The Philippine Press Institute, Inc. ("PPI") is before this Court assailing the constitutional validity of resolution No. 2772 issued by respondent Commission on Elections ("Comelec") and its corresponding Comelec directive dated 22 March 1995, through a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition. Petitioner PPI is a non-stock, non-profit organization of news paper and magazine publishers.
On 2 March 1995, Comelec promulgated Resolution No. 2772, which reads in part:nadchanroblesvirtualawlibraryxxx xxx xxx
Sec. 2. Comelec Space. The Commission shall procure free print space of not less than one half (1/2) page in at least one newspaper of general circulation in every province or city for use as 'Comelec Space' from March 6, 1995 in the 1995 until May 12, 1995. In the absence of said newspaper, 'Comelec Space' shall be obtained from any magazine or periodical of said province or city.
Sec. 3. Uses of Comelec Space. 'Comelec Space' shall be allocated by the Commission, free of charge, among all candidates within the area in which the newspaper, magazine or periodical is circulated to enable the candidates to make known their qualifications, their stand on public issues and their platforms and programs of government.
'Comelec Space' shall also be used by the Commission for dissemination of vital election information.
Sec. 4. Allocation of Comelec Space. (a) 'Comelec Space' shall be available to all candidates during the periods stated in Section 2 hereof. Its allocation shall be equal and impartial among all candidates for the same office. All candidates concerned shall be furnished a copy of the allocation of 'Comelec Space' for their information, guidance and compliance.
(b) Any candidate desiring to avail himself of 'Comelec Space' from newspapers or publications based in the Metropolitan Manila Area shall submit an application therefor, in writing, to the Committee on Mass media of the Commission. Any candidate desiring to avail himself of 'Comelec Space' in newspapers of publication based in the provinces shall submit his application therefor, in writing, to the Provincial Election Supervisor concerned. Applications for availment of 'Comelec Space' may be filed at any time from the date of effectivity of this Resolution.
(c) The Committee on Mass Media and the Provincial Election Supervisors shall allocate available 'Comelec Space' among the candidates concerned by lottery of which said candidates shall be notified in advance, in writing, to be present personally or by representative to witness the lottery at the date, time and place specified in the notice. Any party objecting to the result of the lottery may appeal to the Commission.
(d) The candidates concerned shall be notified by the Committee on Mass Media or the Provincial Election Supervisor, as the case may be, sufficiently in advance and in writing of the date of issue and the newspaper or publication allocated to him, and the time within which he must submit the written material for publication in the 'Comelec Space'.xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 8. Undue Reference to Candidates/Political Parties in Newspapers. No newspaper or publication shall allow to be printed or published in the news, opinion, features, or other sections of the newspaper or publication accounts or comments which manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party by unduly or repeatedly referring to or including therein said candidate or political party. However, unless the facts and circumstances clearly indicate otherwise, the Commission will respect the determination by the publisher and/or editors of the newspapers or publication that the accounts or views published are significant, newsworthy and of public interest." (Emphasis supplied
Apparently in implementation of this Resolution, Comelec through Commissioner Regalado E. Maambong sent identical letters, dated 22 March 1995, to various publishers of newspapers like the Business World, the Philippine Star, the Malaya and the Philippine Times Journal, all members of PPI. These letters read as follows:nadchanroblesvirtualawlibrary
"This is to advise you that pursuant to Resolution No. 2772 of the Commission on Elections, you are directed to provide free print space of not less than one half (
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