Aglipay vs. Ruiz

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On fundamental principles and state policies
  Today is Sunday, July 04, 2010   Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaEN BANC G.R. No. L-45459 March 13, 1937GREGORIO AGLIPAY, petitioner,vs. JUAN RUIZ, respondent. Vicente Sotto for petitioner.Office of the Solicitor-General Tuason for respondent. LAUREL, J.: The petitioner, Mons. Gregorio Aglipay, Supreme Head of the Philippine Independent Church, seeks the issuancefrom this court of a writ of prohibition to prevent the respondent Director of Posts from issuing and selling postagestamps 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 postagestamps 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 thePhilippines. In spite of the protest of the petitioner's attorney, the respondent publicly announced having sent to theUnited 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. Thefurther 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, althoughhe admits that the writ may properly restrain ministerial functions. While, generally, prohibition as an extraordinarylegal 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 excessof 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 comprehensiveand include the challenged act of the respondent Director of Posts in the present case, which act because alleged tobe violative of the Constitution is a fortiorari  without or in excess of . . . jurisdiction. The statutory rule, therefore, inthe jurisdiction is that the writ of prohibition is not confined exclusively to courts or tribunals to keep them within the law phil Search þÿ  limits of their own jurisdiction and to prevent them from encroaching upon the jurisdiction of other tribunals, but willissue, in appropriate cases, to an officer or person whose acts are without or in excess of his authority. Notinfrequently, the writ is granted, where it is necessary for the orderly administration of justice, or to prevent the useof the strong arm of the law in an oppressive or vindictive manner, or a multiplicity of actions. (Dimayuga andFajardo vs. Fernandez [1923], 43 Phil., 304, 307.)The more important question raised refers to the alleged violation of the Constitution by the respondent in issuingand selling postage stamps commemorative of the Thirty-third International Eucharistic Congress. It is alleged thatthis 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 theuse, 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 penalinstitution, orphanage, or leprosarium.The prohibition herein expressed is a direct corollary of the principle of separation of church and state. Without thenecessity 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 furtheranceof their recognized this principle of separation of church and state in the early stages of our constitutionaldevelopment; 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 1902and in the autonomy Act of August 29, 1916, and finally embodied in the constitution of the Philippines as thesupreme expression of the Filipino people. It is almost trite to say now that in this country we enjoy both religious andcivil freedom. All the officers of the Government, from the highest to the lowest, in taking their oath to support anddefend 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 notdenial of its influence in human affairs. Religion as a profession of faith to an active power that binds and elevatesman to his Creator is recognized. And, in so far as it instills into the minds the purest principles of morality, itsinfluence 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, conserveand develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posteritythe blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty and democracy, they thereby manifested relianceupon Him who guides the destinies of men and nations. The elevating influence of religion in human society isrecognized here as elsewhere. In fact, certain general concessions are indiscriminately accorded to religious sectsand denominations. Our Constitution and laws exempt from taxation properties devoted exclusively to religiouspurposes (sec. 14, subsec. 3, Art. VI, Constitution of the Philippines and sec. 1, subsec. 4, Ordinance appendedthereto; 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 instructionin the public schools is by constitutional mandate allowed (sec. 5, Art. XIII, Constitution of the Philippines, in relationto sec. 928, Adm. Code). Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Sundays andmade legal holidays (sec. 29, Adm. Code) because of the secular idea that their observance is conclusive tobeneficial moral results. The law allows divorce but punishes polygamy and bigamy; and certain crimes againstreligious worship are considered crimes against the fundamental laws of the state ( see arts. 132 and 133, RevisedPenal Code).In the case at bar, it appears that the respondent Director of Posts issued the postage stamps in question under theprovisions 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 THESAME AVAILABLE OUT OF ANY FUNDS IN THE INSULAR TREASURY NOT OTHERWISEAPPROPRIATED FOR THE COST OF PLATES AND PRINTING OF POSTAGE STAMPS WITH NEWDESIGNS, 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 anyfunds in the Insular Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the costs of plates and printing of postage stamps withnew designs, and other expenses incident thereto.SEC. 2. The Director of Posts, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, is herebyauthorized to dispose of the whole or any portion of the amount herein appropriated in the manner indicated and asoften 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 theapproval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, to dispose of the amount appropriated in themanner 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 aletter dated September 1, 1936, made part of the respondent's memorandum as Exhibit A. The respondent allegesthat the Government of the Philippines would suffer losses if the writ prayed for is granted. He estimates the revenueto be derived from the sale of the postage stamps in question at P1,618,17.10 and states that there still remain to besold stamps worth P1,402,279.02.Act No. 4052 contemplates no religious purpose in view. What it gives the Director of Posts is the discretionarypower 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 doesnot authorize the appropriation, use or application of public money or property for the use, benefit or support of aparticular sect or church. In the present case, however, the issuance of the postage stamps in question by theDirector of Posts and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications was not inspired by any sectariandenomination. The stamps were not issue and sold for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. Nor were moneyderived 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 andselling the stamps was to advertise the Philippines and attract more tourist to this country. The officials concernedmerely, took advantage of an event considered of international importance to give publicity to the Philippines and itspeople (Letter of the Undersecretary of Public Works and Communications to the President of the Philippines, June9, 1936; p. 3, petitioner's complaint). It is significant to note that the stamps as actually designed and printed (Exhibit2), instead of showing a Catholic Church chalice as srcinally planned, contains a map of the Philippines and thelocation 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, asthe seat  of that congress. It is obvious that while the issuance and sale of the stamps in question may be said to beinseparably linked with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the RomanCatholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Government. We are of the opinion that the Governmentshould 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 purposeshould 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 completeseparation of church and state and curb any attempt to infringe by indirection a constitutional inhibition. Indeed, inthe 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 theGovernment 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 therehas been no constitutional infraction in the case at bar, Act No. 4052 grants the Director of Posts, with the approvalof the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, discretion to misuse postage stamps with new designs asoften as may be deemed advantageous to the Government. Even if we were to assume that these officials madeuse of a poor judgment in issuing and selling the postage stamps in question still, the case of the petitioner would failto take in weight. Between the exercise of a poor judgment and the unconstitutionality of the step taken, a gap existswhich is yet to be filled to justify the court in setting aside the official act assailed as coming within a constitutionalinhibition.The petition for a writ of prohibition is hereby denied, without pronouncement as to costs. So ordered.  Avanceña, C.J., Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Imperial, Diaz and Concepcion, JJ., concur. The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
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