Amelito Mutuc was a candidate for delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1970). His candidacy was given due course by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) but he was prohibited from playing his campaign jingle on his mobile units because that was an apparent violation of COMELEC’s ban (via a COMELEC resolution) “to purchase, produce, request or distribute sample ballots, or electoral propaganda gadgets such as pens, lighters, fans (of whatever nature), flashlights, athletic goods or materials, wallets, bandanas, shirts, hats, matches, cigarettes, and the like, whether of domestic or foreign origin.” It was COMELEC’s contention that the jingle proposed to be used by Mutuc is a recorded or taped voice of a singer and therefore a tangible propaganda material (falling under and the like– category), and under the above COMELEC rule, the same is subject to confiscation.
1. Whether or not COMELEC’s contention is correct.
2. Whether or not the COMELEC ban is valid.
1. No. By virtue of Ejusdem Generis, general words following any enumeration must be of the same class as those specifically referred to. COMELEC contended that the ban makes unlawful the distribution of electoral propaganda gadgets, mention being made of pens, lighters, fans, flashlights, athletic goods or materials, wallets, bandanas, shirts, hats, matches, and cigarettes, and concluding with the words “and the like.” For COMELEC, the last three words sufficed to justify such an order. The Supreme Court did not agree. It is quite apparent that what was contemplated in the said law violated by Mutuc was the distribution of gadgets of the kind referred to as a means of inducement to obtain a favorable vote for the candidate responsible for its distribution. It does not include campaign jingles for they are not gadgets as contemplated by the law.
2. No. This is a curtailment of Freedom of Expression. The Constitution prohibits the abridgment of the freedom of speech.