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G.R. No. 164785 April 29, 2009 & G.R. No. 165636 April 29, 2009 Eliseo F.

Soriano v Ma. Consoliza P. Laguardia, in her capacity as Chairperson of MTRCB, et.al.

FACTS: In a preliminary conference, MTRCB initially filed a 20-day suspension on Soriano following the affidavitcomplaints by members of the Iglesia ni Cristo against the remarks made by Soriano in his show Dating Daan: 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.1 Soriano filed a motion for reconsideration to the MTRCB and a petition for certiorari and prohibition to SC to nullify said preventive suspension. MTRCB, in reviewing the case and in accordance with Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of PD 1986 and Sec. 7, Rule VII of the MTRCB Rules of Procedure, found Soriano liable for his act and imposed a penalty of a 3-month suspension from his program. Soriano then filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for injunctive relief.

ISSUES and RATIO: Petitioner argues: (1) that Sec. 3 of PD 1986 unduly infringes on the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, speech, and expression. SC refutes: On freedom of religion: The petitioners statements did not convey any particular religious belief, and nothing furthered his avowed evangelical mission. Merely being in a bible exposition program does not automatically entail that statements made are of a religious discourse. he was moved by anger and the need to seek retribution, not by any religious conviction. On freedom of expression: The freedom of expression, as with the other freedoms encased in the Bill of Rights, is, however, not absolute. It may be regulated to some extent to serve important public interests, some forms of speech not being protected. As has been held, the limits of the freedom of expression are reached when the expression touches upon matters of essentially private concern. On freedom of speech: Sorianos statements can be classified somewhat as unprotected speech or low value expression - libelous statements, obscenity or pornography, false or misleading advertisement, insulting or "fighting words", i.e., those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace and expression endangering national security.

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Although his statements cannot be classified obscene in its strict definition, but mere indecent utterances as they can be viewed as figures of speech or merely a play on words, the problem lies in that they were uttered in a TV program that is rated "G" or for general viewership, and in a time slot that would likely reach even the eyes and ears of children. In this sense, Sorianos utterances are obscene and not entitled to protection under the umbrella of freedom of speech. Further, if there is conflict, the concept of balancing interests should be undertaken. Which, of the two interests, demand the greater protection under the particular circumstances presented? In this case, the children need greater protection. (2) that Sec. 3 of PD 1986 unduly infringes on the constitutional guarantee of due process of law and equal protection under the law (a) Petitioner theorizes that the three (3)-month suspension is either prior restraint or subsequent punishment that, however, includes prior restraint, albeit indirectly. What the MTRCB did was permissible restriction on these grounds: 1. indecent speech was made via television which is a "pervasive medium" 2. the broadcast was aired at a time that is likely to have children in the audience Government regulations through the MTRCB became "a necessary evil" with the government taking the role of assigning bandwidth to individual broadcasters. The three-month suspension is not prior restraint because a permit was already issued for the program. It is in the form of permissible administrative sanction or subsequent punishment for the offensive and obscene remarks. It sought to penalize and not bar the petitioner from future speech in other TV programs.

(3) that PD 1986 is not complete in itself and does not provide for a sufficient standard for its implementation thereby resulting in an undue delegation of legislative power by reason that it does not provide for the penalties for violations of its provisions

As we held in Angara v. Electoral Commission, when a general grant of power is conferred or a duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of one or the performance of the other is also conferred by necessary implication. Administrative regulations or "subordinate legislation" calculated to promote the public interest are necessary because of "the growing complexity of modern life, the multiplication of the subjects of governmental regulations, and the increased difficulty of administering the law." On range of imposable penalties: The power to deny or cancel a permit for the exhibition of a TV program or broadcast necessarily includes within its range the lesser power to suspend. However, PD 1986 only applies to the cancellation and suspension of programs and not the people in it.

HELD JUDGMENT AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION of limiting the 3-month suspension to the program Ang Dating Daan

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