Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal a. Kaisahan ng Manggagawa v. Gotamco Saw Mill (GR No. L-1573, 29 March 1948) Facts: The Kaisahan ng Manggagawa ng Kahoy sa Pilipinas declared a strike against Gotamco Saw Mill because the latter did not accede to the former’s request of a salary increase. While the case was being heard by the Court of Industrial Relations, the parties reached a temporary wage arrangement and the workers were ordered to go back to work while the saw mill was ordered to increase the salaries of the workers by P2.00, let them take home small pieces of lumber to be utilized as firewood, and was enjoined from laying-off, suspending, or dismissing any laborer affiliated with the petitioning union. Conversely, the workers were enjoined from staging walk-outs or strikes during the pendency of the hearing. Gotamco Saw Mill subsequently filed an urgent motion asking that the petitioning union be held in contempt of court for having staged a strike during the pendency of the main case, for picketing on the premises of the saw mill, and for grave threats which prevented the remaining laborers from working. The union alleged that one of its representatives conferred with the management of the saw mill, but instead of entertaining their grievances, the saw mill ordered the stoppage of the work and employed four new Chinese laborers without express authority of the court and in violation of Section 19 of Commonwealth Act No. 103. The CIR ruled that there was a violation of the previous order of the CIR by the union, which warranted the commencement of contempt proceedings and that the saw mill did not violate Section 19 of CA 103. Issue: W/N Section 19 of CA 103 is unconstitutional for being in violation of the organic proscription of involuntary servitude. Ruling: NO. Section 19 of CA 103 does not offend against the constitutional inhibition proscribing involuntary servitude. The provisions of CA 103 were inspired by the constitutional injunction making it the concern of the State to promote social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all the people. In order to attain this object, Section 19 was promulgated which grants to labor what it grants to capital and denies to labor what it denies to capital. Among other things, Section 19 lays down the “implied condition that when any dispute between the employer or landlord and the employee, tenant or laborer has been submitted to the CIR for settlement or arbitration, pursuant to the provisions of the Act, and pending award or decision by it, the employee, tenant or laborer shall not strike or walk out of his employment when so joined by the court after hearing and when public interest so requires, and if he has already done so, that he shall forthwith return to it, upon order of the court, which shall be issued only after hearing when public interest so requires or when the dispute cannot, in its opinion, be promptly decided or settled.” Thus, the voluntariness of the employee’s entering into such a contract of employment—he has a free choice between entering into it or not—with such an implied condition, negatives the possibility of involuntary servitude ensuing. Issue: W/N the previous order of the CIR, which ordered the union laborers to go back to work, is unconstitutional for being in violation of the organic proscription of involuntary servitude. Ruling: NO. The order of the court was for the striking workers to return to their work. That order was made after hearing, and Section 19 of CA 103 authorizes such order when the dispute cannot in its opinion be promptly decided or settled. The very impossibility of prompt decision or settlement of the dispute confers upon the CIR the power to issue the order for the reason that the public has an interest in preventing undue stoppage or paralyzation of the wheels of industry.
Several laws promulgated which apparently infringe the human rights of individuals were “subjected to regulation by the State basically in the exercise of its paramount police power.” From Justice Perfecto’s concurring and dissenting opinion: If the laborers should feel that they are compelled against their will to perform something which is repugnant to their conscience or dignity, they need not resort to any court action to seek judicial settlement of the controversy, as they can resign from their work and there is no power that can compel them to continue therein.
b. People v. Bagasala (GR No. L-26182, 31 May 1971) Facts: At 2:00 in the morning, Macario Ongkit and his wife, Juliana, awoke when they heard the barking of their dog. Macario stood up and armed himself with a bolo and an iron pipe. When he got to his sala, he saw five men entering
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal his house. He recognized one of the men who wrested the iron pipe from him as Juanito Bagasala. Tomas Bagasala sought to take away Macario’s bolo. Juanito demanded from Juliana her key, which prompted her to exclaim, “Juanito, why are you doing this to us?” This was followed by her plea for help as she was beaten up by Juanito with the iron pipe. Tomas then succeeded in taking away Macario’s bolo, and wounded the latter on his head, causing him to fall on the floor. Macario regained consciousness in the morning and told his son to report the incident to the authorities. When the authorities arrived at Macario’s home, they saw the lifeless body of Juliana, the iron pipe, and the bolo stained with blood. Macario then told the Philippine Constabulary that the perpetrators were Tomas and Juanito Bagasala, who were brought to the hospital where Macario was and was readily identified by him. Juanito Bagasala then extrajudicially confessed under oath that he was among the group of five persons who went into the house of the Ongkit spouses precisely for taking away the palay therein. That admission, along with the testimony of Macario, led the lower court to convict Juanito and Tomas Bagasala for the crime of robbery with homicide and serious physical injuries and sentenced them to the penalty of reclusion perpetua. During appeal, Tomas escaped from prison, thus forfeiting his right to the said appeal. Issue:
W/N Juanito Bagasala should be acquitted because of the inadmissibility of his extrajudicial confession.
Ruling: NO. If Bagasala’s conviction were predicated solely on the confession, he would be entitled to acquittal, his attack on its voluntary character having support in the evidence of record (it was shown that he was beaten up by the police officers while he was being questioned in jail). The constant course of decisions of the Supreme Court, true to the meaning of the self-incrimination clause forbids the admission of any confession under such circumstances. It would be to render nugatory a valuable constitutional right if judges of the courts of first instance display less than full sensitivity to its command. A conviction resting on such proof, and such proof alone, certainly cannot be allowed to stand. Nonetheless, a reversal is not called for, as there is sufficient basis for the finding of guilt as the testimonial evidence is sufficiently weighty and his defense of alibi utterly unconvincing. In the light of the foregoing, the guilt of the accused having been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, the inadmissibility of the confession extorted from Juanito could not justify a reversal of his conviction.
There is, in the Constitution, a safeguard against the disclosure of incriminating facts. It does not bar the conviction of an accused on a voluntary extrajudicial statement. Certainly, however, where the confession is involuntary being due to maltreatment or induced by fear or intimidation, there is a violation of this constitutional provision. Any form of coercion whether physical, mental, or emotional thus stamps it with inadmissibility. What is essential for its validity is that it proceeds from the free will of the person confessing. This is the prevailing principle even prior to the Constitution. Involuntary confessions are rejected by all courts—by some on the ground that a concession so obtained is unreliable and by some on the grounds of humanitarian principles which abhor all forms of torture or unfairness toward the accused in criminal proceedings. But either theory arrives at the same goal. Such a confession is not legal evidence and must be rejected. If the accused satisfactorily shows that it was made involuntarily, the confessions stand discredited in the eyes of the law and is a thing which never existed. The provision that no one is bound to criminate himself is older than the Government of the United States. At an early day it became a part of the common law of England. It was established on the grounds of public policy and humanity—of policy, because if the party were required to testify, it would place the witness under the strongest temptation to commit the crime of perjury, and of humanity, because it would prevent the exhorting of confessions by duress. It is likewise timely to impress anew on police officials that the imperative requirements of truth and of humanity condemn the utilization of force and violence to extract confessions from unwilling victims. Crime must be punished and the guilty must not be allowed to escape. A desirable end cannot, however, be attained by unconstitutional means. There should be less than full respect for the law if in the process of enforcing it lawless methods are employed. The Supreme Court manifests in the strongest possible language its abhorrence for the employment of force to compel a person to sign a statement acknowledging guilt. A decent regard for the dignity that attaches to every human being as such will be satisfied with nothing less.
c. People v. Galit (GR No. L-51770, 20 March 1985)
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Facts: Francisco Galit was picked up by the Montalban police on suspicion for the killing of Mrs. Natividad Francisco, a widow. After he was taken by the Montalban police, the case was referred to the National Bureau of Investigation in view of the alleged limited facilities of the Montalban police station. Accordingly, Galit was brought to the NBI where he was investigated by a team headed by NBI Agent Carlos Flores. The following day, Galit voluntarily executed a Salaysay admitting participation in the commission of the crime, also implicating Juling and Pabling Dulay as his companions in its commission. As a result, he was charged with the crime of Robbery with Homicide before the Circuit Trial Court of Pasig. During trial, a witness stated that he overheard Galit quarrelling with his wife about his intention to leave their residence immediately because he and his two companions robbed and killed Natividad Fernando. On the other hand, Galit denied participation in the commission of the crime and also assailed the admissibility of the extrajudicial confession extracted from him through torture, force and intimidation. He recounted that he was mauled and tortured by the NBI officers by covering his face with a rag and pushing his face into a toilet bowl full of human waste. He had no counsel when the confession was extracted from him. He admitted what the investigating officers wanted him to admit and he signed the confession they prepared. Later, against his will, he posed for pictures as directed by his investigators, purporting it to be a re-enactment. This notwithstanding, the trial court found Galit guilty and sentenced him to suffer the death penalty. Issue:
W/N Francisco Galit should be acquitted on the ground that his extrajudicial confession is inadmissible.
Ruling: YES. The evidence presented by the prosecution does not support a conviction. In fact, the findings of the trial court relative to the acts attributed to the accused are not supported by competent evidence. There were no eyewitnesses, no property recovered from the accused, no state witnesses, and not even fingerprints of the accused at the scene of the crime. The only evidence against the accused is his alleged confession. The alleged confession and the pictures of the supposed re-enactment are inadmissible as evidence because they were obtained in a manner contrary to law. Galit acquitted. Issue:
How is the inadmissibility of the extrajudicial confession shown?
Ruling: Through the statement itself. The first question was a very long Tagalog question followed by a monosyllabic answer. It does not satisfy the requirements of the law that the accused be informed of his rights under the Constitution and our laws. Instead, there should be several short and clear questions and every right explained in simple words in a dialect or language known to the person under investigation. The accused is from Samar and there is no showing that he understands Tagalog. Moreover, at the time of his arrest, the accused was not permitted to communicate with his lawyer, a relative, or a friend. In fact, his sisters and other relatives did not know that he had been brought to the NBI for investigation and it was only about two weeks after he had executed the Salaysay that his relatives were allowed to visit him. His statement does not even contain any waiver of right to counsel and yet during the investigation he was not assisted by one. At the supposed reenactment, again accused was not assisted by the counsel of his choice. These constitute gross violation of his rights.
The correct procedure for peace officers to follow when making an arrest and in conducting a custodial investigation, according to Morales v. Ponce Enrile: At the time the person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer to inform him of the reason of the arrest and he must be shown the warrant of arrest, if any. He shall be informed of his constitutional right to remain silent and to counsel, and that any statement he might make could be used against him. The person arrested shall have the right to communicate with his lawyer, a relative, or anyone he chooses by the most expedient means—by telephone if possible—or by letter or messenger. It shall be the duty of the arresting officer to see that this is accomplished. No custodial investigation shall be conducted unless it be in the presence of counsel engaged by the person arrested, by any person on his behalf, or appointed by the court upon petition either of the detainee himself or by anyone on his behalf. The right to counsel may be waived but the waiver shall not be valid unless made with the assistance of counsel. Any statement obtained in violation of the procedure herein laid down, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, in whole or in part, shall be inadmissible in evidence. Trial courts are cautioned to look carefully into the circumstances surrounding the taking of any confession, especially where the prisoner claims having been maltreated into giving one. Where there is any doubt as to its voluntariness, the same must be rejected in toto.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal d. Association of Small Landowners v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform (GR Nos. 78742, 79310, 79744, and 79777, 14 July 1989) Facts: Several petitioners, mostly landowners and sugar planters, in these consolidated cases, assail the constitutionality of PD 27, EOs 228 and 229, and PP 131 for allegedly being violative of the constitutional provisions on just compensation, due process, and equal protection. The Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, on the other hand, invokes the right of retention granted by PD 27 to owners of rice and corn lands not exceeding 7 hectares as long as they are cultivating or intend to cultivate the same. Their respective lands do not exceed the statutory limit but are occupied by tenants who are actually cultivating such lands. Because PD 316 provides that no tenant-farmer in agricultural lands primarily devoted to rice and corn shall be ejected or removed from his farmholding until such time as the respective rights of the tenant-farmers and the landowner shall have been determined, they petitioned the Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the DAR Secretary to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said Presidential Decree, as they could not eject their tenants and so are unable to enjoy their right of retention. Issue:
W/N the assailed statutes violate the equal protection clause.
Ruling: NO. Petitioners have not shown that they belong to a different class and entitled to a different treatment. The argument that not only landowners but also owners of other properties must be made to share the burden of implementing land reform must be rejected. There is a substantial distinction between these two classes of owners that is clearly visible except to those who will not see. Issue:
W/N the assailed statutes are valid exercises of police power.
Ruling: YES. The subject and purpose of agrarian reform have been laid down by the Constitution itself, which satisfies the first requirement of a lawful subject. However, objection is raised to the manner of fixing the just compensation, which it is claimed is entrusted to the administrative authorities in violation of judicial prerogatives. However, there is no arbitrariness in the provision, as the determination of just compensation by the DAR is not by any means final and conclusive upon the landowner or any other interested party, because the law provides that the determination made by the DAR is only preliminary unless accepted by all parties concerned. Otherwise, the courts will still have the right to review with finality the said determination. Issue: W/N the content and manner of just compensation provided for in the CARP Law is violative of the Constitution. Ruling: NO. Although the traditional medium for payment of just compensation is money and no other, what is being dealt with here is not the traditional exercise of the power of eminent domain. This is a revolutionary kind of expropriation, which involves not mere millions of pesos. The initially intended amount of P50B may not be enough, and is in fact not even fully available at this time. The invalidation of the said section will result in the nullification of the entire program. Issue: W/N the CARP and EO 228 contravene a well-accepted principle of eminent domain by divesting the landowner of his property even before actual payment to him in full of just compensation. Ruling: NO. EO 228 categorically stated that all qualified farmer-beneficiaries were deemed full owners of the land they acquired under PD 27, after proof of full-fledged membership in the farmers’ cooperatives and full payment of just compensation. The CARP Law, for its part, conditions the transfer of possession and ownership of the land to the government on receipt by the landowner of the corresponding payment or the deposit by the DAR of the compensation in cash or LBP bonds with an accessible bank. Until then, title also remains with the landowner.
One of the basic principles of the democratic system is that where the rights of the individual are concerned, the end does not justify the means. There is no question that not even the strongest moral conviction or the most urgent public need, subject only to a few notable exceptions, will excuse the bypassing of an individual’s rights. It is no exaggeration to say that a person invoking a right guaranteed under Article III of the Constitution is a majority of one even as against the rest of the nation who would deny him that right.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal e. Ichong v. Hernandez (GR No. L-7995, 31 May 1957) Facts: Lao Ichong, for and in his own behalf and on behalf of other alien residents, corporations, and partnerships adversely affected by the provisions of Republic Act No. 1180, brought this action to obtain a judicial declaration that the said Act is unconstitutional and to enjoin the Secretary of Finance and all other persons acting under him, particularly city and municipal treasurers, from enforcing its provisions. RA 1180 is entitled “An Act to Regulate the Retail Business.” It, in effect, nationalizes the retail trade business. The main provisions of the Act are: (1) a prohibition against persons, not citizens of the Philippines, and against associations, partnerships, or corporations the capital of which are not wholly owned by citizens of the Philippines, from engaging directly or indirectly in the retail trade; (2) an exception from the above prohibition in favor of aliens actually engaged in said business from 15 May 1954, who are allowed to continue to engage therein, unless their licenses are forfeited in accordance with the law, until their death or voluntary retirement in case of natural persons, and for ten years after the approval of the Act or until the expiration of term in case of juridical persons; (3) an exception therefrom in favor of citizens and juridical entities of the United States; (4) a provision for the forfeiture of licenses (to engage in the retail business) for violation of the laws on nationalization, control weights and measures and labor and other laws relating to trade, commerce, and industry; (5) a prohibition against the establishment or opening by aliens actually engaged in the retail business of additional stores or branches of retail business; (6) a provision requiring aliens actually engaged in the retail business to present for registration with the proper authorities a verified statement concerning their businesses, giving, among other matters, the nature of their business, their assets and liabilities and their offices and principal offices of judicial entities; and (7) a provision allowing the heirs of aliens now engaged in the retail business who die, to continue such business for a period of six months for purposes of liquidation. Ichong contends that the Act denies to alien residents the equal protection of the laws and deprives of their liberty and property without due process of law and is thus unconstitutional. Issue: W/N RA 1180 is unconstitutional for denying to alien residents the equal protection of the laws and deprives them of their liberty and property without due process of law. Ruling: NO. The Act is not the product of racial hostility, prejudice or discrimination, but the expression of the legitimate desire and determination of the people, through their authorized representatives, to free the nation from the economic situation that has unfortunately been saddled upon it rightly or wrongly, to its disadvantage. The law is clearly in the interest of the public, nay, of the national security itself, and indisputably falls within the scope of police power, through which and by which the State insures its existence and security and the supreme welfare of its citizens. Moreover, we would be doing violence to fact and reality were we to hold that no reason or ground for a legitimate distinction can be found between one and the other. We do not have here in this country isolated groups of harmless aliens retailing goods among nationals; what we have are well organized and powerful groups that dominate the distribution of goods and commodities in the communities and big centers of population. They owe no allegiance or loyalty to the State, and the State cannot rely upon them in times of crisis or emergency. While the national holds his life, his person, and his property subject to the needs of his country, the alien may even become the potential enemy of the State. The alien’s interest in this country is merely transient and temporary. He never really makes a genuine contribution to national income and wealth. He undoubtedly contributes to general distribution, but the gains and profits he makes are not invested in industries that would help the country’s economy and increase national wealth. This shows the existence of real and actual, positive and fundamental differences between an alien and a national which fully justify the legislative classification adopted in the retail trade measure. These differences are certainly a valid reason for the State to prefer the national over the alien in the retail trade. The general rule is that aliens are under no special constitutional protection which forbids a classification otherwise justified simply because the limitation of the class falls along the lines of nationality. That would be requiring a higher degree of protection for aliens as a class than for similar classes of Filipino citizens. Broadly speaking, the difference in status between citizens and aliens constitutes a basis for reasonable classification in the exercise of police power. Issue:
W/N RA 1180 violates the Treaty of Amity between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of China.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Ruling: NO. All that the treaty guarantees is equality of treatment to the Chinese nationals “upon the same terms as the nationals of any other country.” But the nationals of China are not discriminated against because nationals of all other countries, except those of the United States, who are granted special rights by the Constitution, are all prohibited from engaging in the retail trade. But even supposing that the law infringes upon the said treaty, the treaty is always subject to qualification or amendment by a subsequent law, and the same may never curtail or restrict the scope of the police power of the State.
There is a general feeling on the part of the public, which appears to be true to fact, about the controlling and dominant position that the alien retailer holds in the nation’s economy. Official statistics unmistakably point out to the ever-increasing dominance and control by the alien of the retail trade. Although Filipinos have the edge in the number of retailers, aliens more than make up for the numerical gap through their assets and gross sales which average between six and seven times those of the very many Filipino retailers. Numbers in retailers do not imply superiority; the alien invests more capital, buys and sells six to seven times more, and gains much more. The native investment is thinly spread, and the Filipino retailer is practically helpless in matters of capital, credit, price, and supply. It is this domination and control that is the legislature’s target in the enactment of the disputed nationalization. With ample capital, unity of purpose and action and thorough organization, alien retailers and merchants can act in such complete unison and concert on such vital matters as the fixing of prices, the determination of the amount of goods or articles to be made available in the market, and even the choice of goods or articles they would or would not patronize or distribute, that fears of dislocation of the national economy and of the complete subservience of national economy and of the consuming public are not entirely unfounded. Grave abuses have characterized the exercise of the retail trade by aliens. The present dominance of the alien retailer, especially in the big centers of population, therefore, becomes a potential source of danger on occasions of war or other calamity. RA 1180 purports to protect citizen and country from the alien retailer. Through it, and within the field of economy it regulates, Congress attempts to translate national aspirations for economic independence and national security, rooted in the drive and urge for national survival and welfare, into a concrete and tangible measure designed to free the national retailer from the competing dominance of the alien, so that the country and the nation may be free from a supposed economic dependence and bondage. It has been said the police power is so far-reaching in scope, that it has become almost impossible to limit its sweep. As it derives its existence from the very existence of the State itself, it does not need to be expressed or defined in its scope; it is said to be co-extensive with self-protection and survival, and as such it is the most positive and active of all governmental processes, the most essential, insistent and illimitable. As we cannot foresee the needs and demands of public interest and welfare in this constantly changing and progressive world, so we cannot delimit beforehand the extent or scope of police power by which and through which the State seeks to attain or achieve interest or welfare. So it is that Constitutions do not define the scope or extent of the police power of the State; what they do is to set forth the limitations thereof. The most important of these are the due process clause and the equal protection clause, which is found in Section 1 of Article III of the Constitution. These constitutional guarantees which embody the essence of individual liberty and freedom in democracies, are not limited to citizens alone but are admittedly universal in their application, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality. The equal protection of the law clause is against undue favor and individual or class privilege, as well as hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality. It is not intended to prohibit legislation, which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by territory within which it is to operate. It does not demand absolute equality among residents; it merely requires that all persons shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and liabilities enforced. The equal protection clause is not infringed by legislation which applies only to those persons falling within a specified class, if it applies alike to all persons within such class, and reasonable grounds exist for making a distinction between those who fall within such class and those who do not. The due process clause has to do with the reasonableness of legislation enacted in pursuance of the police power. Is there public interest, a public purpose; is public welfare involved? Is the Act reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the legislature’s purpose; is it not unreasonable, arbitrary, or oppressive? Is there sufficient foundation or reason in connection with the matter involved; or has there not been a capricious use of the legislative power? Can the aims conceived be achieved by the means used, or is it not merely an
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
unjustified interference with private interest? These are the questions that we ask when the due process test is applied. There can be no absolute power, whoever exercises it, for that would be tyranny. Yet there can neither be absolute liberty, for that would mean license and anarchy. Police power, and the guarantees of due process and equal protection, are supposed to coexist. The balancing is the indispensable means for the attainment of legitimate aspirations of any democratic society. Thus, the State can deprive persons of life, liberty, and property, provided there is due process of law; and persons may be classified into classes and groups, provided that everyone is given the equal protection of the law. The police power legislation must be firmly grounded on public interest and welfare, and a reasonable relation must exist between purposes and means. And if distinction and classification has been made, there must be a reasonable basis for said distinction. The legislature, which is the constitutional repository of police power and exercises the prerogative of determining the policy of the State, is by force of circumstance primarily the judge of necessity, adequacy, or reasonableness and wisdom, of any law promulgated in the exercise of the police power, or of the measures adopted to implement the public policy or to achieve public interest. Courts are not supposed to override legitimate policy, and courts never inquire into the wisdom of the law. The power of the legislature to make distinctions and classifications among persons is not curtailed or denied by the equal protection of the laws clause. The legislative power admits of a wide scope of discretion, and a law can be violative of the constitutional limitation only when the classification is without reasonable basis.
f. Montero v. Chief of Police, 80 Phil. 853
A municipal councilor and a barrio lieutenant who arrested a priest who did not commit a crime and detained him are guilty of arbitrary detention. Even if the arrest or detention is legal but the arresting officer fails to deliver the person to judicial authorities within a reasonable period prescribed by law, the officer is guilty of arbitrary detention.
g. People v. Cuizon (GR No. 109287, 18 April 1996) Facts: According to the National Bureau of Investigation, it conducted a surveillance on Antolin Cuizon and his wife following information given to them regarding shabu. When they received information that the spouses were arriving from Hong Kong with a substantial amount of shabu, a team was organized to intercept the spouses. After Cuizon passed through the Immigration and Customs Areas of the NAIA, he allegedly handed four bags to Steve Pua and Paul Lee. The latter loaded the bags in a taxicab and went to the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati. The spouses boarded another vehicle. The NBI agents then coordinated with the Chief Security Officer of the said hotel where the suspects were apprehended after shabu was found in the bags that they had with them. Immediately thereafter, the NBI proceeded to the Cuizons’ house, where the officers were able to retrieve another bag of shabu, as well as a firearm. Cuizon was also arrested. They were all brought to the NBI Headquarters in Manila for further investigation. Later in the day, a roomboy of the Manila Peninsula Hotel found another bag of shabu concealed inside the ceiling of the room where Pua and Lee stayed. Pua interposed the defense of alibi, stating that he was engaged by Lee as an interpreter because Lee did not know how to speak English. The luggage wherein the shabu was found was allegedly brought into the room by a bellboy, followed by the NBI agents who asked to be let in. Pua only agreed to let them in when the CSO of the hotel arrived and identified the NBI agents. Pua and Lee were allegedly subsequently asked to sign a piece of paper, which they thought to be a slip of paper regarding their consent for the agents to see their room. The NBI agents thereafter sought to open the luggage, which Pua refused by stating that it was not theirs. Just the same, the NBI opened the bags and found the shabu. Cuizon, on the other hand, flatly denied the NBI’s version of the incident. He stated that he never met up with Pua and Lee, and that he was manhandled by the NBI at his home while he was resting. He further stated that the NBI ransacked his home without any warrant as he was forcibly brought out of the house with his hands bound with a necktie. Lee, who does not understand a word of English or Filipino and only knows Chinese-Cantonese, was not able to take the witness stand for lack of an interpreter. The three were eventually convicted for violating Section 15 of RA 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act. Issue:
W/N the warrantless arrests and searches conducted by the NBI legal and constitutional.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Ruling: NO. Scrutinizing the provisions of Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court on lawful arrests without warrant, which states that an arrest without warrant may be lawfully made by a peace officer or a private person: (a) When in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another. It may be noted that paragraph (c) is obviously inapplicable, the accused not being escapees from a penal institution at the time of the arrest. Paragraph (a) on the other hand requires that the person be arrested (i) after he has committed or while he is actually committing or is at least attempting to commit an offense, (ii) in the presence of the arresting officer(s). These requirements were not present in the case at bench, for at the time of their arrest, Pua and Lee were merely resting in their hotel room, and Cuizon was in bed resting with his wife and child inside his home. No offense had just been committed, or was being actually committed or being attempted by any of the accused in the presence of the lawmen. Paragraph (b) of the same provision is likewise inapplicable since its equally exacting requirements have also not been met. The prosecution failed to establish that at the time of the arrest, an offense had in fact just been committed and the arresting officers had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the accused had committed it. Cuizon could not, by the mere act of handing over four pieces of luggage to the other two accused, be considered to have committed the offense of “carrying and transporting” prohibited drugs. Under the circumstances of the case, there was no sufficient probable cause for the arresting officers to believe that the accused were then and there committing a crime. The act per se of handing over the baggage, assuming the prosecution’s version to be true, cannot be in any way considered a criminal act. Moreover, one cannot determine from the external appearance of the luggage that they contained “shabu” hidden beneath some secret panel or false bottom. The only reason why such act of parting with luggage took on the color and dimensions of a felonious deed, at least as far as the lawmen were concerned, was the alleged tip that the NBI agents purportedly received to the effect that Cuizon would be arriving that day with a shipment of shabu. All they heard was hearsay information, and about a crime that had yet to be committed. Furthermore, according to the testimonies of the NBI agents, not only did they rely merely on hearsay information, but they were completely uncertain that anything was really “going down” that day. Therefore, under the circumstances obtaining, the prosecution failed to establish that there was sufficient and reasonable ground for the NBI agent to believe that the accused had committed a crime at the point when the search and arrest of Pua and Lee were made; hence, the said search and arrest should be deemed illegal. The search on Cuizon’s residence without the benefit of a search warrant was also clearly illegal and the shabu seized thereat cannot but be considered inadmissible in evidence. Since Cuizon had timely raised before the Supreme Court the issue of illegality of his own arrest and the search and seizure conducted at his residence, and questioned the admission of the seized shabu in evidence; and since all the evidence seized against him are considered fruit of the poisonous tree, they are inadmissible against him, and thus, he is acquitted. Issue: Assuming the searches and arrests were illegal, whether the failure by Pua and Lee to explicitly assign the same as errors before the Court amounted to a waiver of their constitutional rights against such illegal searches and arrests. Ruling: YES. While the search and arrest carried out on Pua and Lee may have been illegal for not being incident to a lawful warrantless arrest, the unfortunate fact is that Pua had failed to challenge the validity of their arrest and search, as well as the admissibility of the evidence obtained thereby; he did not raise the issue or assign the same as an error before the Supreme Court. Accordingly, any possible challenge thereto based on constitutional grounds is deemed waived. Additionally, the handwritten consent to the search of their baggage was written in English, and states plainly that Pua and Lee freely consent to the search of their luggage to be conducted the NBI agents to determine if they are carrying shabu. Pua understands both Filipino and English, and his barefaced claim that he did not really read the consent before he signed the same and only meant for the NBI officers to enter the room is hardly worthy of belief, considering that prior to the search, he seemed to have been extra careful about who to let into the hotel room. The full weight of the prosecution’s testimonial evidence plus the large amount of prohibited drugs found, must be given full force vis-à-vis his claim of innocent presence in the hotel room, which is weak and not worthy of credence.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Lee’s situation, on the other hand, is different from Pua’s. The former was denied his right to counsel, for although he was provided one, he could not understand and communicate with him concerning his defense; further, he was denied his right to have compulsory process to guarantee the availability of witnesses and the production of evidence on his behalf, including the services of a qualified and competent interpreter to enable him to present his testimony. He was denied due process. For this reason, the case against Lee must be remanded to the court of origin for re-trial.
Well entrenched in this country is the rule that no arrest, search and seizure can be made without a valid warrant issued by competent judicial authority. So sacred is this right that no less than the fundamental law of the land ordains it. However, the right against warrantless arrest and search and seizure is not absolute. Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court enumerates the circumstances when a peace officer or a private person may lawfully make an arrest without a warrant. On occasion of any of those circumstances of legitimate arrest without warrant, the person arrested may be subjected to a search of his body and of his personal effects or belongings, “for dangerous weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of an offense,” likewise without need of a search warrant. Where a person is searched without a warrant, and under circumstances other than those justifying a warrantless arrest, upon a mere suspicion that he has embarked on some criminal activity, and/or for the purpose of discovering if indeed a crime has been committed by him, then the search made of such person as well as his arrest are deemed illegal. Consequently, any evidence which may have been obtained during such search, even if tending to confirm or actually confirming such initial suspicion, is absolutely inadmissible for any purpose and in any proceeding, the same being “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” Emphasis is to be laid on the fact that the law requires that the search be incident to a lawful arrest, in order that the search itself may likewise be considered legal. Therefore, it is beyond cavil that a lawful arrest must precede the search of a person and his belongings. Were a search is first undertaken, then an arrest effected based on evidence produced by the search, both such search and arrest would be unlawful, for being contrary to law. In arrests without a warrant, it is not enough that there is reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a crime. A crime must in fact or actually have been committed first. That a crime has actually been committed is an essential precondition. It is not enough to suspect that a crime may have been committed. The fact of the commission of the offense must be undisputed. The test of reasonable ground applies only to the identity of the perpetrator. Obiter: Murphy’s law—whatever could go wrong, goes wrong, and at the worst possible time
h. Valmonte v. De Villa (GR No. 83988, 29 September 1989) Facts: Ricardo Valmonte and the Union of Lawyers and Advocates for People’s Rights seek to have the checkpoints in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, or elsewhere, declared as unconstitutional and for the dismantling and banning of the same, or, in the alternative, to direct the National Capital Region District Command to formulate guidelines in the implementation of checkpoints, for the protection of the people. Petitioners claim that the checkpoints give the NCRDC a blanket authority to make searches and/or seizures without search warrant or court order in violation of the Constitution, and the installation of the said checkpoints make the residents of Valenzuela worried of being harassed and of their safety being placed at the arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical disposition of the military manning the checkpoints. Issue:
W/N the checkpoints should be declared unconstitutional.
Ruling: NO. Petitioners’ concern for their safety and apprehension at being harassed by military manning the checkpoints are not sufficient grounds to declare the checkpoints as per se illegal. No proof has been presented before the Court to show that, in the course of their routine checks, the military indeed committed specific violations of petitioners’ right against unlawful search and seizure or other rights. Valmonte’s general allegation to the effect that he had been stopped and searched without a search warrant by the military manning the checkpoints, without more, is not sufficient to enable the Court to determine whether there was a violation of Valmonte’s right against unlawful search and seizure. The setting up of the question checkpoints in Valenzuela (and probably in other areas) may be considered as a security measure to enable the NCRDC to pursue its mission of establishing effective territorial defense and maintaining peace and order for the benefit of the public. Checkpoints may also be regarded as measures to thwart plots
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal to destabilize the Government, in the interest of public security. Between the inherent right of the State to protect its existence and promote public welfare and an individual’s right against a warrantless search which is however reasonably conducted, the former should prevail. True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by the men in uniform, in the same manner that all governmental power is susceptible of abuse. But, at the cost of occasional inconvenience, discomfort and even irritation to the citizen, the checkpoints during these abnormal times, when conducted within reasonable limits, are part of the price we pay for an orderly society and a peaceful community. Petition dismissed.
The constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right invocable only by those whose rights have been infringed, or threatened to be infringed. What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search and seizure in any particular case is purely a judicial question, determinable from a consideration of the circumstances involved. Not all searches and seizures are forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but is to be resolved according to the facts of each case.
Justice Cruz’ dissent:
The bland declaration that individual rights must yield to the demands of national security ignores the fact that the Bill of Rights was intended precisely to limit the authority of the State even if asserted on the ground of national security. Unless we are vigilant of our rights, we may find ourselves back to the dark era of the truncheon and the barbed wire, with the Court itself a captive of its own complaisance and sitting at the deathbed of liberty.
Justice Sarmiento’s dissent:
The absence alone of a search warrant makes checkpoint searches unreasonable, and by itself, subject to constitutional challenges. As it is, checkpoints have become “search warrants” unto themselves, a roving one at that.
i. People v. Bolanos (GR No. 101808, 3 July 1992) Facts: Ramon Bolanos was tried for the murder of Oscar Pagdalian. He was convicted by the lower court based on the testimonies of the apprehending policemen, who stated that when they boarded Bolanos and his companion, Claudio Magtibay, on the police vehicle, Bolanos allegedly admitted that he killed Pagdalian because he was abusive. The penalty of reclusion perpetua was imposed upon him. A manifestation was filed by the Solicitor General’s Office, with the position that the lower court erred in admitting as evidence the extrajudicial confession of Bolanos while on board the police patrol jeep, for it was done in violation of Bolanos’ constitutional right to be informed, to remain silent, and to have a counsel of his choice, while under police custody. Issue:
W/N Bolanos’ confession is admissible.
Ruling: NO. Being already under custodial investigation while on board the police patrol jeep on the way to the Police Station where formal investigation may have been conducted, Bolanos should have been informed of his constitutional rights under Article III, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution. Considering the clear requirements of the Constitution with respect to the manner by which confession can be admissible in evidence, and the glaring fact that the alleged confession obtained while on board the police vehicle was the only reason for the conviction, besides Bolanos’ conviction was not proved beyond reasonable doubt, the Supreme Court has no recourse but to reverse the subject judgment under review. Bolanos is acquitted. j. People v. Basay (GR No. 86941, 3 March 1993)
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Facts: The spouses Zosimo and Beatrice Toting, together with one of their daughters, Bombie, were hacked inside their home. In order to conceal the crime, the perpetrators also burned the said house. Because of the fire, the spouses’ other daughter, Manolita, was burned to death, while one of their sons, Manolo, suffered second and third degree burns. Bombie survived the hacking and the burning and was found alive around forty meters away from the dead bodies of her family members almost two days after the crime was committed. Upon being found, Bombie allegedly related to the authorities that Jaime Ramirez and Teodoro Basay killed their parents and burned their house. She died a day later while confined in the hospital. After Bombie told the authorities who the perpetrators were, they went to Jaime’s house, and Jaime, upon seeing the police, tried to run. He was then turned over to the Pamplona police station and brought to the chamber of Judge Teopisto Calumpang, accompanied by Elpedio Catacutan, a barrister and a COMELEC registrar of the place, who acted as Jaime’s counsel. An affidavit, referred to as Jaime’s extrajudicial confession, was produced before the Judge, previously typed by a police investigating officer. The Judge then made the court interpreter translate the allegations of the sworn statement into the local dialect for Jaime, who did not understand English. Afterwards, Jaime and Catacutan signed the document in the presence of the Judge. After Teodoro was also apprehended by the police, he and Jaime allegedly executed a Joint Waiver wherein it was stated that for their safety and security, they voluntarily decided to be detained and that they killed the spouses and thereafter burned the spouses’ house which resulted in the death of one and hospitalization of two Toting children. During the trial, Jaime testified that he did not read the document that he signed before Judge Calumpang because he did not know how to read. He also did not understand when it was read to him because it was in English. He also stated that Catacutan was not his lawyer and that he did not know him, but only saw him for the first time in the Pamplona Municipal Hall while the latter was going upstairs. The trial court disregarded the joint waiver insofar as it tended to incriminate the accused and because when they signed the same, they were not represented by counsel, in violation of their rights as provided in Section 12, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. There being no other evidence against Teodoro, the court acquitted him. However, it admitted in evidence Jaime’s extrajudicial confession, considered as part of the res gestae the statement given by Bombie identifying Jaime and Teodoro as the perpetrators of the crime, and considered as flight—which is indicative of guilt—Jaime’s running away when he saw the law enforcers. It further ruled that Jaime signed the extrajudicial confession voluntarily and in the presence of counsel so it is therefore admissible against him. Jaime neither filed a notice of appeal, nor orally manifested his intention to appeal. However, the lower court transmitted the records of the case to the Supreme Court because in view of the penalty imposed—life imprisonment— the lower court raticionated that such decision is subject for automatic review by the Supreme Court. Although erroneous, the Supreme Court nonetheless accepted the appeal in the interest of justice. Issue: W/N the trial court erred in finding Jaime guilty on the basis of the alleged extrajudicial confession, the statement of Bombie Toting, and his presumed guilt because of his alleged flight. Ruling: YES. The confession, which is indisputably an uncounselled confession or admission, is inadmissible as evidence. A close scrutiny of the questioned extrajudicial confession reveals all possible violations of Jaime’s right to remain silent, to counsel, and to be informed of such rights, and of the safeguards prescribed by the Supreme Court for the holding of custodial investigations. These violations are: (a) The interrogation was conducted and the confession was written in English, a language that Jaime, a farmer in a remote barangay of Pamplona, cannot speak and does not understand; he only finished Grade II. There is no evidence to show that the interrogator, who was not even presented as a witness and remains unidentified, translated the questions and the answers into a dialect known and fairly understood by Jaime. (b) Jaime was not told that he could retain a counsel of choice and that if he cannot afford to do so, he could be provided with one. (c) He did not sign any waiver of his right to remain silent and to counsel.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal (d) He was not assisted by any counsel during the investigation. Instead, a certain Elpedio Catacutan, who claimed to have appeared for him as a “friend-counsel,” was present only at the time that Jaime was brought to the office of Judge Catacutan for the preparation of the jurat. (e) Assuming that Catacutan may have been summoned to act as Jaime’s counsel, he was, nevertheless, not present during the custodial interrogation which, by the way, was conducted a week before he was made to appear before Judge Calumpang. Catacutan’s presence before the Judge did not change the situation. As the Supreme Court stated in People v. Burgos, the securing of the counsel to help the accused when the latter subscribed under oath to his statement at the Fiscal’s Office was too late and had no palliative effect; it did not cure the absence of counsel at the time of the custodial investigation when the extrajudicial statement was being taken. (f) Furthermore, Catacutan is not a lawyer; according to the trial court, he is a barrister. In fact, he candidly admitted that he is not a lawyer but that he obtained a law degree from Siliman University in 1959. Unfortunately, however, he failed in three Bar Examinations. (g) There is no showing that the so-called extrajudicial confession, which is in English, was correctly explained and translated to Jaime by Judge Calumpang. Although the latter claimed in his testimony on direct examination that he translated the same in the local dialect to Jaime before the latter affixed his signature thereto, Catacutan categorically declared that it was the interpreter, one Pedro Rodriguez, who translated it to Jaime. (h) Finally, the kind of “advice” proffered by the unidentified interrogator belongs to that stereotyped class—a long question by the investigator informing Jaime of his right followed by a monosyllabic answer—which the Supreme Court has condemned for being unsatisfactory. The investigator gave his advice perfunctorily or in a pro-forma manner, obviously to pay mere lip service to the prescribed norms. This stereotyped advice has assumed the nature of a “legal form” or model. Its tired, punctilious, fixed and artificially stately style does not create an impression of voluntariness or even understanding on the part of the accused. The showing of a spontaneous, free, and unconstrained giving up of a right is missing. As for Bombie’s alleged statement given to the authorities identifying Jaime and Teodoro as the perpetrators of the heinous crime, it should also not have been admitted. In the first place, the trial court itself ruled that Bombie was not a competent witness. The Supreme Court agrees with such a conclusion, not necessarily because she was only 6 years old, but because her condition at the time she supposedly gave her statement made it impossible for her to have communicated effectively. She was taken from the crime scene two days after the commission of the crime, and died the day after. The doctor who first attended to her when she arrived at the hospital was not presented as a witness. On the other hand, the doctor who attended to her before she died testified that when he last saw Bombie alive, she could not talk. It was this inability to talk which led the trial court to express its doubts on the veracity of the child’s statement. Although persons of tender age are prone to tell the truth, however, the Court must be cautious in appreciating said testimony where the person had a serious wound and had not eaten for one day and one night. There is no evidence to show that Bombie told the doctor as to who were the perpetrators of the crime; neither did she tell her own brother, Zosimo Jr. that it was Jaime and Teodoro who killed their parents and her brother and sister and burned their house. The Court cannot understand why the law enforcer who talked to her did not ask her questions concerning the commission of the crime by the accused. Neither did they take her statement from her on her way to the hospital or at the hospital. Had her statement been made to the doctor or to the barangay captain or to any reputable member of the community where the incident happened, the Court will have put weight and consider her statement as a dying declaration. Persons in authority are prone to fabricate or misrepresent the facts to serve their own purpose. The Court therefore has to be cautious when these peace officers testify in Court. In the second place, as a result of the foregoing, the trial court completely disregarded Bombie’s so-called statement as against Teodoro. The Supreme Court sees neither rhyme nor reason for the trial court’s admission of the same as against Jaime. Finally, while it may be true that Jaime ran away when he first saw the armed law officers, he did so merely out of fear of them. This act should not be considered as the flight which is indicative of guilt. Jaime had not left his house or barangay since the day the crime was committed. If he were indeed one of the perpetrators and had the intention to flee in order to avoid arrest, he should have vanished sooner and should not have remained in his house. Besides, if his running away could be construed as flight, it could only be considered as circumstantial evidence. Such evidence would still be insufficient for a conviction.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Hence, Jaime’s guilt was not established with moral certainty. He should be acquitted.
Miranda v. Arizona emphasized that statements made during the period of custodial interrogation to be admissible require a clear intelligent waiver of constitutional rights, the suspect being warned prior to the questioning that he has a right to remain silent, that any utterance may be used against him, and that he has the right to the presence of a counsel, either retained or appointed. The prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. By custodial investigation, we mean questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. As for the procedural safeguards to be employed, unless other fully effective means are devised to inform accused of their right to silence and to assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, the following measures are required. Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of those rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. If, however, he indicates in any manner and at any stage of the process that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking, there can be no questioning. Likewise, if the individual is alone and indicates in any manner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him. The mere fact that he may have answered some questions or volunteered some statements on his own does not deprive him of the right to refrain from answering any further inquiries until he has consulted with an attorney and thereafter consents to be questioned. Morales v. Enrile prescribes the procedure to be followed by peace officers when making an arrest and when a custodial investigation, thus: At the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer to inform him of the reason for the arrest and he must be shown the warrant of arrest, if any. He shall be informed of his constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any statement he might make could be used against him. The person arrested shall have the right to communicate with his lawyer, a relative, or anyone he chooses by the most expedient means—by telephone if possible—or by letter or messenger. It shall be the responsibility of the arresting officer to see to it that this is accomplished. No custodial investigation shall be conducted unless it be in the presence of counsel engaged by the person arrested, by any person on his behalf, or appointed by the court upon petition either of the detainee himself or by anyone on his behalf. The right to counsel may be waived but the waiver shall not be valid unless made with the assistance of counsel. Any statement obtained in violation of the procedure herein laid down, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, in whole or in part, shall be inadmissible in evidence. In People v. Nicandro, the Supreme Court declared that one’s right to be informed of the right to remain silent and to counsel contemplates “the transmission of meaningful information rather than just the ceremonial and perfunctory recitation of an abstract constitutional principle. Thus, it is not enough for the interrogator to merely repeat to the person under investigation the provisions of Section 12, Article III of the 1987 Constitution; the former must also explain the effects of such provision in practical terms and in a language the subject fairly understands. The “right to be informed” carries with it a correlative obligation on the part of the police investigator to explain, and contemplates effective communication which results in the subject’s understanding of what is conveyed. Since it is comprehension that is sought to be attained, the degree of explanation required will necessarily vary and depend on the education, intelligence, and other relevant personal circumstances of the person undergoing investigation. In further ensuring the right to counsel, it is not enough that the subject is informed of such right; he should also be asked if he wants to avail of the same and should be told that he could ask for counsel if he so desired or that one could be provided him at his request. If he decides not to retain counsel of his choice or avail of one to be provided for him and, therefore, chooses to waive his right to counsel, such waiver, to be valid and effective, must still be made with the assistance of counsel. That counsel must be a lawyer. Moreover, the adjectives competent and independent, which qualify the kind of counsel an accused is entitled to during investigation, are meant to stress the primacy of this right to counsel.
k. Javier v. COMELEC (GR Nos. L-68379-81, 22 September 1986)
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Facts: Evelio Javier and Arturo Pacificador were candidates in Antique for the Batasang Pambansa in the May 1984 elections. Javier appeared to enjoy more popular support but the latter had the advantage of being the nominee of the KBL with all its perquisites of power. On the eve of the elections, some of Javier’s followers were ambushed and killed, allegedly by Pacificador’s men. Javier, after the elections, went to the COMELEC to question the canvass of the election returns. He charged that the elections were marred by “massive terrorism, intimidation, duress, vote-buying, fraud, tampering and falsification of election returns under duress, threat and intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes perpetrated by the armed men of Pacificador.” The Second Division of the COMELEC, of which one of Pacificador’s former law partners was a Member, directed the provincial board of canvassers of Antique to proceed with the canvass but to suspend the proclamation of the winning candidate until further orders. Subsequently, the same Second Division ordered the board to immediately convene and to proclaim the winner without prejudice to the outcome of the case before the Commission. On certiorari before the Supreme Court, the proclamation by the canvassers was set aside as premature, having been made before the lapse of the five-day period of appeal, which Javier had seasonably made. The Second Division finally promulgated the decision dismissing the complaints of Javier and proclaiming Pacificador as the elected assemblyman of Antique. Javier then appealed to the Supreme Court, with a prayer to annul the decision proclaiming Pacificador as the winner. In 1986, while the case was pending, Javier was gunned down in broad daylight. The EDSA Revolution subsequently toppled the Marcos regime, which brought about the abolition of the Batasang Pambansa. Issue:
W/N Javier’s petition should be dismissed for being moot and academic in the light of supervening events.
Ruling: NO. Several lives have been lost in connection with this case, including that of petitioner Javier’s himself. Pacificador is now in hiding. The purity of suffrage has been defiled and the popular will scorned through a confabulation of those in authority. The Supreme Court cannot keep silent in the face of these terrible facts. Were it not for the supervening events that have legally rendered it moot and academic, this petition would have been granted and the contested decision of the COMELEC set aside as being violative of the Constitution. Issue:
How was Javier denied due process?
Ruling: Commissioner Opinion, one of the Second Division Commissioners, ignored due process of law when he did not inhibit himself from the proceedings on the ground that he was formerly Pacificador’s law partner. For refusing to do so, he divested the Second Division of the necessary vote for the questioned decision, assuming it could act, and rendered the proceeding null and void.
Due process of law is intended to insure confidence in the courts by requiring compliance with what Justice Frankfurter calls the rudiments of fair play. Fair play calls for equal justice. There cannot be equal justice where a suitor approaches a court already committed to the other party and with a judgment already made and waiting only to be formalized after the litigants shall have undergone the charade of a formal hearing. Judicial (and also extrajudicial) proceedings are not orchestrated plays in which the parties are supposed to make the motions and reach the denouement according to a prepared script. There is no writer to foreordain the ending. The judge will reach his conclusions only after all the evidence is in and all the arguments are filed, on the basis of the established facts and the pertinent law. The relationship of the judge with one of the parties may color the facts and distort the law to the prejudice of a just decision. Where this is probable or even only possible, due process demands that the judge inhibit himself, if only out of a sense of delicadeza.
l. People v. Ramos (GR No. L-59318, 16 May 1983) Facts: Malcon Olevere was stopped and frisked by police officers when they saw him acting suspiciously during one evening, and found in his possession dried marijuana leaves. Olevere was then placed under arrest. During investigation, Olevere declared that he bought the recovered marijuana leaves from Rogelio Ramos, alias “Balanchoy.” The following day, a police team was accompanied by Olevere to the residence of Ramos, and Ramos was arrested and immediately brought to the Drugs Enforcement Section Western Police Department Headquarters for investigation.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal During the custodial investigation, Olevere executed a written sworn statement implicating Ramos as the source of the marijuana leaves. Ramos, after having been duly apprised of his constitutional rights, verbally admitted before the police officers the commission of the offense charged. He likewise admitted that he sold the marijuana leaves to Olevere for P10.00. He pleaded not guilty upon arraignment. Documentary evidence, as well as the policemen who took down Olevere’s sworn statement and arrested Ramos, and a forensic chemist who affirmed that the leaves confiscated from Olevere are positive for marijuana were presented. Olevere was not. After the trial, the Court of First Instance of Manila found Ramos guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged in view of the verbal admission Ramos himself gave and the evidence offered and admitted in court. The case was raised to the Supreme Court on automatic review. Issue: W/N the confession of Ramos to the police officers of the commission of the offense charged is admissible as evidence against him. Ruling: NO. Ramos only finished Grade VI, which means that he is not adequately educated to understand fairly and fully the significance of his constitutional rights to silence and to counsel. As mandated, it is not enough that the police investigator merely informs him of his constitutional rights to silence and to counsel, and then taking his statements down, the interrogating officer must have patience in explaining these rights to him. The records do not reveal that these requirements have been fully complied with, nor was there any showing that Ramos has been represented by counsel during custodial investigation. In consonance with Section 20 of the Bill of Rights which states that “any confession obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in evidence,” the Supreme Court holds that Ramos’ verbal admissions during custodial investigation may not be taken in evidence against him. Issue: W/N the constitutional right of Ramos to meet the witness against him face to face and to cross-examine him has been violated by the non-presentation of Olevere in court. Ruling: YES. The lower court erred in admitting as evidence the written sworn affidavit of Olevere, who executed the written sworn statement declaring that Ramos sold to him the marijuana leaves for P10.00. This piece of evidence is a mere scrap of paper because Olevere was not produced in court for cross-examination. An affidavit being taken exparte is often incomplete and inaccurate. Such kind of evidence is considered hearsay. For the court to admit the sworn statement of Olevere without giving the adverse party the right to cross-examine him would easily facilitate the fabrication of evidence and the perpetration of fraud. The inadmissibility of this sort of evidence is based, not only on the lack of opportunity on the part of the adverse party to cross-examine the affiant, but also on the commonly known fact that, generally, an affidavit is not prepared by the affiant himself but by another who uses his own language in writing the affiant’s statements which may either be omitted or misunderstood by the one writing them. Since Olevere was not presented as a witness, the testimonies offered by the witnesses for the prosecution are regarded as hearsay, insofar as they impute to Ramos the commission of the offense charged. Ramos acquitted, his guilt not having been established beyond reasonable doubt.
Testimony in open court in actual trial cannot be equated with any out-of-court declaration, even when the witness has in fact been confronted already by the defendant. The direct relevance of the trial to the ultimate judgment as to the guilt or innocence of the accused is not present in any other proceeding and is thus a factor that can influence materially the conduct and demeanor of the witness as well as the respective efforts of the counsels of the parties. A witness may not testify as to what he merely learned from others, either because he was told or having read or heard the same. Such testimony is considered hearsay and may not be received as proof of the truth of what he has learned.
m. Chavez v. CA (GR No. L-29169, 19 August 1968) Facts: Roger Chavez, along with eight others, were accused of stealing a Thunderbird car. Upon arraignment, all of the accused except those three who have not been identified nor apprehended, pleaded not guilty. The trial began with the prosecution spontaneously calling Roger Chavez to the witness stand as an ordinary witness, without previously
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal informing Chavez’ counsel, Atty. Carbon. Atty. Carbon vehemently objected, to no avail. The Judge called Chavez to the witness stand, stating that it is the right of the prosecution to ask anybody to act as witness on the witness stand including the accused, and that the defense counsel could not object to have the accused called on the witness stand. There, Chavez was subjected to direct examination. After Chavez’ examination, the court gathered enough information to free all the accused except him, who was found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of qualified theft. Chavez appealed to the Court of Appeals. The CA dismissed the appeal on procedural grounds. Chavez appealed to the Supreme Court. Issue: W/N Chavez’ right against self-incrimination was violated when he was compelled to testify against himself in open court. Ruling: YES. Chavez was forced to testify to incriminate himself, in full breach of his constitutional right to remain silent. When the Judge of the trial court emphatically stated that Chavez’ counsel cannot object to Chavez being called to the witness stand, Chavez had to take the stand. He was thus peremptorily asked to create evidence against himself. The Judge’s statement that Chavez’ counsel could not object to have the latter called on the witness stand wielded authority. By those words, Chavez was enveloped by a coercive force; they deprived him of his will to resist; they foreclosed choice; the realities of human nature tell us that as he took his oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, no genuine consent underlay submission to take the witness stand. Constitutionally sound consent was absent. The decision convicting him was clearly of the view that the case for the People was built primarily around the admissions of Chavez himself. The trial court described Chavez as the “star witness for the prosecution.” Issue: W/N Chavez waived his right against self-incrimination when he answered the questions and did not invoke the said right upon taking the witness stand. Ruling: NO. It cannot be said that he has waived his right. He did not volunteer to take the stand and in his own defense; he did not offer himself as a witness; on the contrary, he claimed the right upon being called to testify. If he answered the questions in spite of his fear of being accused of perjury or being put under contempt, this circumstance cannot be counted against him. His testimony is not of his own choice. To him it was a case of compelled submission. He was a cowed participant in proceedings before a judge who possessed the power to put him under contempt had he chosen to remain silent. Nor could he escape testifying. The court made it abundantly clear that his testimony at least on direct examination would be taken right then and there on the first day of the trial. It matters not, after all efforts to stave off his taking the stand became fruitless, no objections to questions propounded to him were made. Here involved is not a mere question of self-incrimination. It is a defendant’s constitutional immunity from being called to testify against himself. And the objection made at the beginning is a continuing one. There is therefore no waiver of the privilege, because a waiver, to be effective, must be certain and unequivocal, and intelligently, understandably, and willingly made; such waiver following only where liberty of choice has been fully accorded. The defense of waiver, therefore, cannot stand. If, by his own admission, the defendant proved his guilt, still, his original claim remains valid. For the privilege against self-incrimination is a rampart that gives protection—even to the guilty. Chavez ordered discharged from custody, unless he is held, kept in custody, or detained for any cause or reason other than the said judgment.
It has been said that forcing a man to be a witness against himself is at war with “the fundamentals of a republican government;” that it may suit the purposes of despotic power but it cannot abide the pure atmosphere of political liberty and personal freedom. The maxim nemo tenetur seipsum accusare had its origin in a protest against the inquisitorial and manifestly unjust methods of interrogating accused persons, which had long obtained in the continental system, and, until the expulsion of the Stuarts from the British throne in 1688, and the erection of additional barriers for the protection of the people against the exercise of arbitrary power, was not uncommon even in England. While the admissions of confessions of the prisoner, when voluntarily and freely made, have always ranked high in the scale of incriminating evidence, if an accused person be asked to explain his apparent connection with a crime under investigation, the ease with which the questions put to him may assume an inquisitorial character, the temptation to press the witness unduly, to browbeat him if he be timid or reluctant, to push him into a corner, and to entrap him into fatal contradictions, which is so painfully evident in many of the earlier state
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
trials, notably in those of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, and Udal, the Puritan minister, made the system so odious as to give rise to a demand for its total abolition. The change in the English criminal procedure in that particular seems to be founded upon no statute and no judicial opinion, but upon a general and silent acquiescence of the courts in a popular demand. But, however adopted, it has become firmly embedded in English, as well as in American jurisprudence. So deeply did the iniquities of the ancient system impress themselves upon the minds of the American colonists that the states, with one accord, made a denial of the right to question an accused person a part of their fundamental law, so that a maxim which in England was a mere rule of evidence, became clothed in this country with the impregnability of a constitutional enactment. The right against self-incrimination is not merely a formal technical rule the enforcement of which is left to the discretion of the court; it is mandatory; it secures to a defendant a valuable and substantive right; it is fundamental to our scheme of justice. It is in this context that the Supreme Court states that the constitutional guarantee may not be treated with unconcern. US v. Navarro reaffirms the rule that the constitutional proscription of self-incrimination was established on broad grounds of public policy and humanity; of policy because it would place the witness against the strongest temptation to commit perjury, and of humanity because it would be to extort a confession of truth by a kind of duress every species and degree of which the law abhors. The court may not extract from a defendant’s own lips and against his will an admission of his guilt. Nor may a court as much as resort to compulsory disclosure, directly or indirectly, of facts usable against him as a confession of the crime or the tendency of which is to prove the commission of a crime. Because, it is his right to forego testimony, to remain silent, unless he chooses to take the witness stand—with undiluted, unfettered exercise of his own free, genuine will. Compulsion as it is understood here does not necessarily connote the use of violence; it may be the product of unintentional statements. Pressure which operates to overbear his will, disable him from making a free and rational choice, or impair his capacity for rational judgment would in the Supreme Court’s opinion be sufficient. So is moral coercion “tending to force testimony from the unwilling lips of the defendant.” An accused occupies a different tier of protection from an ordinary witness. Whereas an ordinary witness may be compelled to take the witness stand and claim the privilege as each question requiring an incriminating answer is shot at him, the accused may altogether refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any and all questions. In reality, the purpose of calling an accused as a witness for the People would be to incriminate him. The rule positively intends to avoid and prohibit the certainly inhuman procedure of compelling a person to furnish the missing evidence necessary for his conviction. This rule may apply even to a co-defendant in a joint trial. The guide in the interpretation of the constitutional precept that the accused shall not be compelled to furnish evidence against himself is not the probability of the evidence but it is the capability of abuse. While a defendant’s knowledge of the facts remains concealed in his bosom, he is safe; but draw it from thence, and he is exposed—to conviction. Habeas corpus is a high prerogative writ. It is traditionally considered an exceptional remedy to release a person whose liberty is illegally restrained such as when the accused’s constitutional rights are disregarded. Such defect results in the absence or loss of jurisdiction and therefore invalidates the trial and the consequent conviction of the accused whose fundamental right was violated. That void judgment of conviction may be challenged by collateral attack, which precisely is the function of habeas corpus. This writ may issue even if another remedy which is less effective may be availed of by the defendant. Thus, failure by the accused to perfect his appeal before the CA does not preclude a recourse to the writ. The writ may be granted upon a judgment already final.
From Justice Castro’s dissent:
Dean Griswold: The privilege against self-incrimination is one of the great landmarks in man’s struggle to make himself civilized… We do not make even the most hardened criminal sign his own death warrant, or dig his own grave, or pull the lever that springs the trap on which he stands. We have through the course of history developed considerable feeling of the dignity and intrinsic importance of the individual man. Even the evil man is a human being. The Government must establish guilt by evidence independently and freely secured; it cannot by coercion prove a charge against an accused out of his own mouth.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
Vindication of due process is precisely the historic office of the Great Writ (habeas corpus). Justice Douglas: The challenge to our liberties comes frequently not from those who consciously seek to destroy our system of government, but from men of goodwill—good men who allow their proper concerns to blind them to the fact that what they propose to accomplish involves an impairment of liberty. The motives of these men are often commendable. What we must remember, however, is that preservation of liberties does not depend on motives. A suppression of liberty has the same effect whether the suppressor be a reformer or an outlaw. The only protection against misguided zeal is constant alertness to infractions of the guarantees of liberty contained in our Constitution. Each surrender of liberty to the demands of the moment makes easier another, larger surrender. The battle over the Bill of Rights is a never ending one. The liberties of any person are the liberties of all of us. In short, the liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected. But even if we sense no danger to our own liberties, even if we feel secure because we belong to a group that is important and respected, we must recognize that our Bill of Rights is a code of fair play for the less fortunate that we in all honor and good conscience must observe.
n. People v. Ale (GR No. 70998, 14 October 1986) Facts: Philippine Constabulary officers Sgt. Alejandro Binan and Sgt. Teodosio Rosaroso were informed of the presence of a drug pusher in the Knights of Columbus recreation center in Tagbilaran. Because of said information, the two officers as well as another Sgt. Romitera, along with their informant, had a short briefing wherein they supplied their informant with two pieces of five-peso bills marked money to buy the marijuana from the suspected drug pusher, Rogelio Ale, who is a pinboy, billiard keeper, and collector of fees at the recreation center. Ale and the informant had a short conversation, with Binan and Rosaroso watching from a distance of some ten to fifteen meters. Ale left the recreation center and proceeded to a group of houses, and then reappeared at the recreation center and handed four sticks of marijuana cigarettes to the informant. After the informant gave Ale the marked money, he made a hand signal, and the PC officers approached the two persons, identified themselves, and arrested Ale. They also confiscated the marked money from Ale and the marijuana sticks from their informant. The trial court found Ale guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, after the apparently conflicting testimonies of Binan and Rosaroso. The confidential informant was not presented as a witness, and witnesses for the prosecution gave a different version of events. Ale was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P20,000.00. Ale appealed to the Supreme Court. Issue:
W/N Ale’s guilt had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Ruling: NO. The Supreme Court cannot give full credit to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses marked as they are with contradictions and tainted with inaccuracies. First of all, the prosecution evidence in this case leaves much to be desired. The two agents who allegedly observed the transaction between Ale and their informant only relied on hand signals to find out whether the sale had already been consummated. If the sale of prohibited drugs was actually seen by the officers, there would have been no need for them to wait for a hand signal from the poseur-buyer to indicate that the transaction had been completed, before closing in and arresting Ale. What transpired between the alleged buyer and seller, how the sticks of marijuana changed hands, and whether or not the four sticks introduced in court were actually the sticks supposedly purchased at that time is unknown. The cigarettes were taken from the hands of the poseur-buyer and not from Ale. How they came into his hands was not seen by the witnesses who testified in court. Moreover, Binan testified that they were able to tell that the four cigarettes were marijuana cigarettes because according to him, the rolling of ordinary cigarettes are different from those of marijuana cigarettes. It is, however, incredible to believe that they could discern the type of rolling done on those cigarettes from the distance where they were observing the alleged sale. Rosaroso also contradicted Binan’s testimony with regard to the police informant. Their testimonies are conflicting because while Rosaroso stated that the informant and the poseur-buyer were different people, Binan stated that they were actually the same person. Witnesses for the prosecution, who had concurring testimonies, testified that they were playing billiards in the recreation center, and one of them was talking to Ale when Binan and Rosaroso just suddenly arrested Ale, dragged him outside the recreation center, Binan dipped his hands into the pockets of Ale while Rosaroso kept him immobilized, and then the money was marked on top of the billiards table where the two witnesses were playing. This contradicts with Binan’s statement that the money was marked beforehand. Ale, on the other hand, told the court that the reason why he was arrested was because there was a time in July 1984 that Rosaroso played billiards at the recreation center with some other military men, and got angry at Ale when the latter asked
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Rosaroso to pay for the billiard game. It was then Rosaroso threatened that he would make revenge. There must also have been some degree of familiarity between Ale and the officers because Ale referred to them in their nicknames. All considered, the court holds that Ale’s guilt has not been established beyond reasonable doubt, and must be acquitted.
If the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction. The Constitution and the law are clear that in case of reasonable doubt, the accused must be acquitted. Our jurisprudence is built around the concept that it is preferable for the guilty to remain unpunished than for an innocent person to suffer a long prison term unjustly. The presumption that official duty is regularly performed cannot, by itself, prevail against the constitutional presumption of innocence accorded an accused person. Judges trying narcotics cases are often placed in a non-enviable predicament. The threat posed by drugs against human dignity and the integrity of society is malevolent and incessant. Courts should not hamper, in any way, the dedicated although sometimes puny efforts to stem the giant menace. Courts should not unwittingly tie down the hands of narcotic agents whose work is already difficult and dangerous enough without legal and procedural obstacles to successful prosecutions. At the same time, we cannot close our eyes to the many reports of evidence being planted or unwary persons either for extorting money or exacting personal vengeance. By the very nature of anti-narcotics operations, the need for entrapment procedures, the use of shady characters as informants, the ease with which sticks of marijuana or grams of heroin can be planted in pockets or hands of unsuspecting provincial hicks, and the secrecy that inevitably shrouds all drug deals, the possibility of abuse is great. Courts must also be extra vigilant in trying drug charges lest an innocent person is made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses.
o. People v. Austria (GR No. L-55109, 8 April 1991) Facts: Tomas Azuela was found stabbed to death, with his skull fractured, on a sugarcane field in Negros Occidental. It was later on learned that he was carrying the payroll and P771.40 intended as wages for the laborers of Hacienda Austria, where he worked as an overseer, and the payroll and the money were missing. In connection with his death, four suspects were picked up by the police. One was Pablo Austria, the last person who was seen with Tomas. The others were implicated based on the sworn statement of Pablo—Eduardo, Pablo’s son; Jaime de la Torre; and Leopoldo Abanilla. A complaint of robbery with homicide was then filed against them. All of them pleaded not guilty to the charge. The prosecution witnesses stated that Tomas was last seen alive with Pablo. A bloodstained hoe was found in Jaime’s home. Upon examination, the blood from the crime scene and the blood from the hoe were found to be from the same blood group. Eduardo was only implicated based on his father’s sworn statement. Both Jaime and Pablo claim that they were manhandled by the police. On cross-examination, the interrogating officer admitted that he did not apprise both of their rights to remain silent and to counsel as he was merely conducting an informal interview. The trial court convicted Jaime, Pablo, and Eduardo. During the pendency of the appeal, Pablo died of undetermined cause while Jaime died of hypertension in the New Bilibid Prisons Hospital. Issue:
W/N Eduardo’s guilt had been established beyond reasonable doubt.
Ruling: NO. Conviction should be made on the basis of a strong, clear, and compelling evidence. Of course, this is not to say that conviction cannot be had simply because the evidence is circumstantial. However, in this case, the evidence of the prosecution against Eduardo Austria is merely circumstantial. They do not prove an unbroken link of events that could give rise to a reasonable and fair conclusion that Eduardo committed the imputed offense. The only evidence against him is that he was seen at about 1:oo in the afternoon of 9 August 1975 along the road to Hacienda Austria. This evidence, even if tied up with the testimony of Illuminada that Eduardo harbored ill-feelings against Tomas because the former was dismissed from the hacienda by the latter does not establish or support an inference, much less a
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal conclusion, that he participated in the commission of the offense charged. Eduardo’s conviction on an inference based on another inference cannot be maintained. To overcome the presumption of innocence, proof beyond reasonable doubt is needed. Eduardo acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt.
To sustain a conviction based on circumstantial evidence under Section 5, Rule 133, there must be (a) more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The series of circumstances proved must be consistent with each other and every circumstance must be consistent with the guilt of the accused and inconsistent with his innocence. To warrant a conviction in criminal cases based upon circumstantial evidence, it must constitute an unbroken chain of events so as to lead to a conviction that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the tests of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction. Accusation is not, according to fundamental law, synonymous with guilt; the prosecution must overthrow the presumption of innocence with proof beyond reasonable doubt. To meet this standard, there is need for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the state, both oral and documentary, independently of whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that every circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment.
1. People v. Suñga (GR No. L-57875, 5 July 1983) Facts: Leonora Deang, a married woman with seven children, went to Patricia Suñga’s house to return a collection of All-Saints’ Day songs. After doing so, she went on her way home but was waylaid by Ernesto Suñga, Patricia’s brother. Leonora was then allegedly held by Ernesto by the neck and was boxed twice on her chest until she lost consciousness. When she regained her senses, she realized that Ernesto was already raping her. Salome Perez, whose house was about 15 meters away from where the rape was ongoing, was talking with her neighbors, Corsino Hernandez and Bonifacio Batac. Because of her barking dog, she went out with a flashlight to see what was happening outside. When she noticed movements in her backyard, she summoned Hernandez and Batac and they went to the place together. They saw Ernesto having sexual intercourse with a woman they could not recognize because his head was covering her face. Ernesto then shouted at the three to leave or else he would kill them. Afraid, the three went away. Afterwards, Ernesto left the place as well. Leonora then proceeded home and reported the matter to her husband, who accompanied her to the barangay and police authorities. The following day, Leonora was examined by a doctor and was found to have an abrasion in the right upper chest, about the size of a 1-peso coin. During the trial, Ernesto denied having carnal knowledge of Leonora. He said he was having sexual intercourse with his girlfriend, Letty Legaspi, who was about to leave for Bicol. He was found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Issue:
W/N Ernesto should be adjudged guilty beyond reasonable doubt because of a weak defense.
Ruling: NO. Although Ernesto’s defense is weak, still, he cannot be convicted because the constitutional presumption of innocence was not overcome. In this case, Hernandez and Perez saw Ernesto having carnal knowledge with a woman and they made no mention of the fact that in doing so there was force and intimidation. Neither did they testify that the woman under him was fighting back or was shouting for help. As the flashlight was focused on Ernesto and the woman, the latter must have been aware that there were people around from whom she could ask for help but which she did not. Leonora made mention of the fact that she was given blows to the chest, but when she was examined by the doctor, there was
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal only an abrasion on the right upper chest about the size of a 1-peso coin. Such abrasion would not have been the effect of fist blows. Moreover, while it is true that Leonora reported the matter to her husband and the authorities on the same night the incident happened, her possible reason for doing so was to save face with her husband because there were witnesses who saw them doing the sexual intercourse. If she really was forced into the act, why did she not run to the house of Salome Perez after Ernesto had left? This is not the normal behavior of a woman who had just been violated if indeed she had. Well-settled is the rule that “evidence to be believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but it must be credible in itself such as the common experience of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstance.” Ernesto is therefore acquitted.
Crimes against chastity by their very nature usually involve only two persons—the complainant and the offender. Seldom, if ever, is there an eyewitness to the commission of the offense. As a consequence, conviction or acquittal of the accused depends almost entirely on the credibility of the complainant’s testimony. There is therefore every reason for courts to examine with the greatest care the complainant’s story and subject it to a thorough scrutiny to determine its veracity in the light of human nature and experience. An accused is presumed innocent until the contrary is proven and, consequently, the burden of proof as to the offense charged lies on the prosecution. Accordingly, an accused should be convicted on the strength of the evidence presented by the prosecution and not on the weakness of his defense.
2. People v. Dramayo (GR No. L-21325, 29 October 1971) Facts: Pableo Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin saw the chief of police of the Municipality of Sapao, Surigao del Norte, to become witnesses to a robbery committed in the house of the deceased Estelito Nogaliza. The chief of police refused their offer, because those two were the prime suspects in the crime, having been implicated by at least two individuals who had already confessed. The alleged purpose for the killing of Nogaliza was that so he could not testify against them in the robbery case, so he was ambushed and killed while he was returning from Sapao. Nogaliza was accosted by Dramayo with a request for a cigarette, and then Ecubin hit the victim with a piece of wood on the right side of his head. Dramayo then stabbed Nogaliza with a short bolo repeatedly, and warned the others to keep their mouths sealed as to what had just happened. Dramayo was even the one who reported Nogaliza’s death to his wife and the police. There were seven suspects in the case, two of whom were used as state witnesses. Because of the testimony of the two, Dramayo and Ecubin were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, while the rest were acquitted on the ground of insufficiency of evidence as to their culpability. Dramayo and Ecubin appeal on the ground that since conspiracy was alleged between the seven of them, the two cannot be found guilty while the rest are acquitted. Issue:
W/N Dramayo and Ecubin should be acquitted.
Ruling: NO. It cannot be denied that the credible and competent evidence of record resulted in moral certainty being entertained not only by the trial judge but also by the Supreme Court as to the culpability of the two appellants, Dramayo and Ecubin. The force of the controlling doctrines on presumption of innocence, on the other hand, required that the other three accused be acquitted precisely because, unlike the appellants, the requisite quantum of proof to show guilt beyond reasonable doubt was not present. There is no question as to the other two who testified for the state being likewise no longer subject to any criminal liability. The judgment of conviction should not have occasioned any surprise on the part of the two appellants, as from the evidence deserving of the fullest credence, their guilt had been more than amply demonstrated. The presumption of innocence could not come to their rescue as it was more than sufficiently overcome by the proof that was offered by the prosecution.
It is to be admitted that the starting point is the presumption of innocence. So it must be, according to the Constitution. Accusation is not, according to the fundamental law, synonymous with guilt. It is incumbent on
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
the prosecution to demonstrate that culpability lies. The accused’s freedom is forfeit only if the requisite quantum of proof necessary for conviction be in existence. There is need for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the state, both oral and documentary, independently of whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be of conviction. It is thus required that circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway away judgment. The conscience must be satisfied that on the accused could be laid the responsibility for the offense charged; that not only did he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a crime. What is required then is moral certainty. By reasonable doubt is meant that which of possibility may arise, but it is doubt engendered by an investigation of the whole proof and an inability, after such investigation, to let the mind rest easy upon the certainty of guilt. Absolute certainty of guilt is not demanded by the law to convict of any carnal charge but moral certainty is required, and this certainty is required as to every proposition of proof regular to constitute the offense.
3. De la Camara v. Enage (GR Nos. L-32951-2, 17 September 1971) Facts: Ricardo de la Camara, the Municipal Mayor of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental, was arrested and detained at the Provincial Jail of Agusan for his alleged participation in the killing of fourteen and the wounding of twelve other laborers of the Tirador Logging Company. He, along with his co-accused Nambinalot Tagunan and Fortunato Galgo, was accused of multiple frustrated murder and multiple murder. De la Camara filed an application for bail, premised on the assertion that there was no evidence to link him with the crime. The judge, Hon. Manuel Enage, fixed the amount of his bail at P1,195,200.00—P840,000.00 for the information charging multiple murder and P355,200.00 for the offense of multiple frustrated murder. The Secretary of Justice, upon being informed of this order, sent a telegram to the Judge stating that the bond “is excessive” and suggesting that a P40,000.00 bond, either in cash or property, would be reasonable. However, the Judge remained adamant. De la Camara appealed by way of certiorari to the Supreme Court, assailing the constitutionality of the amount of the bail fixed as repugnant to the constitutional mandate prohibiting excessive bail. However, de la Camara escaped from prison during the pendency of the appeal, thus rendering the case moot and academic. Issue:
Was the amount for bail fixed by the judge excessive, and should the amount therefore be reduced?
Ruling: YES. No attempt at rationalization can give the color of validity to the challenged order. The order fixing the amount of bail at P840,000.00 for the information charging multiple murder, there being fourteen victims, and the sum of P355,200.00 for the information charging multiple frustrated murder, there being twelve victims, is clearly violative of the constitutional provision against excessive bail. Under the circumstances, there being only two offenses charged, the amount required as bail could not possibly exceed P50,000.00 for the information for murder and P25,000.00 for the other information for frustrated murder. Nor should it be ignored that the Department of Justice did recommend the total sum of P40,000.00 for the two offenses. Issue:
Has the case against De la Camara been rendered moot and academic by his escape from prison?
Ruling: YES. De la Camara’s escape cannot be condoned. That is why he is not entitled to the relief prayed for. However, in the guidance of lower court judges, it is deemed advisable for the Supreme Court to set forth anew the controlling and authoritative doctrines that should be observed in fixing the amount of the bail sought in order that full respect be accorded to such a constitutional right. The fact that this case is moot and academic should not preclude the Supreme Court from setting forth in language clear and unmistakable, the obligation of fidelity on the part of lower court judges to the unequivocal command of the Constitution that excessive bail shall not be required. What should be observed in fixing the amount of bail? 1.
Before conviction, every person is bailable except if charged with capital offenses when the evidence of guilt is strong. Such a right flows from the presumption of innocence in favor of every accused who should not be subjected to the loss of freedom as thereafter he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his guilt be proved
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
beyond reasonable doubt. Thereby a regime of liberty is honored in the observance and not in the breach. It is not beyond the realm of probability, however, that a person charged with a crime, especially so where his defense is weak, would just simply make himself scarce and thus frustrate the hearing of his case. A bail is intended as a guarantee that such an intent would be thwarted. It is a mode short of confinement which would, with reasonable certainty, insure the attendance of the accused for the subsequent trial. Nor is there anything unreasonable in denying this right to one charged with a capital offense when evidence of guilt is strong, as the likelihood is, rather than await the outcome of the proceeding against him with a death sentence, an everpresent threat, temptation to flee the jurisdiction would be too great to be resisted. Where, however, the right to bail exists, it should not be rendered nugatory by requiring a sum that is excessive. So the Constitution commands. It is understandable why. If there were no such prohibition, the right to bail becomes meaningless. Guidelines in the fixing of the amount of bail, according to Villaseñor v. Abano: (1) Ability of the accused to give bail; (2) Nature of the offense; (3) Penalty for the offense charged; (4) Character and reputation of the accused; (5) Health of the accused; (6) Character and strength of the evidence; (7) Probability of the accused appearing in trial; (8) Forfeiture of other bonds; (9) Whether the accused was a fugitive from justice when arrested; and (10) If the accused is under bond for appearance at trial in other cases.
4. People v. Obsania (GR No. L-24447, 29 June 1968) Facts: Erlinda Dollente, a 14-year-old girl, with the assistance of her parents, filed a case with the municipal court against Willy Obsania, accusing him of rape. When the case was forwarded to the Court of First Instance for further proceedings, the assistant provincial fiscal filed an information for rape against Obsania, embodying the allegations of the previous complaint, with the additional averment that the offense was committed “with lewd designs.” Upon arraignment, Obsania pleaded not guilty and moved for the dismissal of the case, contending that the complaint was fatally defective for failure to allege “lewd designs” and that the subsequent information which averred “lewd designs” did not cure the jurisdictional infirmity. The court granted Obsania’s motion and dismissed the case. The fiscal appealed the dismissal. Issue:
W/N the appeal by the fiscal of the case places Obsania in double jeopardy.
Ruling: NO. In order that the protection against double jeopardy may inure in favor of the accused, the following requisites must have obtained in the original prosecution: (a) a valid complaint or information; (b) a competent court; (c) the defendant had pleaded to the charge; (d) the defendant was acquitted, or convicted, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent. In the case at bar, the controverted dismissal was ordered by the trial judge upon Obsania’s motion to dismiss predicated on his erroneous contention that the complaint was defective and such infirmity affected the jurisdiction of the court. The appealed order of dismissal did not terminate the action on the merits. Thus, he is actually estopped from invoking double jeopardy, because the two sine qua non conditions required for the application of the sister doctrines of waiver and estoppel are here present: first, the dismissal must be sought or induced by the defendant personally or through his counsel; and second, such dismissal must not be on the merits and must not necessarily amount to an acquittal.
An appeal by the prosecution in a criminal case is not available if the defendant would thereby be placed in double jeopardy. People v. Salico: “When the case is dismissed with the express consent of the defendant, the dismissal will not be a bar to another prosecution for the same offense; because, his action in having the case dismissed constitutes a waiver of his constitutional right or privilege, for the reason that he thereby prevents the court from proceeding to the trial on the merits and rendering a judgment of conviction against him.”
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
People v. Marapao: “Having himself asked for such dismissal, before a judgment of conviction or acquittal could have been rendered, the appellee is not entitled to invoke the defense of double jeopardy.” Gandicela v. Lutero: “Where a defendant expressly consents to, by moving for, the dismissal of the case against him, even if the court of judge states in the order that the dismissal is definite or does not say that the dismissal is without prejudice on the part of the fiscal to file another information, the dismissal will not be a bar to a subsequent prosecution of the defendant for the same offense.” People v. Desalisa: “An appeal of the prosecution from the order of dismissal (of the criminal complaint) by the trial court will not constitute double jeopardy if (1) the dismissal is made upon motion, or with the express consent, of the defendant; (2) the dismissal is not an acquittal or based upon consideration of the evidence or of the merits of the case; and (3) the question to be passed upon by the appellate court is purely legal; so that should the dismissal be found incorrect, the case would have to be remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings, to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant.” People v. Acierto: “When a court dismisses a case on a disclaimer of jurisdiction, upon the instigation of the accused, the latter is estopped on appeal from asserting the jurisdiction of the lower court in support of his plea of second jeopardy. The doctrine of estoppel is in quintessence the same as the doctrine of waiver: the thrust of both is that a dismissal, other than on the merits, sought by the accused in a motion to dismiss, is deemed to be with his express consent and bars him from subsequently interposing the defense of double jeopardy on appeal or in a new prosecution for the same offense.” People v. Reyes: “Where the complaint or information is in truth valid and sufficient, but the case is dismissed upon the petition of the accused on the ground that the complaint or information is invalid and insufficient, such dismissal will not bar another prosecution for the same offense and the defendant is estopped from alleging in the second information that the former dismissal was wrong because the complaint or information was valid.” People v. Romero: “The face that the counsel for the defendant, and not the defendant himself personally moved for the dismissal of the case against him, had the same effect as if the defendant had personally moved for such dismissal, inasmuch as the act of the counsel in the prosecution of the defendant’s cases was the act of the defendant himself, for the only case in which the defendant cannot be represented by his counsel is in pleading guilty according to Section 3, Rule 114, of the Rules of Court.”
5. Toyoto v. Ramos (GR No. L-69270, 15 October 1985) Facts: Gerry Toyoto, Eddie Gonzales, and Dominador Gabiana belong to a group called the “Urban Poor” which conducted a march, demonstration, and rally along Northbay Boulevard in Navotas, Metro Manila. They were subsequently arrested, along with some others, for violating Presidential Decree No. 1835 (Codifying the Various Laws on Anti-Subversion and Increasing the Penalties for Membership in Subversive Organizations) in a criminal case filed against them in the Regional Trial Court of Malabon. No bail was recommended for their provisional liberty. Upon arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty. The prosecution was able to present only one witness, which prompted the accused to move for the dismissal of the case. The dismissal was granted by the Judge because the prosecution’s evidence against the accused was weak. One month after the dismissal of the case, a petition for habeas corpus was filed in behalf of the accused because they had still not been released. Hon. Fidel Ramos, Captain Alvarez, and Captain Ballen refused to release the prisoners on the ground that a Preventive Detention Action had been issued against them. Subsequently, the accused were released to their relatives pursuant to the order of the Ministry of Defense to “temporarily release” them. The respondents now claim that the petition is already moot and academic in view of the said release of the prisoners. The accused state that their case may only be dismissed for being moot and academic only if their release would be permanent. Issue:
W/N the accused’s case had already become moot and academic in the light of their temporary release.
Ruling: NO. Ordinarily, a petition for habeas corpus becomes moot and academic when the restraint on the liberty of the petitioner is lifted either temporarily or permanently. But in this case, the question to be resolved is whether the State can reserve the power to re-arrest a person for an offense after a court of competent jurisdiction has absolved him
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal of the offense. An affirmative answer is repugnant to the “government of laws and not of men” principle. Under this principle, the moment a person is acquitted on a criminal charge, he can no longer be detained or re-arrested for the same offense. We thus have the sorry spectacle of persons arrested, charged, and tried for merely exercising their constitutional rights. And the injury was compounded when overzealous minions of the government refused to release them even after they had been acquitted by a court of competent jurisdiction because they were covered by a PDA. To be sure, it cannot be denied that there was a flagrant violation of human rights. Petitioners’ release declared to be permanent. 6. People v. Sandiganbayan (GR No. 101724, 3 July 1992) Facts: When Ceferino Paredes, Jr. was still the provincial attorney of Agusan del Sur in 1976, he was issued a free patent title of a lot in the Rosario public land subdivision. Paredes became provincial governor in 1986, replacing Governor Valentina Plaza. Upon Paredes’ assumption of office, the issuance of a free patent title to him was questioned by two letter-complaints filed by Teofilo Gelacio (one of Plaza’s political leaders) with the Tanodbayan. The Tanodbayan referred the complaint to the City Fiscal of Butuan City who subpoenaed Governor Paredes. However, the subpoena was never served on Paredes. Despite the absence of notice on Paredes, a preliminary investigation was conducted ex parte. An information against Paredes for violating RA No. 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) was then filed in the Sandiganbayan, and Paredes was subsequently arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by the Sandiganbayan. Paredes claimed that the information and the warrant of arrest were null and void because he had been denied his right to a preliminary investigation, and refused to post bail. His wife filed a petition for habeas corpus praying the Supreme Court to order his release, but it was denied. Paredes filed instead a Motion to Quash Information and Recall Warrant of Arrest in the Sandiganbayan, which was granted on the ground that the action against Paredes had already prescribed. Issue:
W/N the crime Paredes was being accused of had already prescribed.
Ruling: YES. In the absence of a special provision otherwise, the statute of limitations begins to run on the commission of an offense and not from the time when the offense is discovered or when the offender becomes known, or it normally begins to run when the crime is complete. Assuming that Paredes did induce the Lands Inspector to recommend the approval of his application for free patent, the date of the violation, for the purpose of computing the period of prescription, would be the date of filing his application on 21 January 1976. Since Gelacio’s complaint was filed on 28 October 1986, Paredes’ alleged crime had already prescribed. To apply BP 195, which was approved on 16 March 1982, amending Section 11 of RA No. 3019 by increasing from ten to fifteen years the period for the prescription or extinguishment of a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, to Paredes would make it an ex post facto law for it would alter his situation to his disadvantage by making him criminally liable for a crime that had already been extinguished under the law existing when it was committed. Sandiganbayan’s judgment affirmed. Petition denied.
Statutes of Limitation are construed as being acts of grace, and as a surrendering by the sovereign of its right to prosecute or of its right to prosecute at its discretion, and they are considered as equivalent to acts of amnesty. Such statutes are founded on the liberal theory that prosecutions should not be allowed to ferment endlessly in the files of the government to explode only after witnesses and proofs necessary to the protection of accused by sheer lapse of time passed beyond availability. They serve, not only to bar prosecutions on aged and untrustworthy evidence, but also to cut off prosecution for crimes a reasonable time after completion, when no further danger to society is contemplated from the criminal activity. Protection from prosecution under a statute of limitation is a substantive right. Where the statute fixes a period of limitation as to a prosecution of a particular offense, the limitation so fixed is jurisdictional, and the time within which the offense is committed is a jurisdictional fact, it being necessary that the indictment or information be actually filed within the time prescribed.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
An ex post facto law is defined as a law which provides for the infliction of punishment upon a person for an act done which, when it was committed, was innocent; a law which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than when it was committed; a law that changes the punishment or inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; a law that changes the rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than was required at the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the offender; a law which, assuming to regulate civil rights and remedies only, in effect imposes a penalty or the deprivation of a right which, when done, was lawful; a law which deprives persons accused of crime of some lawful protection to which they have become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or of the proclamation of amnesty; every law which, in relation to the offense or its consequences, alters the situation of a person to his disadvantage.
7. In Re: Kay Villegas Kami, Inc. (GR No. L-32485, 22 October 1970) Facts: Kay Villegas Kami, Inc., a duly recognized and existing non-stock and non-profit corporation, prays for a determination of the validity of Section 8 of RA 6132 and a declaration of its rights and duties thereunder. It claims that it has printed material designed to propagate its ideology and program of government, and intends to pursue its purposes by supporting delegates to the Constitutional Convention who will propagate its ideology. Issue: W/N Section 8 violates the due process clause, right of association, freedom of expression, and the equal protection clause. Ruling: NO. The questioned provision is a valid limitation on the due process, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and equal protection clauses. The same is designed to prevent the clear and present danger of the twin substantive evils, namely, the prostitution of electoral process and denial of the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, under the balancing-of-interests test, the cleansing of the electoral process, the guarantee of equal change for all candidates, and the independence of the delegates who must be “beholden to no one but to God, country, and conscience,” are interests that should be accorded primacy. Issue:
W/N RA 6132 is an ex post facto law.
Ruling: NO. An ex post facto law is one which: (1) Makes criminal an act before the passage of the law and which was innocent when done, and punishes such an act; (2) Aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed; (3) Changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when committed; (4) Alters the legal rules of evidence, and authorizes conviction upon less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense; (5) Assuming to regulate civil rights and remedies only, in effect imposes penalty or deprivation of a right for something which when done was lawful; and (6) Deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty. From the aforesaid definition as well as classification of ex post facto laws, the constitutional inhibition refers only to criminal laws which are given retroactive effect. While it is true that Section 18 penalizes a violation of any provision of RA 6132 including Section 8 thereof, the penalty is imposed only for acts committed after the approval of the law and not those perpetrated prior thereto. There is nothing in the law that remotely insinuates that Sections 8 and 18, or any other provision thereof, shall apply to acts carried out prior to its approval. Constitutionality of the assailed law upheld. 8. Guanzon v. De Villa (GR No. 80508, 30 January 1990) Facts: Pursuant to the “Areal Target Zonings” or “Saturation Drives” conducted by the military and police in Metro Manila, 41 residents and taxpayers from Metro Manila filed a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction,
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal maintaining that they have a common or general interest in the preservation of the rule of law, protection of their human rights, and the reign of peace and order in their communities. According to them, the said saturation drives were conducted in critical areas pinpointed by the military and police as places where the subversives are hiding. The arrests range from 7 to 1,500; and the petitioners claim that they follow a common pattern of human rights abuses, such as: 1.
Having no specific target in mind, in the dead of the night or early morning hours, police and military units without any search warrant or warrant of arrest cordon an area of more than one residence and sometimes whole barangay or areas of barangay in Metro Manila. Most of them are in civilian clothes and without nameplates or identification cards. 2. The raiders rudely rouse residents from their sleep by banging on the walls and windows of their homes, shouting, kicking their doors open (destroying some in the process), and then ordering the residents within to come out of their respective residences. 3. The residents at the point of high-powered guns are herded like cows, the men are ordered to strip down to their briefs and examined for tattoo marks and other imagined marks. 4. While the examination of the bodies of the men are being conducted by the raiders, some of the members of the raiding team force their way into each and every house within the cordoned off area and then proceed to conduct a search of the said houses without civilian witnesses from the neighborhood. 5. In many instances, many residents have complained that the raiders ransack their homes, tossing about the residents’ belongings without total regard for their value. In several instances, walls are destroyed, ceilings are damaged in the raiders’ illegal effort to “fish” for incriminating evidence. 6. Some victims of these illegal operations have complained with increasing frequency that their money and valuables have disappeared after the said operations. 7. All men and some women who respond to these illegal and unwelcome intrusions are arrested on the spot and hauled off to waiting vehicles that take them to detention centers where they are interrogated and “verified.” These arrests are all conducted without any warrants of arrest duly issued by a judge, nor under the conditions that will authorize warrantless arrest. Some hooded men are used to fingerpoint suspected subversives. 8. In some instances, arrested persons are released after the expiration of the period wherein they can be legally detained without any charge at all. In other instances, some arrested persons are released without charge after a few days of arbitrary detention. 9. The raiders almost always brandish their weapons and point them at the residents during these illegal operations. 10. Many have also reported incidents of “on-the-spot beatings,” maulings and maltreatment. 11. Those who are detained for further “verification” by the raiders are subjected to mental and physical torture to extract confessions and tactical information. Issue:
W/N the saturation drives conducted by the authorities should be enjoined by the courts.
Ruling: NO. The Court believes it highly probable that some violations were actually committed. However, the remedy is not to stop all police actions, including the essential and legitimate ones. There is nothing wrong in police making their presence visibly felt in troubled areas. Police cannot respond to riots or violent demonstrations if they do not move in sufficient numbers. A show of force is sometimes necessary as long as the rights of people are protected and not violated. A blanket prohibition such as that sought by the petitioners would limit all police actions to one on one confrontations where search warrants and warrants of arrests against specific individuals are easily procured. Anarchy may reign if the military and police decide to sit down in their offices because all concerted drives where a show of force is present are totally prohibited. The remedy, moreover, is not an original action for prohibition brought through a taxpayers’ suit. Where not one victim complains and not one violator is properly charged, the problem is not initially for the Supreme Court. It is basically one for the executive departments and for trial courts. Well meaning citizens with only second-hand knowledge of the events cannot keep on indiscriminately tossing problems of the executive, the military, and the police to the Supreme Court as if we are the repository of all remedies for all evils. The rules of constitutional litigation have been evolved for an orderly procedure in the vindication of rights. They should be followed. If our police makers sustain the contention of the military and the police that occasional saturation drives are essential to maintain the stability of government and to insure peace and order, clear policy guidelines on the behavior of soldiers and policemen must not
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal only be evolved, they should also be enforced. A method of pinpointing human rights abuses and identifying violators is necessary. Thus, the problem is appropriate for the Commission of Human Rights. A high level conference should bring together the heads of the Department of Justice, Department of National Defense, and the operating heads of affected agencies and institutions to devise procedures for the prevention of abuses. Under the circumstances of this taxpayers’ suit, there is no erring soldier or policeman whom we can order prosecuted. In the absence of clear facts ascertained through an orderly procedure, no permanent relief can be given at this time. Further investigation of the petitioners’ charges and a hard look by administration officials at the policy implications of the prayed for blanket prohibition are also warranted. In the meantime and in the face of a prima facie showing that some abuses were probably committed and could be committed during future police actions, the Court has to temporarily restrain the alleged banging on walls, the kicking in of doors, the herding of half-naked men to assembly areas for examination of tattoo marks, the violation of residences even if these are humble shanties of squatters, and the other alleged acts which are shocking to the conscience. Petition remanded to the Regional Trial Courts of Manila, Malabon, and Pasay City, so that the petitioners may present evidence supporting their allegations and where specific erring parties may be pinpointed and prosecuted.
Where a violation of human rights specifically guaranteed by the Constitution is involved, it is the duty of the Court to stop the transgression and state where even the awesome power of the state may not encroach upon the rights of the individual. Our democratic institutions may still be fragile but they are not in the least bit strengthened through violations of the constitutional protections which are their distinguishing features. It is deference to one’s personality that lies at the core of the right against illegal searches and seizures, but it could also be looked upon as a recognition of a constitutionally protected area, primarily one’s home, but not necessarily thereto confined. What is sought to be guarded is a man’s prerogative to choose who is allowed entry to his residence. In that haven of refuge, his individuality can assert itself not only in the choice of who shall be welcome but likewise in the kind of objects he wants around him. There the state, however powerful, does not as such have access except under the circumstances above noted, for in the traditional formulation, his house, however humble, is his castle. Thus is outlawed any unwarranted intrusion by government, which is called upon to refrain from any invasion of his dwelling and to respect the privacies of his life. In the same vein, the constitutional right could be characterized as the embodiment of a “spiritual concept: the belief that the value the privacy of home and person and to afford its constitutional protection against the long reach of government is no less than to value human dignity, and that his privacy must not be disturbed except in case of overriding social need, and then only under stringent procedural safeguards.”
Justice Cruz’ dissent:
Liberty and authority must co-exist, for only in a well-ordered society can rights be properly employed. Implicit in that theory, however, is the other imperative: that the highest function of authority is to insure liberty. Where liberty is involved, every person is a proper party even if he may not be directly injured. Each of us has a duty to protect liberty and that alone makes him a proper party. Article III, Section 2 is intended to protect the individual from official and (officious) intrusions, no matter how humble his abode and however lowly his station in life. Against the mighty forces of the government, the person’s house is his castle, his inviolate refuge and exclusive domain where he is the monarch of all he surveys. Saturation drives are not among the accepted instances when a search or an arrest may be made without warrant. They come under the concept of fishing expeditions stigmatized by law and doctrine. This Court should declare categorically and emphatically that these saturation drives are violative of human rights and individual liberty and so should be stopped immediately. The danger to our free institutions lies not only in those who openly defy the authority of the government and violate its laws. The greater menace is in those who, in the name of democracy, destroy the very things it stands for and so undermine democracy itself.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
Where liberty is debased into a cruel illusion, all of us are degraded and diminished. Liberty is indivisible; it belongs to every one. We should realize that when the bell tolls the death of liberty for one of us, “it tolls for thee” and for all of us.
Justice Padilla’s separate opinion:
That the State, acting through the government and its forces, has the authority to suppress lawless violence in all its forms cannot be denied. The exercise of that authority is justified when viewed from the standpoint of the general welfare, because the State has the elementary and indispensable duty to insure a peaceful life and existence for its citizens. A government that loses its capability to insure peace and order for its citizens loses the very right to remain in power. While the checkpoint is a defensive device, on the part of government, the “areal target zoning” or “saturation drive” is a direct assault against, an intrusion into individual rights and liberties.
Justice Sarmiento’s dissent:
As a general rule, a peace officer cannot act unless he is possessed of the proper arrest or search warrant. The exception is when a criminal offense is unfolding before him, in which case, action is justified and necessary. A “show of force” (by way of saturation drives) is a violation of human rights because it is not covered by a judicial warrant.
9. Ramirez v. CA (GR No. 93833, 28 September 1995) Facts: Socorro Ramirez filed a civil case for damages with the Quezon City RTC alleging that Ester Garcia, in a confrontation in the latter’s office, allegedly vexed, insulted and humiliated her in a manner offensive to Ramirez’ dignity and personality. In support of her claim, Ramirez produced a transcript of the confrontation, which was secretly recorded by her. Because of Ramirez’ taping of the confrontation, Garcia filed a criminal case against Ramirez for violation of Republic Act 4200, or “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire Tapping and Other Related Violations of Private Communication, and Other Purposes.” The case was quashed for not constituting a violation against RA 4200, for the said law refers to the taping of a communication by a person other than a participant to the communication. Garcia appealed, and the trial court was reversed by the Court of Appeals. Issue:
W/N Ramirez is guilty of violating the Anti-Wiretapping Act.
Ruling: YES. RA 4200 clearly and unequivocally makes it illegal for any person, not authorized by all the parties to any private communication, to secretly record such communication by means of a tape recorder. The law makes no distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized by the statute ought to be a party other than or different from those involved in the private communication. The statute’s intent to penalize all persons unauthorized to make such recording is underscored by the use of the qualifier “any.” A perusal of the Senate Congressional Records, moreover, supports the conclusion that in enacting RA 4200 our lawmakers indeed contemplated to make illegal, unauthorized tape recording of private conversations or communications taken either by the parties themselves or by third persons. Consequently, even a person privy to a communication who records his private conversation with another without the knowledge of the latter will qualify as a violator under Section 1 of RA 4200.
What RA 4200 penalizes are the acts of secretly overhearing, intercepting, or recording private communications by means of the devices enumerated therein. Senator Tañada’s Explanatory Note to Anti-Wiretapping Bill: “It has been said that innocent people have nothing to fear from their conversations being overheard. But this statement ignores the usual nature of conversations as well as the undeniable fact that most, if not all, civilized people have some aspects of their lives they do not wish to expose. Free conversations are often characterized by exaggerations, obscenity, agreeable falsehoods, and the expression of anti-social desires of views not intended to be taken seriously. The right to the privacy of communication, among others, has expressly been assured by our Constitution. Needless to state here, the framers of our Constitution must have recognized the nature of conversations between
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal individuals and the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They must have known that part of the pleasures and satisfactions of life are to be found in the unaudited, and free exchange of communication between individuals—free from every unjustifiable intrusion by whatever means. 10. Ople v. Torres (GR No. 127685, 23 July 1998) Facts: Administrative Order No. 308, entitled “Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System” was issued by President Fidel V. Ramos on 12 December 1996. Senator Blas F. Ople submitted a petition to the Court, assailing the Order on two constitutional grounds: (1) It is a usurpation of the power of Congress to legislate; and (2) It impermissibly intrudes on our citizenry’s protected zone of privacy. Issue:
W/N AO 308 violates the citizens’ right to privacy.
Ruling: YES. The right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, hence, it is the burden of the Government to show that AO 308 is justified by some compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn. AO 308 is predicated on two considerations: (1) the need to provide our citizens and foreigners with the facility to conveniently transact business with basic services and social security providers and other government instrumentalities and (2) the need to reduce, if not totally eradicate, fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations by persons seeking basic services. It is debatable whether these interests are compelling enough to warrant the issuance of AO 308. But what is not arguable is the broadness, the vagueness, the overbreadth of AO 308 which if implemented will put our people’s right to privacy in clear and present danger. AO 308, furthermore, falls short of assuring that personal information which will be gathered about our people will only be processed for unequivocally specified purposes. The lack of proper safeguards in this regard of AO 308 may interfere with the individual’s liberty of abode and travel by enabling authorities to track down his movement; it may also enable unscrupulous persons to access confidential information and circumvent the right against selfincrimination; it may pave the way for “fishing expeditions” by government authorities and evade the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The possibilities of abuse and misuse of the PRN, biometrics, and computer technology are accentuated when we consider that the individual lacks control over what can be read or placed on his ID, much less verify the correctness of the data encoded. They threaten the very abuses that the Bill of Rights seeks to prevent. Issue: W/N the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to the national ID and the use of biometrics technology. Ruling: NO. The use of biometrics and computer technology in AO 308 does not assure the individual of a reasonable expectation of privacy. As technology advances, the level of reasonably expected privacy decreases. The measure of protection granted by the reasonable expectation diminishes as relevant technology becomes more widely accepted. The security of the computer data file depends not only on the physical inaccessibility of the file but also on the advances in hardware and software computer technology. AO 308 is so widely drawn that a minimum standard for a reasonable expectation of privacy, regardless of technology used, cannot be inferred from its provisions. The ability of a sophisticated data center to generate a comprehensive cradle-to-grave dossier on an individual and transmit it over a national network is one of the most graphic threats of the computer revolution. The computer is capable of producing a comprehensive dossier on individuals out of information given at different times and for varied purposes. It can continue adding to the stored data and keeping the information up to date. Retrieval of stored data is simple. When information of a privileged character finds its way into the computer, it can be extracted together with other data on the subject. Once extracted, the information is putty in the hands of any person. The end of privacy begins.
AO 308 declared null and void for being unconstitutional.
The essence of privacy is the “right to be let alone.” It was not engraved in our Constitution for flattery. Zones of privacy are recognized and protected in our laws. The Civil Code provides that “every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy, and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons” and punishes
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
as actionable torts several acts by a person of meddling and prying into the privacy of another. It also holds a public officer or employee or any private individual liable for damages for any violation of the rights and liberties of another person, and recognizes the privacy of letters and other private communications. The Revised Penal Code makes a crime the violation of secrets by an officer, the revelation of trade and industrial secrets, and trespass to dwelling. Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act, and the Intellectual Property Code. The Rules of Court on privileged communication likewise recognize the privacy of certain information. Two-part test of the reasonableness of person’s expectation of privacy: (1) Whether by his conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and (2) Whhether this expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable. The factual circumstances of the case determine the reasonableness of the expectation. However, other factors, such as customs, physical surroundings, and practices of a particular activity, may serve to create or diminish this expectation. When the integrity of a fundamental right is at stake, the Court will give the challenged law, administrative order, rule or regulation a stricter scrutiny. It will not do for the authorities to invoke the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. Nor is it enough for the authorities to prove that their act is not irrational for a basic right can be diminished, if not defeated, even when the government does not act irrationally. They must satisfactorily show the presence of compelling state interests and that the law, rule, or regulation is narrowly drawn to preclude abuses. This approach is demanded by the 1987 Constitution whose entire matrix is designed to protect human rights and to prevent authoritarianism. In case of doubt, the least we can do is to lean towards the stance that will not put in danger the rights protected by the Constitution. The right to privacy does not bar all incursions into individual privacy. The right is not intended to stifle scientific and technological advancements that enhance public service and the common good. It merely requires that the law be narrowly focused and a compelling interest justify such intrusions. Intrusions into the right must be accompanied by proper safeguards and well-defined standards to prevent unconstitutional invasions. Concept of limited government: The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection of this private sector—protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual—has become increasingly important as modern society has developed. All the forces of a technological age—industrialization, urbanization, and organization—operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society.
Annotation: The National Computerized Identification Reference System as Violation of the Right to Privacy
Generally, the right to privacy now involves most basic rights of the individual conduct and choice. The right to privacy includes the right of the person to prevent intrusion into certain thoughts and activities which includes the freedom of speech, to form or join associations. It also includes the constitutional freedoms of unreasonable searches and seizures and the freedom from self-incrimination. Other rights included in the right to privacy: right to reputation, right to privacy in marriage and the family, right to sterilization, right to use contraceptives, the right to die (euthanasia), and freedom of homosexuality. The use of computers to accumulate, store, process, retrieve, and transmit data has greatly advanced research methods. The new technology, however, poses new threats to privacy because it interferes with and may deprive the right of the individual of the right to control the flow of information about himself. The computer technology has advanced rapidly with the global internet system. The computer system and other media tools tend to intrude into privacy as it can handle personal information by disseminating evidence of present or past actions or association which the individual may not have consented for said information. There is also the probability of introducing inaccurate information that might create an erroneous information over which the individual has no control.
11. Villavicencio v. Lukban (GR No. L-14639, 25 March 1919)
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Facts: Mayor Justo Lukban of Manila, in an effort to exterminate vice, ordered the closure of the segregated district for women of ill-repute which had been permitted for a number of years. Around 170 women were kept confined to their houses in the district by the police for a number of days, after which, they were deported to Davao without previously informing them or obtaining their consent. When they landed in Davao, they were receipted for as laborers by Francisco Sales, the provincial governor of Davao. The said governor had no idea that the women were prostitutes who had been expelled from the city of Manila. A petition for habeas corpus was presented to a member of the Supreme Court for all the deported women. Issue:
W/N the women had been restrained of their liberty.
Ruling: YES. The forcible taking of the women from Manila by officials of that city, who handed them over to other parties, who deposited them in a distant region, deprived these women of freedom of locomotion just as effectively as if they had been imprisoned. Placed in Davao without either money or personal belongings, they were prevented from exercising the liberty of going when and where they pleased. The restraint of liberty which began in Manila continued until the aggrieved parties were returned to Manila and released or until they freely and truly waived her right.
Law defines power. No official, no matter how high, is above the law. Remedies of the unhappy victims of official oppression: (1) civil action; (2) criminal action; and (3) habeas corpus. The writ of habeas corpus was devised and exists as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and as the best and only sufficient defense of personal freedom. A prime specification of an application for a writ of habeas corpus is restraint of liberty. The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint as distinguished from voluntary, and to relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal. Any restraint which will preclude freedom of action is sufficient. The power to punish for contempt of court should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle. Only occasionally should the court invoke its inherent power in order to retain that respect without which the administration of justice must falter or fail.
Justice Torres’ dissent:
If a young woman, instead of engaging in an occupation or works suitable to her sex, which can give her sufficient remuneration for her substance, prefers to put herself under the will of another woman who is usually older than she is and who is the manager or owner of a house of prostitution, or spontaneously dedicates herself to this shameful profession, it is undeniable that she voluntarily and with her own knowledge renounces her liberty and individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution, because it is evident that she cannot join the society of decent women nor can she expect to get the same respect that is due to the latter, nor is it possible for her to live within the community or society with the same liberty and rights enjoyed by every citizen. Considering her dishonorable conduct and life, she should therefore be comprised within that class which is always subject to the police and sanitary regulations conducive to the maintenance of public decency and morality and to the conservation of public health, and for this reason it should not be permitted that the unfortunate women dedicated to prostitution evade the just orders and resolutions adopted by the administrative authorities. In ordering the dissolution and abandonment of the said houses of prostitution and the change of the domicile of the inmates thereof, the mayor did not in bad faith violate the constitutional laws which guarantees the liberty and the individual rights of every Filipino, inasmuch as the women petitioners do not absolutely enjoy the said liberty and rights, the exercise of which they have voluntarily renounced in exchange for the free practice of their shameful profession.
12. Marcos v. Manglapus (GR No. 88211, 15 September 1989) Facts: Former President Ferdinand Marcos, on his deathbed, wishes to return to the Philippines after his exile due to the 1986 EDSA Revolution. Present President Corazon Aquino, considering the dire consequences to the nation of his return at a time when the stability of the government is threatened from various directions and the economy is just beginning to rise and move forward, has stood firmly on the decision to bar the return of Marcos and his family.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Marcos filed a petition for mandamus and prohibition for the Court to order the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Executive Secretary, the Secretary of Justice, the Immigration Commissioner, the Secretary of National Defense, and the Chief of Staff to issue travel documents to Marcos and the immediate members of his family, and to enjoin the implementation of the President’s decision to bar their return to the Philippines. Issue:
W/N the President may prohibit the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines.
Ruling: YES. At the outset, it must be stated that it would not do to view the case within the confines of the right to travel. It must be emphasized that the individual right involved is not the right to travel from the Philippines to other countries or within the Philippines. These are what the right to travel would usually connote. Essentially, the right involved is the right to return to one’s country, a totally distinct right under international law, independent from although related to the right to travel. The request or demand of the Marcoses to be allowed to return to the Philippines cannot be considered in the light solely of the constitutional provisions guaranteeing liberty of abode and the right to travel, subject to certain exceptions, or of case law which clearly never contemplated situations even remotely similar to the present one. It must be treated as a matter that is appropriately addressed to those residual unstated powers of the President which are implicit in and correlative to the paramount duty residing in that office to safeguard and protect general welfare. In that context, such request or demand should submit to the exercise of a broader discretion on the part of the President to determine whether it must be granted or denied.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treat the right to freedom of movement and abode within the territory of the state, the right to leave a country, and the right to enter one’s country as separate and distinct rights. It would therefore be inappropriate to construe the limitations to the right to return to one’s country in the same context as those pertaining to the liberty of abode and the right to travel. The right to return to one’s country is not among the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which treats only of the liberty of abode and the right to travel, but it is the Court’s well-considered view that the right to return may be considered, as a generally accepted principle of international law, and, under our Constitution, as part of the law of the land. However, it is distinct and separate from the right to travel and enjoys a different protection under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, against being “arbitrarily deprived” thereof.
13. Mejoff v. Director of Prisons (GR No. L-2855, 30 July 1949) Facts: Boris Mejoff is an alien of Russian descent who was brought to the Philippines from Shanghai as a secret operative by the Japanese forces during the latter’s regime. Upon liberation, he was arrested as a Japanese spy by US Counter-Intelligence Corps. Later on, he was handed to the Commonwealth Government for disposition in accordance with Commonwealth Act No. 682. He was ordered released by the People’s Court. However, the Deportation Board found that he had no travel documents when he entered the country, and after investigation, concluded that he entered the country illegally and ordered that he be deported on the first available transportation to Russia. Being under custody, he was transferred to the Cebu Provincial Jail together with three other Russians to await the arrival of some Russian vessels. Some Russian vessels and some months thereafter, Mejoff was transferred to the Bilibid Prison at Muntinlupa where he was confined until 1949, because the Russian vessels would not take him for lack of authority to do so, and the Immigration Commissioner believes it is for the best interest of the country to keep him under detention while arrangements for his deportation are being made. A petition for habeas corpus in his behalf was filed. Issue:
W/N Mejoff should be kept under detention pending his deportation.
Ruling: YES. Considering that this Government desires to expel the alien, and does not relish keeping him at the people’s expense, we must presume it is making efforts to carry out the decree of exclusion by the highest officer of the land. On top of this presumption assurances were made that the Government is really trying to expedite the expulsion of this prisoner. On the other hand, the record fails to show how long he has been under confinement since the last time
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal he was apprehended. Neither does he indicate neglected opportunities to send him abroad. And unless it is shown that the deportee is being indefinitely imprisoned under the pretense of awaiting a chance for deportation or unless the Government admits that it cannot deport him or unless the detainee is being held for too long a period, our courts will not interfere. In this jurisdiction, moreover, we have no sufficient data to fix a definite deadline within which imprisoned aliens should be deported, otherwise their release would be ordered by writ of habeas corpus. Considering in the United States (where transportation facilities are much greater and diplomatic arrangements are easier to make), a delay of twenty months in carrying out an order of deportation has not been held sufficient to justify the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus, this petition must be denied. Mejoff’s detention upheld.
While it must be admitted that temporary detention is a necessary step in the process of exclusion or expulsion of undesirable aliens and that pending arrangements for his deportation, the Government has the right to hold the undesirable alien under confinement for a reasonable length of time, under established precedents, too long a detention may justify the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. The meaning of “reasonable time” depends upon the circumstances, especially the difficulties of obtaining a passport, the availability of transportation, the diplomatic arrangements concerned and the efforts displayed to send the deportee away.
From Justice Perfecto’s dissent:
The constitutional guarantee that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law has been intended to protect all inhabitants or residents who may happen to be under the shadows of the Philippine flag.
14. Province of Tayabas v. Perez (GR No. L-35364, 29 October 1931) Facts: Three lots, lot X-1, X-2, and X-3, in the province of Tayabas are under condemnation proceedings. Lots X-1 and X-3 were assessed at P8.00 per square meter, and lot X-2 at P3.50 per square meter. Simeon Perez’ two sheds on the land were assessed at P3,500.00. These assessments were accepted by the trial court. The Province of Tayabas appealed, insisting upon a reduction of the price. On the other hand, Godofredo Reyes and Domingo Lopez have also appealed from the judgment which denied their complaint of intervention on the ground that it has been filed out of time, and that the record did not show the necessity of a new investigation to protect them from certain abuse of authority insinuated to have been committed by the provincial officials. It is to be noted that there actually was no hearing in court, but only pleadings were presented. Issue:
W/N there should have been an actual hearing.
Ruling: YES. It is the intention of the law that a proper hearing, with both parties present, be had upon the commissioner’s report in condemnation proceedings. Even in cases where both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, agree with the commissioners in their report, such acquiescence must appear in the record of that hearing. In the matter of condemnation proceedings, the rule followed by the courts is that the provisions of the law are to be strictly followed so that the party whose property may be sought to be expropriated may have all the legal guarantees of due process of law. Records of the case ordered to be remanded to the court of origin so that the case may be reopened, and a hearing on the commissioner’s report, at which hearing Godofredo Reyes and Domingo Lopez may be heard, together with any other person who may have a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either party, or any interest adverse to the latter. 15. Ebralinag v. Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu (GR No. 95770, 1 March 1993) Facts: 68 high school and grade school students from public schools in Cebu, all of whom were members of a religious sect known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were expelled from their classes by the Cebu public school authorities for refusing to salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and recite the patriotic pledge as required by Republic Act No.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal 1265 and by Department Order No. 8 of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports making the flag ceremony compulsory in all educational institutions. The Jehovah’s Witnesses admittedly teach their children not to salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and recite the patriotic pledge for they believe that those are “acts of worship” or “religious devotion” which they “cannot conscientiously give to anyone or anything except God.” They feel bound by the Bible’s command to “guard themselves from idols.” They consider the flag as an image or idol representing the State. They think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on the State’s power and invades the sphere of the intellect and spirit which the Constitution protects against official control. They claim that the children’s rights to free public education, and their right to freedom of speech, religion, and worship were all violated by the actions of the local public school authorities. On the other hand, the local authorities claim that the flag salute is devoid of any religious significance; and it instead inculcates respect and love of country, for which the flag stands. Additionally, they contend that the bizarre religious practices of the Jehovah’s Witnesses produce rebellious and antisocial schoolchildren and consequently disloyal and mutant Filipino citizens. Issue: W/N school children who are members of a religious sect may be expelled from school (both public and private) for refusing, on account of their religious beliefs, to take part in the flag ceremony which includes playing (by a band) or singing the Philippine national anthem, saluting the Philippine flag and reciting the patriotic pledge. Ruling: NO. This ruling overturns the 30-year-old decision in Gerona v. Secretary of Education and Balbuna v. Secretary of Education, wherein the Court upheld the expulsion of the students who refused to obey the flag salute law. The idea that one may be compelled to salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and recite the patriotic pledge, during a flag ceremony on pain of being dismissed from one’s job or of being expelled from school, is alien to the conscience of the present generation of Filipinos who cut their teeth on the Bill of Rights which guarantees their rights to free speech and the free exercise of religious profession and worship. The Court is not persuaded that by exempting the Jehovah’s Witnesses from saluting the flag, singing the national anthem and reciting the patriotic pledge, this religious group which admittedly comprises a small portion of the school population will shake up our part of the globe and suddenly produce a nation untaught and uninculcated in and unimbued with reverence for the flag, patriotism, love of country and admiration for national heroes. After all, what the students seek only is exemption from the flag ceremony, not exclusion from the public schools where they may study the Constitution, the democratic way of life and form of government, and learn not only the arts, sciences, Philippine history and culture but also receive training for a vocation or profession and be taught the virtues of patriotism, respect for human rights, appreciation for national heroes, the rights and duties of citizenship, and moral and spiritual values as part of the curricula. Forcing a small religious group, through the iron hand of the law, to participate in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs, will hardly be conducive to love of country or respect for duly constituted authorities. Thus, an exemption may be accorded to the Jehovah’s Witnesses with regard to the observance of the flag ceremony out of respect for their religious beliefs. Nevertheless, their right not to participate in the flag ceremony does not give them a right to disrupt such patriotic exercises. While the highest regard must be afforded the right to the free exercise of religion, this should not mean that school authorities are powerless to discipline them if they should commit breaches of the peace by actions that offend the sensibilities, both religious and patriotic, of other persons. Moreover, the expulsion of members of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the schools where they are enrolled will violate their right as Philippine citizens, under the 1987 Constitution, to receive free education, for it is the duty of the State to “protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education and to make such education accessible to all.” Expulsion of the students annulled.
Religious freedom is a fundamental right which is entitled to the highest priority and the amplest protection among human rights, for it involves the relationship of man to his Creator. The right to religious profession and worship has a two-fold aspect, viz., freedom to believe and freedom to act on one’s belief. The first is absolute as long as the belief is confined within the realm of thought. The second is subject to regulation where the belief is translated into external acts that affect the public welfare.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
The sole justification for a prior restraint or limitation on the exercise of religious freedom is the existence of a grave and present danger of a character both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest, that the State has a right (and duty) to prevent. It is certain that not every conscience can be accommodated by all the laws of the land; but when general laws conflict with scruples of conscience, exemptions ought to be granted unless some “compelling state interest” intervenes.
Justice Cruz’ concurring opinion:
Freedom of speech includes the right to be silent. The Bill of Rights that guarantees to the individual the liberty to utter what is in his mind also guarantees to him the liberty not to utter what is not in his mind. The democratic system provides for the accommodation of diverse ideas, including the unconventional and even the bizarre or eccentric. The will of the majority prevails, but it cannot regiment thought by prescribing the recitation by rote of its opinions or proscribing the assertion of unorthodox or unpopular views as in this case. The State cannot make the individual speak when the soul within rebels.
16. US v. Bustos (GR No. L-12592, 8 March 1918) Facts: Citizens of the province of Pampanga assembled and prepared and signed a petition to the Executive Secretary charging Roman Punsalan, justice of the peace of Macabebe and Masantol, Pampanga, with malfeasance in office and asking for his removal. The Executive Secretary referred the matter to the Judge of First Instance Percy Moir, requesting investigation, proper action, and report. Judge Moir, after hearing, recommended to the Governor-General that Punsalan should be removed from his position as justice of the peace of Macabebe and Masantol. Punsalan thereafter filed a motion for a new trial, which was granted. Six councilors and the municipal president of Masantol asserted that Punsalan was only a victim of prosecution, because the auxiliary justice of the peace of Macabebe and Masantol, Agustin Jaime, instituted the charges for personal reasons. Punsalan was acquitted, and now Punsalan initiated a criminal action for libel against those who signed the first petition against him. The judge found all of them, except Felix Fernandez, Juan Alfonso, Restituto Garcia, and Manuel Mallari, guilty, and sentenced each of them to pay a fine of P10.00 and one thirty-second part of the costs, or to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The convicted persons appealed. Issue:
W/N the lower court erred in not holding that the alleged libelous statement was unqualifiedly privileged.
Ruling: YES. Although as a general rule, words imputing to a judge or a justice of the peace dishonesty or corruption or incapacity or misconduct touching him in his office are actionable, we do not have here a simple case of direct and vicious accusations published in the press, but of charges predicated on affidavits made to the proper official and thus qualifiedly privileged. Express malice has not been proved by the prosecution. Further, 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 surrounds 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. Appellants entitled to the protection of the rules concerning qualified privilege, growing out of constitutional guaranties in our bill of rights. Instead of punishing citizens for an honest endeavor to improve the public service, they should be commended for their good citizenship. Appellants acquitted.
The interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public officer must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts. Only thus can the intelligence and the dignity of the individual be exalted. Of course, criticism does not authorize defamation. Nevertheless, as the individual is less than the State, so must expected criticism be born for the common good. Rising superior to
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
any official or set of officials, to the Chief of Executive, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary—to any or all the agencies of Government—public opinion should be the constant source of liberty and democracy. 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 way as any other public officer, public opinion will be effectively muzzled. Attempted terrorization of public opinion on the part of the judiciary would be tyranny of the basest sort. The sword of Damocles in the hands of a judge does not hang suspended over the individual who dares to assert his prerogative as a citizen and to stand up bravely before any official. On the contrary, it is a duty which everyone 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 being the facts to the notice of those whose duty it is to inquire into and punish them. Justice Gayner: The people are not obliged to speak of the conduct of their officials in whispers or with bated breath in a free government, but only in a despotism. 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. 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. Privilege is classified as either absolute or qualified. As to qualified privilege, it is as the words suggest a prima facie privilege which may be lost by proof of malice. The rule on qualified privilege: A communication made bona fide upon any subject-matter in which the party communicating has an interest, or in reference to which 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. 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. The privilege is not defeated by the mere fact that the communication is made in intemperate terms. 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. In the usual case malice can be presumed from defamatory words. Privilege destroys that presumption. The onus of proving malice then lies on the plaintiff. The plaintiff must bring home to the defendant the existence of malice as the true motive of his conduct. Falsehood and the absence of probable cause will amount to proof of malice. However, a privileged communication should not be subjected to microscopic examination to discover grounds of malice or falsity. Such excessive scrutiny would defeat the protection which the law throws over privileged communications. The ultimate test is that of bona fides.
17. Espuelas v. People (GR No. L-13223, 30 May 1960) Facts: Oscar Espuelas was found guilty of the crime of inciting to sedition and was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty from 2 years, 4 months, and 1 day of prision correccional as minimum to 5 years, 4 months, and 20 days of prision correccional as maximum, to pay a fine of P1,000.00, to suffer subsidiary imprisonment not exceeding one-third of the principal penalty in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. Before serving his sentence to its full extent, the President of the Philippines granted him a conditional pardon by remitting the unexpired period of his sentence and payment of the fine of P1,000.00, on the condition that he shall not again violate any of the penal laws of the Philippines. Espuelas accepted the conditional pardon and was released from confinement. Sometime thereafter, he was charged with the crime of usurpation of authority or official functions and was found guilty after trial. He was sentenced to suffer 4 months and 1 day or arresto mayor as minimum to 2 years, 1 month, and 1 day of prision correccional as maximum. The case was dismissed on appeal. However, upon the
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Parole, the President ordered Espuelas’ recommitment to prison to serve the unexpired period of his sentence. Issue: W/N the President’s prerogative to order the reincarceration of Espuelas upon violation by the latter of the terms of the conditional pardon granted to and accepted by him, to serve the unexpired term or period of his sentence is in violation of due process of law. Ruling: NO. Espuelas had had his day in court and had been afforded the opportunity defend himself during his trial for the crime of inciting to sedition, with which he was charged, that brought about or resulted to his conviction, sentence, and confinement in the penitentiary. When he was conditionally pardoned, it was a generous exercise by the Chief Executive of his constitutional prerogative. The acceptance thereof by the convict or prisoner carries with it the authority or power of the Executive to determine whether a condition or conditions of the pardon has or have been violated. To no other department of the Government such power has been entrusted. It has been previously held that it is the mere commission, not his conviction by court, of any other crime, that is necessary in order that a person may be deemed to have violated his parole. Under Section 64(i) of the Administrative Code, the Chief Executive is authorized to order the arrest and reincarceration of any such person, in his judgment, who shall fail to comply with the condition, or conditions, of his pardon, parole, or suspension of sentence. The fact is that the person being dealt with is a convict, that he has already been seized in a constitutional way, been confronted by his accusers and the witnesses against him, been tried by the jury of his peers secured to him by the Constitution, and by them convicted of crime, and been sentenced to punishment therefor. In respect of that crime and his attitude before the law after conviction of it, he is not a citizen, nor entitled to invoke the organic safeguards which hedge about the citizen’s liberty, but he is a felon, at large by the mere grace of the executive, and not entitled to be at large after he has breached the conditions upon which that grace was extended to him.
Due process is not necessarily judicial. Where the determination of the violation of the conditional parole rests exclusively in the sound judgment of the Chief Executive, the court will not interfere, by way of review, with any of his findings.
18. Eastern Broadcasting v. Dans (GR No. L-59329, 19 July 1985) Facts: The radio station Eastern Broadcasting Corporation (DYRE) was closed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) under the general charge of “inciting people to commit acts of sedition” when the said radio station shifted towards what it stated was the coverage of public events and the airing of programs geared towards public affairs. The radio station, through its president, Mr. Rene Espina, 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, alleging that no hearing was held and not a bit of proof was submitted to establish a factual basis for the closure. It also raised the issue of freedom of speech. However, before the Court could promulgate a decision squarely passing upon all the issues raised, the radio station filed a motion to withdraw or dismiss the petition, alleging that it had already sold its rights and interest in favor of Manuel Pastrana and the NTC has already expressed its willingness to grant to the new owner the requisite license and franchise to operate the said radio station, and thus, has no interest in pursuing the case any further. Although the case has already become moot and academic, the Court issues the following guidelines for the guidance of inferior courts and administrative tribunals exercising quasi-judicial functions, in the shutting down of operations of broadcasting stations: 1.
The cardinal primary requirements in administrative proceedings laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations should be followed before a broadcast station may be closed or its operations curtailed. While there is no controlling and precise definition of due process, it furnishes an unavoidable standard to which government action must conform in order that any deprivation of life, liberty, or property, in each appropriate case, may be valid.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal 3.
All forms of media, whether print or broadcast, are entitled to the broad protection of the freedom of speech and expression clause. The test for limitations on freedom of expression continues to be the clear and present danger rule—that words are used in such circumstances that the lawmaker has a right to prevent. The clear and present danger test, however, does not lend itself to a simplistic and all embracing interpretation applicable to all utterances in all forums. a. Broadcasting has to be licensed. Airwave frequencies have to be allocated among qualified users. A broadcast corporation cannot simply appropriate a certain frequency without regard for government regulation or for the rights of others. b. 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. c. The broadcast media have also established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of all Filipinos. Newspapers and current books are found only in metropolitan areas and in the poblaciones of municipalities accessible to fast and regular transportation. Even here, there are low income masses who find the cost of books, newspapers and magazines beyond their humble means. Basic needs like food and shelter perforce enjoy high priorities. On the other hand, the transistor radio is found everywhere. The television set is also becoming universal. Their message may be simultaneously received by a national or regional audience of listeners including the indifferent or unwilling who happen to be within reach of a blaring radio or television set. The materials broadcast over the airwaves reach every person of every age, persons of varying susceptibilities to persuasion, persons of different I.Q.’s and mental capabilities, persons who reactions to inflammatory or offensive speech would be difficult to monitor or predict. The impact of the vibrant speech is forceful and immediate. Unlike readers of the printed work, the radio audience has lesser opportunity to cogitate, analyze, and reject the utterance. The clear and present danger test, therefore, must take the particular circumstances of broadcast media into account. The supervision of radio stations—whether by government or through self-regulation by the industry itself—calls for thoughtful, intelligent, and sophisticated handling. The 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.
Radio broadcasting, more than other forms of communications, receives the most limited protection from the free expression clause. First, broadcast media have established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of all citizens. Material presented over the airwaves confronts the citizen, not only in public, but in the privacy of his home. Second, broadcasting is uniquely accessible to children. Bookstores and motion picture theaters may be prohibited from making certain material available to children, but the same selectivity cannot be done in radio or television, where the listener or viewer is constantly tuning in and out. The government has a right to be protected against broadcasts which incite listeners to violently overthrow it. Radio and television may not be used to organize a rebellion or to signal the start of widespread uprising. At the same time, the people have a right to be informed. Radio and television would have little reason for existence if broadcasts are limited to bland, obsequious, or pleasantly entertaining utterances. Since they are the most convenient and popular means of disseminating varying views on public issues, they also deserve special protection.
Justice Teehankee’s concurring opinion:
If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate; that freedom of expression is a preferred right and therefore stands on a higher level than substantive economic or other liberties, that this must be so because the lessons of history, both political and legal, illustrate that freedom of thought and speech is the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Protection is especially mandated for political discussions. This Court is particularly concerned when allegations are made that restraints have been imposed upon mere criticisms of government and public
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal officials. Political discussion is essential to the ascertainment of political truth. It cannot be the basis of criminal indictments; that there must be tolerance of political hyperbole since debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open and it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials, that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or prescribe advocacy of the use of force or of law in violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action; that political discussion even among those opposed to the present administration is within the protective clause of freedom of speech and expression. The same cannot be construed as subversive activities per se or as evidence of membership in a subversive organization in the absence of proof that such discussion was in furtherance of any plan to overthrow the government through illegal means. From Justice Abad Santos’ concurring opinion:
The closure of the petitioner’s radio station on grounds of national security without elaboration of the grounds and without hearing deserves to be condemned in no uncertain terms for it is manifest that due process was not observed. If there is an idea which should be impressed in the minds of those who wield power it is that power must be used in a reasonable manner. Arbitrariness must be eschewed. The main opinion, and the case of Ang Tibay v. CIR, should be made required reading materials for public officials who huff and puff with power making themselves not merely obnoxious but dangerous as well.
19. Burgos v. Chief of Staff (GR No. L-64261, 26 December 1984) Facts: Two search warrants were issued by Judge Ernani Cruz-Paño, pursuant to which the premises of the “Metropolitan Mail” and “We Forum” newspapers were searched, and office and printing machines, equipment, paraphernalia, motor vehicles, and other articles used in the printing, publication, and distribution of said newspapers, as well as numerous papers, documents, books, and other written literature alleged to be in the possession and control of Jose Burgos, Jr., publisher-editor of the “We Forum” newspaper, were seized. As a consequence of the search and seizure, the premises were also padlocked and sealed, with the further result that the printing and publication of the said newspapers were discontinued. A petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction was subsequently filed by Burgos with the Supreme Court, assailing the validity of the said search warrants, praying for the return of the seized articles, and requesting that the articles not be used in evidence against Burgos in a criminal case pending against him. The Solicitor General stated that these articles will not be used against Burgos until the legality of the seizure of the articles has been finally resolved by the Court. Respondents aver that the Court should dismiss the petition because Burgos had come to the Supreme Court without having previously sought the quashal of the search warrants before the Judge Paño. They also claim that Burgos is guilty of laches, because while the said search warrants were issued on 7 December 1982, the petition impugning the same was filed only on 16 June 1983, or afer the lapse of a period of more than six months. Petitioners, on the other hand, impugn the validity of the search warrants on the ground that the documents seized by the respondents could not have provided sufficient basis for the finding of a probable cause upon which a warrant may validly issue. Issue:
W/N the search warrants were validly issued.
Ruling: NO. First of all, when the search warrant applied for is directed against a newspaper publisher or editor in connection with the publication of subversive materials, 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. Thus, the broad statement in Col. Abadilla’s application (the Intelligence Officer who applied for the search warrant) that petitioner “is in possession or has in his control printing equipment and other paraphernalia, news publications and other documents which were used and are all continuously being used as a means of committing the offense of subversion punishable under PD 885” is a mere conclusion of law and does not satisfy the requirements of probable cause. Bereft of such particulars as would justify a finding of the existence of probable cause, said allegation cannot serve as basis for the issuance of a search warrant and it was a grave error for respondent judge to have done so.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Secondly, the statements contained in the joint affidavits of Alejandro Gutierrez and Pedro Tango, members of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group under Col. Abadilla which conducted a surveillance of the premises prior to the filing of the application for the search warrants, stating that “the evidence gathered and collated by our unit clearly shows that the premises above-mentioned and the articles and things above-described were used and are continuously being used for subversive activities in conspiracy with, and to promote the objective of, illegal organizations such as the Light-a-Fire Movement, Movement for Free Philippines, and April 6 Movement,” are insufficient as basis for the determination of probable cause. In mandating that “no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined by the judge, after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce,” the 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. In Alvarez v. Court of First Instance, the Court ruled that “the oath required must refer to the truth of the facts within the personal knowledge of the petitioner of his witness, because the purpose thereof is to convince the committing magistrate, not the individual making the affidavit and seeking the issuance of the warrant, of the existence of probable cause.” As couched, the quoted averment in said joint affidavit filed before the respondent Judge hardly meets the test of sufficiency established by this Court in the Alvarez case. Next, another factor which makes the search warrants under consideration constitutionally objectionable is that they are in the nature of general warrants. The description of the articles sought to be seized under the search warrants in question were too general, and are therefore invalid. Lastly, the closure of the premises, which was a consequence of the search and seizure, 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 anathemic to a democratic framework where a free, alert, and even militant press is essential for the political enlightenment and growth of the citizenry. Search warrants null and void. Prayer for a writ of mandatory injunction for the return of the seized articles granted, and all articles seized thereunder ordered released to petitioners.
Laches is failure or negligence for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. It is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. In the determination of whether a search warrant describes the premises to be searched with sufficient particularity, it has been held that the executing officer’s prior knowledge as to the place intended in the warrant is relevant. This would seem to be especially true where the executing officer is the affiant on whose affidavit the warrant had issued, and when he knows that the judge who issued the warrant intended the building described in the affidavit. And it has also been said that the executing officer may look to the affidavit in the official court file to resolve an ambiguity in the warrant as to the place to be searched. Section 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court does not require that the property to be seized should be owned by the person against whom the search warrant is directed. It may or may not be owned by him. In fact, under subsection (b) of the said provision, one of the properties that may be seized is stolen property. Necessarily, stolen property must be owned by one other than the person in whose possession it may be at the time of the search and seizure. Ownership, therefore, is of no consequence, and it is sufficient that the person against whom the warrant is directed has control or possession of the property sought to be seized. 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 to in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched.
From Justice Abad Santos’ concurring opinion:
The action against “We Forum” was a naked suppression of press freedom for the search warrants were issued in gross violation of the Constitution. Any search warrant conducted in disregard of the two points stressed in Section 3, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution will result in wiping out completely one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed in our
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the privacy of communication and correspondence at the mercy of the whims, caprice, or passion of peace officers. 20. Sanidad v. COMELEC (GR No. 90878, 29 January 1990) Facts: Pablito Sanidad, a newspaper columnist of the “Overview” for the “Baguio Midland Courier,” a weekly newspaper circulated in the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras, assail the constitutionality of Section 19 of COMELEC Resolution No. 2167 (An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region), which provides: Section 19. Prohibition on columnists, commentators, or announcers. – During the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on the plebiscite day, no mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for or against the plebiscite issues. Sanidad alleges that the provision is void and unconstitutional because it violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression and of the press enshrined in the Constitution. He believes that the said provision constitutes prior restraint on his constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of the press and further imposes subsequent punishment for those who may violate it because it contains a penal provision. He maintains that if media practitioners were to express their views, beliefs, and opinions on the issue submitted to a plebiscite, it would in fact help in the government drive and desire to disseminate information, and hear, as well as ventilate, all sides of the issue. The COMELEC maintains that the questioned provision is a valid implementation of the power of the COMELEC to supervise and regulate media during election or plebiscite periods as enunciated in Article IX-C, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution. It further claims that COMELEC Resolution No. 2167 does not absolutely bar Sanidad from expressing his views and/or from campaigning for or against the Organic Act because he may still express his views through the COMELEC space and airtime. Issue:
W/N the assailed provision is violative of the freedom of the press.
Ruling: YES. Neither Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution nor Section 11(b), 2nd paragraph of RA 6646 can be construed to mean that the COMELEC has been granted the right to supervise and regulate the exercise by media practitioners themselves of their right to expression during plebiscite periods. Media practitioners exercising their freedom of expression during plebiscite periods are neither the franchise holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no candidates involved in a plebiscite. Therefore, Section 19 of COMELEC Resolution No. 2167 has no statutory basis. Moreover, while the limitation on the media practitioners’ freedom to express their views in the COMELEC space and airtime does not absolutely bar the press’ freedom of expression, it is still a restriction on their choice of the forum where they may express their views. This form of regulation is tantamount to a restriction of Sanidad’s freedom of expression for no justifiable reason. Section 19 of COMELEC Resolution No. 2167 declared unconstitutional.
In a plebiscite, votes are taken in an area on some special political matter unlike in an election where votes are cast in favor of specific persons for some office. In other words, the electorate is asked to vote for or against issues, not candidates, in a plebiscite. Plebiscite issues are a matter 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.
21. Ayer Production v. Judge Capulong (GR Nos. L-82380 & 98, 29 April 1988) Facts: Hal McElroy, an Australian filmmaker, and Ayer Productions, his movie production company, sought to produce a film for international and local release about the historic peaceful struggle of the Filipinos at EDSA. He consulted a local movie producer who advised him to consult further with the appropriate government agencies, and
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal also with General Fidel V. Ramos and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who had played major roles in the events proposed to be in the film. Juan Ponce Enrile stated that he would not and will not approve of the use, appropriation, reproduction, and/or exhibition of his name, or picture, or that of any member of his family in any cinema or television production, film or other medium for advertising or commercial exploitation and further advised McElroy and Ayer Productions that in the production, airing, showing, distribution or exhibition of said or similar film, no reference whatsoever (whether written, verbal, or visual) should not be made to him or any member of his family, much less to any matter purely personal to them. Ayer Productions acceded to this demand and Enrile’s name was deleted from the movie script, and the projected motion picture underwent filming. Subsequently, Enrile applied for a temporary restraining order against McElroy and Ayer, seeking to enjoin them from producing the movie, alleging that its production was without the former’s consent and over his objection, constituting an obvious violation of his right to privacy. McElroy filed a Motion to Dismiss, contending that the film would not involve the private life of Juan Ponce Enrile nor that of his family and that an injunction would amount to a prior restraint to their right of free expression. The TRO was issued, and a preliminary injunction as well. Ayer and McElroy then separately filed petitions for certiorari with the Supreme Court, emphasizing their right to freedom of expression. Issue:
W/N the making of the film constitutes a violation of Juan Ponce Enrile’s right to privacy.
Ruling: NO. The right of privacy or “the right to be let alone,” like the right of free expression, is not an absolute right. A limited intrusion into a person’s privacy has long been regarded as permissible where that person is a public figure and the information sought to be elicited from him or to be published about him constitute matters of a public character. Succinctly put, the right of privacy cannot be invoked to resist publication and dissemination of matters of public interest. The interest sought to be protected by the right of privacy is the right to be free from unwarranted publicity, from the wrongful publicizing of the private affairs and activities of an individual which are outside the realm of legitimate public concern. Moreover, Juan Ponce Enrile is a “public figure” precisely because of his participation as a principal actor in the culminating events of the change of government in February 1986. Because his participation therein was major in character, a film reenactment of the peaceful revolution that fails to make reference to the role played by him would be grossly unhistorical. The right of privacy of a “public figure” is necessarily narrower than that of an ordinary citizen. Juan Ponce Enrile has not retired into the seclusion of simple private citizenship. He continues to be a “public figure.” After a successful political campaign during which his participation in the EDSA Revolution was directly or indirectly referred to in the press, radio, and television, he sits in a very public place, the Senate of the Philippines. Issue: W/N the injunction issued by the lower court against the production of the movie constitutes a violation of McElroy and his production company’s freedom of expression. Ruling: YES. It may be observed at the outset that what is involved in the instant case is a prior and direct restraint on the part of the respondent Judge upon the exercise of speech of McElroy and Ayer. The respondent Judge has restrained the latter from filming and producing the entire proposed motion picture. Because of the preferred character of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and of expression, a weighty presumption of invalidity vitiates measures of prior restraint upon such freedoms. The invalidity of a measure of prior restraint does not, of course, mean that no subsequent liability may lawfully be imposed upon a person claiming to exercise such constitutional freedoms. The respondent Judge should have stayed his hand, instead of issuing an ex parte TRO one day after the filing of a complaint by Juan Ponce Enrile and issuing a preliminary injunction 20 days later, for the projected motion picture was as yet uncompleted and hence not exhibited to any audience. Neither Juan Ponce Enrile nor the trial Judge knew what the completed film would precisely look like. There was, in other words, no “clear and present danger” of any violation of any right to privacy that Juan Ponce Enrile could lawfully assert. Moreover, the subject matter of the film relates to the non-bloody change of government that took place at EDSA in February 1986, and the train of events which led up to that denouement. Clearly, such subject matter is one of public interest and concern. Indeed, it is of international interest. The subject thus relates to a highly critical stage in
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal the history of this country and as such, must be regarded as having passed into the public domain and as an appropriate subject for speech and expression and coverage by any form of mass media. The subject matter, as set out in the synopsis of the film, does not relate to the individual life and certainly not to the private life of Juan Ponce Enrile. The film is not principally about, nor is it focused upon, the man Juan Ponce Enrile; but it is compelled, if it is to be historical, to refer to the role played by Juan Ponce Enrile in the precipitating and the constituent events of the change of government in February 1986. The extent of the intrusion upon the life of Juan Ponce Enrile that would be entailed by the production and exhibition of the film would therefore be limited in character. The extent of that intrusion may be generally described as such intrusion as is reasonably necessary to keep that film a truthful historical account. The line of equilibrium in the specific context of the instance case between the constitutional freedom of speech and of expression and the right to privacy, may be marked out in terms of a requirement that the proposed motion picture must be fairly truthful and historical in its presentation of events. There must be no knowing or reckless disregard of truth in depicting the participation of Juan Ponce Enrile in the EDSA Revolution. There must be no presentation of the private life of Juan Ponce Enrile and certainly no revelation of intimate or embarrassing personal facts. To the extent that the film limits itself in portraying Juan Ponce Enrile’s participation in the EDSA Revolution to those events which are directly and reasonably related to the public facts of the EDSA Revolution, the intrusion into his privacy cannot be regarded as unreasonable and actionable. Such portrayal may even be carried out without a license from him. Ayer Productions and Hal McElroy permitted to continue filming.
Freedom of expression includes the freedom to film and produce motion pictures and to exhibit such motion pictures in theaters or to diffuse them through television. Motion pictures are important both as a medium for the communication of ideas and the expression of artistic impulse. Their effects on the perception by our people of issues and public officials or public figures as well as the prevailing cultural traits is considerable. Nor is the importance of motion pictures as an organ of public opinion lessened by the fact that they are designed to entertain as well as to inform. There is no clear dividing line between what involves knowledge and what affords pleasure. If such a distinction were sustained, there is a diminution of the basic right to free expression. Our law, constitutional and statutory, does include a right of privacy. It is left to case law, however, to mark out the precise scope and content of this right in differing types of particular situations. In our day and age, motion pictures are a universally utilized vehicle of communication and medium of expression. Along with the press, radio, and television, motion pictures constitute a principal medium of mass communication for information, education, and entertainment. This freedom is available in our country both to locally-owned and to foreign-owned motion picture companies. Furthermore, the circumstance that the production of motion picture films is a commercial activity expected to yield monetary profit, is not a disqualification for availing of freedom of speech and of expression. In our community as in many other countries, media facilities are owned either by the government or the private sector but the private sectorowned media facilities commonly require to be sustained by being devoted in whole or in part to revenue producing activities. Indeed, commercial media constitute the bulk of such facilities available in our country and hence to exclude commercially owned and operated media from the exercise of constitutionally protected freedom of speech and of expression can only result in the drastic contraction of such constitutional liberties in our country. Lagunzad v. Vda. de Gonzales: Being a public figure ipso facto does not automatically destroy in toto a person’s right to privacy. The right to invade a person’s privacy to disseminate public information does not extend to a fictional or novelized representation of a person, no matter how public a figure he or she may be. A privilege may be given to the surviving relatives of a deceased person to protect his memory, but the privilege exists for the benefit of the living, to protect their feelings and to prevent a violation of their own rights in the character and memory of the deceased. Gonzales v. COMELEC: The right of freedom of expression, indeed, occupies a preferred position in the “hierarchy of civil liberties.” However, it is not without limitations. The prevailing doctrine is that the clear and present danger rule is such a limitation. Another criterion of permissible limitation on freedom of speech and of the press, which includes such vehicles of the mass media as radio, television, and the movies, is the “balancing-of-interests test.” The principle requires a court to take conscious and detailed consideration of the
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
interplay of interests observable in a given situation or type of situation. The limits of freedom of expression are reached when expression touches upon matters of essentially private concern. A public figure has been defined as a person who, by his accomplishments, fame, or mode of living, or by adopting a profession or calling which gives the public a legitimate interest in his doings, his affairs, and his character, has become a “public personage.” He is, in other words, a celebrity. Obviously to be included in this category are those who have achieved some degree of reputation by appearing before the public, as in the case of an actor, a professional baseball player, a pugilist, or any other entertainer. The list is, however, broader than this. It includes public officers, famous inventors and explorers, war heroes and even ordinary soldiers, an infant prodigy, and no less a personage than the Grand Exalted Ruler of a lodge. It includes, in short, anyone who has arrived at a position where public attention is focused upon him as a person. Such public figures were held to have lost, to some extent at least, their right of privacy. Three reasons were given: that they had sought publicity and consented to it, and so could not complain when they received it; that their personalities and their affairs had already become public, and could no longer be regarded as their own private business; and that the press had a privilege, under the Constitution, to inform the public about those who have become legitimate matters of public interest. On one or another of these grounds, and sometimes all, it was held that there was no liability when they were given additional publicity, as to matters legitimately within the scope of the public interest they had aroused. The privilege of giving publicity to news, and other matters of public interest, was held to arise out of the desire and the right of the public to know what is going on in the world, and the freedom of the press and other agencies of information to tell it. “News” includes all events and items of information which are out of the ordinary hum-drum routine, and which have “that indefinable quality of information which arouses public attention.” The privilege of enlightening the public is not, however, limited to the dissemination of news in the sense of current events. It extends also to information or education, or even entertainment and amusement, by books, articles, pictures, films, and broadcasts concerning interesting phases of human activity in general, as well as the reproduction of the public scene in newsreels and travelogues. In determining where to draw the line, the courts were invited to exercise a species of censorship over what the public may be permitted to read; and they were understandably liberal in allowing the benefit of the doubt.
22. Valmonte v. Belmonte (GR No. 74930, 13 February 1989) Facts: Ricardo Valmonte, a lawyer, member of the media, and citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, wrote to Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. in his capacity as the GSIS General Manager, with the request that he be furnished a copy of the names of the opposition members of the Batasang Pambansa who were able to secure a clean loan of P2,000,000.00 each on guaranty of Mrs. Imelda Marcos. He based his request on the provision of the Freedom Constitution which referred to the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Meynardo Tiro, the Deputy General Counsel of GSIS, replied in behalf of Belmonte and told Valmonte that his request could not be granted because a confidential relationship existed between the GSIS and all those who borrow from it, and that the GSIS has a duty to its customers to preserve that confidentiality. He added that it would not be proper for GSIS to breach such confidentiality unless ordered by the courts. Valmonte, along with other media practitioners, petitioned the Supreme Court for mandamus. Issue: W/N the documents evidencing loan transactions of the GSIS should be deemed outside the ambit of the right to information, in view of the right to privacy which is protected by the Constitution. Ruling: NO. The right to privacy belongs to the individual in his private capacity, and not to public and governmental agencies like the GSIS. The right cannot be invoked by juridical entities like the GSIS. A corporation has no right of privacy in its name since the entire basis of the right to privacy is an injury to the feelings and sensibilities of the party and a corporation would have no such ground for relief. Neither can the GSIS through its General Manager (Belmonte) invoke the right to privacy of its borrowers. The right is purely personal in nature, and hence may be invoked only by the person whose privacy is claimed to be violated. But in this case, however, the concerned borrowers themselves may not succeed if they choose to invoke their right to privacy, considering the public offices they were holding at the time the loans were alleged to have been granted. It cannot be denied that because of the interest they generate and their newsworthiness, public figures, most especially those holding responsible positions in government, enjoy a more limited right to privacy as compared to ordinary individuals, their actions being subject to closer public scrutiny.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal Issue: W/N the documents are covered by the constitutional right to information on matters of public concern, which guarantees access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions. Ruling: YES. That the GSIS, in granting the loans, was exercising a proprietary function would not justify the exclusion of the transactions from the coverage and scope of the right to information. Considering that government-owned and controlled corporations, whether performing proprietary or governmental functions are accountable to the people, the transactions entered into by the GSIS, a GOCC created by special legislation, are within the ambit of the people’s right to be informed pursuant to the constitutional policy of transparency in government dealings. Issue:
W/N Valmonte is entitled to the documents sought by virtue of his constitutional right to information.
Ruling: YES. The public nature of the loanable funds of the GSIS and the public office held by the alleged borrowers make the information sought clearly a matter of public interest and concern. GSIS is a trustee of contributions from the government and its employees and the administrator of various insurance programs for the benefit of the latter. Undeniably, its funds assume a public character. More particularly, the Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977 provides for annual appropriations to pay the contributions, premiums, interest, and other amounts payable to GSIS by the government, as employer, as well as the obligations which the Republic of the Philippines assumes or guarantees to pay. Considering the nature of its funds, the GSIS is expected to manage its resources with utmost prudence and in strict compliance with the pertinent laws or rules and regulations. Consequently, the GSIS is not supposed to grant clean loans. It is therefore the legitimate concern of the public to ensure that these funds are managed properly with the end in view of maximizing the benefits that accrue to the insured government employees. Furthermore, the supposed borrowers were members of the defunct Batansang Pambansa who themselves appropriated funds for the GSIS and were therefore expected to be the first to see to it that the GSIS performed its tasks with the greatest degree of fidelity and that all its transactions were above board. Moreover, petitioners are practitioners in media. As such, they have both the right to gather and the obligation to check the accuracy of information they disseminate. For them, the freedom of the press and of speech is not only critical, but vital to the exercise of their professions. The right of access to information ensures that these freedoms are not rendered nugatory by the government’s monopolizing pertinent information. For an essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people’s will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit. THUS, the Supreme Court rules as such: Petitioners are entitled to access the documents evidencing loans granted by the GSIS, subject to reasonable regulations that the latter may promulgate relating to the manner and hours of examination, to the end that damage to or loss of the records may be avoided, that undue interference with the duties of the custodian of the records may be prevented and that the right of other persons entitled to inspect the records may be insured. However, the request of the petitioners to compel Belmonte to furnish the former the list of the names of the Batasang Pambansa members belonging to the UNIDO and PDP-Laban who were able to secure clean loans before the 7 February election through the intercession/marginal note of the then First Lady Imelda Marcos. Although citizens are afforded the right to information and, pursuant thereto, are entitled to “access to official records,” the Constitution does not accord them a right to compel custodians of official records to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries, and the like in their desire to acquire information on matters of public concern.
An informed citizenry with access to the diverse currents in political, moral and artistic thought and date relative to them, and the free exchange of ideas and discussion of issues thereon, is vital to the democratic government envisioned under our Constitution. The cornerstone of this republican system of government is delegation of power by the people to the State. In this system, governmental agencies and institutions operate within the limits of the authority conferred by the people. Denied access to information on the inner workings of government, the citizenry can become prey to the whims and caprices of those to whom the power had been delegated. The postulate of a public office as a public trust, institutionalized in the Constitution to protect the people from abuse of governmental power, would certainly be empty words if access to such information of
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
public concern is denied, except under limitations prescribed by implementing legislation adopted pursuant to the Constitution. The right to information is an essential premise of a meaningful right to speech and expression. But this is not to say that the right to information is merely an adjunct of and therefore restricted in application by the exercise of the freedoms of speech and of the press. Far from it. The right to information goes hand-in-hand with the constitutional policies of full public disclosure and honesty in the public service. It is meant to enhance the widening role of the citizenry in governmental decision-making as well as in checking abuse in government. Like all constitutional guarantees, the right to information is not absolute. The people’s right to information is limited to “matters of public concern” and is further “subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.” Similarly, the State’s policy of full disclosure is limited to “transactions involving public interest,” and is “subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law.” Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission: In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. “Public concern” like “public interest” is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine on a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it relates to or affects the public. The “constituent-ministrant” dichotomy characterizing government function has long been repudiated. The Government, whether carrying out its sovereign attributes or running some business, discharges the same function of service to the people.
23. Baldoza v. Dimaano (AM No. 1120-MJ, 5 May 1976) Facts: The Municipal Secretary of Taal, Batangas, Dominador Baldoza, charged Municipal Judge Rodolfo Dimaano of the same municipality with abuse of authority in refusing to allow employees of the Municipal Mayor to examine the criminal docket records of the Municipal Court to secure data in connection with their contemplated report on the peace and order conditions of the said municipality. The case was referred to Judge Francisco Mat. Riodique for investigation and report. At the preliminary hearing, Taal Mayor Corazon Caniza filed a motion to dismiss the complaint to preserve harmony and cooperation among officers in the same municipality. The motion was denied by the Investigating Judge, but after formal investigation, he recommended exoneration of the respondent Judge. Issue: W/N Judge Dimaano acted arbitrarily in refusing to allow employees of the Municipal Mayor to examine the criminal docket records of the Municipal Court. Ruling: NO. As found by the Investigating Judge, the respondent allowed the complainant to open and view the docket books, under certain conditions and under his control and supervision. It has not been shown that the rules and conditions imposed by the respondent Judge were unreasonable. Case against Judge Dimaano dismissed.
The access to public records is predicated on the right of the people to acquire information on matters of public concern. Undoubtedly in a democracy, the public has a legitimate interest in matters of social and political significance. People ex rel. Guarantee & T. Co. v. Railly: While the Register of Deeds has discretion to exercise as to the manner in which persons desiring to inspect, examine, or copy the records in his office may exercise their rights, such power does not carry with it authority to prohibit. Except, perhaps, when it is clear that the purpose of the examination is unlawful, or sheer, idle curiosity, the Court does not believe it is the duty under the law of registration officers to concern themselves with the motives, reasons, and objects of the person seeking access to the records. It is not their prerogative to see that the information which the records contain is not flaunted before public gaze, or that scandal is not made of it. If it be wrong to publish the contents of the records, it is the legislature and not the officials having custody thereof which is called upon to devise a remedy. As to the moral or material injury which the publication might inflict on other parties, that is the publisher’s responsibility and lookout. The publication is made subject to the consequences of the law.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
The New Constitution now expressly recognizes that the people are entitled to information on matters of public concern and thus are expressly granted access to official records, as well as documents of official acts, or transactions, or decisions, subject to such limitations imposed by law. The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a democracy. There can be no realistic perception by the public of the nation’s problems, nor a meaningful democratic decision making if they are denied access to information of general interest. Information is needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the times. Maintaining the flow of such information depends on protection for both its acquisition and its dissemination since, if either process is interrupted, the flow inevitably ceases. However, restrictions on access to certain records may be imposed by law. Thus, access restrictions imposed to control civil insurrection have been permitted upon a showing of immediate and impending danger that renders ordinary means of control inadequate to maintain order.
24. Chavez v. PCGG (GR No. 130716, 9 December 1998) Facts: Francisco Chavez, invoking his constitutional right to information and the correlative duty of the state to disclose publicly all its transactions involving national interest, demands that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) be required to make public any and all negotiations and agreements pertaining to PCGG’s task of recovering the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. He claims that any compromise on the alleged billions of ill-gotten wealth involves an issue of “paramount public interest” since it has a “debilitating effect on the country’s economy” that would be greatly prejudicial to the national interest of the Filipino people. Hence, the people in general have a right to know the transactions or deals being contrived and effected by the government. Issue: W/N the Supreme Court could require the PCGG to disclose to the public the details of any agreement, perfected or not, with the Marcoses, regarding their ill-gotten wealth. Ruling: YES. It is incumbent upon the PCGG and its officers, as well as other government representatives, to disclose sufficient public information on any proposed settlement they have decided to take up with the ostensible owners and holders of ill-gotten wealth. Such information, though, must pertain to definite propositions of the government, not necessarily to intra-agency or inter-agency communications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the “exploratory” stage. There is a need, of course, to observe the same restrictions on disclosure of information in general, such as on matters involving national security, diplomatic or foreign relations, intelligence and other classified information. There is no doubt that the recovery of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth is a matter of public concern and imbued with public interest. Ill-gotten wealth, by its very nature, assumes a public character. Based on Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, and 14, “ill-gotten wealth” refers to assets and properties purportedly acquired, directly or indirectly, by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives and close associates through or as a result of their improper or illegal use of government funds or properties; or their having taken undue advantage of their public office; or their use of powers, influences or relationships, resulting in their unjust enrichment and causing grave damage and prejudice to the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines. Clearly, the assets and properties referred to supposedly originated from the government itself. To all intents and purposes, therefore, they belong to the people. As such, upon reconveyance they will be returned to the public treasury, subject only to the satisfaction of positive claims of certain persons as may be adjudged by competent courts. Another declared overriding consideration for the expeditious recovery of ill-gotten wealth is that it may be used for national economic recovery. Agreements entered into by the PCGG with the Marcoses declared null and void for being contrary to law and the Constitution. PCGG directed to disclose to the public the terms of any proposed compromise settlement, as well as the final agreement, relating to such alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Access to public documents and records is a public right, and the real parties in interest are the people themselves. The “information” and the “transactions” referred to in Sections 7 and 28 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution have as yet no defined scope and extent. There are no specific laws prescribing the exact limitations within which the right may be exercised or the correlative state duty may be obliged. However, the following are some
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal of the recognized restrictions: (1) national security matters and intelligence information; (2) trade secrets and banking transactions; (3) criminal matters; and (4) other confidential information. o National security matters: There is a governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic, and other national security matters. But where there is no need to protect such state secrets, the privilege may not be invoked to withhold documents and other information, provided they are examined “in strict confidence” and given “scrupulous protection.” Likewise, information on inter-government exchanges prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements may be subject to reasonable safeguards for the sake of national interest. o Trade secrets and banking transactions: Trade or industrial secrets are exempted from compulsory disclosure pursuant to the Intellectual Property Code and other related laws, while banking transactions are exempted by the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act. o Criminal matters: Also excluded are classified law enforcement matters, such as those relating to the apprehension, the prosecution and the detention of criminals, which courts may not inquire into prior to such arrest, detention, and prosecution. Efforts at effective law enforcement would be seriously jeopardized by free public access to, for example, police information regarding rescue operations, the whereabouts of fugitives, or leads on covert criminal activities. o Other confidential information: The Ethical Standards Act prohibits officials and employees from using or divulging “confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public.” Other acknowledged limitations to information access include diplomatic correspondence, closed door Cabinet meetings and executive sessions of either house of Congress, as well as the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court. o In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. “Public concern” like “public interest” is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine on a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it relates to or affects the public. 25. Reyes v. Bagatsing (GR No. L-65366, 9 November 1983) Facts: Retired Justice JBL Reyes, on behalf of the Anti-Bases Coalition, sought a permit from the City of Manila to hold a peaceful march and rally on 26 October 1983 from 2:00 to 5:00pm, starting from the Luneta, a public park, to the gates of the United States Embassy, hardly two blocks away, for the purpose of submitting a petition to remove the foreign military bases to the representative of the Embassy to any of its personnel who may be there so that it may be delivered to the United States Ambassador. There was an assurance in the petition that in the exercise of the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, all the necessary steps would be taken by it to ensure a peaceful march and rally. On 20 October 1983, a suit for mandamus with alternative prayer for writ of preliminary injunction was filed due to the fact that as of that date, petitioner had not been informed of any action taken on his request on behalf of the organization to hold a rally. It subsequently turned out that on 19 October 1983, the permit was denied because there were police intelligence reports that there were plans of subversive and criminal elements to infiltrate and/or disrupt any assembly or congregations where a large number of people is expected to attend. There was a suggestion by the Mayor that a permit may be issued if the rally is to be held at the Rizal Coliseum or any other enclosed area where the safety of the participants themselves and the general public may be ensured. This denial was sent through ordinary mail. The Supreme Court granted the mandatory injunction prayed for on the ground that there was no showing of the existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that could justify the denial of the permit. Issue:
W/N Mayor Bagatsing is justified in refusing to let the protesters rally.
Ruling: NO. It is true that the licensing official is not devoid of discretion in determining whether or not a permit would be granted. It is not, however, unfettered discretion. There was no justification to deny the exercise of the constitutional rights of free speech and peaceable assembly. These rights are assured by our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The mere assertion that subversives may infiltrate the ranks of the demonstrators does not suffice. While prudence requires that there be a realistic appraisal not of what may possibly
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal occur but what may probably occur, given all the relevant circumstances, still the assumption—especially so where the assembly is scheduled for a specific public place—is that the permit must be for the assembly being held there. The exercise of such a right is not to be abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place. As to public places, especially so as to parks and streets, there is freedom of access. There can be no legal objection, absent the existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil, on the choice of Luneta as the place where the peace rally would start. There can be no valid reason why a permit should not be granted for the opposed march and rally starting from a public park that is the Luneta. Neither can there be any valid objection to the use of the streets, to the gates of the US Embassy, hardly two blocks away at the Roxas Boulevard. Mandatory injunction prayed for granted.
Free speech, like free press, may be identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public concern without censorship or punishment. There is to be then no previous restraint on the communication of views or subsequent liability whether in libel suits, prosecution for sedition, or action for damages, or contempt proceedings, unless there be a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the State has a right to prevent. Freedom of assembly connotes the right of the people to meet peaceably for consultation and discussion of matters of public concern. It is entitled to be accorded the utmost deference and respect. It is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing, as is the case with freedom of expression, of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the State has a right to prevent. It is a necessary consequence of our republican institutions and complements the right of free speech. It is not by accident or coincidence that the right to freedom of speech and of the press were coupled in a single guarantee with and to petition the rights of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. All these rights, while not identical, are inseparable. In every case, therefore, where there is a limitation placed on the exercise of this right, the judiciary is called upon to examine the effects of the challenged governmental actuation. The sole justification for a limitation on the exercise of this right, so fundamental to the maintenance of democratic institutions, is the danger, of a character both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest. United States v. Apurado: It is rather to be expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of the people to protest against grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such occasions feeling is always wrought to a high pitch of excitement, and the greater the grievance and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as a rule, will be the disciplinary control of the leaders over their irresponsible followers. It bears repeating that for the constitutional right to be invoked, riotous conduct, injury to property, and acts of vandalism must be avoided; to give free rein to one’s destructive urges is to call for condemnation. It is to make a mockery of the high estate occupied by intellectual liberty in our scheme of values. Hague v. CIO: Whenever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for communication of views on national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or denied. The authority of a municipality to impose regulations in order to assure the safety and convenience of the people in the use of public highways has never been regarded as inconsistent with civil liberties but rather as one of the means of safeguarding the good order upon which they ultimately depend. The control of travel on the streets of cities is the most familiar illustration of this recognition of social need. Where a restriction of the use of highways in that relation is designed to promote the public convenience in the interest of all, it cannot be disregarded by the attempted exercise of some civil right which in other circumstances would be entitled to protection. Procedure: The applicants for a permit to hold an assembly should inform the licensing authority of the date, the public place where and the time when it will take place. If it were a private place, only the consent of the owner or the one entitled to its legal possession is required. Such application should be filed well ahead in time to enable the public official concerned to appraise whether there may be valid objections to the grant of the
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal permit or to its grant but at another public place. It is an indispensable condition to such refusal or modification that the clear and present danger test be the standard for the decision reached. If he is of the view that there is such an imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil, the applicants must be heard on the matter. Thereafter, his decision, whether favorable or adverse, must be transmitted to them at the earliest opportunity. Thus if so minded, they can have recourse to the proper judicial authority. Free speech and peaceable assembly, along with the other intellectual freedoms, are highly ranked in our scheme of constitutional values. It cannot be too strongly stressed that on the judiciary—even more so than on the other departments—rests the grave and delicate responsibility of assuring respect for and deference to such preferred rights. No verbal formula, no sanctifying phrase can, of course, dispense with what has been so felicitously termed by Justice Holmes “as the sovereign prerogative of judgment.” Nonetheless, the presumption must be to incline the weight of the scales of justice on the side of such rights, enjoying as they do precedence and primacy. From Justice Teehankee’s concurring opinion:
The right to freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances are fundamental personal rights of the people recognized and guaranteed by the constitutions of democratic countries and that the city or town mayors are not conferred the power to refuse to grant the permit, but only the discretion, in issuing the permit, to determine or specify the streets or public places where the parade or procession may pass or the meeting may be held. The burden to show the existence of grave and imminent danger that would justify adverse action on the application lies on the mayor as licensing authority. There must be objective and convincing, not subjective or conjectural proof of the existence of such clear and present danger. It is essential for the validity of a denial of a permit which amounts to a previous restraint or censorship that the licensing authority does not rely solely on his own appraisal of what public welfare, peace or safety may require. To justify such a limitation there must be proof of such weight and sufficiency to satisfy the clear and present danger test. Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the evil to be prevented is a serious one. Moreover, even imminent danger cannot justify resort to prohibition of these functions essential for effective democracy, unless the evil apprehended is relatively serious. Prohibition of free speech and assembly is a measure so stringent that it would be inappropriate as the means for averting a relatively trivial harm to a society. The fact that speech is likely to result in some violence or in destruction of property is not enough to justify its suppression. There must be the probability of serious injury to the state. Among freemen the deterrents ordinarily to be applied to prevent crimes are education and punishment for violations of the law, not abridgment of the rights of free speech and assembly. The leaders of the peaceable assembly should take all the necessary measures to ensure a peaceful march and assembly and to avoid the possibility of infiltrators and troublemakers disrupting the same, concomitantly with the duty of the police to extend protection to the participants staying at a discreet distance, but ever ready and alert to perform their duty. But should any disorderly conduct or incidents occur, whether provoked or otherwise, it is well to recall that such instances of disorderly conduct by individual members of a crowd be not seized as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against the authorities and render illusory the right of peaceable assembly. It is rather to be expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of the people to protest against grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such occasions feeling is always wrought to a high pitch of excitement, and the greater the grievance and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as a rule, will the disciplinary control of the leaders over their irresponsible followers. But if the prosecution be permitted to seize upon every instance of such disorderly conduct by individual members of a crowd as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against the authorities, then the right to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances would become a delusion and snare and the attempt to exercise it on the more righteous occasion and in the most peaceable manner would expose all those who took part therein to the severest and most unmerited punishment, if the purposes which they sought to attain did not happen to be pleasing to the prosecuting
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal authorities. If instances of disorderly conduct occur on such occasions, the guilty individuals should be sought out and punished therefor. 26. Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers Union (GR No. L-25246, 12 September 1974) Facts: Benjamin Victoriano, a member of the religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), worked at the Elizalde Rope Factory, Inc. Being such a worker, he was required to be a member of the Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union, which had a closed shop provision stating that “membership in the Union shall be required as a condition of employment.” When RA 3350 was passed, it contained an amendment which stated that clauses in labor organization agreements such as the closed shop provision shall not cover members of any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in any such labor organization. As INC prohibits its members from affiliating themselves with labor organizations, Victoriano resigned from the said Union. However, the Union asked the rope company to terminate the services of Victoriano in view of the fact of his resignation from the Union. Victoriano was informed by the Company that if he was unable to achieve a satisfactory arrangement with the Union, then he would have to be dismissed from the Company. Victoriano filed an injunction case against the Company and the Union, while the latter invoked the “union security clause” of the collective bargaining agreement and assailed the constitutionality of RA 3350. Issue: W/N RA 3350 is unconstitutional for favoring those religious sects which ban their members from joining labor unions. Ruling: NO. The primary effects of the exemption from closed shop arrangements in favor of members of religious sects that prohibit their members from affiliating with a labor organization is the protection of said employees against the aggregate force of the collective bargaining agreement, and relieving certain citizens of a burden on their religious beliefs. And by eliminating to a certain extent economic insecurity due to unemployment, which is a serious menace to the health, morals, and welfare of the people of the State, the Act also promotes the well-being of society. The exemption from the effects of the closed shop agreement does not directly advance, or diminish, the interests of any particular religion. Although the exemption may benefit those who are members of religious sects that prohibit their members from joining labor unions, the benefit upon the religious sects is merely incidental and indirect. Issue: W/N RA 3350 violates the constitutional provision against requiring a religious test for the exercise of a civil or political right. Ruling: NO. RA 3350 only exempts members with such religious affiliation from the coverage of closed shop agreements. So, under this Act, a religious objector is not required to do a positive act—to exercise the right to join or to resign from the union. He is exempted ipso jure without need of any positive act on his part.
The purpose of RA 3350 is to insure freedom of belief and religion, and to promote the general welfare by preventing discrimination against those members of religious sects which prohibit their members from joining labor unions, confirming thereby their natural, statutory, and constitutional right to work, the fruits of which work are usually the only means whereby they can maintain their own life and the life of their dependents. It cannot be gainsaid that said purpose is legitimate. The free exercise of religious profession or belief is superior to contract rights. In case of conflict, the latter must, therefore, yield to the former. Religious freedom, although not unlimited, is a fundamental personal right and liberty, and has a preferred position in the hierarchy of values. It is only where unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger. Any legislation whose effect or purpose is to impede the observance of one or all religions, or to discriminate invidiously between the religions, is invalid, even though the burden may be characterized as being only indirect. But if the State regulates conduct by enacting, within its power, a general law which has for its purpose and effect to advance the State’s secular goals, the statute is valid despite its indirect burden on religious observance, unless the State can accomplish its purpose without imposing such burden.
Human Rights Digests under Atty. Pete Principe, Coquia Chapter 4 Cases By Stephanie Luzette M. Macapagal
The establishment clause does not ban regulation on conduct whose reason or effect merely happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions. The free exercise clause of the Constitution has been interpreted to require that religious exercise be preferentially aided. Compelling state interest test: Not every conscience can be accommodated by all the laws of the land; but when general laws conflict with scruples of conscience, exemptions ought to be granted unless some compelling state interest intervenes.