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ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp v.

COMELEC
January 28, 2000

FACTS:

COMELEC issued a Resolution approving the issuance of a restraining order to stop ABS CBN or any
other groups, its agents or representatives from conducting exit surveys. The Resolution was issued by
the Comelec allegedly upon "information from a reliable source that ABS-CBN (Lopez Group) has prepared a
project, with PR groups, to conduct radio-TV coverage of the elections and to make an exit survey of the vote
during the elections for national officials particularly for President and Vice President, results of which shall
be broadcasted immediately. The electoral body believed that such project might conflict with the official
Comelec count, as well as the unofficial quick count of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel). It
also noted that it had not authorized or deputized ABS-CBN to undertake the exit survey.

Two days before the elections on May 11, 1998, the Court issued the Temporary Restraining Order
prayed for by petitioner ABS-CBN. The Comelec was directed to cease and desist, until further orders, from
implementing the assailed Resolution or the restraining order issued pursuant thereto, if any. In fact, the exit
polls were actually conducted and reported by media without any difficulty or problem.

ISSUE: W/N the Comelec, in the exercise of its powers, can absolutely ban exit polls


ABS-CBN: The holding of exit polls and the nationwide reporting of their results are valid exercises of
the freedoms of speech and of the press

COMELEC:

1)The issuance thereof was "pursuant to its constitutional and statutory powers to promote a clean, honest,
orderly and credible May 11, 1998 elections"; and "to protect, preserve and maintain the secrecy and sanctity
of the ballot."

2)It contends that "the conduct of exit surveys might unduly confuse and influence the voters," and that the
surveys were designed "to condition the minds of people and cause confusion as to who are the winners and
the losers in the election," which in turn may result in "violence and anarchy."

3)"exit surveys indirectly violate the constitutional principle to preserve the sanctity of the ballots," as the
"voters are lured to reveal the contents of ballots," in violation of Section 2, Article V of the Constitution and
relevant provisions of the Omnibus Election Code. It submits that the constitutionally protected freedoms
invoked by petitioner "are not immune to regulation by the State in the legitimate exercise of its police
power," such as in the present case.

4) "[p]ress freedom may be curtailed if the exercise thereof creates a clear and present danger to the
community or it has a dangerous tendency." It then contends that "an exit poll has the tendency to sow
confusion considering the randomness of selecting interviewees, which further make[s] the exit poll highly
unreliable. The probability that the results of such exit poll may not be in harmony with the official count
made by the Comelec x x x is ever present. In other words, the exit poll has a clear and present danger of
destroying the credibility and integrity of the electoral process."

SUPREME COURT: The COMELEC Resolution on exit polls ban is nullified and set aside.

1) Clear and present danger of destroying the integrity of electoral processes
Speculative and Untenable. First, by the very nature of a survey, the interviewees or participants are
selected at random, so that the results will as much as possible be representative or reflective of the general
sentiment or view of the community or group polled. Second, the survey result is not meant to replace or be at
par with the official Comelec count. It consists merely of the opinion of the polling group as to who the
electorate in general has probably voted for, based on the limited data gathered from polled individuals.
Finally, not at stake here are the credibility and the integrity of the elections, which are exercises that are
separate and independent from the exit polls. The holding and the reporting of the results of exit polls cannot
undermine those of the elections, since the former is only part of the latter. If at all, the outcome of one can
only be indicative of the other.


2) Overbroad
The Comelec's concern with the possible noncommunicative effect of exit polls -- disorder and
confusion in the voting centers -- does not justify a total ban on them. Undoubtedly, the assailed Comelec
Resolution is too broad, since its application is without qualification as to whether the polling is disruptive or
not.
[44]
Concededly, the Omnibus Election Code prohibits disruptive behavior around the voting
centers.
[45]
There is no showing, however, that exit polls or the means to interview voters cause chaos in
voting centers. Neither has any evidence been presented proving that the presence of exit poll reporters near
an election precinct tends to create disorder or confuse the voters. Moreover, the prohibition incidentally
prevents the collection of exit poll data and their use for any purpose. The valuable information and ideas that
could be derived from them, based on the voters' answers to the survey questions will forever remain
unknown and unexplored. Unless the ban is restrained, candidates, researchers, social scientists and the
electorate in general would be deprived of studies on the impact of current events and of election-day and
other factors on voters' choices.

3) Violation of Ban Secrecy

The contention of public respondent that exit polls indirectly transgress the sanctity and the secrecy
of the ballot is off-tangent to the real issue. Petitioner does not seek access to the ballots cast by the voters.
The ballot system of voting is not at issue here.

The reason behind the principle of ballot secrecy is to avoid vote buying through voter identification.
Thus, voters are prohibited from exhibiting the contents of their official ballots to other persons, from making
copies thereof, or from putting distinguishing marks thereon so as to be identified. Also proscribed is finding
out the contents of the ballots cast by particular voters or disclosing those of disabled or illiterate voters who
have been assisted. Clearly, what is forbidden is the association of voters with their respective votes, for the
purpose of assuring that the votes have been cast in accordance with the instructions of a third party. This
result cannot, however, be achieved merely through the voters' verbal and confidential disclosure to a
pollster of whom they have voted for.

In exit polls, the contents of the official ballot are not actually exposed. Furthermore, the revelation of
whom an elector has voted for is not compulsory, but voluntary. Voters may also choose not to reveal their
identities. Indeed, narrowly tailored countermeasures may be prescribed by the Comelec, so as to minimize
or suppress incidental problems in the conduct of exit polls, without transgressing the fundamental rights of
our people.##

An exit poll is a species of electoral survey conducted by qualified individuals or groups of individuals for the purpose of determining the
probable result of an election by confidentially asking randomly selected voters whom they have voted for, immediately after they have officially cast
their ballots. The results of the survey are announced to the public, usually through the mass media, to give an advance overview of how, in the opinion
of the polling individuals or organizations, the electorate voted. In our electoral history, exit polls had not been resorted to until the recent May 11, 1998
elections.
Borjal v Court of Appeals 301 SCRA 1 January 14, 1999
Posted by Evelyn
Facts: A civil action for damages based on libel was filed before the court against Borjal and
Soliven for writing and publishing articles that are allegedly derogatory and offensive against
Francisco Wenceslao, attacking among others the solicitation letters he send to support a
conference to be launch concerning resolving matters on transportation crisis that is tainted
with anomalous activities. Wenceslao however was never named in any of the articles nor was
the conference he was organizing. The lower court ordered petitioners to indemnify the
private respondent for damages which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. A petition for
review was filed before the SC contending that private respondent was not sufficiently
identified to be the subject of the published articles.

Issue: Whether or not there are sufficient grounds to constitute guilt of petitioners for libel.




Held: In order to maintain a libel suit, it is essential that the victim be identifiable although
it is not necessary that he be named. It is also not sufficient that the offended party
recognized himself as the person attacked or defamed, but it must be shown that at least a
third person could identify him as the object of the libelous publication.

These requisites have
not been complied with in the case at bar. The element of identifiability was not met since it
was Wenceslaso who revealed he was the organizer of said conference and had he not done so
the public would not have known.

The concept of privileged communications is implicit in the freedom of the press and that
privileged communications must be protective of public opinion. Fair commentaries on
matters of public interest are privileged and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel
or slander. The doctrine of fair comment means that while in general every discreditable
imputation publicly made is deemed false, because every man is presumed innocent until his
guilt is judicially proved, and every false imputation is deemed malicious, nevertheless, when
the discreditable imputation is directed against a public person in his public capacity, it is not
necessarily actionable. In order that such discreditable imputation to a public official may be
actionable, it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false
supposition. If the comment is an expression of opinion, based on established facts, then it is
immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken, as long as it might reasonably be
inferred from the facts.

The questioned article dealt with matters of public interest as the declared objective of the
conference, the composition of its members and participants, and the manner by which it was
intended to be funded no doubt lend to its activities as being genuinely imbued with public
interest. Respondent is also deemed to be a public figure and even otherwise is involved in a
public issue. The court held that freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed and
protected with the reminder among media members to practice highest ethical standards in
the exercise thereof.
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A privileged communication may be either:

1. Absolutely privileged communication those which are not actionable even if the
author has acted in bad faith. An example is found in Sec. 11, Art.VI, of the 1987 Constitution
which exempts a member of Congress from liability for any speech or debate in the Congress
or in any Committee thereof.

2. Qualifiedly privileged communications those containing defamatory imputations are
not actionable unless found to have been made without good intention justifiable motive. To
this genre belong "private communications" and "fair and true report without any comments or
remarks."

In Re: Column of Ramon Tulfo
Column of Ramon Tulfo
Facts:In Oct. 13, 1989, Tulfo wrote an article in his column in PDI 'On Target' stating
that the Supreme Court rendered an idiotic decision in legalizing checkpoints, and
again on Oct. 16, 1989, where he called the Supreme Court stupid and "sangkatutak
na mga bobo justices of the Philippine Supreme Court". Tulfo was required to show
cause why he should not be punished for contempt. Tulfo said that he was just
reacting emotionally because he had been a victim of harassment in the checkpoints,
and "idiotic" meant illogical and unwise, and "bobo" was just quoted from other
attorneys, and since the case had been decided and terminated, there was not
contempts. Lastly, the article does not pose any clear and present danger to the
Supreme court.
Issue:Wheter or not Tulfo is in contempt
Held:Yes.
1. At the time Tulfo wrote the article, the checkpoints case had not yet been decided
upon, and the Supreme Court was still acting on an MR filed from the CA.
2. Power to punish is inherent as it is essential for self-preservation. Contempt of ocurt
is defiance of the authority, justice and dignity of the courts. It brings disrepute to the
court. There are two kinds of publications which can be punished for contempt:
a. those whose object is to affect the decision in a pending case.
b. those whose object is to bring courts to discredit.
Tulfo's article constituted both.
3. It should have been okay to criticize if respectful language was used, but if its
object is only to degrade and ridicule, then it is clearly an obstruction of justice.
Nothing constructive can be gained from them. Being emotional is no excuse for
being insulting. Quoting is not an excuse also, because at the end of his article, Tulfo
said, "So you bobo justices, watch out!" Also, he said he was not sorry for having
written the articles.
Tulfo is found in contempt of court and is gravely censured.

MTRCB v. ABS-CBN G.R. No. 155282. January 17,
2005
J. Sandoval Gutierrez

Facts:
Respondent abs-cbn aired Prosti-tuition, an episode of the TV program The Inside Story
produced and hosted by respondent Legarda. It depicted female students moonlighting as
prostitutes to enable them to pay for their tuition fees.
PWU was named as the school of some of the students involved and the faade of the PWU
building served as the background of the episode. This caused upsoar in the PWU community and
they filed a letter-complaint to the MTRCB.
MTRCB alleged that respondents
1) Did not submit the inside story to petitioner for review
2) Exhibited the same without its permission, thus violating sec 7 of PD 1986 and some sections of
MTRCB rules and regulations
ABS-CBN averred:
1) The Inside Story is a public affairs program, news documentary and socio-political editorial, its
airing is protected by the constitutional provision on freedom of expression and of the press
2) Petitioners has no power, authority and jurisdiction to impose any form of prior restraint
upon respondents.
After hearing and submission of the parties memoranda, MTRCB investigating committee ordered
the respondents to pay P20,000 for non-submission of the program
MTRCB affirmed the ruling
Respondents filed a special civil action for certiorari with RTC QC. RTC rendered a decision in favor
of respondents, annulling and setting aside the decision and resolution of the MTRCB and declaring
and decreeing that certain sections of PD 1986 & MTRCB do not cover the TV program Inside
Story, they being a public affairs programs which can be equated to a newspaper
Hence, this petition
Issue:
Whether the MTRCB has the power or authority to review the Inside Story prior its exhibition or
broadcast by TV.
Held:
Sec 3 of PD 1986 enumerates the powers, functions and duties of the board:
Xxx
b) to screen, review and examine all motion pictures herein defined, TV programs, including publicity
materials
The court in INC v. CA rules that PD 1986 gives MTRCB the power to screen, review and examine
ALL TV PROGRAMS
*LESSON* where the law does not make any exceptions, courts may not exempt something
therefrom, unless there is compelling reason apparent in the law to justify it.
Thus, when the law says all TV programs, the word all covers all tv programs whether religious,
public affairs, news docu, etc
It then follows that since the Inside Story is a TV Program, MTRCB has the power to review it
The only exemptions from the MTRCBs power to review are those mentioned in Sec 7 of PD
1986
1) TV programs imprinted or exhibited by Phil govt and/or departments and agencies
2) Newsreels
In a desperate attempt to be exempted, respondents content that Inside Story falls under the
category of newsreels.
MTRCB rules and reg defines newsreels as straight news reporting, as distinguished from
analyses, commentaries, and opinions. Talk shows on a given issue are not considered
newsreels.
Clearly, Inside Story is not a newsreel but more of a public affairs program and within petitioners
power of review.
Issue related to Consti law:
Petitioners power to review television programs under Section 3(b) of P. D. No. 1986 does not
amount to prior restraint.
Ratio:
It is significant to note that in Iglesia ni Cristo, this Court declared that freedom of religion has been
accorded a preferred status by the framers of our fundamental laws, past and present, designed to
protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience
directs x x x. Yet despite the fact that freedom of religion has been accorded a preferred status, still
this Court, did not exempt the Iglesia ni Cristos religious program from petitioners review power.
Respondents claim that the showing of The Inside Story is protected by the constitutional provision
on freedom of speech and of the press. However, 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.
If this Court, in Iglesia ni Cristo, did not exempt religious programs from the jurisdiction and review
power of petitioner MTRCB, with more reason, there is no justification to exempt therefrom The
Inside Story which, according to respondents, is protected by the constitutional provision on
freedom of expression and of the press, a freedom bearing no preferred status.
The only exceptions from the MTRCBs power of review are those expressly mentioned in Section 7
of P. D. No. 1986, such as (1) television programs imprinted or exhibited by the Philippine
Government and/or its departments and agencies, and (2) newsreels.

Bayan, et al., Vs. Eduardo Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 169838 April
25, 2006 DIGEST
Bayan, et al., Vs. Eduardo Ermita, et al.,
G.R. No. 169838
April 25, 2006


Facts: The petitioners, Bayan, et al., alleged that they are citizens and taxpayers of the
Philippines and that their right as organizations and individuals were violated when the rally
they participated in on October 6, 2005 was violently dispersed by policemen implementing
Batas Pambansa No. 880.

Petitioners contended that Batas Pambansa No. 880 is clearly a violation of the Constitution
and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties
of which the Philippines is a signatory. They argue that B.P. No. 880 requires a permit
before one can stage a public assembly regardless of the presence or absence of a clear
and present danger. It also curtails the choice of venue and is thus repugnant to the
freedom of expression clause as the time and place of a public assembly form part of the
message which the expression is sought. Furthermore, it is not content-neutral as it does
not apply to mass actions in support of the government. The words lawful cause, opinion,
protesting or influencing suggest the exposition of some cause not espoused by the
government. Also, the phrase maximum tolerance shows that the law applies to
assemblies against the government because they are being tolerated. As a content-based
legislation, it cannot pass the strict scrutiny test. This petition and two other petitions were
ordered to be consolidated on February 14, 2006. During the course of oral arguments, the
petitioners, in the interest of a speedy resolution of the petitions, withdrew the portions of
their petitions raising factual issues, particularly those raising the issue of whether B.P. No.
880 and/or CPR is void as applied to the rallies of September 20, October 4, 5 and 6, 2005.

Issue: Whether the Calibrated Pre-emptive response and the Batas Pambansa No. 880,
specifically Sections 4, 5, 6, 12, 13(a) and 14(a) violates Art. III Sec. 4 of the Philippine
Constitution as it causes a disturbing effect on the exercise by the people of the right to
peaceably assemble.

Held: Section 4 of Article III of the Philippine Constitution provides that 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. The
right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, together with freedom of
speech, of expression, and of the press, is a right that enjoys dominance in the sphere of
constitutional protection. For this rights represent the very basis of a functional democratic
polity, without which all the other rights would be meaningless and unprotected.

However, it must be remembered that the right, while sacrosanct, is not absolute. It may be
regulated that it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having equal rights,
nor injurious to the rights of the community or society. The power to regulate the exercise of
such and other constitutional rights is termed the sovereign police power, which is the
power to prescribe regulations, to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order
or safety, and general welfare of the people.

B.P. No 880 is not an absolute ban of public assemblies but a restriction that simply
regulates the time, place and manner of the assemblies. B.P. No. 880 thus readily shows
that it refers to all kinds of public assemblies that would use public places. The reference to
lawful cause does not make it content-based because assemblies really have to be for
lawful causes, otherwise they would not be peaceable and entitled to protection. Neither
the words opinion, protesting, and influencing in of grievances come from the wording
of the Constitution, so its use cannot be avoided. Finally, maximum tolerance is for the
protection and benefit of all rallyist and is independent of the content of the expression in
the rally.

Furthermore, the permit can only be denied on the ground of clear and present danger to
public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public health. This is a
recognized exception to the exercise of the rights even under the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Wherefore, the petitions are GRANTED in part, and respondents, more particularly the
Secretary of the Interior and Local Governments, are DIRECTED to take all necessary
steps for the immediate compliance with Section 15 of Batas Pambansa No. 880 through
the establishment or designation of at least one suitable freedom park or plaza in every city
and municipality of the country. After thirty (30) days from the finality of this Decision,
subject to the giving of advance notices, no prior permit shall be required to exercise the
right to peaceably assemble and petition in the public parks or plaza in every city or
municipality that has not yet complied with section 15 of the law. Furthermore, Calibrated
pre-emptive response (CPR), insofar as it would purport to differ from or be in lieu of
maximum tolerance, is NULL and VOID and respondents are ENJOINED to REFRAIN from
using it and to STRICTLY OBSERVE the requirements of maximum tolerance, The petitions
are DISMISSED in all other respects, and the constitutionality of Batas Pambansa No. 880
is SUSTAINED
IN RE Emil (Emiliano) P. JURADO Ex Rel.:
Philippine Long Distance Telephone
Company (PLDT)
Posted on June 20, 2013 by winnieclaire
Standard
Facts: Jurado, a journalist who writes in a newspaper of general circulation, the Manila Standard.
He describes himself as a columnist, who incidentally happens to be a lawyer,, had been writing
about alleged improperties and irregularities in the judiciary over several months (from about
October, 1992 to March, 1993). Other journalists had also been making reports or comments on the
same subject. At the same time, anonymous communications were being extensively circulated, by
hand and through the mail, about alleged venality and corruption in the courts. And all these were
being repeatedly and insistently adverted to by certain sectors of society. Events Directly Giving Rise
to the Proceeding at Bar.
The seed of the proceeding at bar was sown by the decision promulgated by this Court on August
27, 1992, in the so-called controversial case of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company v.
Eastern Telephone Philippines, Inc. (ETPI), G.R. No, 94374. In that decision the Court was sharply
divided; the vote was 9 to 4, in favor of the petitioner PLDT. Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr., wrote
the opinion for the majority.
In connection with this case, G.R. No. 94374, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and one or two other
newspapers published, on January 28, 1993, a report of the purported affidavit of a Mr. David Miles
Yerkes, an alleged expert in linguistics. This gentleman, it appears, had been commissioned by one
of the parties in the case, Eastern Telephone Philippines, Inc. (ETPI), to examine and analyze the
decision of Justice Gutierrez in relation to a few of his prior ponencias and the writings of one of the
lawyers of PLDT, Mr. Eliseo Alampay, to ascertain if the decision had been written, in whole or in
part, by the latter. Yerkes proffered the conclusion that the Gutierrez decision looks, reads and
sounds like the writing of the PLDTs counsel, Thus, he speaks of the Magnificent Seven, by
merely referring to undisclosed regional trial court judges in Makati; the Magnificent Seven in the
Supreme Court, as some undesignated justices who supposedly vote as one; the Dirty Dozen, as
unidentified trial judges in Makati and three other cities. He adverts to an anonymous group of
justices and judges for whom a bank allegedly hosted a party; and six unnamed justices of this Court
who reportedly spent a prepaid vacation in Hong Kong with their families.
The Chief Justice issued an administrative order Creating an Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate
Reports of Corruption in the Judiciary, to investigate the said reports of corruption in the judiciary. A
letter affidavit was also received from the public utility, denying the allegations in Jurados column.
The Supreme Court then issued a resolution ordering that the matter dealt with in the letter and
affidavit of the public utility company be docketed and acted upon as an official Court proceeding for
the determination of whether or not the allegations made by Jurado are true.
HELD: Jurados actuations, in the context in which they were done, demonstrate gross
irresponsibility, and indifference to factual accuracy and the injury that he might cause to the name
and reputation of those of whom he wrote. They constitute contempt of court, directly tending as they
do to degrade or abase the administration of justice and the judges engaged in that function. By
doing them, he has placed himself beyond the circle of reputable, decent and responsible journalists
who live by their Code or the Golden Rule and who strive at all times to maintain the prestige and
nobility of their calling.
Although honest utterances, even if inaccurate, may further the fruitful exercise of the right of free
speech, it does not follow that the lie, knowingly and deliberately published about a public official,
should enjoy a like immunity. The knowingly false statement and the false statement made with
reckless disregard of the truth, do not enjoy constitutional protection.
The Civil Code, in its Article 19 lays down the norm for the proper exercise of any right, constitutional
or otherwise, viz.: ARTICLE 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the
performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good
faith. The provision is reflective of the universally accepted precept of abuse of rights, one of the
most dominant principles which must be deemed always implied in any system of law.
Requirement to exercise bona fide care in ascertaining the truth of the statements when publishing
statements which are clearly defamatory to identifiable judges or other public officials.
Judges, by becoming such, are rightly regarded as voluntarily subjecting themselves to norms of
conduct which embody more stringent standards of honesty, integrity, and competence than are
commonly required from private persons. Nevertheless, persons who seek or accept appointment to
the Judiciary cannot reasonably be regarded as having forfeited any right to private honor and
reputation. For to so rule will be to discourage all save those who feel no need to maintain their self-
respect from becoming judges. The public interest involved in freedom of speech and the individual
interest of judges (and for that matter, all other public officials) in the maintenance of private honor
and reputation need to be accommodated one to the other. And the point of adjustment or
accommodation between these two legitimate interests is precisely found in the norm which requires
those who, invoking freedom of speech, publish statements which are clearly defamatory to
identifiable judges or other public officials to exercise bona fide care in ascertaining the truth of the
statements they publish. The norm does not require that a journalist guarantee the truth of what he
says or publishes. But the norm does prohibit the reckless disregard of private reputation by
publishing or circulating defamatory statements without any bona fide effort to ascertain the truth
thereof.
Rodolfo Vasquez v Court of Appeals
The 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan handed down by the United
States Supreme Court has been the barometer used in defamation cases
involving public officials in both jurisdictions.
The Philippine case that comes comparably close in circumnstances with that of
the New York Times ruling is that of Rodolfo Vasquez versus Court of Appeals.
It is similar to the New York Times v. Sullivan ruling in the sense that the
plaintiff is also a public official (a barangay official).
When the barangay official sued for criminal libel (note: New York Times case
was a civil case), the Supreme Court ruled that it was incumbent upon the
prosecution to prove actual malice, and failing such, no liability attached against
the accused.
In any event, the Supreme Court took ocassion to apply the New York Times
Co. v. Sullivan standard in this case.

Here is the digest of that case:

Rodolfo R. Vasquez v. Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 118971
September 15, 1999

Facts:
Petitioner Rodolfo R. Vasquez is a resident of the Tondo Foreshore Area.
Sometime in April 1986, he and some 37 families from the area went to see
then National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Lito Atienza regarding
their complaint against their Barangay Chairman, Jaime Olmedo, a public
official. After their meeting with Atienza and other NHA officials, petitioner and
his companions were met and interviewed by newspaper reporters at the NHA
compound concerning their complaint. The next day, April 22, 1986, the
following exerpts of the news article appeared in the newspaper Ang Tinig ng
Masa. In the article, pulished were supposed allegations by Vasquez that (1)
nakipagsabwatan umano si Chairman Jaime Olmedo upang makamkam ang
may 14 na lote ng lupa; (2) ang mga lupa ay ilegal na patituluhan, nagawa ito
ni Olmedo sa pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal officers ng
NHA; (3) kasangkot din umano si Olmedo sa mga ilegal na pasugalan sa
naturang lugar at maging sa mga nakawan ng manok. x x x
Based on the newspaper article, Olmedo filed a complaint for libel against
petitioner alleging that the latters statements cast aspersions on him and
damaged his reputation.
On May 28, 1992, the trial court rendered judgment finding petitioner guilty of
libel and sentencing him to pay a fine of P1,000.00. On appeal, the Court of
Appeals affirmed in toto. Hence, this petition for review.

Issue:
Whether or not the atual malice standard in New York Times versus Sullivan is
to be applied in prosecutions for criminal libel.

Held:
The standard of actual malice in New York Times versus Sullivan is to be applied
in criminal prosecutions for libel.
For that matter, even if the defamatory statement is false, no liability can
attach if it relates to official conduct, unless the public official concerned proves
that the statement was made with actual malice that is, with knowledge that
it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
In this case, the prosecution failed to prove not only that the charges made by
petitioner were false but also that petitioner made them with knowledge of their
falsity or with reckless disregard of whether they were false or not.
A rule placing on the accused the burden of showing the truth of allegations of
official misconduct and/or good motives and justifiable ends for making such
allegations would not only be contrary to Art. 361 of the Revised Penal Code. It
would, above all, infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of
expression.

Libel was used as a form of harassment:

Instead of the claim that petitioner was politically motivated in making the
charges against complainant, it would appear that complainant filed this case to
harass petitioner.
It is curious that the ones most obviously responsible for the publication of the
allegedly offensive news report, namely, the editorial staff and the periodical
itself, were not at all impleaded. The charge was leveled against the petitioner
and, "curiouser" still, his clients who have nothing to do with the editorial
policies of the newspaper.