Bayan vs. Ermita

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BAYAN, KARAPATAN, KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS (KMP), GABRIELA, Fr. Jose Dizon, Renato Constantino, Jr., Froyel Yaneza, and Fahima Tajar, Petitioners,
EDUARDO ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, Manila City Mayor LITO ATIENZA, Chief of the Philippine National Police, Gen. ARTURO M. LOMIBAO, NCRPO Chief Maj. Gen. VIDAL QUEROL, and Western Police District Chief Gen. PEDRO BULAONG, Respondents.

G.R. No. 169838
April 25, 2006


Petitioners, Bayan, et al., alleged that their right as organizations and individuals were violated when the rallies they participated in on October 4, 5 and 6, 2005 were violently dispersed by policemen implementing Batas Pambansa No. 880. 26 petitioners were injured, arrested and detained when a peaceful mass action they was preempted and violently dispersed by the police. 

Petitioners contended that BP 880 is clearly a violation of the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties of which the Philippines is a signatory. They assert that the right to peaceful assembly, are affected by BP 880 and the policy of “Calibrated Preemptive Response” (CPR) being followed to implement it. They argue that BP 880 requires a permit before one can stage a public assembly regardless of the presence or absence of a clear and present danger. It also curtails the choice of venue and is thus repugnant to the freedom of expression clause as the time and place of a public assembly form part of the message which the expression is sought.

Furthermore, it is not content-neutral as it does not apply to mass actions in support of the government. The words “lawful cause,” “opinion,” “protesting or influencing” suggest the exposition of some cause not espoused by the government. Also, the phrase “maximum tolerance” shows that the law applies to assemblies against the government because they are being tolerated.


Whether the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response and the Batas Pambansa No. 880, are unconstitutional.


The constitutionality of BP 880 was sustained but the provision on Calibrated pre-emptive response (CPR) was declared as null and void.

 The Constitution provides that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. The right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, together with freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press, is a right that enjoys dominance in the sphere of constitutional protection. For this rights represent the very basis of a functional democratic polity, without which all the other rights would be meaningless and unprotected.

However, it must be remembered that the right is not absolute. It may be regulated that it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having equal rights, nor injurious to the rights of the community or society. The power to regulate the exercise of such and other constitutional rights is termed the sovereign “police power,” which is the power to prescribe regulations, to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety, and general welfare of the people.

BP 880 is not an absolute ban of public assemblies but a restriction that simply regulates the time, place and manner of the assemblies. BP 880 thus readily shows that it refers to all kinds of public assemblies that would use public places. The reference to “lawful cause” does not make it content-based because assemblies really have to be for lawful causes, otherwise they would not be “peaceable” and entitled to protection. Neither the words “opinion,” “protesting,” and “influencing” in of grievances come from the wording of the Constitution, so its use cannot be avoided. Finally, maximum tolerance is for the protection and benefit of all rallyist and is independent of the content of the expression in the rally.

Furthermore, the permit can only be denied on the ground of clear and present danger to public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public health. This is a recognized exception to the exercise of the rights even under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

With regard to the Calibrated pre-emptive response (CPR), insofar as it would purport to differ from or be in lieu of maximum tolerance, it is declared as NULL and VOID and respondents are ENJOINED to REFRAIN from using it and to STRICTLY OBSERVE the requirements of maximum tolerance. The constitutionality of Batas Pambansa No. 880 is SUSTAINED

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