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" calls for a more intensive scrutiny. According to Republic Act No. 4880: "It is unlawful for any person whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any group or association of persons whether or not a political party or political committee, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the period of one hundred twenty days immediately preceding an election involving a public office voted for at large and ninety days immediately preceding an election for any other elective public office. The term 'candidate' refers to any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office, regardless of whether or not said person has already filed his certificate of candidacy or has been nominated by any political party as its candidate. The term 'election campaign' or 'partisan political activity' refers to acts designed to have a candidate elected or not or promote the

candidacy of a person or persons to a public office ..." If that is all there is to that provision, it suffers from the fatal constitutional infirmity of vagueness and may be stricken down. What other conclusion can there be extending as it does to so wide and all-encompassing a front that what is valid, being a legitimate exercise of press freedom as well as freedom of assembly, becomes prohibited? That cannot be done; such an undesirable eventuality, this Court cannot allow to pass. It is a well-settled principle that stricter standard of permissible statutory vagueness may be applied to a statute having inhibiting effect on speech; a man may the less be required to act at his peril here, because the free dissemination of ideas may be the loser.41 Where the statutory provision then operates to inhibit the exercise of individual freedom affirmatively protected by the Constitution, the imputation of vagueness sufficient to invalidate the statute is inescapable. 42 The language of Justice Douglas, both appropriate and vigorous, comes to mind: "Words which are vague and fluid ... may be as much of a trap for the innocent as the ancient laws of Caligula." 43 Nor is the reason difficult to discern: ."These freedoms are delicate and vulnerable, as well as supremely precious in our society. The threat of sanctions may deter their exercise almost as potently as the actual application of sanctions." 44 7. The constitutional objections are thus formidable. It cannot be denied that the limitations thus imposed on the constitutional rights of free speech and press, of assembly, and of association cut deeply, into their substance. This on the one hand. On the other, it cannot be denied either that evils substantial in character taint the purity of the electoral process. There can be under the circumstances then no outright condemnation of the statute. It could not be said to be unwarranted, much less arbitrary. There is need for refraining from the outright assumption that the constitutional infirmity is apparent from a mere reading thereof. For under circumstances that manifest abuses of the gravest character,

remedies much more drastic than what ordinarily would suffice would indeed be called for. The justification alleged by the proponents of the measures weighs heavily with the members of the Court, though in varying degrees, in the appraisal of the aforesaid restrictions to which such precious freedoms are subjected. They are not unaware of the clear and present danger that calls for measures that may bear heavily on the exercise of the cherished rights of expression, of assembly, and of association. This is not to say, that once such a situation is found to exist there is no limit to the allowable limitations on such constitutional rights. The clear and present danger doctrine rightly viewed requires that not only should there be an occasion for the imposition of such restrictions but also that they be limited in scope. There are still constitutional questions of a serious character then to be faced. The practices which the act identifies with "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" must be such that they are free from the taint of being violative of free speech, free press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association. What removes the sting from constitutional objection of vagueness is the enumeration of the acts deemed included in the terms "election campaign" or "partisan political activity." They are: "(a) Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a party or candidate; (b) holding political conventions, caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate or party;(c) making speeches, announcements or commentaries or holding interviews for or against the election or any party or candidate for public office; (d) publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials; (e) directly or indirectly soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against any party; (f) giving, soliciting, or receiving contributions for election campaign purposes, either directly or indirectly." 45 As thus limited the objection that may be raised as to vagueness has been minimized, if not totally set at rest. 46

8. This Court, with the aforementioned five Justices unable to agree, is of the view that no unconstitutional infringement exists insofar as the formation of organization, associations, clubs, committees, or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes or undertaking any campaign or propaganda or both for or against a candidate or party is restricted 47 and that the prohibition against giving, soliciting, or receiving contribution for election purposes, either directly or indirectly, is equally free from constitutional infirmity. 48 The restriction on freedom of assembly as confined to holding political conventions, caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades or other similar assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes or undertaking any campaign or propaganda or both for or against a candidate or party, 49 leaving untouched all other legitimate exercise of such poses a more difficult question. Nevertheless, after a thorough consideration, and with the same Justices entertaining the opposite conviction, we reject the contention that it should be annulled. Candor compels the admission that the writer of this opinion suffers from the gravest doubts. For him, such statutory prescription could very well be within the outermost limits of validity, beyond which lies the abyss of unconstitutionality. The other acts, likewise deemed included in "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" tax to the utmost the judicial predisposition to view with sympathy legislative efforts to regulate election practices deemed inimical, because of their collision with the preferred right of freedom of expression. From the outset, such provisions did occasion divergence of views among the members of the Court. Originally only a minority was for their being adjudged as invalid. It is not so. any more. 50 This is merely to emphasize that the scope of the curtailment to which freedom of expression may be subjected is not foreclosed by the recognition of the existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil, the debasement of the electoral process. The majority of the Court is thus of the belief that the solicitation or undertaking of any campaign or propaganda whether directly or indirectly,

by an individual, 51 the making of speeches, announcements or commentaries or holding interview for or against the election for any party or candidate for public office, 52 or the publication or distribution of campaign literature or materials, 53 suffer from the corrosion of invalidity. It lacks however one more affirmative vote to call for a declaration of unconstitutionality. This is not to deny that Congress was indeed called upon to seek remedial measures for the far-from-satisfactory condition arising from the too-early nomination of candidates and the necessarily prolonged, political campaigns. The direful consequences and the harmful effects on the public interest with the vital affairs of the country sacrificed many a time to purely partisan pursuits were known to all. Moreover, it is no exaggeration to state that violence and even death did frequently occur because of the heat engendered by such political activities. Then, too, the opportunity for dishonesty and corruption, with the right to suffrage being bartered, was further magnified. Under the police power then, with its concern for the general welfare and with the commendable aim of safe-guarding the right of suffrage, the legislative body must have felt impelled to impose the foregoing restrictions. It is understandable for Congress to believe that without the limitations thus set forth in the challenged legislation, the laudable purpose of Republic Act No. 4880 would be frustrated and nullified. Whatever persuasive force such approach may command failed to elicit the assent of a majority of the Court. This is not to say that the conclusion reached by the minority that the above poisons of the statute now assailed has passed the constitutional test is devoid of merit. It only indicates that for the majority, the prohibition of any speeches, announcements or commentaries, or the holding of interviews for or against the election of any party or candidate for public office and the prohibition of the publication or distribution of campaign literature or materials, against the solicitation of votes whether directly or indirectly, or the undertaking of any campaign literature or propaganda for or against any candidate or party is repugnant to a constitutional command. To that extent, the challenged

statute prohibits what under the Constitution cannot by any law be abridged. More specifically, in terms of the permissible scope of legislation that otherwise could be justified under the clear and present danger doctrine, it is the consideration opinion of the majority, though lacking the necessary vote for an adjudication of invalidity, that the challenged statute could have been more narrowly drawn and the practices prohibited more precisely delineated to satisfy the constitutional requirements as to a valid limitation under the clear and present danger doctrine. In a 1968 opinion, the American Supreme Court made clear that the absence of such reasonable and definite standards in a legislation of its character is fatal. 54 Where, as in the case of the above paragraphs, the majority of the Court could discern "an over breadth that makes possible oppressive or capricious application" 55 of the statutory provisions, the line dividing the valid from the constitutionally infirm has been crossed. Such provisions offend the constitutional principle that "a governmental purpose constitutionally subject to control or prevent activities state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms. 56 It is undeniable, therefore, that even though the governmental purposes be legitimate and substantial, they cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved. 57 For precision of regulation is the touchstone in an area so closely related to our most precious freedoms. 58 Under the circumstances then, a majority of the Court feels compelled to view the statutory provisions in question as unconstitutional on their face inasmuch as they appear to range too widely and indiscriminately across the fundamental liberties associated with freedom of the mind. 59 Such a conclusion does not find favor with the other members of the Court. For this minority group, no judgment of nullity insofar as the challenged sections are concerned is called for. It cannot accept the conclusion that the limitations thus imposed on freedom of expression vitiated by their

latitudinarian scope, for Congress was not at all insensible to the problem that an all-encompassing coverage of the practices sought to be restrained would seriously pose. Such an approach finds support in the exposition made by the author of the measure, Senator Lorenzo M. Taada, appearing before us as amicus curiae. He did clearly explain that such provisions were deemed by the legislative body to be part and parcel of the necessary and appropriate response not merely to a clear and present danger but to the actual existence of a grave and substantive evil of excessive partisanship, dishonesty and corruption as well as violence that of late has invariably marred election campaigns and partisan political activities in this country. He did invite our attention likewise to the well-settled doctrine that in the choice of remedies for an admitted malady requiring governmental action, on the legislature primarily rests the responsibility. Nor should the cure prescribed by it, unless clearly repugnant to fundamental rights, be ignored or disregarded. More than that, he would stress the two provisos already mentioned, precisely placed in the state as a manifestation of the undeniable legislative determination not to transgress the preferred freedom of speech, of press, of assembly and of association. It is thus provided: "That simple expressions or opinion and thoughts concerning the election shall not be considered as part of an election campaign [and that nothing in the Act] shall be understood to prevent any person from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of the candidates for public office whom he supports. 60 If properly implemented then, as it ought to, the barrier to free, expression becomes minimal and far from unwarranted. For the minority of the Court, all of the above arguments possess sufficient persuasive force to blunt whatever cutting edge may be ascribed to the fears entertained that Congress failed to abide by what the Constitution commands as far as freedom of the mind and of association are concerned. It is its opinion that it would be premature to say the least, for a judgment of nullity of any provision found in Republic Act No. 4880. The need for adjudication arises only if in the implementation of the Act, there is in fact

an unconstitutional application of its provisions. Nor are we called upon, under this approach, to anticipate each and every problem that may arise. It is time enough to consider it when there is in fact an actual, concrete case that requires an exercise of judicial power. 9. To recapitulate, we give due recognition to the legislative concern to cleanse, and, if possible, render spotless, the electoral process. There is full acceptance by the Court of the power of Congress, under narrowly drawn legislation to impose the necessary restrictions to what otherwise would be liberties traditionally accorded the widest scope and the utmost deference, freedom of speech and of the press, of assembly, and of association. We cannot, however, be recreant to the trust reposed on us; we are called upon to safeguard individual rights. In the language of Justice Laurel: "This Court is perhaps the last bulwark of constitutional government. It shall not obstruct the popular will as manifested through proper organs... But, in the same way that it cannot renounce the life breathed into it by the Constitution, so may it not forego its obligation, in proper cases, to apply the necessary,..." 61 We recognize the wide discretion accorded Congress to protect vital interests. Considering the responsibility incumbent on the judiciary, it is not always possible, even with the utmost sympathy shown for the legislative choice of means to cure an admitted evil, that the legislative judgment arrived at, with its possible curtailment of the preferred freedoms, be accepted uncritically. There may be times, and this is one of them, with the majority, with all due reject to a coordinate branch, unable to extend their approval to the aforesaid specific provisions of one of the sections of the challenged statute. The necessary two-third vote, however, not being obtained, there is no occasion for the power to annul statutes to come into play. Such being the case, it is the judgment of this Court that Republic Act No. 4880 cannot be declared unconstitutional. WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed and the writ of prayed for denied.

Without costs.PBM EMPLOYEES VS. PBM [51 SCRA 189; G.R. NO. L-31195; 5 JUN 1993] Sunday, February 08, 2009 Posted by Coffeeholic Writes Labels: Case Digests, Political Law Facts: The petitioner Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization (PBMEO) is a legitimate labor union composed of the employees of the respondent Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., and petitioners. Benjamin Pagcu and Rodulfo Munsod are officers and members of the petitioner Union. Petitioners claim that on March 1, 1969, they decided to stage a mass demonstration at Malacaang on March 4, 1969, in protest against alleged abuses of the Pasig police. PBMEO thru Pagcu confirmed the planned demonstration and stated that the demonstration or rally cannot be cancelled because it has already been agreed upon in the meeting. Pagcu explained further that the demonstration has nothing to do with the Company because the union has no quarrel or dispute with Management. The Management, thru Atty. C.S. de Leon, Company personnel manager, informed PBMEO that the demonstration is an inalienable right of the union guaranteed by the Constitution but emphasized that any demonstration for that matter should not unduly prejudice the normal operation of the Company. Workers 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 shall be dismissed, because such failure is a violation of the existing CBA and, therefore, would be amounting to an illegal strike. 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, filed a charge against petitioners and other employees who composed the first shift, for a violation of Republic Act No. 875(Industrial Peace Act), and of the CBA providing for 'No Strike and No Lockout.' Petitioners were held guilty in by CIR for bargaining in bad faith, hence this appeal.

Issue: Whether or Not the petitioners right to freedom of speech and to peaceable assemble violated.

Held: Yes. A constitutional or valid infringement of human rights requires a more stringent criterion, namely existence of a grave and immediate danger of a substantive evil which the State has the right to prevent. This is not present in the case. It was to the interest herein private respondent firm to rally to the defense of, and take up the cudgels for, its employees, so that they can report to work free from harassment, vexation or peril and as consequence perform more efficiently their respective tasks enhance its productivity as well as profits. Herein respondent employer did not even offer to intercede for its employees with the local police. In seeking sanctuary behind theirfreedom of expression well as their right of assembly and of petition against alleged persecution of local officialdom, the employees and laborers of herein private respondent firm were fighting for their very survival, utilizing only the weapons afforded them by the Constitution the untrammelled enjoyment of their basic human rights. The pretension of their employer that it would suffer loss or damage by reason of the absence of its employees from 6 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon, is a plea for the preservation merely of their property rights. The employees' pathetic situation was a stark reality abused, harassment and persecuted as they believed they were by the peace officers of the municipality. As above intimated, the condition in which the employees found themselves vis-a-vis the local police of Pasig, was a matter that vitally affected their right to individual existence as well as that of their families. Material loss can be repaired or adequately compensated. The debasement of the human being broken in morale and brutalized in spirit-can never be fully evaluated in monetary terms. As heretofore stated, the primacy of human rights freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of petition for redress of grievances over property rights has been sustained. To regard the demonstration against police officers, not against the employer, as evidence of bad faith in collective bargaining and hence a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and a cause for the dismissal from employment of the demonstrating employees, stretches unduly the compass of the collective bargaining

agreement, is "a potent means of inhibiting speech" and therefore inflicts a moral as well as mortal wound on the constitutionalguarantees of free expression, of peaceful assembly and of petition. Circulation is one of the aspects of freedom of expression. If demonstrators are reduced by onethird, then by that much the circulation of the Issue raised by the demonstration is diminished. The more the participants, the more persons can be apprised of the purpose of the rally. Moreover, the absence of onethird of their members will be regarded as a substantial indication of disunity in their ranks which will enervate their position and abet continued alleged police persecution.

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