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[Act No. 277, (1901-10-24)](http://lawyerly.ph/laws/view/l8ce5)
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[ Act No. 277, October 24, 1901 ]

AN ACT DEFINING THE LAW OF LIBEL AND THREATS TO PUBLISH A LIBEL, MAKING LIBEL AND THREATS TO PUBLISH A LIBEL MISDEMEANORS, GIVING A RIGHT OF CIVIL ACTION THEREFOR, AND MAKING OBSCENE OR INDECENT PUBLICATIONS MISDEMEANORS.

By authority of the President of the United States, be it enacted by the United States Philippine Commission, that:

SECTION 1. A libel is a malicious defamation, expressed either in writing, printing, or by signs or pictures, or the like, or public theatrical exhibitions, tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead or to impeach the honesty, virtue, or reputation, or publish the alleged or natural defects of one who is alive, and thereby expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule.

SEC. 2. Every person who wilfully and with a malicious intent to injure another publishes or procures to be published any libel shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding two thousand dollars or imprisonment for not exceeding one year, or both.

SEC. 3. An injurious publication is presumed to have been malicious if no justifiable motive for making it is shown.

SEC. 4. In all criminal prosecutions for libel the truth may be given in evidence to the court, and if it appears to the court that the matter charged as libelous is true and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; otherwise lie shall be convicted; but to establish this defense, not only must the truth of the matter so charged be proven, but also that it was published with good motives and for justifiable ends.

SEC. 5. To sustain a charge of publishing a libel it is not needful that the words or things complained of should have been read or seen by another. It is enough that the accused knowingly parted with the immediate custody of the libel under circumstances which exposed it to be read or seen by any other person than himself.

SEC. 6. Every author, editor, or proprietor of any book, newspaper, or serial publication is chargeable with the publication of any words contained in any part of such book or number of each newspaper or serial as fully as if he were the author of the same.

SEC. 7. No reporter, editor, or proprietor of any newspaper is liable to any prosecution for a fair and true report of any judicial, legislative, or other public official proceedings, or of any statement, speech, argument, or debate in the course of the same, except upon proof of malice in making such report, which shall not be implied from the mere fact of publication.

SEC. 8. Libelous remarks or comments connected with matter privileged by the last section receive no privilege by reason of being so connected.

SEC. 9. A private communication made by any person to another, in good faith, in the performance of any duty, whether legal, moral, or social, solely with the fair and reasonable purpose of protecting the interests of the person making the communication or the interests of the person to whom the communication is made, is a privileged communication, and the person making the same shall not be guilty of libel nor be within the provisions of this Act.

SEC. 10. Every person who threatens another to publish a libel concerning him, or any parent, husband, wife, or child of such person, or any member of his family, and every person who offers to prevent the publication of any libel upon another person, with intent to extort any money or other valuable consideration from any person, shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not exceeding six months, or both.

SEC. 11. In addition to the criminal action hereby prescribed, a right of civil action is also hereby given to any person libeled as hereinbefore set forth against the person libeling him for damages sustained by such libel, and the person so libeled shall lie entitled to recover in such civil action not only the actual pecuniary damages sustained by him but also damages for injury to his feelings and reputation, and in addition such punitive damages as the court may think will be a just punishment to the libeler and an example to others. Suit may be brought in any Court of First Instance having jurisdiction of the parties. The presumptions, rules of evidence, and special defenses herein provided for criminal prosecutions shall be equally applicable in civil actions under this section.

SEC. 12. Any person who writes, composes, stereotypes, prints, publishes, sells, or keeps for sale, distributes, or exhibits any obscene or indecent writing, paper, hook, or other matter, or who designs, copies, draws, engraves, paints, or otherwise prepares any obscene picture or print, or who moulds, cuts, casts, or otherwise makes any obscene or indecent figure, or who writes, composes, or prints any notice or advertisement of any such writing, paper, book, print, or figure shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.

SEC. 13. All laws and parts of laws now in force, so far as the same may he in conflict herewith, are hereby repealed: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall operate as a repeal of existing laws in so far as they are applicable to pending actions or existing causes of action, but as to such causes of action or pending actions existing laws shall remain in full force and effect.

SEC. 14. All criminal actions under the provisions of this Act shall be begun and prosecuted under the sole direction and control of the ordinary prosecuting officers, anything in the existing laws to the contrary notwithstanding.

SEC. 15. This Act shall take effect on its passage.

Enacted, October 24, 1901.

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