Prohibition, Interruption, and Dissolution of Peaceful Meetings

ART. 131.

ELEMENTS:
1. Offender is a public officer or employee;
2. He performs any of the following acts:
a. prohibiting or interrupting, without legal ground the holding of a peaceful meeting, or dissolving the same (e.g. denial of permit in arbitrary manner).
b. hindering any person from joining any lawful association or from attending any of its meetings
c. prohibiting or hindering any person from  addressing, either alone or together with others, any petition to the authorities for the correction of abuses or redress of grievances.

NOTES:

If the offender is a private individual, the crime is disturbance of public order (Art 153).

Meeting must be peaceful and there is no legal ground for prohibiting, dissolving or interrupting that meeting.

Offender must be a stranger, not a participant, in the peaceful meeting; otherwise, the offense is unjust vexation.

Interrupting and dissolving a meeting of the municipal council by a public officer is a crime against the legislative body and not punishable under this article.

The person talking on a prohibited subject at a public meeting contrary to agreement that no speaker should touch on politics may be stopped.

But stopping the speaker who was attacking certain churches in public meeting is a violation of this article.

Those holding peaceful meetings must comply with local ordinances. Example: Ordinance requires permits for meetings in public places. But if a police stops a meeting in a private place because there’s no permit, officer is liable for stopping the meeting.

The government has a right to require a permit before any gathering could be made. HOWEVER, the government only has regulatory, NOT PROHIBITORY, powers with regard to such requirement.

The permit should state the day, time,and place of the gathering.

If the permit is denied arbitrarily, OR the officer dictates the place where the meeting is to be held, this article is VIOLATED.

If in the course of the assembly, which started out peacefully, the participants committed illegal acts like oral defamation or inciting to sedition, a public officer or law enforcer can stop or dissolve the meeting.

Two criteria to determine whether this article would be violated:
- Dangerous tendency rule applicable in times of national unrest such as to prevent coup d’etat.
- Clear and present danger rule – applied in times of peace. Stricter rule.