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G. R. No. L 18463, October 4, 1922
On September 7, 1920, Gregorio Perfecto published an editorial for the newspaper
La Nacion, about the loss of documents in the Senate. The said documents were
records of witness testimonies regarding the investigation of Oil Companies. The
Philippine Senate deemed the editorial of Mr. Perfecto to be libellous and in direct
violation of Article 256 of the Spanish Penal Code, which states, "Any person who,
by word, deed, or writing, shall defame, abuse, or insult any Minister of
the Crown or other person in authority, while engaged in the performance
of official duties, or by reason of such performance, provided that the
offensive minister or person, or the offensive writing be not addressed to
him, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor,". Defendant argued whether
Article 256 is still in force with the new American occupation. Defendant was found
guilty in the municipal court and also in the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Whether or not Mr. Gregorio Perfecto violated Article 256 of the Spanish Penal Code
No. It is a general principle that whenever there is acquisition of new territory, the
previous political relations are totally abrogated, although some laws from the
Spanish Penal Code are still used in force, it was only done so because of
convenience. However, with the new American occupation all laws that are
inconsistent with the democratic nature of the new government are displaced
without the need for any declaration.
Article 256 is a law that is monarchical in nature, aiming to protect ministers of the
crown and persons of authority as representatives of the king of Spain, upholding
said officials as higher from the general population and protecting them from
contemptuous or dissatisfied statement from the public. It is completely against the
nature and the spirit of the American System of Government which states that
every man is a sovereign, a ruler and a freeman, and has equal right with every
other man.