Defamation: A constitutional violation: A study on the constitutionality of Senate Bill 3244 (An act to decriminalize libel and for other purposes

Date of Publication


Document Type

Bachelor's Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major in Legal Management


Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business


Commercial Law

Thesis Adviser

Elson Manahan

Defense Panel Member

James Keith Heffron
Rex Enrico Cruz


During the 15th Congress of the Philippines, Senator Gregorio Honasan II introduced Senate Bill No. 3244, an Act to Decriminalize Libel and for Other Purposes. The bill seeks to decriminalize libel by repealing Articles 353, 354, 355, 356 and 357, and Articles 360, 361 and 362 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Article 353 of the RPC defines libel as the 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. The penalty for written, printed or broadcast libel is imprisonment for six months and one day up to four years and two months or fine between P200 and P6,000 or both imprisonment and fine. With regard to defamation or libel, penalties are imposed upon the offender not solely because the information is false but because the information is personal, thus, it should not be exposed to the public. In proposing Senate Bill 3244, Senator Gregorio Honasan II believed that criminalizing libel would abridge the constitutionally-protected right of freedom of expression. In view of the foregoing, this work aims to assess the constitutionality of decriminalizing libel in accordance to the right to privacy and right to dignity.

Libel raises two conflicting interests on the part of the offender claiming to have exercised the right to freedom of speech and on the part of the offender claiming to have exercised the right to freedom of speech and on the part of the offended party claiming his right to privacy and right to dignity. As guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech. But right to freedom of speech is not an absolute right. Although some speeches are protected, some are not if injurious to third persons.

Hypothetically, if libel laws would be decriminalized and Senate Bill 3244 would be passed, therefore leaving the regulation and imposition of penalties to companies, practitioners of mass media would not fear reporting malicious and defamatory statements that could cause serious injury to individuals and groups, assaulting their dignity as human beings and citizens since some companies would most likely not enforce company rules as strict as the state could through libel laws. The researchers believe that every company has its own codes of discipline regarding reports containing defamatory statements. Every practitioner of the mass media is believed to be aware of his moral and professional responsibilities but still chooses to defy the odds. Hence, the need for the government to take necessary steps to regulate the kind of speeches in a way that it one's right to dignity and privacy would be protected.

The State has the difficult task of maintaining the delicate balance between constitutional freedoms and protecting public morals. Opponents of the libel law fear that the immense power of the State may be inadvertently used to sweepingly curtail constitutional freedoms. Libel laws side with the protection of one's reputation. After all, libel laws can only be a threat to those who would use the right to freedom of speech and abuse it by deliberately degrading a person in the eyes of another. Philippine libel laws criminalizing libel has achieved the delicate balance by protecting one's reputation and regulating freedom of speech or expression only if such is injurious to third persons, ensuring that freedom of speech would not be abridged.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F, Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

70, [41 unnumbered] leaves

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