Poli Rev Cases Finals (4.23.2016)

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    EN BANC

    G.R. No. L-65366 November 9, 1983

    JOSE B.L. REYES, in behal o !he "N#$-B"SES %O"L$#$ON &"B%', petitioner,

    vs. R"(ON B"G"#S$NG, a) (a*or o !he %i!* o (anila, respondent. 

    Lorenzo M. Tañada Jose W. Diokno and Haydee B. Yorac for petitioner.

    The Solicitor General for respondent.

    +ERN"NO, C.J.:ñé+.£ªwph!1

    This Court, in this case of first impression, at least as to some aspects, is called upon to

    delineate the boundaries of the protected area of the cognate rights to free speech and

    peaceable assembly, 1 against an alleged intrusion by respondent Mayor Ramon Bagatsing. Petitioner, retired Justice JB L. Reyes, on behalf of the nti!Bases Coalition sought a permit from the City

    of Manila to hold a peaceful march and rally on "ctober #$, %&'( from #)** to +)** in the afternoon,

    starting from the Luneta, a public par, to the gates of the -nited tates /mbassy, hardly t0o blocs

    a0ay. "nce there, and in an open space of public property, a short program 0ould be held.  1uring the

    course of the oral argument, 3 it 0as stated that after the delivery of t0o brief speeches, a petition based

    on the resolution adopted on the last day by the 2nternational Conference for 3eneral 1isbarmament,

    4orld Peace and the Removal of ll 5oreign Military Bases held in Manila, 0ould be presented to a

    representative of the /mbassy or any of its personnel 0ho may be there so that it may be delivered to the

    -nited tates mbassador. The march 0ould be attended by the local and foreign participants of suchconference. There 0as lie0ise an assurance in the petition that in the e6ercise of the constitutional rights

    to free speech and assembly, all the necessary steps 0ould be taen by it 7to ensure a peaceful march

    and rally.7  

    The filing of this suit for mandamus 0ith alternative prayer for 0rit of preliminary mandatory in8unction on

    "ctober #*, %&'( 0as due to the fact that as of that date, petitioner had not been informed of any action

    taen on his re9uest on behalf of the organi:ation to hold a rally. "n "ctober #+, %&'(, the ans0er of

    respondent Mayor 0as filed on his behalf by ssistant olicitor 3eneral /duardo 3. Montenegro. 5 2t

    turned out that on "ctober %&, such permit 0as denied. Petitioner 0as una0are of such a fact as the

    denial 0as sent by ordinary mail. The reason for refusing a permit 0as due to police intelligence reports

    0hich strongly militate against the advisability of issuing such permit at this time and at the place applied

    for.7 6 To be more specific, reference 0as made to persistent intelligence reports affirm;ing< the plans of

    subversive=criminal elements to infiltrate and=or disrupt any assembly or congregations 0here a large

    number of people is e6pected to attend.7 / Respondent Mayor suggested, ho0ever, in accordance 0ith

    the recommendation of the police authorities, that 7a permit may be issued for the rally if it is to be held at

    the Ri:al Coliseum or any other enclosed area 0here the safety of the participants themselves and the

    general public may be ensured.7 8 

    The oral argument 0as heard on "ctober #+, %&'(, the very same day the ans0er 0as filed. The Court

    then deliberated on the matter. That same afternoon, a minute resolution 0as issued by the Court

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    granting the mandatory in8unction prayed for on the ground that there 0as no sho0ing of the e6istence of

    a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that could 8ustify the denial of a permit. "n this point, the

    Court 0as unanimous, but there 0as a dissent by Justice 9uino on the ground that the holding of a rally

    in front of the - /mbassy 0ould be violative of "rdinance >o. ?#&+ of the City of Manila. The last

    sentence of such minute resolution reads) 7This resolution is 0ithout pre8udice to a more e6tended

    opinion.7 9 @ence this detailed e6position of the CourtAs stand on the matter.

    %. 2t is thus clear that the Court is called upon to protect the e6ercise of the cognate rights to free speech

    and peaceful assembly, arising from the denial of a permit. The Constitution is 9uite e6plicit) 7>o la0 shall

    be passed abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to

    assemble and petition the 3overnment for redress of grievances.7 10 5ree speech, lie free press, may be

    2dentified 0ith the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public concern 0ithout censorship

    or punishment. 11 There is to be then no previous restraint on the communication of vie0s or subse9uent

    liability 0hether in libel suits, 1 prosecution for sedition, 13 or action for damages, 1 or contempt

    proceedings 15 unless there be a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that ;the tate< has a right

    to prevent.7 16 5reedom of assembly connotes the right people to meet peaceably for consultation and

    discussion of matters "f public concern. 1/ 2t is entitled to be accorded the utmost deference and respect.

    2t is hot to be limited, much less denied, e6cept on a sho0ing, as As the case 0ith freedom of e6pression,

    of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the state has a right to prevent. 18

     /ven prior to the %&(+ Constitution, Justice Maicolm had occasion to stress that it is a necessary conse9uence of our

    republican institutions and complements the right of free speech. 19 To paraphrase opinion of Justice

    Rutledge speaing for the ma8ority of the !erican S"pre!e #o"rt Tho!as $. #ollins, 0 it 0as not by

    accident or coincidence that the right to freedom of speech and of the press 0ere toupled in a single

    guarantee 0ith the and to petition the rights of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the

    government for redress of grievances. ll these rights, 0hile not 2dentical, are inseparable. the every

    case, therefo re there is a limitation placed on the e6ercise of this right, the 8udiciary is called upon to

    e6amine the effects of the challenged governmental actuation. The sole 8ustification for a limitation on the

    e6ercise of this right, so fundamental to the maintenance of democratic institutions, is the danger, of a

    character both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health, or any

    other legitimate public interest. 1

    #. >o0here is the rationale that underlies the freedom of e6pression and peaceable assembly better

    e6pressed than in this e6cerpt from an opinion of Justice 5ranfurter) 72t must never be forgotten,

    ho0ever, that the Bill of Rights 0as the child of the /nlightenment. Bac of the guaranty of free speech

    lay faith in the po0er of an appeal to reason by all the peaceful means for gaining access to the mind. 2t

    0as in order to avert force and e6plosions due to restrictions upon rational modes of communication that

    the guaranty of free speech 0as given a generous scope. But utterance in a conte6t of violence can lose

    its significance as an appeal to reason and become part of an instrument of force. uch utterance 0as not

    meant to be sheltered by the Constitution.7  4hat 0as rightfully stressed is the abandonment of reason,

    the utterance, 0hether verbal or printed, being in a conte6t of violence. 2t must al0ays be remembered

    that this right lie0ise provides for a safety valve, allo0ing parties the opportunity to give vent to their!

    vie0s, even if contrary to the prevailing climate of opinion. 5or if the peaceful means of communication

    cannot be availed of, resort to non!peaceful means may be the only alternative. >or is this the sole

    reason for the e6pression of dissent. 2t means more than 8ust the right to be heard of the person 0ho feels aggrieved or 0ho is dissatisfied 0ith things as they are. 2ts value may lie in the fact that there may be

    something 0orth hearing from the dissenter. That is to ensure a true ferment of 2deas. There are, of

    course, 0ell!defined limits. 4hat is guaranteed is peaceable assembly. "ne may not advocate disorder in

    the name of protest, much less preach rebellion under the cloa of dissent. The Constitution fro0ns on

    disorder or tumult attending a rally or assembly. resort to force is ruled out and outbreas of violence to be

    avoided. The utmost calm though is not re9uired. s pointed out in an early Philippine case, penned in

    %&*? to be precise, %nited States $. p"rado) 3 72t is rather to be e6pected that more or less disorder 0ill

    mar the public assembly of the people to protest against grievances 0hether real or imaginary, because

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    on such occasions feeling is al0ays 0rought to a high pitch of e6citement, and the greater the grievance

    and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as a rule, 0ill be the disciplinary control of the leaders

    over their irresponsible follo0ers.7  2t bears repeating that for the constitutional right to be invoed,

    riotous conduct, in8ury to property, and acts of vandalism must be avoided, To give free rein to oneAs

    destructive urges is to call for condemnation. 2t is to ma