People v. Perfecto
277 SCRA 268
About August 20, 1920, Fernando Guerrero, the Secretary of the Philippine Senate discovered that certain documents which constituted the records of testimony by witnesses in the investigation of oil companies had disappeared from his office. On September 7, 1920, the newspaper La Nacion, edited by Mr. Gregorio Perfecto published an article criticizing the Senate and its members in general. As a result, he was charged guilty of violating Article 256 of the Penal Code by the CFI of Manila. Petitioner filed an appeal to the Supreme Court praying for the dismissal of the case on the ground that said Article is no longer in force.
Is Article 256 of the Penal Code still in force despite the change of Spanish sovereignty to American sovereignty over the Philippines?
It is a general principle of the public law that the previous political relations of the ceded region are totally abrogated. All laws, ordinances, and regulations in conflict with the political character, institutions, and constitution of the new government are at once displaced. Article 256 was enacted to protect Spanish officials which were representatives of the King. Such intent is contradictory to the ideology of the new government where “In the eye of our (American) Constitution and laws, every man is a sovereign, a ruler and a freeman, and has equal rights with every other man”. As such, Article 256 is deemed abrogated and the case is consequently dismissed and judgment reversed.