consti part 10: free exercise clause
pamphlets. Court said that state can limit control of parent/guardian. The right of practice religion freelydoesnot include liberty to expose child to ill health. This case was decided after Barnette, supra.SecEd was not imposing a religious belief with the flagsalute. It was Merely enforcing a non-discriminatoryregulation applicable to members of all religions. Statecarried out duty to supervise educational institutionsand teach civic duty.Petitioners do not question the right of the school toconduct the flag Salute ceremony but question theattempt to compel them. The trouble of exempting thepetioners is that it would disrupt school discipline anddemoralize the greater student population. There are exemptions for cases of religiious belief like anunderstanding that anti-war religious believers will notbe made to fight but help war effort in other non-combat ways. But that is for the legislature to decide, not thecourts.
decision affirmed. constitutional. writ of preliminaryinjunction dissolved. No costs.March 1, 1993
Ponente: Griño-Aquino, J:
All the petitioners in these two cases are schoolchildren who are members of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were expelled from their classes by the public schoolauthorities in Cebu for refusing to salute the flag, singthe national anthem and recite the patriotic pledge asrequired by R.A. No. 1265 (July 11, 1955) and by DECSDepartment Order No. 8 (July 21, 1955) which makesthe flag ceremony compulsory in all educationalinstitutions.
Whether or not school children who aremembers of a religious sect known as Jehovah’sWitnesses may be expelled from school (both public andprivate) for refusing, on account of their religious beliefs,to take part in the flag ceremony.
It has been held previously in the case of
Gerona vs. Secretary of Education (1959)
Under asystem of complete separation between church andstate, the flag is utterly devoid of any religioussignificance and therefore saluting it is not a religiousceremony. The requirement of the flag ceremony, whichseeks to develop reverence for the flag and love of country, etc., is a non-discriminatory school regulationapplicable to students and teachers regardless of theirreligion.While the necessity to develop such respect forthe flag and respect for the country still persists untiltoday, there is recognition that religious freedom is afundamental right which is entitled to the highestpriority and the amplest protection among human rights(Fernando separate opinion in
German vs. Barangan
) Two-fold aspect of religious profession:
Freedom to believe – absolute as long asconfined to the realm of thought
Freedom to act on one’s belief – subject toregulation where the belief is translated intoexternal acts affecting the public welfarePetitioners contend that while they did notparticipate in the flag ceremony, they did not engage inany disruptive behavior that would offend those whochoose to participate but rather they just quietly stood atattention during the flag ceremony to show respect totheir countrymen.
Therefore, in the absence of a graveand present danger which is the sole justification fora prior restraint on the exercise of religiousfreedom
, according to Teehankee in his dissent in
German vs. Barangan
there is no warrant to justifytheir expulsion.
What petitioners seek is only exemption from theflag ceremony and therefore the virtues (e.g. patriotism,respect for human rights, love of country, etc.) they aresupposed to imbibe from their participation in the flagceremony, they can get in their study of theConstitution, the democaratic way of life and form of government, the history and culture of the Philippines,the life of our heroes, etc. To force a small religious group through the ironhand of the law, to participate in a ceremony thatviolates their religious beliefs, will hardly be conducive tolove of country or respect for duly constituted authorities which are precisely the values the court in Gerona feared will be lost by exempting some members of the Jehovah’sWitnesses to participate in the flag ceremonies.
let it be noted that coerced unity and loyalty even tothe country… is not a goal that is constitutionallyobtainable at the expense of religious liberty. A desirableend cannot be promoted by prohibited means. (Meyer vs.Nebraska)
expulsion of the members will violated their right ascitizens under the Constitution to receive free education which is the duty of the State to protect and promote theright of all citizens to quality education and to makesuch education applicable to all.
in closing, the court hopes that it will not takeanother foreign invasion of our country for ourcountrymen to appreciate and cherish the Philippine flagas what happened during WWII.
consti 2 all stars3
ERBALINAG vs. DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT