The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

For the second year in a row, GMA Network, Inc. has been chosen as one of the most trusted brands in Asia in a consumer survey conducted by Reader’s Digest Asia.  GMA is very proud to be recognized by Reader’s Digest Asia and its readers for the second time around. This citation inspires us even more to continue providing balanced programming–top quality entertainment shows and credible news and information programs. More importantly, we will keep on implementing CSR programs that contribute to making the lives of each and every Filipino better,” Pacis said.

What is the difference between the two awards given by Reader’s Digest magazine as one of the nation’s trusted TV network and Trusted Brand awards?  ABS-CBN won the former while GMA 7 earned the latter.

Is it confusing for a layman that GMA 7 as a TV network did not win the trusted TV network but won the trusted brand instead?

Firstly, let us know what is branding, according to Iacobucci (2010, p. 64) a brand, is a name contrary to what some marketers say that a brand is a symbol.  It first has to be a name; otherwise, how would you dot.com it or register it in the web servers or yellow pages?

Secondly why is branding important that companies covet the most trusted brand award?  Brands are intended to convey information to customer.  A company with a good and reliable brand will probably be among the best, “that time and again the product will perform to quality standards” (Iacobucci, 2010. pp. 66-67).

Quality standards for TV networks are credible news reportage and quality television programming.  To deserve the most trusted brand in Asia award, GMA 7 should contest the recent survey conducted in the National Capital Region from April 25 to April 29 this year by StratPolls Inc. Based on the survey, TV Patrol news team was picked by 45.6 percent of the respondents as the most credible news team while GMA-7’s “24 oras” lags behind with 4.4 percent disparity.

The consistency of ABS-CBN as a credible news source in a TV network was since 2010 based from Pulse Asia survey.  It scored 63 percent while GMA-7 only scored 55 percent.

Quality programming encompasses the credit worthiness of the TV network.  Where credibility is in question the brand is in jeopardy.  To win the award as the most trusted brand in Asia deserves a second look.  Who is the award giving body? Can we file a complaint against it? What is the credit worthiness of it?

Reader’s Digest Magazine or (RDM) was the award giving body, it sells publications and products in 78 countries.  Consumers are unfortunate to know that it is not accredited by Better Business Bureau or BBB.  RDM did not seek BBB accreditation therefore; complaints regarding the credibility of its awards and other related businesses cannot be filed. In fact correspondence forwarded to RDM by BBB (due to another complaint) in June 10, 2004 has been returned by the Postal Service marked “Return To Sender – Attempted Not Known”.  BBB however, has no facilities for tracing companies.

In terms of its credit worthiness RDM filed for prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy during the last quarter of 2009 the prearranged bankruptcy is to seek negotiations in terms of debt. The filing however, does not cover its businesses outside the United States.

Having said that, is the “Most Trusted Brand in Asia” award carries weight at all if not genuine to ask the least to this TV station?

The credibility of its award giving body is in question likewise the jeopardy of its brand is in turmoil, so how can it attract more viewers and advertisers? The answer is in its recent ad campaign or infomercial.

“Eight out of ten sexiest women in the Philippines” according to them are “kapuso”, this “sexiest women” campaign is again argumentative.  Who & what are the powers behind the vote? Are there metrics to know technically the women who fall under the “sexy” standard? What is the scope of the voting population?  Is it national (LVM) or just local (where GMA7 rates the most)?  Or are the voters just FHM readers? And finally, how credible is the claim?

GMA 7’s dire credibility is present as well from the justification of its double-digit income drop (refer to: Business World Online).  The fact of the matter is; lost of advertisers’ confidence due to its depleting number of viewers and rating are the chief reasons for the income drop as opposed to GMA Network President and Chief Operating Officer Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr. have said in the broadcaster’s press briefing.

The broadcaster’s ad campaign no matter how incredible the claim, is its unique style of attracting more viewers, similar to the Iglesia Ni Manalo’s (INM) strategy on enticing more male members by displaying young and beautiful women in front of its church guests. While GMA 7’s ad campaign is ingenuous, INM’s manner is on the other hand subtle.

GMA7 & INM have the same feathers for both flock together in harmony and synchronicity in its approach of respectively adding more viewers and members in an appalling fashion and pathetic wits.

The Whit

by Philip M. Lustre Jr.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo is a minority church that is always on the wrong side of history. It has a track record of supporting most unholy causes to pursue certain opportunistic objectives.

It supported the Marcos dictatorial rule and, until its tragic end, it did not say anything, much less act, against the three ills that plagued the Marcos regime: the over centralized graft allegedly committed by Marcos, his family and friends; the unrestrained crony capitalism that benefited Marcos and his crony friends; and, the wanton disregard and violations of human rights that led to torture and disappearances of thousands of political activists and even ordinary citizens.

It is notorious for supporting candidates in every election. Voting as a bloc, the INC is reported to have been using as political leverage its capacity to marshal political support from its members.

It is said to have been currying favor from political leaders, whom it feels to have given the political support to win in elections. It pushes, albeit quietly and without fanfare, the appointment of its members for key government posts. Lately, it is said to have been pushing for the appointments of certain friendly but unqualified non-INC members, but to no avail.

Political opportunism is its hallmark. In the 2010 elections, it was said to have backed up the candidacy of another presidential candidate, but left him for good after he was certain to lose. On the last minutes, it went to support Benigno Aquino III, who incidentally won by more than five million votes from his nearest rival.

Political scientists once studied the INC’s capability and capacity to influence the course of Philippine history. While its members are reputed to vote like automatons in every election, its influence is not that deep.

It could influence the electoral outcome in some local posts, especially in hotly contested congressional districts, cities, towns and provinces. The INC vote could represent the swing vote in those political constituencies.

In national elections, the INC influence is doubtful except for the last two or three slots of the top 12 in every senatorial elections.

Political scientists estimated that the INC bloc is good for 1.2 or 1.3 million votes. While it could monitor the votes in the Culiat area, which hosts its national headquarters in Quezon City, or San
Juan City, where its first church is located, it could hardly monitor votes of its flock in other areas outside of Culiat and San Juan.

In short, its political influence is exaggerated, owing largely to media reports that tend to describe this minority church as powerful and influential.

The political record of the INC is not the only object of concern. The INC is not exactly endearing to the labor movement because of its leaders’ abhorrence to join any legitimate action by workers against business establishments.

Henry Sy’s SM, notorious for allegedly circumventing the Labor Code to its corporate interest, has adopted as an unwritten policy the hiring of workers belonging to INC for reason of “industrial peace.” The same thing has been happening in certain industrial enclaves.

A labor leader once harshly described the INC as “the religion of the scabs.”

Last year, the INC supported then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, asking certain lawmakers, whom it supported in the 2010 polls, to vote against her impeachment. But an overwhelming majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted for her impeachment, causing
embarrassment for the minority church.

This week, the INC mobilized its members to support embattled Renato Corona in what appears to be a show of force on Tuesday. But it remains questionable whether it could match what the majority church and certain minority churches could jointly muster in certain issues.

As the impeachment trial shows, Corona’s removal from office could be another big embarrassment for the INC, just like what had happened to Gutierrez, who, after she was impeached, chose to quietly resign her post.

Read more here
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion_mstd.htm?f=%2F%2F2012%2FMarch%2F3%2Feveryman.isx&n=opinion&d=%2F2012%2FMarch%2F3

By Jose Ma. MontelibanoPhilippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:11:00 01/28/2011

The optimism of the people are high, riding on a fresh administration, affirming that integrity and decency in governance was more what people needed than geniuses to wield power. I surmise it is because of the reputation that Ferdinand Marcos had been known for much of his life, as a brilliant lawyer and astute politician. Yet, he oppressed the people with the same intelligence and political expertise. Talent, indeed, does not hold water to integrity and honesty.

Gloria also had her own reputation as someone who was hard-working and an economist. These virtues, in the hands of the wrong person, become tools of plunder and instruments of evil.

It is true that the poverty of tens of millions of people deserve the most talented and decisive in the economic field. Yet, it had never been the lack of economic expertise that produced the poverty; rather, it was the exploitation of power for personal gain, the extraction of the country’s natural resources and the manipulation of the majority poor, that forced a rich land and gifted people to become marginalized.

I wonder who understands how native intelligence and a sensitive, creative culture can degenerate into uncontrollable divisiveness and a survivalist mindset. It is a classical breakdown of what is noble to what is animalistic, the damaged culture that scientists talk about. It used to be a universal pattern when colonization dominated the rest of the world. Many delude themselves into believing that a mental construct of centuries can quickly deconstruct itself when native rulers replace foreign masters. In fact, it does not most of the time. In fact, it becomes worse often enough.

The mindset of governance has always been elitist, even before Spanish colonization. The datu system could not have been less authoritarian. However, being home-grown in a culture that was very much family-oriented, it is more than probable that most datus were paternalistic more tan dictatorial. After all, the datu and his people were not enemies, just as the kings and their people belonged to one another.

Democracy, then, has upset the applecart of both tradition and human history. Democracy is dismantling a leadership mindset that has always been top down by introducing the process of a ground up participative governance. Much of the world today mouths democratic wishes. Some even claim adherence. The fact remains that democracy is struggling to survive its infancy stage in human evolution.

The need for respect is primordial in a democracy. The rule of the majority is not theoretical, not in a democracy. It must be a felt value by the people. While most decisions cannot be directly representative of what people want or don’t want, the sense that the common good prevails is a necessary belief of the people.

A credible justice system is designed to act like a guidepost. The rule of law is a foundation of all societies, but it is most crucial in a democracy. The rule of law and the application of meritocracy as the major moorings of society can make democracy work. Without them, the rule of force propping structured authority often co-opts a disturbed country. In the Philippines, the justice system is suspect, the highest judges perceived as partisan, lacking in integrity and objectivity, drawn to partisanship and loyalty to appointing powers.

We stand today inside a moment when great change is possible from the higher aspirations of a people under a new government. The key orientation then is change, a change from one point moving towards another. The starting point of change is corruption and the poverty it has spawned. Those who do not stand on the value of change do not deserve to lead the country because they will guarantee that no change will happen.

Change is not easy. Confronting corruption and its tentacles in every nook and corner of governance, with great help from a private sector who tolerated, even abetted it, requires a courage that belongs to heroes. Even poverty will be used as an excuse to compromise, as though to help the poor makes it necessary to dirty one’s soul. President Noy had heroes for parents. Maybe, he realizes today why destiny played it that way.

Many in the official family of national and local governance will relent to a reduction of corruption because they will be afraid that simple integrity and honesty will prevent them from receiving resources they need. The President can bend to Congress and the Senate, the mayors and governors to the President, the innocent to corrupt judges and justices, candidates to Comelec officials, and down the long line.

Those who compromise will tell themselves that they have to sell their souls in order to help their people. Little do they know, or try as they might not to know, people are enslaved in a national web and culture dominated by corruption. In a corrupt environment, the people are the victims, especially the poor. The people are not saved by compromise, they are punished and condemned by it.

That was why I thought that the Truth Commission was such a necessary instrument to battle corruption with. That is why I continue to believe that a Truth Commission is the only way to hit several birds with one stone. Aside from thieves and plunderers possibly getting imprisoned, the culture of honesty is once again being highlighted as non-negotiable. When the Supreme Court said that the Truth Commission was unconstitutional, I thought President Noy would bring the case to the people and establish Truth Forums everywhere.

But fate is a more masterful and brave player in life. A lowly auditor who is convinced of the guilt of plunder suspect General Carlos Garcia and the support that he receives from other personalities of power, Heidi Mendoza is saying she is on a truth mission. She is showing extraordinary courage for an ordinary Filipino. She is affirming that heroism is not the exclusive virtue of personages in high places, but that it can be the result of fighting those in power and with great wealth.

Filipino. Pilipinas natin. Our country demands from us, from all of us, a personal contribution to nationhood. Corruption prevents a sense of unity, keeps people and sectors apart, exploiter here, victim there. Governance is not just about them up there; it is truly more about you and me here.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 5 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 3 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 130kb.

The busiest day of the year was July 2nd with 242 views. The most popular post that day was FREE SPEECH: THE BRIGHT AND CONSUMMATE FLOWER OF ALL LIBERTY.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, mcgi.org, twitter.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for iglesia ni cristo, magtanggol gatdula, leila delima, toto onato, and ano ang padrino system.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

FREE SPEECH: THE BRIGHT AND CONSUMMATE FLOWER OF ALL LIBERTY July 2010
20 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

2

Is the Iglesia ni Cristo displeased with President Aquino? August 2010
6 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

3

Lawyer-columnist punished August 2010
6 comments

4

Why President Aquino should disband MTRCB August 2010
5 comments

5

About July 2010

The board, in other words, should have no place in a democratic society. But the Philippines pretends to be a democracy, so the board exists — and offends our intelligence.

By Carlos Conde of Dateline Manila
Aug. 23 2010 – 06:30 pm

The Philippine movie industry is experiencing another one of those “golden ages,” this time propelled by the emergence of independent filmmakers who are making their mark not only locally but internationally. It seems to me that there’s no other way for Filipino filmmaking to go but up.

There are obstacles, of course. There’s the fact that not too many of these independently produced films are shown publicly, thanks to a cartel dominated by multiplexes such as SM Cinema and other mall-based theater chains. And there’s the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the albatross around the neck of Filipino filmmakers.

Don’t be fooled by this board’s name. It does not merely review and classify – it censors, period.

Filipino filmmakers have tussled with the board on many occasions but it somehow managed to survive all these years, in spite of the fact that its raisons d’être – to protect “public morals” – is as laughable as the idea that the exposure onscreen of one female breast – even just one — constitutes an offense, perhaps because two breasts would be superfluous, thus excessive, in the eyes of some members of the board.

The board, in other words, should have no place in a democratic society. But the Philippines pretends to be a democracy, so the board exists — and offends our intelligence. For example, it X-ed a film, thus effectively banning it, just because one scene shows a newspaper with the photo of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo being used to wipe human feces. That scene, the board ruled, “undermines the faith and confidence of the people in government.”

The inimitable Armida Siguion-Reyna, the doyenne of Philippine cinema, theater and the arts, has circulated last week an open letter to President Benigno S. Aquino III about the MTRCB. This letter was first published in her column in the Daily Tribune.

Read and weep:

Our Excellency, Mr. President,

I had promised to conform to the traditional 100 days honeymoon between media and the newly elected to the highest office of the land, so this is nothing personal, sir. It’s about the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

Others will tell you I am angling to be put back in the office I held under President Joseph Estrada — please do not believe them. At 79 years, I’m a little too long in the tooth for the job. I also believe that the best thing to do with the MTRCB is to totally and completely abolish it in favor of a voluntary ratings and classification system similar to that successfully practiced by the Motion Picture Association of America since Jack Valenti put it up in 1966, upon orders of then US President Lyndon B. Johnson. If I may be brazen, I admit the establishment of a similar body is what I truly want, and I hope you create a Task Force to study its possibilities.

Meanwhile, talk is circulating about the reappointment of Ma. Consoliza Laguardia as MTRCB chairman. While to my knowledge Chairman Laguardia has never been linked to corruption or to wheeling and dealing for material benefits, her weaknesses have had gravely to do with allowing her members’ cavalier approach to film classification and permitting them to impose judgment according to the political convenience of powers-that-be, in complete disregard of the constitutional provision on freedom of expression.

Please be informed, Mr. President, that in October of 2008, under Ms Laguardia’s tenure, the MTRCB through a first review committee composed of Amalia Fuentes, Ros Olgado and Fr. Nick Cruz “X”-ed Lav Diaz’s Death in the Land of Encantos after seeing only 30 minutes where a pair of female breasts and a vagina had been seen. They may have perhaps based their decision on board Implementing Rules and Regulations that explicitly banned breasts and vaginas from screen exposure, but still. A clarification was in order, and no one in the MTRCB — certainly not Laguardia — ever denied if Fuentes and company actually watched only 30 minutes of the internationally acclaimed material.

Mr. President, Presidential Decree 1986, the law which created the MTRCB, stipulates that “films screened in government offices be exempt from censorship.” The Film Center, now under the ambit of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, is also supposedly under the same censorship-free status, and the University of the Philippines, which upholds academic freedom in its charter. The Laguardia MTRCB sought to countermand these exemptions, and sometime in 2009 sued the UP Film Institute for exhibiting Diaz’s …Encantos, Adolf Alix’s Aurora, Alejandro Ramos’ Butas, and 2009 Cannes Film Festival Best Director Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay.

Again, Mr. President, during the campaign period of this election, still under Ms Laguardia’s helm, the MTRCB “x-ed” two short films in the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) AmBisyon 2010 series: Jeffrey Jeturian’s “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano na Tayo Bukas?” and Mendoza’s “Ayos Ka.”

To refresh your memory, Sir, ANC put up the series to help people come up with the correct choices for the election, “in the name of public interest, to offer a nation on the verge of a critical election the chance to focus on issues, not personalities… Twenty of the country’s most powerful voices in cinema… offered their talents gratis to each create a short film on a chosen issue… scheduled to screen at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on April 6, and in a five-episode weekly series over ANC and Studio 23 beginning April 9.”

ANC’s synopsis noted: “Jeturian’s film focused on the state of the economy. His camera follows a newspaper from the time it is delivered to a homeowner to when it is used to wipe feces from the foot of a cart-pushing vendor… (using) a newspaper printed with the same controversial advertisement that came out in early January trumpeting the administration’s economic successes… (ending) with President Arroyo’s photo on the crumpled newspaper.”

Laguardia’s MTRCB rated the Jeturian short “X” for “undermining the faith and confidence of the people in government.”

The ANC described the world-famous Mendoza’s film, “a music video whose hopeful soundtrack is a stark contrast against images of poverty, prostitution, drugs and murder.”

But Laguardia’s MTRCB deemed it “injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people.” And likewise, “X-ed.”

The two shorts were eventually approved for screening as ABS-CBN refused to give up. Others before them were not so lucky, among them Joseph Estrada’s “Ang Mabuhay Para sa Masa” in 2006 and in 2007, all of 13 short films in RIGHTS, a collection put together by the Southern Tagalog Exposure with assistance from the human rights NGO Karapatan, to support the Free Jonas Burgos Movement’s campaign for the immediate and safe release of Burgos and all other victims of enforced disappearances in the term of the usurper Gloria Arroyo.

To reappoint Laguardia to the MTRCB is cause for apprehension, to say the least. The latest reason for fear has to do with the “on-hold” rating given by her board to Muli, featuring Sid Lucero and Cogie Domingo, yet another Adolf Alix film, based on Jerry Gracio’s Palanca Award-winning screenplay about the closet-gay relationship of an underground activist and a lawyer.

The Laguardia MTRCB suggested the shortening and deletion of some scenes; the director wanted an R-18 rating, strictly for adults, with no cuts. “They had a film review. They wanted to cut, actually to shorten some scenes in the beginning. But I told them that I didn’t want to cut the film. Why shorten a 44-second scene? When you shorten it, 22 seconds or 30 seconds, it’s still the same. They told me after their deliberations the rating is on hold and they will do a second review. It’s the first time that they have issued an on-hold rating,” Alix told media.

As I write this, Mr. President, Muli was scheduled on second review; the second review’s been moved to tomorrow. No one knows how long the rigodon will last, the joke is that the Laguardia board first wants to see where you stand as far as censorship is concerned, and that they are prepared to be as conservative or as liberal as you are. As has been said, weder-weder lang iyan.

Our local film industry we sadly acknowledge is gasping for breath. Help us bring it back to its feet and nurse it back to health. Give us an MTRCB chairman who has roots in the film industry, an insider who knows well enough not to be manipulated by the unscrupulous among us but at the same time knowledgeable and inspiring. We cannot afford an MTRCB Chairman who lets whimsy overrule the Constitution.

Please, Mr. President.

Thank you very much.

Armida Siguion-Reyna

PRESIDENT Noy, in his search for people to fill up key positions in his administration, has allegedly displeased a religious sect that supported him in the last election.


By Ramon Tulfo

Iglesia ni Cristo’s Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo has allegedly written the President to ignore all his recommendees for some positions in government, according to a source close to Ka Eduardo, as he is known to his flock.

The source claimed that Ka Eduardo had said in his letter that the INC was freeing the President from the pressure of considering people recommended by the church for certain posts in his government.

My source inside the INC said there were positions that Ka Eduardo had asked P-Noy to fill up with persons from the ranks of the INC, but such requests were allegedly ignored.

The source added that the INC head had said that those whom P-Noy has appointed to key positions upon his recommendation can either be removed or they can choose to resign.

One of INC’s recommendees is Director Magtanggol Gatdula of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The source said the religious sect’s withdrawal of support from the Aquino administration is expected to have grave political repercussions for the fledgling administration.

* * *
P-Noy should stand up to the Catholic Church as well.

Catholic priests and bishops have been interfering in the affairs of the past presidents, especially the one that P-Noy succeeded.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was reported to have given in to almost all the orders to her by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The President, a Catholic, should show that he has a mind of his own by turning down directives from the CBCP if such orders run contrary to the people’s welfare.

He should ask his allies in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to pass the Reproductive Health Bill that aims to control our exploding population by giving couples a choice of birth control methods.

Most Filipinos, including Catholics, want the controversial bill passed.

* * *
Ironically, people who are scared of going to hell are sinners.

They commit sin, according to the definition of most religions, more than people who don’t care at all.

Those people who fear the fires of hell go to church every Sunday and pray fervently for their salvation. But when they get home from church they treat their housemaids like slaves.

And if they are government officials, they steal from the people without mercy.

* * *
I remember helping a housemaid who was hit with a chopping board in the face by her employer so many times that she looked like a character from the movie, “Planet of the Apes.”

Zenaida Latoga was 25 years old when she escaped from her employer of 10 years and was wandering aimlessly on a street in Mandaluyong when she was picked up by Good Samaritans and taken to “Isumbong mo kay Tulfo” office several years ago.

I noticed that she was wearing a bell attached to a rope around her waist. She said it was so her employer would know in what part of the house she was.

I had the employer arrested the same day by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

You know who visited the employer at the police precinct?

Her fellow church members who prayed over her so she would be saved from the clutches of evil!

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:52:00 08/06/2010
Filed Under: Religions, Benigno Aquino III, Government
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/metro/view/20100806-285354/Iglesia-ni-Cristo-displeased-with-P-Noy

Quoted in full below is the full text of the recent decision of the Philippine Supreme Court en banc in the case of “FOODSPHERE, INC. vs. ATTY. MELANIO L. MAURICIO, JR., EN BANC, A.C. No. 7199 [Formerly CBD 04-1386], July 22, 2009.”

Posted by Atty. Manuel J. LASERNA Jr. at 5:45 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the said case, the Court held that the respondent violated Canon 1 also of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to “uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes”; and that the respondent violated Canon 8 and Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandate that “a lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel” and .”a lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper,”

The Court stressed that to be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients. However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor and reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer’s language even in his pleadings must be dignified.

The Court reminded the Bar to observe Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs lawyers to “at all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal profession.”

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Foodsphere, Inc. (complainant), a corporation engaged in the business of meat processing and manufacture and distribution of canned goods and grocery products under the brand name “CDO,” filed a Verified Complaint for disbarment before the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) against Atty. Melanio L. Mauricio, Jr., popularly known as “Batas Mauricio” (respondent), a writer/columnist of tabloids including Balitang Patas BATAS, Bagong TIKTIK, TORO and HATAW!, and a host of a television program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS telecast over UNTV and of a radio program Double B-BATAS NG BAYAN aired over DZBB, for (1) grossly immoral conduct; (2) violation of lawyer’s oath and (3) disrespect to the courts and to investigating prosecutors.

The facts that spawned the filing of the complaint are as follows:

On June 22, 2004, a certain Alberto Cordero (Cordero) purportedly bought from a grocery in Valenzuela City canned goods including a can of CDO Liver spread. On June 27, 2004, as Cordero and his relatives were eating bread with the CDO Liver spread, they found the spread to be sour and soon discovered a colony of worms inside the can.

Cordero’s wife thus filed a complaint with the Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD). Laboratory examination confirmed the presence of parasites in the Liver spread.

Pursuant to Joint DTI-DOH-DA Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993, the BFAD conducted a conciliation hearing on July 27, 2004 during which the spouses Cordero demanded P150,000 as damages from complainant. Complainant refused to heed the demand, however, as being in contravention of company policy and, in any event, “outrageous.”

Complainant instead offered to return actual medical and incidental expenses incurred by the Corderos as long as they were supported by receipts, but the offer was turned down. And the Corderos threatened to bring the matter to the attention of the media.

Complainant was later required by the BFAD to file its Answer to the complaint. In the meantime or on August 6, 2004, respondent sent complainant via fax a copy of the front page of the would-be August 10-16, 2004 issue of the tabloid Balitang Patas BATAS, Vol. 1, No. 12 which complainant found to contain articles maligning, discrediting and imputing vices and defects to it and its products. Respondent threatened to publish the articles unless complainant gave in to the P150,000 demand of the Corderos. Complainant thereupon reiterated its counter-offer earlier conveyed to the Corderos, but respondent turned it down.

Respondent later proposed to settle the matter for P50,000, P15,000 of which would go to the Corderos and P35,000 to his BATAS Foundation. And respondent directed complainant to place paid advertisements in the tabloids and television program.

The Corderos eventually forged a KASUNDUAN seeking the withdrawal of their complaint before the BFAD. The BFAD thus dismissed the complaint. Respondent, who affixed his signature to the KASUNDUAN as a witness, later wrote in one of his articles/columns in a tabloid that he prepared the document.

On August 11, 2004, respondent sent complainant an Advertising Contract asking complainant to advertise in the tabloid Balitang Patas BATAS for its next 24 weekly issues at P15,000 per issue or a total amount of P360,000, and a Program Profile of the television program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS also asking complainant to place spot advertisements with the following rate cards: (a) spot buy 15-second TVC at P4,000; (b) spot buy 30-second TVC at P7,700; and (c) season buy [13 episodes, 26 spots] of 30-second TVC for P130,000.

As a sign of goodwill, complainant offered to buy three full-page advertisements in the tabloid amounting to P45,000 at P15,000 per advertisement, and three spots of 30-second TVC in the television program at P7,700 each or a total of P23,100. Acting on complainant’s offer, respondent relayed to it that he and his Executive Producer were disappointed with the offer and threatened to proceed with the publication of the articles/columns.

On August 28, 2004, respondent, in his radio program Double B- BATAS NG BAYAN at radio station DZBB, announced the holding of a supposed contest sponsored by said program, which announcement was transcribed as follows:

“OK, at meron akong pa-contest, total magpapasko na o ha, meron pa-contest si Batas Mauricio ang Batas ng Bayan. Ito yung ating pa-contest, hulaan ninyo, tatawag kayo sa telepono, 433-7549 at 433-7553. Ang mga premyo babanggitin po natin sa susunod pero ito muna ang contest, o, ‘aling liver spread ang may uod?’ Yan kita ninyo yan, ayan malalaman ninyo yan. Pagka-nahulaan yan ah, at sasagot kayo sa akin, aling liver spread ang may uod at anong companya ang gumagawa nyan? Itawag po ninyo sa 433-7549 st 433-7553. Open po an[g] contest na ito sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig. Pipiliin natin ang mananalo, kung tama ang inyong sagot. Ang tanong, aling liver spread sa Pilipinas an[g] may uod?” (Emphasis and italics in the original; underscoring supplied).

And respondent wrote in his columns in the tabloids articles which put complainant in bad light. Thus, in the August 31- September 6, 2004 issue of Balitang Patas BATAS, he wrote an article captioned “KADIRI ANG CDO LIVER SPREAD!” In another article, he wrote “IBA PANG PRODUKTO NG CDO SILIPIN!” which appeared in the same publication in its September 7-13, 2004 issue. And still in the same publication, its September 14-20, 2004 issue, he wrote another article entitled “DAPAT BANG PIGILIN ANG CDO.”

Respondent continued his tirade against complainant in his column LAGING HANDA published in another tabloid, BAGONG TIKTIK, with the following articles: (a) “Uod sa liver spread,” Setyembre 6, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.276); (b) “Uod, itinanggi ng CDO,” Setyembre 7, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.277); (c) “Pagpapatigil sa CDO,” Setyembre 8, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.278); (d) “Uod sa liver spread kumpirmado,” Setyembre 9, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.279); (e) “Salaysay ng nakakain ng uod,” Setyembre 10, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.280); (f) “Kaso VS. CDO itinuloy,” Setyembre 11, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.281); (g) “Kasong Kidnapping laban sa CDO guards,” Setyembre 14, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.284); (h) “Brutalidad ng CDO guards,” Setyembre 15, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.285); (i) “CDO guards pinababanatan sa PNP,” Setyembre 17, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.287); (j) “May uod na CDO liver spread sa Puregold binili,” Setyembre 18, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.288); (k) “Desperado na ang CDO,” Setyembre 20, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.290); (l) “Atty. Rufus Rodriguez pumadrino sa CDO,” Setyembre 21, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 291); (m) “Kasunduan ng CDO at Pamilya Cordero,” Setyembre 22, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 292); (n) “Bakit nagbayad ng P50 libo ang CDO,” Setyembre 23, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 293).

In his September 8, 2004 column “Anggulo ng Batas” published in Hataw!, respondent wrote an article “Reaksyon pa sa uod ng CDO Liver Spread.”

And respondent, in several episodes in September 2004 of his television program Kakampi Mo ang Batas aired over UNTV, repeatedly complained of what complainant claimed to be the “same baseless and malicious allegations/issues” against it.

Complainant thus filed criminal complaints against respondent and several others for Libel and Threatening to Publish Libel under Articles 353 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City and Valenzuela City. The complaints were pending at he time of the filing of the present administrative complaint.

In the criminal complaints pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, docketed as I.S. Nos. V-04-2917-2933, respondent filed his Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate These Cases to the Department of Justice, alleging:

x x x x

2.N. The question here is this: What gives, Honorable (???) Prosecutors of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City?

x x x x

2.R. Can an ordinary person like Villarez simply be tossed around, waiting for miracles to happen?

2.S. Why? How much miracle is needed to happen here before this Office would ever act on his complaint?

x x x x

8. With a City Prosecutor acting the way he did in the case filed by Villarez, and with an investigating prosecutor virtually kowtowing to the wishes of his boss, the Chief Prosecutor, can Respondents expect justice to be meted to them?

9. With utmost due respect, Respondents have reason to believe that justice would elude them in this Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, not because of the injustice of their cause, but, more importantly, because of the injustice of the system;

10. Couple all of these with reports that many a government office in Valenzuela City had been the willing recipient of too many generosities in the past of the Complainant, and also with reports that a top official of the City had campaigned for his much coveted position in the past distributing products of the Complainant, what would one expect the Respondents to think?

11. Of course, not to be lost sight of here is the attitude and behavior displayed even by mere staff and underlings of this Office to people who dare complain against the Complainant in their respective turfs. Perhaps, top officials of this Office should investigate and ask their associates and relatives incognito to file, even if on a pakunwari basis only, complaints against the Complainant, and they would surely be given the same rough and insulting treatment that Respondent Villarez got when he filed his kidnapping charge here;

And in a Motion to Dismiss [the case] for Lack of Jurisdiction which respondent filed, as counsel for his therein co-respondents-staffers of the newspaper Hataw!, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent alleged:

x x x x

5. If the Complainant or its lawyer merely used even a little of whatever is inside their thick skulls, they would have clearly deduced that this Office has no jurisdiction over this action. (Emphasis supplied)

x x x x

Meanwhile, on October 26, 2004, complainant filed a civil case against respondent and several others, docketed as Civil Case No. 249-V-04, before the Regional Trial Court, Valenzuela City and raffled to Branch 75 thereof.
The pending cases against him and the issuance of a status quo order notwithstanding, respondent continued to publish articles against complainant and to malign complainant through his television shows.

Acting on the present administrative complaint, the Investigating Commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) came up with the following findings in his October 5, 2005 Report and Recommendation:

I.

x x x x

In Civil Case No. 249-V-04 entitled “Foodsphere, Inc. vs. Atty. [Melanio] Mauricio, et al.”, the Order dated 10 December 2004 (Annex O of the Complaint) was issued by Presiding Judge Dionisio C. Sison which in part reads:

“Anent the plaintiff’s prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order included in the instant plaintiff’s motion, this Court, inasmuch as the defendants failed to appear in court or file an opposition thereto, is constrained to GRANT the said plaintiff’s prater, as it is GRANTED, in order to maintain STATUS QUO, and that all the defendants, their agents, representatives or any person acting for and in behalf are hereby restrained/enjoined from further publishing, televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in the instant case more specifically the imputation of vices and/or defects on plaintiff and its products.”

Complainant alleged that the above-quoted Order was served on respondent by the Branch Sheriff on 13 December 2004. Respondent has not denied the issuance of the Order dated 10 December 2004 or his receipt of a copy thereof on 13 December 2004.

Despite his receipt of the Order dated 10 December 2004, and the clear directive therein addressed to him to desists [sic] from “further publishing, televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in the instant case more specifically the imputation of vices and/or defects on plaintiff and its products”, respondent in clear defiance of this Order came out with articles on the prohibited subject matter in his column “Atty. Batas”, 2004 in the December 16 and 17, 2004 issues of the tabloid “Balitang Bayan –Toro” (Annexes Q and Q-1 of the Complaint).

The above actuations of respondent are also in violation of Rule 13.03 of the Canon of Professional Responsibility which reads: “A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.”

II.

x x x x

In I.S. No. V.04-2917-2933, then pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent filed his “Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate These Cases To the Department of Justice”. In said pleading, respondent made the following statements:

x x x x

The above language employed by respondent undoubtedly casts aspersions on the integrity of the Office of the City Prosecutor and all the Prosecutors connected with said Office. Respondent clearly assailed the impartiality and fairness of the said Office in handling cases filed before it and did not even design to submit any evidence to substantiate said wild allegations. The use by respondent of the above-quoted language in his pleadings is manifestly violative of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: “A lawyer [s]hall [o]bserve and [m]aintain [t]he [re]spect [d]ue [t]o [t]he [c]ourts [a]nd [t]o [j]udicial [o]fficers [a]nd [s]hould [i]nsist [o]n [s]imilar [c]onduct [b]y [o]thers.”

III.

The “Kasunduan” entered into by the Spouses Cordero and herein complainant (Annex C of the Complaint) was admittedly prepared, witnessed and signed by herein respondent. …

x x x x

In its Order dated 16 August 2004, the Bureau of Food and Drugs recognized that the said “Kasunduan” was not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order and policy, and this accordingly dismissed the complaint filed by the Spouses Cordero against herein complainant.

However, even after the execution of the “Kasunduan” and the consequent dismissal of the complaint of his clients against herein complainant, respondent inexplicably launched a media offensive intended to disparage and put to ridicule herein complainant. On record are the numerous articles of respondent published in 3 tabloids commencing from 31 August to 17 December 2004 (Annexes G to Q-1). As already above-stated, respondent continued to come out with these articles against complainant in his tabloid columns despite a temporary restraining order issued against him expressly prohibiting such actions. Respondent did not deny that he indeed wrote said articles and submitted them for publication in the tabloids.

Respondent claims that he was prompted by his sense of public service, that is, to expose the defects of complainant’s products to the consuming public. Complainant claims that there is a baser motive to the actions of respondent. Complainant avers that respondent retaliated for complainant’s failure to give in to respondent’s “request” that complainant advertise in the tabloids and television programs of respondent. Complainant’s explanation is more credible. Nevertheless, whatever the true motive of respondent for his barrage of articles against complainant does not detract from the fact that respondent consciously violated the spirit behind the “Kasunduan” which he himself prepared and signed and submitted to the BFAD for approval. Respondent was less than forthright when he prepared said “Kasunduan” and then turned around and proceeded to lambaste complainant for what was supposedly already settled in said agreement. Complainant would have been better of with the BFAD case proceeding as it could have defended itself against the charges of the Spouses Cordero. Complainant was helpless against the attacks of respondent, a media personality. The actuations of respondent constituted, to say the least, deceitful conduct contemplated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. (Underscoring supplied)

The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution No. XVIII-2006-114 dated March 20, 2006, adopted the findings and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner to suspend respondent from the practice of law for two years.

The Court finds the findings/evaluation of the IBP well-taken.

The Court, once again, takes this occasion to emphasize the necessity for every lawyer to act and comport himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession, which confidence may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a member of the bar.

By the above-recited acts, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers to refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For, as the IBP found, he engaged in deceitful conduct by, inter alia, taking advantage of the complaint against CDO to advance his interest – to obtain funds for his BATAS Foundation and seek sponsorships and advertisements for the tabloids and his television program.
He also violated Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates:

A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.

For despite the pendency of the civil case against him and the issuance of a status quo order restraining/enjoining further publishing, televising and broadcasting of any matter relative to the complaint of CDO, respondent continued with his attacks against complainant and its products. At the same time, respondent violated Canon 1 also of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to “uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.” For he defied said status quo order, despite his (respondent’s) oath as a member of the legal profession to “obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities.”

Further, respondent violated Canon 8 and Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandate, viz:

CANON 8 – A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.

Rule 8.01 – A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper,

by using intemperate language.

Apropos is the following reminder in Saberon v. Larong:

To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients.
However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive.

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

By failing to live up to his oath and to comply with the exacting standards of the legal profession, respondent also violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs a lawyer to “at all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal profession.”

The power of the media to form or influence public opinion cannot be underestimated. In Dalisay v. Mauricio, Jr., the therein complainant engaged therein-herein respondent’s services as “she was impressed by the pro-poor and pro-justice advocacy of respondent, a media personality,” only to later find out that after he demanded and the therein complainant paid an exorbitant fee, no action was taken nor any pleadings prepared by him. Respondent was suspended for six months.

On reading the articles respondent published, not to mention listening to him over the radio and watching him on television, it cannot be gainsaid that the same could, to a certain extent, have affected the sales of complainant.

Back to Dalisay, this Court, in denying therein-herein respondent’s motion for reconsideration, took note of the fact that respondent was motivated by vindictiveness when he filed falsification charges against the therein complainant.

To the Court, suspension of respondent from the practice of law for three years is, in the premises, sufficient.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Melanio Mauricio is, for violation of the lawyer’s oath and breach of ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three years effective upon his receipt of this Decision. He is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to his personal record and copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES- SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

SOURCE: http://attylaserna.blogspot.com/2009/08/lawyer-columnist-punished.html

Atty James Benedict Panopio

Free speech is very important, if not indispensable, in a democratic and republican State. For without it, democracy fails. As noted by a well-known author in constitutional law, “this is the first right that is always curtailed when a free society falls under a repressive regime.”

JAMES BENEDICT F. PANOPIO

INTRODUCTION
The freedom which our very own Supreme Court once called as “the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other freedom”1 sprouted again in a controversial dispute between two of our country’s
religious organizations, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and the Church of God, also known as “Ang Dating Daan,” thanks to the participation of the government through the Movie and Television Review and Classification
Board (MTRCB).

Since this cherished liberty was introduced to our islands in the early 1900s, it has already been the subject of many disputes or events which shaped Philippine jurisprudence, as well as our own history as a country. Now, in our high-tech and gizmo dominated world, without our country being subjected to another tyrannical rule, few would anticipate that a century-old right would still be involved in an ardently contested issue among our technology-buff citizens.

But an old thing does not mean that it can not anymore be “hot” or “in,” especially so if it is, in the words of Wendell Phillips, “the instrument and guarantee and the bright and consummate flower of all liberty,” or, to
paraphrase our Supreme Court in one case,2 the guarantee to which the other provisions of the Bill of Rights and the right to free elections may be guaranteed. In short, the mother of all liberties.

Moreover, this right should, with more reason, be the subject of more controversies considering the fact that with the advancement of technology, especially those related to communications like television, cell phones, and the internet, goes with it the broadening of the modes of communicating speeches, which is the very thing this right seeks to protect. And as the modes of conveying speeches increase, the government interest in, sort of, regulating these expressions also increases apparently pursuant to some of its state policies as the guardian of the welfare of the people.

Going back to the controversial dispute, the questions that would first bug our minds are: How did the freedom of speech get involved in the dispute between INC and Ang Dating Daan? Is it not that the usual issue or dispute between and among religious organizations is their differing and contradictory doctrinal stances, not to mention the common accusations of membership poaching since the game now depends on
numbers, the more you have, the stronger is your organization, but definitely not free speech? What was the participation of the government in the controversy? Is it not more likely for the freedom of religion to be
involved instead of the freedom of speech? To better understand how the right to free speech got caught up in the controversial dispute between the forementioned religious organizations, a detailed statement of the facts becomes necessary.

I.THE FACTS: The MTRCB Gag Order
The INC filed complaints for violation of PD 1986 against “Ang Dating Daan’s” Eliseo Soriano, et al., respondents herein, before the MTRCB alleging that the latter, with malice and bad intentions, have been
referring to “Iglesia ni Cristo” as “Iglesia ni Manalo” in their television programs which maligns, offends and destroys the good name and reputation of the INC as a religious organization. The INC also claimed that Soriano, et al. have been indecently and indiscriminately throwing invectives such as “gago, tarantado, demonyo, and other words of similar import” against complainants.

Upon filing of the complaints, the Chairman of the MTRCB created an Adjudication Committee to handle the complaints. The Committee heard the parties who agreed to a sort of two-week truce. Unfortunately, the parties came again to the Board to inform the latter that there were apparent violations of the gentlemen’s agreement and agreed to submit the case for decision.

On April 14, 2005, the MTRCB rendered a decision decreeing that it has jurisdiction over the case (citing Section 3 (c) vi of PD 1986) and that the Soriano, et al. are enjoined from addressing complainant “Iglesia
ni Cristo” as “Iglesia ni Manalo” and from using such other descriptions as are not in accordance with law, good customs and contemporary Filipino cultural values. The Board found that the admitted references by Soriano et al. of “Iglesia ni Cristo” as “Iglesia ni Manalo” are indeed defamatory or at least destructive of the name and reputation of “Iglesia ni Cristo” as a duly registered religious organization.

On April 21, 2005, Soriano et al. filed a motion for reconsideration of the Board’s decision dated April 14, 2005.

On April 28, 2005, INC filed an Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Suspension and/or Ban Order before the Board for respondents’ violations of the April 14 decision by addressing the complainant INC as “Iglesia ni
Manalo” in their television programs “Itanong Mo Kay Soriano” and “Ang Dating Daan” on April 25 and 27, 2005.

On May 5, 2005, a hearing was held on the aforecited motions. In support of its motion, INC presented two witnesses. The first witness testified that on May 2, 2005, he monitored the program “Itanong Mo Kay
Soriano” of Eliseo F. Soriano and was able to make a list of the “biblical errors” committed by respondent Soriano and company. He likewise affirmed that he prepared a second list of the statements made by
respondents addressing complainant INC as “Iglesia ni Manalo.” The second witness testified that he caused the recording of the television program of the respondents on April 26 and 27, 2005. The Board admitted
the complainant’s testimonial and documentary evidence and for the purpose/s for which they were offered.

On respondents’ part, their counsel manifested that they reserve their right to address their position in the Petition for Injunction with prayer for TRO filed by respondents before the RTC of QC. In addition, counsel pleaded that with the filing of a Petition for Injunction before the RTC, the Board should refrain from hearing classification, and has no authority to approve or disapprove respondent’s television programs.

On May 7, 2005, the Board resolved to grant complainants’ Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Suspension and/or Ban Order. The Board found out that respondents utterly disregarded the order of the Board enjoining
them from addressing complainant “Iglesia ni Cristo” as “Iglesia ni Manalo” when they referred to the INC as “Iglesia ni Manalo” on various dates and time (April 26, April 27, May 2 and May 3, 2005) in their television programs “Itanong Mo Kay Soriano” and “Ang Dating Daan.” Thus, the Board resolved: a) to permanently enjoin respondents from addressing, referring and/or alluding to INC as “Iglesia ni Manalo”; b) to suspend respondents’ television programs, specifically, “Itanong Mo Kay Soriano”, “Ex Man”, “Ang Biblia” and “Ang Dating Daan”, from being broadcasted and/or aired over free and/or cable television for a period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the Order; and c) to enjoin respondents from directly or indirectly causing the production, broadcast or airing of the aforecited television programs or programs of similar nature or format over free and/or cable television for a period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the Order.

On May 9, 2005, all parties through their respective counsels of record received copies of the May 7 Order. On the same day, MTRCB personnel, who were tasked earlier in the day by the Board to monitor respondents on television for possible violation/s of the said Order, reported that respondent UNTV-37 has been intermittently broadcasting programs of its co-respondents Eliseo Soriano and company. It was also reported
that on or about 11:30 pm of the same day until about 1:00 am of the following day, Eliseo Soriano and other respondents appeared on television over the station National Broadcasting Network.

On May 10, 2005, compelled by, in the words of the MTRCB, respondents’ fearless insolence of the Board’s order, the Board sought the assistance of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for the enforcement and implementation of its May 7 Order.

On May 11, 2005, NTC Commissioner Ronaldo Solis issued a letter addressed to respondent Eliseo Soriano copy furnished respondent UNTV-37 requiring them to strictly comply with the Board’s Order dated May 7.
However, when the representatives of the MTRCB and NTC proceeded to respondents’ television station at Ortigas Center, Pasig City, to serve the said letter, respondents refused to receive the same and further refused to identify themselves.

From May 9 to May 11, 2005, respondent UNTV-37 broadcasted or aired programs of respondent Eliseo Soriano.

On May 12, 2005, the MTRCB issued another Order indefinitely suspending the respondents Soriano et al. from appearing in any programs broadcasted or aired over any free and/or cable television.3

II. THE QUESTION: MTRCB Order, a Prior Restraint?

After knowing the facts of the case, we would naturally ask the following questions: Is the order of the MTRCB indefinitely suspending respondents Eliseo Soriano et al. of Ang Dating Daan from appearing in any programs in television valid and legal? Is it not violative of the respondents’ constitutional right to freedom of speech? Is it not a form of prior restraint abhorred by the Constitution?

In order to answer these questions, we have to go back first and review the history as well as the basic principles, doctrines, and concepts relating to the constitutional right of free speech.

III. HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS
Freedom of speech was a concept unknown to Philippine jurisprudence prior to 1900.4 It is a common law doctrine, which was first elevated to a constitutional principle through the First Amendment
of the American Federal Constitution.5 The First Amendment provides: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress
of grievances.6

The U.S. Supreme Court speaking on the historical backdrop of the guarantee has this to say:

The First Amendment’s guarantee of “the freedom of speech, or of the press” prohibits a wide assortment of governmental restraints upon expression but the core abuse against which it was directed was the scheme of licensing laws implemented by the monarch and Parliament to contain the “evils” of the printing
press in 16th and 17th century England. The Printing Act of 1662 had “prescribed what could be printed, who could print, and who could sell.” Mayton, Toward a Theory of First Amendment Process: Injunctions of Speech, Subsequent Punishment, and the Costs of the Prior Restraint Doctrine, 67 Cornell L. Rev. 245, 248 (1982). It punished the publication of any book or pamphlet without a license and required that all
works be submitted for approval to a government official, who wielded broad authority to suppress works that he found to be “heretical, seditious, schismatical, or offensive.” F. Siebert, Freedom of the Press in England, 1476-1776, p.240 (1952). The English licensing system expired at the end of the 17th century,
but the memory of its abuses was still vivid enough in colonial times that Blackstone warned against the “restrictive power” of such a “licenser” – an administrative official who enjoyed unconfined authority to pass judgment on the content of speech.4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 152
(1769).7

Although it was one of the burning issues during the Filipino campaign against Spain and was, in fact, a prime cause of the revolution, the privilege was not known by Filipinos until its guarantee was transplanted to the Philippines by President McKinley’s Instruction to the second Philippine Commission in the early 1900s.

The Instruction’s text, lifted bodily from the Federal Constitution of the United States and reproduced without alteration in both the Philippine Bill and the Autonomy Act, brought the guarantee to the Philippines
weighted with all the applicable jurisprudence of American constitutional cases.8 The same guarantee, unaltered in form, became part of the 1935 Philippine Constitution. It remained unaltered in the 1973 Constitution, and remains unaltered in the 1987 Constitution, with the only addition of the phrase “of expression,” which was considered as a minor amendment. The reason for retaining the 1935 and 1973 texts was that the provision had become the subject of an extensive body of jurisprudence, both
Philippine and American, and should be preserved.9

The philosophical basis of the free speech was eloquently stated by Justice Holmes in his dissent in Abrams v. United States10 where he argued that “the ultimate good desired is better reached by free
trade in ideas:”

Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the
speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when
men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory
of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge.

While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law
that an immediate check is required to save the country.

IV. FREE SPEECH AND ITS SCOPE

“Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”11

The Free Speech clause is a guarantee against prior restraint or censorship and subsequent punishment. Consistent with its intended role in society, it means that the people are kept from any undue interference
from the government in their thoughts and words. The guarantee basically flows from the philosophy that the authorities do not necessarily know what is best for the people.12

An eminent constitutionalist also said that the ideas that may be expressed under this freedom are not confined only to those that are sympathetic or acceptable to the majority.13 Otherwise, that would make
the freedom more shadow than substance. Necessarily, the freedom must allow for disagreements and dissents. As Justice Holmes put it in his dissent in U.S. v. Schwimmer,14 “free thought-not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” Thus, as Justice Jackson wrote in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette,15 “Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only unanimity of the
graveyard.”

The freedom is said to also include the right to be silent, the right to an audience, the right to listen as well as the right not to listen.16 Also, among the most cherished liberties in a free society, it is said that freedom
of speech occupies a preferred and predominant status.17

Prior Restraint
This is the first prohibition of the free speech clause. Prior restraint means official governmental restrictions on the press or other forms of expression in advance of actual publication or dissemination.18 It conditions the exercise of the right to free speech upon the prior approval of the government. However, the restraint need not be a total suppression, even a partial one may be considered to be violative of the guarantee.
Examples of prior restraint range from licensing systems administered by an executive officer to movie censorships, and even court injunctions. Hence, in Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Capulong,19 the Supreme Court held that an injunction stopping the production of a documentary film was an invalid prior restraint on freedom of speech and of expression. It should also be noted that the freedom of broadcast media is lesser
in scope than the press because of its pervasive presence in the lives of people and its accessibility to children. This is true to both radio and television.20 Thus, it has been said that there is a preferential treatment in the matter of prior restraint given to the press that has not been extended
with equal vigor to radio, television and motion pictures.

Subsequent Punishment

Free speech includes freedom after the speech. It also guarantees freedom from punishment after publication or dissemination of the speech. This is because an unrestrained threat of subsequent punishment itself would operate as a very effective prior restraint. As Cooley put it, “the mere exemption from previous restraint cannot be all that is secured by the constitutional provisions, inasmuch as of words to be uttered orally there can be no previous censorship, and the liberty of the press might be rendered a mockery and a delusion, and the phrase itself a byword if, while every man was at liberty to publish what he
pleased, the public authorities might nevertheless punish him for harmless publications.”21

Furthermore, although the language of the Constitution appears to be absolute and unqualified, this is not so, because there are certain well-defined and narrowly limited exceptions. These include the lewd
and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or “fighting” words – those which, by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite as immediate breach of peace.22 These exceptions are also
known as the unprotected speeches.

In regulating the so-called unprotected speeches, there are three basic standards which the State may use – the “clear and present danger” test, the “dangerous tendency” test and the “balancing-of-
interest” test.

Clear and Present Danger Test
The “clear and present danger” test, which is the most libertarian, requires that the evil consequence of the comment or utterance must be “extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high” before the utterance can be punished. This was formulated by Justice Holmes in Schenck v. United States,23 “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.” Our Supreme Court is now maintaining this test as first applied in the case of Primicias v. Fugoso.24

Dangerous Tendency Test
The “dangerous tendency” test, which is the rule used before the adoption of the “clear and present danger” test, requires that “if the words uttered create a dangerous tendency which the State has a right to prevent, then such words are punishable. It is not necessary that some definite or immediate acts of force, violence, or unlawfulness be advocated. It is sufficient that such acts be advocated in general terms.”25 This test is the one being used during the American occupation apparently to discourage attacks against the American Administration.

Balancing-of-Interest Test
The “balancing-of-interest” test requires a careful balancing of the interests and values of society in regard to the regulation of a particular expression. The principle requires a court to take conscious and detailed consideration of the interplay of interests observable in a given situation or type of situation.26

V. COGNATE CONCEPTS
Chilling Effect Principle
This is a form of self-censorship that the Free Speech Clause seeks to prevent. As noted by an author in constitutional law, having people keep quiet out of their own self-induced fears society suffers as much as when their mouths are kept shut by the authorities for in both instances, society may never get to hear whatever the muted voices might have contributed for the betterment of their world.27 As stated by Justice Abad Santos in his dissent in Babst v. National Intelligence Board,28 “Fear indeed can have a paralyzing effect.”

Facial Challenges and the Overbreadth Doctrine
Relevant to any discussion of free speech and the chilling effect principle are the concepts of “facial challenges” and the “overbreadth doctrine” which are rather peculiar with regulations affecting speech
and the press.29 “Facial challenge to a statute is allowed only when it operates in the area of freedom of expression… Invalidation of the statute ‘on its face’ rather than ‘as applied’ is permitted in the interest
of preventing a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”30 The overbreadth doctrine permits a party to challenge the validity of a statute even though as applied to him it is not unconstitutional but it might be if applied to others not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally protected.31 The showing that a law punishes a “substantial” amount of protected speech, “judged in relation to the statute’s plainly legitimate sweep,” suffices to invalidate all enforcement of that law, “until and unless a limiting construction
or partial invalidation so narrows it as to remove the seeming threat or deterrence to constitutionally protected expression.”32

VI. ANALYSIS: MTRCB’s Gag Order v. Ang Dating Daan’s Soriano and Other Respondents’ Right to Free Speech
Having these basic concepts, principles and doctrines governing the freedom of speech in mind, we now take up the main issue i.e. whether the Order of MTRCB indefinitely suspending “Ang Dating Daan’s” Eliseo Soriano and other respondents from appearing in any programs broadcasted or aired over any free and/or cable television is violative of their right to free speech. Based on the facts and the law governing the case, the answer must be in the affirmative. The MTRCB Order violates Soriano and other respondents’ right to free
speech for the following reasons:

First, the MTRCB’s Order indefinitely suspending Soriano et al. from appearing on television is plain and simple a prior restraint to their exercise of free speech. The MTRCB did not only disapprove or ban any of the respondents’ television programs, but worse it gagged the respondents from appearing on television thereby effectively muzzling them of their right to speech. Settled in jurisprudence is that motion pictures, to which class we can say television programs or the right to appear on television logically belongs, come under
the constitutional protection of free speech.33 The MTRCB Order in effect restrained the respondents even before they could speak.

Second, the MTRCB Order indefinitely suspending Soriano et al. from appearing on television did not fall under any exception to the free speech clause (or the so-called unprotected speeches) like cases involving pornography, excessive violence, or danger to national security. Rather, the order was issued in response to the respondents’ defiance of an earlier ruling of the MTRCB prohibiting them from appearing on television. Hence, the MTRCB is clearly without any power to restrain respondents in their exercise of their right to free
speech.

Moreover, the issuance of the assailed Order clearly goes beyond the powers of the MTRCB as enumerated under Section 334

There is no mention of the power to prohibit or suspend any person from appearing on television.

Also, the argument that the MTRCB may issue such suspension order against the respondents based on Section 3 (k) of P.D. 1986, which provides that the Board shall “exercise such other powers and functions as may be necessary or incidental to the attainment of the purposes and objectives of this Act…,” is without merit, for to do so would again amount to a prior restraint on the respondents’ exercise of their right to free speech. What the MTRCB could have done is to exercise their power “to cause the prosecution, on behalf of the People of the Philippines, of violators of this Act, of anti-trust, obscenity, censorship and other laws pertinent to the movie and television industry” in a court of law.

Third, even assuming that the MTRCB Order indefinitely suspending Soriano et al. from appearing on television is based on the alleged libelous statement by the respondents where they referred to “Iglesia ni Cristo” as “Iglesia ni Manalo,” which the MTRCB declared as defamatory or at least destructive of the name and reputation of “Iglesia Ni Cristo” as a duly registered religious organization, that still does not warrant “prior restraint” or indefinite suspension of the respondents from appearing on television. The MTRCB should have
been more circumspect before issuing the suspension order, which would definitely undermine a precious right in our hierarchy of civil liberties.

If the INC is of the view that such statements are defamatory or destructive to its name and reputation, then it should have filed a libel case against the respondents in our courts. The MTRCB is not the
proper forum. Hence, the MTRCB is without any power to restrain or indefinitely suspend respondents from appearing on television. The dissent of Justice Mendoza in Iglesia ni Cristo v. Court of Appeals36 is instructive, “Censorship (or prior restraint) may be allowed only in a narrow class of cases involving pornography, excessive violence, and danger to national security. Even in these cases, only courts can prohibit the showing of a film or the broadcast of a program. In all other cases, the only remedy against
speech which creates a clear and present danger to public interests is through subsequent punishment (emphasis supplied).” Clearly, assuming that the statement of respondents calling “Iglesia ni Cristo” as “Iglesia ni Manalo” is libelous, the remedy is subsequent punishment, but not prior restraint or indefinite suspension.

Worth quoting also is the dissent of Justice Kapunan in Iglesia ni Cristo,37 “Even if the exercise of the liberties protected by the speech, expression and religion clauses of our Constitution are regarded as neither
absolute nor unlimited, there are appropriate laws which deal with such excesses. The least restrictive alternative would be to impose subsequent sanctions for proven violations of laws, rather than inflict prior restraints on religious expression.” Further he adds, “Our penal law punishes libel, or acts or speeches offensive to other religions, and awards damages whenever warranted. In our legal scheme, courts essentially remain the arbiters of the controversies affecting the civil and political rights of persons. It is
our courts which determine whether or not certain forms of speech and expression have exceeded the bounds of correctness, propriety or decency as to fall outside the area of protected speech.” (Emphases supplied) As ruled by the Court, through Justice Puno, in Iglesia ni Cristo,38 “Deeply ensconced in our fundamental law is its hostility against all prior restraints on speech… Hence, any act that restrains
speech is hobbled by the presumption of invalidity and should be greeted with furrowed brows. It is the burden of the respondent Board (the censor) to over-throw this presumption. If it fails to discharge
this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down.” The MTRCB miserably failed to do so in the case at bar.

VII. SYMPTOMS OF UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE MTRCB CHARTER
P.D. No 1986, also known as the MTRCB Charter, is said to have “symptoms of unconstitutionality” for being violative of the Free Speech Clause under the Constitution. But remaining judicially unchallenged since the martial law years, it is still a valid and effective law as of this precise moment of the writing of this piece. It would be educational to point out and discuss briefly the features of the MTRCB Charter which are apparently unconstitutional.

First, since the text of our free speech clause was lifted from its counterpart in the American Federal Constitution, it brought the guarantee to the Philippines weighted with all the applicable jurisprudence of
American constitutional cases. And one of these cases in American constitutional law is the case of Freedman v. Maryland,39 which laid down the strict standards and procedural safeguards for movie censorship.

Apparently, however, the MTRCB Charter violates the strict standards and procedural safeguards in Freedman. In that case, the Court said: Prior submission of a film to a censor avoids constitutional
infirmity only if it takes place under procedural safeguards designed to obviate dangers of a censorship system. First, the burden of proving that the film is unprotected expression must rest on the censor… Second, … the requirement cannot be administered in a manner which would lend an effect of finality
to the censor’s determination… The teaching of our cases is that, because only a judicial determination in an adversary proceeding ensures the necessary sensitivity to freedom of expression, only a procedure requiring a judicial determination suffices to impose a valid final restraint… To this end, the exhibitor must be assured,
by statute or authoritative judicial construction, that the censor will, within a specified brief period, either issue a license or go to court to restrain showing the film. Any restraint imposed in advance of a final judicial determination on the merits must similarly be limited to preservation of the status quo for the
shortest fixed period compatible with sound judicial resolution. Moreover,… the procedure must also assure a prompt judicial decision, to minimize the deterrent effect of an interim and possibly erroneous denial of a license.

Second, the power of the MTRCB to determine what can be shown or broadcasted and what cannot under P.D. No. 1986 also appears to be unconstitutional. It is contrary to the fundamental tenet of freedom of
speech that until and unless speech is found by the courts to be unprotected its expression must be allowed. As explained by Justice Mendoza in his dissent in Iglesia ni Cristo:40

The power to classify includes the power to censor. The Board can x-rate films and TV programs and thus ban their public exhibition or broadcast. And once it declares that a motion picture or television program is, for example, indecent or contrary to law, xxx… its declaration becomes the law. Unless the producer or exhibitor is willing to go to court, shouldering not only the burden of showing that his movie or television program is constitutionally protected but also the cost of litigation, the ban stays. This is censorship in its baldest form. This is contrary to the fundamental tenet of our law that until and unless speech is found by the courts to be unprotected its expression must be allowed (emphasis supplied).

Worth noting is the view of Justice Mendoza, following American law, that only judges may administer a system of prior restraint (in those cases where it may be validly imposed) appears to be sound. He gave
three reasons, to wit: First is that the censor’s bias is to censor. Second is that “only a judicial determination in an adversary proceeding ensures the necessary sensitivity to freedom of expression.” xxx Third, the members of the Board do not have the security of tenure and of fiscal autonomy necessary to secure their independence.41

Third, with respect to the grounds upon which the MTRCB may censor certain films and television programs, which included a disturbing proviso “such as but not limited to.”42 With this proviso, the MTRCB can ban any motion picture or television program according to its whims and caprices. This appears to be unconstitutional under the “void for vagueness doctrine” and the “overbreadth doctrine” in Constitutional Law. The vagueness doctrine states that if the government prohibits certain acts through a law and it does not define those acts clearly, then that law is unconstitutional, while the overbreadth doctrine provides that if a statute is so broadly written that it deters free expression, then it can be struck down on its face because of its chilling effect – even if it also prohibits acts that may legitimately be forbidden.43

FINALE
Free speech is very important, if not indispensable, in a democratic and republican State. No wonder Wendell Phillips called it as “the instrument and guarantee and the bright and consummate flower of all liberty.” For without it, democracy fails. As noted by a well-known author in constitutional law, “this is the first right that is always curtailed when a free society falls under a repressive regime.”44 Therefore, it is imperative that all of us must defend and protect it by any means necessary if we are to be true to the words of our Constitution that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government
authority emanates from them.”45

In short, we should always vigorously assert our precious right to speak, just like the gallant dissenting opinions of the great jurists who once walked in the halls of our courts during darker years, unheard of, but now fill the pages of our legal treatises, unless we prefer to live anew under a dark oppressive regime. In closing, it is fitting to cite the realization of Justice Padilla in his dissent in Iglesia ni Cristo,46 “It is far better for the individual to live in a climate of free speech and free expression, devoid of prior restraints, even at the risk of occasional excesses of such freedoms than to exist in an ambiance of censorship which is always a step closer to autocracy and dictatorship.

NOTES:
1 Blo Umpar Adiong v. Commission on Elections, 207 SCRA 712, 716 (1992
2 ID
3 On July 26, 2005, the MTRCB suspension order was lifted (“Censors lift ‘Ang Dating Daan,’” available at http://beta.inq7.net/common/print.php?index=1&story_id=45101&site_id=23 [last accessed on December 31, 2005]) apparently to preclude any tribunal from ruling on the matter. Nevertheless, discussion of the merits of the case shall proceed in this paper as this is a mere academic exercise and considering the fact that it involves a paramount right in our hierarchy of civil liberties.
4 J. G. BERNAS, THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES:
A COMMENTARY 203 (1996) [hereinafter BERNAS].
5 Id. at 204.
6 U.S. CONST, First Amendment. Emphases supplied.
7 Thomas v. Chicago Park District, 534 U.S. 316 (2002).
8 BERNAS, at 204 citing U.S. v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731 (1918).
9 See BERNAS, at 203-204.
10 250 U.S. 616 (1919).
11 CONST., art. III.
12 1 R.B. GOROSPE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: NOTES AND READINGS ON THE BILL
OF RIGHTS, CITIZENSHIP AND SUFFRAGE 442 (2004) [hereinafter GOROSPE].
13 I.A. CRUZ, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 200 (2000) [hereinafter CRUZ].
14 279 U.S. 644.
15 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
16 CRUZ, at 200-201.
17 GOROSPE, at 440. But See Movie and Television Review and Classification Board v. ABS-CBN, G.R. No. 155282, January 17, 2005, where the Court, through Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez, said that “there has been no declaration at all by the framers of the Constitution that freedom of expression and of the
press has a preferred status.” It concluded that it is “a freedom bearing no preferred status.”
18 BERNAS, at 205.
19 160 SCRA 861 (1988).
20 SeeFar Eastern Broadcasting v. Dans, Jr., 137 SCRA 628 (1985) and Gonzales v. Kalaw Katigbak, 137 SCRA 717 (1985).
21 COOLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITATIONS 421 (1808), as cited in BERNAS, at 205-206 (Emphases supplied).
22 Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942).
23 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
24 80 Phil. 71(1948).
25 Cabansag v. Fernandez, 102 Phil. 152 (1957).
26 GOROSPE, at 469 citing Ayer Productions v. Capulong, 160 SCRA 861 (1988), which cited the separate opinion of Justice Castro in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA 835 (1969).
27 GOROSPE, at 445.
28 132 SCRA 316 (1984).
29 GOROSPE, at 445.
30 Separate opinion of Justice Mendoza in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, 347 SCRA 128 (2000).
31 Id.
32 Virginia v. Hicks, 539 U.S. 113 (2003).
33 Burstyn v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495 (1952).
34 Section 3. Powers and Functions – The Board shall have the following functions, powers, and duties:
a) To promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary or proper for the implementation of this Act, and the accomplishment of its purposes and objectives, including guidelines and standards for production, advertising and titles. of Presidential Decree 1986, otherwise known as the MTRCB Charter. Perusal of the specific powers of the MTRCB would reveal that it does not have the power to suspend any person from appearing on television. What it does have is the power “to approve or disapprove… Such rules and regulations shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following their publication in newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines;
b) To screen, review and examine all motion pictures as herein defined, television programs, including publicity materials such as advertisements, trailers and stills, whether such motion pictures and publicity materials be for theatrical or non-theatrical distribution, for television broadcast or for general viewing,
imported or produced in the Philippines, and in the latter case, whether they be for local viewing or export;
c) To approve or disapprove, delete objectionable portions from and/or prohibit the importation, exportation, production, copying, distribution, sale, lease, exhibition and/or television broadcast of the motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials subject to the preceding paragraph, which in the judgment
of the Board applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard, are objectionable for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines or its people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong crime, such as but not limited to:
i ) Those which tend to incite subversion, insurrection, rebellion or sedition against the State, or otherwise threaten the economic and/or political stability of the State;
ii) Those which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government and/or the duly constituted authorities;
iii) Those which glorify criminals or condone crimes;
iv) Those which serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence or pornography;
v) Those which tend to abet the traffic in and use of prohibited drugs;
vi) Those which are libelous or defamatory to the good name and reputation of any person, whether living or dead; and
vii) Those which may constitute contempt of court or of any quasi-judicial tribunal, or pertain to matters which are sub-judice in nature Provided, however, that deletions or cuts must not be made on the master
negative of the films, and that such master negative shall be deposited with the Film Archives of the Philippines and shall be released for export purposes to the film owner only upon showing of the proper export permit; Provided, finally, that the film owner shall execute a sworn undertaking that such master negative shall be exclusively used for export purposes and not for local viewing; xxx prohibit… xxx exhibition and or television broadcast of the motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials subject to the
preceding paragraph, which, in the judgment of the Board applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard, are objectionable
d) To supervise, regulate, and grant, deny or cancel, permits for the importation, exportation, production, copying, distribution, sale, lease, exhibition, and/or television broadcast of all motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials, to the end that no such pictures, programs and materials as are determined
by the Board to be objectionable in accordance with paragraph (c) hereof shall be imported, exported, produced, copied, reproduced, distributed, sold, leased, exhibited and/or broadcast by television;
e) To classify motion pictures, television programs and similar shows into categories such as “G” “For General Patronage” (all ages admitted), “P” or “Parental Guidance Suggested”, “R” or “Restricted” (for adults only), “X” or “Not for Public Viewing”, or such other categories as the Board may determine for the public interest;
f) To close moviehouses and other similar establishments engaged in the public exhibition of motion pictures and television programs which violate the provisions of this Act and the rules and regulations promulgated by the Board pursuant hereto;
g) To levy, assess and collect, and periodically adjust and revise the rates of, fees and charges for the work of review and examination and for the issuance of the licenses and permits which the Board is authorized to grant in the exercise of its powers and functions and in the performance of its duties and responsibilities;
h) To deputize representatives from the government and from various associations in the movie industry, whose main duties shall be to help ensure compliance with all laws relative to the importation, exportation, copying, distribution, sale, lease, exhibition and/or television broadcast of motion pictures, television programs, advertisements and publicity materials. For this purpose, the Board may constitute such regulatory council or councils composed of representatives form the government and the movie and television industry as may be appropriate to implement the purposes and objectives of this Act. The Board may also call on any law enforcement agency for assistance in the implementation and enforcement of its decisions, orders or awards;
i) To cause the prosecution, on behalf of the People of the Philippines, of violators of this Act, of anti-trust, obscenity, censorship and other laws pertinent to the movie and television industry;
j ) To prescribe the internal and operational procedures for the exercise of its powers and functions as well as the performance of its duties and responsibilities, for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs…”35 including the creation and vesting of authority upon sub-committees of the Board
for the work of review and other related matters; and
k) To exercise such other powers and functions as may be necessary or incidental to the attainment of the purposes and objectives of this Act, and to perform such other related duties and responsibilities as may be directed by the President of the Philippines.
35 P.D. 1986, ž 3 (c).
36 259 SCRA 529, 570-571 (1996).
37 Id at 567.
38 Id at 545-546.
39 380 U.S. 51 (1965).
40 259 SCRA 529, 575 (1996).
41 Dissenting Opinion in Iglesia ni Cristo v. Court of Appeals, 259 SCRA 529 (1996). However, the Majority Opinion, through Justice Puno, said, “While the thesis has a lot to commend itself, we are not ready to hold that it is unconstitutional for Congress to grant an administrative body quasi-judicial power to preview and classify TV programs and enforce its decision subject to review by our courts.
42 P.D. No. 1986, ž 3 (c).
43 BLACK’S Law DICTIONARY (2nd pocket ed.-2001).
44 CRUZ, at 198.

First published by JAMES BENEDICT F. PANOPIO
UST LAW REVIEW, Vol. L, AY 2005–2006

Corruption is abetted by secrecy, opacity, and suppression of information, the ZTE deal, ‘Hello Garci,’ fertilizer scam, North Rail, C-5, and so many other sensational cases all substantiate this theme.

We are aware of the several social legislation that the (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo had passed, strengthening human rights stature. But numbers are relative, and reputations are often tarnished by the timing of even one false move, one failure. And this administration disappoints tremendously with its nonchalance in burying the FOI Bill.

Corruption is abetted by secrecy, opacity, and suppression of information, the ZTE deal, ‘Hello Garci,’ fertilizer scam, North Rail, C-5, and so many other sensational cases all substantiate this theme. In a system of governance which allows the establishment of an allowance to self-correct and to rectify, I have to say that the FOI bill would have been the most trite and obvious solution to rampant corruption. And despite that, congress snuffed it out by a show, not of votes, but by mere implication, by procedure, wrought by those in absentia. It failed because of truancy. – CHR Chair Leila Delima (PhilStar, 6/11/2010)