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G.R. No.

164785
2009

April 29,

ELISEO F. SORIANO, petitioner, vs. MA. CONSOLIZA P. LAGUARDIA, in her


capacity as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and
Classification Board, respondent.
Topic: Parens Patriae
Facts
In 2004, Eliseo F. Soriano, as host of the program Ang Dating Daan aired in
UNTV 37, made the following remarks:
Lehitimong anak ng demonyo sinungaling Gago ka talaga
Michael, masahol ka pa sa putang babae o di ba. Yung putang
babae ang gumagana lang doon yung ibaba, [dito] kay Michael ang
gumagana ang itaas, o di ba! O, masahol pa sa putang babae yan.
Sabi ng lola ko masahol pa sa putang babae yan. Sobra ang
kasinungalingan ng mga demonyong ito.
Two days after, before the MTRCB, separate but almost identical affidavitcomplaints were lodged by Jessie L. Galapon and seven other private
respondents, all members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), against Soriano in
connection with the above broadcast. Respondent Michael M. Sandoval, who felt
directly alluded to in petitioners remark, was then a minister of INC and a
regular host of the TV program Ang Tamang Daan. The MTRCB found Soriano
liable for his utterances and imposed on him a three-month suspension from his
program.
Issues
Whether or not the suspension by the MTRCB is null and void for violation of
freedom of religion, speech, and expression.
Ruling
No, the suspension does not violate freedom of religion, speech, and
expression.
According to Art. 3 of the 1987 Consitution, [n]o law shall be made
respecting the establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof and [n]o law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of
expression, or of the press
In this case, there is nothing in Sorianos statements expressing religious
belief, nothing furthering his avowed mission. The fact that he came out with his
statements in a televised bible exposition program does not automatically
accord them the character of religious discourse. Plain and simple insults
directed at another person cannot be elevated to the status of religious speech.
Consequently, Sorianos statement can be treated as obscene, at least taking
into consideration that the program is for general viewership and in a timeslot
that would likely reach even the eyes and ears of children, exposing them to a
language that is unacceptable in everyday use. In this sense, the Court finds

such utterances not entitled to protection under the umbrella of freedom of


speech.
Therefore, the suspension does not violate the freedom of religion, speech
and expression, hence, it is valid.
Doctrine
Freedom of religion as well as of speech and expression, like any other rights,
are not absolute. They may be regulated to some extent to serve important
public interests.
Arrayed against the freedom of speech is the right of the youth to their
moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social being which the State is constitutionally
tasked to promote and protect. As such, the welfare of the children and the
States mandate to protect and care for them, as parens patriae*, constitute a
substanstial and compelling government interest in regulating TV broadcast.

* - the government, or any other authority, regarded as the legal protector of


citizens unable to protect themselves
- to protect the children who, because of age or interest capacity, are
susceptible of being corrupted or prejudiced by offensive language