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On June 9 and June 24, 1947, both dates inclusive, in the town of Tagbilaran, Bohol, Oscar Espuelas y Mendoza
had his picture taken, making it to appear as if he were hanging lifeless at the end of a piece of rope suspended
form the limb of the tree, when in truth and in fact, he was merely standing on a barrel. After securing copies of
his photograph, Espuelas sent copies of same to Free Press, the Evening News, the Bisayas, Lamdang of general
circulation and other local periodicals in the Province of Bohol but also throughout the Philippines and abroad,
for their publication with a suicide note or letter, wherein he made to appear that it was written by a fictitious
suicide, Alberto Reveniera and addressed to the latter's supposed wife translation of which letter or note, stating
his dismay and administration of President Roxas, pointing out the situation in Central Luzon and Leyte, and
directing his wife his dear wife to write to President Truman and Churchill of US and tell them that in the
Philippines the government is infested with many Hitlers and Mussolinis.


Whether the accused is liable of seditious libel under Art. 142 of the RPC against the Government of the


Yes. The accused must therefore be found guilty as charged. And there being no question as to the legality of
the penalty imposed on him, the decision will be affirmed with costs.

Analyzed for meaning and weighed in its consequences, the article written bybthe accused, cannot fail to
impress thinking persons that it seeks to sow the seeds of sedition and strife. The infuriating language is not a
sincere effort to persuade, what with the writer's simulated suicide and false claim to martyrdom and what with
is failure to particularize. When the use irritating language centers not on persuading the readers but on creating
disturbances, the rationable of free speech cannot apply and the speaker or writer is removed from the
protection of the constitutional guaranty.

If it be argued that the article does not discredit the entire governmental structure but only President Roxas and
his men, the reply is that article 142 punishes not only all libels against the Government but also "libels against
any of the duly constituted authorities thereof." The "Roxas people" in the Government obviously refer of least
to the President, his Cabinet and the majority of legislators to whom the adjectives dirty, Hitlers and Mussolinis
were naturally directed. On this score alone the conviction could be upheld.

Regarding the publication, it suggests or incites rebellious conspiracies or riots and tends to stir up people
against the constituted authorities, or to provoke violence from opposition who may seek to silence the writer.
Which is the sum and substance of the offense under consideration.

The essence of seditious libel may be said to its immediate tendency to stir up general discontent to the pitch of
illegal courses; that is to say to induce people to resort to illegal methods other than those provided by the
Constitution, in order to repress the evils which press upon their minds.
Facts: In the latter part of 1915, numerous citizens of the Province of Pampanga assembled, and prepared and
signed a petition to the Executive Secretary(privileged communication) through the law office of Crossfield and
O'Brien, and five individuals signed affidavits, charging Roman Punsalan, justice of the peace of Macabebe and
Masantol, Pampanga, with malfeasance in office and asking for his removal. The specific charges against the
justice of the peace include the solicitation of money from persons who have pending cases before the judge.
Now, Punsalan alleged that accused published a writing which was false, scandalous, malicious, defamatory,
and libelous against him.

Issue: Whether or Not accused is entitled to constitutional protection by virtue of his right to free speech and
free press.

Held: Yes. The guaranties of a free speech and a free press include the right to criticize judicial conduct. The
administration of the law is a matter of vital public concern. Whether the law is wisely or badly enforced is,
therefore, a fit subject for proper comment. If the people cannot criticize a justice of the peace or a judge the
same as any other public officer, public opinion will be effectively suppressed. It is a duty which every one
owes to society or to the State to assist in the investigation of any alleged misconduct. It is further the duty of all
who know of any official dereliction on the part of a magistrate or the wrongful act of any public officer to
bring the facts to the notice of those whose duty it is to inquire into and punish them.

The right to assemble and petition is the necessary consequence of republican institutions and the complement
of the part of free speech. Assembly means a right on the part of citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in
respect to public affairs. Petition means that any person or group of persons can apply, without fear of penalty,
to the appropriate branch or office of the government for a redress of grievances. The persons assembling and
petitioning must, of course, assume responsibility for the charges made. All persons have an interest in the pure
and efficient administration of justice and of public affairs.

Public policy, the welfare of society, and the orderly administration of government have demanded protection
for public opinion. The inevitable and incontestable result has been the development and adoption of the
doctrine of privilege. All persons have an interest in the pure and efficient administration of justice and of
public affairs. The duty under which a party is privileged is sufficient if it is social or moral in its nature and this
person in good faith believes he is acting in pursuance thereof although in fact he is mistaken. Although the
charges are probably not true as to the justice of the peace, they were believed to be true by the
petitioners. Good faith surrounded their action. Probable cause for them to think that malfeasance or
misfeasance in office existed is apparent. The ends and the motives of these citizens— to secure the removal
from office of a person thought to be venal — were justifiable. In no way did they abuse the privilege.

In the usual case malice can be presumed from defamatory words. Privilege destroys that presumption. A
privileged communication should not be subjected to microscopic examination to discover grounds of malice or

Isaac Perez while holding a discussion with several persons on political matters uttered the following
words "And the Filipinos, like myself, must use bolos for cutting off Wood's head for having recommended a bad
thing for the Philippines.” Because of such utterances, he was charged in the CFI of Sorsogon with violation of
Art. 256 of the RPC which has something to do with contempt of ministers of the Crown or other persons in
authority. He was convicted. Hence, this appeal.

WON Perez’s remarks is protected by the constitutional protection on freedom of speech.
WON the provisions of Act No. 292 should be interpreted so as to abridge the freedom of speech and the
right of the people to peacebly assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances.
No , it is not. Agreed with the lower court in its findings of facts but convicted the accused for violation
of Act No. 292 (Section 8).1


It is of course fundamentally true that the provisions of Act No. 292 must not be interpreted so as to
abridge the freedom of speech and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for
redress of grievances. Criticism is permitted to penetrate even to the foundations of Government. Criticism, no
matter how severe, on the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary, is within the range of liberty of
speech, unless the intention and effect be seditious. But when the intention and effect of the act is seditious, the
constitutional guaranties of freedom of speech and press and of assembly and petition must yield to punitive
measures designed to maintain the prestige of constituted authority, the supremacy of the constitution and the
laws, and the existence of the State. (III Wharton's Criminal Law, pp. 2127 et seq.; U.S. vs. Apurado [1907], 7
Phil., 422; People vs. Perfecto, supra)

In this instance, the attack on the Governor-General passes the furthest bounds of free speech was
intended. There is a seditious tendency in the words used, which could easily produce disaffection among the
people and a state of feeling incompatible with a disposition to remain loyal to the Government and obedient to
the laws.

In the words of the law, Perez has uttered seditious words. He has made a statement and done an act which tended
to instigate others to cabal or meet together for unlawful purposes. He has made a statement and done an act
which suggested and incited rebellious conspiracies. He has made a statement and done an act which tended to
stir up the people against the lawful authorities. He has made a statement and done an act which tended to disturb
the peace of the community and the safety or order of the Government. All of these various tendencies can be
ascribed to the action of Perez and may be characterized as penalized by section 8 of Act No. 292 as amended.

The information in this certiorari, mandamus and prohibition proceeding to quash an information for libel
against petitioner for the alleged offensive telegram he sent to respondent. A motion to dismiss was filed by
petitioner Ramon Mercado on the ground of the telegram being a privileged communication, which was denied
by the lower court. Thereafter, through another counsel, came a motion to quash, alleging that the facts charged
do not "constitute an offense," but, the same was denied.
In respondent’s comment, the stress was on the absence of any privilege, there being malice and bad faith.
As stated therein: "The communication in issue was made by the petitioner with evident malice and bad faith, a
matter explicitly stated in the information filed with the respondent Court, and the pretense that it was made
allegedly in line with the President's appeal to give information on undesirable employees in the government
service, cannot cover up such fact. Malice in fact and bad faith on the part of the petitioner, and/or that he was
motivated by vengeance and ill-will in making the said communication, is shown by, and can be established by
the prosecution thru the testimony of the private respondent and the following documentary evidence.
Prior to such hearing, there was a motion by petitioner to file memorandum in lieu of oral argument, which
was not acted upon before the hearing where the parties appeared. Instead of just filing a memorandum, petitioner
had a motion to admit amended petition enclosing with such motion the amended petition. The memorandum
filed by him was on the basis thereof.
Whether or not the telegram being qualifiedly privileged should be the basis for the special civil action
for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.
The Court held that certiorari to annul the order denying the motion to quash as well as the motion for
reconsideration does not lie. Neither should respondent court be ordered to dismiss the criminal complaint for
libel against petitioner. Nor should the court be prohibited from hearing the aforesaid criminal action.
1. In United States v. Bustos, a similar doctrine announced by the United States Supreme Court, to the
effect that a libel prosecution must likewise survive the test of whether or not the offending publication is within
the guarantees of free speech and free press. To keep such guarantees, if not inviolate, at the very least truly
meaningful, certainly calls for such an approach.
2. Justice Malcolm pointed out that qualified privilege, and this is one such instance, may be "lost by proof
of malice." He also continued by saying that 'A communication made bona fide upon any subject matter in which
the party communicating has an interest, or in reference to which he has a duty, is privileged, if made to a person
having a corresponding interest or duty, although it contained criminatory matter which without this privilege
would be slanderous and actionable. He then gave what was referred to by him as a "pertinent illustration of the
application of qualified privilege," namely, "a complaint made in good faith and without malice in regard to the
character or conduct of a public official when addressed to an officer or a board having some interest or duty in
the matter. Even when the statements are found to be false, if there is probable cause for belief in their truthfulness
and the charge is made in good faith, the mantle of privilege may still cover the mistake of the individual. But the
statements must be made under an honest sense of duty; a self-seeking motive is destructive. A further element
of the law of privilege concerns the person to whom the complaint should be made. The rule is that if a party
applies to the wrong person through some natural and honest mistake as to the respective functions of various
officials such unintentional error will not take the case out of the privilege."
3. The Court ruled in favor of respondents. In one case, the Court made it clear that malice can be shown.
It "simply puts the burden of doing so on the prosecution." The ponencia distinguished the Bustos decision, thus:
"That case is not here applicable, because the acquittal of the accused therein on the ground that the defamatory
imputation was qualifiedly privileged was adjudged only after trial, wherein the prosecution tried to establish,
although unsuccessfully, the element of malice." Further, the opinion stated: " It need only be added that in the
instant case the information alleges that the defendants, appellees here, wrote and sent the subject letter to the
President 'with malicious intent and evil motive of attacking, injuring and impeaching the character, honesty,
integrity, virtue and reputation of one Jose J. Monteclaro ... and with malicious intent of exposing (him) to public
hatred, contempt, ridicule, discredit and dishonor, without any justifiable motive.' Under the foregoing allegation,
the prosecution is entitled to go to trial and present the necessary evidence to prove malice; and the denial, to it
of the opportunity to do so, upon the defendants' motion to quash, constitutes reversible error."



1. In the January 3, 1988 issue of the Baguio Midland Courier (BMC), Cecille Afable, the Editor-in-
Chief, in her column “In and Out of Baguio” made the following comments:

“Of all the candidates for Mayor of Baguio City), Labo has the most imponderables about him. People would
ask: “can he read and write”? Why is he always talking about his Japanese father-in-law? Is he really a Japanes
Senator or a barrio Kapitan? Is it true that he will send P18M aid to Baguio? Somebody wanted to put an
advertisement of Labo in the Midland Courier but was refused because he has not yet paid his account of the
last time he was a candidate for Congress. We will accept all advertisements for him if he pays his old account

2. In the same column, Cecille Afable wrote the following comments in her January 10, 1988 column at
the Courier:

“I heard that the ‘Dumpty in the Egg’ is campaigning for Cortes. Not fair. Some real doctors are also busy
campaigning against Labo because he has not also paid their medical services with them. Since he is donating
millions he should also settle his small debts like the reportedly insignificant amount of P27,000 only. If he
wins, several teachers were signifying to resign and leave Baguio forever, and Pangasinan will be the franca-
liqua of Baguio.”

3. As a result of the above articles, Ramon Labor, Jr. filed a complaint for Damages before the regional
trial Court of Baguio City as he claimed said articles were libelous. He likewise filed a separate criminal
complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio but was dismissed;

4. Labo claimed that the said articles were tainted with malice because he was allegedly described as
“Dumpty in the Egg” or one “who is a failure in his business” which is false because he is a very successful
businessman or to mean “zero or a big lie”; that he is a “balasubas” due to his alleged failure to pay his medical

The petitioners, however, were able to prove that Labo has an unpaid obligation to the Courier in the amount of
P27,415.00 for the ads placed by his campaigners for the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections;

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Baguio City, in its Decision dated June 14, 1990 dismissed Labo’s
complaint for damages on the ground that the article of petitioner Afable was privileged and constituted fair
comment on matters of public interest as it dealt with the integrity, reputation and honesty of private respondent
Labo who was a candidate for Mayor of Baguio City;
On January 7, 1992, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC Decision and ordered the petitioners to pay Ramon
Labo, Jr. damages in the total amount of P350,000.00 after concluding that the “Dumpty in the Egg” refers to
no one but Labo himself.

Hence, the Petition to the Supreme Court.


1. Was Labo the “Dumpty in the Egg” described in the questioned article/

2. Were the articles subject of the case libelous or privileged/

1. The Court of Appeals is wrong when it held that Labo is the “Dumpty in the Egg” in the questioned
article. This is so because the article stated that “The Dumpty in the Egg is campaigning for Cortes”, another
candidate for mayor and opponent of Labo himself. It is unbelievable that Labo campaigned for his opponent
and against himself. Although such gracious attitude on the part of Labo would have been commendable, it is
contrary to common human experience. As pointed out by the petitioners, had he done that, it is doubtful
whether he could have won as City Mayor of Baguio in the 1988 elections, which he actually did. In line with
the doctrine in BORJAL VS. CA, 310 SCRA 1, that ‘it is also not sufficient that the offended party recognized
himself as the person attacked or defamed, but it must be shown that at least a 3rd person could identify him as
the object of the libelous publication’, the case should be dismissed since Labo utterly failed to dispose of this
2. Labo claims that the petitioners could not invoke “public interest” to justify the publication since he
was not yet a public official at that time. This argument is without merit since he was already a candidate for
City mayor of Baguio. As such, the article is still within the mantle of protection guaranteed by the freedom of
expression provided in the Constitution since it is the public’s right to be informed of the mental, moral and
physical fitness of candidates for public office. This was recognized as early as the case of US VS. SEDANO,
14 Phil. 338 [1909] and the case of NEW YORK TIMES VS. SULLIVAN, 376 U.S. 254 where the US
Supreme Court held:

“…it is of the utmost consequence that the people should discuss the character and qualifications of candidates
for their suffrages. The importance to the State and to society of such discussions is so vast, and the advantages
derived so great, that they more than counterbalance the inconvenience of private persons whose conduct may
be involved, and occasional injury to the reputations of individuals must yield to the public welfare, although at
times such injury may be great. The public benefit from publicity is so great and the chance of injury to private
character so small, that such discussion must be privileged. “

Clearly, the questioned articles constitute fair comment on a matter of public interest as it dealt with the
character of the private respondent who was running for the top elective post in Baguio City at that time.

On November 23, 2009, 57 people including 32 journalists and media practitioners were killed on their way to
Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao. This tragic incident came to be known as Maguindanao massacre´ spawned
charges for 57 counts of murder and additional charges of rebellion against 197 accused, docketed as Criminal
Case Nos. Q-09-162148-72, Q-09-162216-31, Q-10-162652-66, and Q-10-163766, commonly entitled People
v. Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr., et al. Following the transfer of venue and the reraffling of the cases, the cases are
being tried by Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon
City. Almost a year later on November 19 2010, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP),
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, GMA Network Inc., relatives of the victims, individual journalists from
various media entities and members of the academe filed a petition before this court praying that live television
and radio coverage of the trial in this criminal cases be allowed, recording devises be permitted inside the court
room to assist the working journalists, and reasonable guidelines be formulated to govern the broadcast
coverage and the use of devices. The Court docketed the petition as A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC.
President Benigno S. Aquino III, by letter of November 22, 2010 addressed to Chief Justice Renato Corona,
came out in support of those who have petitioned this Court to permit television and radio broadcast of the
trial." The Court docketed the matter as A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC.
By separate Resolutions of November 23, 2010, the Court consolidated A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC with A.M. No.
Petitioners state that the trial of the Maguindanao Massacre cases has attracted intense media coverage due to
the gruesomeness of the crime, prominence of the accused, and the number of media personnel killed. They
inform that reporters are being frisked and searched for cameras, recorders, and cellular devices upon entry, and
that under strict orders of the trial court against live broadcast coverage, the number of media practitioners
allowed inside the courtroom has been limited to one reporter for each media institution.
Hence, the present petitions which assert the exercise of right to a fair and public trial and the lifting of the
absolute ban on live television and radio coverage of court proceedings. They principally urge the Court to
revisit the 1991 ruling in Re: Live TV and Radio Coverage of the Hearing of President Corazon C. Aquinos
Libel Case and the 2001 ruling in Re: Request Radio-TV Coverage of the Trial in the Sandiganbayan of the
Plunder Cases Against the Former President Joseph E. Estrada which rulings, they contend, violate the doctrine
that proposed restrictions on constitutional rights are to be narrowly construed and outright prohibition cannot
stand when regulation is a viable alternative.
Whether or not the petition for radio and television coverage of the Maguindanao Massacre should be allowed
The Court partially GRANTS pro hac vice petitioners’ prayer for a live broadcast of the trial court proceedings,
subject to guidelines.
Respecting the possible influence of media coverage on the impartiality of trial court judges, petitioners
correctly explain that prejudicial publicity insofar as it undermines the right to a fair trial must pass the totality
of circumstances test, applied in People v. Teehankee, Jr. and Estrada v. Desierto, that the right of an accused to
a fair trial is not incompatible to a free press, that pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an
accused to a fair trial, and that there must be allegation and proof of the impaired capacity of a judge to render a
bias-free decision. Mere fear of possible undue influence is not tantamount to actual prejudice resulting in the
deprivation of the right to a fair trial.
On public trial, Estrada basically discusses:
An accused has a right to a public trial but it is a right that belongs to him, more than anyone else, where his life
or liberty can be held critically in balance. A public trial aims to ensure that he is fairly dealt with and would not
be unjustly condemned and that his rights are not compromised in secrete conclaves of long ago. A public trial
is not synonymous with publicized trial; it only implies that the court doors must be open to those who wish to
come, sit in the available seats, conduct themselves with decorum and observe the trial process. In the
constitutional sense, a courtroom should have enough facilities for a reasonable number of the public to observe
the proceedings, not too small as to render the openness negligible and not too large as to distract the trial
participants from their proper functions, who shall then be totally free to report what they have observed during
the proceedings.
Compliance with regulations, not curtailment of a right, provides a workable solution to the concerns raised in
these administrative matters, while, at the same time, maintaining the same underlying principles upheld in the
two previous cases.
The basic principle upheld in Aquino is firm ─ [a] trial of any kind or in any court is a matter of serious
importance to all concerned and should not be treated as a means of entertainment, and to so treat it deprives the
court of the dignity which pertains to it and departs from the orderly and serious quest for truth for which our
judicial proceedings are formulated. The observation that massive intrusion of representatives of the news
media into the trial itself can so alter and destroy the constitutionally necessary atmosphere and decorum stands.
The Court had another unique opportunity in Estrada to revisit the question of live radio and television coverage
of court proceedings in a criminal case. It held that the propriety of granting or denying the instant petition
involves the weighing out of the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and the right to public
information, on the one hand, and the fundamental rights of the accused, on the other hand, along with the
constitutional power of a court to control its proceedings in ensuring a fair and impartial trial In so allowing pro
hac vice the live broadcasting by radio and television of the Maguindanao Massacre cases, the Court lays down
the following guidelines toward addressing the concerns mentioned in Aquino and Estrada:
(a) An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao massacre cases may be made both for documentary purposes
and for transmittal to live radio and television broadcasting.
(b) Media entities must file with the trial court a letter of application, manifesting that they intend to broadcast
the audio-visual recording of the proceedings and that they have the necessary technological equipment and
technical plan to carry out the same, with an undertaking that they will faithfully comply with the guidelines
and regulations and cover the entire remaining proceedings until promulgation of judgment. No selective or
partial coverage shall be allowed. No media entity shall be allowed to broadcast the proceedings without an
application duly approved by the trial court.
(c) A single fixed compact camera shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a single
wide-angle full-view of the sala of the trial court. No panning and zooming shall be allowed to avoid unduly
highlighting or downplaying incidents in the proceedings. The camera and the necessary equipment shall be
operated and controlled only by a duly designated official or employee of the Supreme Court. The camera
equipment should not produce or beam any distracting sound or light rays. Signal lights or signs showing the
equipment is operating should not be visible. A limited number of microphones and the least installation of
wiring, if not wireless technology, must be unobtrusively located in places indicated by the trial court.
The Public Information Office and the Office of the Court Administrator shall coordinate and assist the trial
court on the physical set-up of the camera and equipment.
(d) The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from inside the courtroom to the media entities shall be
conducted in such a way that the least physical disturbance shall be ensured in keeping with the dignity and
solemnity of the proceedings and the exclusivity of the access to the media entities.
The hardware for establishing an interconnection or link with the camera equipment monitoring the proceedings
shall be for the account of the media entities, which should employ technology that can (i) avoid the
cumbersome snaking cables inside the courtroom, (ii) minimize the unnecessary ingress or egress of
technicians, and (iii) preclude undue commotion in case of technical glitches.
If the premises outside the courtroom lack space for the set-up of the media entities facilities, the media entities
shall access the audio-visual recording either via wireless technology accessible even from outside the court
premises or from one common web broadcasting platform from which streaming can be accessed or derived to
feed the images and sounds. At all times, exclusive access by the media entities to the real-time audio-visual
recording should be protected or encrypted.
(e) The broadcasting of the proceedings for a particular day must be continuous and in its entirety, excepting
such portions thereof where Sec. 21 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court[27] applies, and where the trial court
excludes, upon motion, prospective witnesses from the courtroom, in instances where, inter alia, there are
unresolved identification issues or there are issues which involve the security of the witnesses and the integrity
of their testimony (e.g., the dovetailing of corroborative testimonies is material, minority of the witness). The
trial court may, with the consent of the parties, order only the pixelization of the image of the witness or mute
the audio output, or both.
(f) To provide a faithful and complete broadcast of the proceedings, no commercial break or any other gap shall
be allowed until the days proceedings are adjourned, except during the period of recess called by the trial court
and during portions of the proceedings wherein the public is ordered excluded.
(g) To avoid overriding or superimposing the audio output from the on-going proceedings, the proceedings shall
be broadcast without any voice-overs, except brief annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be necessary
to explain them at the start or at the end of the scene. Any commentary shall observe the sub judice rule and be
subject to the contempt power of the court;
(h) No repeat airing of the audio-visual recording shall be allowed until after the finality of judgment, except
brief footages and still images derived from or cartographic sketches of scenes based on the recording, only for
news purposes, which shall likewise observe the sub judice rule and be subject to the contempt power of the
(i) The original audio-recording shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and
Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.
(j) The audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the supervision and control of the trial
court which may issue supplementary directives, as the exigency requires, including the suspension or
revocation of the grant of application by the media entities.
(k) The Court shall create a special committee which shall forthwith study, design and recommend appropriate
arrangements, implementing regulations, and administrative matters referred to it by the Court concerning the
live broadcast of the proceedings pro hac vice, in accordance with the above-outlined guidelines. The Special
Committee shall also report and recommend on the feasibility, availability and affordability of the latest
technology that would meet the herein requirements.It may conduct consultations with resource persons and
experts in the field of information and communication technology.
(l) All other present directives in the conduct of the proceedings of the trial court (i.e., prohibition on recording
devices such as still cameras, tape recorders; and allowable number of media practitioners inside the courtroom)
shall be observed in addition to these guidelines.
RESOLUTION October 23, 2011
Petitioners Tiamzon and Legarta take issue on provisos (t), (g), and (h) of the enumerated guidelines in the June
14, 2011 Resolution and allege that these must be struck down for being unconstitutional, as they constitute
prior restraint on free expression because they dictate what media can and cannot report about the
"Maguindanao massacre" trial.
Accused Andal Ampatuan, Jr. (Ampatuan) also filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated June 27, 2011,
alleging that the June 14, 2011 Resolution "deprives him of his rights to due process, equal protection,
presumption of innocence, and to be shielded from degrading psychological punishment."
This Court partially grants reconsideration of the June 14, 2011 Resolution and deny the Partial Motion for
Reconsideration dated June 29, 2011 of petitioners Editha Mirandilla Tiamzon and Glenna Legarta. The Court
is now disallowing the live media broadcast of the trial of the "Maguindanao massacre" cases but is still
allowing the filming of the proceedings for (1) the real-time transmission to specified viewing areas, and (2)
In a constitutional sense, public trial is not synonymous with publicized trial. The right to a public trial belongs
to the accused. The requirement of a public trial is satisfied by the opportunity of the members of the public and
the press to attend the trial and to report what they have observed. The accused's right to a public trial should
not be confused with the freedom of the press and the public's right to know as a justification for allowing the
live broadcast of the trial. The tendency of a high profile case like the subject case to generate undue publicity
with its concomitant undesirable effects weighs heavily against broadcasting the trial. Moreover, the fact that
the accused has legal remedies after the fact is of no moment, since the damage has been done and may be
irreparable. It must be pointed out that the fundamental right to due process of the accused cannot be afforded
after the fact but must be protected at the first instance
To address the physical impossibility of accommodating the large number of interested parties inside the
courtroom in Camp Bagong Diwa, it is not necessary to allow the press to broadcast the proceedings here and
abroad, but the Court may allow the opening of closed-circuit viewing areas outside the courtroom where those
who may be so minded can come and watch the proceedings. Aside from providing a viewing area outside the
courtroom in Camp Bagong Diwa, closed-circuit viewing areas can also be opened in selected trial courts in
Maguindanao, Koronadal, South Cotabato, and General Santos City where most of the relatives of the accused
and the victims reside, enabling them to watch the trial without having to come to Camp Bagong Diwa. These
viewing areas will, at all times, be under the control of the trial court judges involved, subject to this Court's
The disallowing the live media broadcast of the trial in Criminal Case Nos. Q-09-162148-72, Q-09-162216-31,
Q-1 0-162652-66, and Q-10-163766 is subject to the following guidelines on audio visual recording and
streaming of the video coverage:
a.An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao massacre cases may be made both for documentary purposes
and for transmittal to specified closed-circuit viewing areas: (i) outside the courtroom, within the Camp Bagong
Diwa 's premises; and (ii) selected trial courts in Maguindanao, Koronadal, South Cotabato, and General Santos
City where the relatives of the accused and the victims reside. Said trial courts shall be identified by the Office
of the Court Administrator. These viewing areas shall be under the control of trial court judges involved, subject
to this Court's supervision.
b. The viewing area will be installed to accommodate the public who want to observe the proceedings within
the Camp Bagong Diwa premises. The streaming of this video coverage within the different court premises in
Mindanao will be installed so that the relatives of the parties and the interested public can watch the
proceedings in real time.
c. A single fixed compact camera shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a single
wide-angle full-view of the sala of the trial court. No panning and zooming shall be allowed to avoid unduly
highlighting or downplaying incidents in the proceedings. The camera and the necessary equipment shall be
operated and controlled only by a duly designated official or employee of the Supreme Court.
d. The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from inside the courtroom to the closed-circuit viewing areas
shall be conducted in such a way that the least physical disturbance shall be ensured in keeping with the dignity
and solemnity of the proceedings.
e. The Public Information Office and the Office of the Court Administrator shall coordinate and assist the trial
courts involved on the physical set-up of the camera and equipment.
f. The original audio-recording shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and
Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.
g. The audio-visual recording of the proceedings and its transmittal shall be made under the control of the trial
court which may issue supplementary directives, as the exigency requires, subject to this Court
h. In all cases, the witnesses should be excluded from watching the proceedings, whether inside the courtroom
or in the designated viewing areas. The Presiding Judge shall issue the appropriate orders to insure compliance
with this directive and for the imposition of appropriate sanctions for its violation.

Case Summary and Outcome
The Supreme Court of Philippines declared Sections 4(c)(3), 12, and 19 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of
2012 as unconstitutional. It held that Section 4(c)(3) violated the right to freedom of expression by prohibiting
the electronic transmission of unsolicited commercial communications. It found Section 12 in violation of the
right to privacy because it lacked sufficient specificity and definiteness in collecting real-time computer data. It
struck down Section 19 of the Act for giving the government the authority to restrict or block access to
computer data without any judicial warrant.


The case arises out of consolidated petitions to the Supreme Court of the Philippines on the constitutionality of
several provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Act No. 10175.

The Petitioners argued that even though the Act is the government’s platform in combating illegal cyberspace
activities, 21 separate sections of the Act violate their constitutional rights, particularly the right to freedom of
expression and access to inforamtion.

In February 2013, the Supreme Court extended the duration of a temporary restraining order against the
government to halt enforcement of the Act until the adjudication of the issues.

Decision Overview

Justice Abad delivered the Court’s opinion.

The government of Philippines adopted the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for the purpose of regulating
access to and use of cyberspace. Several sections of the law define relevant cyber crimes and enable the
government to track down and penalize violators.

Among 21 challenged sections, the Court declared Sections 4(c)(3), 12, and 19 of the Act as unconstitutional.

Section 4(c)(3) prohibits the transmission of unsolicited commercial electronic communications, commonly
known as spams, that seek to advertise, sell, or offer for sale of products and services unless the recipient
affirmatively consents, or when the purpose of the communication is for service or administrative
announcements from the sender to its existing users, or “when the following conditions are present: (aa) The
commercial electronic communication contains a simple, valid, and reliable way for the recipient to reject
receipt of further commercial electronic messages (opt-out) from the same source; (bb) The commercial
electronic communication does not purposely disguise the source of the electronic message; and (cc) The
commercial electronic communication does not purposely include misleading information in any part of the
message in order to induce the recipients to read the message.”

The government argued that unsolicited commercial communications amount to both nuisance and trespass
because they tend to interfere with the enjoyment of using online services and that they enter the recipient’s
domain without prior permission.
The Court first noted that spams are a category of commercial speech, which does not receive the same level of
protection as other constitutionally guaranteed forms of expression ,”but is nonetheless entitled to
protection.” It ruled that the prohibition on transmitting unsolicited communications “would deny a person the
right to read his emails, even unsolicited commercial ads addressed to him.” Accordingly, the Court declared
Section4(c)(3) as unconstitutional.
Section 12 of the Act authorizes the law enforcement without a court warrant “to collect or record traffic data in
real-time associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system.” Traffic data
under this Section includes the origin, destination, route, size, date, and duration of the communication, but not
its content nor the identity of users.

The Petitioners argued that such warrantless authority curtails their civil liberties and set the stage for abuse of
discretion by the government. They also claimed that this provision violates the right to privacy and protection
from the government’s intrusion into online communications.
According to the Court, since Section 12 may lead to disclosure of private communications, it must survive the
rational basis standard of whether it is narrowly tailored towards serving a government’s compelling
interest. The Court found that the government did have a compelling interest in preventing cyber crimes by
monitoring real-time traffic data.
As to whether Section 12 violated the right to privacy, the Court first recognized that the right at stake
concerned informational privacy, defined as “the right not to have private information disclosed, and the right to
live freely without surveillance and intrusion.” In determining whether a communication is entitled to the right
of privacy, the Court applied a two-part test: (1) Whether the person claiming the right has a legitimate
expectation of privacy over the communication, and (2) whether his expectation of privacy can be regarded as
objectively reasonable in the society.

The Court noted that internet users have subjective reasonable expectation of privacy over their
communications transmitted online. However, it did not find the expectation as objectively reasonable because
traffic data sent through internet “does not disclose the actual names and addresses (residential or office) of the
sender and the recipient, only their coded Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.”

Even though the Court ruled that real-time traffic data under Section 12 does not enjoy the objective reasonable
expectation of privacy, the existence of enough data may reveal the personal information of its sender or
recipient, against which the Section fails to provide sufficient safeguard. The Court viewed the law as
“virtually limitless, enabling law enforcement authorities to engage in “fishing expedition,” choosing whatever
specified communication they want.”

Accordingly, the Court struck down Section 12 for lack of specificity and definiteness as to ensure respect for
the right to privacy.

Section 19 authorizes the Department of Justice to restrict or block access to a computer data found to be in
violation of the Act. The Petitioners argued that this section also violated the right to freedom of expression, as
well as the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Court first recognized that computer data constitutes a personal property, entitled to protection against
unreasonable searches and seizures. Also, the Philippines’ Constitution requires the government to secure a
valid judicial warrant when it seeks to seize a personal property or to block a form of expression. Because
Section 19 precluded any judicial intervention, the Court found it unconstitutional.


On February 21, 2013, petitioners posted two (2) tarpaulins within a private compound housing the San
Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod. Each tarpaulin was approximately six feet (6′) by ten feet (10′) in size. They were
posted on the front walls of the cathedral within public view. The first tarpaulin contains the message “IBASURA
RH Law” referring to the Reproductive Health Law of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10354. The second tarpaulin is
the subject of the present case. This tarpaulin contains the heading “Conscience Vote” and lists candidates as
either “(Anti-RH) Team Buhay” with a checkmark, or “(Pro-RH) Team Patay” with an “X” mark. The electoral
candidates were classified according to their vote on the adoption of Republic Act No. 10354, otherwise known
as the RH Law. Those who voted for the passing of the law were classified by petitioners as comprising “Team
Patay,” while those who voted against it form “Team Buhay.”

Respondents conceded that the tarpaulin was neither sponsored nor paid for by any candidate.
Petitioners also conceded that the tarpaulin contains names ofcandidates for the 2013 elections, but not of
politicians who helped in the passage of the RH Law but were not candidates for that election.


1. Whether or not the size limitation and its reasonableness of the tarpaulin is a political question, hence not within
the ambit of the Supreme Court’s power of review.
2. Whether or not the petitioners violated the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies as the case was not
brought first before the COMELEC En Banc or any if its divisions.
3. Whether or not COMELEC may regulate expressions made by private citizens.
4. Whether or not the assailed notice and letter for the removal of the tarpaulin violated petitioners’ fundamental
right to freedom of expression.
5. Whether the order for removal of the tarpaulin is a content-based or content-neutral regulation.
6. Whether or not there was violation of petitioners’ right to property.
7. Whether or not the tarpaulin and its message are considered religious speech.



The Court ruled that the present case does not call for the exercise of prudence or modesty. There is no
political question. It can be acted upon by this court through the expanded jurisdiction granted to this court through
Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution..

The concept of a political question never precludes judicial review when the act of a constitutional
organ infringes upon a fundamental individual or collective right. Even assuming arguendo that the COMELEC
did have the discretion to choose the manner of regulation of the tarpaulin in question, it cannot do so by abridging
the fundamental right to expression.

Also the Court said that in our jurisdiction, the determination of whether an issue involves a truly
political and non-justiciable question lies in the answer to the question of whether there are constitutionally
imposed limits on powers or functions conferred upon political bodies. If there are, then our courts are duty-bound
to examine whether the branch or instrumentality of the government properly acted within such limits.

A political question will not be considered justiciable if there are no constitutionally imposed limits on
powers or functions conferred upon political bodies. Hence, the existence of constitutionally imposed limits
justifies subjecting the official actions of the body to the scrutiny and review of this court.
In this case, the Bill of Rights gives the utmost deference to the right to free speech. Any instance that
this right may be abridged demands judicial scrutiny. It does not fall squarely into any doubt that a political
question brings.


The Court held that the argument on exhaustion of administrative remedies is not proper in this case.

Despite the alleged non-exhaustion of administrative remedies, it is clear that the controversy is already
ripe for adjudication. Ripeness is the “prerequisite that something had by then been accomplished or performed
by either branch or in this case, organ of government before a court may come into the picture.”

Petitioners’ exercise of their right to speech, given the message and their medium, had understandable
relevance especially during the elections. COMELEC’s letter threatening the filing of the election offense against
petitioners is already an actionable infringement of this right. The impending threat of criminal litigation is enough
to curtail petitioners’ speech.

In the context of this case, exhaustion of their administrative remedies as COMELEC suggested in their
pleadings prolongs the violation of their freedom of speech.


Respondents cite the Constitution, laws, and jurisprudence to support their position that they had the
power to regulate the tarpaulin. However, the Court held that all of these provisions pertain to candidates and
political parties. Petitioners are not candidates. Neither do they belong to any political party. COMELEC does
not have the authority to regulate the enjoyment of the preferred right to freedom of expression exercised by a
non-candidate in this case.


The Court held that every citizen’s expression with political consequences enjoys a high degree of

Moreover, the respondent’s argument that the tarpaulin is election propaganda, being petitioners’ way
of endorsing candidates who voted against the RH Law and rejecting those who voted for it, holds no water.

The Court held that while the tarpaulin may influence the success or failure of the named candidates
and political parties, this does not necessarily mean it is election propaganda. The tarpaulin was not paid for or
posted “in return for consideration” by any candidate, political party, or party-list group.

By interpreting the law, it is clear that personal opinions are not included, while sponsored messages
are covered.

The content of the tarpaulin is a political speech

Political speech refers to speech “both intended and received as a contribution to public deliberation about some
issue,” “fostering informed and civic minded deliberation.” On the other hand, commercial speech has been
defined as speech that does “no more than propose a commercial transaction.” The expression resulting from the
content of the tarpaulin is, however, definitely political speech.

FIFTH ISSUE: Content-based regulation.

Content-based restraint or censorship refers to restrictions “based on the subject matter of the utterance
or speech.” In contrast, content-neutral regulation includes controls merely on the incidents of the speech such as
time, place, or manner of the speech.

The Court held that the regulation involved at bar is content-based. The tarpaulin content is not easily
divorced from the size of its medium.

Content-based regulation bears a heavy presumption of invalidity, and this court has used the clear and
present danger rule as measure.

Under this rule, “the evil consequences sought to be prevented must be substantive, ‘extremely serious
and the degree of imminence extremely high.’” “Only when the challenged act has overcome the clear and present
danger rule will it passconstitutional muster, with the government having the burden of overcoming the presumed

Even with the clear and present danger test, respondents failed to justify the regulation. There is no
compelling and substantial state interest endangered by the posting of the tarpaulin as to justify curtailment of the
right of freedom of expression. There is no reason for the state to minimize the right of non-candidate petitioners
to post the tarpaulin in their private property. The size of the tarpaulin does not affect anyone else’s constitutional


The Court held that even though the tarpaulin is readily seen by the public, the tarpaulin remains the
private property of petitioners. Their right to use their property is likewise protected by the Constitution.

Any regulation, therefore, which operates as an effective confiscation of private property or constitutes
an arbitrary or unreasonable infringement of property rights is void, because it is repugnant to the constitutional
guaranties of due process and equal protection of the laws.

The Court in Adiong case held that a restriction that regulates where decals and stickers should be
posted is “so broad that it encompasses even the citizen’s private property.” Consequently, it violates Article III,
Section 1 of the Constitution which provides that no person shall be deprived of his property without due process
of law.


The Court held that the church doctrines relied upon by petitioners are not binding upon this court. The
position of the Catholic religion in the Philippines as regards the RH Law does not suffice to qualify the posting
by one of its members of a tarpaulin as religious speech solely on such basis. The enumeration of candidates on
the face of the tarpaulin precludes any doubt as to its nature as speech with political consequences and not religious

Doctrine of benevolent neutrality

With religion looked upon with benevolence and not hostility, benevolent neutrality allows
accommodation of religion under certain circumstances. Accommodations are government policies that take
religion specifically into account not to promote the government’s favored form of religion, but to allow
individuals and groups to exercise their religion without hindrance. Their purpose or effect therefore is to remove
a burden on, or facilitate the exercise of, a person’s or institution’s religion.
As Justice Brennan explained, the “government may take religion into account . . . to exempt, when
possible, from generally applicable governmental regulation individuals whose religious beliefs and practices
would otherwise thereby be infringed, or to create without state involvement an atmosphere in which voluntary
religious exercise may flourish.”



1. On October 23, 1989, RA 6766, entitled “AN ACT PROVIDING FOR AN ORGANIC ACT FOR THE

2. Pursuant to said law, the City of Baguio and Provinces of Benguet, Abra, Mt. Province, Ifugao and Kalinga-
Apayao, all comprising the autonomous region shall take part in a plebiscite originally scheduled for December
27, 1989 but was reset to January 30, 1990 specifically for the ratification or rejection of the said act;

3. By virtue of the 1987 Constitution and the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881), the Comelec issued Comelec
Resolution No. 2167, Section 19 of which provides:

“Section 19. Prohibition on columnist, 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.”

4. On November 20, 1989, petitioner PABLITO V. SANIDAD who is a columnist (“OVERVIEW”) for the
Baguio Midland Courier, a weekly newspaper circulated in the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras, filed a
petition for Prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary
injunction against the Comelec to enjoin the latter from enforcing Section 19 of resolution No. 2167. Petitioner
claims that the said provision is violative of his constitutional freedom of expression and of the press and it also
constitutes a prior restraint because it imposes subsequent punishment for those who violate the same;

5. On November 28, 1989, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondent
from enforcing Section 19 of Resolution No. 2167;

6. On January 9, 1990, Comelec through the Solicitor General filed its Comment and moved for the dismissal of
the petition on the ground that Section 19 of Resolution No. 2167 does not absolutely bar the petitioner from
expressing his views because under Section 90 and 92 of BP 881, he may still express his views or campaign
for or against the act through the Comelec space and airtime.


What is granted by Art. IX-C of the Constitution to the Comelec is 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 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 insured. The evil sought to
be prevented by this provision is the possibility that a franchise holder may favor or give undue advantage to a
candidate in terms of advertising time and space. This is also the reason why a columnist, commentator or
announcer is required to take a leave of absence from his work during the campaign period if he is a candidate.
practitioners exercising their freedom of expression during the plebiscite periods are neither the franchise
holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no candidates in a plebiscite.

While it is true that the petitioner is not absolutely barred from campaigning for or against the Organic Act, said
fact does not cure the constitutional infirmity of Section 19, Comelec Resolution No. 2167. This is so because

Plebiscite issues are matters of public concern and importance. The people’s right to be informed and to be able
to freely and intelligently make a decision would be better served by access to an unabridged discussion of the
issues, INCLUDING THE FORUM. The people affected by the issues presented in a plebiscite should not be
unduly burdened by restrictions on the forum where the right to expression may be exercised.

ACCORDINGLY, Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.


Facts:In Oct. 13, 1989, Tulfo wrote an article in his column in PDI 'On Target' stating that the Supreme Court
rendered an idiotic decision in legalizing checkpoints, and again on Oct. 16, 1989, where he called the Supreme
Court stupid and "sangkatutak na mga bobo justices of the Philippine Supreme Court". Tulfo was required to
show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. Tulfo said that he was just reacting emotionally
because he had been a victim of harassmen in the checkpoints, and "idiotic" meant illogical and unwise, and
"bobo" was just quoted from other attorneys, and since the case had been decided and terminated, there was not
contempts. Lastly, the article does not pose any clear and present danger to the Supreme court.

Issue:Wheter or not Tulfo is in contempt


1. At the time Tulfo wrote the article, the checkpoints case had not yet been decided upon, and the Supreme
Court was still acting on an MR filed from the CA.

2. Power to punish is inherent as it is essential for self-preservation. Contempt of ocurt is defiance of the
authority, justice and dignity of the courts. It brings disrepute to the court. There are two kinds of publications
which can be punished for contempt:
a. those whose object is to affect the decision in a pending case.
b. those whose object is to bring courts to discredit.
Tulfo's article constituted both.

3. It should have been okay to criticize if respectful language was used, but if its object is only to degrade and
ridicule, then it is clearly an obstruction of justice. Nothing constructive can be gained from them. Being
emotional is no excuse for being insulting. Quoting is not an excuse also, because at the end of his article, Tulfo
said, "So you bobo justices, watch out!" Also, he said he was not sorry for having written the articles.
Tulfo is found in contempt of court and is gravely censured.


Facts: Jurado, a journalist who writes in a newspaper of general circulation, the “Manila Standard.” He
describes himself as a columnist, who “incidentally happens to be a lawyer,”, had been writing about alleged
improperties and irregularities in the judiciary over several months (from about October, 1992 to March, 1993).
Other journalists had also been making reports or comments on the same subject. At the same time, anonymous
communications were being extensively circulated, by hand and through the mail, about alleged venality and
corruption in the courts. And all these were being repeatedly and insistently adverted to by certain sectors of
society. Events Directly Giving Rise to the Proceeding at Bar.

The seed of the proceeding at bar was sown by the decision promulgated by this Court on August 27, 1992, in
the so-called “controversial case” of “Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company v. Eastern Telephone
Philippines, Inc. (ETPI),” G.R. No, 94374. In that decision the Court was sharply divided; the vote was 9 to 4,
in favor of the petitioner PLDT. Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr., wrote the opinion for the majority.
In connection with this case, G.R. No. 94374, the “Philippine Daily Inquirer” and one or two other newspapers
published, on January 28, 1993, a report of the purported affidavit of a Mr. David Miles Yerkes, an alleged
expert in linguistics. This gentleman, it appears, had been commissioned by one of the parties in the case,
Eastern Telephone Philippines, Inc. (ETPI), to examine and analyze the decision of Justice Gutierrez in relation
to a few of his prior ponencias and the writings of one of the lawyers of PLDT, Mr. Eliseo Alampay, to
ascertain if the decision had been written, in whole or in part, by the latter. Yerkes proffered the conclusion that
the Gutierrez decision “looks, reads and sounds like the writing of the PLDT’s counsel,” Thus, he speaks of the
“Magnificent Seven,” by merely referring to undisclosed regional trial court judges in Makati; the “Magnificent
Seven” in the Supreme Court, as some undesignated justices who supposedly vote as one; the “Dirty Dozen,” as
unidentified trial judges in Makati and three other cities. He adverts to an anonymous group of justices and
judges for whom a bank allegedly hosted a party; and six unnamed justices of this Court who reportedly spent a
prepaid vacation in Hong Kong with their families.

The Chief Justice issued an administrative order “Creating an Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate Reports of
Corruption in the Judiciary,” to investigate the said reports of corruption in the judiciary. A letter affidavit was
also received from the public utility, denying the allegations in Jurado’s column. The Supreme Court then
issued a resolution ordering that the matter dealt with in the letter and affidavit of the public utility company be
docketed and acted upon as an official Court proceeding for the determination of whether or not the allegations
made by Jurado are true.

HELD: Jurado’s actuations, in the context in which they were done, demonstrate gross irresponsibility, and
indifference to factual accuracy and the injury that he might cause to the name and reputation of those of whom
he wrote. They constitute contempt of court, directly tending as they do to degrade or abase the administration
of justice and the judges engaged in that function. By doing them, he has placed himself beyond the circle of
reputable, decent and responsible journalists who live by their Code or the “Golden Rule” and who strive at all
times to maintain the prestige and nobility of their calling.

Although honest utterances, even if inaccurate, may further the fruitful exercise of the right of free speech, it
does not follow that the lie, knowingly and deliberately published about a public official, should enjoy a like
immunity. The knowingly false statement and the false statement made with reckless disregard of the truth, do
not enjoy constitutional protection.

The Civil Code, in its Article 19 lays down the norm for the proper exercise of any right, constitutional or
otherwise, viz.: “ARTICLE 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his
duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.” The provision is reflective
of the universally accepted precept of “abuse of rights,” “one of the most dominant principles which must be
deemed always implied in any system of law.”
Requirement to exercise bona fide care in ascertaining the truth of the statements when publishing statements
which are clearly defamatory to identifiable judges or other public officials.
Judges, by becoming such, are rightly regarded as voluntarily subjecting themselves to norms of conduct which
embody more stringent standards of honesty, integrity, and competence than are commonly required from
private persons. Nevertheless, persons who seek or accept appointment to the Judiciary cannot reasonably be
regarded as having forfeited any right to private honor and reputation. For to so rule will be to discourage all
save those who feel no need to maintain their self-respect from becoming judges. The public interest involved in
freedom of speech and the individual interest of judges (and for that matter, all other public officials) in the
maintenance of private honor and reputation need to be accommodated one to the other. And the point of
adjustment or accommodation between these two legitimate interests is precisely found in the norm which
requires those who, invoking freedom of speech, publish statements which are clearly defamatory to identifiable
judges or other public officials to exercise bona fide care in ascertaining the truth of the statements they publish.
The norm does not require that a journalist guarantee the truth of what he says or publishes. But the norm does
prohibit the reckless disregard of private reputation by publishing or circulating defamatory statements without
any bona fide effort to ascertain the truth thereof.


Facts: Metropolitan Mail and We Forum newspaper offices were searched and items were seized. Search and
seizure warrants were issued for the crime of sedition. The petitioners tried to settle the matter trough
extrajudicial efforts. After five months of effort, they came to court to nullify the warrants. Petitioners fault
respondent judge for his alleged failure to conduct an examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant
and his witnesses. The questioned search warrants were issued by respondent judge upon application of Col.
Rolando N. Abadilla. The application was accompanied by the Joint Affidavit of Alejandro M. Gutierrez and
Pedro U. Tango, 11 members of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group that conducted a surveillance of
the premises prior to the filing of the application for the search warrant.
Issue: Whether or not search and seizure warrant was null on the ground of lack of probable cause?
Decision: Petitioner’s contention with merit. Probable cause for a search is defined as such facts and
circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been
committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to
be searched.The application and/or its supporting affidavits must contain a specification, stating with
particularity the alleged subversive material he has published or is intending to publish. Mere generalization
will not suffice.
Equally insufficient as basis for the determination of probable cause is the statement contained in the joint
affidavit that states evidence gathered were collated by their unit. Constitution requires no less than personal
knowledge by the complainant or his witnesses of the facts upon which the issuance of a search warrant may be
justified because the purpose thereof is to convince the committing magistrate of the existence of probable

F: Respondent Judge issued a search warrant for the seizure of articles allegedly used by petitioner in
committing the crime of sedition. Seized were printed copies of the Philippine Times, newspaper dummies,
typewriters, mimeographing machines and tape recorders, video machines and tapes. The petitioner moved to
quash the warrant but his motion was denied.

HELD: The statements made in the affidavits are mere conclusions of law and do not satisfy the requirement of
probable cause. The language used is all embracing as to include all conceivable words and equipment of
petitioner regardless of whether they are legal or illegal. The search warrant under consideration was in the nature
of a general warrant which is objectionable.

This was originally a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction which was supersededby the amended
and supplemental petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction filed bypetitioners on March 3, 1983,
seeking to prohibit the respondents (a) from issuing subpoenasor letters of invitation to petitioners and
interrogating them, and (b) from filing libel suits onmatters that have been the subject of inquiry by respondent
National Intelligence Board (NIB).Petitioners are columnists, feature article writers and reporters of various
local publications. Atdifferent dates since July, 1980, some of them have allegedly been summoned by
militaryauthorities who have subjected them to sustained interrogation on various aspects of theirworks,
feelings, sentiments, beliefs, associations and even their private lives.

Typical of theletters received by the petitioners from respondent NIB is that addressed to petitioner
ArleneBabst, dated December 20, 1982, this reads: Madam:Pursuant to the authority vested in me by law, you
are hereby requested to appear before thisSpecial Committee at Philippine Army Officer’s Clubhouse, Fort
Bonifacio, Metro Manila (sketchattached), 9:00 A.M., December 22, 1982, to shed light on confidential matters
being looked into bythis Committee.

Elizalde vs. Gutierrez,76 SCRA 448 (In order that any news item relating to a judicial proceeding will not be
actionable, the same must be [a] a true and fair report of the actual proceedings; [b] must be done in good faith;
and [c] no comments nor remarks shall be made by the writer}

A publication of a dispatch coming from the Philippine News Agency by thesensationalist newspaper Evening
News about the Maggie dela Riva rape case involving prominent individuals is not libelous. Courts must be
careful not to unnecessarily prosecute members of the press if it finds the prosecution to be baseless, they
should immediately dismiss the case and not allow the editor and publisher to be derailed from their work by
being dragged into trial.


Elizalde vs. Gutierrez,76 SCRA 448 (In order that any news item relating to a judicial proceeding will not be
actionable, the same must be [a] a true and fair report of the actual proceedings; [b] must be done in good faith;
and [c] no comments nor remarks shall be made by the writer}

A publication of a dispatch coming from the Philippine News Agency by thesensationalist newspaper Evening
News about the Maggie dela Riva rape case involving prominent individuals is not libelous. Courts must be
careful not to unnecessarily prosecute members of the press if it finds the prosecution to be baseless, they
should immediately dismiss the case and not allow the editor and publisher to be derailed from their work by
being dragged into trial.

o January 1956 – Front-page story on the Manila Chronicle à Fidel Cruz, sanitary inspector assigned to the
Babuyan Islands, sent distress signals to US Airforce planes which forwarded such message to Manila o An
American Army plane dropped emergency sustenance kits on the beach of the island which contained, among
other things, a two way radio set. Using the radio set Cruz reported to the authorities in Manila that the locals
were living in terror due to a series of killings committed on the island since Christmas of 1955. o Philippine
defense forces (scout rangers) were immediately deployed to the babuyan claro. They were led by Major
Wilfredo Encarnacion who discovered that Cruz only fabricated the story about the killings to get attention.
Cruz merely wanted transportation home to Manila. o Major Encarnacion branded the fiasco as a “hoax” à the
same word to be used by the newspapers who covered the same o January 13, 1956 – This Week Magazine of
the Manila Chronicle, edited by Gatbonton devoted a pictorial article to it.

It claimed that despite the story of Cruz being a hoax it brought to light the misery of the people living in that
place, with almost everybody sick, only 2 individuals able to read and write and food and clothing being scarce
o January 29, 1956 – This Week Magazineà in the “January News Quiz” made reference to Cruz as “a health
inspector who suddenly felt “lonely” in his isolated post, cooked up a story about a murderer running loose on
the island of Calayan so that he could be ferried back to civilization.” à Called it “Hoax of the year” o In both
issues photos of a Fidel Cruz were published but both photos were of a different person of the same name à
Fidel G. Cruz former mayor, business man, contractor from Santa Maria, Bulacan o January 27, 1957 à
published statements correcting their misprint and explained that confusion and error happened due to the rush
to meet the Jan 13th issue’s deadline o Cruz sued herein petitioners for libel in CFI Manila. Cruz won and was
awarded P11,000 in damages (5k actual, 5k moral, 1k attorney’s fees) o CA affirmed CFI decision hence this

o WON petitioners should be held liable for their error in printing the wrong Fidel Cruz’s photo in relation to
the “hoax of the year”? o WON such error is sufficient ground for an action for libel to prosper?

Yes they are liable but damages awarded to Cruz is reduced to P1,000.00

1. Mistake is no excuse to absolve publishers because libel is harmful on its face by the fact that it exposes the
injured party to more than trivial ridicule, whether it is fact or opinion is irrelevant. o Citing Lu Chu Sing v. Lu
Tiong Gui à libel is “malicious defamation, expressed either in writing, printing, or by signs or pictures, or the
like, …, tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead or to impeach the honesty, virtue, or reputation, or
publish the alleged or natural defects of one who is alive, and thereby “pose him to public hatred, contempt, or
ridicule,” o Citing standard treatise of Newell on Slander and Libel à “Publication of a person’s photograph in
connection with an article libelous of a third person, is a libel on the person whose picture is published, where
the acts set out in the article are imputed to such person.” o In this case à 3rd person was Cruz à his picture
being published beside the article imputes him as the purveyor of the hoax of the year

2. Libel cannot be used to curtail press freedom however it also cannot claim any talismanic immunity form
constitutional limitations o State interest in press freedom à citing Justice Malcolm: Full discussion of public
affairs is necessary for the maintenance of good governance… “Public officials must not be too thin-skinned
with reference to comments on official acts”…”of course criticism does not authorize defamation. Nevertheless,
as an individual is less than the state, so must expected criticism be born for the common good.”

So long as it was done in good faith, the press should have the legal right to have and express their opinions on
legal questions. To deny them that right would be to infringe upon freedom of the press. o “Last word on the
subject” à Citing Quisumbing v. Lopez: Press should be given leeway and tolerance as to enable them to
courageously and effectively perform their important role in our democracy o Freedom of the press ranks high
in the hierarchy of legal values o TEST of LIABLITY à must prove there was actual malice in publishing the
story/photo! (Note: but this was not done in this case)

4. Citing Concepcion, CJ. à Correction of error in publishing does not wipe out the responsibility arising from
the publication of the original article o Correction = Mitigating circumstance not a justifying circumstance!


Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Sullivan (Plaintiff) sued the Defendant, the New York Times Co.
(Defendant), for printing an advertisement about the civil rights movement in the south that defamed the

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The constitutional guarantees require a federal rule that prohibits a public official
from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the
statement was made with actual malice – that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of
whether it was false or not.

Facts. The Plaintiff was one of three Commissioners of Montgomery, Alabama, who claimed that he was
defamed in a full-page ad taken out in the New York Times. The advertisement was entitled, “Heed Their
Rising Voices” and it charged in part that an unprecedented wave of terror had been directed against those who
participated in the civil rights movement in the South. Some of the particulars of the advertisement were false.
Although the advertisement did not mention the Plaintiff by name, he claimed that it referred to him indirectly
because he had oversight responsibility of the police.

The Defendant claimed that it authorized publication of the advertisement because it did not have any reason to
believe that its contents were false. There was no independent effort to check its accuracy. The Plaintiff
demanded that the Defendant retract the advertisement. The Defendant was puzzled as to why the Plaintiff
thought the advertisement reflected adversely on him. The jury found the ad libelous per se and actionable
without proof of malice. The jury awarded the Plaintiff $500,000 in damages. The Alabama Supreme Court

The Defendant appealed.

Issue. Is the Defendant liable for defamation for printing an advertisement, which criticized a public official’s
official conduct? Held. No. Reversed and remanded.
* Safeguards for freedom of speech and of the press are required by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of
the United States Constitution (Constitution) in a libel action brought by a public official against critics of his
official conduct. * Under Alabama law, a publication is libelous per se if the words tend to injure a person in his
reputation or to bring him into public contempt. The jury must find that the words were published of and
concerning the plaintiff. Once libel per se has been established, the defendant has no defense as to stated facts
unless he can persuade the jury that they were true in all their particulars. * Erroneous statement is inevitable in
free debate and it must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the breathing space that the need
to survive.

* The constitutional guarantees require a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages
for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with
actual malice – that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
* The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) holds that the Constitution delimits a State’s
power to award damages for libel in actions brought by public officials against critics of their official conduct.
In this case, the rule requiring proof of actual malice is applicable. * The Defendant’s failure to retract the
advertisement upon the Plaintiff’s demand is not adequate evidence of malice for constitutional purposes.

Likewise, it is not adequate evidence of malice that the Defendant failed to check the advertisements accuracy
against the news stories in the Defendant’s own files. Also, the evidence was constitutionally defective in
another respect: it was incapable of supporting the jury’s finding that the allegedly libelous statements were
made of and concerning the Plaintiff. Concurrence. Justice Hugo Black (J. Black) argued that the First and
Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution do not merely “delimit” a State’s power to award damages, but
completely prohibit a State from exercising such a power. The Defendant had an absolute, unconditional right to
publish criticisms of the Montgomery agencies and officials.

Discussion. In order for a public official to recover in a defamation action involving his official conduct, malice
must be proved. Without the showing of malice, the Supreme Court felt that a defamation action in this case
would severely cripple the safeguards of freedom speech and expression that are guaranteed in the First
Amendment of the Constitution and applicable to the States via the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
8. Liwayway Publishing vs PCGG

Adiong vs. Comelec, March 31, 1992 (putting of decals and stickers in one’s car is within the protected freedom
of expression)

1-A National press club vs. COMELEC

National Press Club vs. Comelec, March 5, 1992. Real also the dissenting and separate opinions of the justices.
(Preventing campaigns through radio, TV and newspapers is valid in order to even the playing field between
rich and poor candidates)

3 consolidated petitions, with the common question: the constitutionality of§11(b), of RA6646Petitoners:
representatives of mass media which are prevented from sellingor donating space and time for political
advertisements; 2 candidates for office (1national, 1 provincial) in the coming May 1992 elections; taxpayers
and voters whoclaim that their right to be informed of election issues and of credentials of thecandidates is
being curtailed. (I will refer to these folks as Petitoners (P)) Facts:

Petitioners’ argument:

•That §11(b), of RA6646 invades and violated theconstitutional guarantees comprising freedom of expression;
•That the prohibition imposed by §11(b) amounts tocensorship, because it selects and singles out for
suppression andrepression with criminal sanctions, only publications of a particularcontent, namely, media-
based election or political propaganda duringthe election pd. of 1992; •That the prohibition is in derogation of
media’s role,function and duty to provide adequate channels of public informationand public opinion relevant to
election issues; •That §11(b) abridges the freedom of speech ofcandidates, and that the suppression of media-
based campaign orpolitical propaganda except those appearing in the Comelec space ofthe newspapers and on
Comelec time of radio and tv broadcasts,would bring about a substantial reduction in the quantity or volume
ofinfo concerning candidates and issues in the election, therebycurtailing and limiting the right of voters to info
and opinion.

WON §11(b) of RA 6646 has gone beyond the permissible supervision orregulation of media operations so as
to constitute unconstitutional repression offreedom of speech & freedom of the press SC says:

Nope. It has not gone outside the permissible bounds of supervision orregulation of media operations during
election periods