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PETITION ON ANTI-HATE SPEECH

For this submission your HONOUR, We, the petitioners would like to submit that the RA no.
XAYZ be declared unconstitutional on the grounds that the sections 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the said law
violates the Bill of Rights of the 1987 constitution.

Your honour, Freedom of expression is an inherent right that every human being or at least
every Filipinos have and should never be deprived of. This is a very basic right that should never
be violated in any forms or any means. This right has been fought by our ancestors for the past
centuries, since the Spanish era and even up to the Martial law era which lead to a people-
power revolution which ensured the restoration of our rights to freedom of expression through
the establishment of the Bill of Rights.

The Article III, Section IV of the 1987 constitution expressly 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.

Your honour, here are our legal arguments regarding the unconstitutionality of the said RA no.
XAYZ which contains the sections 2, 3, 5 and 6 that violates the Bill of Rights.

First, the Section 2 of the said law is inconsistent with the Article III of the Bill of Rights. Its policy
on prevention, regulation and curbing of the hate speech violates the freedom of expression as
it limits and controls the liberty of one’s opinion and expression. This also is in violation against
the Section VII (7) of the Bill of Rights stating that the right of information on matters of public
concern shall be recognized, but such right is subject to limitations.

Second, the Section 3 of the RA no XAYZ is in violation against the Bill of Rights because
criminalizing the acts defined in the said Section does not have strictly defined parameters.
Instead, the definitions of such acts that is ought to be criminalized are broadly worded and
offenses are vague, which could lead to ambiguous interpretations. The definition of terms is not
clear and precise in determining what comprises a hate speech. This makes it difficult to draw
the line between legitimate criticisms against an illegitimate, criminal incitement of hatred that
intends to cause violence which the law is supposed to prevent.

Also, criminalizing the acts defined in the Section 3 of RA XAYZ is unnecessary in the sense that
there are already existing laws that penalizes such acts, provided in Title Thirteen of our Revised
Penal code (Libel). Furthermore, Title Six, Chapter two of the revised penal code also provides
the penal sanctions to any offenses against decency and public customs. Article 201 specifically
provides that, Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows. —
The penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or
both such imprisonment and fine, shall be imposed upon:

(1) Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals;

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(2) (b) Those who… (3) offend any race or religion; (5) that are contrary to law, public order,
morals, and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts;

(3) Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which
are offensive to morals. (As amended by PD Nos. 960 and 969).

Thus, RA No. XAYZ is unconstitutional since not only does it violate every Filipino’s right to
freedom of expression but it also overlaps with the other existing laws provided by our Revised
Penal Code.
Third, The section 5 of the RA no. XAYZ should be declared unconstitutional for it violates the
Bill of Rights.

The crux of the dilemma for the free speech advocate is not a fear that the language of intolerance

or hate may contain truth which should be heard but rather the old problem of quia custodiet ipsos

custodies? Who is to oversee the censor? The creation of an Anti-Hate Commission (AHC) with

their functions and powers as provided in Section 5 is unconstitutional mainly because they

impose prior restraint and subsequent punishment. Moreover, the AHC have the sole power for

the determination whether or a not a person/group of persons have committed hate speech. The

requirement that the 3 commissioners shall be selected from nominees of religious and ethnic

groups raises the question of impartiality among the Commissioners. Their functions are all

encompassing that it could be subject to abuse. In the words of Justice Blackstone, to subject the

press to the restrictive power of a licenser is to subject all freedom of sentiment to the prejudices

of one man, and make him the arbitrary and infallible judge of all controverted points in learning,

religion, and government.

Point by point discussion of the powers and functions of the AHC:

(a) It shall monitor traditional and social media for hate speech outbursts and incidents and

shall take necessary actions in accordance with the law;

The media has the right to inform the people of matters of public interest and concern. Curtail

freedom of the press, and you take away the right of the people to be informed and form opinions

and ideas relative to matters of public interest. As a consequence, the people will not anymore be

able to participate in a free political debate which is the very core of the concept of a democratic

society. Citing Justice Antonio Carpio, freedom of expression provides a civilized way of

engagement among political, ideological, religious or ethnic opponents for if one cannot use his

tongue to argue, he might use his fist instead. The law has alarming implications for free
expression on and off the internet. It ultimately and clearly works to infringe freedom of expression

in any platform, be it traditional or social media. Implementing it would contribute to the

deterioration of democracy as well as the free exchange of ideas in our country.

(b) It shall have the power to prevent the publication of print media articles that depict religious

figures in an unflattering and blasphemous ways;

This particular provision imposes prior restraint. Since the Constitution commands that

freedom of expression shall not be abridged, the rule is that expression is not subject to any prior

restraint or censorship. The exceptions as to when expression may be subject to prior restraint

fall only to the following four categories of expression: pornography, false or misleading

advertisement, advocacy of imminent lawless action, and danger to national security. Section 5

(b) which is a function of the AHC to prevent publication of print media articles that depict religious

figures in an unflattering and blasphemous ways do not fall under the aforementioned exceptions.

Such provision is a content-based prior restraint on protected expression because it is aimed at

the message or idea of the expression. Any content-based prior restraint on protected expression

is unconstitutional without exception.

(c) It can issue cease and desist orders to groups that gather for purposes of inciting violence

against persons or groups by reason of their religious affiliation, ethnic or cultural origins, or other

common characteristics shared by a group of people making them distinct from each other.

This provision is unconstitutional as well because it prevents the right of the people to assembly. Section 4

of Art. III of the constitution which provides that “No law shall be passed abridging…the right of the people

peaceably to assemble” except in case when there is a clear and present danger when the assembly under

such circumstances will bring about the substantive evil that the state has the right to prevent. The word

“inciting violence” will not justify a cease and desist order as there is no showing that clear and present
danger.

Fourth, the Section 6 of the RA No. XAYZ should be invalidated on the grounds that since this

Separability clause has no leg to stand on. Since the constitutionality of the entirety of the RA No.

XAYZ is being assailed by this petition as void ab initio then such Separability clause provided by

the said law cannot be deemed valid in the first place.

The petition seeks to declare this RA No. XAYZ as unconstitutional because the spirit of this law

violates the bill of rights as explained in the previous arguments. Hence it is the substantive

portions of this Anti-Hate speech law that is being questioned as void ab initio, which would mean

that any separability clause provided by a Bill or Act has no leg to stand on since its substantive

portions are deemed void.

In view of the foregoing arguments, the petitioners deem that sections 2, 3, 5 and 6 of RA XAYZ

violates the bill of rights as it restrain the freedom of speech, of expression and of the press.

The right to freedom of expression is not absolute; both international law and most national

constitutions recognize that it may be restricted. However, any limitations must remain within

strictly defined parameters. The Anti-Hate Speech Law did not meet these strictly defined

parameters. The law is broadly worded and the offenses vague. The law enacted is excessively

rigid. It is not clear and precise in determining what comprises hate speech. Its wide-ranging

scope makes it difficult to draw the line between legitimate robust criticism and satire, and

illegitimate, criminal incitement of hatred.