Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Freedom of speech and expression protects commercial media, foreign motion pictures

AYER PRODUCTIONS PTY. LTD. and McELROY & McELROY FILM PRODUCTIONS, Petitioners, v. HON. IGNACIO M. CAPULONG and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, Respondents. [G.R. No. L-82380. April 29, 1988.]; and HAL McELROY, Petitioner, v. HON. IGNACIO M. CAPULONG, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 134 and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, Respondents. [G.R. No. L-82398. April 29, 1988.].

See - www.chanrobles.com

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1.       CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION; SCOPE. — The freedom of speech and of expression, includes the freedom to film and produce motion pictures and to exhibit such motion pictures in theaters or to diffuse them through television. In our day and age, motion pictures are a universally utilized vehicle of communication and medium of expression. Along with the press, radio and television, motion pictures constitute a principal medium of mass communication for information, education and entertainment.

2.      ID.; ID.; ID.; AVAILABLE TO FOREIGN-OWNED MOTION PICTURE COMPANIES. — This freedom is available in our country both to locally-owned and to foreign-owned motion picture companies. Furthermore, the circumstance that the production of motion picture films is a commercial activity expected to yield monetary profit, is not a disqualification for availing of freedom of speech and of expression.

3.      ID.; ID.; ID.; COMMERCIAL MEDIA NOT EXCLUDED FROM THE EXERCISE THEREOF. — The circumstance that the production of motion picture films is a commercial activity expected to yield monetary profit, is not a disqualification for availing of freedom of speech and of expression. In our community as in many other countries, media facilities are owned either by the government or the private sector but the private sector-owned media facilities commonly require to be sustained by being devoted in whole or in part to revenue producing activities. Indeed, commercial media constitute the bulk of such facilities available in our country and hence to exclude commercially owned and operated media from the exercise of constitutionally protected freedom of speech and of expression can only result in the drastic contraction of such constitutional liberties in our country.

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6.      ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PRIOR RESTRAINT UPON THE EXERCISE THEREOF PRESUMED INVALID; PREFERRED CHARACTER OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION. — The respondent Judge has restrained petitioners from filming and producing the entire proposed motion picture. It is important to note that in Lagunzad, there was no prior restrain of any kind imposed upon the movie producer who in fact completed and exhibited the film biography of Moises Padilla. Because of the preferred character of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and of expression, a weighty presumption of invalidity vitiates measures of prior restraint upon the exercise of such freedoms.

7.       ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; FILMING OF PROJECTED MOTION PICTURE "THE FOUR DAY REVOLUTION," NOT AN UNLAWFUL INTRUSION THEREOF; DOCTRINE OF CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER UNAVAILING AS FILMING WAS AS YET UNCOMPLETED. — The production and filming by petitioners of the projected motion picture "The Four Day Revolution" does not, in the circumstances of this case, constitute an unlawful intrusion upon private respondent’s "right of privacy." The respondent Judge should have stayed his hand, instead of issuing an ex-parte Temporary Restraining Order one day after filing of a complaint by the private respondent and issuing a Preliminary Injunction twenty (20) days later; for the projected motion picture was as yet uncompleted and hence not exhibited to any audience. Neither private respondent nor the respondent trial Judge knew what the completed film would precisely look like. There was, in other words, no "clear and present danger" of any violation of any right to privacy that private respondent could lawfully assert.

8.      ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SUBJECT MATTER OF FILM IS ONE OF PUBLIC INTEREST AND DOES NOT RELATE TO THE INDIVIDUAL AND PRIVATE LIFE OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT ENRILE. — The subject matter of "The Four Day Revolution" relates to the non-bloody change of government that took place at Epifanio de los Sentos Avenue in February 1986, and the train of events which led up to that denouement. Clearly, such subject matter is one of public interest and concern. Indeed, it is, petitioners’ argue, of international interest. The subject thus relates to a highly critical stage in the history of this country and as such, must be regarded as having passed into the public domain and as an appropriate subject for speech and expression and coverage by any form of mass media. The subject matter, as set out in the synopsis provided by the petitioners and quoted above, does not relate to the individual life and certainly not to the private life of private respondent Ponce Enrile. Unlike in Lagunzad, which concerned the life story of Moises Padilla necessarily including at least his immediate family, what we have here is not a film biography, more or less fictionalized, of private respondent Ponce Enrile. "The Four Day Revolution" is not principally about, nor is it focused upon, the man Juan Ponce Enrile; but it is compelled, if it is to be historical, to refer to the role played by Juan Ponce Enrile in the precipitating and the constituent events of the change of government in February 1986.

9.      ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; INTRUSION IS REASONABLY NECESSARY TO KEEP THE FILM A TRUTHFUL HISTORICAL ACCOUNT. — The extent of the intrusion upon the life of private respondent Juan Ponce Enrile that would be entailed by the production and exhibition of "The Four Day Revolution" would, therefore, be limited in character. The extent of that intrusion, as this Court understands the synopsis of the proposed film, may be generally described as such intrusion as is reasonably necessary to keep that film a truthful historical account. Private respondent does not claim that petitioners threatened to depict in "The Four Day Revolution" any part of the private life of private respondent or that of any member of his family.

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