Saturday, April 7, 2012

Villar v TIP G.R. No. L-69198 April 17, 1985

CJ Fernando
"extraordinary legal and equitable remedies with prayer for preliminary mandatory injunction," which this Court considered as a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition

In Malabanan v. Ramento, it was held that respect for the constitutional rights of peaceable assembly and free speech calls for a negative answer. If that were then, the petitioners are entitled to the remedy prayed for. There is, however, this other circumstance to be taken into consideration. In the opposition to the petition for preliminary mandatory injunction, reference was made to the academic records of petitioners.
Two of the petitioners, Rufino G. Salcon, Jr., and Romeo L. Guilatco, Jr., had only one failing grade each, with the first having failed in only one subject in either semester of 1984-1985 schoolyear and the second having failed in only one subject, having passed in eight other subjects in the 1984-1985 schoolyear. Petitioner Venecio Villar failed in two subjects but passed in four subjects in the first semester of the academic year, 1983-1984. Petitioner Inocencio F. Recitis passed all his subjects in the first semester of 19831984 schoolyear and had one failing grade during its second semester. He had two failing grades during the first semester of 1984-1985 schoolyear. Petitioner Noverto Barreto, had five failing grades in the first semester of schoolyear 1983-1984, six failing grades in the second semester of the same schoolyear, and six failing grades in the first semester of 1984-1985 schoolyear. Petitioner Edgardo de Leon, Jr., had three failing grades, one passing grade and one subject dropped in the first semester of schoolyear 1984-1985. Petitioner Regloben Laxamana had five failing grades with no passing grade in the first semester of 1984-1985 schoolyear. Petitioners Barreto, de Leon, Jr. and Laxamana could be denied enrollment in view of such failing grades. Respondent educational institution is under no obligation to admit them this coming academic year. The constitutional provision on academic freedom enjoyed by institutions of higher learning justifies such refusal.

Issue: Whether or not the exercise of the freedom of assembly on the part of certain students of respondent Technological Institute of the Philippines could be a basis for their being barred from enrollment.

No. Petitioners Venecio Villar, Rufino G. Salcon, Jr., Romeo L. Guilatco, Jr. and Inocencio F. Recites are entitled to the writs of certiorari and prohibition.

Malabanan v. Ramento, -held that respect for the constitutional rights of peaceable assembly and free speech calls for a negative answer.
Same case- As is quite clear from the opinion in Reyes v. Bagatsing, the invocation of the right to freedom of peaceable assembly carries with it the implication that the right to free speech has likewise been disregarded. Both are embraced in the concept of freedom of expression, which is identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully, any matter of public interest without censorship or punishment and which 'is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the state has a right to prevent."
Same case- Petitioners invoke their rights to peaceable assembly and free speech, they are entitled to do so. They enjoy like the rest of the citizens the freedom to express their views and communicate their thoughts to those disposed to listen in gatherings such as was held in this case. They do not, to borrow from the opinion of Justice Fortas in Tinker v. Des Moines Community School District, 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.
Petitioners, therefore, have a valid cause for complaint if the exercise of the constitutional rights to free speech and peaceable assembly was visited by their expulsion from respondent College.
What cannot be stressed too sufficiently is that among the most important social, economic, and cultural rights is the right to education not only in the elementary and high school grades but also on the college level. The constitutional provision as to the State maintaining "a system of free public elementary education and, in areas where finances permit, establish and maintain a system of free public education" up to the high school level does not per se exclude the exercise of that right in colleges and universities.
As far as the right itself is concerned, not the effectiveness of the exercise of such right because of the lack of funds, Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides: "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
It is quite clear that while the right to college education is included in the social economic, and cultural rights, it is equally manifest that the obligation imposed on the State is not categorical, the phrase used being "generally available" and higher education, while being "equally accessible to all should be on the basis of merit." To that extent, therefore, there is justification for excluding three of the aforementioned petitioners because of their marked academic deficiency.
The academic freedom enjoyed by "institutions of higher learning" includes the right to set academic standards to determine under what circumstances failing grades suffice for the expulsion of students. Once it has done so, however, that standard should be followed meticulously. It cannot be utilized to discriminate against those students who exercise their constitutional rights to peaceable assembly and free speech. If it does so, then there is a legitimate grievance by the students thus prejudiced, their right to the equal protection clause being disregarded.

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