CONSTITUTIONAL LAW II: FREEDOM OF RELIGION

G.R. No. 106440 January 29, 1996

ALEJANDRO MANOSCA, ASUNCION MANOSCA and LEONICA MANOSCA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. BENJAMIN V. PELAYO, Presiding Judge, RTC-Pasig, Metro Manila, Branch 168, HON. GRADUACION A. REYES CLARAVAL, Presiding
Judge, RTC-Pasig, Metro Manila, Branch 71, and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

In this appeal, via a petition for review on certiorari, from the decision1 of the Court of Appeals, dated 15 January 1992, in CA-G.R. SP No. 24969 (entitled "Alejandro
Manosca, et al. v. Hon. Benjamin V. Pelayo, et al."), this Court is asked to resolve whether or not the "public use" requirement of Eminent Domain is extant in the
attempted expropriation by the Republic of a 492-square-meter parcel of land so declared by the National Historical Institute ("NHI") as a national historical
landmark.

The facts of the case are not in dispute.

Petitioners inherited a piece of land located at P. Burgos Street, Calzada, Taguig. Metro Manila, with an area of about four hundred ninety-two (492) square meters.
When the parcel was ascertained by the NHI to have been the birthsite of Felix Y. Manalo, the founder of Iglesia Ni Cristo, it passed Resolution No. 1, Series of 1986,
pursuant to Section 42 of Presidential Decree No. 260, declaring the land to be a national historical landmark. The resolution was, on 06 January 1986, approved by
the Minister of Education, Culture and Sports. Later, the opinion of the Secretary of Justice was asked on the legality of the measure. In his Opinion No. 133, Series of
1987, the Secretary of Justice replied in the affirmative; he explained:

According to your guidelines, national landmarks are places or objects that are associated with an event, achievement, characteristic, or modification that
makes a turning point or stage in Philippine history. Thus, the birthsite of the founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo, the late Felix Y. Manalo, who, admittedly, had
made contributions to Philippine history and culture has been declared as a national landmark. It has been held that places invested with unusual
historical interest is a public use for which the power of eminent domain may be authorized . . . .

In view thereof, it is believed that the National Historical Institute as an agency of the Government charged with the maintenance and care of national
shrines, monuments and landmarks and the development of historical sites that may be declared as national shrines, monuments and/or landmarks, may
initiate the institution of condemnation proceedings for the purpose of acquiring the lot in question in accordance with the procedure provided for in Rule
67 of the Revised Rules of Court. The proceedings should be instituted by the Office of the Solicitor General in behalf of the Republic.

Accordingly, on 29 May 1989, the Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor-General, instituted a complaint for expropriation3 before the Regional Trial Court of
Pasig for and in behalf of the NHI alleging, inter alia, that:

Pursuant to Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 260, the National Historical Institute issued Resolution No. 1, Series of 1986, which was approved on
January, 1986 by the then Minister of Education, Culture and Sports, declaring the above described parcel of land which is the birthsite of Felix Y. Manalo,
founder of the "Iglesia ni Cristo," as a National Historical Landrnark. The plaintiff perforce needs the land as such national historical landmark which is a
public purpose.

At the same time, respondent Republic filed an urgent motion for the issuance of an order to permit it to take immediate possession of the property. The motion was
opposed by petitioners. After a hearing, the trial court issued, on 03 August 1989,4 an order fixing the provisional market (P54,120.00) and assessed (P16,236.00)
values of the property and authorizing the Republic to take over the property once the required sum would have been deposited with the Municipal Treasurer of
Taguig, Metro Manila.

Petitioners moved to dismiss the complaint on the main thesis that the intended expropriation was not for a public purpose and, incidentally, that the act would
constitute an application of public funds, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of Iglesia ni Cristo, a religious entity, contrary to the provision of Section
29(2), Article VI, of the 1987 Constitution.5 Petitioners sought, in the meanwhile, a suspension in the implementation of the 03rd August 1989 order of the trial court.

On 15 February 1990, following the filing by respondent Republic of its reply to petitioners' motion seeking the dismissal of the case, the trial court issued its denial of
said motion to dismiss.6 Five (5) days later, or on 20 February 1990,7 another order was issued by the trial court, declaring moot and academic the motion for
reconsideration and/or suspension of the order of 03 August 1989 with the rejection of petitioners' motion to dismiss. Petitioners' motion for the reconsideration of
the 20th February 1990 order was likewise denied by the trial court in its 16th April 1991 order.8

Petitioners then lodged a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals. In its now disputed 15th January 1992 decision, the appellate court
dismissed the petition on the ground that the remedy of appeal in the ordinary course of law was an adequate remedy and that the petition itself, in any case, had
failed to show any grave abuse of discretion or lack of jurisdictional competence on the part of the trial court. A motion for the reconsideration of the decision was
denied in the 23rd July 1992 resolution of the appellate court.

We begin, in this present recourse of petitioners, with a few known postulates.

Eminent domain, also often referred to as expropriation and, with less frequency, as condemnation, is, like police power and taxation, an inherent power of
sovereignty. It need not be clothed with any constitutional gear to exist; instead, provisions in our Constitution on the subject are meant more to regulate, rather
than to grant, the exercise of the power. Eminent domain is generally so described as "the highest and most exact idea of property remaining in the government" that
may be acquired for some public purpose through a method in the nature of a forced purchase by the State.9 It is a right to take or reassert dominion over property
within the state for public use or to meet a public exigency. It is said to be an essential part of governance even in its most primitive form and thus inseparable from
sovereignty. 10 The only direct constitutional qualification is that "private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation." 11 This proscription is
intended to provide a safeguard against possible abuse and so to protect as well the individual against whose property the power is sought to be enforced.

Petitioners assert that the expropriation has failed to meet the guidelines set by this Court in the case of Guido v.Rural Progress Administration, 12 to wit: (a) the size
of the land expropriated; (b) the large number of people benefited; and, (c) the extent of social and economic reform.13 Petitioners suggest that we confine the
concept of expropriation only to the following public uses, 14 i.e., the —

. . . taking of property for military posts, roads, streets, sidewalks, bridges, ferries, levees, wharves, piers, public buildings including schoolhouses, parks,
playgrounds, plazas, market places, artesian wells, water supply and sewerage systems, cemeteries, crematories, and railroads.

This view of petitioners is much too limitative and restrictive.

The court, in Guido, merely passed upon the issue of the extent of the President's power under Commonwealth Act No. 539 to, specifically, acquire private lands for
subdivision into smaller home lots or farms for resale to bona fide tenants or occupants. It was in this particular context of the statute that the Court had made the
pronouncement. The guidelines in Guido were not meant to be preclusive in nature and, most certainly, the power of eminent domain should not now be understood
as being confined only to the expropriation of vast tracts of land and landed estates. 15

The term "public use," not having been otherwise defined by the constitution, must be considered in its general concept of meeting a public need or a public
exigency. 16 Black summarizes the characterization given by various courts to the term; thus:

Public Use. Eminent domain. The constitutional and statutory basis for taking property by eminent domain. For condemnation purposes, "public use" is
one which confers same benefit or advantage to the public; it is not confined to actual use by public. It is measured in terms of right of public to use
proposed facilities for which condemnation is sought and, as long as public has right of use, whether exercised by one or many members of public, a
"public advantage" or "public benefit" accrues sufficient to constitute a public use. Montana Power Co. vs. Bokma, Mont. 457 P. 2d 769, 772, 773.

Public use, in constitutional provisions restricting the exercise of the right to take private property in virtue of eminent domain, means a use concerning
the whole community as distinguished from particular individuals. But each and every member of society need not be equally interested in such use, or be
personally and directly affected by it; if the object is to satisfy a great public want or exigency, that is sufficient. Rindge Co. vs. Los Angeles County, 262 U.S.
700, 43 S.Ct. 689, 692, 67 L.Ed. 1186. The term may be said to mean public usefulness, utility, or advantage, or what is productive of general benefit. It may
be limited to the inhabitants of a small or restricted locality, but must be in common, and not for a particular individual. The use must be a needful one for
the public, which cannot be surrendered without obvious general loss and inconvenience. A "public use" for which land may be taken defies absolute
definition for it changes with varying conditions of society, new appliances in the sciences, changing conceptions of scope and functions of government,
and other differing circumstances brought about by an increase in population and new modes of communication and transportation. Katz v. Brandon, 156
Conn., 521, 245 A.2d 579,586. 17

The validity of the exercise of the power of eminent domain for traditional purposes is beyond question; it is not at all to be said, however, that public use should
thereby be restricted to such traditional uses. The idea that "public use" is strictly limited to clear cases of "use by the public" has long been discarded. This Court in
Heirs of Juancho Ardona v. Reyes,18 quoting from Berman v. Parker (348 U.S. 25; 99 L. ed. 27), held:

We do not sit to determine whether a particular housing project is or is not desirable. The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive. See
DayBrite Lighting, Inc. v. Missouri, 342 US 421, 424, 96 L. Ed. 469, 472, 72 S Ct 405. The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as
well as monetary. It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as
clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled. In the present case, the Congress and its authorized agencies have made determinations that take into
account a wide variety of values. It is no for us to reappraise them. If those who govern the District of Columbia decide that the Nation's Capital should be
beautiful as well as sanitary, there is nothing in the Fifth Amendment that stands in the way.

Once the object is within the authority of Congress, the right to realize it through the exercise of eminent domain is clear. For the power of eminent
domain is merely the means to the end. See Luxton v. North River Bridge Co. 153 US 525, 529, 530, 38 L. ed. 808, 810, 14 S Ct 891; United States v.
Gettysburg Electric R. Co. 160 US 668, 679, 40 L. ed. 576, 580, 16 S Ct 427.

It has been explained as early as Seña v. Manila Railroad Co., 19 that:

. . . A historical research discloses the meaning of the term "public use" to be one of constant growth. As society advances, its demands upon the individual
increase and each demand is a new use to which the resources of the individual may be devoted. . . . for "whatever is beneficially employed for the
community is a public use.

Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando states:

The taking to be valid must be for public use. There was a time when it was felt that a literal meaning should be attached to such a requirement. Whatever
project is undertaken must be for the public to enjoy, as in the case of streets or parks. Otherwise, expropriation is not allowable. It is not so any more. As
long as the purpose of the taking is public, then the power of eminent domain comes into play. As just noted, the constitution in at least two cases, to
remove any doubt, determines what is public use. One is the expropriation of lands to be subdivided into small lots for resale at cost to individuals. The
other is the transfer, through the exercise of this power, of utilities and other private enterprise to the government. It is accurate to state then that at
present whatever may be beneficially employed for the general welfare satisfies the requirement of public use. 20
Chief Justice Fernando, writing the ponencia in J.M. Tuason & Co. vs. Land Tenure Administration, 21 has viewed the Constitution a dynamic instrument and one that
"is not to be construed narrowly or pedantically" so as to enable it "to meet adequately whatever problems the future has in store." Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a noted
constitutionalist himself, has aptly observed that what, in fact, has ultimately emerged is a concept of public use which is just as broad as "public welfare." 22

Petitioners ask: But "(w)hat is the so-called unusual interest that the expropriation of (Felix Manalo's) birthplace become so vital as to be a public use appropriate for
the exercise of the power of eminent domain" when only members of the Iglesia ni Cristo would benefit? This attempt to give some religious perspective to the case
deserves little consideration, for what should be significant is the principal objective of, not the casual consequences that might follow from, the exercise of the
power. The purpose in setting up the marker is essentially to recognize the distinctive contribution of the late Felix Manalo to the culture of the Philippines, rather
than to commemorate his founding and leadership of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

The practical reality that greater benefit may be derived by members of the Iglesia ni Cristo than by most others could well be true but such a peculiar
advantage still remains to be merely incidental and secondary in nature. Indeed, that only a few would actually benefit from the expropriation of property
does not necessarily diminish the essence and character of public use. 23

Petitioners contend that they have been denied due process in the fixing of the provisional value of their property. Petitioners need merely to be reminded that what
the law prohibits is the lack of opportunity to be heard;24contrary to petitioners' argument, the records of this case are replete with pleadings 25 that could have dealt,
directly or indirectly, with the provisional value of the property.

Petitioners, finally, would fault respondent appellate court in sustaining the trial court's order which considered inapplicable the case of Noble v. City of
Manila. 26 Both courts held correctly. The Republic was not a party to the alleged contract of exchange between the Iglesia ni Cristo and petitioners which (the
contracting parties) alone, not the Republic, could properly be bound.

All considered, the Court finds the assailed decision to be in accord with law and jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-45459 March 13, 1937

GREGORIO AGLIPAY, petitioner,
vs.
JUAN RUIZ, respondent.

The petitioner, Mons. Gregorio Aglipay, Supreme Head of the Philippine Independent Church, seeks the issuance from this court of a writ of prohibition to prevent
the respondent Director of Posts from issuing and selling postage stamps commemorative of the Thirty-third International Eucharistic Congress.

In May, 1936, the Director of Posts announced in the dailies of Manila that he would order the issues of postage stamps commemorating the celebration in the City of
Manila of the Thirty-third international Eucharistic Congress, organized by the Roman Catholic Church. The petitioner, in the fulfillment of what he considers to be a
civic duty, requested Vicente Sotto, Esq., member of the Philippine Bar, to denounce the matter to the President of the Philippines. In spite of the protest of the
petitioner's attorney, the respondent publicly announced having sent to the United States the designs of the postage stamps for printing as follows:

"In the center is chalice, with grape vine and stalks of wheat as border design. The stamps are blue, green, brown, cardinal red, violet and orange, 1 inch by 1,094
inches. The denominations are for 2, 6, 16, 20, 36 and 50 centavos." The said stamps were actually issued and sold though the greater part thereof, to this day,
remains unsold. The further sale of the stamps is sought to be prevented by the petitioner herein.

The Solicitor-General contends that the writ of prohibition is not the proper legal remedy in the instant case, although he admits that the writ may properly restrain
ministerial functions. While, generally, prohibition as an extraordinary legal writ will not issue to restrain or control the performance of other than judicial or quasi-
judicial functions (50 C. J., 6580, its issuance and enforcement are regulated by statute and in this jurisdiction may issue to . . . inferior tribunals, corporations, boards,
or persons, whether excercising functions judicial or ministerial, which are without or in excess of the jurisdiction of such tribunal, corporation, board, or person, . . .
." (Secs. 516 and 226, Code of Civil Procedure.) The terms "judicial" and "ministerial" used with reference to "functions" in the statute are undoubtedly
comprehensive and include the challenged act of the respondent Director of Posts in the present case, which act because alleged to be violative of the Constitution
is a fortiorari "without or in excess of . . . jurisdiction." The statutory rule, therefore, in the jurisdiction is that the writ of prohibition is not confined exclusively to
courts or tribunals to keep them within the limits of their own jurisdiction and to prevent them from encroaching upon the jurisdiction of other tribunals, but will
issue, in appropriate cases, to an officer or person whose acts are without or in excess of his authority. Not infrequently, "the writ is granted, where it is necessary for
the orderly administration of justice, or to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive or vindictive manner, or a multiplicity of actions." (Dimayuga
and Fajardo vs. Fernandez [1923], 43 Phil., 304, 307.)

The more important question raised refers to the alleged violation of the Constitution by the respondent in issuing and selling postage stamps commemorative of the
Thirty-third International Eucharistic Congress. It is alleged that this action of the respondent is violative of the provisions of section 23, subsection 3, Article VI, of the
Constitution of the Philippines, which provides as follows:

No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church,
denomination, secretarian, institution, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher
or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces or to any penal institution, orphanage, or
leprosarium.
The prohibition herein expressed is a direct corollary of the principle of separation of church and state. Without the necessity of adverting to the historical
background of this principle in our country, it is sufficient to say that our history, not to speak of the history of mankind, has taught us that the union of church and
state is prejudicial to both, for ocassions might arise when the estate will use the church, and the church the state, as a weapon in the furtherance of their recognized
this principle of separation of church and state in the early stages of our constitutional development; it was inserted in the Treaty of Paris between the United States
and Spain of December 10, 1898, reiterated in President McKinley's Instructions of the Philippine Commission, reaffirmed in the Philippine Bill of 1902 and in the
autonomy Act of August 29, 1916, and finally embodied in the constitution of the Philippines as the supreme expression of the Filipino people. It is almost trite to say
now that in this country we enjoy both religious and civil freedom. All the officers of the Government, from the highest to the lowest, in taking their oath to support
and defend the constitution, bind themselves to recognize and respect the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, with its inherent limitations and recognized
implications. It should be stated that what is guaranteed by our Constitution is religious liberty, not mere religious toleration.

Religious freedom, however, as a constitutional mandate is not inhibition of profound reverence for religion and is not denial of its influence in human affairs.
Religion as a profession of faith to an active power that binds and elevates man to his Creator is recognized. And, in so far as it instills into the minds the purest
principles of morality, its influence is deeply felt and highly appreciated. When the Filipino people, in the preamble of their Constitution, implored "the aid of Divine
Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and
secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty and democracy," they thereby manifested reliance upon Him
who guides the destinies of men and nations. The elevating influence of religion in human society is recognized here as elsewhere. In fact, certain general concessions
are indiscriminately accorded to religious sects and denominations. Our Constitution and laws exempt from taxation properties devoted exclusively to religious
purposes (sec. 14, subsec. 3, Art. VI, Constitution of the Philippines and sec. 1, subsec. 4, Ordinance appended thereto; Assessment Law, sec. 344, par. [c]. Adm.
Code). Sectarian aid is not prohibited when a priest, preacher, minister or other religious teacher or dignitary as such is assigned to the armed forces or to any penal
institution, orphanage or leprosarium 9 sec. 13, subsec. 3, Art. VI, Constitution of the Philippines). Optional religious instruction in the public schools is by
constitutional mandate allowed (sec. 5, Art. XIII, Constitution of the Philippines, in relation to sec. 928, Adm. Code). Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, Thanksgiving
Day, Christmas Day, and Sundays and made legal holidays (sec. 29, Adm. Code) because of the secular idea that their observance is conclusive to beneficial moral
results. The law allows divorce but punishes polygamy and bigamy; and certain crimes against religious worship are considered crimes against the fundamental laws
of the state (see arts. 132 and 133, Revised Penal Code).

In the case at bar, it appears that the respondent Director of Posts issued the postage stamps in question under the provisions of Act No. 4052 of the Philippine
Legislature. This Act is as follows:

No. 4052. — AN ACT APPROPRIATING THE SUM OF SIXTY THOUSAND PESOS AND MAKING THE SAME AVAILABLE OUT OF ANY FUNDS IN THE INSULAR
TREASURY NOT OTHERWISE APPROPRIATED FOR THE COST OF PLATES AND PRINTING OF POSTAGE STAMPS WITH NEW DESIGNS, AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Legislature assembled and by the authority of the same:

SECTION 1. The sum of sixty thousand pesos is hereby appropriated and made immediately available out of any funds in the Insular Treasury not otherwise
appropriated, for the costs of plates and printing of postage stamps with new designs, and other expenses incident thereto.

SEC. 2. The Director of Posts, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, is hereby authorized to dispose of the whole or any portion of
the amount herein appropriated in the manner indicated and as often as may be deemed advantageous to the Government.

SEC. 3. This amount or any portion thereof not otherwise expended shall not revert to the Treasury.

SEC. 4. This act shall take effect on its approval.

Approved, February 21, 1933.

It will be seen that the Act appropriates the sum of sixty thousand pesos for the costs of plates and printing of postage stamps with new designs and other expenses
incident thereto, and authorizes the Director of Posts, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, to dispose of the amount
appropriated in the manner indicated and "as often as may be deemed advantageous to the Government". The printing and issuance of the postage stamps in
question appears to have been approved by authority of the President of the Philippines in a letter dated September 1, 1936, made part of the respondent's
memorandum as Exhibit A. The respondent alleges that the Government of the Philippines would suffer losses if the writ prayed for is granted. He estimates the
revenue to be derived from the sale of the postage stamps in question at P1,618,17.10 and states that there still remain to be sold stamps worth P1,402,279.02.

Act No. 4052 contemplates no religious purpose in view. What it gives the Director of Posts is the discretionary power to determine when the issuance of special
postage stamps would be "advantageous to the Government." Of course, the phrase "advantageous to the Government" does not authorize the violation of the
Constitution. It does not authorize the appropriation, use or application of public money or property for the use, benefit or support of a particular sect or church. In
the present case, however, the issuance of the postage stamps in question by the Director of Posts and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications was not
inspired by any sectarian denomination. The stamps were not issue and sold for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. Nor were money derived from the sale of
the stamps given to that church. On the contrary, it appears from the latter of the Director of Posts of June 5, 1936, incorporated on page 2 of the petitioner's
complaint, that the only purpose in issuing and selling the stamps was "to advertise the Philippines and attract more tourist to this country." The officials concerned
merely, took advantage of an event considered of international importance "to give publicity to the Philippines and its people" (Letter of the Undersecretary of Public
Works and Communications to the President of the Philippines, June 9, 1936; p. 3, petitioner's complaint). It is significant to note that the stamps as actually designed
and printed (Exhibit 2), instead of showing a Catholic Church chalice as originally planned, contains a map of the Philippines and the location of the City of Manila, and
an inscription as follows: "Seat XXXIII International Eucharistic Congress, Feb. 3-7,1937." What is emphasized is not the Eucharistic Congress itself but Manila, the
capital of the Philippines, as the seat of that congress. It is obvious that while the issuance and sale of the stamps in question may be said to be inseparably linked
with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the Roman Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Government. We
are of the opinion that the Government should not be embarassed in its activities simply because of incidental results, more or less religious in character, if the
purpose had in view is one which could legitimately be undertaken by appropriate legislation. The main purpose should not be frustrated by its subordinate to mere
incidental results not contemplated. (Vide Bradfield vs. Roberts, 175 U. S., 295; 20 Sup. Ct. Rep., 121; 44 Law. ed., 168.)

We are much impressed with the vehement appeal of counsel for the petitioner to maintain inviolate the complete separation of church and state and curb any
attempt to infringe by indirection a constitutional inhibition. Indeed, in the Philippines, once the scene of religious intolerance and prescription, care should be taken
that at this stage of our political development nothing is done by the Government or its officials that may lead to the belief that the Government is taking sides or
favoring a particular religious sect or institution. But, upon very serious reflection, examination of Act No. 4052, and scrutiny of the attending circumstances, we have
come to the conclusion that there has been no constitutional infraction in the case at bar, Act No. 4052 grants the Director of Posts, with the approval of the
Secretary of Public Works and Communications, discretion to misuse postage stamps with new designs "as often as may be deemed advantageous to the
Government." Even if we were to assume that these officials made use of a poor judgment in issuing and selling the postage stamps in question still, the case of the
petitioner would fail to take in weight. Between the exercise of a poor judgment and the unconstitutionality of the step taken, a gap exists which is yet to be filled to
justify the court in setting aside the official act assailed as coming within a constitutional inhibition.

The petition for a writ of prohibition is hereby denied, without pronouncement as to costs. So ordered.

G.R. No. L-53487 May 25, 1981

ANDRES GARCES, Reverend Father SERGIO MARILAO OSMEÑA, NICETAS DAGAR and JESUS EDULLANTES, petitioners,
vs.
Hon. NUMERIANO G. ESTENZO, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, Ormoc City Branch V, BARANGAY COUNCIL of Valencia, Ormoc City,
Barangay Captain MANUEL C. VELOSO, Councilmen GAUDENCIO LAVEZARES, TOMAS CABATINGAN and MAXIMINO NAVARRO, Barangay Secretary CONCHITA
MARAYA and Barangay Treasurer LUCENA BALTAZAR, respondents. 1äwphï1.ñët

This case is about the constitutionality of four resolutions of the barangay council of Valencia, Ormoc City, regarding the acquisition of the wooden image of San
Vicente Ferrer to be used in the celebration of his annual feast day. That issue was spawned by the controversy as to whether the parish priest or a layman should
have the custody of the image.

On March 23, 1976, the said barangay council adopted Resolution No. 5, "reviving the traditional socio-religious celebration" every fifth day of April "of the feast day
of Señor San Vicente Ferrer, the patron saint of Valencia".

That resolution designated the members of nine committees who would take charge of the 1976 festivity. lt provided for (1) the acquisition of the image of San
Vicente Ferrer and (2) the construction of a waiting shed as the barangay's projects. Funds for the two projects would be obtained through the selling of tickets and
cash donations " (Exh A or 6).

On March 26, 1976, the barangay council passed Resolution No. 6 which specified that, in accordance with the practice in Eastern Leyte, Councilman Tomas
Cabatingan, the Chairman or hermano mayor of the fiesta, would be the caretaker of the image of San Vicente Ferrer and that the image would remain in his
residence for one year and until the election of his successor as chairman of the next feast day.

It was further provided in the resolution that the image would be made available to the Catholic parish church during the celebration of the saint's feast day (Exh. B or
7).

Resolutions Nos. 5 and 6 were submitted to a plebiscite and were duly ratified by the barangay general assembly on March 26, 1976. Two hundred seventy-two
voters ratified the two resolutions (Exh. 2 and 5).

Funds were raised by means of solicitations0 and cash donations of the barangay residents and those of the neighboring places of Valencia. With those funds, the
waiting shed was constructed and the wooden image of San Vicente Ferrer was acquired in Cebu City by the barangay council for four hundred pesos (Exh. F-l, 3 and
4).

On April 5, 1976, the image was temporarily placed in the altar of the Catholic church of Barangay Valencia so that the devotees could worship the saint during the
mass for the fiesta.

A controversy arose after the mass when the parish priest, Father Sergio Marilao Osmeña refused to return that image to the barangay council on the pretext that it
was the property of the church because church funds were used for its acquisition.

Several days after the fiesta or on April 11, 1976, on the occasion of his sermon during a mass, Father Osmeña allegedly uttered defamatory remarks against the
barangay captain, Manuel C. Veloso, apparently in connection with the disputed image. That incident provoked Veloso to file against Father Osmeña in the city court
of Ormoc City a charge for grave oral defamation.

Father Osmeña retaliated by filing administrative complaints against Veloso with the city mayor's office and the Department of Local Government and Community
Development on the grounds of immorality, grave abuse of authority, acts unbecoming a public official and ignorance of the law.

Meanwhile, the image of San Vicente Ferrer remained in the Catholic church of Valencia. Because Father Osmeña did not accede to the request of Cabatingan to have
custody of the image and "maliciously ignored" the council's Resolution No. 6, the council enacted on May 12, 1976 Resolution No. 10, authorizing the hiring of a
lawyer to file a replevin case against Father Osmeña for the recovery of the image (Exh. C or 8). On June 14, 1976, the barangay council passed Resolution No. 12,
appointing Veloso as its representative in the replevin case (Exh. D or 9).
The replevin case was filed in the city court of Ormoc City against Father Osmeña and Bishop Cipriano Urgel (Exh. F). After the barangay council had posted a cash
bond of eight hundred pesos, Father Osmeña turned over the image to the council (p. 10, Rollo). ln his answer to the complaint for replevin, he assailed the
constitutionality of the said resolutions (Exh. F-1).

Later, he and three other persons, Andres Garces, a member of the Aglipayan Church, and two Catholic laymen, Jesus Edullantes and Nicetas Dagar, filed against the
barangay council and its members (excluding two members) a complaint in the Court of First Instance at Ormoc City, praying for the annulment of the said resolutions
(Civil Case No. 1680-0).

The lower court dismissed the complaint. lt upheld the validity of the resolutions. The petitioners appealed under Republic Act No. 5440. The petitioners contend that
the barangay council was not duly constituted because lsidoro M. Mañago, Jr., the chairman of the kabataang barangay, was not allowed to participate in its sessions.

Barangays used to be known as citizens assemblies (Presidential Decrees Nos. 86 and 86-A). Presidential Decree No. 557, which took effect on September 21, 1974,
70 O.G. 8450-L, directed that all barrios should be known as barangays and adopted the Revised Barrio Charter as the Barangay Charter.

Barrios are units of municipalities or municipal districts in which they are situated. They are quasi-municipal corporations endowed with such powers" as are provided
by law "for the performance of particular government functions, to be exercised by and through their respective barrio governments in conformity with law" (Sec. 2,
Revised Barrio Charter, R.A. No. 3590).

The barrio assembly consists of all persons who are residents of the barrio for at least six months, eighteen years of age or over and Filipino citizens duly registered in
the list kept by the barrio secretary (Sec. 4, Ibid).

The barrio council, now barangay council, is composed of the barangay captain and six councilmen (Sec. 7, Ibid). Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 684, which took
effect on April 15, 1975, provides that "the barangay youth chairman shall be an ex-officio member of the barangay council", having the same powers and functions
as a barangay councilman.

In this case, Mañago, the barangay youth chairman, was notified of the sessions of the barangay council to be held on March 23 and 26, 1976 but he was not able to
attend those sessions because he was working with a construction company based at Ipil, Ormoc City (Par. 2[d] Exh. 1).

Mañago's absence from the sessions of the barangay council did not render the said resolutions void. There was a quorum when the said resolutions were passed.

The other contention of the petitioners is that the resolutions contravene the constitutional provisions that "no law shall be made respecting an establishment of
religion" and that "no public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, paid, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect,
church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or
dignitary as such. except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or
leprosarium (Sec. 8, Article IV and sec. 18[2], Article VIII, Constitution).

That contention is glaringly devoid of merit. The questioned resolutions do not directly or indirectly establish any religion, nor abridge religious liberty, nor
appropriate public money or property for the benefit of any sect, priest or clergyman. The image was purchased with private funds, not with tax money. The
construction of a waiting shed is entirely a secular matter.

Manifestly puerile and flimsy is Petitioners argument that the barangay council favored the Catholic religion by using the funds raised by solicitations and donations
for the purchase of the patron saint's wooden image and making the image available to the Catholic church.

The preposterousness of that argument is rendered more evident by the fact that counsel advanced that argument in behalf of the petitioner, Father Osmeña the
parish priest.

The wooden image was purchased in connection with the celebration of the barrio fiesta honoring the patron saint, San Vicente Ferrer, and not for the purpose of
favoring any religion nor interfering with religious matters or the religious beliefs of the barrio residents. One of the highlights of the fiesta was the mass.
Consequently, the image of the patron saint had to be placed in the church when the mass was celebrated.

If there is nothing unconstitutional or illegal in holding a fiesta and having a patron saint for the barrio, then any activity intended to facilitate the worship of the
patron saint (such as the acquisition and display of his image) cannot be branded as illegal.

As noted in the first resolution, the barrio fiesta is a socio-religious affair. Its celebration is an ingrained tradition in rural communities. The fiesta relieves the
monotony and drudgery of the lives of the masses.

The barangay council designated a layman as the custodian of the wooden image in order to forestall any suspicion that it is favoring the Catholic church. A more
practical reason for that arrangement would be that the image, if placed in a layman's custody, could easily be made available to any family desiring to borrow the
image in connection with prayers and novenas.

The contradictory positions of the petitioners are shown in their affidavits. Petitioner Garces swore that the said resolutions favored the Catholic church. On the other
hand, petitioners Dagar and Edullantes swore that the resolutions prejudiced the Catholics because they could see the image in the church only once a year or during
the fiesta (Exh. H and J).
We find that the momentous issues of separation of church and state, freedom of religion annd the use of public money to favor any sect or church are not involved
at all in this case even remotely or indirectly. lt is not a microcosmic test case on those issues.

This case is a petty quarrel over the custody of a saint's image. lt would never have arisen if the parties had been more diplomatic and tactful and if Father Osmeña
had taken the trouble of causing contributions to be solicited from his own parishioners for the purchase of another image of San Vicente Ferrer to be installed in his
church.

There can be no question that the image in question belongs to the barangay council. Father Osmeña claim that it belongs to his church is wrong. The barangay
council, as owner of the image, has the right to determine who should have custody thereof.

If it chooses to change its mind and decides to give the image to the Catholic church. that action would not violate the Constitution because the image was acquired
with private funds and is its private property.

The council has the right to take measures to recover possession of the image by enacting Resolutions Nos. 10 and 12.

Not every governmental activity which involves the expenditure of public funds and which has some religious tint is violative of the constitutional provisions regarding
separation of church and state, freedom of worship and banning the use of public money or property.

In Aglipay vs. Ruiz, 64 Phil. 201, what was involved was Act No. 4052 which appropriated sixty thousand pesos for the cost of plates and the printing of postage
stamps with new designs. Under the law, the Director of Posts, with the approval of the Department Head and the President of the Philippines, issued in 1936
postage stamps to commemorate the celebration in Manila of the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress sponsored by the Catholic Church.

The purpose of the stamps was to raise revenue and advertise the Philippines. The design of the stamps showed a map of the Philippines and nothing about the
Catholic Church. No religious purpose was intended.

Monsignor Gregorio Aglipay, the founder and head of the Philippine Independent Church, sought to enjoin the sale of those commemorative postage stamps.

It was held that the issuance of the stamps, while linked inseparably with an event of a religious character, was not designed as a propaganda for the Catholic Church.
Aglipay's prohibition suit was dismissed.

The instant case is easily distinguishable from Verzosa vs. Fernandez, 49 Phil., 627 and 55 Phil. 307, where a religious brotherhood, La Archicofradia del Santisimo
Sacramento, organized for the purpose of raising funds to meet the expenses for the annual fiesta in honor of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Virgin Lady of
Guadalupe, was held accountable for the funds which it held as trustee. 0

Finding that the petitioners have no cause of action for the annulment of the barangay resolutions, the lower court's judgment dismissing their amended petition is
affirmed. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 119673 July 26, 1996

IGLESIA NI CRISTO, (INC.), petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, BOARD OF REVIEW FOR MOVING PICTURES AND TELEVISION and HONORABLE HENRIETTA S. MENDOZA, respondents.

This is a petition for review of the Decision dated March 24, 1995 of the respondent Court of Appeals affirming the action of the respondent Board of Review for
Moving Pictures and Television which x-rated the TV Program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo."

Petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo, a duly organized religious organization, has a television program entitled "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" aired on Channel 2 every Saturday and on
Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and propagates petitioner's religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in comparative studies with other
religions.

Sometime in the months of September, October and November 1992 petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television the
VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series as "X" or not for public viewing on the ground that they "offend and
constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law."

Petitioner pursued two (2) courses of action against the respondent Board. On November 28, 1992, it appealed to the Office of the President the classification of its
TV Series No. 128. It succeeded in its appeal for on December 18, 1992, the Office of the President reversed the decision of the respondent Board. Forthwith, the
Board allowed Series No. 128 to be publicly telecast.

On December 14, 1992, petitioner also filed against the respondent Board Civil Case No. Q-92-14280, with the RTC, NCR Quezon City. 1 Petitioner alleged that the
respondent Board acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the VTR tapes of its TV program and in x-rating them.
It cited its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. In their Answer, respondent Board invoked its power under PD No. 1986 in relation to Article 201 of the
Revised Penal Code.
On January 4, 1993, the trial court held a hearing on petitioner's prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. The parties orally argued and then marked their
documentary evidence. Petitioner submitted the following as its exhibits, viz.:

(1) Exhibit "A," respondent Board's Voting Slip for Television showing its September 9, 1992 action on petitioner's Series No. 115 as follows: 2

REMARKS:

There are some inconsistencies in the particular program as it is very surprising for this program to show series of Catholic ceremonies and also
some religious sects and using it in their discussion about the bible. There are remarks which are direct criticism which affect other religions.

Need more opinions for this particular program. Please subject to more opinions.

(2) Exhibit "A-1," respondent Board's Voting Slip for Television showing its September 11, 1992 subsequent action on petitioner's Series No. 115
as follows: 3

REMARKS:

This program is criticizing different religions, based on their own interpretation of the Bible.

We suggest that the program should delve on explaining their own faith and beliefs and avoid attacks on other faith.

(3) Exhibit "B," respondent Board's Voting Slip for Television showing its October 9, 1992 action on petitioner's Series No. 119, as follows: 4

REMARKS:

The Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our (Catholic) veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned
because nowhere it is found in the bible that we should do so.

This is intolerance and robs off all sects of freedom of choice, worship and decision.

(4) Exhibit "C," respondent Board's Voting Slip for Television showing its October 20, 1992 action on petitioner's Series No. 121 as follows: 5

REMARKS:

I refuse to approve the telecast of this episode for reasons of the attacks, they do on, specifically, the Catholic religion.

I refuse to admit that they can tell, dictate any other religion that they are right and the rest are wrong, which they clearly present in this
episode.

(5) Exhibit "D," respondent Board's Voting Slip for Television showing its November 20, 1992 action on petitioner's Series No. 128 as follows: 6

REMARKS:

The episode presented criticizes the religious beliefs of the Catholic and Protestant's beliefs.

We suggest a second review.

(6) Exhibits "E," "E-1," petitioner's block time contract with ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation dated September 1, 1992. 7

(7) Exhibit "F," petitioner's Airtime Contract with Island Broadcasting Corporation. 8

(8) Exhibit "G," letter dated December 18, 1992 of former Executive Secretary Edelmiro A. Amante, Sr., addressed for Henrietta S. Mendez
reversing the decision of the respondent Board which x-rated the showing of petitioner's Series No. 129. The letter reads in part:

xxx xxx xxx

The television episode in question is protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech and expression under
Article III, section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.

We have viewed a tape of the television episode in question, as well as studied the passages found by MTRCB to be
objectionable and we find no indication that the episode poses any clear and present danger sufficient to limit the said
constitutional guarantee.
(9) Exhibits "H," "H-1," letter dated November 26, 1992 of Teofilo C. Ramos, Sr., addressed to President Fidel V. Ramos appealing the action of
the respondent Board x-rating petitioner's Series No. 128.

On its part, respondent Board submitted the following exhibits, viz.:

(1) Exhibit "1," Permit Certificate for Television Exhibition No. 15181 dated December 18, 1992 allowing the showing of Series No. 128 under
parental guidance.

(2) Exhibit "2," which is Exhibit "G" of petitioner.

(3) Exhibit "3," letter dated October 12, 1992 of Henrietta S. Mendez, addressed to the Christian Era Broadcasting Service which reads in part:

xxx xxx xxx

In the matter of your television show "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" Series No. 119, please be informed that the Board was
constrained to deny your show a permit to exhibit. The material involved constitute an attack against another religion
which is expressly prohibited by law. Please be guided in the submission of future shows.

After evaluating the evidence of the parties, the trial court issued a writ of preliminary injunction on petitioner's bond o P10,000.00.

The trial court set the pre-trial of the case and the parties submitted their pre-trial briefs. 9 The pre-trial briefs show that the parties' evidence is basically the evidence
they submitted in the hearing of the issue of preliminary injunction. The trial of the case was set and reset several times as the parties tried to reach an amicable
accord. Their efforts failed and the records show that after submission of memoranda, the trial court rendered a Judgment, 10 on December 15, 1993, the dispositive
portion of which reads:

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television (BRMPT) to grant
petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo the necessary permit for all the series of "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" program.

Petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo, however, is directed to refrain from offending and attacking other existing religions in showing "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo"
program.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration 11 praying: (a) for the deletion of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Decision, and (b) for the Board to be
perpetually enjoined from requiring petitioner to submit for review the tapes of its program. The respondent Board opposed the motion. 12 On March 7, 1993, the
trial court granted petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. It ordered: 13

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is granted. The second portion of the Court's Order dated December 15, 1993, directing
petitioner to refrain from offending and attacking other existing religions in showing "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" program is hereby deleted and set
aside. Respondents are further prohibited from requiring petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo to submit for review VTR tapes of its religious program "Ang
Iglesia ni Cristo."

Respondent Board appealed to the Court of Appeals after its motion for reconsideration was denied. 14

On March 5, 1995, the respondent Court of Appeals 15 reversed the trial court. It ruled that: (1) the respondent board has jurisdiction and power to review the TV
program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo," and (2) the respondent Board did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it denied permit for the exhibition on TV of the three
series of "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" on the ground that the materials constitute an attack against another religion. It also found the series "indecent, contrary to law and
contrary to good customs.

In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, petitioner raises the following issues:

I

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE "ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO" PROGRAM IS NOT
CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED AS A FORM OF RELIGIOUS EXERCISE AND EXPRESSION.

II
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT BEING AN EXERCISE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, THE
"ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO" PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO THE POLICE POWER OF THE STATE ONLY IN THE EXTREME CASE THAT IT POSES A CLEAR
AND PRESENT DANGER.

III

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE MTRCB IS VESTED WITH THE POWER TO CENSOR
RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS.

IV

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE "ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO," A PURELY RELIGIOUS
PROGRAM IS INDECENT AND CONTRARY TO LAW AND GOOD CUSTOMS.

The basic issues can be reduced into two: (1) first, whether the respondent Board has the power to review petitioner's TV program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo," and (2)
second, assuming it has the power, whether it gravely abused its discretion when it prohibited the airing of petitioner's religious program, series Nos. 115, 119 and
121, for the reason that they constitute an attack against other religions and that they are indecent, contrary to law and good customs.

The first issue can be resolved by examining the powers of the Board under PD No. 1986. Its section 3 pertinently provides:

Sec. 3 Powers and Functions. -- The BOARD shall have the following functions, powers and duties:

xxx xxx xxx

b) To screen, review and examine all motion pictures as herein defined, television programs, including publicity materials such as
advertisements, trailers and stills, whether such motion pictures and publicity materials be for theatrical or non-theatrical distribution for
television broadcast or for general viewing, imported or produced in the Philippines and in the latter case, whether they be for local viewing or
for export.

c) To approve, delete objectionable portion from and/or prohibit the importation, exportation, production, copying, distribution, sale,
lease, exhibition and/or television broadcast of the motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials, subject of the preceding
paragraph, which, in the judgment of the BOARD applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard, are objectionable for
being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people, or
with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong or crime, such as but not limited to:

i) Those which tend to incite subversion, insurrection, rebellion or sedition against the State, or otherwise threaten the
economic and/or political stability of the State;

ii) Those which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people, their government and/or duly constituted
authorities;

iii) Those which glorify criminals or condone crimes;

iv) Those which serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence or pornography;

v) Those which tend to abet the traffic in and use of prohibited drugs;

vi) Those which are libelous or defamatory to the good name and reputation of any person, whether living or dead;

vii) Those which may constitute contempt of court or of any quasi-judicial tribunal, or pertain to matters which are
subjudice in nature (emphasis ours).

The law gives the Board the power to screen, review and examine all "television programs." By the clear terms of the law, the Board has the power to
"approve, delete . . . and/or prohibit the . . . exhibition and/or television broadcast of . . . television programs . . ." The law also directs the Board to apply
"contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard" to determine those which are objectionable for being "immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good
customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence
or of a wrong or crime."

Petitioner contends that the term "television program" should not include religious programs like its program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo." A contrary interpretation, it is
urged, will contravene section 5, Article III of the Constitution which guarantees that "no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed."

We reject petitioner's submission which need not set us adrift in a constitutional voyage towards an uncharted sea. Freedom of religion has been accorded
a preferred status by the framers of our fundamental laws, past and present. We have affirmed this preferred status well aware that it is "designed to protect the
broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live,
consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good." 16 We have also laboriously defined in our jurisprudence the intersecting umbras and penumbras of
the right to religious profession and worship. To quote the summation of Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz, our well-known constitutionalist: 17

Religious Profession and Worship

The right to religious profession and worship has a two-fold aspect, viz., freedom to believe and freedom to act on one's beliefs. The first is
absolute as long as the belief is confined within the realm of thought. The second is subject to regulation where the belief is translated into
external acts that affect the public welfare.

(1) Freedom to Believe

The individual is free to believe (or disbelieve) as he pleases concerning the hereafter. He may indulge his own theories about life and death;
worship any god he chooses, or none at all; embrace or reject any religion; acknowledge the divinity of God or of any being that appeals to his
reverence; recognize or deny the immortality of his soul -- in fact, cherish any religious conviction as he and he alone sees fit. However absurd
his beliefs may be to others, even if they be hostile and heretical to the majority, he has full freedom to believe as he pleases. He may not be
required to prove his beliefs. He may not be punished for his inability to do so. Religion, after all, is a matter of faith. "Men may believe what
they cannot prove." Every one has a right to his beliefs and he may not be called to account because he cannot prove what he believes.

(2) Freedom to Act on One's Beliefs

But where the individual externalizes his beliefs in acts or omissions that affect the public, his freedom to do so becomes subject to the authority
of the State. As great as this liberty may be, religious freedom, like all the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution, can be enjoyed only with
a proper regard for the rights of others. It is error to think that the mere invocation of religious freedom will stalemate the State and render it
impotent in protecting the general welfare. The inherent police power can be exercised to prevent religious practices inimical to society. And
this is true even if such practices are pursued out of sincere religious conviction and not merely for the purpose of evading the reasonable
requirements or prohibitions of the law.

Justice Frankfurter put it succinctly: "The constitutional provision on religious freedom terminated disabilities, it did not create new privileges. It
gave religious liberty, not civil immunity. Its essence is freedom from conformity to religious dogma, not freedom from conformity to law
because of religious dogma.

Accordingly, while one has lull freedom to believe in Satan, he may not offer the object of his piety a human sacrifice, as this would be murder.
Those who literally interpret the Biblical command to "go forth and multiply" are nevertheless not allowed to contract plural marriages in
violation of the laws against bigamy. A person cannot refuse to pay taxes on the ground that it would be against his religious tenets to
recognize any authority except that of God alone. An atheist cannot express in his disbelief in act of derision that wound the feelings of the
faithful. The police power can validly asserted against the Indian practice of the suttee, born of deep religious conviction, that calls on the
widow to immolate herself at the funeral pile of her husband.

We thus reject petitioner's postulate that its religious program is per se beyond review by the respondent Board. Its public broadcast on TV of its religious program
brings it out of the bosom of internal belief. Television is a medium that reaches even the eyes and ears of children. The Court iterates the rule that the exercise of
religious freedom can be regulated by the State when it will bring about the clear and present danger of some substantive evil which the State is duty bound to
prevent, i.e., serious detriment to the more overriding interest of public health, public morals, or public welfare. A laissez faire policy on the exercise of religion can
be seductive to the liberal mind but history counsels the Court against its blind adoption as religion is and continues to be a volatile area of concern in our country
today. Across the sea and in our shore, the bloodiest and bitterest wars fought by men were caused by irreconcilable religious differences. Our country is still not safe
from the recurrence of this stultifying strife considering our warring religious beliefs and the fanaticism with which some of us cling and claw to these beliefs. Even
now, we have yet to settle the near century old strife in Mindanao, the roots of which have been nourished by the mistrust and misunderstanding between our
Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters. The bewildering rise of weird religious cults espousing violence as an article of faith also proves the wisdom of our rule
rejecting a strict let alone policy on the exercise of religion. For sure, we shall continue to subject any act pinching the space for the free exercise of religion to a
heightened scrutiny but we shall not leave its rational exercise to the irrationality of man. For when religion divides and its exercise destroys, the State should not
stand still.

It is also petitioner's submission that the respondent appellate court gravely erred when it affirmed the ruling of the respondent Board x-rating its TV Program Series
Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. The records show that the respondent Board disallowed the program series for "attacking" other religions. Thus, Exhibits "A," "A-1,"
(respondent Board's Voting Slip for Television) reveal that its reviewing members x-rated Series 115 for ". . . criticizing different religions, based on their own
interpretation of the Bible." They suggested that the program should only explain petitioner's ". . . own faith and beliefs and avoid attacks on other faiths." Exhibit "B"
shows that Series No. 119 was x-rated because "the Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our Catholic veneration of the Virgin
Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it is found in the bible that we should do so. This is intolerance . . ." Exhibit "C" shows that Series No. 121 was x-rated ".
. . for reasons of the attacks, they do on, specifically, the Catholic religion. . . . (T)hey can not tell, dictate any other religion that they are right and the rest are wrong
. . ." Exhibit "D" also shows that Series No. 128 was not favorably recommended because it ". . . outrages Catholic and Protestant's beliefs." On second review, it was
x-rated because of its "unbalanced interpretations of some parts of the bible." 18 In sum, the respondent Board x-rated petitioner's TV program series Nos. 115, 119,
121 and 128 because of petitioner's controversial biblical interpretations and its "attacks" against contrary religious beliefs. The respondent appellate court agreed
and even held that the said "attacks" are indecent, contrary to law and good customs.

We reverse the ruling of the appellate court.

First. Deeply ensconced in our fundamental law is its hostility against all prior restraints on speech, including religious speech. Hence, any act that restrains speech is
hobbled by the presumption of invalidity and should be greeted with furrowed brows. 19 It is the burden of the respondent Board to overthrow this presumption. If it
fails to discharge this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down. It failed in the case at bar.
Second. The evidence shows that the respondent Board x-rated petitioners TV series for "attacking" either religions, especially the Catholic church. An examination of
the evidence, especially Exhibits "A," "A-1," "B," "C," and "D" will show that the so-called "attacks" are mere criticisms of some of the deeply held dogmas and tenets
of other religions. The videotapes were not viewed by the respondent court as they were not presented as evidence. Yet they were considered by the respondent
court as indecent, contrary to law and good customs, hence, can be prohibited from public viewing under section 3(c) of PD 1986. This ruling clearly suppresses
petitioner's freedom of speech and interferes with its right to free exercise of religion. It misappreciates the essence of freedom to differ as delineated in the
benchmark case of Cantwell v. Connecticut, so viz.: 20

xxx xxx xxx

In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields, the tenets of one man may seem the rankest
error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of
men who have been, or are prominent in church or state or even to false statements. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of
history that inspite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right
conduct on the part of the citizens of democracy.

The respondent Board may disagree with the criticisms of other religions by petitioner but that gives it no excuse to interdict such criticisms, however,
unclean they may be. Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another
religion. Religious dogmas and beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace among their followers, especially the fanatics, the establishment clause of
freedom of religion prohibits the State from leaning towards any religion. Vis-a-vis religious differences, the State enjoys no banquet of options. Neutrality
alone is its fixed and immovable stance. In fine, respondent board cannot squelch the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other
religions, even if said religion happens to be the most numerous church in our country. In a State where there ought to be no difference between the
appearance and the reality of freedom of religion, the remedy against bad theology is better theology. The bedrock of freedom of religion is freedom of
thought and it is best served by encouraging the marketplace of dueling ideas. When the luxury of time permits, the marketplace of ideas demands that
speech should be met by more speech for it is the spark of opposite speech, the heat of colliding ideas that can fan the embers of truth.

Third. The respondents cannot also rely on the ground "attacks against another religion" in x-rating the religious program of petitioner. Even a sideglance at section 3
of PD No. 1986 will reveal that it is not among the grounds to justify an order prohibiting the broadcast of petitioner's television program. The ground "attack against
another religion" was merely added by the respondent Board in its Rules. 21 This rule is void for it runs smack against the hoary doctrine that administrative rules and
regulations cannot expand the letter and spirit of the law they seek to enforce.

It is opined that the respondent board can still utilize" attack against any religion" as a ground allegedly ". . . because section 3 (c) of PD No. 1986 prohibits the
showing of motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials which are contrary to law and Article 201 (2) (b) (3) of the Revised Penal Code punishes
anyone who exhibits "shows which offend any race or religion." We respectfully disagree for it is plain that the word "attack" is not synonymous with the word
"offend." Moreover, Article 201 (2) (b) (3) of the Revised Penal Code should be invoked to justify the subsequent punishment of a show which offends any religion. It
cannot be utilized to justifyprior censorship of speech. It must be emphasized that E.O. 876, the law prior to PD 1986, included "attack against any religion" as a
ground for censorship. The ground was not, however, carried over by PD 1986. Its deletion is a decree to disuse it. There can be no other intent. Indeed, even the
Executive Department espouses this view.

Thus, in an Opinion dated November 28, 1985 then Minister of Justice, now President of the Senate, Neptali Gonzales explained:

xxx xxx xxx

However, the question whether the BRMPT (now MTRCB) may preview and censor the subject television program of INC should be viewed in
the light of the provision of Section 3, paragraph (c) of PD 1986, which is substantially the same as the provision of Section 3, paragraph (c) of
E.O. No. 876-A, which prescribes the standards of censorship, to wit: "immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the
prestige of the Republic of the Philippines or its people or with dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence, or of a wrong" as
determined by the Board, "applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard." As stated, the intention of the Board to subject the
INC's television program to "previewing and censorship is prompted by the fact that its religious program makes mention of beliefs and
practices of other religion." On the face of the law itself, there can conceivably be no basis for censorship of said program by the Board as much
as the alleged reason cited by the Board does not appear to he within the contemplation of the standards of censorship set by law. (Emphasis
supplied).

Fourth. In x-rating the TV program of the petitioner, the respondents failed to apply the clear and present danger rule. In American Bible Society v. City of
Manila, 22 this Court held: "The constitutional guaranty of free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship carries with it the right to disseminate
religious information. Any restraint of such right can be justified like other restraints on freedom of expression on the ground that there is aclear and present
danger of any substantive evil which the State has the right to prevent." In Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers Union, 23 we further ruled that ". . . it is only where it
is unavoidably necessary to prevent animmediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be
justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger."

The records show that the decision of the respondent Board, affirmed by the respondent appellate court, is completely bereft of findings of facts to justify
the conclusion that the subject video tapes constitute impermissible attacks against another religion. There is no showing whatsoever of the type of harm the tapes
will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech, cannot be justified by hypothetical
fears but only by the showing of a substantive and imminent evil which has taken the life of a reality already on ground.

It is suggested that we re-examine the application of clear and present danger rule to the case at bar. In the United States, it is true that the clear and present danger
test has undergone permutations. It was Mr. Justice Holmes who formulated the test in Schenck v. US, 24 as follows: ". . . the question in every case is whether the
words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that
Congress has a right to prevent." Admittedly, the test was originally designed to determine the latitude which should be given to speech that espouses anti-
government action. Bannered by Justices Holmes and Brandeis, the test attained its full flowering in the decade of the forties, when its umbrella was used to protect
speech other than subversive speech. 25 Thus, for instance, the test was applied to annul a total ban on labor picketing. 26 The use of the test took a downswing in the
1950's when the US Supreme Court decided Dennis v. United States involving communist conspiracy. 27 In Dennis, the components of the test were altered as the
High Court adopted Judge Learned Hand's formulation that ". . . in each case [courts] must ask whether the gravity of the 'evil,' discounted by its improbability,
justifies such invasion of free speech as is necessary to avoid the danger." The imminence requirement of the test was thus diminished and to that extent, the
protection of the rule was weakened. In 1969, however, the strength of the test was reinstated in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 28 when the High Court restored in the test
the imminence requirement, and even added an intent requirement which according to a noted commentator ensured that only speech directed at inciting
lawlessness could be punished. 29 Presently in the United States, the clear and present danger test is not applied to protectlow value speeches such as obscene
speech, commercial speech and defamation. Be that as it may, the test is still applied to four types of speech: speech that advocates dangerous ideas, speech that
provokes a hostile audience reaction, out of court contempt and release of information that endangers a fair trial. 30 Hence, even following the drift of American
jurisprudence, there is reason to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar which concerns speech that attacks other religions and could readily
provoke hostile audience reaction. It cannot be doubted that religious truths disturb and disturb tenribly.

It is also opined that it is inappropriate to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar because the issue involves the content of speech and not the
time, place or manner of speech. Allegedly, unless the speech is first allowed, its impact cannot be measured, and the causal connection between the speech and the
evil apprehended cannot be established. The contention overlooks the fact that the case at bar involves videotapes that are pre-taped and hence, their speech
content is known and not an X quantity. Given the specific content of the speech, it is not unreasonable to assume that the respondent Board, with its expertise, can
determine whether its sulphur will bring about the substantive evil feared by the law.

Finally, it is also opined by Mr. Justice Kapunan that ". . . the determination of the question as to whether or not such vilification, exaggeration or fabrication falls
within or lies outside the boundaries of protected speech or expression is a judicial function which cannot be arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of
Censors." He submits that a "system of prior restraint may only be validly administered by judges and not left to administrative agencies. "The same submission is
made by Mr. Justice Mendoza.

This thoughtful thesis is an attempt to transplant another American rule in our jurisdiction. Its seedbed was laid down by Mr. Justice Brennan in his concurring
opinion in the 1962 case of Manual Enterprise v. Day 31 By 1965, the US Supreme Court in Freedman v. Maryland 32 was ready to hold that "the teaching of cases is
that, becauseonly a judicial determination in an adversary proceeding ensures the necessary sensitivity to freedom of expression only a procedure requiring a judicial
determination suffices to impose a valid final restraint." 33

While the thesis has a lot to commend itself, we are not ready to hold that it is unconstitutional for Congress to grant an administrative body quasi-judicial power to
preview and classify TV programs and enforce its decisionsubject to review by our courts. As far back as 1921, we upheld this set-up in Sotto vs. Ruiz, 34 viz.:

The use of the mails by private persons is in the nature of a privilege which can be regulated in order to avoid its abuse. Persons posses no
absolute right to put into the mail anything they please, regardless of its character.

On the other hand, the exclusion of newspaper and other publications from the mails, in the exercise of executive power, is extremely delicate
in nature and can only be justified where the statute is unequivocably applicable to the supposed objectionable publication. In excluding any
publication for the mails, the object should be not to interfere with the freedom of the press or with any other fundamental right of the people.
This is the more true with reference to articles supposedly libelous than to other particulars of the law, since whether an article is or is not
libelous, is fundamentally a legal question. In order for there to be due process of law, the action of the Director of Posts must be subject to
revision by the courts in case he had abused his discretion or exceeded his authority. (Ex parte Jackson [1878], 96 U.S., 727;

Public Cleaning House vs. Coyne [1903], 194 U.S., 497; Post Publishing Co. vs. Murray [1916]. 23 - Fed., 773)

As has been said, the performance of the duty of determining whether a publication contains printed matter of a libelous character rests with
the Director of Posts and involves the exercise of his judgment and discretion. Every intendment of the law is in favor of the correctness of his
action. The rule is (and we go only to those cases coming from the United States Supreme Court and pertaining to the United States
Postmaster-General), that the courts will not interfere with the decision of the Director of Posts unless clearly of opinion that it was wrong.
(Bates & Guilid Co. vs. Payne [1904], 194 U.S., 106; Smith vs. Hitchcock [1912], 226 U.S., 63; Masses Pub. Co. vs. Patten [1917], 246 Fed., 24. But
see David vs. Brown [1900], 103 Fed., 909, announcing a somewhat different doctrine and relied upon by the Attorney-General).

To be sure, legal scholars in the United States are still debating the proposition whether or not courts aloneare competent to decide whether speech is
constitutionally protected. 35 The issue involves highly arguable policy considerations and can be better addressed by our legislators.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated March 24, 1995 is affirmed insofar as it sustained the jurisdiction of the respondent
MTRCB to review petitioner's TV program entitled "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo," and is reversed and set aside insofar as it sustained the action of the respondent MTRCB x-
rating petitioner's TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, and 121. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 153888 July 9, 2003

ISLAMIC DA'WAH COUNCIL OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., herein represented by PROF. ABDULRAFIH H. SAYEDY, petitioner,
vs.
OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY of the Office of the President of the Philippines, herein represented by HON. ALBERTO G. ROMULO, Executive Secretary,
and the OFFICE ON MUSLIM AFFAIRS, herein represented by its Executive Director, HABIB MUJAHAB HASHIM, respondents.

Before us is a petition for prohibition filed by petitioner Islamic Da'wah Council of the Philippines, Inc. (IDCP) praying for the declaration of nullity of Executive Order
(EO) 46, s. 2001 and the prohibition of herein respondents Office of the Executive Secretary and Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA) from implementing the subject EO.

Petitioner IDCP, a corporation that operates under Department of Social Welfare and Development License No. SB-01-085, is a non-governmental organization that
extends voluntary services to the Filipino people, especially to Muslim communities. It claims to be a federation of national Islamic organizations and an active
member of international organizations such as the Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP)1 and The World Assembly of Muslim
Youth. The RISEAP accredited petitioner to issue halal2certifications in the Philippines. Thus, among the functions petitioner carries out is to conduct seminars, orient
manufacturers on halal food and issue halal certifications to qualified products and manufacturers.

Petitioner alleges that, on account of the actual need to certify food products as halal and also due to halal food producers' request, petitioner formulated in 1995
internal rules and procedures based on the Qur'an3 and the Sunnah4 for the analysis of food, inspection thereof and issuance of halal certifications. In that same year,
petitioner began to issue, for a fee, certifications to qualified products and food manufacturers. Petitioner even adopted for use on its halal certificates a distinct sign
or logo registered in the Philippine Patent Office under Patent No. 4-2000-03664.

On October 26, 2001, respondent Office of the Executive Secretary issued EO 465 creating the Philippine Halal Certification Scheme and designating respondent OMA
to oversee its implementation. Under the EO, respondent OMA has the exclusive authority to issue halal certificates and perform other related regulatory activities.

On May 8, 2002, a news article entitled "OMA Warns NGOs Issuing Illegal 'Halal' Certification" was published in the Manila Bulletin, a newspaper of general
circulation. In said article, OMA warned Muslim consumers to buy only products with its official halal certification since those without said certification had not been
subjected to careful analysis and therefore could contain pork or its derivatives. Respondent OMA also sent letters to food manufacturers asking them to secure the
halal certification only from OMA lest they violate EO 46 and RA 4109.6As a result, petitioner lost revenues after food manufacturers stopped securing certifications
from it.

Hence, this petition for prohibition.

Petitioner contends that the subject EO violates the constitutional provision on the separation of Church and State. 7 It is unconstitutional for the government to
formulate policies and guidelines on the halal certification scheme because said scheme is a function only religious organizations, entity or scholars can lawfully and
validly perform for the Muslims. According to petitioner, a food product becomes halal only after the performance of Islamic religious ritual and prayer. Thus, only
practicing Muslims are qualified to slaughter animals for food. A government agency like herein respondent OMA cannot therefore perform a religious function like
certifying qualified food products as halal.

Petitioner also maintains that the respondents violated Section 10, Article III of the 1987 Constitution which provides that "(n)o law impairing the obligation of
contracts, shall be passed." After the subject EO was implemented, food manufacturers with existing contracts with petitioner ceased to obtain certifications from the
latter.

Moreover, petitioner argues that the subject EO violates Sections 15 and 16 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution which respectively provide:

ROLE AND RIGHTS OF PEOPLE'S ORGANIZATIONS

Sec. 15. The State shall respect the role of independent people's organizations to enable the people to pursue and protect, within the democratic
framework, their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.

People's organizations are bona fide associations of citizens with demonstrated capacity to promote the public interest and with identifiable leadership,
membership, and structure.

Sec. 16. The rights of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-
making shall not be abridged. The State shall, by law, facilitate, the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms.

According to petitioner, the subject EO was issued with utter haste and without even consulting Muslim people's organizations like petitioner before it became
effective.

We grant the petition.

OMA was created in 1981 through Executive Order No. 697 (EO 697) "to ensure the integration of Muslim Filipinos into the mainstream of Filipino society with due
regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions, and institutions."8 OMA deals with the societal, legal, political and economic concerns of the Muslim community as
a "national cultural community" and not as a religious group. Thus, bearing in mind the constitutional barrier between the Church and State, the latter must make
sure that OMA does not intrude into purely religious matters lest it violate the non-establishment clause and the "free exercise of religion" provision found in Article
III, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution.9
Freedom of religion was accorded preferred status by the framers of our fundamental law. And this Court has consistently affirmed this preferred status, well aware
that it is "designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as
he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good."10

Without doubt, classifying a food product as halal is a religious function because the standards used are drawn from the Qur'an and Islamic beliefs. By giving OMA the
exclusive power to classify food products as halal, EO 46 encroached on the religious freedom of Muslim organizations like herein petitioner to interpret for Filipino
Muslims what food products are fit for Muslim consumption. Also, by arrogating to itself the task of issuing halal certifications, the State has in effect forced Muslims
to accept its own interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah on halal food.

To justify EO 46's intrusion into the subject religious activity, the Solicitor General argues that the freedom of religion is subservient to the police power of the State.
By delegating to OMA the authority to issue halal certifications, the government allegedly seeks to protect and promote the muslim Filipinos' right to health, and to
instill health consciousness in them.

We disagree.

Only the prevention of an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community can justify the infringement of religious freedom.11 If the
government fails to show the seriousness and immediacy of the threat, State intrusion is constitutionally unacceptable. In a society with a democratic framework like
ours, the State must minimize its interference with the affairs of its citizens and instead allow them to exercise reasonable freedom of personal and religious activity.

In the case at bar, we find no compelling justification for the government to deprive muslim organizations, like herein petitioner, of their religious right to classify a
product as halal, even on the premise that the health of muslim Filipinos can be effectively protected by assigning to OMA the exclusive power to issue halal
certifications. The protection and promotion of the muslim Filipinos' right to health are already provided for in existing laws and ministered to by government
agencies charged with ensuring that food products released in the market are fit for human consumption, properly labeled and safe. Unlike EO 46, these laws do not
encroach on the religious freedom of muslims.

Section 48(4) of the Administrative Code of 1987 gives to the National Meat Inspection Commission (NMIC) of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) the power to
inspect slaughtered animals intended for human consumption to ensure the safety of the meat released in the market. Another law, RA 7394, otherwise known as
"The Consumer Act of 1992," gives to certain government departments the duty to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to
establish standards of conduct for business and industry.12 To this end, a food product, before its distribution to the market, is required to secure the Philippine
Standard Certification Mark after the concerned department inspects and certifies its compliance with quality and safety standards.13

One such government agency designated by RA 7394 is the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFD) of the Department of Health (DOH). Under Article 22 of said law, BFD has
the duty to promulgate and enforce rules and regulations fixing and establishing a reasonable definition and standard of identity, a standard of quality and a standard
of fill of containers for food. The BFD also ensures that food products released in the market are not adulterated.14

Furthermore, under Article 48 of RA 7394, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is tasked to protect the consumer against deceptive, unfair and
unconscionable sales acts or practices as defined in Article 50.15 DTI also enforces compulsory labeling and fair packaging to enable the consumer to obtain accurate
information as to the nature, quality and quantity of the contents of consumer products and to facilitate his comparison of the value of such products.16

With these regulatory bodies given detailed functions on how to screen and check the quality and safety of food products, the perceived danger against the health of
muslim and non-muslim Filipinos alike is totally avoided. Of great help are the provisions on labeling of food products (Articles 74 to 85)17 of RA 7394. In fact, through
these labeling provisions, the State ably informs the consuming public of the contents of food products released in the market. Stiff sanctions are imposed on
violators of said labeling requirements.

Through the laws on food safety and quality, therefore, the State indirectly aids muslim consumers in differentiating food from non-food products. The NMIC
guarantees that the meat sold in the market has been thoroughly inspected and fit for consumption. Meanwhile, BFD ensures that food products are properly
categorized and have passed safety and quality standards. Then, through the labeling provisions enforced by the DTI, muslim consumers are adequately apprised of
the products that contain substances or ingredients that, according to their Islamic beliefs, are not fit for human intake. These are the non-secular steps put in place
by the State to ensure that the muslim consumers' right to health is protected. The halal certifications issued by petitioner and similar organizations come forward as
the official religious approval of a food product fit for muslim consumption.

We do not share respondents' apprehension that the absence of a central administrative body to regulate halal certifications might give rise to schemers who, for
profit, will issue certifications for products that are not actually halal. Aside from the fact that muslim consumers can actually verify through the labels whether a
product contains non-food substances, we believe that they are discerning enough to know who the reliable and competent certifying organizations in their
community are. Before purchasing a product, they can easily avert this perceived evil by a diligent inquiry on the reliability of the concerned certifying organization.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Executive Order 46, s. 2000, is hereby declared NULL AND VOID. Consequently, respondents are prohibited from enforcing the
same.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-13954 August 12, 1959

GENARO GERONA, ET AL., petitioners-appellants,
vs.
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, ET AL., respondents-appellees.

K.V. Felon and Hayed C. Cavington for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Edilberto Barot and Solicitor Conrado T. Limcaoco for appellees.

MONTEMAYOR, J.:

Petitioners are Appealing the decision of the Court of First Instance of Masbate dismissing their complaint. Acting upon the "Urgent Motion for Writ of Preliminary
Injunction" filed on behalf of petitioners of December 12, 1958, and without objection on the part of the Solicitor General, by resolution of this Court of December 16,
we issued the corresponding writ of preliminary injunction restraining respondents from excluding or banning petitioners-appellants, their children and all other of
Jehovah's Witnesses for whom this action has been brought, from admission to public schools, particularly the Buenavista Community School, solely on account of
their refusal to salute the flag or preventing their return to school should they have already been banned, until further orders from this Court.

The facts involved are not disputed. On June 11, 1955, Republic Act No. 1265 was approved and went into effect. Acting upon section 2 of said Act authorizing and
directing the Secretary of Education to issue or cause to be issued rules and regulations for the proper conduct of the flag ceremony, said Secretary issued
Department Order No. 8, series of 1955 on July 21, 1955 which Department Order quoting Republic Act No. 1265 in its entirety, we reproduce below for purpose of
reference:

"Republic of the Philippines
Department of Education
Office of the Secretary
Manila

Department Order
No. 8, s. 1955

July 21, 1955

COMPULSORY DAILY FLAG CEREMONY IN ALL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS

To the Director of Public Schools and the Director of Private Schools:

1. Quoted below is Republic Act No. 1265 entitled "An Act making Flag Ceremony Compulsory in all Educational Institutions," which is self-explanatory.

SECTION 1. All educational institutions henceforth observe daily flag ceremony, which shall be simple and dignified and shall include the playing
or singing of the Philippine National Anthem.

SECTION 2. The Secretary of Education is hereby authorized and directed to issue or cause to be issued rules and regulations for the proper
conduct of the flag ceremony herein provided.

SECTION 3. Failure of refusal to observe the flag ceremony provided by this Act and in accordance with rules and regulations issued by the
Secretary of Education, after proper notice and hearing, shall subject the educational institution concerned and its head to public censure as an
administrative punishment which shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation.

In case of failure to observe for the second time the flag ceremony provided by this Act, the Secretary of Education, after proper notice and hearing, shall
cause the cancellation of the recognition or permit of the private educational institution responsible for such failure.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Approved, June 11, 1955.

2. As provided in Section 2 of the Act, the rules and regulations governing the proper conduct of the required flag ceremony, given in the in closure to this
Order, are hereby promulgated. These rules and regulations should be made known to all teachers and school officials, public and private. The patriotic
objective or significance of the Act should be explained to all pupils and students in the schools and to all communities through the purok organizations
and community assemblies.

(Sgd.) G. HERNANDEZ, JR.
Secretary of Education
Incl.:
As stated

(Inclosure of Department order No. 8, s. 1955)

RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR CONDUCTING THE FLAG CEREMONY IN ALL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

1. The Filipino Flag shall be displayed by all educational institutions, public and private, every school day throughout the year. It shall be raised at sunrise
and lowered at sunset. The flag staff must be straight, slightly and gently tapering at the end, and of such height as would give the Flag a commanding
position in front of the building or within the compound.

2. Every public and private educational institution shall hold a flag-raising ceremony every morning except when it is raining, in which event the ceremony
may be conducted indoors in the best way possible. A retreat shall be held in the afternoon of the same day.

The flag-raising ceremony in the morning shall be conducted in the following manner:

a. Pupils and teachers or students and faculty members who are in school and its premises shall assemble in formation facing the flag. At command, books
shall be put away or held in the left hand and everybody shall come to attention. Those with hats shall uncover. No one shall enter or leave the school
grounds during the ceremony.

b. The assembly shall sing the Philippine National Anthem accompanied by the school band or without the accompaniment if it has none; or the anthem
may be played by the school band alone. At the first note of the Anthem, the flag shall be raised briskly. While the flag is being raised, all persons present
shall stand at attention and execute a salute. Boys and men with hats shall salute by placing that hat over the heart. Those without hats may stand with
their arms and hands downed and straight at the sides. Those in military or Boy Scout uniform shall give the salute prescribed by their regulations. The
salute shall be started as the Flag rises, and completed upon last note of the anthem.

c. Immediately following the singing of the Anthem, the assembly shall recite in unison of following patriotic pledge (English or vernacular version 0, which
may bring the ceremony to a close. This is required of all public schools and of private schools which are intended for Filipino students or whose
population is predominantly Filipino.

ENGLISH VERSION

I Love the Philippines.
It is the land of my birth,
It is the home of my people.
It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.
In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents;
I will obey the rules of my school;
I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen;
I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully;
I will be a true Filipino in thought, in word, in deed.

3. The retreat shall be observed as follows:

a. Teachers and pupils or faculty members and students whose classes and after the last school period in the afternoon before sun down shall assemble
facing the flag. At command, the Philippine National Anthem shall be sung with accompaniment of the school band. If the school has no band, the
assembly will only sing the Anthem. Boys who have been taking part in preparatory military training or Boy Scout activities shall attend the retreat in
formation and execute the salute prescribed for them. Others shall execute the same salute and observe the same deportment as required of them in the
flag-raising ceremony. The flag should be lowered slowly so that it will be in the hands of the color detail at the sound of the last note of the Anthem.

b. If the school so prefers, it may have its bugle corp play "To the Colors", instead of the singing of the National Anthem, for the retreat. At the sound of
the first note, the assembly shall stand at attention facing the flag and observe the same deportment as required in the flag-raising ceremony. Or, it may
have its bugle corp play "To the Colors" and at the sound of the first note everybody within hearing distance shall stand at attention, face the flag, and
observe the same deportment as required in the flag-raising ceremony.

4. The flag should be handled reverently in raising or lowering it and not allowed to touch the ground. This can be insured by having one pupil hold the flag
while another pupil fastening it to or unfasten it from the halyard.

5. To display the National Flag at half-mast when necessary, it must be hoisted to full-mast, allowing it to fly there for a moment, and then brought down
to half-mast. To lower the flag, it must again be hoisted to full-mast before bringing it down."

In his turn the Director of Public Schools issued Circular No. 22, series of 1955, on July 30, 1955 addressed to Division Superintendents of Schools, enclosing a copy of
Department Order No. 8, series of 1955 and enjoining strict compliance therewith.

It would appear that pursuant to the Department Order in question, the flag ceremony contemplated therein was held daily in every school, public and private.
Petitioners' children attending the Buenavista Community School, Uson, Masbate, refused to salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the patriotic pledge
contrary to the requirement of Department Order No. 8; as a result they were expelled from school sometime in September, 1955. It is said that other children
similarly situated who refused or failed to comply with the requirement about saluting the flag are under threats of being also expelled from all public schools in the
Philippines.

Petitioners thru counsel wrote to the Secretary of Education petitioning that in the implementation of this flag ceremony, they and their children attending school be
allowed to remain silent and stand at attention with their arms and hands down and straight at the sides and that they be exempted from executing the formal
salute, singing of the National Anthem and the reciting of the patriotic pledge, giving their reason for the same. On December 16, 1955 the Secretary of Education
wrote to counsel for petitioner denying the petition, making it clear that the denial was the final and absolute stand of the Department of Education on the matter
and that counsel may thereafter feel free to seek a judicial determination of the constitutionality or interpretation of Republic Act No. 1265 as construed and applied
to Jehovah's Witnesses. The letter also informed petitioners' counsel that with reference to his letter of December 1, 1955 relative to the request for reinstatement of
petitioners' children who had been expelled from school for non-compliance with Department Order No. 8, no favorable action could be taken thereon. So, on March
27, 1957 petitioners commenced the present action asking that a writ of preliminary injunction issue to restrain the Secretary of Education and the Director of Public
Schools from enforcing Department Order No. 8 "as applied to petitioners and all others of Jehovah's Witnesses for whom this action is brought and to restrain them
from excluding from the public schools the children of the petitioners on account of their refusal to execute a formal salute to the flag, sing the national anthem and
recite the patriotic pledge, and that after hearing, the trial court declare Department Order No. 8 invalid and contrary to the Bill of Rights and that the preliminary
injunction prayed for be made permanent.

Petitioners-appellants belong to what is called the JEHOVAH'S WITNESS, an unincorporated body teaching that the obligation imposed by law of God is superior to
that of laws enacted by the State. Their religious beliefs include a literal version of Exodus, Chapter 20, verses 4 and 5, which say: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any
graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down
thyself to them, nor serve them." They consider that the flag is an "image within this command. For this reason they refuse to salute it.

To further make clear the stand of petitioners as to the relative position and priority of religious teaching on the one hand and laws promulgated by the State on the
other, we quote from appellant's brief on page 50 thereof:

In Halter vs. Nebraska, 205 U.S. 34, 41, 27 S. Ct. 419, 51 L. Ed. 696 (1907), the United States Supreme Court held that the flag `is an emblem of National
sovereignty,

To many persons the saluting of a national flag means nothing. To a sincere person who believed in God and the Bible as his Word, and who is in a
covenant with Almighty God to do his will exclusively, it means much. To such person "sovereignty" means the supreme authority or power. Many believe
that "the higher powers," mentioned in the Bible at Romans 13:1, means the "sovereign state"; but to the Christian this means Jehovah God and his son,
Christ Jesus, Jehovah's anointed King. They, Father and Son are the higher powers, to whom all must be subject and joyfully obey. (Emphasis supplied)

The question involved in this appeal is a highly important one. We are called upon to determine the right of a citizen as guaranteed by the Constitution about
freedom of religious belief and the right to practice it as against the power and authority of the State to limit or restrain the same. Our task is lessened by the fact
that petitioners do not challenge the legality or constitutionality of Republic Act 1265. All that they question is the legality or constitutionality of Department Order
No. 8, series of 1955 of the Department of Education implementing said Republic Act.

The realm of belief and creed is infinitive and limitless bounded only by one's imagination and though. So is the freedom of belief, including religious belief, limitless
and without bounds. One may believe in most anything, however strange, bizarre and unreasonable the same may appear to others, even heretical when weighed in
the scales of orthodoxy or doctrinal standards. But between the freedom of belief and the exercise of said belief, there is quite a stretch of road to travel. If the
exercise of said religious belief clashes with the established institutions of society and with the law, then the former must yield and give way to the latter. The
Government steps in and either restrains said exercise or even prosecutes the one exercising it.

One may believe in polygamy because it is permitted by his religious, but the moment he translates said religious belief into an overt act, such as engaging or
practising plural marriages, he may be prosecuted for bigamy and he may not plead or involve his religious belief as a defense or as matter of exemption from the
operation of the law.

In the case of Reynolds vs. U.S. (98 U.S. 145) the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the validity of a law prohibiting and punishing polygamy even as against the claim of
religious belief of the Mormons. Said the Court:

So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be
allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious
belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such
circumstance. (emphasis supplied)

Again, one may not believe in the payment of taxes because he may claim that according to his religious belief, the payment of taxes means service to one other than
God. As long as he confines himself to mere belief, well and good. But when he puts said belief into practice and he actually refuses to pay taxes on his property or on
his business, then the States steps in, compels payment, and enforces it either by court action or levy and distraint.

One of the important questions to determine here is the true meaning and significance of the Filipino flag. Petitioners believe and maintain that it is an image and
therefore to salute the same is to go against their religious belief. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven . . . thou shalt not bow down thyself to them or serve
them." They also claim that the flag salute is a religious ceremony, participation in which is forbidden by their religious belief. We disagree. Appellants themselves
(page 51 of their brief) concede that the flag is a symbol of the State. They give the meaning of the word "image" on page 51 of their brief as follows:

Under the word "image" this comment is given by Webster: "Image, in modern usage, commonly suggestsreligious veneration." (Emphasis supplied)
The flag is not an image but a symbol of the Republic of the Philippines, an emblem of national sovereignty, of national unity and cohesion and of freedom and liberty
which it and the Constitution guarantee and protect. Considering the complete separation of church and state in our system of governments, the flag is utterly devoid
of any religious significance. Saluting the flag consequently does not involve any religious ceremony. The flag salute, particularly the recital of the pledge of loyalty is
no more a religious ceremony than the taking of an oath of office by a public official or by a candidate for admission to the bar. In said oath, taken while his right hand
is raised, he swears allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, promise to defend the Constitution and even invokes the help of God; and it is to be doubted
whether a member of Jehovah's Witness who is a candidate for admission to the Philippine Bar would object to taking the oath on the ground that is religious
ceremony.

After all, the determination of whether a certain ritual is or is not a religious ceremony must rest with the courts. It cannot be left to a a religious group or sect, much
less to a follower of said group or sect; otherwise, there would be confusion and misunderstanding for there might be as many interpretations and meaning to be
given to a certain ritual or ceremony as there are religious groups or sects or followers, all depending upon the meaning which they, though in all sincerity and good
faith, may want to give to such ritual or ceremony.

We understand that petitioners, during the flag ceremony, are willing to remain silent and stand at attention with their arms and hands down straight at the sides,
and they agree that boys, members of Jehovah's Witness who have been taking part in military training or Boy Scout activities, and are in uniform, may execute the
salute to the flag prescribed by the Circular for them. So, the requirement contained in Department Order No. 8 that during the flag ceremony those without hats
may stand with their arms and hands down and straight at the sides, including the formal salute by boys in military and boy Scout uniform, meets with the conformity
of petitioners. Of course, there is the other requirement that boys and men with hats shall salute the flag by placing their hats over the heart, but petitioners and
other members of the Jehovah's Witness could well solve this requirements or avoid it by putting away their hats just as pupils books, may put them away, at
command (Rules and Regulations, Sec. 2, par. [a]). Consequently, the opposition of petitioners to the flag salute may be reduced to their objection to singing the
National Anthem and reciting the patriotic pledge.

After a careful and conscientious examination of the patriotic pledge as reproduced at the beginning of this decision, frankly we find nothing, absolutely nothing,
objectionable, even from the point of view of religious belief. The school child or student is simply made to say that he loves the Philippines because it is the land of
his birth and the home of his people; that because it protects him, in return he will heed the counsel of his parents, obey the rules and regulations of his school,
perform the duties of a patriotic and law-abiding citizen; and serve his country unselfishly and faithly, and that he would be a true Filipino in thought, in word, and in
deed. He is not even made to pledge allegiance to the flag or to the Republic for which it stands. So that even if we assume for a moment that the flag were an image,
connoting religious and veneration instead of a mere symbol of the State and of national unity, the religious scruples of appellants against bowing to and venerating
an image are not interfered with or otherwise jeopardized.

And as to the singing of the National Anthem, which we reproduce below:

Land of the morning,
Child of the sun returning.
With fervor burning,
Thee do our souls adore.
Land dear and holy,
Cradle of noble heroes,
Ne'er shall invaders,
Trample thy sacred shores.
Ever within thy skies and thy clouds,
and o'er thy hills and sea,
Do we behold the radiance, feel the throb
of glorious liberty.
Thy banner, dear to all our hearts,
Its sun and stars alight.
O—never shall its shining field
Be dimmed by tyrant's might.
Beautiful land of love,
O—land—of—light,
In thine embrace `tis rapture to lie.
But is glory ever, when thou art wronged,
For us, they sons to suffer and die.

the same thing may be said; that it speaks only of love of country, of patriotism, liberty and the glory of suffering and dying for it. It does not even speak of resorting
to force and engaging in military service or duty to defend the country, which service might meet with objection on the part of conscientious objectors. Surely,
petitioners do not disclaim or disavow these noble and sacred feelings of patriotism, respect, even veneration for the flag and love of coutnry for which the flag
stands.

Men may differ and do differ on religous beliefs and creeds, government policies, the wisdom and legality of laws, even the correctness of judicial decisions and
decrees; but in the field of love of country, reverence for the flag, national unity and patriotism, they can hardly afford to differ, for these are matters in which they
are mutually and viatlly interested, for to them, they mean national existence and survival as a nation or national extinction.

In enforcing the flag salute on the petitioners, there was absolutely no compulsion involved, and for their failure or refusal to obey school regulations about the flag
salute they were not being persecuted. Neither were they being criminally prosecuted under threat of penal sacntion. If they chose not to obey the flag salute
regulation, they merely lost the benefits of public education being maintained at the expense of their fellow citizens, nothing more. According to a popular
expression, they could take it or leave it. Having elected not to comply with the regulations about the flag salute, they forfeited their right to attend public schools.
In the case of Hamilton vs. University of California, 293 U.S. 243, 79 L. ed. 343, quite similar to the present case, appellants therein were taxpayers and citizens of the
United States and of California. The University of California received endowment and support from the State legislature under certain conditions such as that any
resident of California of the age of 14 years or upward of approved moral character shall have the right to enter the University as a student and receive instructions
therein. The University as part of its cirriculum and instruction required military science and tactics in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Appellants conformed to all
requirements of the University except taking the course in military science and tactics and for this the regents of the University suspended them. Appellants were
members of the Methodist Espiscopal Church and of the Epworth League. For many years their fathers have been ordained ministers of that church. They believed
that war and preparation for war is a violation of their religious belief. In other words, they were conscientious objectors to war. They believed that war, training for
war, and military training were immoral, wrong and contrary to the letter and spirit of the teaching of God and precepts of the Christian religion. They petitioned for
exemption from the military science and tactics course but the regents refused to make military training optional or to exempt them and they were suspended. So
they initiated court action with a California Supreme Court to compel the regents of the University to admit them. In that action they assailed the validity of the State
law providing for military training in the University. The petition was denied by the State Supreme Court. In affirming the decision of the State Supreme Court, the
Supreme Court of the United States held that:

. . . California has not drafted or called them to attend the University. They are seeking education offered by the State and at the same time insisting that
they be excluded from the prescribed course solely upon grounds of their religious beliefs and consicientious objections to war, preparation for war and
military education. Taken on the basis of the facts alleged in the petition, appellants' contentions amount to no more than an assertion that the due
process clause of the Fourtheenth Amendment as a safeguard of liberty' confers the right to be students in the state university free from obligation to take
military training as one of the conditions of attendance.

Viewed in the light of our decisions that proposition must at once be put aside as untenable . . .

In United States vs. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 75 L. ed. 1302, 51 S. Ct. 570, a later naturalization case, the applicant was unwilling, because of conscientious
objections, to take unqualifiedly the statutory oath of allegiance which contains this statement: "That he will support and defend the constitution and laws
of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and bear true faith and allegiance to the same." U.S.C. title 8, Sec. 381. His petition stated
that he was willing if necessary to take up arms in defense of this country, "but I should want to be free to judge of the necessity." In amplification he said:
"I do not undertake to support "my country, right or wrong" in any dispute which may arise, and I am not willing to poromise beforehand, and without
knowing the cause for which my country may go to war, either that I will or that I will not "take up arms in defense of this country," however "necessary"
the war may seem to be to the government of the day." The opinion of this court quotes from petitioner's brief a statement to the effect that it is a fixed
principle of our Constitution, zealously guarded by our laws, that a citizen cannot be forced and need not bear arms in a war if he has conscientious
religious scruples against doing so." And, referring to that part of the argument in behalf of the applicant this court said (p. 623): "This, if it means what it
seems to say, is an astonishing statement. Of course, there is no such principle of the Constitution, fixed or otherwise. The conscientious objector is
relieved from the obligation to bear arms in obedience to no constitutional provision, express or implied; but because, and only because, it has accorded
with the policy of Congress thus to relieve him . . . The previlege of the native-born conscientious objector to avoid bearing arms comes not from the
Constitution but from the acts of Congress. That body may grant or withhold the exemption as in its wisdom it sees fit; and if it be withheld, the native-
born conscientious objector cannot successfully assert the privilege. No other conclusion is compatible with the well-nigh limitless extent of the war power
as above illustrated, which include by necessary implication, the power, inthe last extremity, to compel armed serviced of any citizen in the land, without
regard to his objections or his views in respect of the justice or morality of the particular war or of war in general. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S.
11, 29, 49 L. ed. 643, 651, 25 S. Ct. 358, 3 Ann. Cas, 765, this Court (upholding a state compulsory vaccination law) speaking of the liberties guaranteed to
the individual by the Fourteenth Amendment, said: "... and yet he may be compelled, by force if need be, against his will and without regard to his
personal wishes or his pecuniary intersts, or even his religious or political convictions, to take his place in the ranks of the army of his country and risk the
chance of being shot down in its defense.

And see University of Maryland v. Coale, 165 Md. 224, 167 A. 54, a case, similar to that now before us, decided against the contention of a student in the
University of Maryland who on conscientious grounds objected to military training there required. His appeal to this Court was dismissed for the want of a
substantial federal questions. 290 U.S. 597, 78 L. ed. 525, 54 S. Ct. 131.

Plainly there is no ground for the contention that the regents' order, requiring able-bodied male students under the age of twenty-four as a condition of
their enrollment to take the prescribed instruction in military science and tactics, transgresses any constitutional right asserted by these appellants.

Mr. Justice Cardozo in his concurring opinion said:

I assume for present purposes that religious liberty protected by the First Amendment against invasion by the nation is protected by the Fourteenth
Amendment against invasion by the states.

Accepting that premise, I cannot find in the respondents' ordinance an obstruction by the state to "the free exercise" of religion as the phrase was
understood by the foundrs of hte nation, and by the generations that have followed. Davis vs. Beasin, 133 U.S. 333, 342, 33 L. ed. 637, 10 s.Ct. 299.

There is no occasion at this time to mark the limits of governmental power in the exaction of military service when the nation is at peace. The petitioners
have not been required to bear arms for any hostile purpose, offensive or defensive, either now or in the future. They have not even been required in any
absolute or peremptory way to join courses of instruction that will fit them to bear arms. If they elect to resort to an institution for higher education
maintained with the state's moneys, then they are comanded to follow courses of instruction believed by the state to be vital to its welfare. This may be
condemned by some unwise or illiberal or unfair when there is violence to conscientious scruples, either religious or merely ethical. More must be shown
to set the ordinance at naught. In controversies of this order courts do not concern themselves with matters of legislative policy, unrelated to privileges or
liberties secured by the organic law. The first Amendment, if it be read into the Fourteenth, makes invalid any state law `respecting an establishment of
religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' Instruction in military science is not instruction in the practice or tenets of a religion. Neither directly nor
indirectly is government establishing a state religion when it insists upon such training. Instruction in military science, unaccompanied here by any pledge
of military service, is not an interference by the state with the free exercise of religion when the liberties of the constitution are read in the light of a
century and a half of history during days of peace and war . . .
Manifestly a different doctrine would carry us to lengths that have never yet been dreamed of. The conscientious objector, if his liberties were to be thus
extended, might refuse to contribute taxes in furtherance of a war, whether for attack or for defense, or in furtherance of any other end, condemned by
his conscience as irreligious or immoral. The right of private judgment has never yet been so exalted above the powers and the compulsion of the agencies
of government. One who is a martyr to a principle—which may turn out in the end to be a delusion or an error—does not prove by his martyrdom that he
has kept within the law."

We are not unmindful of the decision of the United States Federal Supreme Court on similar set of facts. In the case of Minersville School District vs. Gobitis, 310 U.S.
586, 84 L. ed. 1375, two Jehovah Witnesses children were expelled from the public school of Minersville for refusing to salute the national flag in accordance with the
regulations poromulgated by the school board for the daily flag ceremony. Their father Gobitsi on behalf of his two children and in his own behalf brought suit to
enjoin the school authorities from continuing to exact the execution of the flag ceremony as a condition of his children's admittance in school. After trial, the District
Court gave him relief and this decree was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals. On appeal to the Federal Supreme Court, the decrees of both the District Court
and the Circuit Court of Appeals were reversed with the lone dissent of Chief Justice Stone, on the ground that the requirement of participation of all pupils in the
public schools in the flag ceremony did not infringe the due process law and liberty guaranteed by the Constitution, particularly the one referring to religious freedom
and belief. Three years later, that is, on June 14, 1943, the ruling laid down in the Minersville School District vs. Gobitis case, was in the case of West Virginia State
Board of Education vs. Bernette, 319 U.S. 624-671 reversed by a sharply divided court, the majority opinion being penned by Mr. Justice Jackson in which Justice
Black, Douglas and Murphy concurred; while Mr. Justice Frankfurter who wrote the opinion in the Gobitis case, filed a long dissenting opinion, and Justices Roberts
and Reed adhered to the views expressed in the Gobitis case.

Neither attempting to justify the ruling laid down in the Minersville vs. Gobitis case nor desiring to criticize the doctrine of the West Virginia vs. Barnette case, frankly,
we are more inclined to favor the former as more in keeping with the spirit of our Constitution and the government policy as laid down in Republic Act No. 1265
entitles "An Act Making Flag Ceremony Compulsory In All Educational Institutions".

We cannot help thinking that one reason that may have possibly influenced the decision in the West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette case, was that the
children involved in said case and their parents found themselves in a serious dilemma for refusing to salute the flag as required by the regulations of the School
Board. They were expelled by the School Board and their absence was considered unlawful and because of the law of compulsory school atendance of all children of
school age, they were considered as truants and the school officials threatened to send them to reformatories maintained for criminially inclinded juveniles. Parents
of such children have been prosecuted or were threatened with prosecution for cause such as alleged delinquency and if convicted, were subject to fine not
exceeding $50.00 and a jail term not exceeding 30 days. That is why in the majority opinion it was stated:

. . . The sole conflict is between authority and rights of the individual. The state asserts power to conditions access to public education on making a
prescribed sign and profession and at the same time to coerce attendance by punishing both parent and child . . .

Such a grave and embarrassing situation, however, does not obtain in the Philippines. True, we have a law (Republic Act 896) requiring compulsory enrollment of
children of shcool age, but said law contains so many exceptions and exemptions that it can be said that a child of school age is very seldom compelled to attend
school, let alone the fact that almost invariably, there is school crisis every year wherein the pupils applying for admission in public schools could not be
accommodated, and what is equally important is that there is no punishment or penal sanction either for the pupil who fail to attend school or is expelled for failure
to comply with school regulations such as the compulsory flag salute ceremony, or his parents.

In the case of re Summers, 325 U.S. 561-578, decided on June 11, 1945, that is, two years after the decision in the case of West Virginia, the Supreme Court of the
United States affirmed a decision of the Illinois Supreme Court refusing admission of petitioner Clyde Wilson Summers to the Illinois Bar. Summers had complied with
tall the prerequisites to admission to the Bar of that state, but he was a conscientious objector who did not believe in the use of force or war because of his religious
belief. He described this attitude of his as follows:

The so-called "misconduct" for which petitioner could be reproached for is his taking the New Testament too seriously. Instead of merely reading or
preaching the Sermon on the Mount, he tries to practice it. The only fault of the petitioner consists in his attempt to act as a good Christian in accordance
with his interpreation of the Bible, and according to the dictates of his conscience. We respectfully submit that the profession of law does nt shut its gates
to persons who have qualified in all other respects even when they follow in the footsteps of that Great Teacher of mankind who delivered the Sermon on
the Mount. We respectfully submit that under our Constitutional guarantees even good Christians who have met all the requirements for the admission to
the bar may be admitted to practice law

The Constitution of Illinois required service in the militia in time of war of men of petitioner's age group. The Federal Supreme Court defined the position of Summers
as a conscientious objector in the following words:

. . . without detailing petitioner's testimony before the Committee or his subsequent statments in the record, his position may be compendiously stated as
one of non-violence. Petitioner will not serve in the armed forces. While he recognizes a difference between the military and police forces, he would not
act in the latter to coerce threatened violations. Petitioner would not use force to meet aggression against himself or his family, no matter how aggravated
or whether or not carrying a danger of bodily harm to himself or others. He is a believer in passive resistance. We need to consider only his attitude
toward service in the armed forces.

It was not denied that Summers was unwilling to serve in the militia of Illinois because of his religious belief. In affirming the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court
excluding Summers from the practice of law in that state, the Federal Supreme Court held that the action of the State Supreme Court did not violate the principle of
religious freedom contained in the Constitution.

If a man lived, say on an island, alone and all by himself without neighbors, he would normally have complete and absolute rights as to the way he lives, his religion,
incuding the manners he practices his religious beliefs. There would be no laws to obey, no rules and regulations to follow. He would be subject only to Nature's
physical laws. But man iis gregarious by nature and instinct and he gravitates toward community life, to receive and enjoy the benefits of society and of social and
political organization. The moment he does this and he becomes a member of a community or nation, he has to give rights for the benefit of his fellow citizens and for
the general welfare, just as his fellow men and companions also agree to a limitation of their rights in his favor. So, with his religion. He may retain retain his freedom
or religious belief, but as to practising the same, he would have to give up some of those practices repugnant to the general welfare and subordinate them to the
laws and sovereignty of the State. In order words, the practice of religion or religious belief is subject to reasonable and non-discrminatory laws and regulations by
the state.

In the case of Prince vs. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 88 L. ed. 645, the United States Supreme Court affirmed a decision convicting Sarah Prince of a violation of
the Child Labor Law of Massachusetts. Mr. Justice Rutledge who wrote the opinion tersely described the case thus:

The case brings for review another episode in the conflict between Jehovah's Witneses and state authority. This time Sarah Prince appeals from convictions
for violating Massachusetts' child labor laws, by acts said to be a rightful exercise of her religious convictions.

When the offenses where committed she was the aunt and custodian of Betty M. Simmons, a girl nine years of age. . . . (Emphasis supplied)

The defendant in this case allowed Betty, under here legal cutody who was at the same time niece, to distribute religious pamphlets intended to propagate the
religion of Johovah Wiitness. The question involved was whether or not the law in question contravened the Fourtheenth Amendment by denying appellant freedom
of religion and denying to her the equal protection of the law. Defendant claimed that the child was exercising her God given right and her constitutional right to
preach the gospel and that no preacher of God's commands shold be interfered with. She rested her case squarely on freedom of religion. In affirming the judgment
of conviction and upholding the law as agains the claiim of relgion and the exercise of religious belief, the court said:

. . . And neither rights of religion nor lights of parenthood are beyond limitation. Acting to guard the general interest in youth's well-being, the state as
parens patriae may restrict the parent's control by requiring shcool attendance, regulating or prohibiting the child's labor, and in many other ways. Its
authority is not nullified merely because the parent grounds his claim to control the child's course of conduct on religion or conscience. Thus, he cannot
claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on relgious grounds. The right to practice religion freely does not include
liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. . . . It is too late now to doubt that legislation
appropriately designed to reach such evils is withinthe state's police power, whether against the parent's claim to control of the child or one that religious
scruples dictate contrary action.

Incidentally, it must be noted that this case was decided after that of West Virginia vs. Barnette, supra.

In requiring school pupils to participate in the flag salute, the State thru the Secretary of Education was not imposing a religion or religious belief or a religious test on
said students. It was merely enforcing a non-discriminatory school regulation applicable to all alike whether Christian, Moslem, Protestant or Jehovah's Witness. The
State was merely carrying out the duty imposed upon it by the Constitution which charges it with supervision over and regulation of all educational institutions, to
establish and maintain a complete and adequate system of public education, and see to it that all schools aim to develop among other things, civic conscience and
teach the duties of citizenship. (Art. XIV, section 5 of the Constitution). It does nothing more than try to inculcate in the minds of the school population during the
formative period of their life, love of country and love of the flag, all of which make for united and patriotic citizenry, so that later in after years they may be ready
and willing to serve, fight, even die for it. It is well known that whatever is taught to the youth during this period, such as love of God, of parents, respect for elders,
love of the truth, loyalty, honoring one's word and respecting the rights of other, becomes a habit or second nature that will remain with them always. School
children of kingdoms and empires are taught early to respect and love the king or the emperor for these rulers and sovereigns symbolize the nation, and the children
as future citizens or subjects will come to love their country.

Petitioners do not question the right of public schools to conduct the flag salute ceremony regularly but they do "question the attempt to compel conscientious
objectors guided by the word of God to salute the flag or participate in the ceremony to specific commandment of Jehovah God. It is perfectly proper and lawful for
one nt bound by a covenant with Jehovah to salute the flag when that person desires to salute it. It is entirely wrong to interfere with that right or prevent such one
from saluting the flag. Conversely, it is also true that it is wrong and illegal to compel one who, for concience' sake, cannot participate in the ceremony." (p. 85,
Appellant's Brief)

The trouble with exempting petitioners from participation in the flag ceremony aside from the fact that they have no valid right to such exemption is that the latter
would disrupt shcool discipline and demoralize the rest of the school population which by far constitutes the great majority. If the children of Jehovah Witnesses are
exempted, then the other pupils, especially the young ones seeing no reason for such exemption, would naturlly ask for the same privilege because they might want
to do something else such as play or study, instead of standing at attention saluting the flag and singing the national anthem and reciting the patriotic pledge, all of
which consume considerable time; and if to avoid odions discrimination this exemption is extended to others, then the flag ceremony would soon be a thing of the
past or perhaps conducted with very few participants, and the time will come when we would have citizens untaught and uninculcated in and not imbued with
reverence for the flag and love of country, admiration for national heroes, and patriotism — a pathetic, even tragic situation, and all because a small portion of the
shcool population imposed its will, demanded and was granted an exemption. In a way that might be regarded as tyranny of the minority, and a small minority at
that.

In a few cases, such exemptions in a limited way have been afforded members of a religious group. Conscientious objectors in the United States who because of their
religion were unwilling to serve in the war particularly as regards actual fighting or field duty, were allowed to do some work in relation to the war, but not involving
combat duty or the use of force. But that was by special legislation. If that is possible here as regards exemption from participation in the flag ceremony, then
petitioners would have to look to the Legislature, not the courts for relief.

The freedom of religious belief guaranteed by the Constitution does not and cannot mean exemption form or non-compliance with reasonable and non-
discriminatory laws, rules and regulations promulgated by competent authority. As was said by Mr. Justice Frankfurter in h is dissent in West Virginia vs.
Barnette, supra:

The constitutional protection of religious freedom ... gave religious equality, not civil immunity. Its essence is freedom from conformity to religious
dogma, not freedom from conformity to law because of religious dogma. Religious loyalties may be exercised without hindrance from the State, not the
State may not exercise that which except by leave of religious loyalties is within the domain of temporal power. Otherwise, each individual could set up his
own censor against obedience to laws conscientiously deemed for the public good by those whose business it is to make laws. (West Virginia State Board
vs. Barnette, supra, at p. 653; emphasis supplied)

In conclusion we find and hold that the Filipino flag is not an image that requires religious veneration; rather it is symbol of the Republic of the Philippines, of
sovereignty, an emblem of freedom, liberty and national unity; that the flag salute is nt a religious ceremony but an act and profession of love and allegiance and
pledge of loyalty to the fatherland which the flag stands for; that by authority of the legislature, the Secretary of Education was duly authorized to promulgate
Department Order No. 8, series of 1955; that the requirement of observance of the flag ceremony or salute provided for in said Department Order No. 8, does not
violate the Constitutional provision about freedom of religion and exercise of religion; that compliance with the non-discriminatory and reasonable rules and
regulations and school disicipline, including observance of the flag ceremony is a prerequisite to attendance in public schools; and that for failure and refusal to
participate in the flag ceremony, petitioners were properly excluded and dismissed from the public shcool they were attending.

In view of the foregoing, the appealed decision is affirmed. The writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is ordered dissolved. No costs.

G.R. No. 95770 March 1, 1993

ROEL EBRALINAG, EMILY EBRALINAG, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. LEONARDO EBRALINAG, (etc.) petitioners,
vs.
THE DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF CEBU, respondent.

These two special civil actions for certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition were consolidated because they raise essentially the same issue: whether school children
who are members or a religious sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses may be expelled from school (both public and private), for refusing, on account of their religious
beliefs, to take part in the flag ceremony which includes playing (by a band) or singing the Philippine national anthem, saluting the Philippine flag and reciting the
patriotic pledge.

In G.R. No. 95770 "Roel Ebralinag, et al. vs. Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu and Manuel F. Biongcog, Cebu District Supervisor," the petitioners are 43 high
school and elementary school students in the towns of Daan Bantayan, Pinamungajan, Carcar, and Taburan Cebu province. All minors, they are assisted by their
parents who belong to the religious group known as Jehovah's Witnesses which claims some 100,000 "baptized publishers" in the Philippines.

In G.R. No. 95887, "May Amolo, et al. vs. Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu and Antonio A. Sangutan," the petitioners are 25 high school and grade school
students enrolled in public schools in Asturias, Cebu, whose parents are Jehovah's Witnesses. Both petitions were prepared by the same counsel, Attorney Felino M.
Ganal.

All the petitioners in these two cases were expelled from their classes by the public school authorities in Cebu for refusing to salute the flag, sing the national anthem
and recite the patriotic pledge as required by Republic Act No. 1265 of July 11, 1955, and by Department Order No. 8 dated July 21, 1955 of the Department of
Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) making the flag ceremony compulsory in all educational institutions. Republic Act No. 1265 provides:

Sec. 1. All educational institutions shall henceforth observe daily flag ceremony, which shall be simple and dignified and shall include the playing
or singing of the Philippine National anthem.

Sec. 2. The Secretary of Education is hereby authorized and directed to issue or cause to be issued rules and regulations for the proper conduct
of the flag ceremony herein provided.

Sec. 3. Failure or refusal to observe the flag ceremony provided by this Act and in accordance with rules and regulations issued by the Secretary
of Education, after proper notice and hearing, shall subject the educational institution concerned and its head to public censure as an
administrative punishment which shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation.

In case of failure to observe for the second time the flag-ceremony provided by this Act, the Secretary of Education, after proper notice and
hearing, shall cause the cancellation of the recognition or permit of the private educational institution responsible for such failure.

The implementing rules and regulations in Department Order No. 8 provide:

RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR CONDUCTING THE FLAG CEREMONY IN ALL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.

1. The Filipino Flag shall be displayed by all educational institutions, public and private, every school day throughout the year. It shall be raised
at sunrise and lowered at sunset. The flag-staff must be straight, slightly and gently tapering at the end, and of such height as would give the
Flag a commanding position in front of the building or within the compound.

2. Every public and private educational institution shall hold a flag-raising ceremony every morning except when it is raining, in which event the
ceremony may be conducted indoors in the best way possible. A retreat shall be held in the afternoon of the same day. The flag-raising
ceremony in the morning shall be conducted in the following manner:

a. Pupils and teachers or students and faculty members who are in school and its premises shall assemble in formation
facing the flag. At command, books shall be put away or held in the left hand and everybody shall come to attention.
Those with hats shall uncover. No one shall enter or leave the school grounds during the ceremony.
b. The assembly shall sing the Philippine National Anthem accompanied by the school band or without the
accompaniment if it has none; or the anthem may be played by the school band alone. At the first note of the Anthem,
the flag shall be raised briskly. While the flag is being raised, all persons present shall stand at attention and execute a
salute. Boys and men with hats shall salute by placing the hat over the heart. Those without hat may stand with their
arms and hands down and straight at the sides. Those in military or Boy Scout uniform shall give the salute prescribed by
their regulations. The salute shall be started as the Flag rises, and completed upon last note of the anthem.

c. Immediately following the singing of the Anthem, the assembly shall recite in unison the following patriotic
pledge (English or vernacular version), which may bring the ceremony to a close. This is required of all public schools and
of private schools which are intended for Filipino students or whose population is predominantly Filipino.

English Version

I love the Philippines.
It is the land of my birth;
It is the home of my people.
It protects me and helps me to be, strong, happy and useful.
In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents;
I will obey the rules of my school;
I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen;
I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully;
I will be a true, Filipino in thought, in word, in deed.

xxx xxx xxx

Jehovah's Witnesses admittedly teach their children not to salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and recite the patriotic pledge for they believe that those are
"acts of worship" or "religious devotion" (p. 10, Rollo) which they "cannot conscientiously give . . . to anyone or anything except God" (p. 8, Rollo). They feel bound by
the Bible's command to "guard ourselves from
idols — 1 John 5:21" (p. 9, Rollo). They consider the flag as an image or idol representing the State (p. 10, Rollo). They think the action of the local authorities in
compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on the State's power and invades the sphere of the intellect and spirit which the
Constitution protect against official control (p. 10, Rollo).

This is not the first time that the question, of whether the children of Jehovah's Witnesses may be expelled from school for disobedience of R.A. No. 1265 and
Department Order No. 8, series of 1955, has been raised before this Court.

The same issue was raised in 1959 in Gerona, et al. vs. Secretary of Education, et al., 106 Phil. 2 (1959) and Balbuna, et al. vs. Secretary of Education, 110 Phil. 150
(1960). This Court in the Gerona case upheld the expulsion of the students, thus:

The flag is not an image but a symbol of the Republic of the Philippines, an emblem of national sovereignty, of national unity and cohesion and
of freedom and liberty which it and the Constitution guarantee and protect. Under a system of complete separation of church and state in the
government, the flag is utterly devoid of any religious significance. Saluting the flag does not involve any religious ceremony. The flag salute is
no more a religious ceremony than the taking of an oath of office by a public official or by a candidate for admission to the bar.

In requiring school pupils to participate in the flag salute, the State thru the Secretary of Education is not imposing a religion or religious belief
or a religious test on said students. It is merely enforcing a
non-discriminatory school regulation applicable to all alike whether Christian, Moslem, Protestant or Jehovah's Witness. The State is merely
carrying out the duty imposed upon it by the Constitution which charges it with supervision over and regulation of all educational institutions,
to establish and maintain a complete and adequate system of public education, and see to it that all schools aim to develop, among other
things, civic conscience and teach the duties of citizenship.

The children of Jehovah's Witnesses cannot be exempted from participation in the flag ceremony. They have no valid right to such exemption.
Moreover, exemption to the requirement will disrupt school discipline and demoralize the rest of the school population which by far
constitutes the great majority.

The freedom of religious belief guaranteed by the Constitution does not and cannot mean exemption from or non-compliance with reasonable
and non-discriminatory laws, rules and regulations promulgated by competent authority. (pp. 2-3).

Gerona was reiterated in Balbuna, as follows:

The Secretary of Education was duly authorized by the Legislature thru Republic Act 1265 to promulgate said Department Order, and its
provisions requiring the observance of the flag salute, not being a religious ceremony but an act and profession of love and allegiance and
pledge of loyalty to the fatherland which the flag stands for, does not violate the constitutional provision on freedom of religion. (Balbuna, et al.
vs. Secretary of Education, et al., 110 Phil. 150).

Republic Act No. 1265 and the ruling in Gerona have been incorporated in Section 28, Title VI, Chapter 9 of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292)
which took effect on September 21, 1988 (one year after its publication in the Official Gazette, Vol. 63, No. 38 of September 21, 1987). Paragraph 5 of Section 28
gives legislative cachet to the ruling in Gerona, thus:
5. Any teacher or student or pupil who refuses to join or participate in the flag ceremony may be dismissed after due investigation.

However, the petitioners herein have not raised in issue the constitutionality of the above provision of the new Administrative Code of 1987. They have targeted only
Republic Act No. 1265 and the implementing orders of the DECS.

In 1989, the DECS Regional Office in Cebu received complaints about teachers and pupils belonging to the Jehovah's Witnesses, and enrolled in various public and
private schools, who refused to sing the Philippine national anthem, salute the Philippine flag and recite the patriotic pledge. Division Superintendent of Schools,
Susana B. Cabahug of the Cebu Division of DECS, and Dr. Atty. Marcelo M. Bacalso, Assistant Division Superintendent, recalling this Court's decision in Gerona, issued
Division Memorandum No. 108, dated November 17, 1989 (pp. 147-148, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770) directing District Supervisors, High School Principals and Heads of
Private Educational institutions as follows:

1. Reports reaching this Office disclose that there are a number of teachers, pupils, students, and school employees in public schools who
refuse to salute the Philippine flag or participate in the daily flag ceremony because of some religious belief.

2. Such refusal not only undermines Republic Act No. 1265 and the DECS Department Order No. 8, Series of 1955 (Implementing Rules and
Regulations) but also strikes at the heart of the DECS sustained effort to inculcate patriotism and nationalism.

3. Let it be stressed that any belief that considers the flag as an image is not in any manner whatever a justification for not saluting the
Philippine flag or not participating in flag ceremony. Thus, the Supreme Court of the Philippine says:

The flag is not an image but a symbol of the Republic of the Philippines, an emblem of national sovereignty, of national
unity and cohesion and freedom and liberty which it and the Constitution guarantee and protect. (Gerona, et al. vs. Sec.
of Education, et al., 106 Phil. 11.)

4. As regards the claim for freedom of belief, which an objectionist may advance, the Supreme Court asserts:

But between the freedom of belief and the exercise of said belief, there is quite a stretch of road to travel. If the exercise
of said religious belief clashes with the established institutions of society and with the law, then the former must yield
and give way to the latter. (Gerona, et al. vs. Sec. of Education, et al., 106 Phil. 11.)

5. Accordingly, teachers and school employees who choose not to participate in the daily flag ceremony or to obey the flag salute regulation
spelled out in Department Order No. 8, Series of 1955, shall be considered removed from the service after due process.

6. In strong language about pupils and students who do the same the Supreme Court has this to say:

If they choose not to obey the flag salute regulation, they merely lost the benefits of public education being maintained
at the expense of their fellow Citizens, nothing more. According to a popular expression, they could take it or leave it!
Having elected not to comply with the regulation about the flag salute they forfeited their right to attend public schools.
(Gerona, et al. vs. Sec. of Education, et al., 106 Phil. 15.)

7. School administrators shall therefore submit to this Office a report on those who choose not to participate in flag ceremony or salute the
Philippine flag. (pp. 147-148, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770; Emphasis supplied).

Cebu school officials resorted to a number of ways to persuade the children of Jehovah's Witnesses to obey the memorandum. In the Buenavista Elementary School,
the children were asked to sign an Agreement (Kasabutan) in the Cebuano dialect promising to sing the national anthem, place their right hand on their breast until
the end of the song and recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag (Annex D, p. 46, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770 and p. 48, Rollo of G.R. No. 95887), but they refused to sign
the "Kasabutan" (p. 20, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770).

In Tubigmanok Elementary School, the Teacher-In-Charge, Antonio A. Sangutan, met with the Jehovah's Witnesses' parents, as disclosed in his letter of October 17,
1990, excerpts from which reveal the following:

After two (2) fruitless confrontation meetings with the Jehovah's Witnesses' parents on October 2, 1990 and yesterday due to their firm stand
not to salute the flag of the Republic of the Philippines during Flag Ceremony and other occasions, as mandated by law specifically Republic Act
No. 1265, this Office hereby orders the dropping from the list in the School Register (BPS Form I) of all teachers, all Jehovah Witness pupils from
Grade I up to Grade VI effective today.

xxx xxx xxx

This order is in compliance with Division Memorandum No. 108 s. 1989 dated November 17, 1989 by virtue of Department Order No. 8 s. 1955
dated July 21, 1955 in accordance with Republic Act No. 1265 and Supreme Court Decision of a case "Genaro Gerona, et al., Petitioners and
Appellants vs. The Honorable Secretary of Education, et al., Respondents and Appellees' dated August 12, 1959 against their favor. (p.
149, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770.)

In the Daan Bantayan District, the District Supervisor, Manuel F. Biongcog, ordered the "dropping from the rolls" of students who "opted to follow their religious
belief which is against the Flag Salute Law" on the theory that "they forfeited their right to attend public schools." (p. 47, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770.)
1st Indorsement
DAANBANTAYAN DISTRICT II
Daanbantayan, Cebu, July 24, 1990.

Respectfully returned to Mrs. Alicia A. Diaz, School In Charge [sic], Agujo Elementary School with the information that this office is sad to order
the dropping of Jeremias Diamos and Jeaneth Diamos, Grades III and IV pupils respectively from the roll since they opted to follow their religious
belief which is against the Flag Salute Law (R.A. 1265) and DECS Order No. 8, series of 1955, having elected not to comply with the regulation
about the flag salute they forfeited their right to attend public schools (Gerona, et al. vs. Sec. of Education, et al., 106 Philippines 15). However,
should they change their mind to respect and follow the Flag Salute Law they may be re-accepted.

(Sgd.) MANUEL F. BIONGCOG
District Supervisor

(p. 47, Rollo of G.R. No. 95770.)

The expulsion as of October 23, 1990 of the 43 petitioning students of the Daanbantayan National High School, Agujo Elementary School, Calape Barangay National
High School, Pinamungajan Provincial High School, Tabuelan Central School, Canasojan Elementary School, Liboron Elementary School, Tagaytay Primary School, San
Juan Primary School and Northern Central Elementary School of San Fernando, Cebu, upon order of then Acting Division Superintendent Marcelo Bacalso, prompted
some Jehovah's Witnesses in Cebu to appeal to the Secretary of Education Isidro Cariño but the latter did not answer their letter. (p. 21, Rollo.)

The petition in G.R. No. 95887 was filed by 25 students who were similarly expelled because Dr. Pablo Antopina, who succeeded Susana Cabahug as Division
Superintendent of Schools, would not recall the expulsion orders of his predecessor. Instead, he verbally caused the expulsion of some more children of Jehovah's
Witnesses.

On October 31, 1990, the students and their parents filed these special civil actions for Mandamus,Certiorari and Prohibition alleging that the public respondents
acted without or in excess of their jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion — (1) in ordering their expulsion without prior notice and hearing, hence, in
violation of their right to due process, their right to free public education, and their right to freedom of speech, religion and worship (p. 23, Rollo). The petitioners
pray that:

c. Judgment be rendered:

i. declaring null and void the expulsion or dropping from the rolls of herein petitioners from their respective schools;

ii. prohibiting and enjoining respondent from further barring the petitioners from their classes or otherwise implementing
the expulsion ordered on petitioners; and

iii. compelling the respondent and all persons acting for him to admit and order the re-admission of petitioners to their
respective schools. (p. 41, Rollo.)

and that pending the determination of the merits of these cases, a temporary restraining order be issued enjoining the respondents from enforcing the expulsion of
the petitioners and to re-admit them to their respective classes.

On November 27, 1990, the Court issued a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction commanding the respondents to immediately
re-admit the petitioners to their respective classes until further orders from this Court (p. 57, Rollo).

The Court also ordered the Secretary of Education and Cebu District Supervisor Manuel F. Biongcog to be impleaded as respondents in these cases.

On May 13, 1991, the Solicitor General filed a consolidated comment to the petitions (p. 98, Rollo) defending the expulsion orders issued by the public respondents
on the grounds that:

1. Bizarre religious practices of the Jehovah's Witnesses produce rebellious and anti-social school children and consequently disloyal and
mutant Filipino citizens.

2. There are no new and valid grounds to sustain the charges of the Jehovah's Witnesses that the DECS' rules and regulations on the flag salute
ceremonies are violative of their freedom of religion and worship.

3. The flag salute is devoid of any religious significance; instead, it inculcates respect and love of country, for which the flag stands.

4. The State's compelling interests being pursued by the DECS' lawful regulations in question do not warrant exemption of the school children
of the Jehovah's Witnesses from the flag salute ceremonies on the basis of their own self-perceived religious convictions.

5. The issue is not freedom of speech but enforcement of law and jurisprudence.

6. State's power to regulate repressive and unlawful religious practices justified, besides having scriptural basis.
7. The penalty of expulsion is legal and valid, more so with the enactment of Executive Order No. 292 (The Administrative Code of 1987).

Our task here is extremely difficult, for the 30-year old decision of this court in Gerona upholding the flag salute law and approving the expulsion of students who
refuse to obey it, is not lightly to be trifled with.

It is somewhat ironic however, that after the Gerona ruling had received legislative cachet by its in corporation in the Administrative Code of 1987, the present Court
believes that the time has come to re-examine it. The idea that one may be compelled to salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and recite the patriotic pledge,
during a flag ceremony on pain of being dismissed from one's job or of being expelled from school, is alien to the conscience of the present generation of Filipinos
who cut their teeth on the Bill of Rights which guarantees their rights to free speech ** and the free exercise of religious profession and worship (Sec. 5, Article III,
1987 Constitution; Article IV, Section 8, 1973 Constitution; Article III, Section 1[7], 1935 Constitution).

Religious freedom is a fundamental right which is entitled to the highest priority and the amplest protection among human rights, for it involves the relationship of
man to his Creator (Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando's separate opinion in German vs. Barangan, 135 SCRA 514, 530-531).

The right to religious profession and worship has a two-fold aspect, vis., freedom to believe and freedom to act on one's belief. The first is
absolute as long as the belief is confined within the realm of thought. The second is subject to regulation where the belief is translated into
external acts that affect the public welfare (J. Cruz, Constitutional Law, 1991 Ed., pp. 176-177).

Petitioners stress, however, that while they do not take part in the compulsory flag ceremony, they do not engage in "external acts" or behavior that would offend
their countrymen who believe in expressing their love of country through the observance of the flag ceremony. They quietly stand at attention during the flag
ceremony to show their respect for the right of those who choose to participate in the solemn proceedings (Annex F, Rollo of G.R. No. 95887, p. 50 and Rollo of G.R.
No. 95770, p. 48). Since they do not engage in disruptive behavior, there is no warrant for their expulsion.

The sole justification for a prior restraint or limitation on the exercise of religious freedom (according to the late Chief Justice Claudio
Teehankee in his dissenting opinion in German vs. Barangan, 135 SCRA 514, 517) is the existence of a grave and present danger of a character
both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health or any other legitimate public interest, that the State
has a right (and duty) to prevent." Absent such a threat to public safety, the expulsion of the petitioners from the schools is not justified.

The situation that the Court directly predicted in Gerona that:

The flag ceremony will become a thing of the past or perhaps conducted with very few participants, and the time will come when we would
have citizens untaught and uninculcated in and not imbued with reverence for the flag and love of country, admiration for national heroes, and
patriotism — a pathetic, even tragic situation, and all because a small portion of the school population imposed its will, demanded and was
granted an exemption. (Gerona, p. 24.)

has not come to pass. We are not persuaded that by exempting the Jehovah's Witnesses from saluting the flag, singing the national anthem and reciting the patriotic
pledge, this religious group which admittedly comprises a "small portion of the school population" will shake up our part of the globe and suddenly produce a nation
"untaught and uninculcated in and unimbued with reverence for the flag, patriotism, love of country and admiration for national heroes" (Gerona vs. Sec. of
Education, 106 Phil. 2, 24). After all, what the petitioners seek only is exemption from the flag ceremony, not exclusion from the public schools where they may study
the Constitution, the democratic way of life and form of government, and learn not only the arts, sciences, Philippine history and culture but also receive training for
a vocation of profession and be taught the virtues of "patriotism, respect for human rights, appreciation for national heroes, the rights and duties of citizenship, and
moral and spiritual values (Sec. 3[2], Art. XIV, 1987 Constitution) as part of the curricula. Expelling or banning the petitioners from Philippine schools will bring about
the very situation that this Court had feared in Gerona. Forcing a small religious group, through the iron hand of the law, to participate in a ceremony that violates
their religious beliefs, will hardly be conducive to love of country or respect for dully constituted authorities.

As Mr. Justice Jackson remarked in West Virginia vs. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943):

. . . To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make
an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. . . . When they [diversity] are so harmless to others or to the State as
those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere
shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

Furthermore, let it be noted that coerced unity and loyalty even to the country, . . . — assuming that such unity and loyalty can be attained
through coercion — is not a goal that is constitutionally obtainable at the expense of religious liberty. A desirable end cannot be promoted by
prohibited means. (Meyer vs. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 67 L. ed. 1042, 1046.)

Moreover, the expulsion of members of Jehovah's Witnesses from the schools where they are enrolled will violate their right as Philippine citizens, under the 1987
Constitution, to receive free education, for it is the duty of the State to "protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education . . . and to make such
education accessible to all (Sec. 1, Art. XIV).

In Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union, 59 SCRA 54, 72-75, we upheld the exemption of members of the Iglesia ni Cristo, from the coverage of a closed shop
agreement between their employer and a union because it would violate the teaching of their church not to join any labor group:

. . . It is certain that not every conscience can be accommodated by all the laws of the land; but when general laws conflict with scruples of
conscience, exemptions ought to be granted unless some "compelling state interests" intervenes. (Sherbert vs. Berner, 374 U.S. 398, 10 L. Ed.
2d 965, 970, 83 S. Ct. 1790.)
We hold that a similar exemption may be accorded to the Jehovah's Witnesses with regard to the observance of the flag ceremony out of respect for their religious
beliefs, however "bizarre" those beliefs may seem to others. Nevertheless, their right not to participate in the flag ceremony does not give them a right to disrupt
such patriotic exercises. Paraphrasing the warning cited by this Court inNon vs. Dames II, 185 SCRA 523, 535, while the highest regard must be afforded their right to
the free exercise of their religion, "this should not be taken to mean that school authorities are powerless to discipline them" if they should commit breaches of the
peace by actions that offend the sensibilities, both religious and patriotic, of other persons. If they quietly stand at attention during the flag ceremony while their
classmates and teachers salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the patriotic pledge, we do not see how such conduct may possibly disturb the peace, or
pose "a grave and present danger of a serious evil to public safety, public morals, public health or any other legitimate public interest that the State has a right (and
duty) to prevent (German vs. Barangan, 135 SCRA 514, 517).

Before we close this decision, it is appropriate to recall the Japanese occupation of our country in 1942-1944 when every Filipino, regardless of religious persuasion,
in fear of the invader, saluted the Japanese flag and bowed before every Japanese soldier. Perhaps, if petitioners had lived through that dark period of our history,
they would not quibble now about saluting the Philippine flag. For when liberation came in 1944 and our own flag was proudly hoisted aloft again, it was a beautiful
sight to behold that made our hearts pound with pride and joy over the newly-regained freedom and sovereignty of our nation.

Although the Court upholds in this decision the petitioners' right under our Constitution to refuse to salute the Philippine flag on account of their religious beliefs, we
hope, nevertheless, that another foreign invasion of our country will not be necessary in order for our countrymen to appreciate and cherish the Philippine flag.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is GRANTED. The expulsion orders issued by the public respondents against the petitioners are hereby
ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE. The temporary restraining order which was issued by this Court is hereby made permanent.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-9637 April 30, 1957

AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
CITY OF MANILA, defendant-appellee.

Plaintiff-appellant is a foreign, non-stock, non-profit, religious, missionary corporation duly registered and doing business in the Philippines through its Philippine
agency established in Manila in November, 1898, with its principal office at 636 Isaac Peral in said City. The defendant appellee is a municipal corporation with
powers that are to be exercised in conformity with the provisions of Republic Act No. 409, known as the Revised Charter of the City of Manila.

In the course of its ministry, plaintiff's Philippine agency has been distributing and selling bibles and/or gospel portions thereof (except during the Japanese
occupation) throughout the Philippines and translating the same into several Philippine dialects. On May 29 1953, the acting City Treasurer of the City of Manila
informed plaintiff that it was conducting the business of general merchandise since November, 1945, without providing itself with the necessary Mayor's permit and
municipal license, in violation of Ordinance No. 3000, as amended, and Ordinances Nos. 2529, 3028 and 3364, and required plaintiff to secure, within three days, the
corresponding permit and license fees, together with compromise covering the period from the 4th quarter of 1945 to the 2nd quarter of 1953, in the total sum of
P5,821.45 (Annex A).

Plaintiff protested against this requirement, but the City Treasurer demanded that plaintiff deposit and pay under protest the sum of P5,891.45, if suit was to be
taken in court regarding the same (Annex B). To avoid the closing of its business as well as further fines and penalties in the premises on October 24, 1953, plaintiff
paid to the defendant under protest the said permit and license fees in the aforementioned amount, giving at the same time notice to the City Treasurer that suit
would be taken in court to question the legality of the ordinances under which, the said fees were being collected (Annex C), which was done on the same date by
filing the complaint that gave rise to this action. In its complaint plaintiff prays that judgment be rendered declaring the said Municipal Ordinance No. 3000, as
amended, and Ordinances Nos. 2529, 3028 and 3364 illegal and unconstitutional, and that the defendant be ordered to refund to the plaintiff the sum of P5,891.45
paid under protest, together with legal interest thereon, and the costs, plaintiff further praying for such other relief and remedy as the court may deem just
equitable.

Defendant answered the complaint, maintaining in turn that said ordinances were enacted by the Municipal Board of the City of Manila by virtue of the power
granted to it by section 2444, subsection (m-2) of the Revised Administrative Code, superseded on June 18, 1949, by section 18, subsection (1) of Republic Act No.
409, known as the Revised Charter of the City of Manila, and praying that the complaint be dismissed, with costs against plaintiff. This answer was replied by the
plaintiff reiterating the unconstitutionality of the often-repeated ordinances.

Before trial the parties submitted the following stipulation of facts:

COME NOW the parties in the above-entitled case, thru their undersigned attorneys and respectfully submit the following stipulation of facts:

1. That the plaintiff sold for the use of the purchasers at its principal office at 636 Isaac Peral, Manila, Bibles, New Testaments, bible portions and bible
concordance in English and other foreign languages imported by it from the United States as well as Bibles, New Testaments and bible portions in the local
dialects imported and/or purchased locally; that from the fourth quarter of 1945 to the first quarter of 1953 inclusive the sales made by the plaintiff were
as follows:

Quarter Amount of Sales

4th quarter 1945 P1,244.21
1st quarter 1946 2,206.85

2nd quarter 1946 1,950.38

3rd quarter 1946 2,235.99

4th quarter 1946 3,256.04

1st quarter 1947 13,241.07

2nd quarter 1947 15,774.55

3rd quarter 1947 14,654.13

4th quarter 1947 12,590.94

1st quarter 1948 11,143.90

2nd quarter 1948 14,715.26

3rd quarter 1948 38,333.83

4th quarter 1948 16,179.90

1st quarter 1949 23,975.10

2nd quarter 1949 17,802.08

3rd quarter 1949 16,640.79

4th quarter 1949 15,961.38

1st quarter 1950 18,562.46

2nd quarter 1950 21,816.32

3rd quarter 1950 25,004.55

4th quarter 1950 45,287.92

1st quarter 1951 37,841.21

2nd quarter 1951 29,103.98

3rd quarter 1951 20,181.10

4th quarter 1951 22,968.91

1st quarter 1952 23,002.65

2nd quarter 1952 17,626.96

3rd quarter 1952 17,921.01

4th quarter 1952 24,180.72

1st quarter 1953 29,516.21

2. That the parties hereby reserve the right to present evidence of other facts not herein stipulated.

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that this case be set for hearing so that the parties may present further evidence on their behalf. (Record on Appeal,
pp. 15-16).

When the case was set for hearing, plaintiff proved, among other things, that it has been in existence in the Philippines since 1899, and that its parent society is in
New York, United States of America; that its, contiguous real properties located at Isaac Peral are exempt from real estate taxes; and that it was never required to pay
any municipal license fee or tax before the war, nor does the American Bible Society in the United States pay any license fee or sales tax for the sale of bible therein.
Plaintiff further tried to establish that it never made any profit from the sale of its bibles, which are disposed of for as low as one third of the cost, and that in order to
maintain its operating cost it obtains substantial remittances from its New York office and voluntary contributions and gifts from certain churches, both in the United
States and in the Philippines, which are interested in its missionary work. Regarding plaintiff's contention of lack of profit in the sale of bibles, defendant retorts that
the admissions of plaintiff-appellant's lone witness who testified on cross-examination that bibles bearing the price of 70 cents each from plaintiff-appellant's New
York office are sold here by plaintiff-appellant at P1.30 each; those bearing the price of $4.50 each are sold here at P10 each; those bearing the price of $7 each are
sold here at P15 each; and those bearing the price of $11 each are sold here at P22 each, clearly show that plaintiff's contention that it never makes any profit from
the sale of its bible, is evidently untenable.

After hearing the Court rendered judgment, the last part of which is as follows:

As may be seen from the repealed section (m-2) of the Revised Administrative Code and the repealing portions (o) of section 18 of Republic Act No. 409,
although they seemingly differ in the way the legislative intent is expressed, yet their meaning is practically the same for the purpose of taxing the
merchandise mentioned in said legal provisions, and that the taxes to be levied by said ordinances is in the nature of percentage graduated taxes (Sec. 3 of
Ordinance No. 3000, as amended, and Sec. 1, Group 2, of Ordinance No. 2529, as amended by Ordinance No. 3364).

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, this Court is of the opinion and so holds that this case should be dismissed, as it is hereby dismissed, for
lack of merits, with costs against the plaintiff.

Not satisfied with this verdict plaintiff took up the matter to the Court of Appeals which certified the case to Us for the reason that the errors assigned to the lower
Court involved only questions of law.

Appellant contends that the lower Court erred:

1. In holding that Ordinances Nos. 2529 and 3000, as respectively amended, are not unconstitutional;

2. In holding that subsection m-2 of Section 2444 of the Revised Administrative Code under which Ordinances Nos. 2592 and 3000 were promulgated, was
not repealed by Section 18 of Republic Act No. 409;

3. In not holding that an ordinance providing for taxes based on gross sales or receipts, in order to be valid under the new Charter of the City of Manila,
must first be approved by the President of the Philippines; and

4. In holding that, as the sales made by the plaintiff-appellant have assumed commercial proportions, it cannot escape from the operation of said
municipal ordinances under the cloak of religious privilege.

The issues. — As may be seen from the proceeding statement of the case, the issues involved in the present controversy may be reduced to the following: (1)
whether or not the ordinances of the City of Manila, Nos. 3000, as amended, and 2529, 3028 and 3364, are constitutional and valid; and (2) whether the provisions of
said ordinances are applicable or not to the case at bar.

Section 1, subsection (7) of Article III of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, provides that:

(7) No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and the free exercise and enjoyment of religious
profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religion test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political
rights.

Predicated on this constitutional mandate, plaintiff-appellant contends that Ordinances Nos. 2529 and 3000, as respectively amended, are unconstitutional and illegal
in so far as its society is concerned, because they provide for religious censorship and restrain the free exercise and enjoyment of its religious profession, to wit: the
distribution and sale of bibles and other religious literature to the people of the Philippines.

Before entering into a discussion of the constitutional aspect of the case, We shall first consider the provisions of the questioned ordinances in relation to their
application to the sale of bibles, etc. by appellant. The records, show that by letter of May 29, 1953 (Annex A), the City Treasurer required plaintiff to secure a Mayor's
permit in connection with the society's alleged business of distributing and selling bibles, etc. and to pay permit dues in the sum of P35 for the period covered in this
litigation, plus the sum of P35 for compromise on account of plaintiff's failure to secure the permit required by Ordinance No. 3000 of the City of Manila, as amended.
This Ordinance is of general application and not particularly directed against institutions like the plaintiff, and it does not contain any provisions whatever prescribing
religious censorship nor restraining the free exercise and enjoyment of any religious profession. Section 1 of Ordinance No. 3000 reads as follows:

SEC. 1. PERMITS NECESSARY. — It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to conduct or engage in any of the businesses, trades, or
occupations enumerated in Section 3 of this Ordinance or other businesses, trades, or occupations for which a permit is required for the proper supervision
and enforcement of existing laws and ordinances governing the sanitation, security, and welfare of the public and the health of the employees engaged in
the business specified in said section 3 hereof, WITHOUT FIRST HAVING OBTAINED A PERMIT THEREFOR FROM THE MAYOR AND THE NECESSARY LICENSE
FROM THE CITY TREASURER.

The business, trade or occupation of the plaintiff involved in this case is not particularly mentioned in Section 3 of the Ordinance, and the record does not show that a
permit is required therefor under existing laws and ordinances for the proper supervision and enforcement of their provisions governing the sanitation, security and
welfare of the public and the health of the employees engaged in the business of the plaintiff. However, sections 3 of Ordinance 3000 contains item No. 79, which
reads as follows:

79. All other businesses, trades or occupations not
mentioned in this Ordinance, except those upon which the
City is not empowered to license or to tax P5.00
Therefore, the necessity of the permit is made to depend upon the power of the City to license or tax said business, trade or occupation.

As to the license fees that the Treasurer of the City of Manila required the society to pay from the 4th quarter of 1945 to the 1st quarter of 1953 in the sum of
P5,821.45, including the sum of P50 as compromise, Ordinance No. 2529, as amended by Ordinances Nos. 2779, 2821 and 3028 prescribes the following:

SEC. 1. FEES. — Subject to the provisions of section 578 of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Manila, as amended, there shall be paid to the City
Treasurer for engaging in any of the businesses or occupations below enumerated, quarterly, license fees based on gross sales or receipts realized during
the preceding quarter in accordance with the rates herein prescribed: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That a person engaged in any businesses or occupation for
the first time shall pay the initial license fee based on the probable gross sales or receipts for the first quarter beginning from the date of the opening of
the business as indicated herein for the corresponding business or occupation.

xxx xxx xxx

GROUP 2. — Retail dealers in new (not yet used) merchandise, which dealers are not yet subject to the payment of any municipal tax, such as (1) retail
dealers in general merchandise; (2) retail dealers exclusively engaged in the sale of . . . books, including stationery.

xxx xxx xxx

As may be seen, the license fees required to be paid quarterly in Section 1 of said Ordinance No. 2529, as amended, are not imposed directly upon any religious
institution but upon those engaged in any of the business or occupations therein enumerated, such as retail "dealers in general merchandise" which, it is alleged,
cover the business or occupation of selling bibles, books, etc.

Chapter 60 of the Revised Administrative Code which includes section 2444, subsection (m-2) of said legal body, as amended by Act No. 3659, approved on December
8, 1929, empowers the Municipal Board of the City of Manila:

(M-2) To tax and fix the license fee on (a) dealers in new automobiles or accessories or both, and (b) retail dealers in new (not yet used) merchandise,
which dealers are not yet subject to the payment of any municipal tax.

For the purpose of taxation, these retail dealers shall be classified as (1) retail dealers in general merchandise, and (2) retail dealers exclusively engaged in
the sale of (a) textiles . . . (e) books, including stationery, paper and office supplies, . . .: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the combined total tax of any debtor or
manufacturer, or both, enumerated under these subsections (m-1) and (m-2), whether dealing in one or all of the articles mentioned herein, SHALL NOT BE
IN EXCESS OF FIVE HUNDRED PESOS PER ANNUM.

and appellee's counsel maintains that City Ordinances Nos. 2529 and 3000, as amended, were enacted in virtue of the power that said Act No. 3669 conferred upon
the City of Manila. Appellant, however, contends that said ordinances are longer in force and effect as the law under which they were promulgated has been
expressly repealed by Section 102 of Republic Act No. 409 passed on June 18, 1949, known as the Revised Manila Charter.

Passing upon this point the lower Court categorically stated that Republic Act No. 409 expressly repealed the provisions of Chapter 60 of the Revised Administrative
Code but in the opinion of the trial Judge, although Section 2444 (m-2) of the former Manila Charter and section 18 (o) of the new seemingly differ in the way the
legislative intent was expressed, yet their meaning is practically the same for the purpose of taxing the merchandise mentioned in both legal provisions and,
consequently, Ordinances Nos. 2529 and 3000, as amended, are to be considered as still in full force and effect uninterruptedly up to the present.

Often the legislature, instead of simply amending the pre-existing statute, will repeal the old statute in its entirety and by the same enactment re-enact all
or certain portions of the preexisting law. Of course, the problem created by this sort of legislative action involves mainly the effect of the repeal upon
rights and liabilities which accrued under the original statute. Are those rights and liabilities destroyed or preserved? The authorities are divided as to the
effect of simultaneous repeals and re-enactments. Some adhere to the view that the rights and liabilities accrued under the repealed act are destroyed,
since the statutes from which they sprang are actually terminated, even though for only a very short period of time. Others, and they seem to be in the
majority, refuse to accept this view of the situation, and consequently maintain that all rights an liabilities which have accrued under the original statute
are preserved and may be enforced, since the re-enactment neutralizes the repeal, therefore, continuing the law in force without interruption. (Crawford-
Statutory Construction, Sec. 322).

Appellant's counsel states that section 18 (o) of Republic Act No, 409 introduces a new and wider concept of taxation and is different from the provisions of Section
2444(m-2) that the former cannot be considered as a substantial re-enactment of the provisions of the latter. We have quoted above the provisions of section
2444(m-2) of the Revised Administrative Code and We shall now copy hereunder the provisions of Section 18, subdivision (o) of Republic Act No. 409, which reads as
follows:

(o) To tax and fix the license fee on dealers in general merchandise, including importers and indentors, except those dealers who may be expressly subject
to the payment of some other municipal tax under the provisions of this section.

Dealers in general merchandise shall be classified as (a) wholesale dealers and (b) retail dealers. For purposes of the tax on retail dealers, general
merchandise shall be classified into four main classes: namely (1) luxury articles, (2) semi-luxury articles, (3) essential commodities, and (4) miscellaneous
articles. A separate license shall be prescribed for each class but where commodities of different classes are sold in the same establishment, it shall not be
compulsory for the owner to secure more than one license if he pays the higher or highest rate of tax prescribed by ordinance. Wholesale dealers shall pay
the license tax as such, as may be provided by ordinance.

For purposes of this section, the term "General merchandise" shall include poultry and livestock, agricultural products, fish and other allied products.
The only essential difference that We find between these two provisions that may have any bearing on the case at bar, is that, while subsection (m-2) prescribes that
the combined total tax of any dealer or manufacturer, or both, enumerated under subsections (m-1) and (m-2), whether dealing in one or all of the articles
mentioned therein,shall not be in excess of P500 per annum, the corresponding section 18, subsection (o) of Republic Act No. 409, does not contain any limitation as
to the amount of tax or license fee that the retail dealer has to pay per annum. Hence, and in accordance with the weight of the authorities above referred to that
maintain that "all rights and liabilities which have accrued under the original statute are preserved and may be enforced, since the reenactment neutralizes the
repeal, therefore continuing the law in force without interruption", We hold that the questioned ordinances of the City of Manila are still in force and effect.

Plaintiff, however, argues that the questioned ordinances, to be valid, must first be approved by the President of the Philippines as per section 18, subsection (ii) of
Republic Act No. 409, which reads as follows:

(ii) To tax, license and regulate any business, trade or occupation being conducted within the City of Manila,not otherwise enumerated in the preceding
subsections, including percentage taxes based on gross sales or receipts, subject to the approval of the PRESIDENT, except amusement taxes.

but this requirement of the President's approval was not contained in section 2444 of the former Charter of the City of Manila under which Ordinance No. 2529 was
promulgated. Anyway, as stated by appellee's counsel, the business of "retail dealers in general merchandise" is expressly enumerated in subsection (o), section 18 of
Republic Act No. 409; hence, an ordinance prescribing a municipal tax on said business does not have to be approved by the President to be effective, as it is not
among those referred to in said subsection (ii). Moreover, the questioned ordinances are still in force, having been promulgated by the Municipal Board of the City of
Manila under the authority granted to it by law.

The question that now remains to be determined is whether said ordinances are inapplicable, invalid or unconstitutional if applied to the alleged business of
distribution and sale of bibles to the people of the Philippines by a religious corporation like the American Bible Society, plaintiff herein.

With regard to Ordinance No. 2529, as amended by Ordinances Nos. 2779, 2821 and 3028, appellant contends that it is unconstitutional and illegal because it
restrains the free exercise and enjoyment of the religious profession and worship of appellant.

Article III, section 1, clause (7) of the Constitution of the Philippines aforequoted, guarantees the freedom of religious profession and worship. "Religion has been
spoken of as a profession of faith to an active power that binds and elevates man to its Creator" (Aglipay vs. Ruiz, 64 Phil., 201).It has reference to one's views of his
relations to His Creator and to the obligations they impose of reverence to His being and character, and obedience to His Will (Davis vs. Beason, 133 U.S., 342). The
constitutional guaranty of the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship carries with it the right to disseminate religious information. Any
restraints of such right can only be justified like other restraints of freedom of expression on the grounds that there is a clear and present danger of any substantive
evil which the State has the right to prevent". (Tañada and Fernando on the Constitution of the Philippines, Vol. 1, 4th ed., p. 297). In the case at bar the license fee
herein involved is imposed upon appellant for its distribution and sale of bibles and other religious literature:

In the case of Murdock vs. Pennsylvania, it was held that an ordinance requiring that a license be obtained before a person could canvass or solicit orders
for goods, paintings, pictures, wares or merchandise cannot be made to apply to members of Jehovah's Witnesses who went about from door to door
distributing literature and soliciting people to "purchase" certain religious books and pamphlets, all published by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
The "price" of the books was twenty-five cents each, the "price" of the pamphlets five cents each. It was shown that in making the solicitations there was a
request for additional "contribution" of twenty-five cents each for the books and five cents each for the pamphlets. Lesser sum were accepted, however,
and books were even donated in case interested persons were without funds.

On the above facts the Supreme Court held that it could not be said that petitioners were engaged in commercial rather than a religious venture. Their
activities could not be described as embraced in the occupation of selling books and pamphlets. Then the Court continued:

"We do not mean to say that religious groups and the press are free from all financial burdens of government. See Grosjean vs. American Press Co., 297
U.S., 233, 250, 80 L. ed. 660, 668, 56 S. Ct. 444. We have here something quite different, for example, from a tax on the income of one who engages in
religious activities or a tax on property used or employed in connection with activities. It is one thing to impose a tax on the income or property of a
preacher. It is quite another to exact a tax from him for the privilege of delivering a sermon. The tax imposed by the City of Jeannette is a flat license tax,
payment of which is a condition of the exercise of these constitutional privileges. The power to tax the exercise of a privilege is the power to control or
suppress its enjoyment. . . . Those who can tax the exercise of this religious practice can make its exercise so costly as to deprive it of the resources
necessary for its maintenance. Those who can tax the privilege of engaging in this form of missionary evangelism can close all its doors to all those who do
not have a full purse. Spreading religious beliefs in this ancient and honorable manner would thus be denied the needy. . . .

It is contended however that the fact that the license tax can suppress or control this activity is unimportant if it does not do so. But that is to disregard the
nature of this tax. It is a license tax — a flat tax imposed on the exercise of a privilege granted by the Bill of Rights . . . The power to impose a license tax on
the exercise of these freedom is indeed as potent as the power of censorship which this Court has repeatedly struck down. . . . It is not a nominal fee
imposed as a regulatory measure to defray the expenses of policing the activities in question. It is in no way apportioned. It is flat license tax levied and
collected as a condition to the pursuit of activities whose enjoyment is guaranteed by the constitutional liberties of press and religion and inevitably tends
to suppress their exercise. That is almost uniformly recognized as the inherent vice and evil of this flat license tax."

Nor could dissemination of religious information be conditioned upon the approval of an official or manager even if the town were owned by a
corporation as held in the case of Marsh vs. State of Alabama (326 U.S. 501), or by the United States itself as held in the case of Tucker vs. Texas (326 U.S.
517). In the former case the Supreme Court expressed the opinion that the right to enjoy freedom of the press and religion occupies a preferred position
as against the constitutional right of property owners.

"When we balance the constitutional rights of owners of property against those of the people to enjoy freedom of press and religion, as we must here, we
remain mindful of the fact that the latter occupy a preferred position. . . . In our view the circumstance that the property rights to the premises where the
deprivation of property here involved, took place, were held by others than the public, is not sufficient to justify the State's permitting a corporation to
govern a community of citizens so as to restrict their fundamental liberties and the enforcement of such restraint by the application of a State statute."
(Tañada and Fernando on the Constitution of the Philippines, Vol. 1, 4th ed., p. 304-306).

Section 27 of Commonwealth Act No. 466, otherwise known as the National Internal Revenue Code, provides:

SEC. 27. EXEMPTIONS FROM TAX ON CORPORATIONS. — The following organizations shall not be taxed under this Title in respect to income received by
them as such —

(e) Corporations or associations organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, . . . or educational purposes, . . .: Provided, however, That the
income of whatever kind and character from any of its properties, real or personal, or from any activity conducted for profit, regardless of the disposition
made of such income, shall be liable to the tax imposed under this Code;

Appellant's counsel claims that the Collector of Internal Revenue has exempted the plaintiff from this tax and says that such exemption clearly indicates that the act
of distributing and selling bibles, etc. is purely religious and does not fall under the above legal provisions.

It may be true that in the case at bar the price asked for the bibles and other religious pamphlets was in some instances a little bit higher than the actual cost of the
same but this cannot mean that appellant was engaged in the business or occupation of selling said "merchandise" for profit. For this reason We believe that the
provisions of City of Manila Ordinance No. 2529, as amended, cannot be applied to appellant, for in doing so it would impair its free exercise and enjoyment of its
religious profession and worship as well as its rights of dissemination of religious beliefs.

With respect to Ordinance No. 3000, as amended, which requires the obtention the Mayor's permit before any person can engage in any of the businesses, trades or
occupations enumerated therein, We do not find that it imposes any charge upon the enjoyment of a right granted by the Constitution, nor tax the exercise of
religious practices. In the case of Coleman vs. City of Griffin, 189 S.E. 427, this point was elucidated as follows:

An ordinance by the City of Griffin, declaring that the practice of distributing either by hand or otherwise, circulars, handbooks, advertising, or literature of
any kind, whether said articles are being delivered free, or whether same are being sold within the city limits of the City of Griffin, without first obtaining
written permission from the city manager of the City of Griffin, shall be deemed a nuisance and punishable as an offense against the City of Griffin, does
not deprive defendant of his constitutional right of the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, even though it prohibits him from
introducing and carrying out a scheme or purpose which he sees fit to claim as a part of his religious system.

It seems clear, therefore, that Ordinance No. 3000 cannot be considered unconstitutional, even if applied to plaintiff Society. But as Ordinance No. 2529 of the City of
Manila, as amended, is not applicable to plaintiff-appellant and defendant-appellee is powerless to license or tax the business of plaintiff Society involved herein for,
as stated before, it would impair plaintiff's right to the free exercise and enjoyment of its religious profession and worship, as well as its rights of dissemination of
religious beliefs, We find that Ordinance No. 3000, as amended is also inapplicable to said business, trade or occupation of the plaintiff.

Wherefore, and on the strength of the foregoing considerations, We hereby reverse the decision appealed from, sentencing defendant return to plaintiff the sum of
P5,891.45 unduly collected from it. Without pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered.

G.R. No. 115455 August 25, 1994

ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner,
vs.
THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE and THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

The value-added tax (VAT) is levied on the sale, barter or exchange of goods and properties as well as on the sale or exchange of services. It is equivalent to 10% of
the gross selling price or gross value in money of goods or properties sold, bartered or exchanged or of the gross receipts from the sale or exchange of services.
Republic Act No. 7716 seeks to widen the tax base of the existing VAT system and enhance its administration by amending the National Internal Revenue Code.

These are various suits for certiorari and prohibition, challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7716 on various grounds summarized in the resolution of
July 6, 1994 of this Court, as follows:

I. Procedural Issues:

A. Does Republic Act No. 7716 violate Art. VI, § 24 of the Constitution?

B. Does it violate Art. VI, § 26(2) of the Constitution?

C. What is the extent of the power of the Bicameral Conference Committee?

II. Substantive Issues:

A. Does the law violate the following provisions in the Bill of Rights (Art. III)?

1. §1
2. § 4

3. § 5

4. § 10

B. Does the law violate the following other provisions of the Constitution?

1. Art. VI, § 28(1)

2. Art. VI, § 28(3)

These questions will be dealt in the order they are stated above. As will presently be explained not all of these questions are judicially cognizable, because not all
provisions of the Constitution are self executing and, therefore, judicially enforceable. The other departments of the government are equally charged with the
enforcement of the Constitution, especially the provisions relating to them.

I. PROCEDURAL ISSUES

The contention of petitioners is that in enacting Republic Act No. 7716, or the Expanded Value-Added Tax Law, Congress violated the Constitution because, although
H. No. 11197 had originated in the House of Representatives, it was not passed by the Senate but was simply consolidated with the Senate version (S. No. 1630) in the
Conference Committee to produce the bill which the President signed into law. The following provisions of the Constitution are cited in support of the proposition
that because Republic Act No. 7716 was passed in this manner, it did not originate in the House of Representatives and it has not thereby become a law:

Art. VI, § 24: All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall
originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.

Id., § 26(2): No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof
in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its
immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the
vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeasand nays entered in the Journal.

It appears that on various dates between July 22, 1992 and August 31, 1993, several bills 1 were introduced in the House of Representatives seeking to amend certain
provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code relative to the value-added tax or VAT. These bills were referred to the House Ways and Means Committee which
recommended for approval a substitute measure, H. No. 11197, entitled

AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR
THESE PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112, 115 AND 116 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237 AND
238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING SECTIONS 113 AND 114 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED

The bill (H. No. 11197) was considered on second reading starting November 6, 1993 and, on November 17, 1993, it was approved by the House of Representatives
after third and final reading.

It was sent to the Senate on November 23, 1993 and later referred by that body to its Committee on Ways and Means.

On February 7, 1994, the Senate Committee submitted its report recommending approval of S. No. 1630, entitled

AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR
THESE PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108, AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237, AND 238 OF TITLE IX,
AND REPEALING SECTIONS 113, 114 and 116 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES

It was stated that the bill was being submitted "in substitution of Senate Bill No. 1129, taking into consideration P.S. Res. No. 734 and H.B. No. 11197."

On February 8, 1994, the Senate began consideration of the bill (S. No. 1630). It finished debates on the bill and approved it on second reading on March 24, 1994. On
the same day, it approved the bill on third reading by the affirmative votes of 13 of its members, with one abstention.

H. No. 11197 and its Senate version (S. No. 1630) were then referred to a conference committee which, after meeting four times (April 13, 19, 21 and 25, 1994),
recommended that "House Bill No. 11197, in consolidation with Senate Bill No. 1630, be approved in accordance with the attached copy of the bill as reconciled and
approved by the conferees."

The Conference Committee bill, entitled "AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM, WIDENING ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCING ITS
ADMINISTRATION AND FOR THESE PURPOSES AMENDING AND REPEALING THE RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," was thereafter approved by the House of Representatives on April 27, 1994 and by the Senate on May 2, 1994. The enrolled bill was
then presented to the President of the Philippines who, on May 5, 1994, signed it. It became Republic Act No. 7716. On May 12, 1994, Republic Act No. 7716 was
published in two newspapers of general circulation and, on May 28, 1994, it took effect, although its implementation was suspended until June 30, 1994 to allow time
for the registration of business entities. It would have been enforced on July 1, 1994 but its enforcement was stopped because the Court, by the vote of 11 to 4 of its
members, granted a temporary restraining order on June 30, 1994.

First. Petitioners' contention is that Republic Act No. 7716 did not "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives as required by Art. VI, §24 of the
Constitution, because it is in fact the result of the consolidation of two distinct bills, H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. In this connection, petitioners point out that
although Art. VI, SS 24 was adopted from the American Federal Constitution, 2 it is notable in two respects: the verb "shall originate" is qualified in the Philippine
Constitution by the word "exclusively" and the phrase "as on other bills" in the American version is omitted. This means, according to them, that to be considered as
having originated in the House, Republic Act No. 7716 must retain the essence of H. No. 11197.

This argument will not bear analysis. To begin with, it is not the law — but the revenue bill — which is required by the Constitution to "originate exclusively" in the
House of Representatives. It is important to emphasize this, because a bill originating in the House may undergo such extensive changes in the Senate that the result
may be a rewriting of the whole. The possibility of a third version by the conference committee will be discussed later. At this point, what is important to note is that,
as a result of the Senate action, a distinct bill may be produced. To insist that a revenue statute — and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process
culminating in the enactment of the law — must substantially be the same as the House bill would be to deny the Senate's power not only to "concur with
amendments" but also to "propose amendments." It would be to violate the coequality of legislative power of the two houses of Congress and in fact make the House
superior to the Senate.

The contention that the constitutional design is to limit the Senate's power in respect of revenue bills in order to compensate for the grant to the Senate of the
treaty-ratifying power 3 and thereby equalize its powers and those of the House overlooks the fact that the powers being compared are different. We are dealing
here with the legislative power which under the Constitution is vested not in any particular chamber but in the Congress of the Philippines, consisting of "a Senate
and a House of Representatives." 4 The exercise of the treaty-ratifying power is not the exercise of legislative power. It is the exercise of a check on the executive
power. There is, therefore, no justification for comparing the legislative powers of the House and of the Senate on the basis of the possession of such nonlegislative
power by the Senate. The possession of a similar power by the U.S. Senate 5 has never been thought of as giving it more legislative powers than the House of
Representatives.

In the United States, the validity of a provision (§ 37) imposing an ad valorem tax based on the weight of vessels, which the U.S. Senate had inserted in the Tariff Act
of 1909, was upheld against the claim that the provision was a revenue bill which originated in the Senate in contravention of Art. I, § 7 of the U.S. Constitution. 6 Nor
is the power to amend limited to adding a provision or two in a revenue bill emanating from the House. The U.S. Senate has gone so far as changing the whole of bills
following the enacting clause and substituting its own versions. In 1883, for example, it struck out everything after the enacting clause of a tariff bill and wrote in its
place its own measure, and the House subsequently accepted the amendment. The U.S. Senate likewise added 847 amendments to what later became the Payne-
Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909; it dictated the schedules of the Tariff Act of 1921; it rewrote an extensive tax revision bill in the same year and recast most of the tariff bill
of 1922. 7 Given, then, the power of the Senate to propose amendments, the Senate can propose its own version even with respect to bills which are required by the
Constitution to originate in the House.

It is insisted, however, that S. No. 1630 was passed not in substitution of H. No. 11197 but of another Senate bill (S. No. 1129) earlier filed and that what the Senate
did was merely to "take [H. No. 11197] into consideration" in enacting S. No. 1630. There is really no difference between the Senate preserving H. No. 11197 up to
the enacting clause and then writing its own version following the enacting clause (which, it would seem, petitioners admit is an amendment by substitution), and, on
the other hand, separately presenting a bill of its own on the same subject matter. In either case the result are two bills on the same subject.

Indeed, what the Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff, or tax bills, bills authorizing an increase of the public debt, private bills and
bills of local application must come from the House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the districts, the members of the House can be
expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and problems. On the other hand, the senators, who are elected at large, are expected to approach the same
problems from the national perspective. Both views are thereby made to bear on the enactment of such laws.

Nor does the Constitution prohibit the filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the House, so long as action by the Senate as
a body is withheld pending receipt of the House bill. The Court cannot, therefore, understand the alarm expressed over the fact that on March 1, 1993, eight months
before the House passed H. No. 11197, S. No. 1129 had been filed in the Senate. After all it does not appear that the Senate ever considered it. It was only after the
Senate had received H. No. 11197 on November 23, 1993 that the process of legislation in respect of it began with the referral to the Senate Committee on Ways and
Means of H. No. 11197 and the submission by the Committee on February 7, 1994 of S. No. 1630. For that matter, if the question were simply the priority in the time
of filing of bills, the fact is that it was in the House that a bill (H. No. 253) to amend the VAT law was first filed on July 22, 1992. Several other bills had been filed in the
House before S. No. 1129 was filed in the Senate, and H. No. 11197 was only a substitute of those earlier bills.

Second. Enough has been said to show that it was within the power of the Senate to propose S. No. 1630. We now pass to the next argument of petitioners that S.
No. 1630 did not pass three readings on separate days as required by the Constitution 8 because the second and third readings were done on the same day, March 24,
1994. But this was because on February 24, 1994 9 and again on March 22, 1994, 10 the President had certified S. No. 1630 as urgent. The presidential certification
dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the President certifies to the
necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, § 26(2) qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law: (i) the bill has passed three readings
on separate days and (ii) it has been printed in its final form and distributed three days before it is finally approved.

In other words, the "unless" clause must be read in relation to the "except" clause, because the two are really coordinate clauses of the same sentence. To construe
the "except" clause as simply dispensing with the second requirement in the "unless" clause (i.e., printing and distribution three days before final approval) would not
only violate the rules of grammar. It would also negate the very premise of the "except" clause: the necessity of securing the immediate enactment of a bill which is
certified in order to meet a public calamity or emergency. For if it is only the printing that is dispensed with by presidential certification, the time saved would be so
negligible as to be of any use in insuring immediate enactment. It may well be doubted whether doing away with the necessity of printing and distributing copies of
the bill three days before the third reading would insure speedy enactment of a law in the face of an emergency requiring the calling of a special election for
President and Vice-President. Under the Constitution such a law is required to be made within seven days of the convening of Congress in emergency session. 11

That upon the certification of a bill by the President the requirement of three readings on separate days and of printing and distribution can be dispensed with is
supported by the weight of legislative practice. For example, the bill defining the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court which, in consolidation with the Senate version,
became Republic Act No. 5440, was passed on second and third readings in the House of Representatives on the same day (May 14, 1968) after the bill had been
certified by the President as urgent. 12

There is, therefore, no merit in the contention that presidential certification dispenses only with the requirement for the printing of the bill and its distribution three
days before its passage but not with the requirement of three readings on separate days, also.

It is nonetheless urged that the certification of the bill in this case was invalid because there was no emergency, the condition stated in the certification of a "growing
budget deficit" not being an unusual condition in this country.

It is noteworthy that no member of the Senate saw fit to controvert the reality of the factual basis of the certification. To the contrary, by passing S. No. 1630 on
second and third readings on March 24, 1994, the Senate accepted the President's certification. Should such certification be now reviewed by this Court, especially
when no evidence has been shown that, because S. No. 1630 was taken up on second and third readings on the same day, the members of the Senate were deprived
of the time needed for the study of a vital piece of legislation?

The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law under Art. VII, § 18, or the existence of a national
emergency justifying the delegation of extraordinary powers to the President under Art. VI, § 23(2), is subject to judicial review because basic rights of individuals
may be at hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which involves doing away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are
duly considered by members of Congress, certainly should elicit a different standard of review.

Petitioners also invite attention to the fact that the President certified S. No. 1630 and not H. No. 11197. That is because S. No. 1630 was what the Senate was
considering. When the matter was before the House, the President likewise certified H. No. 9210 the pending in the House.

Third. Finally it is contended that the bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 is the bill which the Conference Committee prepared by consolidating H. No. 11197 and
S. No. 1630. It is claimed that the Conference Committee report included provisions not found in either the House bill or the Senate bill and that these provisions
were "surreptitiously" inserted by the Conference Committee. Much is made of the fact that in the last two days of its session on April 21 and 25, 1994 the
Committee met behind closed doors. We are not told, however, whether the provisions were not the result of the give and take that often mark the proceedings of
conference committees.

Nor is there anything unusual or extraordinary about the fact that the Conference Committee met in executive sessions. Often the only way to reach agreement on
conflicting provisions is to meet behind closed doors, with only the conferees present. Otherwise, no compromise is likely to be made. The Court is not about to take
the suggestion of a cabal or sinister motive attributed to the conferees on the basis solely of their "secret meetings" on April 21 and 25, 1994, nor read anything into
the incomplete remarks of the members, marked in the transcript of stenographic notes by ellipses. The incomplete sentences are probably due to the
stenographer's own limitations or to the incoherence that sometimes characterize conversations. William Safire noted some such lapses in recorded talks even by
recent past Presidents of the United States.

In any event, in the United States conference committees had been customarily held in executive sessions with only the conferees and their staffs in
attendance. 13 Only in November 1975 was a new rule adopted requiring open sessions. Even then a majority of either chamber's conferees may vote in public to
close the meetings. 14

As to the possibility of an entirely new bill emerging out of a Conference Committee, it has been explained:

Under congressional rules of procedure, conference committees are not expected to make any material change in the measure at issue, either
by deleting provisions to which both houses have already agreed or by inserting new provisions. But this is a difficult provision to enforce. Note
the problem when one house amends a proposal originating in either house by striking out everything following the enacting clause and
substituting provisions which make it an entirely new bill. The versions are now altogether different, permitting a conference committee to
draft essentially a new bill. . . . 15

The result is a third version, which is considered an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," the only requirement for which being that the third version be
germane to the subject of the House and Senate bills. 16

Indeed, this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include in its report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the
House bill or in the Senate bill. 17 If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, there is no reason why it cannot propose several
provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," so long as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills before the
committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge
that in this case the Conference Committee acted as a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis. 18

Nonetheless, it is argued that under the respective Rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives a conference committee can only act on the differing
provisions of a Senate bill and a House bill, and that contrary to these Rules the Conference Committee inserted provisions not found in the bills submitted to it. The
following provisions are cited in support of this contention:

Rules of the Senate

Rule XII:

§ 26. In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on the provision of any bill or joint
resolution, the differences shall be settled by a conference committee of both Houses which shall meet within ten days after their composition.
The President shall designate the members of the conference committee in accordance with subparagraph (c), Section 3 of Rule III.

Each Conference Committee Report shall contain a detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject
measure, and shall be signed by the conferees.

The consideration of such report shall not be in order unless the report has been filed with the Secretary of the Senate and copies thereof have
been distributed to the Members.

(Emphasis added)

Rules of the House of Representatives

Rule XIV:

§ 85. Conference Committee Reports. — In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the amendments to any bill or joint
resolution, the differences may be settled by conference committees of both Chambers.

The consideration of conference committee reports shall always be in order, except when the journal is being read, while the roll is being called
or the House is dividing on any question. Each of the pages of such reports shall be signed by the conferees. Each report shall contain a detailed,
sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject measure.

The consideration of such report shall not be in order unless copies thereof are distributed to the Members: Provided, That in the last fifteen
days of each session period it shall be deemed sufficient that three copies of the report, signed as above provided, are deposited in the office of
the Secretary General.

(Emphasis added)

To be sure, nothing in the Rules limits a conference committee to a consideration of conflicting provisions. But Rule XLIV, § 112 of the Rules of the Senate is cited to
the effect that "If there is no Rule applicable to a specific case the precedents of the Legislative Department of the Philippines shall be resorted to, and as a
supplement of these, the Rules contained in Jefferson's Manual." The following is then quoted from the Jefferson's Manual:

The managers of a conference must confine themselves to the differences committed to them. . . and may not include subjects not within
disagreements, even though germane to a question in issue.

Note that, according to Rule XLIX, § 112, in case there is no specific rule applicable, resort must be to the legislative practice. The Jefferson's Manual is resorted to
only as supplement. It is common place in Congress that conference committee reports include new matters which, though germane, have not been committed to
the committee. This practice was admitted by Senator Raul S. Roco, petitioner in G.R. No. 115543, during the oral argument in these cases. Whatever, then, may be
provided in the Jefferson's Manual must be considered to have been modified by the legislative practice. If a change is desired in the practice it must be sought in
Congress since this question is not covered by any constitutional provision but is only an internal rule of each house. Thus, Art. VI, § 16(3) of the Constitution provides
that "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings. . . ."

This observation applies to the other contention that the Rules of the two chambers were likewise disregarded in the preparation of the Conference Committee
Report because the Report did not contain a "detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of changes in, or amendments to, the subject measure." The Report used
brackets and capital letters to indicate the changes. This is a standard practice in bill-drafting. We cannot say that in using these marks and symbols the Committee
violated the Rules of the Senate and the House. Moreover, this Court is not the proper forum for the enforcement of these internal Rules. To the contrary, as we have
already ruled, "parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no concern." 19 Our concern is with the procedural requirements
of the Constitution for the enactment of laws. As far as these requirements are concerned, we are satisfied that they have been faithfully observed in these cases.

Nor is there any reason for requiring that the Committee's Report in these cases must have undergone three readings in each of the two houses. If that be the case,
there would be no end to negotiation since each house may seek modifications of the compromise bill. The nature of the bill, therefore, requires that it be acted upon
by each house on a "take it or leave it" basis, with the only alternative that if it is not approved by both houses, another conference committee must be appointed.
But then again the result would still be a compromise measure that may not be wholly satisfying to both houses.

Art. VI, § 26(2) must, therefore, be construed as referring only to bills introduced for the first time in either house of Congress, not to the conference committee
report. For if the purpose of requiring three readings is to give members of Congress time to study bills, it cannot be gainsaid that H. No. 11197 was passed in the
House after three readings; that in the Senate it was considered on first reading and then referred to a committee of that body; that although the Senate committee
did not report out the House bill, it submitted a version (S. No. 1630) which it had prepared by "taking into consideration" the House bill; that for its part the
Conference Committee consolidated the two bills and prepared a compromise version; that the Conference Committee Report was thereafter approved by the House
and the Senate, presumably after appropriate study by their members. We cannot say that, as a matter of fact, the members of Congress were not fully informed of
the provisions of the bill. The allegation that the Conference Committee usurped the legislative power of Congress is, in our view, without warrant in fact and in law.

Fourth. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 must be resolved in its favor. Our cases 20 manifest firm adherence to the
rule that an enrolled copy of a bill is conclusive not only of its provisions but also of its due enactment. Not even claims that a proposed constitutional amendment
was invalid because the requisite votes for its approval had not been obtained 21 or that certain provisions of a statute had been "smuggled" in the printing of the
bill 22 have moved or persuaded us to look behind the proceedings of a coequal branch of the government. There is no reason now to depart from this rule.
No claim is here made that the "enrolled bill" rule is absolute. In fact in one case 23 we "went behind" an enrolled bill and consulted the Journal to determine whether
certain provisions of a statute had been approved by the Senate in view of the fact that the President of the Senate himself, who had signed the enrolled bill,
admitted a mistake and withdrew his signature, so that in effect there was no longer an enrolled bill to consider.

But where allegations that the constitutional procedures for the passage of bills have not been observed have no more basis than another allegation that the
Conference Committee "surreptitiously" inserted provisions into a bill which it had prepared, we should decline the invitation to go behind the enrolled copy of the
bill. To disregard the "enrolled bill" rule in such cases would be to disregard the respect due the other two departments of our government.

Fifth. An additional attack on the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 is made by the Philippine Airlines, Inc., petitioner in G.R. No. 11582, namely, that it violates
Art. VI, § 26(1) which provides that "Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof." It is contended that
neither H. No. 11197 nor S. No. 1630 provided for removal of exemption of PAL transactions from the payment of the VAT and that this was made only in the
Conference Committee bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 without reflecting this fact in its title.

The title of Republic Act No. 7716 is:

AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE- ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM, WIDENING ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCING ITS ADMINISTRATION, AND FOR
THESE PURPOSES AMENDING AND REPEALING THE RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND
FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Among the provisions of the NIRC amended is § 103, which originally read:

§ 103. Exempt transactions. — The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:

....

(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws or international agreements to which the Philippines is a signatory. Among the
transactions exempted from the VAT were those of PAL because it was exempted under its franchise (P.D. No. 1590) from the payment of all
"other taxes . . . now or in the near future," in consideration of the payment by it either of the corporate income tax or a franchise tax of 2%.

As a result of its amendment by Republic Act No. 7716, § 103 of the NIRC now provides:

§ 103. Exempt transactions. — The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:

....

(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws, except those granted under Presidential Decree Nos. 66, 529, 972, 1491, 1590. . . .

The effect of the amendment is to remove the exemption granted to PAL, as far as the VAT is concerned.

The question is whether this amendment of § 103 of the NIRC is fairly embraced in the title of Republic Act No. 7716, although no mention is made therein of P.D. No.
1590 as among those which the statute amends. We think it is, since the title states that the purpose of the statute is to expand the VAT system, and one way of
doing this is to widen its base by withdrawing some of the exemptions granted before. To insist that P.D. No. 1590 be mentioned in the title of the law, in addition to
§ 103 of the NIRC, in which it is specifically referred to, would be to insist that the title of a bill should be a complete index of its content.

The constitutional requirement that every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in its title is intended to prevent surprise
upon the members of Congress and to inform the people of pending legislation so that, if they wish to, they can be heard regarding it. If, in the case at bar, petitioner
did not know before that its exemption had been withdrawn, it is not because of any defect in the title but perhaps for the same reason other statutes, although
published, pass unnoticed until some event somehow calls attention to their existence. Indeed, the title of Republic Act No. 7716 is not any more general than the
title of PAL's own franchise under P.D. No. 1590, and yet no mention is made of its tax exemption. The title of P.D. No. 1590 is:

AN ACT GRANTING A NEW FRANCHISE TO PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC. TO ESTABLISH, OPERATE, AND MAINTAIN AIR-TRANSPORT SERVICES IN THE
PHILIPPINES AND BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND OTHER COUNTRIES.

The trend in our cases is to construe the constitutional requirement in such a manner that courts do not unduly interfere with the enactment of necessary legislation
and to consider it sufficient if the title expresses the general subject of the statute and all its provisions are germane to the general subject thus expressed. 24

It is further contended that amendment of petitioner's franchise may only be made by special law, in view of § 24 of P.D. No. 1590 which provides:

This franchise, as amended, or any section or provision hereof may only be modified, amended, or repealed expressly by a special law or decree
that shall specifically modify, amend, or repeal this franchise or any section or provision thereof.

This provision is evidently intended to prevent the amendment of the franchise by mere implication resulting from the enactment of a later inconsistent statute, in
consideration of the fact that a franchise is a contract which can be altered only by consent of the parties. Thus in Manila Railroad Co. v.
Rafferty, 25 it was held that an Act of the U.S. Congress, which provided for the payment of tax on certain goods and articles imported into the Philippines, did not
amend the franchise of plaintiff, which exempted it from all taxes except those mentioned in its franchise. It was held that a special law cannot be amended by a
general law.

In contrast, in the case at bar, Republic Act No. 7716 expressly amends PAL's franchise (P.D. No. 1590) by specifically excepting from the grant of exemptions from the
VAT PAL's exemption under P.D. No. 1590. This is within the power of Congress to do under Art. XII, § 11 of the Constitution, which provides that the grant of a
franchise for the operation of a public utility is subject to amendment, alteration or repeal by Congress when the common good so requires.

II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES

A. Claims of Press Freedom, Freedom of Thought and Religious Freedom

The Philippine Press Institute (PPI), petitioner in G.R. No. 115544, is a nonprofit organization of newspaper publishers established for the improvement of journalism
in the Philippines. On the other hand, petitioner in G.R. No. 115781, the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), is a nonprofit organization engaged in the printing and
distribution of bibles and other religious articles. Both petitioners claim violations of their rights under § § 4 and 5 of the Bill of Rights as a result of the enactment of
the VAT Law.

The PPI questions the law insofar as it has withdrawn the exemption previously granted to the press under § 103 (f) of the NIRC. Although the exemption was
subsequently restored by administrative regulation with respect to the circulation income of newspapers, the PPI presses its claim because of the possibility that the
exemption may still be removed by mere revocation of the regulation of the Secretary of Finance. On the other hand, the PBS goes so far as to question the
Secretary's power to grant exemption for two reasons: (1) The Secretary of Finance has no power to grant tax exemption because this is vested in Congress and
requires for its exercise the vote of a majority of all its members 26 and (2) the Secretary's duty is to execute the law.

§ 103 of the NIRC contains a list of transactions exempted from VAT. Among the transactions previously granted exemption were:

(f) Printing, publication, importation or sale of books and any newspaper, magazine, review, or bulletin which appears at regular intervals with
fixed prices for subscription and sale and which is devoted principally to the publication of advertisements.

Republic Act No. 7716 amended § 103 by deleting ¶ (f) with the result that print media became subject to the VAT with respect to all aspects of their operations.
Later, however, based on a memorandum of the Secretary of Justice, respondent Secretary of Finance issued Revenue Regulations No. 11-94, dated June 27, 1994,
exempting the "circulation income of print media pursuant to § 4 Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution guaranteeing against abridgment of freedom of the
press, among others." The exemption of "circulation income" has left income from advertisements still subject to the VAT.

It is unnecessary to pass upon the contention that the exemption granted is beyond the authority of the Secretary of Finance to give, in view of PPI's contention that
even with the exemption of the circulation revenue of print media there is still an unconstitutional abridgment of press freedom because of the imposition of the VAT
on the gross receipts of newspapers from advertisements and on their acquisition of paper, ink and services for publication. Even on the assumption that no
exemption has effectively been granted to print media transactions, we find no violation of press freedom in these cases.

To be sure, we are not dealing here with a statute that on its face operates in the area of press freedom. The PPI's claim is simply that, as applied to newspapers, the
law abridges press freedom. Even with due recognition of its high estate and its importance in a democratic society, however, the press is not immune from general
regulation by the State. It has been held:

The publisher of a newspaper has no immunity from the application of general laws. He has no special privilege to invade the rights and
liberties of others. He must answer for libel. He may be punished for contempt of court. . . . Like others, he must pay equitable and
nondiscriminatory taxes on his business. . . . 27

The PPI does not dispute this point, either.

What it contends is that by withdrawing the exemption previously granted to print media transactions involving printing, publication, importation or sale of
newspapers, Republic Act No. 7716 has singled out the press for discriminatory treatment and that within the class of mass media the law discriminates against print
media by giving broadcast media favored treatment. We have carefully examined this argument, but we are unable to find a differential treatment of the press by the
law, much less any censorial motivation for its enactment. If the press is now required to pay a value-added tax on its transactions, it is not because it is being singled
out, much less targeted, for special treatment but only because of the removal of the exemption previously granted to it by law. The withdrawal of exemption is all
that is involved in these cases. Other transactions, likewise previously granted exemption, have been delisted as part of the scheme to expand the base and the scope
of the VAT system. The law would perhaps be open to the charge of discriminatory treatment if the only privilege withdrawn had been that granted to the press. But
that is not the case.

The situation in the case at bar is indeed a far cry from those cited by the PPI in support of its claim that Republic Act No. 7716 subjects the press to discriminatory
taxation. In the cases cited, the discriminatory purpose was clear either from the background of the law or from its operation. For example, in Grosjean v. American
Press Co., 28the law imposed a license tax equivalent to 2% of the gross receipts derived from advertisements only on newspapers which had a circulation of more
than 20,000 copies per week. Because the tax was not based on the volume of advertisement alone but was measured by the extent of its circulation as well, the law
applied only to the thirteen large newspapers in Louisiana, leaving untaxed four papers with circulation of only slightly less than 20,000 copies a week and 120 weekly
newspapers which were in serious competition with the thirteen newspapers in question. It was well known that the thirteen newspapers had been critical of Senator
Huey Long, and the Long-dominated legislature of Louisiana respondent by taxing what Long described as the "lying newspapers" by imposing on them "a tax on
lying." The effect of the tax was to curtail both their revenue and their circulation. As the U.S. Supreme Court noted, the tax was "a deliberate and calculated device in
the guise of a tax to limit the circulation of information to which the public is entitled in virtue of the constitutional guaranties." 29 The case is a classic illustration of
the warning that the power to tax is the power to destroy.
In the other case 30 invoked by the PPI, the press was also found to have been singled out because everything was exempt from the "use tax" on ink and paper, except
the press. Minnesota imposed a tax on the sales of goods in that state. To protect the sales tax, it enacted a complementary tax on the privilege of "using, storing or
consuming in that state tangible personal property" by eliminating the residents' incentive to get goods from outside states where the sales tax might be lower.
The Minnesota Star Tribune was exempted from both taxes from 1967 to 1971. In 1971, however, the state legislature amended the tax scheme by imposing the "use
tax" on the cost of paper and ink used for publication. The law was held to have singled out the press because (1) there was no reason for imposing the "use tax"
since the press was exempt from the sales tax and (2) the "use tax" was laid on an "intermediate transaction rather than the ultimate retail sale." Minnesota had a
heavy burden of justifying the differential treatment and it failed to do so. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court found the law to be discriminatory because the
legislature, by again amending the law so as to exempt the first $100,000 of paper and ink used, further narrowed the coverage of the tax so that "only a handful of
publishers pay any tax at all and even fewer pay any significant amount of tax." 31 The discriminatory purpose was thus very clear.

More recently, in Arkansas Writers' Project, Inc. v. Ragland, 32 it was held that a law which taxed general interest magazines but not newspapers and religious,
professional, trade and sports journals was discriminatory because while the tax did not single out the press as a whole, it targeted a small group within the press.
What is more, by differentiating on the basis of contents (i.e., between general interest and special interests such as religion or sports) the law became "entirely
incompatible with the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press."

These cases come down to this: that unless justified, the differential treatment of the press creates risks of suppression of expression. In contrast, in the cases at bar,
the statute applies to a wide range of goods and services. The argument that, by imposing the VAT only on print media whose gross sales exceeds P480,000 but not
more than P750,000, the law discriminates 33 is without merit since it has not been shown that as a result the class subject to tax has been unreasonably narrowed.
The fact is that this limitation does not apply to the press along but to all sales. Nor is impermissible motive shown by the fact that print media and broadcast media
are treated differently. The press is taxed on its transactions involving printing and publication, which are different from the transactions of broadcast media. There is
thus a reasonable basis for the classification.

The cases canvassed, it must be stressed, eschew any suggestion that "owners of newspapers are immune from any forms of ordinary taxation." The license tax in
the Grosjean case was declared invalid because it was "one single in kind, with a long history of hostile misuse against the freedom of the
press." 34 On the other hand, Minneapolis Star acknowledged that "The First Amendment does not prohibit all regulation of the press [and that] the States and the
Federal Government can subject newspapers to generally applicable economic regulations without creating constitutional problems." 35

What has been said above also disposes of the allegations of the PBS that the removal of the exemption of printing, publication or importation of books and religious
articles, as well as their printing and publication, likewise violates freedom of thought and of conscience. For as the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held in Jimmy
Swaggart Ministries v. Board of Equalization, 36 the Free Exercise of Religion Clause does not prohibit imposing a generally applicable sales and use tax on the sale of
religious materials by a religious organization.

This brings us to the question whether the registration provision of the law, 37 although of general applicability, nonetheless is invalid when applied to the press
because it lays a prior restraint on its essential freedom. The case of American Bible Society v. City of Manila 38 is cited by both the PBS and the PPI in support of their
contention that the law imposes censorship. There, this Court held that an ordinance of the City of Manila, which imposed a license fee on those engaged in the
business of general merchandise, could not be applied to the appellant's sale of bibles and other religious literature. This Court relied on Murdock v.
Pennsylvania, 39 in which it was held that, as a license fee is fixed in amount and unrelated to the receipts of the taxpayer, the license fee, when applied to a religious
sect, was actually being imposed as a condition for the exercise of the sect's right under the Constitution. For that reason, it was held, the license fee "restrains in
advance those constitutional liberties of press and religion and inevitably tends to suppress their exercise." 40

But, in this case, the fee in § 107, although a fixed amount (P1,000), is not imposed for the exercise of a privilege but only for the purpose of defraying part of the cost
of registration. The registration requirement is a central feature of the VAT system. It is designed to provide a record of tax credits because any person who is subject
to the payment of the VAT pays an input tax, even as he collects an output tax on sales made or services rendered. The registration fee is thus a mere administrative
fee, one not imposed on the exercise of a privilege, much less a constitutional right.

For the foregoing reasons, we find the attack on Republic Act No. 7716 on the ground that it offends the free speech, press and freedom of religion guarantees of the
Constitution to be without merit. For the same reasons, we find the claim of the Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA) in G.R. No. 115931 that the
increase in the price of books and other educational materials as a result of the VAT would violate the constitutional mandate to the government to give priority to
education, science and technology (Art. II, § 17) to be untenable.

B. Claims of Regressivity, Denial of Due Process, Equal Protection, and Impairment
of Contracts

There is basis for passing upon claims that on its face the statute violates the guarantees of freedom of speech, press and religion. The possible "chilling effect" which
it may have on the essential freedom of the mind and conscience and the need to assure that the channels of communication are open and operating importunately
demand the exercise of this Court's power of review.

There is, however, no justification for passing upon the claims that the law also violates the rule that taxation must be progressive and that it denies petitioners' right
to due process and that equal protection of the laws. The reason for this different treatment has been cogently stated by an eminent authority on constitutional law
thus: "[W]hen freedom of the mind is imperiled by law, it is freedom that commands a momentum of respect; when property is imperiled it is the lawmakers'
judgment that commands respect. This dual standard may not precisely reverse the presumption of constitutionality in civil liberties cases, but obviously it does set
up a hierarchy of values within the due process clause." 41

Indeed, the absence of threat of immediate harm makes the need for judicial intervention less evident and underscores the essential nature of petitioners' attack on
the law on the grounds of regressivity, denial of due process and equal protection and impairment of contracts as a mere academic discussion of the merits of the
law. For the fact is that there have even been no notices of assessments issued to petitioners and no determinations at the administrative levels of their claims so as
to illuminate the actual operation of the law and enable us to reach sound judgment regarding so fundamental questions as those raised in these suits.

Thus, the broad argument against the VAT is that it is regressive and that it violates the requirement that "The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable [and]
Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation." 42Petitioners in G.R. No. 115781 quote from a paper, entitled "VAT Policy Issues: Structure, Regressivity,
Inflation and Exports" by Alan A. Tait of the International Monetary Fund, that "VAT payment by low-income households will be a higher proportion of their incomes
(and expenditures) than payments by higher-income households. That is, the VAT will be regressive." Petitioners contend that as a result of the uniform 10% VAT, the
tax on consumption goods of those who are in the higher-income bracket, which before were taxed at a rate higher than 10%, has been reduced, while basic
commodities, which before were taxed at rates ranging from 3% to 5%, are now taxed at a higher rate.

Just as vigorously as it is asserted that the law is regressive, the opposite claim is pressed by respondents that in fact it distributes the tax burden to as many goods
and services as possible particularly to those which are within the reach of higher-income groups, even as the law exempts basic goods and services. It is thus
equitable. The goods and properties subject to the VAT are those used or consumed by higher-income groups. These include real properties held primarily for sale to
customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of business, the right or privilege to use industrial, commercial or scientific equipment, hotels, restaurants and
similar places, tourist buses, and the like. On the other hand, small business establishments, with annual gross sales of less than P500,000, are exempted. This,
according to respondents, removes from the coverage of the law some 30,000 business establishments. On the other hand, an occasional paper 43 of the Center for
Research and Communication cities a NEDA study that the VAT has minimal impact on inflation and income distribution and that while additional expenditure for the
lowest income class is only P301 or 1.49% a year, that for a family earning P500,000 a year or more is P8,340 or 2.2%.

Lacking empirical data on which to base any conclusion regarding these arguments, any discussion whether the VAT is regressive in the sense that it will hit the "poor"
and middle-income group in society harder than it will the "rich," as the Cooperative Union of the Philippines (CUP) claims in G.R. No. 115873, is largely an academic
exercise. On the other hand, the CUP's contention that Congress' withdrawal of exemption of producers cooperatives, marketing cooperatives, and service
cooperatives, while maintaining that granted to electric cooperatives, not only goes against the constitutional policy to promote cooperatives as instruments of social
justice (Art. XII, § 15) but also denies such cooperatives the equal protection of the law is actually a policy argument. The legislature is not required to adhere to a
policy of "all or none" in choosing the subject of taxation.44

Nor is the contention of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA), petitioner in G.R. 115754, that the VAT will reduce the mark up of its members
by as much as 85% to 90% any more concrete. It is a mere allegation. On the other hand, the claim of the Philippine Press Institute, petitioner in G.R. No. 115544, that
the VAT will drive some of its members out of circulation because their profits from advertisements will not be enough to pay for their tax liability, while purporting
to be based on the financial statements of the newspapers in question, still falls short of the establishment of facts by evidence so necessary for adjudicating the
question whether the tax is oppressive and confiscatory.

Indeed, regressivity is not a negative standard for courts to enforce. What Congress is required by the Constitution to do is to "evolve a progressive system of
taxation." This is a directive to Congress, just like the directive to it to give priority to the enactment of laws for the enhancement of human dignity and the reduction
of social, economic and political inequalities (Art. XIII, § 1), or for the promotion of the right to "quality education" (Art. XIV, § 1). These provisions are put in the
Constitution as moral incentives to legislation, not as judicially enforceable rights.

At all events, our 1988 decision in Kapatiran 45 should have laid to rest the questions now raised against the VAT. There similar arguments made against the original
VAT Law (Executive Order No. 273) were held to be hypothetical, with no more basis than newspaper articles which this Court found to be "hearsay and [without]
evidentiary value." As Republic Act No. 7716 merely expands the base of the VAT system and its coverage as provided in the original VAT Law, further debate on the
desirability and wisdom of the law should have shifted to Congress.

Only slightly less abstract but nonetheless hypothetical is the contention of CREBA that the imposition of the VAT on the sales and leases of real estate by virtue of
contracts entered into prior to the effectivity of the law would violate the constitutional provision that "No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed."
It is enough to say that the parties to a contract cannot, through the exercise of prophetic discernment, fetter the exercise of the taxing power of the State. For not
only are existing laws read into contracts in order to fix obligations as between parties, but the reservation of essential attributes of sovereign power is also read into
contracts as a basic postulate of the legal order. The policy of protecting contracts against impairment presupposes the maintenance of a government which retains
adequate authority to secure the peace and good order of society. 46

In truth, the Contract Clause has never been thought as a limitation on the exercise of the State's power of taxation save only where a tax exemption has been
granted for a valid consideration. 47 Such is not the case of PAL in G.R. No. 115852, and we do not understand it to make this claim. Rather, its position, as discussed
above, is that the removal of its tax exemption cannot be made by a general, but only by a specific, law.

The substantive issues raised in some of the cases are presented in abstract, hypothetical form because of the lack of a concrete record. We accept that this Court
does not only adjudicate private cases; that public actions by "non-Hohfeldian" 48 or ideological plaintiffs are now cognizable provided they meet the standing
requirement of the Constitution; that under Art. VIII, § 1, ¶ 2 the Court has a "special function" of vindicating constitutional rights. Nonetheless the feeling cannot be
escaped that we do not have before us in these cases a fully developed factual record that alone can impart to our adjudication the impact of actuality 49 to insure
that decision-making is informed and well grounded. Needless to say, we do not have power to render advisory opinions or even jurisdiction over petitions for
declaratory judgment. In effect we are being asked to do what the Conference Committee is precisely accused of having done in these cases — to sit as a third
legislative chamber to review legislation.

We are told, however, that the power of judicial review is not so much power as it is duty imposed on this Court by the Constitution and that we would be remiss in
the performance of that duty if we decline to look behind the barriers set by the principle of separation of powers. Art. VIII, § 1, ¶ 2 is cited in support of this view:

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part
of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
To view the judicial power of review as a duty is nothing new. Chief Justice Marshall said so in 1803, to justify the assertion of this power in Marbury v. Madison:

It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must of
necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. 50

Justice Laurel echoed this justification in 1936 in Angara v. Electoral Commission:

And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does
not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to
determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that
instrument secures and guarantees to them. 51

This conception of the judicial power has been affirmed in several
cases 52 of this Court following Angara.

It does not add anything, therefore, to invoke this "duty" to justify this Court's intervention in what is essentially a case that at best is not ripe for adjudication. That
duty must still be performed in the context of a concrete case or controversy, as Art. VIII, § 5(2) clearly defines our jurisdiction in terms of "cases," and nothing but
"cases." That the other departments of the government may have committed a grave abuse of discretion is not an independent ground for exercising our power.
Disregard of the essential limits imposed by the case and controversy requirement can in the long run only result in undermining our authority as a court of law. For,
as judges, what we are called upon to render is judgment according to law, not according to what may appear to be the opinion of the day.

_______________________________

In the preceeding pages we have endeavored to discuss, within limits, the validity of Republic Act No. 7716 in its formal and substantive aspects as this has been
raised in the various cases before us. To sum up, we hold:

(1) That the procedural requirements of the Constitution have been complied with by Congress in the enactment of the statute;

(2) That judicial inquiry whether the formal requirements for the enactment of statutes — beyond those prescribed by the Constitution — have been observed is
precluded by the principle of separation of powers;

(3) That the law does not abridge freedom of speech, expression or the press, nor interfere with the free exercise of religion, nor deny to any of the parties the right
to an education; and

(4) That, in view of the absence of a factual foundation of record, claims that the law is regressive, oppressive and confiscatory and that it violates vested rights
protected under the Contract Clause are prematurely raised and do not justify the grant of prospective relief by writ of prohibition.

WHEREFORE, the petitions in these cases are DISMISSED.

ESTRADA VS. ESCRITOR A.M. No. P-02-1651, August 4, 2003

FACTS:
Complainant Alejandro Estrada wrote to Judge Jose F. Caoibes, Jr., requesting for an investigation of rumors that respondent Soledad Escritor, court interpreter, is
living with a man not her husband. They allegedly have a child of eighteen to twenty years old. Estrada is not personally related either to Escritor or her partner.
Nevertheless, he filed the charge against Escritor as he believes that she is committing an immoral act that tarnishes the image of the court, thus she should not be
allowed to remain employed therein as it might appear that the court condones her act.
Respondent Escritor testified that when she entered the judiciary in 1999, she was already a widow, her husband having died in 1998. She admitted that she has been
living with Luciano Quilapio, Jr. without the benefit of marriage for twenty years and that they have a son. But as a member of the religious sect known as the
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society, their conjugal arrangement is in conformity with their religious beliefs. In fact, after ten years of
living together, she executed on July 28, 1991 a "Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness," insofar as the congregation is concerned, there is nothing immoral about the
conjugal arrangement between Escritor and Quilapio and they remain members in good standing in the congregation.

ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent should be found guilty of the administrative charge of "gross and immoral conduct."

HELD:
Benevolent neutrality recognizes that government must pursue its secular goals and interests but at the same time strives to uphold religious liberty to the greatest
extent possible within flexible constitutional limits. Thus, although the morality contemplated by laws is secular, benevolent neutrality could allow for
accommodation of morality based on religion, provided it does not offend compelling state interests. It still remains to be seen if respondent is entitled to such
doctrine as the state has not been afforded the chance has demonstrate the compelling state interest of prohibiting the act of respondent, thus the case is remanded
to the RTC.

Benevolent neutrality is inconsistent with the Free Exercise Clause as far as it prohibits such exercise given a compelling state interest. It is the respondent’s stance
that the respondent’s conjugal arrangement is not immoral and punishable as it comes within the scope of free exercise protection. Should the Court prohibit and
punish her conduct where it is protected by the Free Exercise Clause, the Court’s action would be an unconstitutional encroachment of her right to religious freedom.
The Court cannot therefore simply take a passing look at respondent’s claim of religious freedom, but must instead apply the “compelling state interest” test. The
government must be heard on the issue as it has not been given an opportunity to discharge its burden of demonstrating the state’s compelling interest which can
override respondent’s religious belief and practice.

ESTRADA VS. ESCRITOR A.M. No. P-02-1651, June 22, 2006

Facts: Escritor is a court interpreter since 1999 in the RTC of Las Pinas City. She has been living with Quilapio, a man who is not her husband, for more than twenty
five years and had a son with him as well. Respondent’s husband died a year before she entered into the judiciary while Quilapio is still legally married to another
woman.

Complainant Estrada requested the Judge of said RTC to investigate respondent. According to complainant, respondent should not be allowed to remain employed
therein for it will appear as if the court allows such act.

Respondent claims that their conjugal arrangement is permitted by herreligion—the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower and the Bible Trace Society. They
allegedly have a ‘Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness’ under the approval of their congregation. Such a declaration is effective when legal impediments render it
impossible for a couple to legalize their union.

Issue: Whether or Not the State could penalize respondent for such conjugal arrangement.

Held: No. The State could not penalize respondent for she is exercising her right to freedom of religion. The free exercise of religionis specifically articulated as one of
the fundamental rights in our Constitution. As Jefferson put it, it is the most inalienable and sacred of human rights. The State’s interest in enforcing its prohibition
cannot be merely abstract or symbolic in order to be sufficiently compelling to outweigh a free exercise claim. In the case at bar, the State has not evinced
any concrete interest in enforcing the concubinage or bigamy charges against respondent or her partner. Thus the State’s interest only amounts to the symbolic
preservation of an unenforced prohibition.

Furthermore, a distinction between public and secular morality and religious morality should be kept in mind. The jurisdiction of the Court extends only to public and
secular morality.

The Court further states that our Constitution adheres the benevolent neutrality approach that gives room for accommodation of religiousexercises as required by
the Free Exercise Clause. This benevolent neutrality could allow for accommodation of morality based on religion, provided it does not offend compelling state
interests. Assuming arguendo that the OSG has proved a compelling state interest, it has to further demonstrate that the state has used the least intrusive means
possible so that the free exercise is not infringed any more than necessary to achieve the legitimate goal of the state. Thus the conjugal arrangement cannot be
penalized for it constitutes an exemption to the law based on her right to freedom of religion.