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TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND BROADCAST ATTORNEYS OF THE PHILS. VS. COMELEC [289 SCRA 337; G.R.

NO. 132922; 21 APR 1998]


Facts: Petitioner Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines, Inc. (TELEBAP) is an organization
of lawyers of radio and television broadcasting companies. It was declared to be without legal standing to sue in this
case as, among other reasons, it was not able to show that it was to suffer from actual or threatened injury as a result
of the subject law. Petitioner GMA Network, on the other hand, had the requisite standing to bring the constitutional
challenge. Petitioner operates radio and television broadcast stations in the Philippines affected by the enforcement
of Section 92, B.P. No. 881.
Petitioners challenge the validity of Section 92, B.P. No. 881 which provides:
Comelec Time- The Commission shall procure radio and television time to be known as the Comelec Time which
shall be allocated equally and impartially among the candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and television
stations. For this purpose, the franchise of all radio broadcasting and television stations are hereby amended so as to
provide radio or television time, free of charge, during the period of campaign.
Petitioner contends that while Section 90 of the same law requires COMELEC to procure print space in newspapers
and magazines with payment, Section 92 provides that air time shall be procured by COMELEC free of charge. Thus
it contends that Section 92 singles out radio and television stations to provide free air time.
Petitioner claims that it suffered losses running to several million pesos in providing COMELEC Time in connection
with the 1992 presidential election and 1995 senatorial election and that it stands to suffer even more should it be
required to do so again this year. Petitioners claim that the primary source of revenue of the radio and television
stations is the sale of air time to advertisers and to require these stations to provide free air time is to authorize unjust
taking of private property. According to petitioners, in 1992 it lost P22,498,560.00 in providing free air time for one
hour each day and, in this years elections, it stands to lost P58,980,850.00 in view of COMELECs requirement that it
provide at least 30 minutes of prime time daily for such.
Issues:
(1) Whether of not Section 92 of B.P. No. 881 denies radio and television broadcast companies the equal protection
of the laws.
(2) Whether or not Section 92 of B.P. No. 881 constitutes taking of property without due process of law and without
just compensation.
Held: Petitioners argument is without merit. All broadcasting, whether radio or by television stations, is licensed by
the government. Airwave frequencies have to be allocated as there are more individuals who want to broadcast that
there are frequencies to assign. Radio and television broadcasting companies, which are given franchises, do not
own the airwaves and frequencies through which they transmit broadcast signals and images. They are merely given
the temporary privilege to use them. Thus, such exercise of the privilege may reasonably be burdened with the
performance by the grantee of some form of public service. In granting the privilege to operate broadcast stations and
supervising radio and television stations, the state spends considerable public funds in licensing and supervising
them.

The argument that the subject law singles out radio and television stations to provide free air time as against
newspapers and magazines which require payment of just compensation for the print space they may provide is
likewise without merit. Regulation of the broadcast industry requires spending of public funds which it does not do in
the case of print media. To require the broadcast industry to provide free air time for COMELEC is a fair exchange for
what the industry gets.

As radio and television broadcast stations do not own the airwaves, no private property is taken by the requirement
that they provide air time to the COMELEC.

OSMENA V. COMELEC
GR NO. 132231
31 MARCH 1998
MENDOZA, J.
FACTS: Emilio Osmena and Pablo Garcia, candidates for public office in the 1998 elections, seek to invalidate
provision of RA 6646 (Electoral Reform Law of 1987), which prohibits mass media from selling or giving free of
charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes, except to the COMELEC. They contend that
the ban has not only failed to level the playing field, but actually worked to the grave disadvantage of the poor
candidates by depriving them of a medium which they can afford to pay while their affluent rivals can always resort to
other means of reaching voters.
ISSUE: W/N the ad ban is constitutional.
RULING: YES. There is actually no suppression of political ads but only a regulation of time and manner of
advertising. The term political ad ban is actually misleading, as although the provision prohibits the sale or donation
of print space and air time to political candidates, it mandates the COMELEC to procure and itself allocate to the
candidates space and time in the media. In this case, there is no total ban on political ads, much less restriction on
the content of the speech.

ABSCBN v. COMELEC
GR No. 133486
28 January 2000
Panganiban, J.
FACTS: COMELEC passed a resolution issuing a restraining order on ABSCBN from conducting exit polls after the
1998 elections, upon the belief that such project might conflict with the official COMELEC count, as well as the
unofficial quick count of the Namfrel. ABSCBN prayed for a TRO against the COMELEC resolution, which was
granted by the court. The exit polls were then actually conducted and reported by the media without any difficulty or
problem.
ISSUES:
W/N the freedoms of speech and of the press also protect the holding of exit polls and the dissemination of data
derived therefrom.
W/N the COMELECs absolute ban on exit polling is valid.
RULING:
YES. The freedoms of speech and of the press should be upheld when what is sought to be curtailed is the
dissemination of information meant to add meaning to the equally vital right of suffrage. When faced with borderline
situations in which the freedom of a candidate to speak or the freedom of the electorate to know is invoked against
actions allegedly made to assure clean and free elections, this Court shall lean in favor of freedom. For in the ultimate
analysis, the freedom of the citizen and the States power to regulate should not be antagonistic. There can be no
free and honest elections if, in the efforts to maintain them, the freedom to speak and the right to know are unduly
curtailed.
NO. The assailed COMELEC resolution is too broad, since its application without qualification as to whether the
polling is disruptive or not. Concededly, the Omnibus Election Code prohibits disruptive behavior around the voting
centers. There is no showing, however, that exit polls or the means to interview voters cause chaos in voting centers.
Neither has any evidence been presented proving that the presence of exit poll reporters near an election precinct
tends to create disorder or confuse the voters.
Dissent: Kapunan, J.
The clear-and-present danger test is not a sovereign remedy for all free speech problems. It was originally formulated
for the criminal law and only later appropriated for free speech cases. To apply the said test to regulatory measures
would be like using a sledgehammer to drive a nail when a regular hammer is all that is needed.
Doctrinally, the Court has always ruled in favor of the freedom of expression, and any restriction is treated an
exemption. Any act that restrains speech should be greeted with furrowed brows. A government regulation is
sufficiently justified if:

1.
2.
3.
4.

It is within the constitutional power of the government;


It furthers an important or substantial government interest;
The government interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression;
The incidental restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is no greater than is essential to the
furtherance of that interest.

Even though the governments purposes are legitimate and substantial, they cannot be pursued by means that
broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties, when the end can be more narrowly achieved.

Laban v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 161265. February 24, 2004


Facts: Prior to the MAy 2004 elections, the LAban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) has been divided because of a
struggle of authority between Party Chair Edgardo Angara and Part Secretary General Agapito Aquino, both having
endorsed two differentsets of candidates under the same party, LDP.
The matter was brought to the COMELEC. The Commission in its resolution, has recognized the factions creating two
sub-parties: LDP Angara Wing and LDP Aquino Wing.
Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC committed a grave abuse of discretion in recognizing the two sets of
nominations and endosements by the same party.
Held: The COMELEC erred in its resolution. Only those Certificates of Candidacy (COC) signed by the LDP Party
Chairman Angara or his duly authorized representative/s shall be recognized.