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Espuelas vs People
G.R. No. L-2990
December 17, 1951
On June 9 and June 24, 1947, both dates inclusive, in the town of Tagbilaran, Bohol, Oscar Espuelas y Mendoza had his picture taken, making it to appear as if he were hanging lifeless at the end of a piece of rope suspended form the limb of the tree, when in truth and in fact, he was merely standing on a barrel. After securing copies of his photograph, Espuelas sent copies of same to Free Press, the Evening News, the Bisayas, Lamdang of general circulation and other local periodicals in the Province of Bohol but also throughout the Philippines and abroad, for their publication with a suicide note or letter, wherein he made to appear that it was written by a fictitious suicide, Alberto Reveniera and addressed to the latter's supposed wife translation of which letter or note, stating his dismay and administration of President Roxas, pointing out the situation in Central Luzon and Leyte, and directing his wife his dear wife to write to President Truman and Churchill of US and tell them that in the Philippines the government is infested with many Hitlers and Mussolinis.
Whether the accused is liable of seditious libel under Art. 142 of the RPC against the Government of the Philippines?
Yes. The accused must therefore be found guilty as charged. And there being no question as to the legality of the penalty imposed on him, the decision will be affirmed with costs.
Analyzed for meaning and weighed in its consequences, the article written bybthe accused, cannot fail to impress thinking persons that it seeks to sow the seeds of sedition and strife. The infuriating language is not a sincere effort to persuade, what with the writer's simulated suicide and false claim to martyrdom and what with is failure to particularize. When the use irritating language centers not on persuading the readers but on creating disturbances, the rationable of free speech cannot apply and the speaker or writer is removed from the protection of the constitutional guaranty.
If it be argued that the article does not discredit the entire governmental structure but only President Roxas and his men, the reply is that article 142 punishes not only all libels against the Government but also "libels against any of the duly constituted authorities thereof." The "Roxas people" in the Government obviously refer of least to the President, his Cabinet and the majority of legislators to whom the adjectives dirty, Hitlers and Mussolinis were naturally directed. On this score alone the conviction could be upheld.
Regarding the publication, it suggests or incites rebellious conspiracies or riots and tends to stir up people against the constituted authorities, or to provoke violence from opposition who may seek to silence the writer. Which is the sum and substance of the offense under consideration.
The essence of seditious libel may be said to its immediate tendency to stir up general discontent to the pitch of illegal courses; that is to say to induce people to resort to illegal methods other than those provided by the Constitution, in order to repress the evils which press upon their minds.
Case Digest by: cbcabalza2010