Baguio’s anti-profanity rule may not pass constitutional test

MANILA — Ordinances that curtail freedom of expression or speech, such as the anti-profanity ordinance in some areas in Baguio City, may not pass the constitutional test when it is raised before the courts, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was reacting to Baguio City’s anti-profanity ordinance signed by Mayor Mauricio Domogan which penalizes the use of profanity in some public places.

Panelo said cursing could be just an expression but will not oppose the anti-profanity ordinance passed in Baguio City.

“I will not oppose that kind of prohibition in school. But you know profane words are uttered in a moment of anger – so all of us [do] it,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo pointed out that using profane language is part of freedom of speech and saw nothing wrong with it provided a person does not harm another person physically.

“I think even cursing is part of freedom of speech. For as long as you do not injure the person, that is the subject of your curse,” Panelo said.

“It’s just an expression, I don’t think it is—or it should be prohibited,” he added.

Baguio City’s anti-profanity ordinance bans “all manner of cursing, cussing, expressing insults, whether directly or indirectly to anyone or anybody, or using profane and foul language, as a means of expression, or as a manifestation of anger, surprise, disgust or any other form of extreme emotion that yields to such expressions of profanity.”

It covers schools, computer shops, arcades, and other business establishments frequented by children, high school, and college students in the city.