Blog Lecture No. 13: Unlawful Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances

Ok class! Let’s discuss the crime of unlawful means of publication and unlawful utterances.

These crimes are defined under the Revised Penal Code (Act No. 3815, not Republic Act No. 154. I checked RA 154 and it is a 1947 law that presecribes certain privileges to veterans taking the Civil Service Examinations). Anyway, it states:

Art. 154. Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine ranging from P200 to P1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon:

1. Any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State;

2. Any person who by the same means, or by words, utterances or speeches shall encourage disobedience to the law or to the constituted authorities or praise, justify, or extol any act punished by law;

3. Any person who shall maliciously publish or cause to be published any official resolution or document without proper authority, or before they have been published officially; or

4. Any person who shall print, publish, or distribute or cause to be printed, published, or distributed books, pamphlets, periodicals, or leaflets which do not bear the real printer’s name, or which are classified as anonymous.

What are the acts punished under this law?

They are:

  1. Publishing false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State.
  2. Publishing or uttering or making speeches that encourage disobedience to the law or to the constituted authorities or that praise, justify, or extol any act punished by law.
  3. Maliciously publishing any official resolution or document without proper authority, or before they have been published officially.
  4. Publishing or distributing books, pamphlets, periodicals, or leaflets which do not bear the real printer’s name, or which are classified as anonymous.
Can you give me an example of each?

Sure.

1. A newspaper publishes a news item headlined “Invasion!” and reports that aliens have invaded the planet when it was not true (or was just a plug for “War of the Worlds” featuring Tom Cruise who apparently swept Katie Holmes off her feet…I’m digressing again…) and caused a panic among the masses.

2. A publication or speech encouraging the people not to pay taxes or extolling the virtues of a known criminal and/or criminal activities.

3. Malicious publication of a “proclamation declaring martial law” when there is none or before it was official. Note the word “malicious” and hence, the malice is an essential element of the crime and must be proven.

4. Publication/distribution of a “manifesto” without the real printer’s name or was published under “anonymous.”

Any application to “President Evil”?

As I have seen, none. The depiction is clearly a metaphor and is no different from the effigies being burned during demonstrations. There is no false news there because it was just an channel to redress grievances.

There is no encouragement to disobedience to the law or to duly constituted authorities because (as I have glimpsed on the poster) there isn’t any call to any action. And even if there was, the accused can always argue that the “authority” was not duly constituted in the first place…(oh how my mind wanders….)

The last two acts are completely inapplicable to this issue.

What’s a better charge?

Libel, if there was an imputation of a crime, vice, defect, etc. (please refer to my first blog lecture here) in those “President Evil” posters. Of course, one can argue that saying President Evil is already libelous because it implies that the president is evil. Or if you further allude to the movie and/or Capcom hit video game, the poster may have implied that the president is a vile, gory, blood-thirsty zombie (again, libelous and also yucky!). But the aggrieved party must file the complaint first before the authorities can go-a-raiding printing presses or go-a-confiscating posters.

What is arresto mayor?

No, it does not mean the mayor will be arrested or you’re in for a major arrest. It is a type of penaltly of imprisonment imposed by the Revised Penal Code, with a period ranging from one month and one day to six months, plus the accessory penalties that go with it.

Hence, this is bailable and probationable and with the the speed of the justice system here, one would have served the penalty way before the judge has decided on the case.

What can be said to the agents that conducted the raid?

“Can you spell ‘MALICIOUS PROSECUTION’, ‘ACTUAL, MORAL, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES’ and ‘ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGES'”?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Blog Lecture No. 13: Unlawful Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances

  1. JP

    Very informative Punzi. I believe readers must be charged for your expert advice. HEHEHE!

    BLOG ON!

  2. Thanks, JP. Don’t worry about us, we get by…

  3. btuQueen

    Mr.Punzi,
    Bloggers like you are the reason why it has become a part of my daily routine to check out web blogs everyday rather than read the papers or watch the news or listen to so called political analysts. I visit Manolo’s web blog everyday and from there, he leads me to truly informative yet entertaining blogs like yours, among others. Reading your blogs has somehow enriched me mentally. More power to you and people like you!

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