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Navarro vs Villegas Case Digest

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NAVARRO vs. VILLEGAS
G.R. No. L-31687 February 26, 1970

NAVARRO, petitioner, vs. CITY MAYOR ANTONIO J. VILLEGAS, respondent.

R E S O L U T I O N GENTLEMEN:
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court of even date:
"In Case G.R. No. L-31687 (Navarro vs. Villegas), the Court, after considering the pleadings and arguments of the parties, issued the following Resolution:
Without prejudice to a more extended opinion and taking into account the following considerations:
That respondent Mayor has not denied nor absolutely refused the permit sought by petitioner;
That as stated in Primicias v. Fugoso, 80 Phil. 75, respondent Mayor possesses reasonable discretion to determine or specify the streets or public places to be used for the assembly in order to secure convenient use thereof by others and provide adequate and proper policing to minimize the risks of disorder and maintain public safety and order;
That respondent Mayor has expressly stated his willingness to grant permits for peaceful assemblies at Plaza Miranda during Saturdays, Sundays and holidays when they would not cause unnecessarily great disruption of the normal activities of the community and has further offered Sunken Gardens as an alternative to Plaza Miranda as the site of the demonstration sought to be held this afternoon;
That experiences in connection with present assemblies and demonstrations do not warrant the Court's disbelieving respondent Mayor's appraisal that a public rally at Plaza Miranda, as compared to one at the Sunken Gardens as he suggested, poses a clearer and more imminent danger of public disorders, breaches of the peace, criminal acts, and even bloodshed as an aftermath of such assemblies, and petitioner has manifested that it has no means of preventing such disorders;
That, consequently, every time that such assemblies are announced, the community is placed in such a state of fear and tension that offices are closed early and employees dismissed, storefronts boarded up, classes suspended, and transportation disrupted, to the general detriment of the public:
That civil rights and liberties can exist and be preserved only in an order society;
The petitioner has failed to show a clear specific legal duty on the part of respondent Mayor to grant their application for permit unconditionally;
The Court resolved to DENY the writ prayed for and to dismiss the petition.

Separate Opinions VILLAMOR, J., concurring:
The right to freedom of assembly is not denied; but this right is neither unlimited nor absolute. It is not correct to say that the Mayor has refused to grant the permit applied for; he offered an alternative which, in my opinion, is not unreasonable. There being no arbitrary refusal to grant permit, petitioner is not entitled to the writ.
CASTRO and FERNANDO, JJ., dissenting:
Two members of the Court, Castro and Fernando, find themselves unable to concur with their brethren and would vote to grant the petition. The right to freedom of assembly while not unlimited is entitled to be accorded the utmost deference and respect. If respondent Mayor premised his refusal to grant the permit as sought by petitioner on a clear showing that he was so empowered under the criteria supplied by Primicias W. Fugoso, then this petition should not prosper as petitioner himself did invoke such authority. The grounds for his refusal are however, set forth thus in his letter of February 24, 1970 addressed to petitioner: "In the greater interest of the general public, and in order not to unduly disturb the life of the community, this Office, guided by a lesson gained from the events of the past few weeks, has temporarily adopted the policy of not issuing any permit for the use of Plaza Miranda for rallies or demonstrations during week days."1 They do not, in the opinion of the above two justices, meet the standard of the Primicias ruling. Under the circumstances, the effect is one of prior restraint of a constitutional right. This is not allowable. An excerpt from a 1969 American Supreme Court decision is persuasive. Thus: "For in deciding whether or not to withhold a permit, the members of the Commission were to be guided only by their own ideas of 'public welfare, peace, safety, health, decency, good order, morals or convenience.' This ordinance as it was written, therefore, fell squarely within the ambit of the many decisions of this Court over the last 30 years, holding that a law subjecting the exercise of First Amendment freedoms to the prior restraint of a license, without narrow, objective, and definite standards to guide the licensing authority, is unconstitutional."2 This is without prejudice to a more extended opinion being written later.

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