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G.R. No.

L-119694 May 22, 1995

PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE, INC., for and in


behalf of 139 members, represented by its
President, Amado P. Macasaet and its Executive
Director Ermin F. Garcia, Jr., petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

FACTS:

Petitioner PPI is a non-stock, non-profit


organization of newspaper and magazine
publishers.

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,

ISSUE:

Whether or not Comelec Section 2 of


Resolution No. 2772 is unconstitutional
HELD:

Case has already become moot and academic,


but SC considered it not inappropriate to pass
upon the first constitutional issue raised in this
case. Its hope is to put this issue to rest and
prevent its resurrection.

To compel print media companies to


donate "Comelec-space" of the dimensions
specified in Section 2 of Resolution No. 2772
(not less than one-half page), amounts to
"taking" of private personal property for public
use or purposes.
The taking of print space here sought to be
effected may first be appraised under the
rubric of expropriation of private personal
property for public use. The threshold
requisites for a lawful taking of private property
for public use need to be examined here: one
is the necessity for the taking; another is
the legal authority to effect the taking
The element of necessity for the taking has not
been shown by respondent Comelec.

On 2 March 1995, Comelec promulgated


Resolution No. 2772, which reads in part:
xxx 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 case of candidates for
senator and from March 21, 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.

In this Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition


with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order, PPI asks us to declare
Comelec Resolution No. 2772
unconstitutional and void on the ground
that it violates the prohibition imposed by the
Constitution upon the government, and any of
its agencies, against the taking of private
property for public use without just
compensation

Similarly, it has not been suggested, let alone


demonstrated, that Comelec has been granted
the power of eminent domain either by the
Constitution or by the legislative authority. A
reasonable relationship between that power
and the enforcement and administration of
election laws by Comelec must be shown; it is
not casually to be assumed.

The taking of private property for public use is,


of course, authorized by the Constitution, but
not without payment of "just compensation"
(Article III, Section 9).
And apparently the necessity of paying
compensation for "Comelec space" is precisely
what is sought to be avoided by respondent
Commission, whether Section 2 of Resolution

No. 2772 is read as petitioner PPI reads it, as


an assertion of authority to require newspaper
publishers to "donate" free print space for
Comelec purposes, or as an exhortation, or
perhaps an appeal, to publishers to donate free
print space, as Section 1 of Resolution No.
2772-A attempts to suggest.

As earlier noted, the Solicitor General also


contended that Section 2 of Resolution No.
2772, even if read as compelling publishers to
"donate" "Comelec space, may be sustained
as a valid exercise of the police power of
the state.
This argument was, however, made too
casually to require prolonged consideration on
our part. Firstly, there was no effort (and
apparently no inclination on the part of
Comelec) to show that the police power
essentially a power of legislation has been
constitutionally delegated to respondent
Commission. 4 Secondly, while private property
may indeed be validly taken in the legitimate
exercise of the police power of the state, there

was no attempt to show compliance in the


instant case with the requisites of a lawful
taking under the police power. 5

Section 2 of Resolution No. 2772 is a blunt and


heavy instrument that purports, without a
showing of existence of a national emergency
or other imperious public necessity,
indiscriminately and without regard to the
individual business condition of particular
newspapers or magazines located in differing
parts of the country, to take private property of
newspaper or magazine publishers.
Section 2 does not constitute a valid
exercise of the power of eminent domain.
As such, Section 2 suffers from a fatal
constitutional vice and must be set aside
and nullified.
WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing, the Petition
for Certiorari and Prohibition is GRANTED in
part and Section 2 of Resolution No. 2772 in its
present form and the related letter-directives
dated 22 March 1995 are hereby SET ASIDE as
null and void, and the Temporary Restraining
Order is hereby MADE PERMANENT.