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This web page features the full text of
A.M. NO. 98-7-02-SC dated July 7, 1998
A.M. 98-7-02-SC dated July 7, 1998
[Re:  Guidelines on the Conduct of Demonstrations, Pickets, Rallies
and Other Similar Gatherings in the Vicinity of the Supreme Court and All Other Courts]
En Banc.

Considering the inherent and regulatory power of the courts to control their proceedings in order to permit the fair and impartial administration of justice and the constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and complementing further the Per Curiam Resolution of the Court in the case of Nestle Philippines, Inc. v. Hon. Augusto S. Sanchez, et al., dated September 30, 1987, the Court resolves to adopt formally the following policy and procedural guidelines, regarding the conduct of demonstrations, pickets, rallies and other similar gatherings in the vicinity of the grounds and adjacent areas of the Supreme Court and all other courts:

    1.  Courts are the defenders of the people's rights, especially their freedom of expression and assembly.  Free speech and peaceable assembly, along with the other intellectual freedoms, are highly ranked in our scheme of constitutional values.

    These freedoms, however, are not absolute.  The right of a citizen to use the streets for communication of views on national questions must be balanced with the need of our courts for an atmosphere that will enable them to dispense justice free from bias and unnecessary pressure.  The courts would not exist and survive to protect the people's most revered rights if they were unable to preserve the integrity of judicial proceedings and the dignity of the institution from all forms of distracting, degrading and prejudicial influences that threaten the fair and orderly administration of justice.

    2.  Demonstrators, picketers, rallyists and all other similar persons are enjoined from holding any activity on the sidewalks and streets adjacent to, in front of, or within a radius of two hundred (200) meters from, the outer boundary of the Supreme Court Building, any Hall of Justice, and any other building that houses at least one (1) court sala.  Such activities unquestionably interrupt and hamper the working condition in the salas, offices and chambers of the courts.

    3.  Demonstrators, picketers, rallyists and their sympathizers must keep all public thoroughfares free and unimpeded to allow the smooth flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  At no time should ingress to and egress from the premises of the courts and the offices of the courts and the offices of the justices, judges, and court officials and employees be obstructed.

    4.  Demonstrators, picketers, rallyists and their sympathizers are prohibited from camping out on the streets, sidewalks or pavement adjacent to, in front of, or within a radius of two hundred (200) meters from, the outer boundary of the Supreme Court Building, any Hall of Justice, and any other building that houses at least one (1) court sala.  No provisional shelters and kitchens, pickets' quarters, and other similar makeshift structures shall be established in said areas.

    5.  Lawyers of parties with cases pending in courts have a duty to properly apprise their clients on matters of decorum and proper attitude toward courts of justice when engaged in demonstrations, pickets, rallies and similar activities.  As officers of the court, they must help to preserve the dignity of the courts and to insulate the courts from all forms of influence that may adversely affect judicial impartiality and violate a party's right to due process.

    6.  Any violation of this resolution shall be treated as contempt of court.  Members of the Bar violating this resolution may, in addition, be subject to the administrative sanctions of fine, imprisonment, suspension from the practice of law or disbarment as circumstances may warrant.

    The Clerk of Court is directed to forthwith cause publication of these Guidelines in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.  The Guidelines shall take effect upon the expiration of fifteen (15) days after such publication.

    The Clerk of Court is further directed to furnish all lower courts, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the PNP, and all agencies of local governments in charge of issuing permits to hold demonstrations, rallies, pickets and similar activities, around the vicinity of courts of justice with copies of this Resolution.

Very truly yours,

Clerk of Court
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