The Philippine Bill of Rights: Civil Rights


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Lecture slides for an undergraduate class on Philippine Politics and Governance I taught between 2003 and 2005.

This is the first of two slides dealing with the Bill of Rights enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The slides specifically cover civil rights.

These slides were prepared using Powerpoint XP.


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  • Learning objectives: 1.) To become acquainted with the content of Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (and how to understand it) 2.) To understand the different rights that Filipino citizens are entitled to under the law 3.) To become familiar with key concepts related to the concept of rights (especially those mentioned in Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution)
  • A bill of rights exists in republican systems because individuals are ruled by representatives. Hence, some mechanism must be in place to ensure that these representatives do not encroach upon the well being of those they claim to represent. “…charter of liberties…”  de Leon, p. 70
  • The remainder shall merely highlight the key concepts that one must understand to make sense of the stipulated rights.
  • “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.” 1.) Freedom of speech is not absolute, neither is a free press (more on that on the next slide) 2.) Freedom of assembly  refers mainly to peaceful demonstrations related to public affairs - Contrast: in Singapore, for large assemblies one must secure a public entertainment license 3.) Right to petition  i.e. to take up one’s grievances with government without fear of persecution
  • Forms of calumny (serious misrepresentation) Libel: untruthful information/character assassination in written form Slander: spoken untruthful information/character assassination “Clear and Present Danger”  If the uttered threat seems serious (i.e. the intent appears to be serious), immediate, grave and realistic
  • “The right of the people, including those employed in public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.” In large part, this section reflects the country’s bad experience during the Martial Law years, when the right to assemble and form associations was unduly abridged. Obviously, however, it is equally clear that the government can exercise its police power and abridge this right if the association in question threatens the legal order.
  • “ Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”
  • “(1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except under lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law. “(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.” 1.) Right to privacy (especially with respect to correspondence) - Contrast: In the UK, the right to privacy is not recognized 2.) Illegally obtained material is inadmissible as evidence
  • “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination and worship shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.” *Clearly this is related to Article II, Section 6
  • “The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.” Liberty of abode: The right to live where one pleases
  • “The right of the people to information on mattes of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as a basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitation as may be provided by law.” N.B. This is clearly related to Article II, Section 28
  • “ No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.”
  • The Philippine Bill of Rights: Civil Rights

    1. 1. THE BILL OF RIGHTS (Part I: Civil Rights)
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>What is and why do we have a Bill of Rights ? </li></ul><ul><li>What rights are Filipinos entitled to under Article III of the constitution? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Bill of Rights <ul><li>Fundamental characteristic of a republican system </li></ul><ul><li>It is “a charter of liberties for the individual and a limitation upon the power of the State” </li></ul>
    4. 4. Classification of Rights <ul><li>Natural </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on one’s dignity as a human person </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Constitutional </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Outlined in a constitution’s bill or rights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cannot be repealed through legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Statutory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As provided for by law </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Political v. Civil v. Legal <ul><li>Political Rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Those that pertain to an individual’s participation in government or the political process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Civil Rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Basically refer to rights enjoyed to enable individuals to undertake the everyday business of life </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Political v. Civil v. Legal <ul><li>“ Legal” Rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rights that apply to individuals when subjected to the law and/or legal procedures and processes </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Article III, Section 4 <ul><li>Freedom of speech </li></ul><ul><li>Right to a free press </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of assembly </li></ul><ul><li>The right of petition </li></ul>
    9. 9. Article III, Section 4 <ul><li>Limitations to Freedom of Speech: </li></ul><ul><li>Severe calumny </li></ul><ul><li>Anything lewd or obscene </li></ul><ul><li>Anything that provokes violence or disorder </li></ul><ul><li>Seditious messages </li></ul><ul><li>“Clear and present danger” </li></ul>
    10. 10. Article III, Section 8 <ul><li>Freedom to form associations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. the right to organize </li></ul></ul><ul><li>N.B.: So long as the association is not contrary to the law </li></ul>
    11. 11. Article III, Section 9 <ul><li>The right to private property </li></ul><ul><li>Explicit limitation to the power of eminent domain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just compensation: fair market price </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Due process of law </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Article III, Section 3 <ul><li>Right to privacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially with respect to correspondence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Illegally obtained material as inadmissible evidence </li></ul>
    13. 13. Article III, Section 5 <ul><li>Freedom of religion </li></ul><ul><li>Corollary: the state has no official religion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The state shall not endorse any religion/religious preference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion shall not be a prerequisite for political rights </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Affirms the separation of Church and State </li></ul>
    14. 14. Article III, Section 6 <ul><li>Liberty of abode </li></ul><ul><li>Right to travel </li></ul>
    15. 15. Article III, Section 7 <ul><li>Right of access to information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refers mainly to citizens but extends to aliens in some cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal restrictions may apply (e.g. matters of national security) </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Article III, Section 10 <ul><li>Discusses the “ sanctity ” of contracts and obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Laws affecting contracts cannot be applied retroactively </li></ul><ul><li>Aside: all contracts illegal in nature are non-binding </li></ul>
    17. 17. -fin-