Monday, May 24, 2010

G.R. No. L-64261 December 26, 1984
JOSE BURGOS, SR vs. THE CHIEF OF STAFF- AFP, ET AL
Facts:
Assailed in this petition for certiorari prohibition and mandamus with preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction is the validity of two [2] search warrants issued on December 7, 1982 by Judge Ernani Cruz-Pano of the then CFI of Rizal [Quezon City], under which the premises of the "Metropolitan Mail" and "We Forum" newspapers, respectively, were searched, and office and printing machines, equipment, paraphernalia, motor vehicles and other articles used in the printing, publication and distribution of the said newspapers, as well as numerous papers, documents, books and other written literature alleged to be in the possession and control of petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. publisher-editor of the "We Forum" newspaper, were seized.
Petitioners further pray that a writ of preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction be issued for the return of the seized articles, and that respondents be enjoined from using the articles thus seized as evidence against petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. and the other accused in Criminal Case No. Q- 022782 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, entitled People v. Jose Burgos, Jr. et al.
Issue: Was the closure of WE Forum a case of prior restraint?
Ruling:
Yes. As heretofore stated, the premises searched were the business and printing offices of the "Metropolitan Mail" and the "We Forum newspapers. As a consequence of the search and seizure, these premises were padlocked and sealed, with the further result that the printing and publication of said newspapers were discontinued. Such closure is in the nature of previous restraint or censorship abhorrent to the freedom of the press guaranteed under the fundamental law, and constitutes a virtual denial of petitioners' freedom to express themselves in print. This state of being is patently anathematic to a democratic framework where a free, alert and even militant press is essential for the political enlightenment and growth of the citizenry.
G.R. No. 168338 February 15, 2008
FRANCISCO CHAVEZ, vs. RAUL M. GONZALES
Facts:
The case originates from events that occurred a year after the 2004 national and local elections. On June 5, 2005, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye told reporters that the opposition was planning to release an audiotape of a mobile phone conversation allegedly between the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and a high-ranking official of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which was audiotaped allegedly through wire-tapping. On June 8, 2005, respondent Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Raul Gonzales warned reporters that those who had copies of the compact disc (CD) and those broadcasting or publishing its contents could be held liable under the Anti-Wiretapping Act.. In another press briefing, Secretary Gonzales ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to go after media organizations "found to have caused the spread, the playing and the printing of the contents of a tape" of an alleged wiretapped conversation involving the President about fixing votes in the 2004 national elections.
Issue: Is the warning to media in not airing the “hello Garci” tapes a case of prior restraint?
Ruling:
Yes. The Court holds that it is not decisive that the press statements made by respondents were not reduced in or followed up with formal orders or circulars. It is sufficient that the press statements were made by respondents while in the exercise of their official functions. Any act done, such as a speech uttered, for and on behalf of the government in an official capacity is covered by the rule on prior restraint. The concept of an "act" does not limit itself to acts already converted to a formal order or official circular. Otherwise, the non formalization of an act into an official order or circular will result in the easy circumvention of the prohibition on prior restraint. The press statements at bar are acts that should be struck down as they constitute impermissible forms of prior restraints on the right to free speech and press.

EASTERN TELECOMMUNICATIONS VS. DANS
137 SCRA 628
Facts:
This petition was filed to compel the respondents to allow the reopening of Radio Station DYRE which had been summarily closed on grounds of national security.
The petitioner contended that it was denied due process when it was closed on the mere allegation that the radio station was used to incite people to sedition. It alleged that no hearing was held and no proof was submitted to establish a factual basis for the closure. The petitioner was not informed beforehand why administrative action which closed the radio station was taken against it. No action was taken by the respondents to entertain a motion seeking the reconsideration of the closure action. The petitioner also raised the issue of freedom of speech. It appears from the records that the respondents' general charge of "inciting people to commit acts of sedition" arose from the petitioner's shift towards what it stated was the coverage of public events and the airing of programs geared towards public affairs.

ISSUE: Was the closure, without hearing, violative of the freedom of the press?
RULING:
Yes. All forms of communication are entitled to the broad protection of the freedom of expression clause. Necessarily, however, the freedom of television and radio broadcasting is somewhat lesser in scope than the freedom accorded to newspaper and print media. Yet the freedom to comment on public affairs is essential to the vitality of a representative democracy. Broadcast stations deserve the special protection given to all forms of media by the due process and freedom of expression clauses of the Constitution
The cardinal primary requirements in administrative proceedings laid down by this Court in AngTibay v. Court of Industrial Relations (69 Phil. 635) should be followed before a broadcast station may be closed or its operations curtailed.

IGLESIA NI KRISTO vs. CA
GR 119673
Facts:
Petitioner Iglesiani Cristo, a duly organized religious organization, has a television
program entitled "AngIglesiani Cristo" aired on Channel 2 every Saturday and on
Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and propagates petitioner's religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in comparative studies with other religions.
Sometime in the months of September, October and November 1992 petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television the VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series as "X" or not for public viewing on the ground that they "offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law."
Is a prior submission to MTRCB a case of prior restraint?
Deeply ensconced in our fundamental law is its hostility against all prior restraints on speech, including religious speech. Hence, any act that restrains speech is hobbled by the presumption of invalidity and should be greeted with furrowed brows. 19 It is the burden of the respondent Board to overthrow this presumption. If it fails to discharge this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down. It failed in the case at bar.
The records show that the decision of the respondent Board, affirmed by the respondent appellate court, is
completely bereft of findings of facts to justify the conclusion that the
subject video tapes constitute impermissible attacks against another religion. There is no showing whatsoever of the type of harm the tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech, cannot be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a
substantive and imminent evil which has taken the life of a reality already on ground.
Finally, it is also opined by Mr. Justice Kapunan that ". . . the determination of the question as to whether or not such vilification, exaggeration or fabrication falls within or lies outside the boundaries of protected speech or expression is a judicial function which cannot be arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of Censors." He submits that a "system of prior restraint may
only be validly administered by judges and not left to administrative agencies. "The same submission is made by Mr. Justice Mendoza.
MTRCB vs ABS-CBN
GR 155282 Jan 17 2005
Facts:
On October 15, 1991, at 10:45 in the evening, respondent ABS-CBN aired "Prosti-tuition," an episode of the television (TV) program "The Inside Story" produced and hosted by respondent Legarda. It depicted female students moonlighting as prostitutes to enable them to pay for their tuition fees. In the course of the program, student prostitutes, pimps, customers, and some faculty members were interviewed. The Philippine Women’s University (PWU) was named as the school of some of the students involved and the facade of PWU Building at Taft Avenue, Manila conspicuously served as the background of the episode.
The showing of "The Inside Story" caused uproar in the PWU community. Dr. Leticia P. de Guzman, Chancellor and Trustee of the PWU, and the PWU Parents and Teachers Association filed letter-complaints3 with petitioner MTRCB. Both complainants alleged that the episode besmirched the name of the PWU and resulted in the harassment of some of its female students.

ISSUE: Is a prior submission to MTRCB a case of prior restraint?

Petitioner MTRCB through the Solicitor General, contends inter alia: first, all television programs, including "public affairs programs, news documentaries, or socio-political editorials," are subject to petitioner’s power of review under Section 3 (b) of P.D. No. 1986 and pursuant to this Court’s ruling in Iglesiani Cristo vs. Court of Appeals ;25second, television programs are more accessible to the public than newspapers, thus, the liberal regulation of the latter cannot apply to the former; third, petitioner’s power to review television programs under Section 3(b) of P. D. No. 1986 does not amount to "prior restraint;" and fourth, Section 3(b) of P. D. No. 1986 does not violate respondents’ constitutional freedom of expression and of the press.

SECRETARY PEREZ VS. SANDIGANBAYAN
AM 01-4-03 SC JUNE 29, 2001
Facts:
On 13 March 2001, the KapisananngmgaBroadKasterngPilipinas(KBP), an association representing duly franchised and authorized television and radio networks throughout the country, sent a letter requesting the Court to allow live media coverage of the anticipated trial of the plunder and other criminal cases filed against former President Joseph E. Estrada before the Sandiganbayan in order "to assure the public of full transparency in the proceedings of an unprecedented case in our history."2 The request was seconded by Mr. Cesar N. Sarino in his letter of 05 April 2001 to the Chief Justice and, still later, by Senator Renato Cayetano and Attorney Ricardo Romulo.

ISSUE: What is the extent of the right to information of the press on covering judicial proceedings?
RULING:
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.16
The courts recognize the constitutionally embodied freedom of the press and the right to public information. It also approves of media's exalted power to provide the most accurate and comprehensive means of conveying the proceedings to the public and in acquainting the public with the judicial process in action; nevertheless, within the courthouse, the overriding consideration is still the paramount right of the accused to due process17 which must never be allowed to suffer diminution in its constitutional proportions. Justice Clark thusly pronounced, "while a maximum freedom must be allowed the press in carrying out the important function of informing the public in a democratic society, its exercise must necessarily be subject to the maintenance of absolute fairness in the judicial process."


G.R. Nos. 79690-707 October 7, 1988
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR vs. RAUL M. GONZALEZ,
FACTS:
The following are the subjects of this Resolution filed by the Petitioner : a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar against public respondent Special Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzalez, in connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578. and a Resolution of this Court dated 2 May 1988 requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making certain public statements.
The Motion cited as bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing of the information against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 12570 before the Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous statements to the media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the latter, petitioner annexed to his Motion a photocopy of a news article which appeared in the 30 November 1987 issue of the "Philippine Daily Globe."
ISSUE: Are lawyers entitled to the same degree of latitude of freedom of speech towards the Court?
RULING:
No. The Court begins by referring to the authority to discipline officers of the court and members of the Bar. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Court's constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as well authority to regulate the practice itself of law. Moreover, the Supreme Court has inherent power to punish for contempt, to control in the furtherance of justice the conduct of ministerial officers of the Court including lawyers and all other persons connected in any manner with a case before the Court.
Only slightly (if at all) less important is the public interest in the capacity of the Court effectively to prevent and control professional misconduct on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost, indispensable participants in the task of rendering justice to every man. Some courts have held, persuasively it appears to us, and that a lawyer's right of free expression may have to be more limited than that of a layman.
While the Court may allow criticism it has In Re: Almacen held: Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action. The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their tempers.




A.M. No. 93-7-696-0 February 21, 1995
In Re JOAQUIN T. BORROMEO, Ex Rel. Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Facts:
The respondent in this case, Joaquin T. Borromeo, who has, for some sixteen (16) years now, from 1978 to the present, been instituting and prosecuting legal proceedings in various courts, dogmatically pontificating on errors supposedly committed by the courts, including the Supreme Court. Under the illusion that his trivial acquaintance with the law had given him competence to undertake litigation, he has ventured to represent himself in numerous original and review proceedings. Expectedly, the results have been disastrous. In the process, and possibly in aid of his interminable and quite unreasonable resort to judicial proceedings, he has seen fit to compose and circulate many scurrilous statements against courts, judges and their employees, as well as his adversaries, for which he is now being called to account. In those publicly circulated writings, he calls judges and lawyers ignorant, corrupt, oppressors, violators of the Constitution and the laws, etc.
ISSUE: Are lawyers entitled to the same degree of latitude of freedom of speech towards the Court?
RULING:
No. There can scarcely be any doubt of Borromeo's guilt of contempt, for abuse of and interference with judicial rules and processes, gross disrespect to courts and judges and improper conduct directly impeding, obstructing and degrading the administration of justice. He stubbornly litigated issues already declared to be without merit, rendered adversely to him in many suits and proceedings, rulings which had become final and executory, obdurately and unreasonably insisting on the application of his own individual version of the rules, founded on nothing more than his personal (and quite erroneous) reading of the Constitution and the law; he has insulted the judges and court officers, including the attorneys appearing for his adversaries, needlessly overloaded the court dockets and sorely tried the patience of the judges and court employees who have had to act on his repetitious and largely unfounded complaints, pleadings and motions. On the contention that he "was exercising his rights of freedom of speech, of expression, and to petition the government for redress of grievances as guaranteed by the Constitution (Sec. 4, Art. III) and in accordance with the accountability of public officials." The constitutional rights invoked by him afford no justification for repetitious litigation of the same causes and issues, for insulting lawyers, judges, court employees; and other persons, for abusing the processes and rules of the courts, wasting their time, and bringing them into disrepute and disrespect

A.C. No. 7199 July 22, 2009
FOODSPHERE, INC. - versus - ATTY. MELANIO L. MAURICIO, JR.
FACTS:
Foodsphere, Inc. (complainant), a corporation engaged in the business of meat processing and manufacture and distribution of canned goods and grocery products under the brand name “CDO,” filed a Verified Complaint for disbarment before the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) against Atty. Melanio L. Mauricio, Jr., popularly known as “Batas Mauricio” (respondent), a writer/columnist of tabloids including Balitang Patas BATAS, Bagong TIKTIK, TORO and HATAW!, and a host of a television program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS telecast over UNTV and of a radio program Double B-BATAS NG BAYAN aired over DZBB, for (1) grossly immoral conduct; (2) violation of lawyer’s oath and (3) disrespect to the courts and to investigating prosecutors.

Issue: Were the actuations of Atty. Mauricio within the Constitutional bounds of the freedom of the press?

RULING:
No. Respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers to refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For, as the IBP found, he engaged in deceitful conduct by, inter alia, taking advantage of the complaint against CDO to advance his interest – to obtain funds for his BATAS Foundation and seek sponsorships and advertisements for the tabloids and his television program. He also violated Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates:
A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.

For despite the pendency of the civil case against him and the issuance of a status quo order restraining/enjoining further publishing, televising and broadcasting of any matter relative to the complaint of CDO, respondent continued with his attacks against complainant and its products. At the same time, respondent violated Canon 1 also of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to “uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.” In Saberon v. Larong the Court held:
To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients.
However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive.

On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor and reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer’s language even in his pleadings must be dignified. (Underscoring supplied)


G.R. No. 103956 March 31, 1992
BLO UMPAR ADIONG vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
Facts:
Petitioner Blo Umpar Adiong, a senatorial candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections now assails the COMELEC's Resolution insofar as it prohibits the posting of decals and stickers in "mobile" places like cars and other moving vehicles. According to him such prohibition is violative of Section 82 of the Omnibus Election Code and Section 11(a) of Republic Act No. 6646. In addition, the petitioner believes that with the ban on radio, television and print political advertisements, he, being a neophyte in the field of politics stands to suffer grave and irreparable injury with this prohibition. The posting of decals and stickers on cars and other moving vehicles would be his last medium to inform the electorate that he is a senatorial candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections. Finally, the petitioner states that as of February 22, 1992 (the date of the petition) he has not received any notice from any of the Election Registrars in the entire country as to the location of the supposed "Comelec Poster Areas."

Issue: Is the COMELEC Resolution prohibiting the posting of decals and stickers except on COMELEC authorized posting areas, valid and constitutional?

Ruling:
No. The COMELEC's prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places whether public or private except in designated areas provided for by the COMELEC itself is null and void on constitutional grounds. The prohibition unduly infringes on the citizen's fundamental right of free speech enshrined in the Constitution (Sec. 4, Article III). There is no public interest substantial enough to warrant the kind of restriction involved in this case.
The questioned prohibition premised on the statute and as couched in the resolution is also void for overbreadth. Section 11 of Rep. Act 6646 is so encompassing and invasive that it prohibits the posting or display of election propaganda in any place, whether public or private, except in the common poster areas sanctioned by COMELEC.
Third, the constitutional objective to give a rich candidate and a poor candidate equal opportunity to inform the electorate as regards their candidacies, mandated by Article II, Section 26 and Article XIII, section 1 in relation to Article IX (c) Section 4 of the Constitution, is not impaired by posting decals and stickers on cars and other private vehicles. Compared to the paramount interest of the State in guaranteeing freedom of expression, any financial considerations behind the regulation are of marginal significance.
In sum, the prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places whether public or private except in the authorized areas designated by the COMELEC becomes censorship which cannot be justified by the Constitution:

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