From wire-tapping, let’s go to inciting to sedition.
The pertinent law, the Revised Penal Code states as follows:
Art. 142. Inciting to sedition. — The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine not exceeding 2,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, without taking any direct part in the crime of sedition, should incite others to the accomplishment of any of the acts which constitute sedition, by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, cartoons, banners, or other representations tending to the same end, or upon any person or persons who shall utter seditious words or speeches, write, publish, or circulate scurrilous libels against the Government of the Philippines, or any of the duly constituted authorities thereof, or which tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office, or which tend to instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes, or which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots, or which lead or tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the Government, or who shall knowingly conceal such evil practices. (As reinstated by E.O. No. 187)
A. Inciting other to the accomplishment of the following acts (that constitute sedition) through speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, etc.
- To prevent the promulgation or execution of any law or the holding of any popular election;
- To prevent the National Government, or any provincial or municipal government or any public officer thereof from freely exercising its or his functions, or prevent the execution of any administrative order;
- To inflict any act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of any public officer or employee;
- To commit, for any political or social end, any act of hate or revenge against private persons or any social class; and
- To despoil, for any political or social end, any person, municipality or province, or the National Government (or the Government of the United States), of all its property or any part thereof.
C. Writing, publishing or circulating scurrilous libels against the Government of the Philippines, or any of the duly constituted authorities thereof which tend to disturb the public peace.
What constitutes acts that tend to disturb the public peace?
They are acts:
- Which tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office,
- Which tend to instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes,
- Which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots,
- Which lead or tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the Government
It means low, vulgar, mean or foul.
What is an accused’s defense against this crime?
Freedom of speech.
This topic may be covered by a separate blog, but there were two tests whether a speech or an utterance is seditious:
a. The Clear and Present Danger Rule
The words must be such that it will create a danger of a public uprising and such danger is clear and imminent.
b. The Dangerous Tendency Rule
The words merely tend to create a danger of public uprising.
These two tests, however, have given way to:
c. The Balancing of Interests rule.
Here, the words are weighed between the so-called “public good” the speech seeks to achieve and the “substantial evil” the law seeks to avoid.
Simply put, all factors in the utterance of the words or speech are considered. If the good the speech achieves outweighs it possible effect of an uprising, the speech is not seditious. If it is the other way around. The accused goes to jail.
What other things do I need to know about this crime?
This is a bailable crime. Anyone arrested for this can post bail to secure provisional liberty (in layman’s terms, to get out of jail while the case is pending).
Again, this is not a continuing offense. Hence, the State needs to secure a warrant before anyone can be arrested for this crime.
Since this is a crime against public order, this is not a probationable offense. Meaning, we’re talking of actual jail time here if convicted.