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v. Sec. of Education Digest

Gerona, et. al v SEC. OF EDUCATION
106 Phil 2 Aug. 12, 1959

1. Petitioners belong to the Jehova’s Witness whose children were expelled from their schools when they refused to
salute, sing the anthem, recite the pledge during the conduct of flag ceremony. DO No. 8 issued by DECS pursuant
to RA 1265 which called for the manner of conduct during a flag ceremony. The petitioners wrote the Secretary of
Education on their plight and requested to reinstate their children. This was denied.

2. As a result, the petitioners filed for a writ of preliminary injunction against the Secretary and Director of Public
Schools to restrain them from implementing said DO No. 8.

3. The lower court (RTC) declared DO 8 invalid and contrary to the Bill of Rights.

ISSUE: Whether or not DO 8 is valid or constitutional

DO 8 is valid. Saluting the flag is not a religious ritual and it is for the courts to determine, not a religious group,
whether or not a certain practice is one.

1. The court held that 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 government, the flag is utterly
devoid of any religious significance. Saluting the flag consequently does not involve any 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 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 meanings to be given to a certain
ritual or ceremony as there are religious groups or sects or followers.

2. 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. 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.

3. 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 not 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
discipline, 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 school they were attending.

Ebralinag vs. Division Superintendent of School of Cebu

Ebralinag vs. Division Superintendent of School of Cebu

GR 95770, 29 December 1995; En Banc Resolution, Kapunan [J]

Two special civil actions for certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition were filed and consolidated raising 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.

All of the petitioners in both (consolidated) 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 (An Act making flagceremony compulsory in all educational institutions) of July 11, 1955 ,
and by Department Order No. 8 (Rules and Regulations for Conducting the Flag Ceremony in All Educational
Institutions)dated July 21, 1955 of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) making the flag
ceremony compulsory in all educational institutions.

Petitioners are Jehovah’s Witnesses believing that by doing these is religious worship/devotion akin to idolatry
against their teachings. They contend that to compel transcends constitutional limits and invades protection
against official control and religious freedom. The respondents relied on the precedence of Gerona et al v.
Secretary of Education where the Court upheld the explulsions. Gerona doctrine provides that we are a system of
separation of the church and state and the flag is devoid of religious significance and it doesn’t involve any
religious ceremony. 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

ISSUE: Whether or not the expulsion of petitioners violated their freedom of religion?
YES. The Court held that the expulsion of the petitioners from the school was not justified.
Religious freedom is a fundamental right of highest priority and the amplest protection among human rights, for
it involves the relationship of man to his Creator. 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. The only limitation to religious freedom is the existence of grave and
present danger to public safety, morals, health and interests where State has right to prevent.
Petitioners stress 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. Since they do not engage
in disruptive behavior, there is no warrant for their expulsion.

Pamil vs Teleron

In 1971, Fr. Margarito Gonzaga, a priest, won the election for mayoralty in Alburquerque, Bohol. He was
later proclaimed as mayor therein. Fortunato Pamil, a rival candidate filed a quo warranto case against Gonzaga
questioning the eligibility of Gonzaga. He argued that as provided for in Section 2175 of the 1917 Revised
Administrative Code:
…in no case shall there be elected or appointed to a municipal office ecclesiastics, soldiers in active service, persons
receiving salaries or compensation from provincial or national funds, or contractors for public works of the
In this case, the elected mayor is a priest. However, Judge Victorino Teleron ruled that the Administrative Code is
repealed by the Election Code of 1971 which now allows ecclesiastics to run.
ISSUE: Whether or not Section 2175 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 is no longer operative?
HELD: The Supreme Court decision was indecisive. Under the 1935 Constitution, “No religious test shall be required
for the exercise of civil or political rights.” If the the doctrine of constitutional supremacy is to be maintained, then
Section 2175 shall not prevail, thus, an ecclesiastic may run for elective office. However, this issue proved to have
divided the Supreme Court because it failed to obtain the majority vote of eight (8) which is needed in order to
declare Section 2175 of the RAC to be unconstitutional. For this, the petition filed by Pamil must be granted and the
decision of the lower court reversed and set aside. Fr. Gonzaga is hereby ordered to vacate the mayoralty position.
It was also pointed out (in the dissenting opinions) that how can one who swore to serve the Church’s interest above
all be in duty to enforce state policies which at times may conflict with church tenets. This is in violation of the
separation of the church and state. The Revised Administrative Code still stands because there is no implied repeal.
Dissenting Opinion
J. Teehankee – The Comelec ruled that soldiers in active service and persons receiving salaries or compensation from
provincial or national funds “are obviously now allowed to run for a public elective office because under Sec. 23 of
the Election Code of 1971 ‘every person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of
the Armed Forces’ shall ipso facto cease in their office or position on the date they file their certificates of candidacy.
This implies that they are no longer disqualified from running for an elective office.” The Comelec further ruled that
as to the two remaining categories formerly banned under the Revised Administrative Code, “ecclesiastics and
contractors for public works of the municipality are allowed to run for municipal elective offices under the maxim,
‘Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius’, they being not included in the enumeration of persons ineligible under the New
Election Code. The rule is that all persons possessing the necessary qualifications, except those expressly disqualified
by the election code, are eligible to run for public office.”

German vs Barangan

One afternoon in October 1984, Reli German et al went to JP Laurel Sreet to pray and worship at the St. Luke Chapel.
But they were barred by General Santiago Barangan from entering the church because the same is within the vicinity
of the Malacañang. And considering that German’s group is expressively known as the August Twenty One
Movement who were wearing yellow shirts with clench fists, Barangan deemed that they were not really there to
worship but rather they are there to disrupt the ongoings within the Malacañang.
ISSUE: Whether or not the bar disallowing petitioners to worship and pray at St. Luke’s is a violation of their freedom
to worship and locomotion.
HELD: No. In the case at bar, German et al were not denied or restrained of their freedom of belief or choice of their
religion, but only in the manner by which they had attempted to translate the same into action. There has been a
clear manifestation by Barangan et al that they allow German et al to practice their religious belief but not in the
manner that German et al impressed. Such manner impresses “clear and present danger” to the executive of the
state hence the need to curtail it even at the expense of curtailing one’s freedom to worship.
Dissenting Opinions
J. Fernando – It would be an unwarranted departure then from what has been unanimously held in the J.B.L. Reyes
decision if on such a basic right as religious freedom -clearly the most fundamental and thus entitled to the highest
priority among human rights, involving as it does the relationship of man to his Creator -this Court will be less vigilant
in upholding any rightful claim. More than ever, in times of stress -and much more so in times of crisis -it is that
deeply-held faith that affords solace and comfort if not for everyone at least for the majority of mankind. Without
that faith, man’s very existence is devoid of meaning, bereft of significance.
J. Teehankee – The right to freely exercise one’s religion is guaranteed in Section 8 of our Bill of Rights. 7 Freedom
of worship, alongside with freedom of expression and speech and peaceable assembly “along with the other
intellectual freedoms, are highly ranked in our scheme of constitutional values. It cannot be too strongly stressed
that on the judiciary -even more so than on the other departments -rests the grave and delicate responsibility of
assuring respect for and deference to such preferred rights. No verbal formula, no sanctifying phrase can, of course,
dispense with what has been so felicitously termed by Justice Holmes ‘as the sovereign prerogative of judgment.’
Nonetheless, the presumption must be to incline the weight of the scales of justice on the side of such rights,
enjoying as they do precedence and primacy.
J. Makasiar – With the assurances aforestated given by both petitioners and respondents, there is no clear and
present danger to public peace and order or to the security of persons within the premises of Malacañang and the
adjacent areas, as the respondents has adopted measures and are prepared to insure against any public disturbance
or violence.

ALEJANDRO ESTRADA, petitioner v. SOLEDAD S. ESCRITOR, respondent

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

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 her religion—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.


Whether or Not the State could penalize respondent for such conjugalarrangement.


No. The State could not penalize respondent for she is exercising her right to freedom of religion. The free exercise
of religion is 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 benevolentneutrality approach that gives room for
accommodation of religious exercises as required by the Free Exercise Clause. This benevolentneutrality
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 conjugalarrangement cannot be penalized for it constitutes an
exemption to the law based on her right to freedom of religion.

Imbong vs Ochoa

Substantial: Right to Life; Health; Religion; Free Speech; Privacy; Due Process Clause; Equal Protection Clause

Procedural: Actual Case; Facial Challenge; Locus Standi; Declaratory Relief; One Subject One Title Rule

G.R. No. 204819 April 8, 2014

JAMES M. IMBONG and LOVELY-ANN C. IMBONG, for themselves and in behalf of their minor children, LUCIA
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of Budget
and Management, HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of Health, HON. ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary,
Department of Education, Culture and Sports and HON. MANUELA. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of Interior and
Local Government, Respondents.


Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10354, otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of
2012 (RH Law), was enacted by Congress on December 21, 2012.

Challengers from various sectors of society are questioning the constitutionality of the said Act. The petitioners are
assailing the constitutionality of RH Law on the following grounds:


1. The RH Law violates the right to life of the unborn.

2. The RH Law violates the right to health and the right to protection against hazardous products.
3. The RH Law violates the right to religious freedom.
4. The RH Law violates the constitutional provision on involuntary servitude.
5. The RH Law violates the right to equal protection of the law.
6. The RH Law violates the right to free speech.
7. The RH Law is “void-for-vagueness” in violation of the due process clause of the Constitution.
8. The RH Law intrudes into the zone of privacy of one’s family protected by the Constitution

PROCEDURAL: Whether the Court may exercise its power of judicial review over the controversy.

1. Power of Judicial Review

2. Actual Case or Controversy
3. Facial Challenge
4. Locus Standi
5. Declaratory Relief
6. One Subject/One Title Rule


Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH) Law is unconstitutional for violating the:

1. Right to life
2. Right to health
3. Freedom of religion and right to free speech
4. Right to privacy (marital privacy and autonomy)
5. Freedom of expression and academic freedom
6. Due process clause
7. Equal protection clause
8. Prohibition against involuntary servitude


Whether the Court can exercise its power of judicial review over the controversy.

1. Actual Case or Controversy

2. Facial Challenge
3. Locus Standi
4. Declaratory Relief
5. One Subject/One Title Rule



Judicial Review Jurisprudence is replete with the rule that the power of judicial review is limited by four exacting
requisites: (a) there must be an actual case or controversy; (b) the petitioners must possess locus standi; (c) the
question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (d) the issue of constitutionality must
be the lis mota of the case.

Actual Controversy: An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe
for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the decision of the court would amount to an advisory
opinion. It must concern a real, tangible and not merely a theoretical question or issue. There ought to be an
actual and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief through a decree conclusive in nature, as
distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts. Corollary to the
requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of ripeness. A question is ripe for adjudication
when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. For a case to be
considered ripe for adjudication, it is a prerequisite that something has then been accomplished or performed by
either branch before a court may come into the picture, and the petitioner must allege the existence of an
immediate or threatened injury to himself as a result of the challenged action. He must show that he has sustained
or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of the act complained of

Facial Challenge: A facial challenge, also known as a First Amendment Challenge, is one that is launched to assail
the validity of statutes concerning not only protected speech, but also all other rights in the First Amendment.
These include religious freedom, freedom of the press, and the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances. After all, the fundamental right to religious freedom, freedom
of the press and peaceful assembly are but component rights of the right to one’s freedom of expression, as they
are modes which one’s thoughts are externalized.

Locus Standi: Locus standi or legal standing is defined as a personal and substantial interest in a case such that the
party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the challenged governmental act. It requires a
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure the concrete adverseness which sharpens the
presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional

Transcendental Importance: the Court leans on the doctrine that “the rule on standing is a matter of procedure,
hence, can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public
interest so requires, such as when the matter is of transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to
society, or of paramount public interest.”

One Subject-One Title: The “one title-one subject” rule does not require the Congress to employ in the title of the
enactment language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the minute details
therein. The rule is sufficiently complied with if the title is comprehensive enough as to include the general object
which the statute seeks to effect, and where, as here, the persons interested are informed of the nature, scope
and consequences of the proposed law and its operation. Moreover, this Court has invariably adopted a liberal
rather than technical construction of the rule “so as not to cripple or impede legislation.” The one subject/one title
rule expresses the principle that the title of a law must not be “so uncertain that the average person reading it
would not be informed of the purpose of the enactment or put on inquiry as to its contents, or which is misleading,
either in referring to or indicating one subject where another or different one is really embraced in the act, or in
omitting any expression or indication of the real subject or scope of the act.”

Declaration of Unconstitutionality: Orthodox view: An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it
imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as
though it had never been passed. Modern view: Under this view, the court in passing upon the question of
constitutionality does not annul or repeal the statute if it finds it in conflict with the Constitution. It simply refuses
to recognize it and determines the rights of the parties just as if such statute had no existence. But certain legal
effects of the statute prior to its declaration of unconstitutionality may be recognized. Requisites for partial
unconstitutionality: (1) The Legislature must be willing to retain the valid portion(s), usually shown by the presence
of a separability clause in the law; and (2) The valid portion can stand independently as law.



1. Majority of the Members of the Court believe that the question of when life begins is a scientific and medical
issue that should not be decided, at this stage, without proper hearing and evidence. However, they agreed
that individual Members could express their own views on this matter.

Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution states: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect
and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother
and the life of the unborn from conception.”

In its plain and ordinary meaning (a canon in statutory construction), the traditional meaning of “conception”
according to reputable dictionaries cited by the ponente is that life begins at fertilization. Medical sources also
support the view that conception begins at fertilization.
The framers of the Constitution also intended for (a) “conception” to refer to the moment of “fertilization” and
(b) the protection of the unborn child upon fertilization. In addition, they did not intend to ban all contraceptives
for being unconstitutional; only those that kill or destroy the fertilized ovum would be prohibited. Contraceptives
that actually prevent the union of the male sperm and female ovum, and those that similarly take action before
fertilization should be deemed non-abortive, and thus constitutionally permissible.

The intent of the framers of the Constitution for protecting the life of the unborn child was to prevent the
Legislature from passing a measure prevent abortion. The Court cannot interpret this otherwise. The RH Law is in
line with this intent and actually prohibits abortion. By using the word “or” in defining abortifacient (Section 4(a)),
the RH Law prohibits not only drugs or devices that prevent implantation but also those that induce abortion and
induce the destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb. The RH Law recognizes that the fertilized ovum
already has life and that the State has a bounded duty to protect it.

However, the authors of the IRR gravely abused their office when they redefined the meaning of abortifacient by
using the term “primarily”. Recognizing as abortifacients only those that “primarily induce abortion or the
destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be
implanted in the mother’s womb” (Sec. 3.01(a) of the IRR) would pave the way for the approval of contraceptives
that may harm or destroy the life of the unborn from conception/fertilization. This violates Section 12, Article II of
the Constitution. For the same reason, the definition of contraceptives under the IRR (Sec 3.01(j)), which also uses
the term “primarily”, must be struck down.

2. The RH Law does not intend to do away with RA 4729 (1966). With RA 4729 in place, the Court believes
adequate safeguards exist to ensure that only safe contraceptives are made available to the public. In fulfilling
its mandate under Sec. 10 of the RH Law, the DOH must keep in mind the provisions of RA 4729: the
contraceptives it will procure shall be from a duly licensed drug store or pharmaceutical company and that the
actual distribution of these contraceptive drugs and devices will be done following a prescription of a qualified
medical practitioner.

Meanwhile, the requirement of Section 9 of the RH Law is to be considered “mandatory” only after these devices
and materials have been tested, evaluated and approved by the FDA. Congress cannot determine that
contraceptives are “safe, legal, non-abortificient and effective”.

3. The Court cannot determine whether or not the use of contraceptives or participation in support of modern
RH measures (a) is moral from a religious standpoint; or, (b) right or wrong according to one’s dogma or belief.
However, the Court has the authority to determine whether or not the RH Law contravenes the Constitutional
guarantee of religious freedom.

The State may pursue its legitimate secular objectives without being dictated upon the policies of any one religion.
To allow religious sects to dictate policy or restrict other groups would violate Article III, Section 5 of the
Constitution or the Establishment Clause. This would cause the State to adhere to a particular religion, and thus,
establishes a state religion. Thus, the State can enhance its population control program through the RH Law even
if the promotion of contraceptive use is contrary to the religious beliefs of e.g. the petitioners.

4. Section 23A (2)(i) of the RH Law, which permits RH procedures even with only the consent of the spouse
undergoing the provision (disregarding spousal content), intrudes into martial privacy and autonomy and goes
against the constitutional safeguards for the family as the basic social institution. Particularly, Section 3,
Article XV of the Constitution mandates the State to defend: (a) the right of spouses to found a family in
accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood and (b) the right of
families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that
affect them. The RH Law cannot infringe upon this mutual decision-making, and endanger the institutions of
marriage and the family.

The exclusion of parental consent in cases where a minor undergoing a procedure is already a parent or has had a
miscarriage (Section 7 of the RH Law) is also anti-family and violates Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution, which
states: “The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the
development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.” In addition, the portion of Section
23(a)(ii) which reads “in the case of minors, the written consent of parents or legal guardian or, in their absence,
persons exercising parental authority or next-of-kin shall be required only in elective surgical procedures” is invalid
as it denies the right of parental authority in cases where what is involved is “non-surgical procedures.”

However, a minor may receive information (as opposed to procedures) about family planning services. Parents are
not deprived of parental guidance and control over their minor child in this situation and may assist her in deciding
whether to accept or reject the information received. In addition, an exception may be made in life-threatening

5. The Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of Section 14 of the RH Law, which mandates the State to
provide Age-and Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. Although educators might raise
their objection to their participation in the RH education program, the Court reserves its judgment should an
actual case be filed before it.

Any attack on its constitutionality is premature because the Department of Education has not yet formulated a
curriculum on age-appropriate reproductive health education.

Section 12, Article II of the Constitution places more importance on the role of parents in the development of their
children with the use of the term “primary”. The right of parents in upbringing their youth is superior to that of the

The provisions of Section 14 of the RH Law and corresponding provisions of the IRR supplement (rather than
supplant) the right and duties of the parents in the moral development of their children.

By incorporating parent-teacher-community associations, school officials, and other interest groups in developing
the mandatory RH program, it could very well be said that the program will be in line with the religious beliefs of
the petitioners.

6. The RH Law does not violate the due process clause of the Constitution as the definitions of several terms as
observed by the petitioners are not vague.

The definition of “private health care service provider” must be seen in relation to Section 4(n) of the RH Law
which defines a “public health service provider”. The “private health care institution” cited under Section 7 should
be seen as synonymous to “private health care service provider.

The terms “service” and “methods” are also broad enough to include providing of information and rendering of
medical procedures. Thus, hospitals operated by religious groups are exempted from rendering RH service and
modern family planning methods (as provided for by Section 7 of the RH Law) as well as from giving RH
information and procedures.
The RH Law also defines “incorrect information”. Used together in relation to Section 23 (a)(1), the terms
“incorrect” and “knowingly” connote a sense of malice and ill motive to mislead or misrepresent the public as to
the nature and effect of programs and services on reproductive health.

7. To provide that the poor are to be given priority in the government’s RH program is not a violation of the
equal protection clause. In fact, it is pursuant to Section 11, Article XIII of the Constitution, which states that
the State shall prioritize the needs of the underprivileged, sick elderly, disabled, women, and children and that
it shall endeavor to provide medical care to paupers.

The RH Law does not only seek to target the poor to reduce their number, since Section 7 of the RH Law prioritizes
poor and marginalized couples who are suffering from fertility issues and desire to have children. In addition, the
RH Law does not prescribe the number of children a couple may have and does not impose conditions upon
couples who intend to have children. The RH Law only seeks to provide priority to the poor.

The exclusion of private educational institutions from the mandatory RH education program under Section 14 is
valid. There is a need to recognize the academic freedom of private educational institutions especially with respect
to religious instruction and to consider their sensitivity towards the teaching of reproductive health education

8. The requirement under Sec. 17 of the RH Law for private and non-government health care service providers to
render 48 hours of pro bonoRH services does not amount to involuntary servitude, for two reasons. First, the
practice of medicine is undeniably imbued with public interest that it is both the power and a duty of the State
to control and regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare. Second, Section 17 only
encourages private and non-government RH service providers to render pro bono Besides the PhilHealth
accreditation, no penalty is imposed should they do otherwise.

However, conscientious objectors are exempt from Sec. 17 as long as their religious beliefs do not allow them to
render RH service, pro bono or otherwise


1. In this case, the Court is of the view that an actual case or controversy exists and that the same is ripe for
judicial determination. Considering that the RH Law and its implementing rules have already taken effect and
that budgetary measures to carry out the law have already been passed, it is evident that the subject petitions
present a justiciable controversy. As stated earlier, when an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged
to have infringed the Constitution, it not only becomes a right, but also a duty of the Judiciary to settle the

Moreover, the petitioners have shown that the case is so because medical practitioners or medical providers are in
danger of being criminally prosecuted under the RH Law for vague violations thereof, particularly public health
officers who are threatened to be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of retirement and other benefits.
They must, at least, be heard on the matter now.
2. In this jurisdiction, the application of doctrines originating from the U.S. has been generally maintained, albeit
with some modifications. While the Court has withheld the application of facial challenges to strictly penal
statues, it has expanded its scope to cover statutes not only regulating free speech, but also those involving
religious freedom, and other fundamental rights. The underlying reason for this modification is simple. For
unlike its counterpart in the U.S., this Court, under its expanded jurisdiction, is mandated by the Fundamental
Law not only to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but
also 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. Verily, the framers of Our
Constitution envisioned a proactive Judiciary, ever vigilant with its duty to maintain the supremacy of the

Consequently, considering that the foregoing petitions have seriously alleged that the constitutional human rights
to life, speech and religion and other fundamental rights mentioned above have been violated by the assailed
legislation, the Court has authority to take cognizance of these kindred petitions and to determine if the RH Law
can indeed pass constitutional scrutiny. To dismiss these petitions on the simple expedient that there exist no
actual case or controversy, would diminish this Court as a reactive branch of government, acting only when the
Fundamental Law has been transgressed, to the detriment of the Filipino people.

3. Even if the constitutionality of the RH Law may not be assailed through an “as-applied challenge, still, the
Court has time and again acted liberally on the locus standi requirement. It has accorded certain individuals
standing to sue, not otherwise directly injured or with material interest affected by a Government act,
provided a constitutional issue of transcendental importance is invoked. The rule on locus standi is, after all, a
procedural technicality which the Court has, on more than one occasion, waived or relaxed, thus allowing
non-traditional plaintiffs, such as concerned citizens, taxpayers, voters or legislators, to sue in the public
interest, albeit they may not have been directly injured by the operation of a law or any other government

The present action cannot be properly treated as a petition for prohibition, the transcendental importance of the
issues involved in this case warrants that the Court set aside the technical defects and take primary jurisdiction
over the petition at bar. One cannot deny that the issues raised herein have potentially pervasive influence on the
social and moral well being of this nation, specially the youth; hence, their proper and just determination is an
imperative need. This is in accordance with the well-entrenched principle that rules of procedure are not inflexible
tools designed to hinder or delay, but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. Their strict and rigid
application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate, rather than promote substantial justice,
must always be eschewed.

4. Most of the petitions are praying for injunctive reliefs and so the Court would just consider them as petitions
for prohibition under Rule 65, over which it has original jurisdiction. Where the case has far-reaching
implications and prays for injunctive reliefs, the Court may consider them as petitions for prohibition under
Rule 65.
5. The RH Law does not violate the one subject/one bill rule. In this case, a textual analysis of the various
provisions of the law shows that both “reproductive health” and “responsible parenthood” are interrelated
and germane to the overriding objective to control the population growth. As expressed in the first paragraph
of Section 2 of the RH Law:

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State recognizes and guarantees the human rights of all persons including their
right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to
health which includes reproductive health, the right to education and information, and the right to choose and
make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the
demands of responsible parenthood.

Considering the close intimacy between “reproductive health” and “responsible parenthood” which bears to the
attainment of the goal of achieving “sustainable human development” as stated under its terms, the Court finds no
reason to believe that Congress intentionally sought to deceive the public as to the contents of the assailed

Accordingly, the Court declares R.A. No. 10354 as NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL except with respect to the following
provisions which are declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL:

1) Section 7 and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR insofar as they: a) require private health facilities and
non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group to refer patients, not in
an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to another health facility which is
conveniently accessible; and b) allow minor-parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage access to modem
methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardian/s;

2) Section 23(a)(l) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR, particularly Section 5 .24 thereof, insofar as they
punish any healthcare service provider who fails and or refuses to disseminate information regarding programs
and services on reproductive health regardless of his or her religious beliefs.

3) Section 23(a)(2)(i) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR insofar as they allow a married individual, not
in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to undergo reproductive health
procedures without the consent of the spouse;

4) Section 23(a)(2)(ii) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR insofar as they limit the requirement of
parental consent only to elective surgical procedures.

5) Section 23(a)(3) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR, particularly Section 5.24 thereof, insofar as they
punish any healthcare service provider who fails and/or refuses to refer a patient not in an emergency or life-
threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to another health care service provider within the same
facility or one which is conveniently accessible regardless of his or her religious beliefs;

6) Section 23(b) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR, particularly Section 5 .24 thereof, insofar as they
punish any public officer who refuses to support reproductive health programs or shall do any act that hinders the
full implementation of a reproductive health program, regardless of his or her religious beliefs;

7) Section 17 and the corresponding prov1s10n in the RH-IRR regarding the rendering of pro bona reproductive
health service in so far as they affect the conscientious objector in securing PhilHealth accreditation; and

8) Section 3.0l(a) and Section 3.01 G) of the RH-IRR, which added the qualifier “primarily” in defining abortifacients
and contraceptives, as they are ultra vires and, therefore, null and void for contravening Section 4(a) of the RH Law
and violating Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.