By: Atty. Loreto C. Ata*

This article presents a general treatment of some defenses that are available to a defendant in an action for damages based on libel, and to an accused in a criminal action for libel. Other jurisdictional and procedural defenses that constitute grounds for a motion to dismiss the civil action or quash the criminal case have been omitted.1

1. Parameters. Libel Defined. As defined in Art. 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), “[a] libel is a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”

Libel is defamation by print, writing, pictures, or signs, as distinguished from slander, which is defamation by oral expressions or transitory gestures.2 Libel is written or visual defamation; slander is oral or aural defamation.3


Plaintiff or Complainant.

The purported offended party initiating the libel action may either be a private person, a juridical person (registered corporation or partnership), a public official or public figure. The term “public official” broadly covers national or local officials, holding either elective or appointive positions, exercising discretionary powers in the performance of governmental functions, as distinguished from a “clerk” or “employee” who performs clerical or manual functions.4 In American jurisprudence, not every public employee is a "public official” within the context of libel law.5

A “public figure” has been defined as a person who, by his accomplishments, fame, mode of living, or by adopting a profession or calling which gives the public a legitimate interest in his doings, affairs and his character, has become a “public personage” or “celebrity.”6 American authorities generally classify public figures into general-purpose7 and limited-purpose8 ones.


Defendant or Accused.

The defendant in the civil or criminal libel action may be the author, writer or exhibitor of the defamation; the person who caused the publication or exhibition thereof; the person to whom the alleged defamatory publication is attributed; and the editor, business manager or publisher of the newspaper, magazine, or written material where the defamation appears.9

2. Absence of an element of libel. Generally, the constitutive elements of libel are: (a) defamatory imputation; (b) malice; (c) publication; and (d) identifiability of the victim.10 Where one element is missing, the libel action should be dismissed.


No defamatory imputation.

Defamatory imputation is the defamatory accusation or charge that the plaintiff alleges is conveyed by the matter published by the defendant concerning the plaintiff. The imputation may take the form of words, symbols, pictures, cartoon or signs. Without a defamatory imputation, there is no libel. For example, the reference in a magazine article to a deceased Muslim patriarch as not belonging to a royal house and having once lived with an American family, is not defamatory. Titles of royalty are not generally recognized in our national community with republican and egalitarian foundation. Likewise, it is also not unusual for citizens to live with and share in the culture or mores of foreigners.11


No actual malice.

Malice indicates the presence of personal ill will or spite, or the intention to injure the reputation of the person defamed.12 Malice involves an evil intent or motive arising from spite or ill will; personal hatred or ill will; or culpable recklessness or a willful and wanton disregard of the rights and interests of the person defamed. In a libel case it consists in intentionally publishing, without justifiable cause, any written or printed matter which is injurious to the character of another. Malice may be defined, insofar as defamation is concerned, as acting in bad faith and with knowledge of falsity of statements.13

The existence of malice is implied or presumed by law from the fact of a defamatory publication (malice in law). The particular intent of the offender to cast dishonor, discredit or contempt on the person libeled is termed actual malice, or express malice, or malice in fact.14

However, if the plaintiff or complainant in the libel action is a public officer or a public figure, the element of “actual malice” has a different connotation.15


No publication.

Publication refers to the dissemination of the defamatory matter to any person other than the person injuriously affected thereby.16 When a public officer, in the discharge of his or her official duties, sends a communication to another officer or body of officers, who have a duty to perform with respect to the subject matter of the communication, such communication does not amount to publication within the meaning of the law on defamation. Publication in libel means making the defamatory matter, after it has been written, known to someone other than the person to whom it has been written. The reason for such rule is that “a communication of the defamatory matter to the person defamed cannot injure his reputation though it may wound his self-esteem. A man’s reputation is not the good opinion he has of himself, but the estimation in which others hold him.”17


Victim not identified.

The element of identifiability means that the third person who read or learned about the libelous matter must know that it referred to the plaintiff.18 In order to maintain a libel suit, it is essential that the victim be identifiable although it is not necessary that he be named. It is also not sufficient that the offended party recognized himself as the person attacked or defamed, but it must be shown that at least a third person could identify him as the object of the libelous publication.19


3. Absence of “actual malice” under the New York Times test. Defamatory publications against public officials pass through a different standard of “actual malice.” Under the test set by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of New York Times v. Sullivan,20 “actual malice” means the defendant made the statement with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. “Reckless disregard of what is false or not” signifies that the defendant entertains serious doubt as to the truth of the publication,21 or that he possesses a high degree of awareness of their probable falsity.22 Actual malice under the New York Times standard should not be confused with the concept of malice as an evil intent or a motive arising from spite or ill will.23

Actual malice is a subjective standard testing the publisher’s good-faith belief in the truth of his statements.24 The plaintiff must demonstrate that the author realized that his statement was false,25 in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication, or acted with a high degree of awareness of probable falsity.26

Actual malice does not incorporate mere suspicions or what a reporter should have known; it requires that the reporter actually knew that the information on which the article was based was false or the reporter acted with such disregard for the truth as to rise to the level of recklessness. Actual malice cannot be imputed merely because the information turns out to be false. An erroneous interpretation of facts does not meet the standard of actual malice.27

The New York Times standard of “actual malice” applies as well to libel actions filed by public figures, including persons who are public figures for all purposes and those who become public figures for a limited range of issues.28

The raison d’etre for the New York Times doctrine is that to require critics of official conduct to guarantee the truth of all their factual assertions on pain of libel judgments would lead to self-censorship, since would-be critics would be deterred from voicing out their criticisms even if such were believed to be true, or were in fact true, because of doubt whether it could be proved or because of fear of the expense of having to prove it.29 The New York Times ruling has been adopted in our jurisprudence.30


4. Truth of the libelous statement. In libel as a rule, truth of the defamatory statement is not a defense by itself, as “[e]very defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true.”31 Even if the offender is able to prove the truth of the defamatory statement, he is not relieved from liability. By way of exceptions, proof of truth will help exonerate the author of the defamation in the following:

1. In a criminal prosecution for libel, if the accused presents, in addition to proof of the truth of the matter charged as libelous, good motives and justifiable ends in publishing the matter, he shall be acquitted.32

2. When the offended party is a Government employee, if the defamatory imputation is related to the discharge of his official duties, even if the imputation does not constitute a crime, proof of truth is sufficient for acquittal.33 Under this exception, it is not required for the defendant or accused to prove good motives and justifiable ends in publishing the defamatory matter.

5. Privileged communication. In libel law, the term privileged communication refers to statements which, though having the elements of libel, are nevertheless accorded protection from liability due to considerations or interests that outweigh the need for redress to the private injury sustained by the offended party as a result of the defamatory statements.

The doctrine of privileged communication rests upon public policy, which looks to the free and unfettered administration of justice, though as an incidental result it may in some instances afford an immunity to the evil-disposed and malignant slanderer.34

Privileged communication is of two kinds: (a) absolute, and (b) conditional or qualified.


Absolutely privileged communication.

A communication is absolutely privileged when it is not actionable, even if the author has acted in bad faith. It is a total immunity granted on the basis of the position or status of the author or speaker.35 This class includes statements made by members of Congress in the discharge of their functions as such, official communications made by public officers in the performance of their duties, and allegations or statements made by the parties or their counsel in pleadings or motions or during the hearing of judicial proceedings, as well as the answers given by witness in reply to questions propounded to them, in the course of said proceedings, provided that said allegations or statements are relevant to the issues, and the answers are responsive or responsive to the questions propounded to said witnesses.36

The privilege is not intended so much for the protection of those engaged in the public service and in the enactment and administration of law, as for the promotion of the public welfare, the purpose being that members of the legislature, judges of courts, jurors, lawyers, and witnesses may speak their minds freely and exercise their respective functions without incurring the risk of a criminal prosecution or an action for the recovery of damages.37

The reason for the rule that pleadings in judicial proceedings are considered privileged is not only because said pleadings have become part of public record open to the public to scrutinize, but also to the undeniable fact that said pleadings are presumed to contain allegations and assertions lawful and legal in nature, appropriate to the disposition of issues ventilated before the courts for the proper administration of justice and, therefore, of general public concern. Moreover, pleadings are presumed to contain allegations substantially true because they can be supported by evidence in good faith, the contents of which would be under scrutiny of courts and, therefore, subject to be purged of all improprieties and illegal statements contained therein.38

This absolute privilege protects only the persons who uttered or wrote the statements in the course of the proceedings. Those who published or caused the publication of such statements may claim the conditional or qualified privilege of a fair and true report of official proceedings under the second exception of Art. 354, Revised Penal Code.


Conditionally or qualifiedly privileged communication.

The privilege consists in the removal of the legal presumption of malice arising from the defamatory imputation contained in the two types of communication mentioned in Art. 354, RPC, which states:

Art. 354. Requirement for publicity. – Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases:

1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or social duty; and

2. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial, legislative or other official proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of any statement, report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.


The fact that a communication is privileged does not mean that it is not actionable; the privileged character simply does away with the presumption of malice, which the plaintiff has to prove in such a case.39 The privileged character is lost by proof of actual malice or malice in fact in making the statement, or by proof of other circumstances that have the effect of taking away the privilege.


A. Private communication. A complaint made in good faith and without malice, made under an honest sense of duty, in regard to the character or conduct of a public official when addressed to an officer or board having some interest or duty in the matter, is covered by the privilege even if the statements are found to be false, provided that the person has probable cause for belief in the truthfulness of the charge. The duty may pertain to a social or moral duty and the party believes in good faith that he is acting pursuant to such duty.40

The requisites of a privileged private communication under the first paragraph of Art. 354 of the Revised Penal Code are:

1. The communication is made in good faith. To be considered privileged, the subject communication must be free from any taint of malice.41 It appearing from the documents presented by the complainant public official from the Public Service Commission, in a proceeding related to the motion filed by the accused to quash the libel case, that the telegram sent by the accused to the Secretary of Public Works and Communications charging that the complainant “enrich herself thru corrupt practices [sic],” was not isolated but was linked to the other administrative complaints initiated by the accused against the complainant, the libel case should be allowed to proceed and the prosecution given the opportunity to overcome the privileged character of the telegram by proof that the accused was motivated by vengeance or ill-will in making and sending the telegram.42 A private communication, maliciously made by one person to another, although in the performance of a legal, moral or social duty, is not privileged.43

2. The writer has an interest or duty in reference to the subject. It is the right and duty of a citizen to make a complaint of any misconduct on the part of public officials, which comes to his notice, to those charged with supervision over them.44 A party to a civil case sent a letter-complaint addressed to the Supreme Court and coursed through the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Legal Affairs, charging the presiding judge hearing his case with ignorance of the law, gross inexcusable negligence, rendering an unjust decision, and dereliction of duties for delaying the resolution of his motion for reconsideration of the decision adverse to him. The judge filed a criminal action for libel against the complainant. Such letter-complaint is privileged as it falls within the category of a “communication made in good faith upon any subject matter in which the party making the communication has an interest or concerning which he has a duty,” since it was “made to a person having a corresponding interest or duty, although it contains incriminatory or derogatory matter which without the privilege would be libelous and actionable.45

3. The recipient of the communication has jurisdiction to inquire into the charges, or the power to redress the grievance, or has some duty to perform or interest in connection therewith.46 But if a party applies to the wrong person through some natural and honest mistake as to the respective functions of various officials, such unintentional error will not take the case out of the privilege.47

4. The communication is done in private. The privilege is lost if the writer publishes and circulates the communication among the public.48 The circulation of the letter containing defamatory imputations against the mayor, to the municipal court, municipal council, chief of police, removes the letter from the protection of privileged communication.49


B. Fair and true report of official proceedings. The second paragraph of Art. 354, RPC, protects from a libel suit (a) a fair and true report, (b) made in good faith, (c) without any comments or remarks, (d) of any judicial, legislative, or other official proceedings, which are not of a confidential nature, or of any statement, report, or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officials in the exercise of their functions.

A fair and true report of a complaint filed in court without remarks nor comments before an answer is filed or a decision promulgated is covered by the privilege.50

In one case, a newspaper columnist was sued for libel for publishing an article that quoted verbatim from an unverified complaint filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by certain persons charging the brokerage company, particularly its board chairman and controlling stockholder, and its president-general manager, of engaging in fraudulent practices in the stock market. The Supreme Court held that the published article was a faithful reproduction of a pleading filed before a quasi-judicial body. “There are no embellishments, wild imputations, distortions or defamatory comments calculated to damage the reputation of the offended parties and expose them to public contempt. What petitioner has done was simply to furnish the readers with the information that a complaint has been filed against the brokerage firm. Then he proceeded to reproduce that pleading verbatim in his column. Now this is decidedly part and parcel of petitioner’s job as a columnist whose ‘beat’ happens to be the stock market. He is obligated to keep the public abreast of the current news in that particular field. On this crucial point, the Court is inclined to resolve all doubts in favor of petitioner and declare that there is no libel. It may well be for us to keep in mind that the rule on privileged communications in defamation cases developed because ‘public policy, the welfare of society and the administration of justice’ have demanded protection for public opinion. Therefore, they should not be subjected to microscopic examination to discover grounds of malice and falsehood. Such excessive scrutiny would defeat the protection which the law throws over privileged communications.” 51


6. Fair comment or opinion. It is a defense to an action for libel that the words complained of are a fair comment on a matter of public interest. The reason for this is that freedom of speech is not only one of the constitutional rights of a person but it is also absolutely essential to the democratic rules under the aegis of which our libel law was evolved and wherein the people are supposed to sit in judgment upon all public affairs. Hence, the jealous vigilance with which the free play of open criticism upon all matters of public interest is safeguarded. The doctrine of fair comment simply means that while, generally speaking, every discreditable imputation publicly made is deemed false, because every man is presumed innocent until judicially proven, and every false imputation is presumed malicious, nevertheless when the discreditable imputation is directed against an officer in his official capacity, it is not necessarily actionable. In order to be actionable, the imputation must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition. If the comment is an expression of an opinion, based upon proven facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be erroneous, so long as it might be reasonably inferred from the facts. Comments may be fair, although wrong.52

The fair-comment privilege was established primarily to protect public debate by sheltering communications about matters of public concern.53 Other threads of rationale underlying the protection are: (a) that comment cannot be “false” and therefore cannot be actionable; (b) that comment will be understood to be merely an individual viewpoint and will therefore tend not to injure reputation; and (c) that, as long as the factual basis for commentary is set forth or readily available, as the common law privilege requires, readers may judge for themselves the validity of the opinion expressed.54

7. Fair criticism. “The plainest principles of natural right and sound public policy require that the utmost freedom should be accorded every citizen to complain to the supervising, removing and appointing authorities of the misconduct of the public officials with whom he comes into contact.” 55 The Supreme Court in Vasquez v. Court of Appeals56 quoted Justice Brandeis who wrote in Whitney v. California57 that “public discussion is a political duty” and the “greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”

However, the criticism should be directed at the conduct but not at the person of the public official.

Men have the right to attack, rightly or wrongly, the policy of a public official with every argument which ability can find or ingenuity invent. They may show, by argument good or bad, such policy to be injurious to the individual and to society. They may demonstrate, by logic true or false, that it is destructive of human freedom and will result in the overthrow of the nation itself. But the law does not permit men falsely to impeach the motives, attack the honesty, blacken the virtue, or injure the reputation of that official. They may destroy, by fair means or foul, the whole fabric of his statesmanship, but the law does not permit them to attack the man himself. They may falsely charge that his policies are bad, but they may not falsely allege that he is bad. x x x Men may argue, but they may not traduce. Men may differ, but they may not, for that reason, falsely charge dishonesty. Men may look at policies from different points of view and see them in different lights, but they may not, on that account, falsely charge criminality, immorality, lack of virtue, bad motives, evil intentions, or corrupt heart or mind. Men may falsely charge that policies are bad, but they cannot falsely charge that men are bad.58


8. Good motives and justifiable ends. As stated in Art. 361, RPC, in every prosecution for libel, the accused shall be acquitted if he is able to prove not only the truth of the matter alleged to be libelous, but also that it was published with good motives and for justifiable ends.

The existence of justifiable motive is a question that has to be decided by taking into consideration not only the intention of the author of the publication but all the other circumstances of each particular case.59 Good intentions and justifiable motive constitute a defense insofar as they negative malice.60

In one case, the defendant newspaper editor published an article in which it was alleged that the employees of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry were unjustly exploited, and began with the words: “governmental corruption becomes more scandalous day by day. The most shameless embezzlements are being committed, yet the authors of the crime not only remain unpunished, but they are sheltered under the aegis of official patronage.” The editor stated in defense that he published the article in order to ferret out corruption in governmental administration, to throw upon it the searchlight of public opinion, to bring to the attention of the proper authorities the unsavory situation of laborers being exploited, and for the press to defend the rights of weak and ignorant laborers as a matter of civic duty. He was exonerated.61


9. Freedom of speech and of the press. The major purpose of the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press is to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs,62 as well as to encourage and nurture uninhibited, robust, and wide-open self-expression, particularly in matters of governing importance.63 It rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.64

These constitutional guarantees are not for the benefit of the press so much as for the benefit of all the people,65 by giving the citizens unrestricted access to information and views66 on all sides of an issue.

Fair criticism by media. The constitutional protection extends to criticism of government officials and their actions. Criticism of those responsible for government operations must be free, lest criticism of government itself be penalized. There is, first, a strong interest in debate on public issues, and second, a strong interest in debate about those persons who are in a position significantly to influence the resolution of those issues. Criticism of government is at the very heart of the constitutionally protected area of free discussion.67 The interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and unjust accusation; the wound may be assuaged by the balm of clear conscience. A public official must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comments upon his official acts.68 The single purpose of the rule permitting fair and honest criticism is that it promotes the public good, enables the people to discern right from wrong, encourages merit, and firmly condemns and exposes the charlatan and the cheat, and hence is based upon public policy.69 Where the criticism is of public officials and their conduct of public business, the interest in private reputation is overborne by the larger interest, secured by the constitution, in the dissemination of truth.70


Error, inaccuracy, and falsity.

Errors or misstatements are inevitable in any scheme of truly free expression and debate. Consistent with good faith and reasonable care, the press should not be held to account, to a point of suppression, for honest mistakes or imperfections in the choice of language. There must be some room for misstatement of fact as well as for misjudgment. Only by giving them leeway can they courageously and effectively function as critical agencies in our democracy.71 A newspaper especially one national in reach and coverage, should be free to report on events and developments in which the public has a legitimate interest with the minimum of fear of being hauled to court by one group or another on criminal or civil charges for libel, so long as the newspaper respects and keeps with the standards of morality and civility prevailing within the general community.72


Unprotected utterances and publication.

The protective cloak of the constitutional freedoms of speech and press does not cover the publication and utterance of libels and slanders.73 There is no constitutional value in false statements of facts; neither the intentional lie nor the careless error materially advances society’s interest in uninhibited, robust, and wide-open debate on public issues; they belong to that category of utterances which are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.74

Although newspapers are in a privileged class, and press freedom is recognized by all courts, they do not give any newspaper the legal right to publish an article concerning a person that is libelous per se.75

Jesting in a newspaper may constitute libel. The humorous section of a newspaper might be intended to tickle the fancy, to while away a passing hour with quirk and joke, and to provide amusement for its readers. But the language should not pass from the bounds of playful jest and intensive criticism into the region of scurrilous calumniation and intemperate personalities.76

10. Correction or retraction. Prompt correction or retraction may tend to indicate that an erroneous statement was accidental, and it will therefore be admitted to help establish absence of “actual malice,” although it is not conclusive.77 A retraction, in order to operate as an effective check upon the propagation of a defamatory publication, should contain an admission of the incorrectness of the libelous publication and evince a desire to repair the wrong occasioned thereby.78 Retraction is not a complete justification but a mitigating circumstance, and the most that can be said is that the tort was not aggravated.79


* Partner, Medialdea Ata Bello Guevarra & Suarez

1  Rule 16, Sec. 1, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; Rule 117, Sec. 1, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
2  Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Ed., 915, citing Restatement, Second, Torts, Sec. 568. Slander is spoken defamation and differs from libel only in this respect. 50 Am Jur 2d Libel and Slander 344
3  Sack and Baron, Libel, Slander and Related Problems, Second Ed., 67. The reasons for the distinction between libel and slander are: (a) a libel is permanent and may circulate through many hands; (b) it shows greater malignity on the part of its author than a slander; (c) it is more likely to lead to a breach of the peace. Annotation, What is Libel, 90 SCRA 85 (1979)
4  cf. Revised Administrative Code of 1987, Introductory Provisions, Sec. 2(14)
5  Rosenblatt v. Baer, 383 US 75 (1966): “The ‘public official’ designation applies at the very least to those among the hierarchy of government employees who have, or appear to the public to have, substantial responsibility for or control over the conduct of government affairs. The term applies where a position in government has such apparent importance that the public has an independent interest in the qualifications and performance of the person who performs it, beyond the general public interest in the qualifications and performance of all governmental employees. A public official is a person whose position would invite public scrutiny and discussion of the person holding it, entirely apart from the scrutiny and discussion occasioned by the particular charges in controversy.”
6  Ayers Production Pty., Ltd. v. Capulong, 160 SCRA 861 (1988). The Supreme Court adopted the definition of “public figure” formulated by Professors Prosser and Keeton in their work on Torts, 5th ed., at 859-861 (1984). Included in the “public figure” category “are those who have achieved some degree of reputation by appearing before the public, as in the case of an actor, a professional baseball player, a pugilist, or any other entertainer. The list is, however, broader than this. It includes public officers, famous inventors and explorers, war heroes and even ordinary soldiers, infant prodigy, and no less a personage than the Great Exalted Ruler of a lodge. It includes, in short, anyone who has arrived at a position where the public attention is focused upon him as a person.”(ibid., at 874-5)
7  A general-purpose public figure is an individual who achieves such pervasive fame or notoriety that he becomes a public figure for all purposes and in all contexts. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 US 323 (1974). The archetype of the general-purpose public figure is the well-known athlete, entertainer, or politician. Such persons knowingly relinquish their anonymity in return for fame or fortune; it is thus reasonable to attribute a public character to all aspects of their lives. 50 Am Jur 2d Libel and Slander 387
8  A limited-purpose public figure is an individual who voluntarily injects himself or is drawn into a particular public controversy and thereby becomes a public figure for a limited range of issues. Such persons assume special prominence in the resolution of public questions. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., supra note 7
9  cf. Art. 360, RPC 10  Alonzo v. CA, 241 SCRA 51 (1995); Daez v. CA, 191 SCRA 61 (1990); People v. Monton, 6 SCRA 801 (1962)
11  Bulletin Publishing Corp. v. Noel, 167 SCRA 255 (1988)
12  U.S. v. Cañete, 38 Phil. 253, 264 (1918); Suarez v. CA, 186 SCRA 339 (1990)
13  Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Ed., 957. “Malice connotes ill will or spite and speaks not in response to duty but merely to injure the reputation of the person defamed, and implies an intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. Malice is bad faith or bad motive. It is the essence of the crime of libel.” Borjal v. CA, 301 SCRA 1, 28 (1999)
14  Moreno, Philippine Law Dictionary, 3rd Ed., 571, citing People v. Peregrino, 65 OG 4834
15  Please see the next succeeding discussion on “actual malice”, infra
16  Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Ed., 1228
17  Ledesma v. CA, 278 SCRA 656 (1997), citing Alonzo v. CA, supra (fn 10)
18  50 Am Jur 2d Libel and Slander 493
19  Borjal v. CA, supra note 13, at 18
20  376 US 254 (1976)
21  St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. 731 (1961)
22  Garrison v. Lousiana, 379 U.S 74 (1964); Borjal v. CA, supra note 13, at 29
23  Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 501 US 496 (1991)
24  St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 US 727 (1968)
25  Bose v. Consumers Union, 466 US 485 (1984)
26  Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, supra note 23
27  50 Am Jur 2d Libel and Slander 362
28  Greenbelt Publishing Association, Inc. v. Bresler, 398 U.S. 6 (1971); Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., supra note 7
29  Borjal v. CA, supra note 13, at 25-26, citing NAACP v. Button, 371 US 415 (1963). “The rationale for the New York Times test revolves around the need for free debate on public
30  Lopez v. CA, 34 SCRA 116 (1970); Mercado v. CFI of Rizal, 116 SCRA 93 (1982); Babst v. National Intelligence Board, 132 SCRA 316, 325 (1984); Borjal v. CA, supra note 13, at 29
31  Art. 354, RPC
32  Arts. 354 and 361, RPC
33  Art. 361, RPC
34  Elizalde v. Gutierrez, 76 SCRA 448, 454 (1977); People v. Castelo, 4 SCRA 947, 956 (1962); U.S. v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731, 742 (1918)
35  Sack and Baron, op cit., 411
36  Orfanel v. People, 30 SCRA 819, 823 (1969)
37  Sison v. David, 1 SCRA 60, 71 (1961)
38  Cuenco v. Cuenco, 70 SCRA 212 (1976)
39  Lu Chu Sing v. Lu Tiong Gui, 76 Phil. 669 (1946), cited in Suarez v. CA, supra note 12. “A conditional privilege is defined not by the identity of the person speaking, but by the occasion on which the defamatory statement is made; in some situations an individual will not be held liable for false defamatory statements because the freedom to speak in protection of certain interests is deemed to be more important than the ability to redress the harm to reputation that such speech may cause. But for the speaker to be protected in such situations, the statement must be made in good faith, without ‘malice’ in its common law sense, and the occasion must not be otherwise abused.” Sack and Baron, op cit., 411
40  Mercado v. CFI of Rizal, supra note 30, citing U.S. v. Bustos, supra note 34, at 743
41  Lacsa v. IAC, 161 SCRA 427 (1988)
42  Mercado v. CFI of Rizal, supra note 30
43  Imperial v. Ziga, 19 SCRA 726 (1967)
44  Daez v. CA, 191 SCRA 61 (1990
45  Ang v. Castro, 136 SCRA 453 (1985)
46  U.S. v. Galeza, 31 Phil. 365 (1915)
47  Mercado v. CFI of Rizal, supra note 30
48  Lacsa v. IAC, 161 SCRA 427 (1988)
49  Daez v. CA, supra note 44
50  Cuenco v. Cuenco, supra note 38, at 234-5, cited in Santos v. CA, 203 SCRA 110, 116 (1991); Manuel v. Pano, 172 SCRA 225 (1989)
51  Santos v. CA, supra note 50, at 117-8
52  People v. Velasco, CA 40 O.G. 3694; Aquino, Revised Penal Code, Vol. III, 1988 Ed., 559-560
53  Restatement of Torts, 606(1) (1938); Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1,13 (1990)
54  Sack and Baron, op cit., 234-5
55  People v. Cañete, 38 Phil. 251 (1918)
56  314 SCRA 460, 477 (1999)
57  247 U.S. 357 (1927)
58  People v. Contreras, 23 Phil. 513, 516-8 (1912)
59  U.S. v. Prautch, 10 Phil. 562, 565 (1908), cited in Daez v. CA, supra note 44, at 68
60  Aquino, op cit., 567
61  U.S. v. Perfecto, 43 Phil. 225 (1922)
62  Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia, 435 U.S. 829 (1978)
63  Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc., 403 U.S. 29 (1971)
64  New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra note 20
65  Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374 (1967)
66  cf. Firstamerica Development Corp. v. Daytona Beach News-Journal Corp. (Fla) 196 So 2d 97, 15 ALR3d 1238
67  Rosenblatt v. Baer, 385 U.S. 75 (1966)
68  U.S v. Bustos, supra note 40
69  Oliver v. La Vanguardia, Inc., 48 Phil. 429, 435 (1925)
70  Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64 (1964). “The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion. As Chief Justice Hughes wrote in De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 365, it is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected. The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes. Accordingly, a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best.
71  Borjal v. CA, supra note 13, at 30, citing Pennekamp v. Florida, 328 U.S. 331, 371-2 (1946); Concurring opinion of Justice Rutledge
72  Bulletin Publishing Corp. v. Noel, supra note 11, at 265
73  Time, Inc. v. Firestone, 424 U.S. 448 (1976)
74  Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., supra note 7
75  Phee v. La Vanguardia, 45 Phil. 211 (1923)
76  Aquino, op. cit., 566, citing Oliver v. La Vanguardia, Inc., supra note 69, at 433
77  Sack and Baron, op cit., 304, citing cases
78  Matti v. Bulletin Publishing Co., 37 Phil. 562, 567 (1918)
79  Oliver v. La Vanguardia, Inc., supra note 69, at 436

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