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FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN GENERAL

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 194578 February 13, 2013

PHILIP SIGFRID A. FORTUN, Petitioner,


vs.
PRIMA JESUSA B. QUINSAYAS, MA. GEMMA OQUENDO, DENNIS AYON, NENITA OQUENDO, ESMAEL MANGUDADATU, JOSE PAVIA, MELINDA QUINTOS DE
JESUS, REYNALDO HULOG, REDMOND BATARIO, MALOU MANGAHAS, DANILO GOZO, GMA NETWORK INC., through its new editors Raffy Jimenez and
Victor Sollorano, SOPHIA DEDACE, ABS-CBN CORPORATION, through the Head of its News Group, Maria Ressa, CECILIA VICTORIA OREÑA-DRILON,
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER, INC. represented by its Editor-in-Chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, TETCH TORRES, PHILIPPINE STAR represented by its Editor-in-
Chief Isaac Belmonte, and EDU PUNAY, Respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for Contempt filed by Atty. Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun (petitioner) against Atty. Prima Jesusa B. Quinsayas (Atty. Quinsayas), Ma.
Gemma Oquendo (Gemma), Dennis Ayon (Ayon), Nenita Oquendo (Nenita), Esmael Mangudadatu (Mangudadatu), Jose Pavia (Pavia), Melinda Quintos De
Jesus (De Jesus), Reynaldo Hulog (Hulog), Redmond Batario (Batario), Malou Mangahas (Mangahas), and Danilo Gozo (Gozo). Atty. Quinsayas and the other
respondents, who are not from the media, are referred to in this case as Atty. Quinsayas, et al. Petitioner also named as respondents GMA Network, Inc. (GMA
Network) through its news editors Raffy Jimenez and Victor Sollorano, Sophia Dedace (Dedace), ABS-CBN Corporation (ABS-CBN) through the Head of its News
Group Maria Ressa (Ressa), Cecilia Victoria Oreña-Drilon (Drilon), Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inc. (PDI) represented by its Editor-in-Chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc,
Tetch Torres (Torres), Philippine Star (PhilStar) represented by its Editor-in-Chief Isaac Belmonte, and Edu Punay (Punay). Respondents Atty. Quinsayas, et al.
and respondent media groups and personalities are collectively referred to in this case as respondents.

The Antecedent Facts

On 23 November 2009, a convoy of seven vehicles carrying the relatives of then Maguindanao vice-mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, as well as lawyers and
journalists, was on their way to the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak to file Mangudadatu’s Certificate of Candidacy1 when they were accosted
by a group of about 100 armed men at a checkpoint in Sitio Malating, Ampatuan town, some four to ten kilometers from their destination.2The group was
taken hostage and brought to a hilly and sparsely-populated part of Sitio Magating, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.3 The gruesome aftermath of
the hostage-taking was later discovered and shocked the world. The hostages were systematically killed by shooting them at close range with automatic
weapons, and their bodies and vehicles were dumped in mass graves and covered with the use of a backhoe.4 These gruesome killings became known as the
Maguindanao Massacre. A total of 57 victims were killed, 30 of them journalists. Subsequently, criminal cases for Murder were filed and raffled to the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 221, and docketed as Criminal Cases No. Q-09-162148-172, Q-09-162216-31, Q-10-162652, and Q-10- 163766. Petitioner is
the counsel for Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr. (Ampatuan, Jr.), the principal accused in the murder cases.

In November 2010, Atty. Quinsayas, et al. filed a disbarment complaint against petitioner before this Court, docketed as Bar Matter No. A.C. 8827. The
disbarment case is still pending.

Petitioner alleged that on 22 November 2010, GMA News TV internet website posted an article, written by Dedace, entitled "Mangudadatu, others seek
disbarment of Ampatuan lawyer," a portion of which reads:

On Monday, Maguindanao Governor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu and four others filed a 33 page complaint against lawyer Sigrid Fortun whom they accused
of "engaging in every conceivable chichancery or artifice to unduly delay the proceedings by using and abusing legal remedies available."5

On even date, Inquirer.net, the website of PDI, also published an article, written by Torres, which according to petitioner also stated details of the disbarment
case, as follows:

"Respondent Atty. Fortun had astutely embarked in an untiring quest to obstruct, impede and degrade the administration of justice by filing countless causes
of action, all in the hope of burying the principal issue of his client’s participation or guilt in the murder of 57 people that ill-fated day of November 23, 2009,"
the petitioners said.6

Petitioner further alleged that on 23 November 2010, PhilStar published an article, written by Punay, which gave details of the disbarment allegations, thus:

"Attorney Fortun used and abused legal remedies available and allowed under under the rules, muddled the issues and diverted the attention away from the
main subject matter of the cases, read the complaint.

***** ***** *****

"Respondent Attorney Fortun’s act of misleading the prosecution and trial court is a dishonest/deceitful conduct violative of Code of Professional
Responsibility," read the complaint.

"In so doing, he diminished the public confidence in the law and the legal profession, rendering him unfit to be called a member of the Bar."7

Further, petitioner alleged that on 23 November 2010, Channel 23 aired on national television a program entitled "ANC Presents: Crying for Justice: the
Maguindanao Massacre." Drilon, the program’s host, asked questions and allowed Atty. Quinsayas to discuss the disbarment case against petitioner, including
its principal points. Petitioner was allegedly singled out and identified in the program as the lead counsel of the Ampatuan family.
Petitioner alleged that Atty. Quinsayas, et al. actively disseminated the details of the disbarment complaint against him in violation of Rule 139-B of the Rules
of Court on the confidential nature of disbarment proceedings. Petitioner further alleged that respondent media groups and personalities conspired with Atty.
Quinsayas, et al. by publishing the confidential materials on their respective media platforms. Petitioner pointed out that Drilon discussed the disbarment
complaint with Atty. Quinsayas in a television program viewed nationwide

Petitioner alleged that the public circulation of the disbarment complaint against him exposed this Court and its investigators to outside influence and public
interference. Petitioner alleged that opinion writers wrote about and commented on the disbarment complaint which opened his professional and personal
reputation to attack. He alleged that the purpose of respondents in publishing the disbarment complaint was to malign his personal and professional
reputation, considering the following: (1) the bases of the charges were not new but were based on incidents that supposedly took place in January 2010; (2) it
was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre to fuel hatred, contempt and scorn for Ampatuan, Jr. and his counsel and violated
the accused’s right to presumption of innocence and due process; (3) it was published following articles written about petitioner’s advocacy for the rights of an
accused and negated the impact of these articles on the public; and (4) respondents knew that the charges were baseless as petitioner always opted for speedy
trial and protection of the accused’s rights at trial. Petitioner further alleged that in announcing their "causes of action" in the disbarment case, respondents
were only seeking the approval and sympathy of the public against him and Ampatuan, Jr.

In its Comment, GMA Network alleged that it has no newspaper or any publication where it could have printed the article. It alleged that it did not broadcast
the disbarment complaint on its television station. GMA Network alleged that the publication had already been done and completed when Atty. Quinsayas
distributed copies of the disbarment complaint and thus, the members of the media who reported the news and the media groups that published it on their
website, including GMA Network, did not violate the confidentiality rule. GMA Network further alleged that Dedace, a field reporter for the judiciary, acted in
good faith and without malice when she forwarded the news to the news desk. GMA News also acted in good faith in posting the news on its website. GMA
Network denied that it conspired with the other respondents in publishing the news. GMA Network alleged that it posted the disbarment complaint, without
any unfair, critical, and untruthful comment, and only after it was "published" by Atty. Quinsayas, et al. who furnished copies of the disbarment complaint to
the media reporters. GMA Network alleged that it had no intention to malign petitioner’s personal and professional reputation in posting the news about the
disbarment complaint on its website.

In her Comment, Dedace clarified that she is a field news reporter of GMA Network and not a writer of the GMA News TV website. Her beat includes the
Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Department of Justice. Dedace alleged that on 22 November 2010, she received an advice from fellow field
reporter Mark Merueñas that the lawyer of Mangudadatu would be filing a disbarment case against petitioner. She waited at the Supreme Court. At around
5:00 p.m., Atty. Quinsayas arrived. Atty. Quinsayas gave copies of the petition to news reporters and Dedace received one. Dedace prepared and sent her news
story to GMA Network where it went to the editor. Dedace alleged that she did not breach the rule on confidentiality of disbarment proceedings against
lawyers when she reported the filing of the disbarment complaint against petitioner. She alleged that she acted in good faith and without malice in forwarding
her news story to the news desk and that she had no intention to, and could not, influence or interfere in the proceedings of the disbarment case. She further
alleged that she honestly believed that the filing of the disbarment complaint against petitioner was newsworthy and should be reported as news.

PDI alleged in its Comment that it shares content with the Inquirer.net website through a syndication but the latter has its own editors and publish materials
that are not found on the broadsheet. It alleged that Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inc. and Inquirer Interactive, Inc. are two different corporations, with separate
legal personalities, and one may not be held responsible for the acts of the other.
Torres8 alleged in her Comment that on 17 November 2010, a private prosecutor told her and several other reporters that a disbarment case would be filed
against petitioner. The disbarment case was actually filed on 22 November 2010 when Torres received a copy of the complaint. Since the lead of the story
came from a lawyer, Torres did not consider that writing a story about the filing of the disbarment complaint might amount to contempt of court. Torres
alleged that the writing of the story was an independent act and she did not conspire with any of the other respondents. Torres maintained that she acted in
good faith in writing the news report because the Maguindanao Massacre was a matter of public concern and the allegations in the disbarment complaint
were in connection with petitioner’s handling of the case. Torres further asserted that petitioner is a public figure and the public has a legitimate interest in his
doings, affairs and character.

In her Comment, Ressa alleged that she was the former head of ABS-CBN’s News and Current Affairs Group and the former Managing Director of ANC.
However, she was on terminal leave beginning 30 October 2010 in advance to the expiration of her contract on 3 January 2011. Ressa alleged that she had no
participation in the production and showing of the broadcast on 23 November 2010. Ressa adopts the answer of her co-respondents ABS-CBN and Drilon
insofar as it was applicable to her case.

ABS-CBN and Drilon filed a joint Comment. ABS-CBN alleged that ABS-CBN News Channel, commonly known as ANC, is maintained and operated by Sarimanok
Network News (SNN) and not by ABS-CBN. SNN, which produced the program "ANC Presents: Crying for Justice: the Maguindanao Massacre," is a subsidiary of
ABS-CBN but it has its own juridical personality although SNN and ABS-CBN have interlocking directors. ABS-CBN and Drilon alleged that the presentation and
hosting of the program were not malicious as there was no criminal intent to violate the confidentiality rule in disbarment proceedings. They alleged that the
program was a commemoration of the Maguindanao Massacre and was not a report solely on the disbarment complaint against petitioner which took only a
few minutes of the one-hour program. They alleged that the program was not a publication intended to embarrass petitioner who was not even identified as
the respondent in the disbarment complaint. Drilon even cautioned against the revelation of petitioner’s name in the program. ABS-CBN and Drilon further
alleged that prior to the broadcast of the program on 23 November 2010, the filing of the disbarment complaint against petitioner was already the subject of
widespread news and already of public knowledge. They denied petitioner’s allegation that they conspired with the other respondents in violating the
confidentiality rule in disbarment proceedings. Finally, they alleged that the contempt charge violates their right to equal protection because there were other
reports and publications of the disbarment complaint but the publishers were not included in the charge. They also assailed the penalty of imprisonment
prayed for by petitioner as too harsh.

In their joint Comment, respondents Mangudadatu, Ayon, Nenita, and Gemma alleged that petitioner failed to prove that they actively participated in
disseminating details of the disbarment complaint against him. They alleged that while they were the ones who filed the disbarment complaint against
petitioner, it does not follow that they were also the ones who caused the publication of the complaint. They alleged that petitioner did not provide the name
of any particular person, dates, days or places to show the alleged confederation in the dissemination of the disbarment complaint.

Respondents De Jesus, Hulog, Batario, and Mangahas, in their capacity as members of the Board of Trustees of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc.
(FFFJ) and Atty. Quinsayas, former counsel for FFFJ, also filed a joint Comment claiming that the alleged posting and publication of the articles were not
established as a fact. Respondents alleged that petitioner did not submit certified true copies of the articles and he only offered to submit a digital video disk
(DVD) copy of the televised program where Atty. Quinsayas was allegedly interviewed by Drilon. Respondents alleged that, assuming the articles were
published, petitioner failed to support his allegations that they actively disseminated the details of the disbarment complaint.

In their joint Comment, PhilStar and Punay alleged that on 22 November 2010, Atty. Quinsayas, et al. went to this Court to file the disbarment complaint but
they were not able to file it on that day.9 Atty. Quinsayas, et al. were able to file the disbarment complaint the following day, or on 23 November 2010. PhilStar
and Punay alleged that their news article, which was about the plan to file a disbarment complaint against petitioner, was published on 23 November 2010. It
came out before the disbarment complaint was actually filed. They alleged that the news article on the disbarment complaint is a qualified privileged
communication. They alleged that the article was a true, fair, and accurate report on the disbarment complaint. The article was straightforward, truthful, and
accurate, without any comments from the author. They alleged that Punay reported the plan of Mangudadatu, et al. to file the disbarment complaint against
petitioner as it involved public interest and he perceived it to be a newsworthy subject. They further alleged that assuming the news article is not a privileged
communication, it is covered by the protection of the freedom of expression, speech, and of the press under the Constitution. They also alleged that the case is
a criminal contempt proceeding and intent to commit contempt of court must be shown by proof beyond reasonable doubt. They further alleged that they did
not commit any contemptible act. They maintained that the news article did not impede, interfere with, or embarrass the administration of justice. They
further claimed that it is improbable, if not impossible, for the article to influence the outcome of the case or sway this Court in making its decision. The article
also did not violate petitioner’s right to privacy because petitioner is a public figure and the public has a legitimate interest in his doings, affairs, and character.

Pavia died during the pendency of this case10 and was no longer included in the Comment filed for the FFFJ Trustees. Gozo resigned as member of the FFFJ
Trustees and was no longer represented by the FFFJ counsel in filing its comment.11 Gozo did not file a separate comment.

The Issue

The only issue in this case is whether respondents violated the confidentiality rule in disbarment proceedings, warranting a finding of guilt for indirect
contempt of court.

The Ruling of this Court

First, the contempt charge filed by petitioner is in the nature of a criminal contempt. In People v. Godoy,12 this Court made a distinction between criminal and
civil contempt. The Court declared:

A criminal contempt is conduct that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court or a judge acting judicially; it is an act obstructing the
administration of justice which tends to bring the court into disrepute or disrespect. On the other hand, civil contempt consists in failing to do something
ordered to be done by a court in a civil action for the benefit of the opposing party therein and is, therefore, an offense against the party in whose behalf the
violated order is made.

A criminal contempt, being directed against the dignity and authority of the court, is an offense against organized society and, in addition, is also held to be an
offense against public justice which raises an issue between the public and the accused, and the proceedings to punish it are punitive. On the other hand, the
proceedings to punish a civil contempt are remedial and for the purpose of the preservation of the right of private persons. It has been held that civil contempt
is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor, but a power of the court.

It has further been stated that intent is a necessary element in criminal contempt, and that no one can be punished for a criminal contempt unless the
evidence makes it clear that he intended to commit it. On the contrary, there is authority indicating that since the purpose of civil contempt proceedings is
remedial, the defendant’s intent in committing the contempt is immaterial. Hence, good faith or the absence of intent to violate the court’s order is not a
defense in civil contempt.13
The records of this case showed that the filing of the disbarment complaint against petitioner had been published and was the subject of a televised broadcast
by respondent media groups and personalities.

We shall discuss the defenses and arguments raised by respondents.

GMA Network, Inc.

GMA Network’s defense is that it has no newspaper or any publication where the article could be printed; it did not broadcast the disbarment complaint in its
television station; and that the publication was already completed when Atty. Quinsayas distributed copies of the disbarment complaint to the media.

GMA Network did not deny that it posted the details of the disbarment complaint on its website. It merely said that it has no publication where the article
could be printed and that the news was not televised. Online posting, however, is already publication considering that it was done on GMA Network’s online
news website.

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inc.

PDI averred that it only shares its contents with Inquirer.net through a syndication. PDI attached a photocopy of the syndication page stating that "[d]ue to
syndication agreements between PDI and Inquirer.net, some articles published in PDI may not appear in Inquirer.net."14

A visit to the website describes Inquirer.net as "the official news website of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippines’ most widely circulated broadsheet,
and a member of the Inquirer Group of Companies."15 PDI was not able to fully establish that it has a separate personality from Inquirer.net.

ABS-CBN Corporation

ABS-CBN alleged that SNN is its subsidiary and although they have interlocking directors, SNN has its own juridical personality separate from its parent
company. ABS-CBN alleged that SNN controls the line-up of shows of ANC.

We agree with ABS-CBN on this issue. We have ruled that a subsidiary has an independent and separate juridical personality distinct from that of its parent
company and that any suit against the the latter does not bind the former and vice-versa.16 A corporation is an artificial being invested by law with a
personality separate and distinct from that of other corporations to which it may be connected.17 Hence, SNN, not ABS-CBN, should have been made
respondent in this case.

Maria Ressa

Respondent Ressa alleged that she was on terminal leave when the program about the Maguindanao Massacre was aired on ANC and that she had no hand in
its production. Ressa’s defense was supported by a certification from the Human Resource Account Head of ABS-CBN, stating that Ressa went on terminal
leave beginning 30 October 2010.18 This was not disputed by petitioner.

Sophia Dedace, Tetch Torres, Cecilia Victoria Oreña-Drilon,


and Edu Punay

Basically, the defense of respondents Dedace, Torres, Drilon, and Punay was that the disbarment complaint was published without any comment, in good faith
and without malice; that petitioner is a public figure; that the Maguindanao Massacre is a matter of public interest; and that there was no conspiracy on their
part in publishing the disbarment complaint. They also argued that the news reports were part of privileged communication.

In Drilon’s case, she further alleged that the television program was a commemoration of the Maguindanao Massacre and not solely about the filing of the
disbarment case against petitioner. Even as the disbarment complaint was briefly discussed in her program, petitioner’s name was not mentioned at all in the
program.

Violation of Confidentiality Rule by Respondent Media Groups and Personalities

Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court provides:

Section 18. Confidentiality. - Proceedings against attorneys shall be private and confidential. However, the final order of the Supreme Court shall be published
like its decisions in other cases.

The Court explained the purpose of the rule, as follows:

x x x. The purpose of the rule is not only to enable this Court to make its investigations free from any extraneous influence or interference, but also to protect
the personal and professional reputation of attorneys and judges from the baseless charges of disgruntled, vindictive, and irresponsible clients and litigants; it
is also to deter the press from publishing administrative cases or portions thereto without authority. We have ruled that malicious and unauthorized
publication or verbatim reproduction of administrative complaints against lawyers in newspapers by editors and/or reporters may be actionable. Such
premature publication constitutes a contempt of court, punishable by either a fine or imprisonment or both at the discretion of the Court. x x x19

In People v. Castelo,20 the Court ruled that contempt is akin to libel and that the principle of privileged communication may be invoked in a contempt
proceeding. The Court ruled:

While the present case involves an incident of contempt the same is akin to a case of libel for both constitute limitations upon freedom of the press or freedom
of expression guaranteed by our Constitution. So what is considered a privilege in one may likewise be considered in the other. The same safeguard should be
extended to one whether anchored in freedom of the press or freedom of expression. Therefore, this principle regarding privileged communications can also
be invoked in favor of appellant.21

The Court recognizes that "publications which are privileged for reasons of public policy are protected by the constitutional guaranty of freedom of
speech."22 As a general rule, disbarment proceedings are confidential in nature until their final resolution and the final decision of this Court. In this case,
however, the filing of a disbarment complaint against petitioner is itself a matter of public concern considering that it arose from the Maguindanao Massacre
case. The interest of the public is not on petitioner himself but primarily on his involvement and participation as defense counsel in the Maguindanao Massacre
case. Indeed, the allegations in the disbarment complaint relate to petitioners supposed actions involving the Maguindanao Massacre case.
The Maguindanao Massacre is a very high-profile case. Of the 57 victims of the massacre, 30 were journalists. It is understandable that any matter related to
the Maguindanao Massacre is considered a matter of public interest and that the personalities involved, including petitioner, are considered as public figure.
The Court explained it, thus:

But even assuming a person would not qualify as a public figure, it would not necessarily follow that he could not validly be the subject of a public comment.
For he could; for instance, if and when he would be involved in a public issue. If a matter is a subject of public or general interest, it cannot suddenly become
less so merely because a private individual is involved or because in some sense the individual did not voluntarily choose to become involved. The public’s
primary interest is in the event; the public focus is on the conduct of the participant and the content, effect and significance of the conduct, not the
participant’s prior anonymity or notoriety.23(Boldface in the original)

Since the disbarment complaint is a matter of public interest, legitimate media had a right to publish such fact under freedom of the press. The Court also
recognizes that respondent media groups and personalities merely acted on a news lead they received when they reported the filing of the disbarment
complaint.

The distribution by Atty. Quinsayas to the media of the disbarment complaint, by itself, is not sufficient to absolve the media from responsibility for violating
the confidentiality rule. However, since petitioner is a public figure or has become a public figure because he is representing a matter of public concern, and
because the event itself that led to the filing of the disbarment case against petitioner is a matter of public concern, the media has the right to report the filing
of the disbarment case as legitimate news. It would have been different if the disbarment case against petitioner was about a private matter as the media
would then be bound to respect the confidentiality provision of disbarment proceedings under Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.

Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court is not a restriction on the freedom of the press.1âwphi1 If there is a legitimate public interest, media is not
prohibited from making a fair, true, and accurate news report of a disbarment complaint. In the absence of a legitimate public interest in a disbarment
complaint, members of the media must preserve the confidentiality of disbarment proceedings during its pendency. Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers
must still remain private and confidential until their final determination.24 Only the final order of this Court shall be published like its decisions in other cases.25

Petitioner also failed to substantiate his claim that respondent media groups and personalities acted in bad faith and that they conspired with one another in
their postings and publications of the filing of a disbarment complaint against him. Respondent media groups and personalities reported the filing of the
disbarment complaint without any comments or remarks but merely as it was – a news item. Petitioner failed to prove that respondent media groups and
personalities acted with malicious intent. Respondent media groups and personalities made a fair and true news report and appeared to have acted in good
faith in publishing and posting the details of the disbarment complaint. In the televised broadcast of the commemoration of the Maguindanao Massacre over
ANC, the disbarment case was briefly discussed but petitioner was not named. There was also no proof that respondent media groups and personalities posted
and published the news to influence this Court on its action on the disbarment case or to deliberately destroy petitioner’s reputation. It should also be
remembered that the filing of the disbarment case against petitioner entered the public domain without any act on the part of the media. As we will discuss
later, the members of the media were given copies of the disbarment complaint by one of the complainants.

Esmael Mangudadatu, Dennis Ayon, Nenita and Ma. Gemma Oquendo

Respondents, while admitting that they were some of the complainants in the disbarment complaint against petitioner, alleged that there was no proof that
they were the ones who disseminated the disbarment complaint. Indeed, petitioner failed to substantiate his allegation that Mangudadatu, Ayon, Nenita, and
Gemma were the ones who caused the publication of the disbarment complaint against him. There was nothing in the records that would show that
Mangudadatu, Ayon, Nenita, and Gemma distributed or had a hand in the distribution of the disbarment complaint against petitioner.

Melinda Quintos De Jesus, Reynaldo Hulog, Redmond Batario, Malou Mangahas, and Atty. Prima Jesusa B. Quinsayas

Respondents De Jesus, Hulog, Batario, Mangahas, and Atty. Quinsayas alleged that petitioner was not able to establish the posting and publication of the
articles about the disbarment complaint, and that assuming the posting and publication had been established, petitioner failed to support his allegation that
they actively disseminated the details of the disbarment complaint. They further alleged that they did not cause the publication of the news articles and thus,
they did not violate the rule on privacy and confidentiality of disbarment proceedings.

Indeed, petitioner failed to prove that, except for Atty. Quinsayas, the other respondents, namely De Jesus, Hulog, Batario, Mangahas, and even Gozo, who did
not file his separate comment, had a hand in the dissemination and publication of the disbarment complaint against him. It would appear that only Atty.
Quinsayas was responsible for the distribution of copies of the disbarment complaint. In its Comment, GMA Network stated that the publication "had already
been done and completed when copies of the complaint for disbarment were distributed by one of the disbarment complainants, Atty. Prima Quinsayas x x
x."26 Dedace also stated in her Comment that "Atty. Quinsayas gave copies of the disbarment complaint against Atty. Fortun and she received one."27

Atty. Quinsayas is bound by Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court both as a complainant in the disbarment case against petitioner and as a lawyer. As a
lawyer and an officer of the Court, Atty. Quinsayas is familiar with the confidential nature of disbarment proceedings. However, instead of preserving its
confidentiality, Atty. Quinsayas disseminated copies of the disbarment complaint against petitioner to members of the media which act constitutes contempt
of court. In Relativo v. De Leon,28 the Court ruled that the premature disclosure by publication of the filing and pendency of disbarment proceedings is a
violation of the confidentiality rule.29 In that case, Atty. Relativo, the complainant in a disbarment case, caused the publication in newspapers of statements
regarding the filing and pendency of the disbarment proceedings. The Court found him guilty of contempt.

Indirect contempt against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank is punishable by a fine not exceeding P30,000 or imprisonment not
exceeding six months or both.30 Atty. Quinsayas acted wrongly in setting aside the confidentiality rule which every lawyer and member of the legal profession
should know. Hence, we deem it proper to impose on her a fine of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000).

WHEREFORE, we find Atty. Prima Jesusa B. Quinsayas GUILTY of indirect contempt for distributing copies of the disbarment complaint against Atty. Philip
Sigfrid A. Fortun to members of the media and we order her to pay a FINE of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000).

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 103956 March 31, 1992

BLO UMPAR ADIONG, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

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
one-half (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. Paño, 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, andpolitical 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, Griño-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.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 102653 March 5, 1992

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

G.R. No. 102925 March 5, 1992

PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE represented by ZOILO DEJARESCO, JR., as its Past Chairman and President, and FRAULIN A. PEÑASALES as its Corporate
Secretary, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, represented by HON. CHRISTIAN MONSOD, its Chairman; HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE and HON. ROSALINA S.
CAJUCOM, respondents.

G.R. No. 102983 March 5, 1992

KAPISANAN NG MGA BRODKASTERS SA PILIPINAS; MAKATI BROADCASTING NETWORK; MOLAVE BROADCASTING NETWORK; MASBATE COMMUNITY
BROADCASTING CO., INC., RADIO MINDANAO NETWORK, INC.; ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORP.; FILIPINAS BROADCASTING; RADIO PILIPINO CORP.; RADIO
PHILIPPINES NETWORK, INC.; EAGLE BROADCASTING CORP.; MAGILIW COMMUNITY BROADCASTING CO., INC.; for themselves and in behalf of the mass
media owners as a class; ANDRE S. KHAN; ARCADIO M. CARANDANG, JR.; MALOU ESPINOSA MANALASTAS; MIGUEL C. ENRIQUEZ; JOSE ANTONIO K.
VELOSO; DIANA G. DE GUZMAN; JOSE E. ESCANER, JR.; RAY G. PEDROCHE; PETER A. LAGUSAY; ROBERT ESTRELLA; ROLANDO RAMIREZ; for themselves as
voters and in behalf of the Philippine electorate as a class; ORLANDO S. MERCADO and ALEJANDRO de G. RODRIGUEZ; for themselves as prospective
candidates and in behalf of all candidates in the May 1992 election as a class, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

FELICIANO, J.:

In the three (3) consolidated Petitions before us, the common question raised by petitioners is the constitutionality of Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646.
Petitioners in these cases consist of representatives of the mass media which are prevented from selling or donating space and time for political
advertisements; two (2) individuals who are candidates for office (one for national and the other for provincial office) in the coming May 1992 elections; and
taxpayers and voters who claim that their right to be informed of election issues and of credentials of the candidates is being curtailed.

It is principally argued by petitioners that Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646 invades and violates the constitutional guarantees comprising freedom of
expression. Petitioners maintain that the prohibition imposed by Section 11 (b) amounts to censorship, because it selects and singles out for suppression and
repression with criminal sanctions, only publications of a particular content, namely, media-based election or political propaganda during the election period of
1992. It is asserted that the prohibition is in derogation of media's role, function and duty to provide adequate channels of public information and public
opinion relevant to election issues. Further, petitioners contend that Section 11 (b) abridges the freedom of speech of candidates, and that the suppression of
media-based campaign or political propaganda except those appearing in the Comelec space of the newspapers and on Comelec time of radio and television
broadcasts, would bring about a substantial reduction in the quantity or volume of information concerning candidates and issues in the election thereby
curtailing and limiting the right of voters to information and opinion.

The statutory text that petitioners ask us to strike down as unconstitutional is that of Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646, known as the Electoral Reforms
Law of 1987:

Sec. 11 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;

xxx xxx xxx

b) for any newspapers, radio broadcasting or television station, other mass media, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or to
give free of charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes except to the Commission as provided under Sections 90 and
92 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality who is a candidate for any elective public
office shall take a leave of absence from his work as such during the campaign period. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646 should be taken together with Sections 90 and 92 of B.P. Blg. 881, known as the Omnibus Election Code of the
Philippines, which provide respectively as follows:

Sec. 90. Comelec space. — The Commission shall procure space in at least one newspaper of general circulation in every province or
city: Provided, however, That in the absence of said newspaper, publication shall be done in any other magazine or periodical in said province
or city, which shall be known as "Comelec Space" wherein candidates can announce their candidacy. Said space shall be allocated, free of
charge, equally and impartially by the Commission among all candidates within the area in which the newspaper is circulated.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 92. Comelec time. — The Commission shall procure radio and television time to be known as "Comelec Time" which shall be allocated
equally and impartially among the candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and television stations. For this purpose, the franchise of
all radio broadcasting and television stations are hereby amended so as to provide radio or television time, free of charge, during the period of
the campaign. (Emphasis supplied)

The objective which animates Section 11 (b) is the equalizing, as far as practicable, the situations of rich and poor candidates by preventing the former from
enjoying the undue advantage offered by huge campaign "war chests." Section 11 (b) prohibits the sale or donation of print space and air time "for campaign
or other political purposes" except to the Commission on Elections ("Comelec"). Upon the other hand, Sections 90 and 92 of the Omnibus Election Code
require the Comelec to procure "Comelec space" in newspapers of general circulation in every province or city and "Comelec time" on radio and television
stations. Further, the Comelec is statutorily commanded to allocate "Comelec space" and "Comelec time" on a free of charge, equal and impartial basis among
all candidates within the area served by the newspaper or radio and television station involved.

No one seriously disputes the legitimacy or the importance of the objective sought to be secured by Section 11 (b) (of Republic Act No. 6646) in relation to
Sections 90 and 92 (of the Omnibus Election Code). That objective is of special importance and urgency in a country which, like ours, is characterized by
extreme disparity in income distribution between the economic elite and the rest of society, and by the prevalence of poverty, with the bulk of our population
falling below that "poverty line." It is supremely important, however, to note that objective is not only a concededly legitimate one; it has also been given
constitutional status by the terms of Article IX(C) (4) of the 1987 Constitution which provides as follows:

Sec. 4. The Commission [on Elections] 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 therefor, for public information campaigns and forums among candidates in connection with the
objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections. (Emphasis supplied)

The Comelec has thus been expressly authorized by the Constitution to supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of the franchises or permits for the
operation of media of communication and information. The fundamental purpose of such "supervision or regulation" has been spelled out in the Constitution
as the ensuring of "equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply," as well as uniform and reasonable rates of charges for the use of such media
facilities, in connection with "public information campaigns and forums among candidates." 1

It seems a modest proposition that the provision of the Bill of Rights which enshrines freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press
(Article III [4], Constitution) has to be taken in conjunction with Article IX (C) (4) which may be seen to be a special provision applicable during a specific limited
period — i.e., "during the election period." It is difficult to overemphasize the special importance of the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press
in a democratic polity, in particular when they relate to the purity and integrity of the electoral process itself, the process by which the people identify those
who shall have governance over them. Thus, it is frequently said that these rights are accorded a preferred status in our constitutional hierarchy. Withal, the
rights of free speech and free press are not unlimited rights for they are not the only important and relevant values even in the most democratic of polities. In
our own society, equality of opportunity to proffer oneself for public office, without regard to the level of financial resources that one may have at one's
disposal, is clearly an important value. One of the basic state policies given constitutional rank by Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution is the egalitarian
demand that "the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." 2
The technical effect of Article IX (C) (4) of the Constitution may be seen to be that no presumption of invalidity arises in respect of exercises of supervisory or
regulatory authority on the part of the Comelec for the purpose of securing equal opportunity among candidates for political office, although such supervision
or regulation may result in some limitation of the rights of free speech and free press. For supervision or regulation of the operations of media enterprises is
scarcely conceivable without such accompanying limitation. Thus, the applicable rule is the general, time-honored one — that a statute is presumed to be
constitutional and that the party asserting its unconstitutionality must discharge the burden of clearly and convincingly proving that assertion. 3

Put in slightly different terms, there appears no present necessity to fall back upon basic principles relating to the police power of the State and the requisites
for constitutionally valid exercise of that power. The essential question is whether or not the assailed legislative or administrative provisions constitute a
permissible exercise of the power of supervision or regulation of the operations of communication and information enterprises during an election period, or
whether such act has gone beyond permissible supervision or regulation of media operations so as to constitute unconstitutional repression of freedom of
speech and freedom of the press. The Court considers that Section 11 (b) has not gone outside the permissible bounds of supervision or regulation of media
operations during election periods.

In the constitutional assaying of legislative provisions like Section 11 (b), the character and extent of the limitations resulting from the particular measure being
assayed upon freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential considerations. It is important to note that the restrictive impact upon freedom of
speech and freedom of the press of Section 11 (b) is circumscribed by certain important limitations.

Firstly, Section 11 (b) is limited in the duration of its applicability and enforceability. By virtue of the operation of Article IX (C) (4) of the Constitution, Section
11 (b) is limited in its applicability in time to election periods. By its Resolution No. 2328 dated 2 January 1992, the Comelec, acting under another specific grant
of authority by the Constitution (Article IX [C] [9]), has defined the period from 12 January 1992 until 10 June 1992 as the relevant election period.

Secondly, and more importantly, Section 11 (b) is limited in its scope of application. Analysis of Section 11 (b) shows that it purports to apply only to the
purchase and sale, including purchase and sale disguised as a donation, 4 of print space and air time for "campaign or other political purposes." Section 11 (b)
does not purport in any way to restrict the reporting by newspapers or radio or television stations of news or news-worthy events relating to candidates, their
qualifications, political parties and programs of government. Moreover, Section 11 (b) does not reach commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion by
reporters or broadcasters or editors or commentators or columnists in respect of candidates, their qualifications, and programs and so forth, so long at least as
such comments, opinions and beliefs are not in fact advertisements for particular candidates covertly paid for. In sum, Section 11 (b) is not to be read as
reaching any report or commentary other coverage that, in responsible media, is not paid for by candidates for political office. We read Section 11 (b) as
designed to cover only paid political advertisements of particular candidates.

The above limitation in scope of application of Section 11 (b) — that it does not restrict either the reporting of or the expression of belief or opinion or
comment upon the qualifications and programs and activities of any and all candidates for office — constitutes the critical distinction which must be made
between the instant case and that of Sanidad v. Commission on Elections.5 In Sanidad, the Court declared unconstitutional Section 19 of Comelec Resolution
No. 2167 which provided as follows:

Sec. 19. Prohibition on Columnists, Commentators or Announcers — During the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on plebiscite
day, no mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for or
against the plebiscite issues.
Resolution No. 2167 had been promulgated by the Comelec in connection with the plebiscite mandated by R.A. No. 6766 on the ratification or adoption of the
Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region. The Court held that Resolution No. 2167 constituted a restriction of the freedom of expression of petitioner
Sanidad, a newspaper columnist of the Baguio Midland Courier, "for no justifiable reason." The Court, through Medialdea, J., said:

. . . [N]either Article, IX-C of the Constitution nor Section 11 [b], 2nd 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 by media practitioners themselves of their right to 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 the plebiscite. Therefore, Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 has no statutory
basis." 6 (Emphasis partly in the original and partly supplied)

There is a third limitation upon the scope of application of Section 11 (b). Section 11 (b) exempts from its prohibition the purchase by or donation to the
Comelec of print space or air time, which space and time Comelec is then affirmatively required to allocate on a fair and equal basis, free of charge, among the
individual candidates for elective public offices in the province or city served by the newspaper or radio or television station. Some of the petitioners are
apparently apprehensive that Comelec might not allocate "Comelec time" or "Comelec space" on a fair and equal basis among the several candidates. Should
such apprehensions materialize, candidates who are in fact prejudiced by unequal or unfair allocations effected by Comelec will have appropriate judicial
remedies available, so long at least as this Court sits. Until such time, however, the Comelec is entitled to the benefit of the presumption that official duty will
be or is being regularly carried out. It seems appropriate here to recall what Justice Laurel taught in Angara v. Electoral Commission7 that the possibility of
abuse is no argument against the concession of the power or authority involved, for there is no power or authority in human society that is not susceptible of
being abused. Should it be objected that the Comelec might refrain from procuring "Comelec time" and "Comelec space," much the same considerations
should be borne in mind. As earlier noted, the Comelec is commanded by statute to buy or "procure" "Comelec time" and "Comelec space" in mass media, and
it must be presumed that Comelec will carry out that statutory duty in this connection, and if it does fail to do so, once again, the candidate or candidates who
feel aggrieved have judicial remedies at their disposal.

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

Section 11 (b) does, of course, limit the right of free speech and of access to mass media of the candidates themselves. The limitation, however, bears a clear
and reasonable connection with the constitutional objective set out in Article IX(C) (4) and Article II (26) of the Constitution. For it is precisely in the unlimited
purchase of print space and radio and television time that the resources of the financially affluent candidates are likely to make a crucial difference. Here lies
the core problem of equalization of the situations of the candidates with deep pockets and the candidates with shallow or empty pockets that Article IX(C) (4)
of the Constitution and Section 11 (b) seek to address. That the statutory mechanism which Section 11 (b) brings into operation is designed and may be
expected to bring about or promote equal opportunity, and equal time and space, for political candidates to inform all and sundry about themselves, cannot be
gainsaid.
My learned brother in the Court Cruz, J. remonstrates, however, that "t[he] financial disparity among the candidates is a fact of life that cannot be corrected by
legislation except only by the limitation of their respective expenses to a common maximum. The flaw in the prohibition under challenge is that while the rich
candidate is barred from buying mass media coverage, it nevertheless allows him to spend his funds on other campaign activities also inaccessible to his
strained rival." True enough Section 11 (b) does not, by itself or in conjunction with Sections 90 and 92 of the Omnibus Election Code, place political candidates
on complete and perfect equality inter se without regard to their financial affluence or lack thereof. But a regulatory measure that is less than perfectly
comprehensive or which does not completely obliterate the evil sought to be remedied, is not for that reason alone constitutionally infirm. The Constitution
does not, as it cannot, exact perfection in governmental regulation. All it requires, in accepted doctrine, is that the regulatory measure under challenge bear a
reasonable nexus with the constitutionally sanctioned objective. That the supervision or regulation of communication and information media is not, in itself, a
forbidden modality is made clear by the Constitution itself in Article IX (C) (4).

It is believed that, when so viewed, the limiting impact of Section 11 (b) upon the right to free speech of the candidates themselves may be seen to be not
unduly repressive or unreasonable. For, once again, there is nothing in Section 11 (b) to prevent media reporting of and commentary on pronouncements,
activities, written statements of the candidates themselves. All other fora remain accessible to candidates, even for political advertisements. The requisites of
fairness and equal opportunity are, after all, designed to benefit the candidates themselves.

Finally, the nature and characteristics of modern mass media, especially electronic media, cannot be totally disregarded. Realistically, the only limitation upon
the free speech of candidates imposed is on the right of candidates to bombard the helpless electorate with paid advertisements commonly repeated in the
mass media ad nauseam. Frequently, such repetitive political commercials when fed into the electronic media themselves constitute invasions of the privacy of
the general electorate. It might be supposed that it is easy enough for a person at home simply to flick off his radio of television set. But it is rarely that simple.
For the candidates with deep pockets may purchase radio or television time in many, if not all, the major stations or channels. Or they may directly or indirectly
own or control the stations or channels themselves. The contemporary reality in the Philippines is that, in a very real sense, listeners and viewers constitute a
"captive audience." 8

The paid political advertisement introjected into the electronic media and repeated with mind-deadening frequency, are commonly intended and crafted, not
so much to inform and educate as to condition and manipulate, not so much to provoke rational and objective appraisal of candidates' qualifications or
programs as to appeal to the non-intellective faculties of the captive and passive audience. The right of the general listening and viewing public to be free from
such intrusions and their subliminal effects is at least as important as the right of candidates to advertise themselves through modern electronic media and the
right of media enterprises to maximize their revenues from the marketing of "packaged" candidates.

WHEREFORE, the Petitions should be, as they are hereby, DISMISSED for lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Romero and Nocon, JJ., concur.

Bellosillo, J., took no part.


Separate Opinions

DAVIDE, JR., J.: concurring:

I fully concur with the majority opinion. I wish, however, to express my thoughts on some material points.

The constitutional issue raised in these cases must be decided in the light of the provisions of our own Constitution and not on orthodox principles or classical
definitions of certain rights which have, in the course of time and as a result of the interplay of societal forces requiring the balancing of interests and values,
been unchained from their absolutist moorings.

It is now settled that the freedom of speech and of the press, or of expression, which the Bill of Rights guarantees, is not an absolute right.

Indeed, even in American jurisprudence, the overwhelming weight of authority maintains that "the right or privilege of free speech and publication,
guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and of the several states, has its limitations; the right is not absolute at all times and under all
circumstances, although limitations are recognized only in exceptional cases. Freedom of speech does not comprehend the right to speak whenever, however,
and wherever one pleases, and the manner, and place, or time of public discussion can be constitutionally controlled." 1

The foregoing rule proceeds from the principle that every right or freedom carries with it the correlative duty to exercise it responsibly and with due regard for
the right and freedoms of others. In short, freedom is not freedom from responsibility, but with responsibility.

I respectfully submit that there can be no higher form of limitation to a right than what the Constitution itself authorizes. On this, both the lettered and the
unlettered cannot quarrel. In respect to freedom of speech or expression and of the press vis-a-vis the electoral process, the present Constitution lays downs
certain principles authorizing allowable restraints thereon. I refer to the. following provisions of the 1987 Constitution, to wit:

(1) Section 26 of Article II. (Declaration of Principle and other Policies) which reads:

The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by
law. (emphasis supplied)

(2) Section 1 of Article XIII (Social Justice and Human rights) which reads:

The congress shall give highiest 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)

(3) Section 4 of Article IX-C which provides:

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 therefor, for public information
campaigns and forums among candidates in connection with the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and
credible elections. (emphasis supplied)

There can be no doubt that the first two (2) provisions contemplate measures that would bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in our society. In the
past, the equilibrium sought to be achieved was only in the economic and social fields. Thus, before the advent of the 1987 Constitution, social justice was
defined as:

Social Justice is "neither communism, nor despotism, nor atomism, nor anarchy," but the humanization of laws and the equalization of social
and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated. Social justice
means the promotion of the welfare of all the people, the adoption by the Government of measures calculated to insure economic stability of
all the competent elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the interrelations of the
members of the community, constitutionally, through the adoption of measures legally justifiable, or extra-constitutionally, through the
exercise of powers underlying the existence of all governments on the time-honored principle of salus populi est suprema lex.

Social justice, therefore, must be founded on the recognition of the necessity of interdependence among divers and diverse units of a society
and of the protection that should be equally and evenly extended to all groups as a combined force in our social and economic life, consistent
with the fundamental and paramount objective of the state of promoting the health, comfort, and quiet of all persons, and of bringing about
"the greatest good to the greatest number." 2

Aware of the lamentable fact that in the Philippines, no gap between these two unavoidable extremes of society is more pronounced than in the field of
politics, and ever mindful of the dire consequences thereof, the framers of the present Constitution saw it fit to diffuse political power in the social justice
provisions. Ours has been a politics of the elite, the rich, the powerful and the pedigreed. The victory of a poor candidate in an election is almost always an
exception. Arrayed against the vast resources of a wealthy opponent, the former, even if he is the most qualified and competent, does not stand a fighting
chance. Of course, there have been isolated instances — but yet so few and far between — when poor candidates made it.

Forgetting first the evil use of gold, guns and goons which only the rich have access to, and focusing strictly on the legitimate aspect of the electoral struggle,
propaganda, through the various forms of media, provides the most sophisticated and effective means of reaching the electorate and convincing voters to vote
for a particular candidate. It is in this area, particularly in the use of television, radio and newspaper, that a poor candidate will not be able to compete with his
opulent opponents who have all the resources to buy prime television and radio time and full pages of leading newspapers. With radio and television
propaganda, the wealthy candidates, even as they leisurely relax in their homes, offices or hotel suites, can reach every nook and cranny of their municipality,
city, province, district or even the entire Philippines and be seen or heard at any time of the day and night. During the contracted hours, their paid hacks can
concentrate on dishonoring the poor and hapless opponent by hurling innuendoes of defects or vice. With newspaper advertisements, the wealthy candidates
can reach thousands of readers daily. A worse scenario obtains where the rich candidates themselves fully or substantially own or operate a television or radio
station, or publish newspapers. On the other hand, to a poor candidate, the campaign period would sadly prove to be insufficient for him to campaign in every
barangay, even if he is running for a municipal position. Thus, not only would he already be at a disadvantage insofar as visibility and presentation of his issues
or program of government are concerned, he would have no opportunity to rebut whatever lies his opponents may spread nor the chance to clear himself of
false accusations.

Accordingly, in response to the urgent mandate of Section 1 of Article XIII aforequoted, Congress passed a measure, R.A. No. 6646, otherwise known as the
Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, 3 introducing additional reforms to the electoral system which, inter alia, not only seeks to enhance the purity of the electoral
process, but also aspires to ensure even just an approximation of equality among all candidates in their use of media for propaganda purposes. The latter is
best evidenced by the provision challenged in this case, Section 11 (b), which reads:

Section 11. Prohibited forms of election propaganda. — In addition to the forms of propaganda prohibited under Section 85 of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 881, it shall be unlawful:

xxx xxx xxx

(b) for any newspaper, radio broadcasting or television station, or other mass media, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or to
give free of charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes except to the Commission as provided under Sections 90 and
92 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcement (sic) or personality who is a candidate for any
elective public office shall take a leave of absence from his work as such during the campaign period.

This provision, understood in the light of Section 4, Article IX-C of the Constitution, is a reasonable regulation enacted to accomplish the desired objectives and
purposes earlier mentioned. It neither constitutes proscribed abridgment of the freedom of expression nor prohibits free speech; it merely provides the rules
as to the manner, time and place for its exercise during a very limited period. It makes reference to Sections 90 and 92 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 on
"COMELEC time" and "COMELEC space." Said sections read in full as follows:

Sec. 90. Comelec space. — The Commission shall procure space in at least one newspaper of general circulation in every province or
city: Provided, however, That in the absence of said newspaper, publication shall be done in any other magazine or periodical in said province
or city, which shall be known as "Comelec Space" wherein candidates can announce their candidacy. Said space shall be allocated, free of
charge, equally and impartially by the Commission among all candidates within the area in which the newspaper is circulated. (Sec. 45, 1978
EC)

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 92. Comelec time. — The Commission shall procure radio and television time to be known as "Comelec Time" which shall be allocated
equally and impartially among the candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and television stations. For this purpose, the franchise of
all radio broadcasting and television stations are hereby amended so as to provide radio or television time, free of charge, during the period of
the campaign. (Sec. 46, 1978 EC)

Obviously then, the airing and printing of a candidate's political advertisements can be done — and is even encouraged to be done — during the "COMELEC
time" and within the "COMELEC space." This authority of the COMELEC is no longer purely statutory. It is now constitutional pursuant to the clear mandate of
Section 4 of Article IX-C, which is quoted above. This constitutional grant removes whatever doubt one may have on the split verdict of this Court in Badoy vs.
Ferrer, et al., 4 Interpreting a related provision, Section 12(f) of R.A. No. 6132, reading:

The Commission on Elections shall endeavor to obtain free space from newspapers, magazines and periodicals which shall be known as
Comelec space, and shall allocate this space equally and impartially among all candidates within the area in which the newspapers are
circulated. Outside of said Comelec space, it shall be unlawful to print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any advertisement, paid
comment or paid article in furtherance of or in opposition to the candidacy of any person for delegate, or mentioning the name of any
candidate and the fact of his candidacy, unless all the names of all other candidates in the district in which the candidate is running are also
mentioned with equal prominence.

this Court ruled:

Against the background of such facilities accorded by the law for all candidates, rich and poor alike, and the prohibitions as well as penal
sanctions to insure the sanctity of the ballot against desecration and the equality or chances among the candidates, the restriction on the
freedom of expression of the candidate or any other individual prescribed in par. F of Sec. 12 is so narrow as not to affect the substance and
vitality of his freedom of expression itself.

xxx xxx xxx

Hence, consistent with out opinion expressed in the cases of Imbong vs. Comelec and Gonzales vs. Comelec [35 SCRA 28], this slight limitation
of the freedom of expression of the individual, whether candidate or not, as expressed in par. F Sec. 12, it only one of the many devices
employed by the law to prevent a clear and present danger of the perversion or prostitution of the electoral apparatus and of the denial of the
equal protection of the laws.

The fears and apprehensions of petitioner concerning his liberty of expression in these two cases, applying the less stringent balancing -of-
interests criterion, are far outweighed by the all important substantive interests of the State to preserve the purity of the ballot and to render
more meaningful and real the guarantee of the equal protection of the laws.

In the fairly recent case of Sanidad vs. Commission on Elections, 5 this Court sustained, in effect, the validity of Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 6646. Thus:

However, it is clear from Act. 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
therefor, for 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 is 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 a 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), 2nd 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 by media practitioners themselves of their right to 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 a plebiscite. Therefore, Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 has no statutory
basis.

In the case of Badoy, Jr. v. Comelec, L-32546, Oct. 16, 1970, where the constitutionality of the prohibition of certain forms of election
propaganda was assailed, We ruled therein that the prohibition is a valid exercise of the police power of the state "to prevent the perversion
and prostitution of the electoral apparatus and of the denial of equal protection of the laws." The evil sought to be prevented in an election
which led to Our ruling in that case does not obtain in a plebiscite. In a plebiscite, votes are taken in an area on some special political matter
unlike in an election where votes are cast in favor of specific persons for some office. In other words, the electorate is asked to vote for or
against issues, not candidates in a plebiscite.

Even granting for the sake of argument that a doubt exists as to the constitutionality of the challenged provision, the doubt must be resolved in favor of its
validity. As this Court stated in Paredes, et al. vs. Executive Secretary,
et al.: 6

. . . it is in accordance with the settled doctrine that between two possible constructions, one avoiding a finding of unconstitutionality and the
other yielding such a result, the former is to be preferred. That which will save, not that which will destroy, commends itself for acceptance.
After all, the basic presumption all these years is one of validity. The onerous task of proving otherwise is on the party seeking to nullify a
statute. It must be proved by clear and convincing evidence that there is an infringement of a constitutional provision, save in those cases
where the challenged act is void on its face. Absent such a showing, there can be no finding of unconstitutionality. A doubt, even if well-
founded, does not suffice. Justice Malcolm's aphorism is apropos: "To doubt is to sustain." 7

The reason for this is that an act of the legislature approved by the executive is presumed to be within constitutional bounds. The responsibility of upholding
the Constitution rests not only on the courts, but also on the legislature and the executive as well.

For the Court to strike our their acts as unconstitutional, nothing less than clear and convincing evidence of such breach of the Constitution must be shown.

Petitioners have not acquitted themselves of that duty. The petitions then must be dismissed for lack of merit.

PADILLA, J.: concurring:

I will state in language as simple as I can muster why I believe the challenged law is constitutional.

Sec. 11 of Republic Act No. 6646, otherwise known as the "Electoral Reforms Law of 1987," challenged in these petitions, states that:
Sec. 11. 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:

xxx xxx xxx

(b) for any newspaper, radio broadcasting or television station, or other mass media, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or to
give free of charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes except to the Commission as provided under Sections 90 and
92 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcement (sic) or personality who is a candidate for any
elective public office shall take a leave of absence from his work as such during the campaign period.

Petitioners contend that the provision is void because it is violative of the freedoms of the press, speech and expression as guaranteed by Article III, Section 4
of the Constitution.

But it is fundamental that these freedoms are not immune to regulation by the State in the legitimate exercise of its police power.

The concept of police power is well-established in this jurisdiction. It has been defined as the state authority to enact legislation that may
interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the general welfare." As defined, it consists of (1) an imposition of restraint
upon liberty or property, (2) in order to foster the common good.

xxx xxx xxx

It constitutes an implied limitation on the Bill of Rights. According to Fernando, it is "rooted in the conception that men in organizing the state
and imposing upon its government limitations to safeguard constitutional rights did not intend thereby to enable and individual citizen or a
group of citizens to obstruct unreasonably the enactment of such salutary measures calculated to ensure communal peace, safety, good order,
and welfare." Significantly, the Bill of rights itself does not purport to be an absolute guaranty of individual rights and liberties. "Even liberty
itself, the greatest of all rights, is not unrestricted license to act according to one's will." It is subject to the far more overriding demands and
requirements of the greater number. 1

Police power rests upon public necessity and upon the right of the State and of the public to self-protection. For this reason, it is co-extensive with the
necessities of the case and the safeguards of public interest. 2

In Section 11 of R.A. No. 6646, the legislature aims to uphold the State's policy of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for public service. 3 Opportunity to
hold a public office for public service, particularly elective public offices must be equally accessible to qualified and deserving citizens. Corollary to this, the
legislature also recognizes the power of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or
permits for the operation of media of communication or information granted by the government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof. "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 forums among candidates in connection with the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections." 4
In Pablito V. Sanidad vs. The Commission on Elections, 5 we held that the evil sought to be prevented by Art. IX-C, Section 4 of the Constitution 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.

In line with the objective of providing equal opportunity to all candidates, the questioned provision is intended to act as an equalizer between the rich and poor
candidates. As it is, the moneyed candidate has the funds to engage in a myriad of campaign activities. To allow the rich candidates to have free reign over the
use of media for their campaign would result in an unfair advantage over the poor candidates who have no funds or have meager funds to secure print space
and air time, and yet, they may be equally qualified and deserving candidates. In Anacleto D. Badoy, Jr. vs. Jaime N. Ferrer, et al., G.R. NO.
L-32546, October 17, 1970, 35 SCRA 285, this Court declared Section 12(F) of R.A. No. 6132 valid and constitutional, recognizing that the purpose of the
limitation, on the freedom of the candidate or his sympathizer to spend his own money for his candidacy alone and not for the furtherance of the candidacy of
his opponents, is to give the poor candidates a fighting chance in the election. In the same manner, Sec. 11 of R.A. No. 6646 aims to maximize, if not
approximate, equality of chances among the various candidates for elective public office.

Petitioners aver that by restoring to the print and broadcast media industry the right to sell print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes,
access to print space and air time would be given equally to all candidates. Nevertheless, as opined by the COMELEC, the means to gain access to said time and
space would be unequal among all candidates. Hence, there would be in the final analysis, inequality.

Furthermore, to tolerate even indirectly over-spending in print space or air time for campaign purposes will open the floodgates to corruption in public office
because a winning candidate who overspends during the election period must necessarily recover his campaign expenses by "hook or crook". Section 11 of R.A.
No. 6646 would indirectly constitute a positive and effective measure against corruption in public office.

Petitioners also contend that the challenged provision is "violative of the people's right to information particularly about the conduct of public officials
including the character and qualifications of candidates seeking public office."

I do not adhere to the proposition that "the electorate will not have the opportunity for quality decision in expressing its mandate — no sufficient fora to
detect and decide for themselves who, among the candidates truly deserve their votes. 6

Aside from Sec. 11 (b) of R.A. No. 6646 providing for Comelec space and Comelec time, Sections 9 and 10 of the same law afford a candidate several venues by
which the can fully exercise his freedom of expression, including freedom of assembly. The electorate, in turn, are given opportunities to know the candidates
and be informed of their qualifications and platforms.

As provided in Section 9 of R.A. No. 6646, the COMELEC shall encourage non-political, non-partisan private or civic organizations to initiate and hold in every
city and municipality, public fora at which all registered candidates for the same office may simultaneously and personally participate to present, explain,
and/or debate on their campaign platforms and programs and other like issues. Section 10, on the other hand, allows the candidates the use of the designated
common poster areas to post, display and exhibit election propaganda to announce or further their candidacy; not to mentioned the right to hold political
caucuses. conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for a
candidate; publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support the election of any candidate; and directly or indirectly solicit votes,
pledges or support for a candidate. 7
In short, the law in question (Sec. 11, Rep. Act No. 6646) has been enacted for a legitimate public purpose and the means it employs to achieve such purpose
are reasonable and even timely.

Based on all the foregoing consideration, I vote to sustain the validity and constitutionality of Section II of R.A. No. 6646.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:

I am saddened by the readiness with which Congress, Comelec, and the members of this Court are willing to sacrifice not only that most precious clause of the
Bill of Rights — freedom of speech and of the press — but also the right of every citizen to be informed in every way possible about the qualifications and
programs of those running for public office.

Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 6646 will certainly achieve one result — keep the voters ignorant of who the candidates are and what they stand for.

With elections fast approaching, the surveys show that almost half of the nation's voters are undecided as to the Presidency. Certainly, they do not know who
are running for the Senate.

The implementation of Section 11 (b) will result in gross inequality. A cabinet member, an incumbent official, a movie star, a basketball player, or a
conspicuous clown enjoys an unfair advantage over a candidate many times better qualified but lesser known.

I am shocked to find out that even the most knowledgeable people do not know that Antonio Carpio, former NBI Director; Estelito P. Mendoza, former Solicitor
General and Governor; and Florangel Rosario Braid, member of the Constitutional Commission and distinguished mass communication personality (to name
only three) are also running for the Senate. We owe it to the masses to open all forms of communication to them during this limited campaign period. A
candidate to whom columnists and radio-television commentators owe past favors or who share their personal biases and convictions will get an undue
amount of publicity. Those who incur the ire of opinion makers cannot counteract negative reporting by buying his own newspaper space or airtime for the
airing of his refutations.

Comelec is already overburdened with the conduct of elections. Only recently it proved unequal to the task keeping registration lists clean and had to repeat
the exercise in critical areas. It should now husband its resources for its real function — insuring the integrity of the voting process and safeguarding the true
results of the elections.

Why Comelec should also supervise the publicity campaigns of almost 100,00 candidates running for 17,000 national and local positions is beyond my poor
power to comprehend.

I reject the idea that canned publicity in a so-called Comelec hour or Comelec corner can replace the fresh, imaginative, and personal appeal of advertisements
espousing a cause or reaching a particular audience.

Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 6646 is censorship pure and simple. It is particularly reprehensible because it is imposed during the limited period of the election
campaign when information is most needed. Moreover, the mere thought that published materials are supervised by a government office is enough to turn the
reader off. Only faithful followers who already know for whom they are voting will bother to read the statements of their chosen candidate in the Comelec
corner of the newspapers.

The existing restrictions are more than sufficient. Political campaigns are allowed only within a limited period. The amount which a political party or candidate
may spend is restricted. Added to the confines of the limited period andrestricted expenses, the law now imposes a violation of the candidates' freedom of
speech and the voters' freedom to know.

I concur fully in the views expressed by Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz in his usual eloquently brilliant style. We should not allow the basic freedom of expression to
be sacrificed at the alter of infinitely lesser fears and concerns. 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.

In the precedent setting case of Gonzales v. Comelec (27 SCRA 835 [1969]), seven (7) Justices (one short of the 2/3 majority needed to invalidate the law)
deemed a less restrictive statute as unconstitutional. The four (4) Justices who allowed the law to remain did so only because there were various safeguards
and provisos. Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 6646 now removes one of those safeguards.

The then Justice Fred Ruiz Castro stated:

What of the social value and importance of the freedoms impaired by Section 50-B? The legislation strikes at the most basic political right of
the citizens in a republican system, which is the right actively to participate in the establishment or administration of government. This right
finds expression in multiple forms but it certainly embraces that right to influence the shape of policy and law directly by the use of ballot. It
has been said so many times it scarcely needs to be said again, that the realization of the democratic ideal of self-government depends upon
an informed and committed electorate. This can be accomplished only by allowing the fullest measure of freedom in the public discussion of
candidates and the issues behind which they rally; to this end, all avenues of persuasion — speech, press, assembly, organization — must be
kept always open. It is in the context of the electoral process that these fundamental rights secured by the Constitution assume the highest
social importance. (at page 904; Emphasis supplied)

I, therefore, vote for the right to have the widest possible expression of ideas preparatory to the choice of the nation's leaders. I vote to declare the challenged
legislation unconstitutional.

CRUZ, J., dissenting:

It has become increasingly clear that the grandiose description of this Court as the bulwark of individual liberty is nothing more than an ironic euphemism. In
the decision it makes today, the majority has exalted authority over liberty in another obeisance to the police state, which we so despised during the days of
martial law. I cannot share in the excuses of the Court because I firmly believe that the highest function of authority is to insure liberty.

In sustaining the challenged law, the majority invokes the legislative goal, about which there can be no cavil. May quarrel is with the way the objective is being
pursued for I find the method a most indefensible repression. It does little good, I should think, to invoke the regularity authority of the Commission on
Elections, for that power is not a license to violate the Bill of Rights. The respondent, no less than the legislature that enacted Section 11(b), is subject to the
requirements of the police power which the ponencia seems to disdain.
It is true that a declaration of constitutionality must be reached only after the most careful deliberation as the challenged at is presumed to be valid in
deference to the political departments. But not — and this represents a singular exception — where the act is claimed to violate individual liberty, most
importantly the freedom of expression. In such a vital and exceptional case, as in the case now before us, I respectfully submit that the presumption must be
reversed in favor of the challenge.

Milton defined freedom of speech as "the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties." In this context, the
definition is understood to embrace all the other cognate rights involved in the communication of ideas and falling under the more comprehensive concept of
freedom of expression. These rights include the equally important freedom of the press, the right of assembly and petition, the right to information on matters
of public concern, the freedom of religion insofar as it affects the right to form associations as an instrument for the ventilation of views bearing on the public
welfare.

Wendell Philips offered his own reverence for freedom of expression when he called it "at once the instrument and the quaranty and the bright consummate
flower of all liberty." Like Milton, he was according it an honored place in the hierarchy of fundamental liberties recognized in the Bill of Rights. And well they
might, for this is truly the most cherished and vital of all individual liberties in the democratic milieu. It is no happenstance that it is this freedom that is first
curtailed when the free society falls under a repressive regime, as demonstrated by the government take-over of the press, radio and television when martial
law was declared in this country on that tragic day of September 21, 1972. The reason for this precaution is that freedom
of expression is the sharpest and handiest weapon to blunt the edge of oppression. No less significantly, it may be wielded by every citizen in the
land, be he peasant or poet — and, regrettably, including the demagogue and the dolt — who has the will and the heart to use it.

As an individual particle of sovereignty, to use Justice Laurel's words, every citizen has a right to offer his opinion and suggestions in the discussion of the
problems confronting the community or the nation. This is not only a right but a duty. From the mass of various and disparate ideas proposed, the people can,
in their collective wisdom and after full deliberation, choose what they may consider the best remedies to the difficulties they face. These may not turn out to
be the best solutions, as we have learned often enough from past bitter experience. But the scope alone of the options, let alone the latitude with which they
are considered, can insure a far better choice than that made by the heedless dictator in the narrow confines of his mind and the loneliness of his pinnacle of
power.

The citizen can articulate his views, for whatever they may be worth, through the many methods by which ideas are communicated from mind to mind. Thus,
he may speak or write or sing or dance, for all these are forms of expression protected by the Constitution. So is silence, which "persuades when speaking
fails." Symbolisms can also signify meanings without words, like the open hand of friendship or the clenched fist of defiance or the red flag of belligerence. The
individual can convey his message in a poem or a novel or a tract or in a public speech or through a moving picture or a stage play. In such diverse ways may he
be heard. There is of course no guaranty that he will be heeded, for a acceptability will depend on the quilty of his thoughts and of his persona, as well as the
mood and motivation of his audience. But whatever form he employs, he is entitled to the protection of the Constitution against any attempt to muzzle his
thoughts.

There is one especially significant way by which the citizen can express his views, and that is through the ballot. By the votes he casts, he is able to participate
in the selection of the persons who shall serve as his representatives in the various elective offices in the government, from the highest position of President of
the Philippines to that of the lowly member of the Sangguniang Barangay. In the exercise of this right, he is free to choose whoever appeals to his intelligence
(or lack of it), whether it be a professional comedian or a pretentious moron or an unrepentant thief or any other candidate with no known distinction except
the presumptuousness to seek elective office. Fortunately, there are also other candidates deserving of the support of the circumspect and thinking citizens
who will use their suffrages conscientiously with only the public interest as their criterion and guide.

It is for the purpose of properly informing the electorate of the credentials and platforms of the candidates that they are allowed to campaign during the
election period. Such campaign includes their personally visiting the voters in house-to-house sorties, calling on the telephone for their support, sending them
letters of appeal, distributing self-serving leaflets extolling their virtues, giving away buttons and stickers and sample ballots and other compaign materials, and
holding caucuses, rallies, parades, public meetings and similar gatherings. All these they are allowed to do in the specified places and at the proper
time provided only that they do not exceed the maximum limit of election expenses prescribed by the Election Code at the rate of P1.50 for every voter
currently registered in the constituency where they filed their certificate of candidacy. 1

It is curious, however, that such allowable campaign activities do not include the use of the mass media because of the prohibition in Section 11(b) of Rep. Act.
No. 6646. The candidate may employ letters or leaflets or billboards or placards or posters or meetings to reach the electorate, incurring for this purposes a
not inconsiderable amount of his or his supporters' money. But he may not utilize for the same purpose periodicals, radio, television or other forms of mass
communications, even for free. Employment of these facilities is allowed only through the respondent Commission on Elections, which is directed by the
Election Code to procure newspaper space and radio and television time to be distributed among the thousands of candidates vying throughout the land for
the thousands of public offices to be filled in the coming elections.

There are some students of the Constitution who believe that unlike the other liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, the freedom of speech and of the press
is absolute and not subject to any kind of regulation whatsoever. Their reason is the language of Article III, Section 4, of the Constitution, which provides
without qualification:

No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and
petition the government for redress of grievances.

This Court does not accept this extreme theory for the liberty we recognize is not liberty untamed but liberty regulated by law. The concept of absolute rights
must be approached with utmost caution if not rejected outright. The better policy is to assume that every right, including even the freedom of expression,
must be exercised in accordance with law and with due regard for the rights of others.

In fact, laws punishing crimes like slander and libel and inciting to sedition have never been seriously or successfully questioned. Contemptuous language is not
allowed in judicial proceedings. Obscenity is proscribed, as so are acts that wound religious sensibilities. This Court has regulated the exercise of the right to
hold rallies and meetings, limiting them to certain places and hours and under specified conditions, in the interest of peace and security, public convenience,
and in one case, even to prevent disturbance of the rites in a nearby church. 2 Under the Public Assembly Act, a permit from the mayor shall be necessary for
the holding of a public meeting except where the gathering is to be held in a private place or the campus of a government-owned or controlled educational
institution or a freedom park.

All this is not meant to suggest that every government regulation is a valid regulation. On the contrary, any attempt to restrict the exercise of a right must be
tested by the strict requisites of the valid exercise of the police power as established by this Court in a long line of decisions. These requisites are:
1) the interests of the public generally as distinguished from those of a particular class require the exercise of the police power; and 2) the means employed are
reasonably necessary to the accomplishment of the purpose sough to be achieved and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. 3 In simpler terms, the police
measure, to be valid, must have a lawful objective and a lawful method of achieving it.

The lawful objective of Section 11(b) may be readily conceded. The announced purpose of the law is to prevent disparity between the rich and the poor
candidates by denying both of them access to the mass media and thus preventing the former from enjoying an undue advantage over the latter. There is no
question that this is a laudable goal. Equality among the candidates in this regard should be assiduously pursued by the government if the aspirant with limited
resources is to have any chance at all against an opulent opponent who will not hesitate to use his wealth to make up for his lack of competence.

But in constitutional law, the end does not justify the means. To pursue a lawful objective, only a lawful method may be employed even if it may not be the
best among the suggested options. In my own view, the method here applied falls far short of the constitutional criterion. I believe that the necessary
reasonable link between the means employed and the purpose sought to be achieved has not been proved and that the method employed is unduly
oppressive.

The financial disparity among the candidates is a fact of life that cannot be corrected by legislation except only by the limitation of their respective expenses to
a common maximum. The flaw in the prohibition under challenge is that while the rich candidate is barred from buying mass media coverage, it nevertheless
allows him to spend his funds on other campaign activities also inaccessible to his straitened rival. Thus, the rich candidate may hold as many rallies and
meetings as he may desire or can afford, using for the purpose the funds he would have spent for the prohibited mass media time and space. The number of
these rallies and meetings, which also require tremendous expense, cannot be matched by the poor candidate, but the advantage of the rich candidate in this
case is not similarly prohibited. By the same token, the rich candidates may visit more houses, send more letters, make more telephone appeals, distribute
more campaign materials, incurring for all these more expenses than the poor candidates can afford. But these advantages are allowed by the law because
they do not involve the use of mass media space and time.

And what if the rich candidate pays P25,000 from his own funds to buy media advertising and the same amount is raised for the same purpose by 250
supporters of the poor candidate contributing P100 each? Both transactions would be prohibited under the law although the rich candidates clearly has in this
case no advantage over his adversary.

And what if a candidate is endorsed not in a paid advertisement or commercial but by a columnist or a radio commentator who is apparently expressing his
own opinion without financial consideration or inducement? This is not prohibited by Section 11(b) simply because the endorsement does not appear to have
been purchased by the candidates or given to him for free.

The proposed distribution of COMELEC time and space is hardly workable, considering the tremendous number of candidates running all over the country for
the offices of President of the Philippines, Vice-President, senators, representatives, provincial governors, vice-governors, provincial board members, city
mayors, vice-mayors and councilors, and municipal mayors, vice-mayors and councilors. Allocation of equal time and space among the candidates would
involve administrative work of unmanageable proportions, and the possibility as well of unequal distribution, whether deliberate or unintentional, that might
create more serious problems than the problem at hand.

It is indeed the settled rule that questions regarding the necessity or wisdom of the law are for the legislature to resolve and its resolution may not be
reviewed by the courts of justice. In the case of the police power, however, it is required that there be a plausible nexus between the method employed and
the purpose sought to be achieved, and determination of this link involves a judicial inquiry into the reasonableness of the challenged measure. It is true, as
remarked by Justice Holmes, that a law has done all it can if it has done all it should, but this is on the assumption that what the law has done was valid to
begin with. The trouble with the challenged law is that it has exceeded what it should have done, thereby becoming both inefficacious and arbitrary. As such, it
must be slain.

But the most important objection to Section 11(b) is that it constitutes prior restraint on the dissemination of ideas. In a word, it is censorship. It is that
officious functionary of the repressive government who tells the citizen that he may speak only if allowed to do so, and no more and no less than what he is
permitted to say on pain of punishment should he be so rash as to disobey. In his "Appeal for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing," Milton deplored the
impossibility of finding a man base enough to accept the office of censor and at the same time good enough to perform its duties. Yet a pretender to that
meddler is in our midst today, smugly brandishing the threat of this miserable law.

One could perhaps concede some permissible instances of censorship, as where private mail is screened during wartime to prevent deliberate or unwitting
disclosure of sensitive or classified matters that might prejudice the national security or where, to take a famous example, a person is prohibited from shouting
"Fire!" in a crowded theater. But these exceptions merely make and bolster the rule that there should be no prior restraint upon a person's right to express his
ideas on any subject of public interest. The rule applies whether the censorship be in the form of outright prohibition, as in the cases before us, or in more
subtle forms like the imposition of tax upon periodicals exceeding a prescribed maximum number of copies per issue 4 or allowing the circulation of books only
if they are judged to be fit for minors, thus reducing the reading tastes of adults to the level of juvenile morality. 5

I remind the Court of the doctrine announced in Bantam Books v.


Sullivan 6 that "any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its validity." That presumption has not
been refuted in the cases sub judice. On the contrary, the challenged provision appears quite clearly to be invalid on its face because of its undisguised attempt
at censorship. The feeble effort to justify it in the name of social justice and clean elections cannot prevail over the self-evident fact that what we have here is
an illegal intent to suppress free speech by denying access to the mass media as the most convenient instruments for the molding of public opinion. And it
does not matter that the use of these facilities may involve financial transactions, for the element of the commercial does not remove them from the
protection of the Constitution. 7

The law is no less oppressive on the candidates themselves who want and have the right to address the greatest number of voters through the modern
facilities of the press, radio and television. Equally injured are the ordinary citizens, who are also entitled to be informed, through these mass media, of the
qualifications and platforms of the various candidates aspiring for public office, that they may be guided in the choice they must make when they cast they
ballots. 8

I am as deeply concerned as the rest of the nation over the unabated if not aggravated influence of material persuasions on the choice of our elective officials.
It is truly alarming that elections in a growing number of cases have become no more than auction sales, where the public office is awarded to the highest
bidder as if it were an article of commerce. The offer of cash in exchange for his vote would be virtually irresistible to a person mired in poverty and in the
throes of the elemental struggle for survival. That there are millions of such persons can only compound this terrible situation. But what makes it especially
revolting is the way these helpless persons are manipulated and imposed upon and tantalized to surrender their birthright for a mess of pottage. The
unscrupulous candidates who do not hesitate to use their wealth to buy themselves into elective office — these are the real saboteurs of democracy. These are
the scoundrels who would stain the pristine ballot in their cynical scheme to usurp public office by falsifying the will of the people. Section 11(b) aims to
minimize this malignancy, it is true, but unfortunately by a method not allowed by the Constitution.
In the Comment it submitted after the Solicitor General expressed support for the petitioners, the Commission on Elections relies heavily on Badoy v.
Commission on Elections 9 to sustain the exercise of its authority to regulate and supervise the mass media during the election period as conferred upon it by
what is now Section 4 of Article IX in the present Constitution. However, that case is not in point for what was upheld there was Section 12(f) of Rep. Act No.
6132 providing as follows:

The Commission on Elections shall endeavor to obtain free space from newspapers, magazines and periodicals which shall be known as
Comelec space, and shall allocate this space equally and impartially among all candidates within the areas in which the newspapers are
circulated. Outside of said Comelec space, it shall be unlawful to print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any advertisement, paid
comment or paid article in furtherance of or in opposition to the candidacy of any person for delegate, or mentioning the name of any
candidate and the fact of his candidacy, unless all the names of all other candidates in the district in which the candidate is running are also
mentioned with equal prominence.

The Court, through Justice Makasiar (but over strong dissents from Justices Fernando, Teehankee and Barredo), declared:

Considering the foregoing limitation in paragraph F, Sec. 12 in the light of the other provisions of R.A. No. 6132 designed to maximize, if not
approximate, equality of chances among the various candidates in the same district, the said restriction on the freedom of expression appears
too insignificant to create any appreciable dent on the individual's liberty of expression.

What is challenged in the case at bar is not that law but Section 11(b), which does not merely require mention of the candidate's rivals in the paid
advertisement or commercial, an innocuous enough requirement, to be sure. What Section 11(b) does is prohibit the advertisement or commercial itself in
what is unmistakably an act of censorship that finds no justification in the circumstances here presented. Surely, that blanket and absolute prohibition to use
the mass media as a vehicle for the articulation of ideas cannot, by the standards of Badoy, be considered "too insignificant to create any appreciable dent on
the individual's liberty of expression."

What is in point is Sanidad v. Commission on Elections, 10 where this Court, through Mr. Justice Medialdea, unanimously declared unconstitutional a regulation
of the Commission on Elections providing as follows:

Sec. 19. Prohibition on columnists, commentators or announcer. — During the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on plebiscite
day, no mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for or
against the plebiscite issues.

On the argument that the said persons could still express their views through the air time and newspaper space to be allocated by the respondent, the Court
declared:

Anent respondent Comelec's argument that Section 19 of Comelec resolution 2167 does not absolutely bar petitioner-columnist from
expressing his views and/or from campaigning for or against the organic act because he may do so through the Comelec space and/or Comelec
radio/television time, the same is not meritorious. While the limitation does not absolutely bar petitioner's freedom of expression, it is still
restriction on his choice of the forum where he may express his view. No reason was advanced by respondent to justify such abridgment. We
hold that this form of regulation is tantamount to a restriction of petitioner's freedom of expression for no justifiable reason. (Emphasis
supplied)

This decision was promulgated without a single dissent, even from the incumbent members then who are now sustaining Section 11(b) of Rep. Act No. 6646.
Contrary to Justice Davide's contention, there is not a single word in this decision upholding the prohibition in question.

The respondent also paints a distressing picture of the current political scene and expresses its despair over the plight of the poor candidate thus:

Respondent Commission invites appreciation of the realities of present-day political campaigns. In today's election competitions the success of
one's candidacy rests to a great extent on the candidate's ability to match the financial and material resources of the other. Where a candidate
is given limitless opportunity to take his campaign to areas of persuasion through the media, what is left of a winning chance for a poor, if
deserving, candidate? But for the regulatory power of Sec. 11(b) of Republic Act No. 6646, a wealthy candidate could block off an opponent of
lesser means from the public view by buying all print space in newspapers and air time in radio and television.

I am certain the Court shares the apprehensions of the sober elements of our society over the acute disadvantage of the poor candidates vis-a-vis a wealthy
opponent determined to win at all cost (which he can afford). However, for all its anxiety to solve this disturbingly widespread difficulty, it is inhibited, as all of
us must be, by the mandate of the Constitution to give untrammeled rein to the dissemination and exchange of ideas concerning the elections.

The problem is not really as bad as the respondent would imagine it, for it is unlikely that the rich candidate would or could buy "all print space in newspapers
and air time in radio and television" to "block off" his opponents. Let us not be carried away by hyperbolic speculations. After all, as the respondent itself
points out, it is empowered by the Constitution to supervise or regulate the operations of the mass media in connection with election matters, and we may
expect that it will use this power to prevent the monopoly it fears, which conceivably will consume all the funds the candidate is allowed to spend for his
campaign. It should be pointed out that the rich candidate violates no law as long as he does not exceed the maximum amount prescribed by the Election Code
for campaign expenses. The mere fact that the poor candidate can spend only a small fraction of that amount does not prevent the rich candidate from
spending all of it if he is so minded. This may be a heartless way of putting it, but that is in fact how the law should be interpreted. The Election Code fixes a
maximum limit for all candidates, rich or poor alike; it does not say that the rich candidate shall spend only the same amount as the poor candidates can afford.

I realize only too well that the ideas that may be conveyed by the prohibited media advertisements will mostly be exaggerations or distortions or plain
poppycock and may intrude upon our leisure hours if not also offend our intelligence and exhaust our patience. We may indeed be opening a Pandora's box.
But these are unavoidable in the free society. As part of the larger picture, these impositions are only minor irritations that, placed in proper perspective,
should not justify the withdrawal of the great an inalienable liberty that is the bedrock of this Republic. It is best to remember in this regard that freedom of
expression exists not only for the though that agrees with us, to paraphrase Justice Holmes, but a also for the thought that we abhor.

I submit that all the channels of communication should be kept open to insure the widest dissemination of information bearing on the forthcoming elections.
An uninformed electorate is not likely to be circumspect in the choice of the officials who will represent them in the councils of government. That they may
exercise their suffrages wisely, it is important that they be apprised of the election issues, including the credentials, if any, of the various aspirants for public
office. This is especially necessary now in view of the dismaying number of mediocrities who, by an incredible aberration of ego, are relying on their money, or
their tinsel popularity, or their private armies, to give them the plume of victory.
For violating the "liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties," the challenged law must be struck down. For
blandly sustaining it instead, the majority has inflicted a deep cut on the Constitution that will ruthlessly bleed it white, and with it this most cherished of our
freedoms.

PARAS, J., dissenting:

In a ghastly blow against our cherished liberties, the Supreme Court, with insensate, guillotine-like efficiency, rendered a decision which in the interest of
accuracy and candidness, I would like to turn — the serious attack on our freedom of expression. It is sad but I have no choice except to say that I dissent.

The freedom to advertise one's political candidacy in the various forms of media is clearly a significant part of our freedom of expression and of our right of
access to information. Freedom of expression in turn in includes among other things, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Restrict these freedoms
without rhyme or reason, and you violate the most valuable feature of the democratic way of life.

The majority says that the purpose of the political advertisement provision is to prevent those who have much money from completely overwhelming those
who have little. This is gross errors because should the campaign for votes be carried out in other fora (for example, rallies and meetings) the rich candidate
can always be at a great advantage over his less fortunate opponent. And so the disparity feared will likewise appear in campaigns other than through media. It
is alleged also that the candidate with money can purchase for himself several full page advertisements, making his poor opponents really poor in more ways
than one. This is not realistic for the poor opponents may, for certain reasons be given or favored with advertisements free of charge, and money will not be
needed in this case. And yet under the statute in question, even free or gratuitous advertisements in print, in radio or in television are included in the
prohibition. And then again, it is contended by the majority that a poor candidate can still make use of media by consenting to interviews and news reports
about this campaign, which interviews and reports are, according to the majority still allowable. But then these interviews and news reports are still subtle
advertisements and they can be had if a candidate deliberately looks for media practitioners to inner view him or to write about him. If the majority is to be
consistent, these interviews and news reports should also be disallowed. A case in point is the senatorial candidate who was interviewed on television last
Tuesday (March 3, 1992). Portions of the interview follow:

Q In 19___, were you not the Secretary of _____________?

A Yes, I was.

Q When you were Secretary, did you not accomplish the following?

A (Interviewer then enumerated various accomplishments.)

Q Yes, I did.

There can be no doubt that this interview is disguised propaganda, and yet, if we follow the majority opinion, this is allowable. Is this not
illogical — that is , if the ban stays?
And then again, if we were to consider the ban as constitutional, the "unknown" or "lesser known" candidates would be at a distinct disadvantage. They will
have to hold numerous rallies (spending oodles and oodles of money). And only those who had previously received public exposure by dint of government
service or by prominence in the movies, in music, in sports, etc. will be the ones "recalled" by the voters. This will indeed be unfortunate for our country.

It is true that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not absolute, and that they have their own limitations. But I do not see how these limitations
can make the disputed prohibition valid and constitutional.

I therefore reiterate my opinion that this political ads prohibition is grossly unfair, politically inept and eminently unconstitutional.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 79690-707 February 1, 1989

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987
Constitution, respondents.

G.R. No. 80578 February 1, 1989

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


vs.
HON. RAUL M. GONZALES, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

We have examined carefully the lengthy and vigorously written Motion for Reconsideration dated October 18, 1988 filed by counsel for respondent Raul M.
Gonzalez, relating to the per curiam Resolution of the Court dated October 7, 1988. We have reviewed once more the Court's extended per curiam Resolution,
in the light of the argument adduced in the Motion for Reconsideration, but must conclude that we find no sufficient basis for modifying the conclusions and
rulings embodied in that Resolution. The Motion for Reconsideration sets forth copious quotations and references to foreign texts which, however, whatever
else they may depict, do not reflect the law in this jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, it might be useful to develop further, in some measure, some of the conclusions reached in the per curiam Resolution, addressing in the process
some of the "Ten (10) Legal Points for Reconsideration," made in the Motion for Reconsideration.

1. In respondent's point A, it is claimed that it was error for this Court "to charge respondent [with] indirect contempt and convict him of direct
contempt."

In the per curiam Resolution (page 50), the Court concluded that "respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross
misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the bar." The Court did not use the phrase "in facie curiae" as a technical equivalent of "direct contempt,"
though we are aware that courts in the United States have sometimes used that phrase in speaking of "direct contempts' as "contempts in the face of the
courts." Rather, the court sought to convey that it regarded the contumacious acts or statements (which were made both in a pleading filed before the Court
and in statements given to the media) and the misconduct of respondent Gonzalez as serious acts flaunted in the face of the Court and constituting a frontal
assault upon the integrity of the Court and, through the Court, the entire judicial system. What the Court would stress is that it required respondent, in its
Resolution dated 2 May 1988, to explain "why he should not be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions" and in respect of
which, respondent was heard and given the most ample opportunity to present all defenses, arguments and evidence that he wanted to present for the
consideration of this Court. The Court did not summarily impose punishment upon the respondent which it could have done under Section 1 of Rule 71 of the
Revised Rules of Court had it chosen to consider respondent's acts as constituting "direct contempt."

2. In his point C, respondent's counsel argues that it was "error for this Court to charge respondent under Rule 139 (b) and not 139 of the
Revised Rules of Court."

In its per curiam Resolution, the Court referred to Rule 139 (b) of the Revised Rules of Court pointing out that:

[R]eference of complaints against attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory upon
the Supreme Court such reference to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive procedure
under the terms of Rule 139 (b) of the Revised Rules of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before the Supreme Court.

The above statement was made by the Court in response to respondent's motion for referral of this case either to the Solicitor General or to the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines under Rule 139 (b). Otherwise, there would have been no need to refer to Rule 139 (b). It is thus only necessary to point out that under the
old rule, Rule 139, referral to the Solicitor General was similarly not an exclusive procedure and was not the only course of action open to the Supreme Court.
It is well to recall that under Section 1 (entitled "Motion or complaint") of Rule 139, "Proceedings for the removal or suspension of attorneys may be taken by
the Supreme Court, (1) on its own motion, or (2) upon the complaint under oath of another in writing" (Parentheses supplied). The procedure described in
Sections 2 et seq. of Rule 139 is the procedure provided for suspension or disbarment proceedings initiated upon sworn complaint of another person, rather
than a procedure required for proceedings initiated by the Supreme Court on its own motion. It is inconceivable that the Supreme Court would initiate motu
proprio proceedings for which it did not find probable cause to proceed against an attorney. Thus, there is no need to refer a case to the Solicitor General,
which referral is made "for investigation to determine if there is sufficient ground to proceed with the prosecution of the respondent" (Section 3, Rule 139),
where the Court itself has initiated against the respondent. The Court may, of course, refer a case to the Solicitor General if it feels that, in a particular case,
further factual investigation is needed. In the present case, as pointed out in the per curiam Resolution of the Court (page 18), there was "no need for further
investigation of facts in the present case for it [was] not substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements attributed
to him" and that "in any case, respondent has had the amplest opportunity to present his defense: his defense is not that he did not make the statements
ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no liability on his part, having been made in the exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which thus
need to be resolved here are issues of law and of basic policy and the Court, not any other agency, is compelled to resolve such issues."

In this connection, we note that the quotation in page 7 of the Motion for Reconsideration is from a dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Black in Green v. United
State. 1 It may be pointed out that the majority in Green v. United States, through Mr. Justice Harlan, held, among other things, that: Federal courts do not lack
power to impose sentences in excess of one year for criminal contempt; that criminal contempts are not subject to jury trial as a matter of constitutional right;
nor does the (US) Constitution require that contempt subject to prison terms of more than one year be based on grand jury indictments.

In his concurring opinion in the same case, Mr. Justice Frankfurter said:

Whatever the conflicting views of scholars in construing more or less dubious manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century, what is indisputable is
that from the foundation of the United States the constitutionality of the power to punish for contempt without the intervention of a jury has
not been doubted. The First Judiciary Act conferred such a power on the federal courts in the very act of their establishment, 1 State 73, 83,
and of the Judiciary Committee of eight that reported the bill to the Senate, five member including the chairman, Senator, later to be Chief
Justice, Ellsworth, had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention (Oliver Ellsworth, Chairman, William Paterson, Caleb Strong, Ricard
Basett, William Few. 1 Annals of Cong 17). In the First Congress itself no less than nineteen member including Madison who
contemporaneously introduced the Bill of Rights, had been delegates to the Convention. And when an abuse under this power manifested
itself, and led Congress to define more explicitly the summary power vested in the courts, it did not remotely deny the existence of the power
but merely defined the conditions for its exercise more clearly, in an Act "declaratory of the law concerning contempts of court." Act of Mar. 2,
1831, 4 Stat 487.

xxxxxxxxx

Nor has the constitutionality of the power been doubted by this Court throughout its existence . In at least two score cases in this Court, not to
mention the vast mass of decisions in the lower federal courts, the power to punish summarily has been accepted without question. ... 2

To say that a judge who punishes a contemnor judges his own cause, is simplistic at best. The judge who finds himself compelled to exercise the power to
punish for contempt does so not really to avenge a wrong inflicted upon his own person; rather he upholds and vindicates the authority, dignity and integrity
of the judicial institution and its claim to respectful behaviour on the part of all persons who appears before it, and most especially from those who are officers
of the court.

3. In his point D, respondent counsel urges that it is error "for this Court to apply the "visible tendency" rule rather than the "clear and present
danger" rule in disciplinary and contempt charges."

The Court did not purport to announce a new doctrine of "visible tendency," it was, more modestly, simply paraphrasing Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Revised
Rules of Court which penalizes a variety of contumacious conduct including: "any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or
degrade the administration of justice."
The "clear and present danger" doctrine invoked by respondent's counsel is not a magic incantation which dissolves all problems and dispenses with analysis
and judgment in the testing of the legitimacy of claims to free speech, and which compels a court to exonerate a defendant the moment the doctrine is
invoked, absent proof of impending apocalypse. The clear and present danger" doctrine has been an accepted method for marking out the appropriate limits
of freedom of speech and of assembly in certain contexts. It is not, however, the only test which has been recognized and applied by courts. In Logunzad v.
Vda. de Gonzales, 3 this Court, speaking through Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera said:

...The right of freedom of expression indeed, occupies a preferred position in the "hierarchy of civil liberties" (Philippine Blooming Mills
Employees Organization v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 191 [1963]. It is not, however, without limitations. As held in Gonzales v.
Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA 835, 858 [1960]:

"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 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" (Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando on the Bill of Rights, 1970 ed., p. 79). The principle "requires a court to take conscious and detailed
consideration of the interplay of interests observable in a given situation or type of situation (Separate Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro
in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, supra, p. 899). (Emphasis Supplied) 4

Under either the "clear and present danger" test or the "balancing-of-interest test," we believe that the statements here made by respondent Gonzalez are of
such a nature and were made in such a manner and under such circumstances, as to transcend the permissible limits of free speech. This conclusion was
implicit in the per curiam Resolution of October 7, 1988. It is important to point out that the "substantive evil" which the Supreme Court has a right and a duty
to prevent does not, in the instant case, relate to threats of physical disorder or overt violence or similar disruptions of public order. 5 What is here at stake is
the authority of the Supreme Court to confront and prevent a "substantive evil" consisting not only of the obstruction of a free and fair hearing of a particular
case but also the avoidance of the broader evil of the degradation of the judicial system of a country and the destruction of the standards of professional
conduct required from members of the bar and officers of the courts. The "substantive evil" here involved, in other words, is not as palpable as a threat of
public disorder or rioting but is certainly no less deleterious and more far reaching in its implications for society.

4. In his point H, respondent's counsel argues that it is error "for this Court to hold that intent is irrelevant in charges of misconduct." What the
Court actually said on this point was:

Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the Court. The subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant so far as
characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not, however, be allowed to disclaim the natural and plain import of his
words and acts. It is, upon the other hand, not irrelevant to point out that the respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations and
exhibited no repentance (Resolution, p. 7; footnotes omitted).
The actual subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant because such subjectivities (understood as pyschological phenomena) cannot be ascertained and
reached by the processes of this Court. Human intent can only be shown derivatively and implied from an examination of acts and statements. Thus, what the
Court was saying was that respondent's disclaimer of an intent to attack and denigrate the Court, cannot prevail over the plain import of what he did say and
do. Respondent cannot negate the clear import of his acts and statements by simply pleading a secret intent or state of mind incompatible with those acts or
statements. It is scarcely open to dispute that, e.g., one accused of homicide cannot successfully deny his criminal intent by simply asserting that while he may
have inserted a knife between the victim's ribs, he actually acted from high motives and kind feelings for the latter.

5 In his point 1, respondent's counsel argues that it is error "for this Court to punish respondent for contempt of court for out of court
publications."

Respondent's counsel asks this Court to follow what he presents as alleged modern trends in the United Kingdom and in the United States concerning the law
of contempt. We are, however, unable to regard the texts that he cites as binding or persuasive in our jurisdiction. The Court went to some length to document
the state of our case law on this matter in its per curiam Resolution. There is nothing in the circumstances of this case that would suggest to this Court that that
case law, which has been followed for at least half a century or so, ought to be reversed.

6. In his point J, respondent's counsel pleads that the imposition of indefinite suspension from the practice of law constitutes "cruel, degrading
or inhuman punishment". The Court finds it difficult to consider this a substantial constitutional argument. The indefiniteness of the
respondent's suspension, far from being "cruel" or "degrading" or "inhuman," has the effect of placing, as it were, the key to the restoration of
his rights and privileges as a lawyer in his own hands. That sanction has the effect of giving respondent the chance to purge himself in his own
good time of his contempt and misconduct by acknowledging such misconduct, exhibiting appropriate repentance and demonstrating his
willingness and capacity to live up to the exacting standards of conduct rightly demanded from every member of the bar and officer of the
courts.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit. The denial is FINAL.

The Court also NOTED the Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion, dated October 25, 1988 and the Supplemental Manifestation, dated October 27, 1988, filed by
respondent

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and
Regalado, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-59329 July 19, 1985

EASTERN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (DYRE) petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. JOSE P. DANS, JR., MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION & COMMUNICATIONS, THE HON. CEFERINO S. CARREON, COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL
TELECOM., COMMISSION, ET AL., respondents.

RESOLUTION

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This petition was filed to compel the respondents to allow the reopening of Radio Station DYRE which had been summarily closed on grounds of national
security.

The petitioner contended that it was denied due process when it was closed on the mere allegation that the radio station was used to incite people to sedition.
it alleged that no hearing was held and not a bit of proof was submitted to establish a factual basis for the closure. The petitioner was not informed
beforehand why administrative action which closed the radio station was taken against it. No action was taken by the respondents to entertain a motion
seeking the reconsideration of the closure action. The petitioner also raised the issue of freedom of speech. It appears from the records that the respondents'
general charge of "inciting people to commit acts of sedition" arose from the petitioner's shift towards what it stated was the coverage of public events and
the airing of programs geared towards public affairs.

On March 25, 1985, before the Court could promulgate a decision squarely passing upon all the issues raised, the petitioner through its president, Mr. Rene G.
Espina suddenly filed a motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition.

The petitioner alleged:

1. Petitioner Eastern Broadcasting Corporation has already sold its radio broadcasting station in favor of Manuel B. Pastrana as well as its rights
and interest in the radio station DYRE in Cebu including its right to operate and its equipment;

2. Respondent National Telecommunications Commission has expressed its willingness to grant to the said new owner Manuel B. Pastrana the
requisite license and franchise to operate the said radio station and to approve the sale of the radio transmitter of said station DYRE;
3. In view of the foregoing, petitioner has no longer any interest in said case, and the new owner, Manuel B. Pastrana is likewise not interested
in pursuing the case any further.

The case, therefore, has become moot and academic. However, for the guidance of inferior courts and administrative tribunals exercising quasi-judicial
functions, the Court issues the following guidelines:

(1) The cardinal primary requirements in administrative proceedings laid down by this Court in Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations (69 Phil. 635) should be
followed before a broadcast station may be closed or its operations curtailed. 1

(2) It is necessary to reiterate that while there is no controlling and precise definition of due process, it furnishes an unavoidable standard to which government
action must conform in order that any deprivation of life, liberty, or property, in each appropriate case, may be valid (Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel
Operators Association v. City Mayor, 20 SCRA 849).

(3) All forms of media, whether print or broadcast, are entitled to the broad protection of the freedom of speech and expression clause. The test for limitations
on freedom of expression continues to be the clear and present danger rule — that words 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 the lawmaker has a right to prevent, In his Constitution of the Philippines (2nd
Edition, pp. 569-570) Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando cites at least nine of our decisions which apply the test — (Primicias v. Fugoso [80 Phil. 71], American
Bible Society v. City of Manila [101 Phil. 386], Cabansag v. Fernandez [102 Phil. 152], Vera v. Arca [28 SCRA 351], Navarro v. Villegas [31 SCRA 931], Imbong v.
Ferrer [35 SCRA 28], Badoy v. Commission on Elections [35 SCRA 285], People v. Ferrer [48 SCRA 382], and the Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization
v. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc. [51 SCRA 189]. More recently, the clear and present danger test was applied in J.B.L. Reyes in behalf of the Anti-Bases
Coalition v. Bagatsing [125 SCRA 553].

(4) The clear and present danger test, however, does not lend itself to a simplistic and all embracing interpretation applicable to all utterances in all forums.

Broadcasting has to be licensed. Airwave frequencies have to be allocated among qualified users. A broadcast corporation cannot simply appropriate a certain
frequency without regard for government regulation or for the rights of others.

All forms of communication are entitled to the broad protection of the freedom of expression clause. Necessarily, however, the freedom of television and radio
broadcasting is somewhat lesser in scope than the freedom accorded to newspaper and print media.

The American Court in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation (438 U.S. 726), confronted with a patently offensive and indecent regular
radio program, explained why radio broadcasting, more than other forms of communications, receives the most limited protection from the free expression
clause. First, broadcast media have established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of all citizens, Material presented over the airwaves confronts the
citizen, not only in public, but in the privacy of his home. Second, broadcasting is uniquely accessible to children. Bookstores and motion picture theaters may
be prohibited from making certain material available to children, but the same selectivity cannot be done in radio or television, where the listener or viewer is
constantly tuning in and out.

Similar considerations apply in the area of national security.


The broadcast media have also established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of all Filipinos, Newspapers and current books are found only in
metropolitan areas and in the poblaciones of municipalities accessible to fast and regular transportation. Even here, there are low income masses who find the
cost of books, newspapers, and magazines beyond their humble means. Basic needs like food and shelter perforce enjoy high priorities.

On the other hand, the transistor radio is found everywhere. The television set is also becoming universal. Their message may be simultaneously received by a
national or regional audience of listeners including the indifferent or unwilling who happen to be within reach of a blaring radio or television set. The materials
broadcast over the airwaves reach every person of every age, persons of varying susceptibilities to persuasion, persons of different I.Q.s and mental
capabilities, persons whose reactions to inflammatory or offensive speech would be difficult to monitor or predict. The impact of the vibrant speech is forceful
and immediate. Unlike readers of the printed work, the radio audience has lesser opportunity to cogitate analyze, and reject the utterance.

(5) The clear and present danger test, therefore, must take the particular circumstances of broadcast media into account. The supervision of radio stations-
whether by government or through self-regulation by the industry itself calls for thoughtful, intelligent and sophisticated handling.

The government has a right to be protected against broadcasts which incite the listeners to violently overthrow it. Radio and television may not be used to
organize a rebellion or to signal the start of widespread uprising. At the same time, the people have a right to be informed. Radio and television would have
little reason for existence if broadcasts are limited to bland, obsequious, or pleasantly entertaining utterances. Since they are the most convenient and popular
means of disseminating varying views on public issues, they also deserve special protection.

(6) The freedom to comment on public affairs is essential to the vitality of a representative democracy. In the 1918 case of United States v. Bustos (37 Phil. 731)
this Court was already stressing that.

The interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on
the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in
public life may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public officer
must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts. Only thus can the intelligence and dignity of the individual be
exalted.

(7) Broadcast stations deserve the special protection given to all forms of media by the due process and freedom of expression clauses of the Constitution.

WHEREFORE, the case having become moot and academic, the petitioner's motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition is hereby GRANTED.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin Relova, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.

Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr. and De la Fuente, JJ., concur in the result (the case having become moot and academic).

Aquino, J., took no part.


Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring:

I concur in the ponencia of Justice Gutierrez, Jr., notable for its reiteration of the clear and present danger principle as the standard of limitation on free speech
and press, as decided by a unanimous court in J.B.L. Reyes v. Bagatsing. 1

As may be gleaned from the voting of the Justices, the majority favors the view that even if a case were moot and academic, a statement of the governing
principle is appropriate in the resolution of dismissal for the guidance not only of the parties but of others similarly situated. There are three Justices, however,
Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr. and de la Fuente, who would strictly adhere to the concept that the case being moot and academic, the appropriate disposition is
that of simply dismissing the action. That is to abide by the teaching of orthodox learning. The Philippines, however, has deviated from such a strict view. Nor is
this approach of recent vintage. As early as Alejandrino v. Quezon 2 decided in 1924, this Court, notwithstanding the absence of jurisdiction, expressed through
Justice Malcolm what principle of law should govern. Similarly in Osmena, Jr. v. Pendatun, 3 notwithstanding well-founded doubts as to jurisdiction and a
finding that the case should be dismissed for being moot and academic, this Court, through the then Justice, later Chief Justice Bengzon, passed upon the legal
question raised. In that sense, the Philippines has followed an approach distinct from that of the United States, notwithstanding the influence of American
Constitutional law on our legal system.

Also let me state for the record that the original opinion prepared by Justice Gutierrez, Jr. could not have been released in April after the petitioner on March
25, 1985 "filed a motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition." After that date, some members of the Court wanted the matter discussed anew as to its
appropriate disposition. That is the explanation why such an opinion was never sent to the Office of the Chief Justice. Nor is it to be forgotten that even if a
decision signed by all the other members were thus submitted. the practice traditionally followed is for whoever is Chief Justice to take a few days for the
expression of his views if minded to do so.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

Prefatory Statement: As stated in the resolution penned by Mr. Justice Gutierrez, the release in early April of this year of the Court's decision declaring null and
void respondent commission's challenged summary order for closure of petitioner's radio station ("definitely attended by complete absence of any hearing
before or after the closure itself") and granting the petition for issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction for the reopening of the station, was overtaken by
petitioner's "suddenly filed" motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition.

Initially, Mr. Justice Gutierrez was for applying the Salonga a formula and releasing nevertheless his sixteen-page extended opinion and decision on the merits.
He was of the view, fully shared by me, b that "(T)he need for guiding principles on constitutionalism is particularly keen in critical times and in periods of
transition. There is then a tendency to be impulsive in the exercise of power. The use of illegal shortcuts and the breakdown of traditional restraints and
discipline, unfortunately, is most pronounced in troubled times. It becomes necessary for the Court to emphasize the importance of adherence to the
mandates of the Constitution. The efforts, no matter how well meaning, to quell a rebellion or to stave off economic disaster cannot succeed if they transgress
basic rights and, therefore, alienate our people." But since such approach did not gain the concurrence of the majority, he has replaced his
original ponencia with the abbreviated Resolution (of a little over four pages) now released, which carries the required majority and issues guidelines "for the
guidance of inferior courts and administrative tribunals exercising quasi-judicial functions."

While withdrawal of the petition for loss of interest on petitioner's part may be granted, still the Court should unequivocally set forth the guiding and
controlling precepts or doctrines in pursuance of its symbolic function of educating bench and bar as in Salonga on the protection and preservation of basic
constitutional rights. As stated in my separate concurring opinion, infra, public respondents' summary closure of petitioner's radio station failed to observe the
special protection given to all forms of media by the due process and freedom of press and media clauses of the Constitution, as well as the basic clear and
present danger test. As stated by the now Chief Justice in De la Camara vs. Enage,' c the fact that the case has become moot "should not preclude this Tribunal
from setting forth in language clear and unmistakable ... for the guidance of lower court judges [and other public officers] the controlling and authoritative
doctrines that should be observed," so that full respect may be accorded to basic constitutional rights.

My separate concurring opinion which follows hereinafter was prepared and scheduled for promulgation on or about April 9, 1985 upon its return on said date
to the ponente, Mr. Justice Gutierrez, for transmittal to the Office of the Chief Justice for the purpose. But this was overtaken by the filing of petitioner's
motion for withdrawal or dismissal of the petition. Hence, my said concurring opinion should be read in such time context (in the same manner as in the 1974
martial law cases of Aquino, Jr. and Diokno vs. Enrile, 59 SCRA 183, 309, September 17, 1974, wherein the promulgation of the decision and separate opinions
originally schedule for September 12, 1974 was deferred to the following week with the intervening release from detention of Senator Jose W Diokno).

xxx xxx xxx

The main opinion reaffirms in language unmistakable that broadcast media (radio and television) while subject to government licensing (for allocation of the
use of airwaves and frequencies) and regulation (considering their pervasive presence and instant impact) are equally protected by the preferred freedoms of
speech and of the press and by the rudimentary requirements of due process against arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty and property; that the basic standard
for restricting or punishing the exercise of these preferred freedoms is the clear and present danger test — danger of a serious and imminent evil sought to be
prevented; that the summary closure in October, 1980 of petitioner's radio station ("definitely attended by complete absence of any hearing before or after
the closure itself ") violated its constitutional rights and must therefore be declared null and void, and consequently, the writ of mandatory injunction for the
reopening of the station, as prayed for, must issue.

Congratulations are due the ponente Justice Hugo Gutierrez, Jr. who secured the Court's near-unanimous concurrence in the recent case of Salonga vs.
Pano 1 which went back to the fundamentals and stressed, in discharge of the Court's "symbolic function of educating bench and bar on the extent of
protection given by constitutional guarantees" that "(I)nfinitely more important than conventional adherence to general rules of criminal procedure is respect
for the citizen's right to be free not only from arbitrary arrest and punishment but also from unwarranted and vexatious prosecution. The integrity of a
democratic society is corrupted if a person is carelessly included in the trial of around forty persons when on the very face of the record no evidence linking
him to the alleged conspiracy exists," that " ... if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the
principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate;" that "freedom of expression is a
'preferred' right and therefore stands on a higher level than substantive economic or other liberties," that "this must be so because the lessons of history, both
political and legal, illustrate that freedom of thought and speech is the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Protection is especially
mandated for political discussions. This Court is particularly concerned when allegations are made that restraints have been imposed upon mere criticisms of
government and public officials. Political discussion is essential to the ascertainment of political truth. It cannot be the basis of criminal indictments;" that there
must be tolerance of political hyperbole since "debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open and it may well include vehement,
caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials," that "the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do
not permit a State to forbid or prescribe advocacy of the use of force or of law in violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing
imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action;" that "political discussion even among those opposed to the present administration is
within the protective clause of freedom of speech and expression. The same cannot be construed as subversive activities per se or as evidence of membership
in a subversive organization" in the absence of proof that "such discussion was in furtherance of any plan to overthrow the government through illegal means;"
that, "respondent court should have taken these factors into consideration before concluding that a prima facie case exists against the petitioner. Evidence
must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible in itself such as the common experience and observation of mankind can
approve as probable under the circumstances;" and that "judge or fiscal, therefore, should not go on with the prosecution in the hope that some credible
evidence might later turn up during trial for this would be a flagrant violation of a basic right which the courts are created to uphold. It bears repeating that the
judiciary lives up to its mission by vitalizing and not denigrating constitutional rights. So it has been before. It should continue to be so."

The same ponente has now likewise obtained the Court's near-unanimous approval of the decision at bar, 2 which restates basic and established constitutional
principles under the Rule of Law that public officials do not possess absolute power to summarily close down a broadcasting station nor to arbitrarily deny its
application for renewal of license; that their broad and peremptory regulatory powers "must be exercised with punctilious regard for the due process clause"
which in the words of the Chief Justice signifies "freedom from arbitrariness [and] is the embodiment of the sporting Idea of fair play; 3 that radio and
television which "would have little reason for existence if broadcasts are limited to bland, obsequious, or pleasantly entertaining utterances" deserve the
special protection of the preferred right of free press and speech; that comment on and criticism of public officials in the conduct of public affairs is not to be
taken as "inciting to sedition or subversive acts" — that to curb or to punish the exercise of such preferred right of comment and criticism there must exist the
clear and present danger of a substantive and grave evil that the State has a clear right to prevent, and hence, there must be a clear showing to this effect of
"the words used and when and how they were used;" that since the 1918 case of U.S. vs. Bustos, 4 the Court has taught that "the interest of society and the
maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case
of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abcesses of officialdom; " that the guarantee of free speech is a safety valve "allowing parties the
opportunity to give vent to their views, even if contrary to the prevailing climate of opinion" which is grounded on "faith in the power of an appeal to reason by
all the peaceful means for gaining access to the mind" and "serves to avert force and explosions due to restrictions upon rational modes of
communication;" 5 and that through the rights of free expression, free assembly and petition, "the citizens can participate not merely in the periodic
establishment of the government through their suffrage but also in the administration of public affairs as well as in the discipline of abusive public officers" and
that since "the threat of sanctions may deter the exercise [of these 'delicate and vulnerable ... and supremely precious freedoms'] almost as potently as the
actual application of sanctions, they 'need breathing space to survive' permitting government regulation only 'with narrow specificity. 6

The late Justice Jose Abad Santos, martyr of the Japanese occupation, left us over half a century ago the legacy of his dissent against what he deemed were
unjustified "invasions on the part of the government and its employees of the sanctities of a man's home and the privacies of life" in People vs. Rubio 7 that the
"commendable zeal (of internal revenue agents) if allowed to override constitutional limitations would become 'obnoxious to fundamental principles of
liberty.' And if we are to be saved from the sad experiences of some countries which have constitutions only in name, we must insist that governmental
authority be exercised within constitutional limits; for, after all, what matters is not so much what the people write in their constitutions as the spirit in which
they observe their provisions."

In the same vein, the late Chief Justice Ricardo Paras in the landmark case of Primicias vs. Fugoso 8 enjoined all to abide by the teaching of the 1907 sedition
case of U. S. vs. Apurado 9 that 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," for "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."

Indeed, as I stressed in my dissenting opinion in the recent case of German vs. Barangan, 10 to require the citizen at every step to assert his rights and to go to
court is to render illusory his rights. All concerned, the governors as well as the governed, must observe what they have written in their constitution in their
very spirit and intent, so that as written by Justice Makasiar in the PBM case 11 "the Bill of Rights [might not turn out to be] a useless attempt to limit the power
of government and cease to be an efficacious shield against the tyranny of officials, of majorities, of the influential and powerful, and of oligarchs — political,
economic or otherwise."

The Court's decision makes short shrift of respondents' procedural arguments that non-renewal of petitioner's license has made the petition "moot and
academic" (brushed aside as "an afterthought or substitute for the respondents' original position that the closure was due to national security") and that
mandamus would not lie to compel the reopening of the radio station brought about by their inaction on petitioner's timely application for renewal of the
license. It serves notice that in the exercise of the judicial power vested in it by the Constitution, it will issue the equitable writs of certiorari and mandamus to
do substantial justice and restore the status quo. In this case, the summary closure of petitioner's radio station in 1980 having been declared null and void and
no valid ground for non-renewal of its license having been shown, it is as if the said license has been duly extended up to the end of the current term or year. It
is expected that respondents will forthwith return the crystal of the transmitter and place no further obstacle to the prompt reopening of the radio station so
that petitioner may pick up the broken pieces and rightfully resume its operations (after almost five years of closure) in accordance with the judgment at bar.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

The petitioner has filed a motion to withdraw its petition for the reasons stated in its motion. The Court has granted the motion but this circumstance should
not deter the Court from educating those who wield power which if exercised arbitrarily will make a mockery of the Bill of Rights.

The closure of the petitioner's radio station on grounds of national security without elaboration of the grounds and without hearing deserves to be condemned
in no uncertain terms for it is manifest that due process was not observed. If there is an Idea which should be impressed in the minds of those who wield
power it is that power must be used in a reasonable manner. Arbitrariness must be eschewed. The main opinion, that of Justice Teehankee and the case of Ang
Tibay vs. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 [1940], should be made required reading materials for public officials who huff and puff with power making
themselves not merely obnoxious but dangerous as well.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring:


I concur in the ponencia of Justice Gutierrez, Jr., notable for its reiteration of the clear and present danger principle as the standard of limitation on free speech
and press, as decided by a unanimous court in J.B.L. Reyes v. Bagatsing. 1

As may be gleaned from the voting of the Justices, the majority favors the view that even if a case were moot and academic, a statement of the governing
principle is appropriate in the resolution of dismissal for the guidance not only of the parties but of others similarly situated. There are three Justices, however,
Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr. and de la Fuente, who would strictly adhere to the concept that the case being moot and academic, the appropriate disposition is
that of simply dismissing the action. That is to abide by the teaching of orthodox learning. The Philippines, however, has deviated from such a strict view. Nor is
this approach of recent vintage. As early as Alejandrino v. Quezon 2 decided in 1924, this Court, notwithstanding the absence of jurisdiction, expressed through
Justice Malcolm what principle of law should govern. Similarly in Osmena, Jr. v. Pendatun, 3 notwithstanding well-founded doubts as to jurisdiction and a
finding that the case should be dismissed for being moot and academic, this Court, through the then Justice, later Chief Justice Bengzon, passed upon the legal
question raised. In that sense, the Philippines has followed an approach distinct from that of the United States, notwithstanding the influence of American
Constitutional law on our legal system.

Also let me state for the record that the original opinion prepared by Justice Gutierrez, Jr. could not have been released in April after the petitioner on March
25, 1985 "filed a motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition." After that date, some members of the Court wanted the matter discussed anew as to its
appropriate disposition. That is the explanation why such an opinion was never sent to the Office of the Chief Justice. Nor is it to be forgotten that even if a
decision signed by all the other members were thus submitted. the practice traditionally followed is for whoever is Chief Justice to take a few days for the
expression of his views if minded to do so.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

Prefatory Statement: As stated in the resolution penned by Mr. Justice Gutierrez, the release in early April of this year of the Court's decision declaring null and
void respondent commission's challenged summary order for closure of petitioner's radio station ("definitely attended by complete absence of any hearing
before or after the closure itself") and granting the petition for issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction for the reopening of the station, was overtaken by
petitioner's "suddenly filed" motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition.

Initially, Mr. Justice Gutierrez was for applying the Salonga a formula and releasing nevertheless his sixteen-page extended opinion and decision on the merits.
He was of the view, fully shared by me, b that "(T)he need for guiding principles on constitutionalism is particularly keen in critical times and in periods of
transition. There is then a tendency to be impulsive in the exercise of power. The use of illegal shortcuts and the breakdown of traditional restraints and
discipline, unfortunately, is most pronounced in troubled times. It becomes necessary for the Court to emphasize the importance of adherence to the
mandates of the Constitution. The efforts, no matter how well meaning, to quell a rebellion or to stave off economic disaster cannot succeed if they transgress
basic rights and, therefore, alienate our people." But since such approach did not gain the concurrence of the majority, he has replaced his
original ponencia with the abbreviated Resolution (of a little over four pages) now released, which carries the required majority and issues guidelines "for the
guidance of inferior courts and administrative tribunals exercising quasi-judicial functions."

While withdrawal of the petition for loss of interest on petitioner's part may be granted, still the Court should unequivocally set forth the guiding and
controlling precepts or doctrines in pursuance of its symbolic function of educating bench and bar as in Salonga on the protection and preservation of basic
constitutional rights. As stated in my separate concurring opinion, infra, public respondents' summary closure of petitioner's radio station failed to observe the
special protection given to all forms of media by the due process and freedom of press and media clauses of the Constitution, as well as the basic clear and
present danger test. As stated by the now Chief Justice in De la Camara vs. Enage,' c the fact that the case has become moot "should not preclude this Tribunal
from setting forth in language clear and unmistakable ... for the guidance of lower court judges [and other public officers] the controlling and authoritative
doctrines that should be observed," so that full respect may be accorded to basic constitutional rights.

My separate concurring opinion which follows hereinafter was prepared and scheduled for promulgation on or about April 9, 1985 upon its return on said date
to the ponente, Mr. Justice Gutierrez, for transmittal to the Office of the Chief Justice for the purpose. But this was overtaken by the filing of petitioner's
motion for withdrawal or dismissal of the petition. Hence, my said concurring opinion should be read in such time context (in the same manner as in the 1974
martial law cases of Aquino, Jr. and Diokno vs. Enrile, 59 SCRA 183, 309, September 17, 1974, wherein the promulgation of the decision and separate opinions
originally schedule for September 12, 1974 was deferred to the following week with the intervening release from detention of Senator Jose W Diokno).

xxx xxx xxx

The main opinion reaffirms in language unmistakable that broadcast media (radio and television) while subject to government licensing (for allocation of the
use of airwaves and frequencies) and regulation (considering their pervasive presence and instant impact) are equally protected by the preferred freedoms of
speech and of the press and by the rudimentary requirements of due process against arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty and property; that the basic standard
for restricting or punishing the exercise of these preferred freedoms is the clear and present danger test — danger of a serious and imminent evil sought to be
prevented; that the summary closure in October, 1980 of petitioner's radio station ("definitely attended by complete absence of any hearing before or after
the closure itself ") violated its constitutional rights and must therefore be declared null and void, and consequently, the writ of mandatory injunction for the
reopening of the station, as prayed for, must issue.

Congratulations are due the ponente Justice Hugo Gutierrez, Jr. who secured the Court's near-unanimous concurrence in the recent case of Salonga vs.
Pano 1 which went back to the fundamentals and stressed, in discharge of the Court's "symbolic function of educating bench and bar on the extent of
protection given by constitutional guarantees" that "(I)nfinitely more important than conventional adherence to general rules of criminal procedure is respect
for the citizen's right to be free not only from arbitrary arrest and punishment but also from unwarranted and vexatious prosecution. The integrity of a
democratic society is corrupted if a person is carelessly included in the trial of around forty persons when on the very face of the record no evidence linking
him to the alleged conspiracy exists," that " ... if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the
principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate;" that "freedom of expression is a
'preferred' right and therefore stands on a higher level than substantive economic or other liberties," that "this must be so because the lessons of history, both
political and legal, illustrate that freedom of thought and speech is the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Protection is especially
mandated for political discussions. This Court is particularly concerned when allegations are made that restraints have been imposed upon mere criticisms of
government and public officials. Political discussion is essential to the ascertainment of political truth. It cannot be the basis of criminal indictments;" that there
must be tolerance of political hyperbole since "debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open and it may well include vehement,
caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials," that "the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do
not permit a State to forbid or prescribe advocacy of the use of force or of law in violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing
imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action;" that "political discussion even among those opposed to the present administration is
within the protective clause of freedom of speech and expression. The same cannot be construed as subversive activities per se or as evidence of membership
in a subversive organization" in the absence of proof that "such discussion was in furtherance of any plan to overthrow the government through illegal means;"
that, "respondent court should have taken these factors into consideration before concluding that a prima facie case exists against the petitioner. Evidence
must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible in itself such as the common experience and observation of mankind can
approve as probable under the circumstances;" and that "judge or fiscal, therefore, should not go on with the prosecution in the hope that some credible
evidence might later turn up during trial for this would be a flagrant violation of a basic right which the courts are created to uphold. It bears repeating that the
judiciary lives up to its mission by vitalizing and not denigrating constitutional rights. So it has been before. It should continue to be so."

The same ponente has now likewise obtained the Court's near-unanimous approval of the decision at bar, 2 which restates basic and established constitutional
principles under the Rule of Law that public officials do not possess absolute power to summarily close down a broadcasting station nor to arbitrarily deny its
application for renewal of license; that their broad and peremptory regulatory powers "must be exercised with punctilious regard for the due process clause"
which in the words of the Chief Justice signifies "freedom from arbitrariness [and] is the embodiment of the sporting Idea of fair play; 3 that radio and
television which "would have little reason for existence if broadcasts are limited to bland, obsequious, or pleasantly entertaining utterances" deserve the
special protection of the preferred right of free press and speech; that comment on and criticism of public officials in the conduct of public affairs is not to be
taken as "inciting to sedition or subversive acts" — that to curb or to punish the exercise of such preferred right of comment and criticism there must exist the
clear and present danger of a substantive and grave evil that the State has a clear right to prevent, and hence, there must be a clear showing to this effect of
"the words used and when and how they were used;" that since the 1918 case of U.S. vs. Bustos, 4 the Court has taught that "the interest of society and the
maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case
of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abcesses of officialdom; " that the guarantee of free speech is a safety valve "allowing parties the
opportunity to give vent to their views, even if contrary to the prevailing climate of opinion" which is grounded on "faith in the power of an appeal to reason by
all the peaceful means for gaining access to the mind" and "serves to avert force and explosions due to restrictions upon rational modes of communication;
" 5 and that through the rights of free expression, free assembly and petition, "the citizens can participate not merely in the periodic establishment of the
government through their suffrage but also in the administration of public affairs as well as in the discipline of abusive public officers" and that since "the
threat of sanctions may deter the exercise [of these 'delicate and vulnerable ... and supremely precious freedoms'] almost as potently as the actual application
of sanctions, they 'need breathing space to survive' permitting government regulation only 'with narrow specificity. 6

The late Justice Jose Abad Santos, martyr of the Japanese occupation, left us over half a century ago the legacy of his dissent against what he deemed were
unjustified "invasions on the part of the government and its employees of the sanctities of a man's home and the privacies of life" in People vs. Rubio 7 that the
"commendable zeal (of internal revenue agents) if allowed to override constitutional limitations would become 'obnoxious to fundamental principles of
liberty.' And if we are to be saved from the sad experiences of some countries which have constitutions only in name, we must insist that governmental
authority be exercised within constitutional limits; for, after all, what matters is not so much what the people write in their constitutions as the spirit in which
they observe their provisions."

In the same vein, the late Chief Justice Ricardo Paras in the landmark case of Primicias vs. Fugoso 8 enjoined all to abide by the teaching of the 1907 sedition
case of U. S. vs. Apurado 9 that 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," for "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."
Indeed, as I stressed in my dissenting opinion in the recent case of German vs. Barangan, 10 to require the citizen at every step to assert his rights and to go to
court is to render illusory his rights. All concerned, the governors as well as the governed, must observe what they have written in their constitution in their
very spirit and intent, so that as written by Justice Makasiar in the PBM case 11 "the Bill of Rights [might not turn out to be] a useless attempt to limit the power
of government and cease to be an efficacious shield against the tyranny of officials, of majorities, of the influential and powerful, and of oligarchs — political,
economic or otherwise."

The Court's decision makes short shrift of respondents' procedural arguments that non-renewal of petitioner's license has made the petition "moot and
academic" (brushed aside as "an afterthought or substitute for the respondents' original position that the closure was due to national security") and that
mandamus would not lie to compel the reopening of the radio station brought about by their inaction on petitioner's timely application for renewal of the
license. It serves notice that in the exercise of the judicial power vested in it by the Constitution, it will issue the equitable writs of certiorari and mandamus to
do substantial justice and restore the status quo. In this case, the summary closure of petitioner's radio station in 1980 having been declared null and void and
no valid ground for non-renewal of its license having been shown, it is as if the said license has been duly extended up to the end of the current term or year. It
is expected that respondents will forthwith return the crystal of the transmitter and place no further obstacle to the prompt reopening of the radio station so
that petitioner may pick up the broken pieces and rightfully resume its operations (after almost five years of closure) in accordance with the judgment at bar.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

The petitioner has filed a motion to withdraw its petition for the reasons stated in its motion. The Court has granted the motion but this circumstance should
not deter the Court from educating those who wield power which if exercised arbitrarily will make a mockery of the Bill of Rights.

The closure of the petitioner's radio station on grounds of national security without elaboration of the grounds and without hearing deserves to be condemned
in no uncertain terms for it is manifest that due process was not observed. If there is an Idea which should be impressed in the minds of those who wield
power it is that power must be used in a reasonable manner. Arbitrariness must be eschewed. The main opinion, that of Justice Teehankee and the case of Ang
Tibay vs. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 [1940], should be made required reading materials for public officials who huff and puff with power making
themselves not merely obnoxious but dangerous as well.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. L-50985 January 30, 1982

KAPISANAN NG MANGGAGAWA SA CAMARA SHOES, DEMETRIO RAMOS and ANANIAS ASTURIAS, petitioners,
vs.
CAMARA SHOES AND HEIRS OF SANTOS CAMARA, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND MINISTER OF LABOR, respondents.

MAKASIAR, J.:

Petition for certiorari to review the decision of Labor Arbiter Sofronio A. Ona dated February 19, 1976, which was affirmed by the National Labor Relations
Commission in a resolution dated April 14, 1977 and by the Minister of Labor in an order dated February 19, 1979, so as to include backwages.

The petitioner Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes is a legitimate labor union composed of the employees of the respondent Camara Shoes; and the
heirs of Santos Camara are the surviving heirs of the late Santos Camara, the proprietor of Camara shoes. Petitioners Demetrio Ramos and Ananias Asturias are
members of the petitioner Union.

It appears that on October 23, 1969, the Acting Assistant Chief Prosecutor of the defunct Court of Industrial Relations, in behalf of herein petitioners,
Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes, Demetrio Ramos, and Ananias Asturias, members of said labor union, charged Camara Shoes and its owner,
Santos Camara, with unfair labor practice for deducting P1.00 a day from Ramos' salary, and later suspending him from his work, and dismissing Asturias
because of union activities. The case was docketed as Case No. 5355-ULP (pp. 14-16, rec.).

In their answer dated November 18, 1969, private respondents claim that petitioner Demetrio Ramos was deducted the amount of P1.00 from his wages to
pay his indebtedness of P50.00 which he incurred for medical expenses when he fell off a horse and that after the full payment thereof, the deduction was
stopped; that he was suspended because he dirtied the payroll by unnecessarily writing "under protest" on the payroll, and that after serving his penalty he
was reinstated; and that petitioner Asturias was dismissed because as supply purchaser, he altered the figures in the receipts and pocketed the difference (p.
17, rec.).

On February 19, 1976, Labor Arbiter Sofronio A. Ona rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, respondent Camara Shoes and Santos Camara are hereby declared not guilty of committing unfair labor practices against the
complainants. Respondents are hereby directed to reinstate Ananias Asturias to his former position without backwages. The complaint of
Demetrio Ramos, having become moot and academic by his subsequent reinstatement is hereby DISMISSED (pp. 20-21, rec.).
The petitioners filed an appeal dated March 23, 1976 (pp. 2 223, rec.) to the National Labor Relations Commission, Manila, which, however, in a resolution
dated April 14, 1977, dismissed the appeal for having been filed out of time (p. 33, rec.).

Appeal was then taken to the Minister of Labor, who likewise dismissed the appeal in an order dated February 19, 1979 (pp. 49-51, rec.).

Hence, the instant petition.

As found by the Labor Arbiter, the following are the antecedent facts of the case:

ANANIAS ASTURIAS

It appears that complaint Ananias Asturias, while employed as mechanic of the respondent on May 20, 1969, was directed to buy needles
costing P13.00. The amount as stated in the receipt was tampered and changed to P18.00 (Annex E). The following day, two other employees
were sent to buy the same size and quality of needles from the same store, J.B.Y. Tanlimco Sons, Inc., and it was discovered that the needles
still cost P13.00 (Annex E-1). For overpricing in the amount of P6.00, complainant was justifiably dismissed from the service on May 22, 1969.
While it is shown that the complainant Asturias was engaged in union activities since 1966, union membership and/or activities are not
absolute insurance for his continued employment with the company. Disciplinary action against erring employee remains a management
prerogative. Considering, however, the offense complainant Asturias committed, an act of overpricing amounting to only five pesos, and
considering further that his main work is as a mechanic and not as a buyer, reinstatement without backwages should be expected under our
Compassionate Society (PAL vs. PALEA Case, G.R. L-24626).

DEMETRIO RAMOS

It appears that complainant Ramos was being deducted the amount of P1.00 by the respondent in partial payment of his loan of P50.00 for
medical expense, and P500.00 for two (2) cartloads of second hand lumber and building materials taken from the demolished store at Nueva
Street. Compelainant agreed to the deduction as partial payment of his obligations but later on spoiled the payroll of the company by placing
therein "under protest". For this act of dirtying the official copy of the payroll, he was justifiably suspended indefinitely on May 28, 1969,
hence, the complaint for reinstatement. Clearly the suspension of the complainant is for cause and could not be attributed to unfair labor
practice. On July 1, 1969, complainant was reinstated (Exh. "B") after one month suspension, rendering this case moot and academic (pp. 19-
20, rec.).

It may be well to state that while it is true that findings of fact of the Ministry of Labor and the National Labor Relations Commission are entitled to great
respect, however, such rule finds exception where the findings of fact, or conclusions made therefrom, are not supported by substantial evidence, or when
there is grave abuse of discretion committed by said public officials, as in the case at bar.

As to petitioner Asturias, a close examination of the records shows that said petitioner was unjustifiably dismissed by respondent company on May 22, 1969,
WE cannot lend credence to the contention of herein respondents that petitioner Asturias was shown to have overpriced the cost of needles he was ordered
to buy by tampering and changing the amount of P13.00 appearing in the receipt to P18.00, thus overpricing in the amount of P5.00. Such contention, to OUR
mind, is too naive to be worthy of belief. The records show, and this was not disputed by private respondents herein, that petitioner Asturias was given the
amount of P13.40 by the cashier of respondent company Camaras Shoes to buy needles; P13.00 for the needles and P.40 for transportation expenses. With the
foregoing as backdrop, there would have been no basis to charge petitioner Asturias with overpricing because nowhere in the records was it amply shown that
petitioner Asturias attempted to collect the difference or asked for and was given reimbursement in the amount of P5.00 by the respondent company, if it
were true that Asturias tampered and changed the amount appearing in the receipt.

Moreover, neither the cashier of the respondent company who is in charge of disbursement of company funds nor the representative of the store where the
needles were bought, were presented as witnesses to corroborate and substantiate the self-serving testimony of the late Santos Camara that petitioner
Asturias overpriced the cost of needles.

Obviously, it is highly implausible and far-fetched to dramatize petitioner's dismissal as being based on a justifiable cause. Rather, what is more apparent here
is the arbitrariness and high-handedness to which petitioner Asturias was subjected by said respondent Camara whose relations with herein petitioner was
particularly strained by the union activities of the latter. The act of the respondent company in thus dismissing petitioner from his job is, therefore, unjustified,
arbitrary, and without just cause. True it is that to dismiss or lay off an employee is management's prerogative; but it must be done without abuse of
discretion, for what is at stake is not only petitioner's position but also as means of livelihood (Bachiller vs. NLRC, 98 SCRA 393, 396).

With respect to petitioner Demetrio Ramos, petitioner alleges that the deduction of P1.00 a day from his salary without his consent was unlawful; and that
when he wrote "under protest" on the company payroll, he was merely exercising his right to air his grievances on the unauthorized deductions made by
respondent company. Petitioner denied that he incurred a loan from the respondent company in the amount of P50.00, and P500.00 for two cartloads of
second hand lumber and building materials taken from the demolished store at Nueva Street. Petitioner asserts that his suspension was due primarily to his
union activities. He contends that his suspension was discriminatory and constitutes an unfair labor practice.

There is merit in this contention. The records amply show that petitioner Ramos has been an active member of the union since he joined the same in July 1966
and participated in the strike on November 14-23, 1966 (p. 8, rec.). Thereafter, it is not disputed that private respondent herein began to discriminate against
and even dismissed active union members, which discriminations and dismissals were the subject of the following unfair labor practice cases filed against the
respondent company.

August 16, 1967 — Case No. 5013-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes. et al. versus Santos Camara" for dismissal of G. Antonio
and 5 others and reduction of working days of the workers.

January 15, 1968 — Case No. 4949-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes, et al. versus Santos Camara", for suspension/dismissal
of Demetrio Ramos, Agripino Andanar, Ananias Asturias, Lydia Liboon and Rosita San Jose.

February 15, 1968 — Case No. 4999-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Leon Quinsaat versus Santos Camara", for
suspension of Leon Quinsaat.

September 25, 1968 — Case No. 5215-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Marcos G. Basilio versus Santos Camaras and
Camara Shoes", for dismissal of Union President Marcos G. Basilio.
July 1, 1969 — Case No. 5363-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Juan Labastida versus Camaras Shoes and Santos
Camara", for dismissal of Juan Labastida.

July 1, 1969 — Case No. 6376-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Virgilio Santos versus Santos Camara", for dismissal of
Virgilio Santos.

July 8, 1970 — Case No. 5487-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes, Antonio Ignacio and Pedro Valentin versus Santos Camara",
for dismissal of Pedro Valentin and harassment of Antonio Ignacio.

October 29, 1970 — Case No. 5724-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Ricardo dela Pena versus Camara Shoes and Santos
Camara", for dismissal of Ricardo dela Pena.

February 12, 1974 — Case No. 5822-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Federico Banawa versus Santos Camara and
Camara Shoes", for dismissal of Federico Banawa.

January 26, 1973 — Case No. 5986-ULP, "Kapisanan ng Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes and Magno Murphy versus Santos Camara", for
dismissal of Magno Murphy (p. 104, rec.).

Except Case No. 5362-ULP which was dismissed and Case No. 5487-ULP which was also dismissed with respect to the complaint of Antonio Ignacio, all the
other cases were decided in favor of the union and its members.

As to the allegation of private respondents that the amount of P1.00 was deducted from Ramos' wages to pay his indebtedness to the company, the following
pertinent observations in the decision of Judge Salome A. Montoya of the Municipal Court of Makati, dismissing Civil Case No. 8982 entitled "Santos Camara vs.
Demetrio Ramos" are in point:

DECISION

The plaintiff Santos Camara seeks to collect from the defendant Demetrio Ramos an alleged indebtedness of P450.00. ...

It appears from the evidence in this case that there is a labor dispute in the background of this suit. The defendant Ramos testified that he had
been pin active member of their labor union and had been among those who brought labor cases against the plaintiff Camara in the Court of
Industrial Relations. One of the principal grounds for their filing of the unfair labor practices against the plaintiff was precisely the fact that the
latter had been making illegal and unauthorized deductions from his pay which are the P1.00 deductions allegedly in payment for the lumber
he took in 1964. The Court notes that while plaintiff claims that defendant took the lumber in 1964 and should therefore have started paying
for the same, he started making deductions of P1.00 from the defendant's pay only beginning April 1969 when there had already been strained
labor relations between the plaintiff and his employees among whom is the defendant. In fact plaintiff made a demand for the payment of
P500.00 only on January 17, 1969 (Exh. "C" for plaintiff, Exhibit "I" for defendant), after cases for unfair labor practices were filed against him
by the defendant, and the labor union to which the latter belonged.
The defendant pointed as exhibits copies of the complaints in the following cases before the Court of Industrial Relations:

l. Case No. 2327 V entitled Å Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes, et al., (including Demetrio Ramos) vs. Santos Camara dated June 26, 1967 [Exhibit
3-A].

2. Case No. 4949-ULP entitled Kapisanang Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes et al. (including Demetrio Ramos) vs. Santos Camara dated December
11, 1968 [Exhibit d-B] and

3. Case No. 5355-ULP entitled Kapisanang Manggagawa sa Camara Shoes. Demetrio Ramos and Ananias Asturias vs. Camara Shoes and Santos
Camara dated October 23, 1969 [Exhibit 3].

The existence of the afore-dismissed facts raises a doubt in the mind of the court as to the merit of plaintiff's complaint. Other than his
personal testimony to the effect that defendant had agreed to pay P500.00 for the lumber received by the latter, no further evidence
supported the existence of the alleged obligation. Upon the other hand, the status of the defendant ... could not afford to buy wood worth
P500.00; the fact that plaintiff made no demands for payment of the supposed obligation until after five (5) years later when labor disputes
between the parties were presumably at their peak; and the fact that defendant appeared to have been an active member of the union and
was in fact an individual complainant against the plaintiff in all the labor cases pending in the CIR, lend credence to the claim of the defendant
that he had in fact no obligation to the plaintiff and that the present action is only for harassment purposes. Indeed, it could be that plaintiff
filed this case to justify or support his having made deductions from the defendant's salary which deductions are among the subject of the
labor cases he faced with the CIR. ... (pp. 27-28, rec.).

It is thus an too clear from the foregoing that petitioner Ramos was justified in airing his grievances against the unauthorized and illegal deductions made by
respondent company. By writing "under protest" on the company payroll, petitioner Ramos was well within the ambit of his constitutional freedom of
expression as well as the right to petition against what was obviously a calculated undue harassment amounting to unfair labor practice perpetuated by
respondent employer herein.

Accordingly, herein petitioner Ananias Asturias is therefore entitled to reinstatement with back wages pursuant to the policy to decree back wages not
exceeding three (3) years without requiring the parties to submit or show proof of compensation received from other sources at the time of illegal dismissal
until actual reinstatement, in order that judgment in favor of an employee or laborers can be executed without delay. (Union of Supervisors [R.B.] NATU vs.
The Secretary of Labor and Republic Bank, G.R. No.L-39889, November 12, 1981). Petitioner Demetrio Ramos, who was Legally suspended for one (1) month, is
entitled to one month back wages.

WHEREFORE, THE ASSAILED ORDER DATED FEBRUARY 19,1979 OF RESPONDENT MINISTER OF LABOR AFFIRMING THE FEBRUARY 19, 1976 DECISION OF THE
LABOR ARBITER IS HEREBY MODIFIED, AND THE RESPONDENT CAMARA SHOES AND HEIRS OF SANTOS CAMARA ARE HEREBY ORDERED TO PAY PETITIONER
ANANIAS ASTURIAS BACK WAGES EQUIVALENT TO THREE (3) YEARS WITHOUT QUALIFICATION AND TO PAY PETITIONER DEMETRIO RAMOS ONE (1) MONTH
BACK WAGES.

THIS DECISION IS IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.


SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Fernandez, Guerrero and Plana, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring:

I concur in so far as Demetrio Ramos is concerned, his alleged loans not having been substantiated. I dissent in respect of Ananias Asturias, the matter of
overpricing by him having been found as a fact below.

Separate Opinions

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring:

I concur in so far as Demetrio Ramos is concerned, his alleged loans not having been substantiated. I dissent in respect of Ananias Asturias, the matter of
overpricing by him having been found as a fact below.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION
A.M. No. 669 October 18, 1977
IN RE ATTY. EMMANUEL S. TIPON respondent.

AQUINO, J.:têñ.£îhqwâ£

The Postmaster General in a first indorsement to the Chief Justice dated May 17, 1965 transmitted certain papers purporting to show that Atty. Emmanuel S.
Tipon (admitted to the bar in 1956) might have violated the lawyer's oath for having imported the magazine Playboy, which was considered as non-mailable
matter.

In this Court's resolution of May 31, 1965 action on the complaint of the Postmaster General was deferred until after Civil Case No. 3898-111 of the Court of
First Instance of Ilocos Norte entitled "Emmanuel S. Tipon vs. Belarmino P. Navarro and Enrico Palomar" (Assistant Postmaster General and Postmaster
General, respectively) is decided.

That case was a mandamus action filed by Atty. Tipon in 1964 in Ilocos Norte against the Postmaster General and his assistant. In a decision dated March 19,
1966 the court dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction or improper venue. So that decision is not determinative of the question of whether or not the
complaint of the Postmaster General should be given due course.

What is decisive is the second indorsement dated July 5, 1967 of Hon. Antonio V. Raquiza, Secretary of Public Works and Communications, who, as Department
Head, exercised direct control, direction, and supervision over the Bureau of Posts.

In that indorsement Secretary Raquiza rendered the opinion that Playboy magazine cannot be character as obscene and that it can be carried and deposited in
Philippine mails.

The Secretary said that he scrutinized the background of Atty. Tipon, a 1955 law graduate of the University of the Philippines who placed third in the bar examinations, a
Fullbright Smith-Mundt scholar, and a holder of the Master of Laws degree from the Yale Law School. The Secretary concluded that "there is absolutely no to show that Atty.
Tipon had violated or intended to violate the postal laws, the lawyer's oath or the Canons of Legal Ethics."

Secretary Raquiza requested that the Postmaster General's t of May 17, 1965 be considered withdrawn.

WHEREFORE, this case is considered closed for having become moot and academic.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 74907 May 23, 1988

PEDRO S. LACSA, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

San Jose, Enriquez, Lacsa, Santos & Borje for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:

Convicted on July 9, 1982 by the Court of First Instance of Manila of the crime of libel and sentenced to pay a fine of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos, 1 the
accused-petitioner, Pedro S. Lacsa, appealed to the former Intermediate Appellate Court. The respondent appellate court, however, in its decision 2 claw
March 12,1986, affirmed in toto the judgment of the trial court. Still unsatisfied, the petitioner is now before us through a petition for review on certiorari,
seeking the reversal and setting aside of the respondent court's decision and his acquittal from the crime charged.

We deny the petition. The undisputed facts of this case are as follows:

The petitioner is a Certified Public Accountant by profession. Being a representative of an institutional member of the Philippine Columbian Association and as
a former member of the latter's Board of Directors, the petitioner volunteered to act as auditor and offered his services free in connection with the
association's move to offer pre-emptive rights to its members. In his capacity as auditor, the petitioner had access to the records of the association's members
including the personal folder of the private complainant, Ponciano C. Marquez, who was then the President. According to the petitioner, he discovered in the
course of his work that Marquez was a mere associate member of the association. As such, the petitioner questioned the qualification of Marquez to hold the
presidency of the association inasmuch as only proprietary members thereof can be voted to the said position. Thus, purporting to espouse the interest and
welfare of the association and its members, the petitioner, on December 21, 1978, wrote a letter to the Board of Directors impugning the status of Marquez as
a proprietary member and as president of the association. In that letter, the petitioner contended that the issuance of Certificate No. D-44 (for proprietary
membership) to Marquez, without the prior knowledge and authority of the association's Board of Directors, was erroneous. On January 2, 1979, the petitioner
likewise sent a letter to the private complainant asking the latter to yield the presidency for having failed to show that he was entitled to a proprietary
certificate membership which is one of the qualifications for the position. The petitioner, through his letter, likewise branded the private complainant as a "de
facto president." The letter, which the petitioner eventually caused to be published and circulated among the members of the association, reads:
January 2, 1979

Mr. Ponciano C. Marquez

Philippine Columbian Association

350 Taft Avenue, Manila

Subject: Erroneous issuance of Membership

Certificate No. D-44 in your name.

Dear Sir:

In connection with my 21 December 1978 letter to the PCA Board of Directors, I strongly urge you to yield the Presidency. This has become
necessary in view of the following: (1) your as associate membership status has been definitely established, (2) with more than enough time,
you failed to show that you are entitled to a proprietary certificate, (3) only propriety member can hold and occupy the position you have been
holding and occupying for three years (as de facto president), and (4) to afford the Board a chance to decide the manner of rectifying the
unauthorized and erroneous issuance of Membership Certificate No. D-44 in your name.

Your cooperation on this matter will go a long way towards the attairmenthe of true camaraderie and understanding among members of the
Club.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) PEDRO S. LACSA

PSL/egl

cc: Dr. Jose N. Villanueva,

Jr. Atty. Antonio de las Alas, Jr.

Atty. Alfonso C. Roldan

Justice Claudio Teehankee

Director Victor Buencamino, Jr.


Director Oscar J. Hilado

Dr. Vicente D. Limoso

Director Angel Dayao

Don Carlos T. Fernandez

Mr. Baldomero T. Olivero

Mr. Ramon Ordoveza

Mr. Jorge Vargas

Atty. Lino Patajo

Dr. Jose M. Barcelona Prof. Renato Constantino. 3

Not content with what he had already done, the petitioner, on January 9, 1978, again caused the publication in a newsletter circulated to the association's
members, of an item entitled "Doubt As To the Legitimacy Of The Incumbent President."

Due to these imputations of the petitioner, the private complainant, Ponciano C. Marquez, instituted separate criminal complaint and civil action against the
former, Marquez claimed that he was maligned, defamed, and exposed to public ridicule by the petitionees actions.

The basic question to be answered is whether or not, under the instances related, the petitioner is guilty of the crime of libel.

The petitioner insists that the term "de facto president," which he used to describe the private complainant, is not libelous per se. The petitioner asserts that
even assuming that the said term is indeed libelous, the letter and newsletter in which it appeared nevertheless constitute privileged communication and
cannot give rise to a libel conviction. Besides, he claims that the letter and newsletter which caused the present discord were written by him pursuant to his
moral, social, and legal responsibility as a member of the Philippine Columbian Association. These being so, the petitioner argues, he should be exonerated
from the criminal charge.

We disagree.

Six decades ago, in the case of U.S. vs. O' Connell, the Court laid down the test for libelous meaning:

xxx xxx xxx


Defendant has imputed nothing wrong to the complainants in certain and express terms. But this is not necessary. Words calculated to induce
suspicion are sometimes more effective to destroy reputation than false charges directly made. Ironical and metaphorical language is a favored
vehicle for slander. A charge is sufficient if the words are calculated to induce the hearers to suppose and understand that the person or
persons against whom they were uttered were guilty of certain offenses, or are sufficient to impeach their honesty, virtue, or reputation, or to
hold the person or persons up to public ridicule. Said Chief Justice Shaw of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts:"The rule is a sound one that
the law cannot shut its eyes to what all the rest of the world can see; and let the slanderer his language, and wrap up his meaning in
ambiguous givings out, as he will, and it shall not avail him, because courts will understand language, in whatever form it is used, as all
mandkind understands it." (Carter vs. Andrews [1834], 16 Pick. [Mass.], 1.)

Said another court much more recently:

The test of libelous meanings is not the analysis of a sentence into component phrases with the meticulous care of the grammarian or stylist,
but the import conveyed by the entirety of the language to the ordinary reader." (Mller vs. O' Connell, City Ct., 57 L. J., 1768, Sept. 12, 1917.) 4

xxx xxx xxx

The rule was further elucidated in U.S. vs. Sotto where we stated:

xxx xxx xxx

In the case of Jimenez vs. Reyes (27 Phil. Rep., 52), at Page 59, Justice Trent, writing the opinion of the court, laid down the rule that for the
purpose of determining the meaning of any publication alleged to be libelous "that construction must be adopted which will give to the matter
such a meaning as is natural and obvious in the plain and ordinary sense in which the public would naturally understand what was uttered. The
published matter alleged to be libelous must be construed as a whole. In applying these rules to the language of an alleged libel, the court will
disregard any subtle or ingenious explanation offered by the publisher on being called to account. The whole question being the effect the
publication had upon the minds of the readers, and they not having been assisted by the offered explanation in reading the article, it comes
too late to have the effect of removing the sting, if any there be, from the word used in the publication.5

xxx xxx xxx

1. Considering that there are two classes of membership in the Philippine Columbian Association — associate and proprietary — and it is only those of the
latter who are qualified to be voted as president of the association, the act of the petitioner in branding complainant Marquez as a mere de facto president
and insinuating imperfection in the latter's status as a proprietary member, most certainly exposed Marquez to public contempt and ridicule. No amount of
subtlety designed to camouflage the ill-effect of the petitioner's misdeed would erase the impression already created in the minds of the readers of the
libelous materials. The Solicitor General is correct in stating that calling Marquez a de facto president "is equivalent to saying that he is a pretender, a fraud,
and impostor and he is arrogating unto himself certain powers, rights, and privileges to which he is not entitled. 6
2. We cannot likewise subscribe to the assertion of the petitioner that the letter and newsletter article complained of partake of privileged communication. To
be classified as a privileged communication, the disputed letter and article must be absolutely free from any taint of malice which, unfortunately, is not the
case here.

xxx xxx xxx

... Granting that, under Section 9, private communication is made and published, in good faith, with sole purpose of the protection mentioned
in said section, but is false and malicious, is it entitled to the privilege mentioned in said section, and is the party relieved from liability when
the communication was made "with good motives" and 'for justifiable ends" or "with justifiable motives?" Malicious motives are inconsistent
with "good motives" for "justifiable ends" and "with justifiable motives." It was not the intention of the Legislature to make the "privileged
communication" in Section 9, absolutely privileged. Such communication must also be free from malice.7

xxx xxx xxx

The petitioner, even before he embarked on his crusade against Marquez, knew that the latter was already a proprietary member of the association. He (the
petitioner) had personal knowledge of the issuance and existence of Certificate of Membership, Series B, No. 44, for proprietary membership in the name of
Marquez. This fact finds support in the respondent court's decision:

xxx xxx xxx

... And to show further that the accused had knowledge of the conversion of the associate membership of Ponciano Marquez into proprietary
as contained in the minutes of April 22, 1968, Exh. A-16, the prosecution called attention to the fact that the accused placed his initials "PSL"
and dated "9/28/78" on the left hand bottom comer of said Exhibit "A-1 6" and marked the Pages on which the Id document may be found
with encircled number "63." The accused admits that the initials and dates and the paging were made by him when he examined said
document, but claims that said document is not an authentic document, because it is unsigned and he did not bother to inquire from Atty.
Reynoso about it because it was unsigned. However, Atty. Reynoso, who had been the secretary of the club from 1941 to 1942 and from 1951
to 1971, testified that the minutes were prepared under his instruction and supervision at the club office, the original was contained in book
form but was lost at the office sometime in 1975-76. The accused, therefore, should have inquired from Mr. Reynoso as to the authenticity of
said copy of the minutes before making his claim that there is doubt as to the legitimacy of the presidency. Apparently, Justice Lino Patajo, in
stating that the minutes were still in the club custody until April 10, 1980, was referring to the copy of the minutes and not the original minutes
which were lost sometime in 1975 or 1976. There was, therefore, no sufficient ground to claim that there was no basis for the conversion of
the associate membership of Ponciano Marquez into proprietary membership.8

xxx xxx xxx

In any case, even assuming, ex gratia argumenti, that the petitioner's letter dated January 2, 1979 is privileged communication, it lost its character as such
when the matter was published in the newsletter and circulated among the general membership of the Philippine Columbian Association. When he undertook
to be the auditor of the association, the petitioner was under the obligation to keep his findings in strict confidence between him and the association's Board
of Directors. The fact that the petitioner rendered his services gratis can not justify the violation of that confidence. His contention that he reviewed the
records of the association exercising his right as a member thereof and thus not bound by any confidentiality is untenable. He stated in his petition that he
undertook the job as a service to the association. For this reason, he was duty bound to report his discoveries first to the Board of Directors which represents
the association and is the only body that can make the necessary correction in case there was really a mistake in the membership records. The petitioner's
precipitate act of immediately going public with his alleged findings is unpardonable.

The petitioner further contests the authenticity and propriety of the unsigned minutes of the meeting of the association's Board of Directors which showed the
approval of the private complainant's application for conversion of membership status from associate to proprietary. Upon review of the records of this case,
we however find the said minutes to be proper evidence. Their authenticity has been sufficiently established by the testimony 9 of the association's former
secretary, Atty. Jose Reynoso.

Another circumstance which militates against the petitioner's pretensions of good faith and performance of a moral and social duty was his irresponsible act of
letter writing to expose his alleged discovery of what he perceived to be an anomaly. When he saw the unsigned minutes of the association's Board of
Directors, he immediately sent out the assailed letters eventually culminating in the publication of the subject newsletter sans the verification which ordinary
prudence demands.

Finally, the petitioner maintains that the actions against him are pure harassment. This accusation finds no support in the records of this case. On the other
hand, we accept the finding of the respondent court that the motive of the petitioner in maligning the reputation of the Marquez has been amply established.
Said that court:

xxx xxx xxx

... .It is apparent from the circumstances brought out in the case that because the accused was not extended appointment to his position as
member of the steering committee of the club, which committee is very important because it was created to implement the terms and
conditions of their memorandum of agreement with Permaline, Inc. for the construction of the Philippine Columbian Sports Complex, which, at
that time, is worth P30,000,000.00 but merely to the chairmanship of the finance committee which Mr. Lacsa rejected and which rejection Mr.
Marquez accepted, the accused felt aggrieved and then began taking steps to find cause criticizing Marquez' actuations as president of the
association.10

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED; and the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby AFFIRMED Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Yap, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Paras and Padilla, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 83177 December 6, 1988

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 fact-finding 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 faciecase 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 counter-affidavit 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.

Fernan C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ.,
concur.

Narvasa J., is on leave.