Pioneering. Paperless 2 Media Law Hist., Philo: Rt Free Press. Basis, Update Rt to Info 2019

Pioneering. Paperless 2 Law on Mass Media.  Historical context, right to a free press, right to free speech. Justice Holmes 1919, Justice Malcolm 1918 

Philippine Supreme Court on right of access to info 1989 to 2019

ABRAMS VS. UNITED STATES

250 U.S. 616  (10 November 1919)

(For students who are text-challenged, the following is a 2-minute animated cartoon-format of the case) (credits: as stated and as embedded on the video)

ABRAMS VS. UNITED STATES

250 U.S. 616  (10 November 1919)

at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/250/616

Excerpted by blog admin

Majority Opinion by Justice Clarke (Excerpts)

(Justice Holmes’ Dissenting appears here after the majority opinion, pls scroll down)

FACTS (excerpted, verbatim): “All of the five defendants were born in Russia; intelligent, had considerable schooling, and, at the time they were arrested, they had lived in the United States terms varying from five to ten years, but none of them had applied for naturalization. Four of them testified as witnesses in their own behalf, and, of these, three frankly avowed that they were “rebels,” “revolutionists,” “anarchists,” that they did not believe in government in any form, and they declared that they had no interest whatever in the Government of the United States. The fourth defendant testified that he was a “socialist,” and believed in “a proper kind of government, not capitalistic,” but, in his classification, the Government of the United States was “capitalistic.”

xxx

“(T)he defendants had united to print and distribute the described circulars, and that five thousand of them had been printed and distributed about the 22nd day of August, 1918. The group had a meeting place in New York City, in rooms rented by defendant Abrams under an assumed name, and there the subject of printing the circulars was discussed about two weeks before the defendants were arrested. The defendant Abrams, although not a printer, on July 27, 1918, purchased the printing outfit with which the circulars were printed, and installed it in a basement room where the work was done at night. The circulars were distributed, some by throwing them from a window of a building where one of the defendants was employed and others secretly, in New York City.xxx

“The first of the two articles attached to the indictment is conspicuously headed, “The Hypocrisy of the United States and her Allies.” After denouncing President Wilson as a hypocrite and a coward because troops were sent into Russia, it proceeds to assail our Government in general, saying:

“His [the President’s] shameful, cowardly silence about the intervention in Russia reveals the hypocrisy of the plutocratic gang in Washington and vicinity.”

It continues:

“He [the President] is too much of a coward to come out openly and say: ‘We capitalistic nations cannot afford to have a proletarian republic in Russia.'”

Among the capitalistic nations, Abrams testified, the United States was included.

Growing more inflammatory as it proceeds, the circular culminates in:

“The Russian Revolution cries: Workers of the World! Awake! Rise! Put down your enemy and mine!”

“Yes! friends, there is only one enemy of the workers of the world and that is CAPITALISM.”

This is clearly an appeal to the “workers” of this country to arise and put down by force the Government of the United States which they characterize as their “hypocritical,” “cowardly” and “capitalistic” enemy.

It concludes:

“Awake! Awake! you Workers of the World!”

“REVOLUTIONISTS”

The second of the articles was printed in the Yiddish language and, in the translation, is headed, “Workers — Wake up.” After referring to “his Majesty, Mr. Wilson, and the rest of the gang; dogs of all colors,” it continues:

“Workers, Russian emigrants, you who had the least belief in the honesty of our Government,” which defendants admitted referred to the United States Government, “must now throw away all confidence, must spit in the face the false, hypocritic, military propaganda which has fooled you so relentlessly, calling forth your sympathy, your help, to the prosecution of the war.”

The purpose of this obviously was to persuade the persons to whom it was addressed to turn a deaf ear to patriotic appeals in behalf of the Government of the United States, and to cease to render it assistance in the prosecution of the war.

It goes on:

“With the money which you have loaned, or are going to loan them, they will make bullets not only for the Germans, but also for the Workers Soviets of Russia. Workers in the ammunition factories, you are producing bullets, bayonets, cannon, to murder not only the Germans, but also your dearest, best, who are in Russia and are fighting for freedom.”

It will not do to say, as is now argued, that the only intent of these defendants was to prevent injury to the Russian cause. Men must be held to have intended, and to be accountable for, the effects which their acts were likely to produce. Even if their primary purpose and intent was to aid the cause of the Russian Revolution, the plan of action which they adopted necessarily involved, before it could be realized, defeat of the war program of the United States, for the obvious effect of this appeal, if it should become effective, as they hoped it might, would be to persuade persons of character such as those whom they regarded themselves as addressing, not to aid government loans, and not to work in ammunition factories where their work would produce “bullets, bayonets, cannon” and other munitions of war the use of which would cause the “murder” of Germans and Russians.

Again, the spirit becomes more bitter as it proceed to declare that —

“America and her Allies have betrayed (the Workers). Their robberish aims are clear to all men. The destruction of the Russian Revolution, that is the politics of the march to Russia.”

“Workers, our reply to the barbaric intervention has to be a general strike! An open challenge only will let the Government know that not only the Russian Worker fights for freedom, but also here in America lives the spirit of Revolution.”xxx

This purpose is emphasized in the next paragraph, which reads:

“Do not let the Government scare you with their wild punishment in prisons, hanging and shooting. We must not and will not betray the splendid fighters of Russia. Workers, up to fight.”

After more of the same kind, the circular concludes:

“Woe unto those who will be in the way of progress. Let solidarity live!”

It is signed, “The Rebels.”

this article concludes:

“Socialists, Anarchists, Industrial Workers of the World, Socialists, Labor party men and other revolutionary organizations, Unite for action, and let us save the Workers’ Republic of Russia,”

“Know you lovers of freedom that, in order to save the Russian revolution, we must keep the armies of the allied countries busy at home.” xxx

The remaining article, after denouncing the resident for what is characterized as hostility to the Russian revolution, continues:

“We, the toilers of America, who believe in real liberty, shall pledge ourselves, in case the United States will participate in that bloody conspiracy against Russia, to create so great a disturbance that the autocrats of America shall be compelled to keep their armies at home, and not be able to spare any for Russia.”

It concludes with this definite threat of armed rebellion:

“If they will use arms against the Russian people to enforce their standard of order, so will we use arms, and they shall never see the ruin of the Russian Revolution.”

The majority concludes: “

ISSUE: Whether or not such utterances/ articles were an exercise of free speech protected by the Constitution?

HELD: The majority held: No.

(the five were sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment); with a dissent from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Ratio Decidendi of the Majority (but see Dissent of J. Holmes): These excerpts sufficiently show that, while the immediate occasion for this particular outbreak of lawlessness on the part of the defendant alien anarchists may have been resentment caused by our Government’s sending troops into Russia as a strategic operation against the Germans on the eastern battle front, yet the plain purpose of their propaganda was to excite, at the supreme crisis of the war, disaffection, sedition, riots, and, as they hoped, revolution, in this country for the purpose of embarrassing, and, if possible, defeating the military plans of the Government in Europe. A technical distinction may perhaps be taken between disloyal and abusive language applied to the form of our government or language intended to bring the form of our government into contempt and disrepute, and language of like character and intended to produce like results directed against the President and Congress, the agencies through which that form of government must function in time of war.

It will not do to say, as is now argued, that the only intent of these defendants was to prevent injury to the Russian cause. Men must be held to have intended, and to be accountable for, the effects which their acts were likely to produce. Even if their primary purpose and intent was to aid the cause of the Russian Revolution, the plan of action which they adopted necessarily involved, before it could be realized, defeat of the war program of the United States, for the obvious effect of this appeal, if it should become effective, as they hoped it might, would be to persuade persons of character such as those whom they regarded themselves as addressing, not to aid government loans, and not to work in ammunition factories where their work would produce “bullets, bayonets, cannon” and other munitions of war the use of which would cause the “murder” of Germans and Russians. Xxx These excerpts sufficiently show that, while the immediate occasion for this particular outbreak of lawlessness on the part of the defendant alien anarchists may have been resentment caused by our Government’s sending troops into Russia as a strategic operation against the Germans on the eastern battle front, yet the plain purpose of their propaganda was to excite, at the supreme crisis of the war, disaffection, sedition, riots, and, as they hoped, revolution, in this country for the purpose of embarrassing, and, if possible, defeating the military plans of the Government in Europe. A technical distinction may perhaps be taken between disloyal and abusive language applied to the form of our government or language intended to bring the form of our government into contempt and disrepute, and language of like character and intended to produce like results directed against the President and Congress, the agencies through which that form of government must function in time of war.

Conviction for violation of the Espionage Act for  conspiring, when the United States was at war with the Imperial Government of Germany, to unlawfully utter, print, write and publish: in the first count, “disloyal, scurrilous and abusive language about the form of Government of the United States;” in the second count, language “intended to bring the form of Government of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely and disrepute;” and in the third count, language “intended to incite, provoke and encourage resistance to the United States in said war,” and  in the fourth count  that the defendants conspired,”when the United States was at war with the Imperial German Government, unlawfully and willfully, by utterance, writing, printing and publication, to urge, incite and advocate curtailment of production of things and products, to-wit, ordnance and ammunition, necessary and essential to the prosecution of the war” is AFFIRMED, with sentences of 20 years imprisonment.

JUSTICE OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES DISSENTING (” xxx (W)hen men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country. xxx but I regret that I cannot put into more impressive words my belief that, in their conviction upon this indictment, the defendants were deprived of their rights under the Constitution …” -Justice Holmes

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/250/616#writing-USSC_CR_0250_0616_ZD

Excerpted by blog admin
Justice Holmes, dissenting (Excerpts)

xxx
“The first of these leaflets says that the President’s cowardly silence about the intervention in Russia reveals the hypocrisy of the plutocratic gang in Washington. xxx that “German militarism combined with allied capitalism to crush the Russian revolution ” — goes on that the tyrants of the world fight each other until they see a common enemy — working class enlightenment, when they combine to crush it, and that now militarism and capitalism combined, though not openly, to crush the Russian revolution. It says that there is only one enemy of the workers of the world, and that is capitalism; that it is a crime for workers of America to fight the workers’ republic of Russia, and ends “Awake! Awake, you Workers of the World, Revolutionists!” A note adds:
“ “It is absurd to call us pro-German. We hate and despise German militarism more than do you hypocritical tyrants. We have more reasons for denouncing German militarism than has the coward of the White House.”
“The other leaflet, headed “Workers — Wake Up,” with abusive language says that America together with the Allies will march for Russia to help the Czecko-Slovaks in their struggle against the Bolshevik, and that this time the hypocrites shall not fool the Russian emigrants and friends of Russia in America. It tells the Russian emigrants that they now must spit in the face of the false military propaganda by which their sympathy and help to the prosecution of the war have been called forth, and says that, with the money they have lent or are going to lend, “they will make bullets not only for the Germans, but also for the Workers Soviets of Russia,” and further,
“ “Workers in the ammunition factories, you are producing bullets, bayonets, cannon, to murder not only the Germans,[p626] but also your dearest, best, who are in Russia and are fighting for freedom.”
“It then appeals to the same Russian emigrants at some length not to consent to the “inquisitionary expedition to Russia,” and says that the destruction of the Russian revolution is “the politics of the march to Russia.” The leaflet winds up by saying “Workers, our reply to this barbaric intervention has to be a general strike!” and, after a few words on the spirit of revolution, exhortations not to be afraid, and some usual tall talk ends, “Woe unto those who will be in the way of progress. Let solidarity live! The Rebels.”
“…(T)hese pronouncements in no way attack the form of government of the United States, or that they do not support either of the first two counts. xxx (T)he suggestion to workers in the ammunition factories that they are producing bullets to murder their dearest, and the further advocacy of a general strike, both in the second leaflet, do urge curtailment of production of things necessary to the prosecution of the war xxx But to make the conduct criminal, that statute requires that it should be “with intent by such curtailment to cripple or hinder the United States in the prosecution of the war.” It seems to me that no such intent is proved.
“ … (T)he word intent … means no more than knowledge at the time of the act that the consequences said to be intended will ensue. xxx But, when words are used exactly, a deed is not done with intent… unless the aim to produce it is the proximate motive of the specific act, although there may be some deeper motive behind.
“It seems to me that this statute must be taken to use its words in a strict and accurate sense. xxx They would be absurd in any other. A patriot xxx might advocate curtailment with success, yet, even if it turned out that the curtailment hindered and was thought by other minds to have been obviously likely to hinder the United States in the prosecution of the war, no one would hold such conduct a crime. xxx (L)et me pass to a more important aspect of the case. I refer to the First Amendment to the Constitution, that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.
“xxx (T)he United States constitutionally may punish speech that produces or is intended to produce a clear and imminent danger that it will bring about forthwith certain substantive evils that the United States constitutionally may seek to prevent. The power undoubtedly is greater in time of war than in time of peace, because war opens dangers that do not exist at other times.
“But, as against dangers peculiar to war, as against others, the principle of the right to free speech is always the same. It is only the present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion xxx Congress certainly cannot forbid all effort to change the mind of the country. Now nobody can suppose that the surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet by an unknown man, without more, would present any immediate danger that its opinions would hinder the success of the government arms or have any appreciable tendency to do so. xxx An intent to prevent interference with the revolution in Russia might have been satisfied without any hindrance to carrying on the war in which we were engaged.
“xxx (I)t is evident , it is evident from the beginning to the end that the only object of the paper is to help Russia and stop American intervention there against the popular government — not to impede the United States in the war that it was carrying on…
“(R)esistance to the United States means some forcible act of opposition to some proceeding of the United States in pursuance of the war. I think the intent must be the specific intent xxx no such intent was proved or existed in fact. xxx there is no hint at resistance to the United States xxx
“(T)wenty years’ imprisonment have been imposed for the publishing of two leaflets that I believe the defendants had as much right to publish as the Government has to publish the Constitution of the United States now vainly invoked by them. Even if I am technically wrong, and enough can be squeezed from these poor and puny anonymities to turn the color of legal litmus paper, I will add, even if what I think the necessary intent were shown, the most nominal punishment seems to me all that possibly could be inflicted, unless the defendants are to be made to suffer not for what the indictment alleges, but for the creed that they avow — a creed that I believe to be the creed of ignorance and immaturity when honestly held xxx
“Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country. xxx but I regret that I cannot put into more impressive words my belief that, in their conviction upon this indictment, the defendants were deprived of their rights under the Constitution of the United States.
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS concurs with the foregoing opinion.

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US vs. Bustos et al

G.R. No. L-12592 ( 8 March 1918)

at: https://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1918/mar1918/gr_l-12592_1918.html

EXCERPTED BY BLOG ADMIN

     Justice Malcolm  (“Turning to the pages of history, we state nothing new when we set down that freedom of speech as cherished in democratic countries was unknown in the Philippine Islands before 1900. A prime cause for revolt was consequently ready made. xxx

The interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Completely liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public officer must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts. Only thus can the intelligence and the dignity of the individual be exalted.”)

Justice Malcolm (excerpts)

xxx

“xxx In the latter part of 1915, numerous citizens of the Province of Pampanga assembled, and prepared and signed a petition to the Executive Secretary through the law office of Crossfield and O’Brien, and five individuals signed affidavits, charging Roman Punsalan, justice of the peace of Macabebe and Masantol, Pampanga, with malfeasance in office and asking for his removal. xxx Briefly stated the specific charges against the justice of the peace were.

“1.That Francisca Polintan, desiring to make complaint against Mariano de los Reyes, visited the justice of the peace, who first told her that he would draw up complaint for P5; afterwards he said he would take P3 which she paid; also kept her in the house for four days as a servant and took from her two chickens and twelve “gandus;”

“2.That Valentin Sunga being interested in a case regarding land which was on trial before the justice of the peace, went to see the justice of the peace to ascertain the result of the trial, and was told by the justice of the peace that if he wished to win he must give him P50. Not having this amount, Sunga gave the justice nothing, and a few days later was informed that he had lost the case. Returning again to the office of the justice of the peace in order to appeal, the justice told him that he could still win if he would pay P50;

“3.That Leoncio Quiambao, having filed a complaint for assault against four persons, on the day of the trial the justice called him over to his house, where he secretly gave him (Quiambao) P30; and the complaint was thereupon shelved

xxx

“xxx Criminal action against the petitioners, now become the defendants, was instituted on October 12, 1916, by virtue of the following information:

“That on or about the month of December, 1915, in the municipality of Macabebe, Pampanga, P. I., the said accused, voluntarily, illegally, and criminally and with malicious intent to prejudice and defame Mr. Roman Punsalan Serrano xxx

xxx

(W)e feel warranted in seizing the opportunity to intrude an introductory and general discussion of freedom of speech and press and assembly and petition in the Philippine Islands. We conceive that the time is ripe thus to clear up certain misapprehensions on the subject and to place these basic rights in their proper light.

xxx

“Turning to the pages of history, we state nothing new when we set down that freedom of speech as cherished in democratic countries was unknown in the Philippine Islands before 1900. A prime cause for revolt was consequently ready made. Jose Rizal in “Filipinas Despues de Cien Años” (The Philippines a Century Hence, pages 62 et seq.) describing “the reforms sine quibus non,” which the Filipinos insist upon, said: “

      “ “The minister, . . . who wants his reforms to be reforms, must begin by declaring the press in the Philippines free and by instituting Filipinos delegates.

“The Filipino patriots in Spain, through the columns of “La Solidaridad” and by other means invariably in exposing the wants of the Filipino people demanded “liberty of the press, of cults, and associations.” (See Mabini, La Revolucion Filipina.) The Malolos Constitution, the work of the Revolutionary Congress, in its Bill of Rights, zealously guarded freedom of speech and press and assembly and petition.

“Mention is made of the foregoing data only to deduce the proposition that a reform so sacred to the people of these Islands and won at so dear a cost, should now be protected and carried forward as one would protect and preserve the covenant of liberty itself.

“Next comes the period of American-Filipino cooperative effort. The Constitution of the United States and the State constitutions guarantee to the right of freedom of speech and press and the right of assembly and petition. We are therefore, not surprised to find President McKinley in that Magna Charta of Philippine Liberty, the Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission, of April 7, 1900, laying down the inviolable rule “That no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

“The Philippine Bill, the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, and the Jones Law, the Act of Congress of August 29, 1916, in the nature of organic acts for the Philippines, continued this guaranty. The words quoted are not unfamiliar to students of Constitutional Law, for they are the counterpart of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which the American people demanded before giving their approval to the Constitution.

“We mention the foregoing facts only to deduce the position never to be forgotten for an instant that the guaranties mentioned are part and parcel of the Organic Law — of the Constitution — of the Philippine Islands.

“These paragraphs found in the Philippine Bill of Rights are not threadbare verbiage. The language carries with all the applicable jurisprudence of great English and American Constitutional cases. (Kepner vs. U. S. [1904], 195 U. S., 100; Serra vs. Mortiga [1907], 204 U. S., 470.) And what are these principles? Volumes would inadequately answer. But included are the following:

“The interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Completely liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public officer must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts. Only thus can the intelligence and the dignity of the individual be exalted. Of course, criticism does not authorize defamation. Nevertheless, as the individual is less than the State, so must expected criticism be born for the common good. Rising superior to any official or set of officials, to the Chief of Executive, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary — to any or all the agencies of Government — public opinion should be the constant source of liberty and democracy. (See the well considered cases of Wason vs. Walter, 4 L. R. 4 Q. B., 73; Seymour vs. Butterworth, 3F. and F., 372; The Queen vs. Sir R. Carden, 5 Q. B. D., 1)

“The guaranties of a free speech and a free press include the right to criticize judicial conduct. The administration of the law is a matter of vital public concern. Whether the law is wisely or badly enforced is, therefore, a fit subject for proper comment. If the people cannot criticize a justice of the peace or a judge the same as any other public officer, public opinion will be effectively muzzled. Attempted terrorization of public opinion on the part of the judiciary would be tyranny of the basest sort. The sword of Damocles in the hands of a judge does not hang suspended over the individual who dares to assert his prerogative as a citizen and to stand up bravely before any official. On the contrary, it is a duty which every one owes to society or to the State to assist in the investigation of any alleged misconduct. It is further the duty of all who know of any official dereliction on the part of a magistrate or the wrongful act of any public officer to bring the facts to the notice of those whose duty it is to inquire into and punish them. In the words of Mr. Justice Gayner, who contributed so largely to the law of libel. “The people are not obliged to speak of the conduct of their officials in whispers or with bated breath in a free government, but only in a despotism.” (Howarth vs. Barlow [1906], 113 App. Div., N. Y., 510.)

“The right to assemble and petition is the necessary consequence of republican institutions and the complement of the part of free speech. Assembly means a right on the part of citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs. Petition means that any person or group of persons can apply, without fear of penalty, to the appropriate branch or office of the government for a redress of grievances. The persons assembling and petitioning must, of course, assume responsibility for the charges made.

“Public policy, the welfare of society, and the orderly administration of government have demanded protection for public opinion. The inevitable and incontestable result has been the development and adoption of the doctrine of privilege.

“The doctrine of privileged communications rests upon public policy, ‘which looks to the free and unfettered administration of justice, though, as an incidental result, it may in some instances afford an immunity to the evil-disposed and malignant slanderer.’ (Abbott vs. National Bank of Commerce, Tacoma [1899], 175 U. S., 409, 411.)

xxx

“ xxx Good faith surrounded their action. Probable cause for them to think that malfeasance or misfeasance in office existed is apparent. The ends and the motives of these citizens— to secure the removal from office of a person thought to be venal — were justifiable. In no way did they abuse the privilege. These respectable citizens did not eagerly seize on a frivolous matter but on instances which not only seemed to them of a grave character, but which were sufficient in an investigation by a judge of first instance to convince him of their seriousness xxx”

xxx

“ xxx We find the defendants and appellants entitled to the protection of the rules concerning qualified privilege, growing out of constitutional guaranties in our bill of rights. Instead of punishing citizens for an honest endeavor to improve the public service, we should rather commend them for their good citizenship. The defendants and appellants are acquitted with the costs de officio. So ordered.”

Arellano, C.J., Johnson, Araullo, Street, and Fisher, JJ., concur.

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RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES OF MEDIA PRACTITIONERS

RIGHT OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC CONCERN

WHAT CONSTITUTES PUBLIC RECORDS

Notes of marichulambino on what constitutes “public records”:

Constitutional basis: Art. III Sec. 7: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

Public records include documents required by law to be published, documents  in the custody of government agencies charged by law with the upkeep of such records, documents affecting public funds, official transcript on the workings of government, documents evidencing rights to property,  the grant of status, rights and privileges, etc.but excluding records and documents that contain personal information as defined under the Data Privacy Act.

PUBLIC RECORDS include the following (categorization  by marichulambino, this enumeration is not exclusive and not exhaustive)

  1. Documents affecting public funds,

The  official transcript on the workings of government, etc. such as:

  1. records containing information on foreign loans;

  2. records & books of account of the three branches of government and all their departments and offices

  3. the COA audit of such records and books of account

  4. bidding documents, government contracts, government vouchers

  5. Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth

  6. the Journal of Congress

  1. Documents affecting Property:

  2. Land title registration records

  3. mortgage registration records

  4. articles of incorporation/ corporate gen info sheets

  5. shares of stocks registration records

  6. business  registration records & permits

  7. vehicle registration records

  1. Documents affecting rights and privileges or status, etc.

  2. court records

14.Big data from election records but excluding personal info under the Data Privacy Act

15.Big data from government agencies affecting employees’ rights and privileges but excluding personal info under the Data Privacy Act

16.Immigration records of public officials, etc

  1. records  of grant of drivers licenses

  2. records of grant of firearm licenses & permits

  3. the police blotter (except for rape, etc. and crimes involving minors)

  4. Subject to limits provided by laws and administrative regulations and excluding personal info: Big data from on births, marriages, deaths

  5. affidavits and notarial records of notaries public

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VALMONTE vs. BELMONTE

read the original at : https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1989/feb1989/gr_74930_1989.html

The digest that will be uploaded by the student has not been edited or corrected by the handling faculty and is not necessarily endorsed to the public (yen, pls post it under the comments section. tnx.)

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2018-2019 Update on the right of access to information on matters of public concern

ANCILLARY ORDER: SUPREME COURT RESOLUTION DATED APRIL 2, 2019
[discussing, in part, the scope of the right of access to information on matters of public concern (not yet case law until incorporated in a main decision, governs only the parties, main petition pending) ]

Pending Petition for the Writ of Amparo and Prohibition in Almora et al vs. de la Rosa as PNP Chief, et al G.R. No 234484 G.R. No. 234359 (pending)
Pending Petition for the Writ of Amparo and Prohibition in Daño et al vs. PNP et al, G.R. No 234484 (pending)
DIGEST OF THE FACTS RELEVANT
TO THE SUPREME COURT RESOLUTION DATED APRIL 2, 2019

FACTS RELEVANT TO THE RESOLUTION:

1)(not stated in the Reso) Aileen Almora, sister of Ryan Dave Almora who was killed in a drug operation; Rowena Appari, mother of Rex Appari who was killed in a tokhang operation in their home; and Jefferson Soriano, who was shot several times in a drug operation and survived, filed a Petition for the Writ of Amparo and for Prohibition against the PNP and then PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa on Oct. 11, 2017 to stop the tokhang operations and Project Double Barrel, among other reliefs prayed for, on grounds of constitutionality. Sr Ma. Juanita R. Daño et al of the RGS, RSW, filed a similar petition a few days later.
2)(summarized from the Reso): After the oral arguments November 2017 thru July 2018, the Supreme Court issued an Order instructing the OSG to submit, which it did submit but to the Court only, the following documents:
a.30 case folders of cases of 30 or more persons who had been killed by the police during its Operation Tokhang, its drug buy-bust operations, and other drug raids and operations
b.17 Summaries of Administrative Cases of policemen on Anti-Illegal Drugs Operations;
c.280 CDs containing the lists and names of victims per case folders of Homicide Cases Under Investigation;
d. copy of Double Barrel Alpha or Command Memorandum Circular No. 01-2017; statistics on PNP Internal Cleansing and Process Flow on Handling Complaints;
e. list of Arrested Chinese and Filipino-Chinese for 2003-2017; number of buy-bust incidents in San Andres Bukid from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017; drug watch lists in Sta. Ana, Manila; list of names of Chinese nationals arrested and their participation and charges filed against them from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017; list of wanted listed drugs personalities arrested from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017;
f. list of warrantless arrests operations from July l, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017; list of drug Personalities who died in PDEA-initiated anti-drug operations from July l, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017;
g.and official circulars, memoranda, executive orders, directives, manuals, and reports in relation to the drug operations.
Petitioners were not furnished copies of said documents. On July 25, 2018, the Free Legal Assistance Group representing the petitioners wrote the Supreme Court to ask for copies of said documents. The Court granted petitioners’ request in a Resolution of Aug. 14, 2018.

4)The OSG in its Motion for Reconsideration of said Reso argued it could not provide copies of said documents to petitioners, further arguing that: the documents are irrelevant to the issues; they contained very sensitive information with law enforcement and national security implications; they do not directly relate to the constitutional issue presented.
5)The parties exchanged motions, comments, and replies.
ISSUE IN THIS RESOLUTION: Whether or not petitioners are entitled to copies of said documents (see enumeration in the original text of 57 Annexes containing said documents summarized above)
HELD: Yes, petitioners are entitled to copies of said documents.
RD: The Supreme Court pointed out that:
“The OSG arrogated upon itself the determination of the relevance of the documents to the issues involved in the present petitions xxx
“(T)he determination of whether particular evidence is relevant rests largely at the discretion of this Court. xxx [c]ontrary to the claim of the Solicitor General, the requested information and documents do not obviously involve state secrets affecting national security. The information and documents relate to routine police operations involving violations of laws against the sale or use of illegal drugs. There is no showing that the country’s territorial integrity, national sovereignty, independence, or foreign relations will be compromised or prejudiced by the release of these information and documents to this Court or even to the public. These information and documents do not involve rebellion, invasion, terrorism, espionage, infringement of our sovereignty or sovereign rights by foreign powers, or any military, diplomatic or state secret involving national security. It is simply ridiculous to claim that these information and documents on police operations against drug pushers and users involve national security matters. ”
The Supreme Court also clarified that: “The OSG did not state any basis, either factual or legal, as to how the documents contain very sensitive information with law enforcement and national security implications, and as to how the said documents do not relate to the constitutional issue in the present petition for prohibition. The OSG merely made a hasty conclusion that “[ r ]equiring the respondents to produce the alleged documents would amount to a premature and virtual grant of the relief prayed for by the petitioners…”
The Court declared that: “(T)his Court is also mandated to protect and enforce the people’s right to information.
“… Article III, Section 7 states that ‘[t]he right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions x x x shall be afforded the citizen x x x.’

“The undeniable fact that thousands of ordinary citizens have been killed, and continue to be killed, during police drug operations certainly is a matter of grave public concern. …Thus, sound factual and legal bases mandate the OSG to comply with our Resolution dated 14 August 2018, without any qualification.” The OSG is directed to furnish Petitioners with copies of said documents. – Supreme Court

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