Facts: The provincial assessor made a tax assessment on the properties of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bangued.

The bishop claims tax exemption from real estate tax, through an action for declaratory relief. A summary judgment was made granting the exemption without hearing the side of the Province of Abra.

Issue: Whether the properties of the Bishop of Bangued are tax-exempt.

Held: The 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions differ in language as to the exemption of religious property from taxes as tehy should not only be “exclusively” but also “actually” and “directly” used for religious purposes. Herein, the judge accepted at its face the allegation of the Bishop instead of demonstrating that there is compliance with the constitutional provision that allows an exemption. There was an allegation of lack of jurisdiction and of lack of cause of action, which should have compelled the judge to accord a hearing to the province rather than deciding the case immediately in favor of the Bishop. Exemption from taxation is not favored and is never presumed, so that if granted, it must be strictly construed against the taxpayer. There must be proof of the actual and direct use of the lands, buildings, and improvements for religious (or charitable) purposes to be exempted from taxation.

The case was remanded to the lower court for a trial on merits.

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