Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ruiz v Gordon G.R. No. L-65695 December 19, 1983

C. J. Fernando

Hector S. Ruiz, Coordinator of Olongapo Citizen's Alliance for National Reconciliation, filed a petition for mandamus against Richard Gordon to be allowed to hold a parade/march from Gordon Avenue to the Rizal Triangle starting at 1:00 P.M.
The Court required the respondents to answer. Respondents replied by stating the request for a prayer rally was received in the Office of the Mayor and that respondent had repeatedly announced in his regular program on Sunday over the radio (DWGO) and at the Monday morning flag ceremony before hundreds of government employees that he would grant the request of any group that would like to exercise their freedom of speech and assembly.
When interviewed on the matter by the Editor-in Chief of the 'Guardian', he mentioned the fact that he had granted the permit of the petitioner, which interview appeared in the November 22-28, 1983 issue of the said newspaper.
Given these, the respondent prayed for the dismissal of the petition. This was complied with.

Issue: Can the petition be granted?

Held No. Petition dismissed.

The Reyes case was given some discussion in the course of this petition as to the role of the judiciary in petitions for permits to hold peaceable assembles.
"The applicants for a permit to hold an assembly should inform the licensing authority of the date, the public place where and the time when it will take place. If it were a private place, only the consent of the owner or the one entitled to its legal possession is required. Such application should be filed well ahead in time to enable the public official concerned to appraise whether there may be valid objections to the grant of the permit or to its grant but at another public place. It is an indispensable condition to such refusal or modification that the clear and present danger test be the standard for the decision reached. If he is of the view that there is such an imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil, the applicants must be heard on the matter.”
Thereafter, his decision must be transmmitted to them at the earliest opportunity. They can have recourse to the proper judicial authority. Free speech and peaceable assembly, along with the other intellectual freedoms, are highly ranked in our scheme of constitutional values. It cannot be too strongly stressed that on the judiciary, — even more so than on the other departments — rests the grave and delicate responsibility of assuring respect for and deference to such preferred rights.
As shown both in the manifestation and the answer, this action for mandamus could have been obviated if only petitioner took the trouble of verifying on November 23 whether or not a permit had been issued. A party desirous of exercising the right to peaceable assembly should be the one most interested in ascertaining the action taken on a request for a permit. Necessarily, after a reasonable time or, if the day and time was designated for the decision on the request, such party or his representative should be at the office of the public official concerned. If he fails to do so, a copy of the decision reached, whether adverse or favorable, should be sent to the address of petitioner.
Teehankee concurring:
The burden to show the existence of such grave and imminent danger that would justify an adverse action lies on the mayor as the licensing authority. There must be objective and convincing, not subjective or conjectural, proof of the existence of such clear and present danger. As the Court stated in its Resolution of October 25, 1983 in the J. B. L. Reyes case, "It is essential for the validity of a denial of a permit which amounts to a previous restraint or censorship that the licensing authority does not rely solely on his own appraisal of what public welfare, peace or safety may require. To justify such a limitation, there must be proof of such weight and sufficiency to satisfy the clear and present danger test. The possibility that subversives may infiltrate the ranks of the demonstrators is not enough."
As likewise underscored in the J. B. L. Reyes case, the exercise of the right of peaceable assembly is not to be 4 abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place" (at paragraph 6) and "It is the duty of the city authorities to provide the proper police protection to those exercising their right to peaceable assembly and freedom of expression" (at paragraph 7).
J. Conception concurring opinion
9              In order that public officials may not be charged, rightly or wrongly, with dereliction of duty or abuse of powers in the granting or denying of such permits, the following guidelines are deemed necessary:
(a) When a peaceful assembly is to be held in a private lot, house, or edifice, only the consent of the owner of the place is necessary. No permit from the government or any public officer is required.
(b) When an application to hold a rally, parade, or peaceful assembly has to make use of public places like parks, plazas, and streets, the public authority charged with the duty of granting or denying the permit should also consider the convenience and the right of the rest of the public to use and enjoy these same facilities.
(c) Conditions of peace and order in the locality should be carefully considered and precautionary steps taken to prevent vandals, hooligans, provocateurs, and other criminals from turning into a violent one what otherwise should be a peaceful demonstration,

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