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#DefendPressFreedom Forum Live Blog here on Feb. 6, 2018, Wednesday at 10am -1:30pm at the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Mass Communication auditorium (see posts, comments section below starting at 10:30am Feb. 6, for the live blog)
my notes: On the constant threats and warnings constantly, consistently, and unceasingly issued by President Duterte against Rappler, the Inquirer, ABS-CBN, and now the U.P. student movement, the President should take heed of what the Supreme Court laid down in the leading case of Chavez vs. DOJ Sec Raul Gonzales G.R. No. 168338, February 15, 2008 on the warnings and threats issued by the then DOJ Secretary and the NTC that they would prosecute and jail all those who played the Hello Garci tapes by applying the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Supreme Court speaking through then Chief Justice Puno held:
CJ Puno: “ xxx It is sufficient that the press statements were made by respondents while in the exercise of their official functions. Undoubtedly, respondent Gonzales made his statements as Secretary of Justice, while the NTC issued its statement as the regulatory body of media. Any act done, such as a speech uttered, for and on behalf of the government in an official capacity is covered by the rule on prior restraint. The concept of an “act” does not limit itself to acts already converted to a formal order or official circular. Otherwise, the non formalization of an act into an official order or circular will result in the easy circumvention of the prohibition on prior restraint. The press statements at bar are acts that should be struck down as they constitute impermissible forms of prior restraints on the right to free speech and press.
“There is enough evidence of chilling effect of the complained acts on record. The warnings given to media came from no less the NTC, a regulatory agency that can cancel the Certificate of Authority of the radio and broadcast media. They also came from the Secretary of Justice, the alter ego of the Executive, who wields the awesome power to prosecute those perceived to be violating the laws of the land. After the warnings, the KBP inexplicably joined the NTC in issuing an ambivalent Joint Press Statement. After the warnings, petitioner Chavez was left alone to fight this battle for freedom of speech and of the press. This silence on the sidelines on the part of some media practitioners is too deafening to be the subject of misinterpretation.
“The constitutional imperative for us to strike down unconstitutional acts should always be exercised with care and in light of the distinct facts of each case. For there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to slippery constitutional questions, and the limits and construct of relative freedoms are never set in stone. Issues revolving on their construct must be decided on a case to case basis, always based on the peculiar shapes and shadows of each case. But in cases where the challenged acts are patent invasions of a constitutionally protected right, we should be swift in striking them down as nullities per se. A blow too soon struck for freedom is preferred than a blow too late.
“xxx (T)he petition is GRANTED. The writs of certiorari and prohibition are hereby issued, nullifying the official statements made by respondents on June 8, and 11, 2005 warning the media on airing the alleged wiretapped conversation between the President and other personalities, for constituting unconstitutional prior restraint on the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. xxx SO ORDERED.”