Case Doctrines Section 4- Constitution. 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.


A. Prior Restraint

Eastern Broadcasting v. Dans – The test of limitations on freedom of expression continues to be the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER RULE – that words are used in such a circumstance and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantial evils that a lawmaker has a right to prevent. Government has a right to be protected against broadcasts which incite listeners to overthrow it

Chavez v. Gonzales – Hello Garci Case – Tests for restraint – dangerous tendency doctrine, clear and present danger rule and balancing of interest test; aspects of freedom of the press – freedom from prior restraint and freedom from subsequent punishment


B. Subsequent Punishment

People v. Perez – seditious remarks – Criticisms against the branches of government within the range of liberty and speech unless the intention and the effect be seditious

Gonzales v. COMELEC – prolonged political campaigns – freedom of expression not absolute; The speech and free press may be identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public interest without censorship or punishment. There is to be then no previous restraint to the communication of views or subsequent punishment unless there be a clear and present danger of substantive evil that Congress has the right to prevent.


C. Freedom of Expression and the electoral process

Sanidad v. COMELEC – prohibition regarding certain forms of propaganda a valid exercise of police power of the state to prevent perversion and prostitution of electoral process

Adiong v. COMELEC
– using stickers to campaign – ed

– exit polls – allowed

SWS v. COMELEC – releasing surveys results before the election – allowed


D. Freedom of Expression and the Courts

IN RE: EMIL JURADO – journalist and lawyer at the same time - Right to private reputation. Judges are commonly and 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. 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.

PEOPLE V. GODOY - cited for contempt based on the latter’s article in the newspaper - (1) There’s a need to make a distinction between adverse criticism of the court's decision after the case is ended and
"scandalizing the court itself." The latter is not criticism; it is personal and scurrilous abuse of a judge as such, in which case it shall be dealt with as a case of contempt. Contempt proceedings dismissed. Such comments may constitute a libel against the judge, but it cannot be treated as in contempt of the court's authority. (2) In case of a post-litigation newspaper publication, fair criticism of the court, its
proceedings and its members, are allowed. However, there may be a contempt of court, even though the case has been terminated, if the publication is attended by either of these two circumstances:

a. Where it tends to bring the court into disrespect or, in other words, to scandalize the court; or
b. Where there is a clear and present danger that the administration of justice would be impeded. And this brings us to the familiar invocation of freedom of expression usually resorted to as a defense in
contempt proceedings.

IN RE: RESOLUTION A.M. 98-7-02 SC - resolution prohibiting demonstrations within a radius of 200 meters from the boundary of any hall of Justice. - The Court, it would seem, has the power to
promulgate “rules concerning conduct of demonstrations in the vicinity of the courts to assure the people of an impartial and orderly administration of justice. It was anchored on Art. VIII Sec. 5 (5)

RE: RADIO/TV COVERAGE OF ESTRADA TRIAL - Can the trial of Estrada in the Sandiganbayan or any other court be broadcasted in TV or radio? NO. An accused has a right to a public trial, but it is
not synonymous with a publicized trial. Freedom of the press and the accused’s protection from a possible prejudicial publicized trial must be taken into consideration. And unless there are safety nets to prevent this event, broadcast media cannot be allowed to publicize the trial.



- Borjal published in his editorial column in the Philippine Star about certain anomalous activities of an “organizer of a conference” - (1) Fair commentaries on matters of public interest are privileged and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander. The
doctrine of fair comment means that while in general every discreditable imputation publicly made is deemed false, because every man is presumed innocent until his guilt is judicially proved, and every false imputation is deemed malicious, nevertheless, when the discreditable imputation is directed against a public person in his public capacity, it is not necessarily actionable. In order that such
discreditable imputation to a public official may be actionable, it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition. If the comment is an expression of opinion, based on established facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken, as long as it might
reasonably be inferred from the facts.

- graft charges filed against the judge. - (1) Generally, every defamatory information is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following instances:

a. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or social duty;
b. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial, legislative, or other official proceeding which are not of confidential nature, or of any statement, report, or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.—the subject articles are under this exemption.

Pita v. CA – Pinoy Playboy - Miller test (3 Tests)
(a) whether the average person, applying contemporary standards’ would find the work, taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest. (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive
way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law. (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.



PRIMICIAS V. FUGOSO - public meeting at Plaza Miranda - (1) A statute requiring persons using the public streets for a parade or procession to procure a special license therefor from the local authorities is not an unconstitutional abridgement of the rights of assembly or a freedom of speech and press, where, as the statute is construed by the state courts, the licensing authorities are strictly limited, in them issuance of licenses, to a consideration, the time, place, and manner of the parade and procession, with a view to conserving the public convenience and of affording an opportunity to provide proper policing and are not invested with arbitrary discretion to issue or refuse license. (2) In the exercise of police power, the council may, in its discretion, regulate the exercise of such rights in a reasonable manner, but cannot suppress them, directly or indirectly, by attempting to commit the power of doing so to the mayor or any other officer. The discretion with which the council is vested is
a legal discretion, to be exercised within the limits of the law, and not discretion to transcend it or to confer upon any city officer and arbitrary authority, making him in its exercise a petty tyrant.

- Sunken Gardens as alternative to Plaza Miranda - The Mayor cannot be compelled to issue the permit. A permit should recognize the right of the applicants to hold their assembly at a public place of their choice, another place may be designated by the licensing
authority if it be shown that a clear and present danger of a substantive evil if no change was made.

JBL REYES V. MAYOR BAGATSING - a peaceful march and rally from Luneta park to the gates of the US Embassy. - (1) The applicants for a permit to hold an assembly should inform the licensing authority of  the date, the public place where and the time when it will take place. (2) If it were a private place, only the consent of the owner or the one entitled to its legal possession is required. (3) Application for permit should be filed well ahead in time to enable the public official concerned to appraise whether there may be valid objections to the grant but at another place. It is an indispensable condition to such refusal or modification that the clear and present danger test be the standard for the decision reached. If he is of the view that there is such imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil, the applicants must be heard on the matter. (4) Decision of the licensing authority must be transmitted to the applicants at the earliest opportunity.

MIRIAM COLLEGE V. COURT OF APPEALS – Libog Article - (1) The right of the students to free speech in school premises is not absolute. The right to free speech must always be applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment. Thus, while the court upheld the right of the students to free expression in these cases, disciplinary action by the school for "conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason - whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior - which materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others were not ruled out. (2) The school cannot suspend or expel a student solely on the basis of the articles he or she has written, except when such articles materially disrupt class work or involve substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.

JACINTO V. COURT OF APPEALS – teachers and mass actions - mass actions then staged. That given the return-to-work orders issued by the then DECS Secretary, they still refused to return to work, they were then suspended and later on dismissed from service. - Where public school teachers absent themselves without proper authority, from their schools during regular school days, in order to participate in mass protest, their absence ineluctably results in the non-holding of classes and in the deprivation of students of education, for which they are responsible, and they may be penalized not for their exercise of their right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances but for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.


Freedom of Speech, Expression, of the Press, Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble