Reyes vs. Bagatsing (G.R. No L-65366. November 9, 1983)

17 Apr

JOSE B.L. REYES, in behalf of the ANTI-BASES COALITION (ABC), petitioner,
RAMON BAGATSING, as Mayor of the City of Manila, respondent.

Lorenzo M. Tañada Jose W. Diokno and Haydee B. Yorac for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for respondent.



Petitioner, retired Justice JB L. Reyes, on behalf of the Anti-Bases Coalition sought a permit from the City of Manila to hold a peaceful march and rally on October 26, 1983 from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, starting from the Luneta, a public park, to the gates of the United States Embassy, hardly two blocks away. Once there, and in an open space of public property, a short program would be held.  There was likewise an assurance in the petition that in the exercise of the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, all the necessary steps would be taken by it “to ensure a peaceful march and rally.” Petitioner filed suit for mandamus unaware that permit was denied, because it was sent by ordinary mail. The reason for refusal of permit was due to police intelligence reports which strongly militate against the advisability of issuing such permit at this time and at the place applied for.   


Whether or not the denial of permit for the conduct peaceable assembly to the gates of U.S. Embassy may be validly enforced.


NO. Mandatory injunction prayed was granted.


[T]he Court is called upon to protect the exercise of the cognate rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, arising from the denial of a permit. The Constitution is quite explicit: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances.”. There can be no legal objection, absent the existence of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil, on the choice of Luneta as the place where the peace rally would start. Neither can there be any valid objection to the use of the streets, to the gates of the US Embassy, hardly two block-away at the Roxas Boulevard.

There is merit to the observation that except as to the novel aspects of a litigation, the judgment must be confined within the limits of previous decisions. The law declared on past occasions is, on the whole, a safe guide, So it has been here. While the General rule is that a permit should recognize the right of the applicants to hold their assembly at a public place of their choice, another place may be designated by the licensing authority if it be shown that there is a clear and present danger of a substantive evil if no such change were made.

By way of a summary 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.


TEEHANKEE, concurring

The salutary desire on the part of respondent to prevent disorder cannot be pursued by the unjustified denial and suppression of the people’s basic rights, which would thereby turn out to be mere paper rights.;

MAKASIAR, concurring

With the justification that in case of conflict, the Philippine Constitution — particularly the Bill of Rights — should prevail over the Vienna Convention;

ABAD SANTOS, concurring

To add anything to the learned opinion of the Chief Justice is like bringing coal to Newcastle, I just want to state for the record that I voted for the issuance ex-parte of a preliminary mandatory injunction;

PLANA, concurring

In my view, without saying that the Ordinance is obnoxious per se to the constitution, it cannot be validly invoked whenever its application would collide with a constitutionally guaranteed right such as freedom of assembly and/or expression, as in the case at bar, regardless of whether the chancery of any foreign embassy is beyond or within 500 feet from the situs of the rally or demonstration.

AQUINO, dissenting

Voted to dismiss the petition on the ground that the holding of the rally in front of the US Embassy violates Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila.


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