Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gonzales v Katigbak G.R. No. L-69500 July 22, 1985

CJ Fernando


Antonio Gonzales, president of Malaya Films, claimed that his film Kapit sa Patalim, was rated for adults only by a subcommittee of the movie review board together with the required cuts and scene deletions. He justified that these requirements were without basis and were restrains on artistic expression. He adduced that the film is an integral whole and all its portions, including those to which the Board now offers belated objection, are essential for the integrity of the film. Viewed as a whole, there is no basis even for the vague speculations advanced by the Board as basis for its classification.
He appealed to the movie review board but the same affirmed the decion of the sub committee.
When Gonzales appealed to the supreme court, the board claimed that the deletions were removed and the requirement to submit the master negative was taken out but the film was still rated for adults only. The petition was amended to contest the rating only.

Issue: Was the rating made with grave avuse of discretion (Note I put in those regarding obscenity for future purposes)

Held: No. Petition dismissed. There was no grave abuse of discretion DUE TO LACK OF VOTES

Motion pictures are important both as a medium for the communication of Ideas and the expression of the artistic impulse
Burstyn-importance of motion pictures as an organ of public opinion lessened by the fact that they are designed to entertain as well as to inform
(No clear dividing line between what affords knowledge and that of pleasure or else there will be a diminution to a right to self-expression)
Bagatsing- Press freedom may be identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public concern without censorship or punishment. This is not to say that such freedom, as is the freedom of speech, absolute. It can be limited if "there be a 'clear and present danger of a substantive evil that [the State] has a right to prevent.”
Censorship doesn’t full cover free speech or there might bean emasculation of basic rights. However, there must be in exceptional circumstances a sine qua non for the meaningful exercise of such right without denying the freedom from liability.
Freedom from censorship is a settled principle in our jurisdiction. Mutuc- board of review is limited to classification of films to safeguard other constitutional objections, hence the GP, PG, or R-18 ratings.
That is to abide by the principle that freedom of expression is the rule and restrictions the exemption. The power to exercise prior restraint is not to be presumed, rather the presumption is against its validity
The test, to repeat, to determine whether freedom of expression may be limited is the clear and present danger of an evil of a substantive character that the State has a right to prevent. Such danger must not only be clear but also present. There should be no doubt that what is feared may be traced to the expression complained of. The causal connection must be evident. Also, there must be reasonable apprehension about its imminence. The time element cannot be ignored. Nor does it suffice if such danger be only probable.
Where movies are concerned, censorship, especially so if an entire production is banned, is allowable only under the clearest proof of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil to public public morals, public health or any other legitimate public interest.
Roth- "All Ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox Ideas, controversial Ideas, even Ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of the First Amendment is the rejection of obscenity as utterly without redeeming social importance.”
Given obscenity as the nemesis of censorship, there is difficulty in determining what is obsecene.
Roth- The early leading standard of obscenity allowed material to be judged merely by the effect of an isolated excerpt upon particularly susceptible persons
The test was whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest. Some material can legitimately deal with sex and its effects on susceptible persons. Such a censorship can be considered violative of the constitution. On the other hand, the substituted standard provides safeguards adequate to withstand the charge of constitutional infirmity.
Roth- Sex and obscenity are not synonymous. Obscene material is material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to prurient interest. The portrayal of sex, e.g., in art, literature and scientific works, is not itself sufficient reason to deny material the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and press. Sex, a great and mysterious motive force in human life has indisputably been a subject of absorbing interest to mankind through the ages; it is one of the vital problems of human interest and public concern.
In the Philippine context, E.O. 876 applied contemporary Filipino cultural values as a standard.
Moreover, as far as the question of sex and obscenity are concerned, it cannot be stressed strongly that the arts and letters "shall be under the patronage of the State.
Given this constitutional mandate, It will be less than true to its function if any government office or agency would invade the sphere of autonomy that an artist enjoys. There is no orthodoxy in what passes for beauty or for reality. It is for the artist to determine what for him is a true representation. It is not to be forgotten that art and belleslettres deal primarily with imagination, not so much with ideas in a strict sense. What is seen or perceived by an artist is entitled to respect, unless there is a showing that the product of his talent rightfully may be considered obscene.
On the question of obscenity, therefore, such standard set forth in Executive Order No. 878 is to be construed in such a fashion to avoid any taint of unconstitutionality. To repeat, what was stated in a recent decision in Trinidad- an elementary, a fundamental, and a universal role of construction, applied when considering constitutional questions, that when a law is susceptible of two constructions' one of which will maintain and the other destroy it, the courts will always adopt the former.
There can be no valid objection to the controlling standard.
There was really a grave abuse of discretion when the Board and its perception of what obscenity is is very restrictive.
But, sadly, THERE WERE NOT ENOUGH VOTES TO MAINTAIN THAT THERE WAS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. The supporting evidence was in the fact that some scenes were not for young people. They might misunderstand the scenes.  The respondents offered to make it GP if the petitioners would remove the lesbian and sex scenes. But they refused.
The ruling is to be limited to the concept of obscenity applicable to motion pictures. It is the consensus of this Court that where television is concerned: a less liberal approach calls for observance. This is so because unlike motion pictures where the patrons have to pay their way, television reaches every home where there is a set.
It is hardly the concern of the law to deal with the sexual fantasies of the adult population. It cannot be denied though that the State as parens patriae is called upon to manifest an attitude of caring for the welfare of the young.

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