You are on page 1of 84

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

L-19550 June 19, 1967

HARRY S. STONEHILL, ROBERT P. BROOKS, JOHN J. BROOKS and KARL BECK, petitioners, vs. HON. JOSE W. DIOKNO, in his capacity as SECRETARY OF JUSTICE; JOSE LUKBAN, in his capacity as Acting Director, National Bureau of Investigation; SPECIAL PROSECUTORS PEDRO D. CENZON, EFREN I. PLANA and MANUEL VILLAREAL, JR. and ASST. FISCAL MANASES G. REYES; JUDGE AMADO ROAN, Municipal Court of Manila; JUDGE ROMAN CANSINO, Municipal Court of Manila; JUDGE HERMOGENES CALUAG, Court of First Instance of RizalQuezon City Branch, and JUDGE DAMIAN JIMENEZ, Municipal Court of Quezon City, respondents. Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno and Meer, Meer and Meer and Juan T. David for petitioners. Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General Pacifico P. de Castro, Assistant Solicitor General Frine C. Zaballero, Solicitor Camilo D. Quiason and Solicitor C. Padua for respondents. CONCEPCION, C.J.:

Upon application of the officers of the government named on the margin1 hereinafter referred to as Respondents-Prosecutors several judges2 hereinafter referred to as Respondents-Judges issued, on different dates,3 a total of 42 search warrants against petitioners herein4 and/or the corporations of which they were officers,5 directed to the any peace officer, to search the persons above-named and/or the premises of their offices, warehouses and/or residences, and to seize and take possession of the following personal property to wit: Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, journals, portfolios, credit journals, typewriters, and other documents and/or papers showing all business transactions including disbursements receipts, balance sheets and profit and loss statements and Bobbins (cigarette wrappers). as "the subject of the offense; stolen or embezzled and proceeds or fruits of the offense," or "used or intended to be used as the means of committing the offense," which is described in the applications adverted to above as "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and the Revised Penal Code." Alleging that the aforementioned search warrants are null and void, as contravening the Constitution and the Rules of Court because, inter alia: (1) they do not describe with particularity the documents, books and things to be seized; (2) cash money, not mentioned in the warrants, were actually seized; (3) the warrants

were issued to fish evidence against the aforementioned petitioners in deportation cases filed against them; (4) the searches and seizures were made in an illegal manner; and (5) the documents, papers and cash money seized were not delivered to the courts that issued the warrants, to be disposed of in accordance with law on March 20, 1962, said petitioners filed with the Supreme Court this original action for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and injunction, and prayed that, pending final disposition of the present case, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued restraining Respondents-Prosecutors, their agents and /or representatives from using the effects seized as aforementioned or any copies thereof, in the deportation cases already adverted to, and that, in due course, thereafter, decision be rendered quashing the contested search warrants and declaring the same null and void, and commanding the respondents, their agents or representatives to return to petitioners herein, in accordance with Section 3, Rule 67, of the Rules of Court, the documents, papers, things and cash moneys seized or confiscated under the search warrants in question. In their answer, respondents-prosecutors alleged, 6 (1) that the contested search warrants are valid and have been issued in accordance with law; (2) that the defects of said warrants, if any, were cured by petitioners' consent; and (3) that, in any event, the effects seized are admissible in evidence against herein petitioners, regardless of the alleged illegality of the aforementioned searches and seizures.

On March 22, 1962, this Court issued the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for in the petition. However, by resolution dated June 29, 1962, the writ was partially lifted or dissolved, insofar as the papers, documents and things seized from the offices of the corporations above mentioned are concerned; but, the injunction was maintained as regards the papers, documents and things found and seized in the residences of petitioners herein.7 Thus, the documents, papers, and things seized under the alleged authority of the warrants in question may be split into two (2) major groups, namely: (a) those found and seized in the offices of the aforementioned corporations, and (b) those found and seized in the residences of petitioners herein. As regards the first group, we hold that petitioners herein have no cause of action to assail the legality of the contested warrants and of the seizures made in pursuance thereof, for the simple reason that said corporations have their respective personalities, separate and distinct from the personality of herein petitioners, regardless of the amount of shares of stock or of the interest of each of them in said corporations, and whatever the offices they hold therein may be.8 Indeed, it is well settled that the legality of a seizure can be contested only by the party whose rights have been impaired thereby,9 and that the objection to an unlawful search and seizure is purely personal and cannot be availed of by third parties. 10 Consequently, petitioners herein may not validly object to the use in evidence against them of the documents, papers and things seized from the offices and premises of the corporations adverted to above, since the right to object to the

admission of said papers in evidence belongsexclusively to the corporations, to whom the seized effects belong, and may not be invoked by the corporate officers in proceedings against them in their individual capacity. 11 Indeed, it has been held: . . . that the Government's action in gaining possession of papers belonging to the corporation did not relate to nor did it affect the personal defendants. If these papers were unlawfully seized and thereby the constitutional rights of or any one were invaded, they were the rights of the corporation and not the rights of the other defendants. Next, it is clear that a question of the lawfulness of a seizure can be raised only by one whose rights have been invaded. Certainly, such a seizure, if unlawful, could not affect the constitutional rights of defendants whose property had not been seized or the privacy of whose homes had not been disturbed; nor could they claim for themselves the benefits of the Fourth Amendment, when its violation, if any, was with reference to the rights of another. Remus vs. United States (C.C.A.)291 F. 501, 511. It follows, therefore, that the question of the admissibility of the evidence based on an alleged unlawful search and seizure does not extend to the personal defendants but embraces only the corporation whose property was taken. . . . (A Guckenheimer & Bros. Co. vs. United States, [1925] 3 F. 2d. 786, 789, Emphasis supplied.) With respect to the documents, papers and things seized in the residences of petitioners herein, the aforementioned resolution of

June 29, 1962, lifted the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by this Court,12 thereby, in effect, restraining herein Respondents-Prosecutors from using them in evidence against petitioners herein. In connection with said documents, papers and things, two (2) important questions need be settled, namely: (1) whether the search warrants in question, and the searches and seizures made under the authority thereof, are valid or not, and (2) if the answer to the preceding question is in the negative, whether said documents, papers and things may be used in evidence against petitioners herein.
1wph1.t

Petitioners maintain that the aforementioned search warrants are in the nature of general warrants and that accordingly, the seizures effected upon the authority there of are null and void. In this connection, the Constitution13 provides: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Two points must be stressed in connection with this constitutional mandate, namely: (1) that no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge in the manner set

forth in said provision; and (2) that the warrant shall particularly describe the things to be seized. None of these requirements has been complied with in the contested warrants. Indeed, the same were issued upon applications stating that the natural and juridical person therein named had committed a "violation of Central Ban Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code." In other words, nospecific offense had been alleged in said applications. The averments thereof with respect to the offense committed were abstract. As a consequence, it was impossible for the judges who issued the warrants to have found the existence of probable cause, for the same presupposes the introduction of competent proof that the party against whom it is sought has performed particular acts, or committed specific omissions, violating a given provision of our criminal laws. As a matter of fact, the applications involved in this case do not allege any specific acts performed by herein petitioners. It would be the legal heresy, of the highest order, to convict anybody of a "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code," as alleged in the aforementioned applications without reference to any determinate provision of said laws or To uphold the validity of the warrants in question would be to wipe out completely one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed in our Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the privacy of communication and correspondence at the mercy of the whims caprice or passion of peace officers. This is precisely the

evil sought to be remedied by the constitutional provision above quoted to outlaw the so-called general warrants. It is not difficult to imagine what would happen, in times of keen political strife, when the party in power feels that the minority is likely to wrest it, even though by legal means. Such is the seriousness of the irregularities committed in connection with the disputed search warrants, that this Court deemed it fit to amend Section 3 of Rule 122 of the former Rules of Court 14 by providing in its counterpart, under the Revised Rules of Court 15 that "a search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense." Not satisfied with this qualification, the Court added thereto a paragraph, directing that "no search warrant shall issue for more than one specific offense." The grave violation of the Constitution made in the application for the contested search warrants was compounded by the description therein made of the effects to be searched for and seized, to wit: Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, journals, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, portfolios, credit journals, typewriters, and other documents and/or papers showing all business transactions including disbursement receipts, balance sheets and related profit and loss statements. Thus, the warrants authorized the search for and seizure of records pertaining to all business transactions of petitioners herein, regardless of whether the transactions were legal or illegal. The

warrants sanctioned the seizure of all records of the petitioners and the aforementioned corporations, whatever their nature, thus openly contravening the explicit command of our Bill of Rights that the things to be seized be particularly described as well as tending to defeat its major objective: the elimination of general warrants. Relying upon Moncado vs. People's Court (80 Phil. 1), Respondents-Prosecutors maintain that, even if the searches and seizures under consideration were unconstitutional, the documents, papers and things thus seized are admissible in evidence against petitioners herein. Upon mature deliberation, however, we are unanimously of the opinion that the position taken in the Moncado case must be abandoned. Said position was in line with the American common law rule, that the criminal should not be allowed to go free merely "because the constable has blundered," 16 upon the theory that the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures is protected by means other than the exclusion of evidence unlawfully obtained, 17 such as the commonlaw action for damages against the searching officer, against the party who procured the issuance of the search warrant and against those assisting in the execution of an illegal search, their criminal punishment, resistance, without liability to an unlawful seizure, and such other legal remedies as may be provided by other laws. However, most common law jurisdictions have already given up this approach and eventually adopted the exclusionary rule, realizing that this is the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional

injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures. In the language of Judge Learned Hand: As we understand it, the reason for the exclusion of evidence competent as such, which has been unlawfully acquired, is that exclusion is the only practical way of enforcing the constitutional privilege. In earlier times the action of trespass against the offending official may have been protection enough; but that is true no longer. Only in case the prosecution which itself controls the seizing officials, knows that it cannot profit by their wrong will that wrong be repressed.18 In fact, over thirty (30) years before, the Federal Supreme Court had already declared: If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense, the protection of the 4th Amendment, declaring his rights to be secure against such searches and seizures, is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well be stricken from the Constitution. The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to punishment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great principles established by years of endeavor and suffering which have resulted in their embodiment in the fundamental law of the land.19

This view was, not only reiterated, but, also, broadened in subsequent decisions on the same Federal Court. 20After reviewing previous decisions thereon, said Court held, in Mapp vs. Ohio (supra.): . . . Today we once again examine the Wolf's constitutional documentation of the right of privacy free from unreasonable state intrusion, and after its dozen years on our books, are led by it to close the only courtroom door remaining open to evidence secured by official lawlessness in flagrant abuse of that basic right, reserved to all persons as a specific guarantee against that very same unlawful conduct. We hold that all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by that same authority, inadmissible in a State. Since the Fourth Amendment's right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth, it is enforceable against them by the same sanction of exclusion as it used against the Federal Government. Were it otherwise, then just as without the Weeks rule the assurance against unreasonable federal searches and seizures would be "a form of words," valueless and underserving of mention in a perpetual charter of inestimable human liberties, so too, without that rule the freedom from state invasions of privacy would be so ephemeral and so neatly severed from its conceptual nexus with the freedom from all brutish means of coercing evidence as not to permit this Court's high regard as a freedom "implicit

in the concept of ordered liberty." At the time that the Court held in Wolf that the amendment was applicable to the States through the Due Process Clause, the cases of this Court as we have seen, had steadfastly held that as to federal officers the Fourth Amendment included the exclusion of the evidence seized in violation of its provisions. Even Wolf "stoutly adhered" to that proposition. The right to when conceded operatively enforceable against the States, was not susceptible of destruction by avulsion of the sanction upon which its protection and enjoyment had always been deemed dependent under the Boyd, Weeks and Silverthorne Cases. Therefore, in extending the substantive protections of due process to all constitutionally unreasonable searches state or federal it was logically and constitutionally necessarily that the exclusion doctrine an essential part of the right to privacy be also insisted upon as an essential ingredient of the right newly recognized by the Wolf Case. In short, the admission of the new constitutional Right by Wolf could not tolerate denial of its most important constitutional privilege, namely, the exclusion of the evidence which an accused had been forced to give by reason of the unlawful seizure. To hold otherwise is to grant the right but in reality to withhold its privilege and enjoyment. Only last year the Court itself recognized that the purpose of the exclusionary rule to "is to deter to compel respect for the constitutional guaranty in the only effectively available way by removing the incentive to disregard it" . . . .

The ignoble shortcut to conviction left open to the State tends to destroy the entire system of constitutional restraints on which the liberties of the people rest. Having once recognized that the right to privacy embodied in the Fourth Amendment is enforceable against the States, and that the right to be secure against rude invasions of privacy by state officers is, therefore constitutional in origin, we can no longer permit that right to remain an empty promise. Because it is enforceable in the same manner and to like effect as other basic rights secured by its Due Process Clause, we can no longer permit it to be revocable at the whim of any police officer who, in the name of law enforcement itself, chooses to suspend its enjoyment. Our decision, founded on reason and truth, gives to the individual no more than that which the Constitution guarantees him to the police officer no less than that to which honest law enforcement is entitled, and, to the courts, that judicial integrity so necessary in the true administration of justice. (emphasis ours.) Indeed, the non-exclusionary rule is contrary, not only to the letter, but also, to the spirit of the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures. To be sure, if the applicant for a search warrant has competent evidence to establish probable cause of the commission of a given crime by the party against whom the warrant is intended, then there is no reason why the applicant should not comply with the requirements of the fundamental law. Upon the other hand, if he has no such competent evidence, then it is not possible for the Judge to find that there is probable cause, and, hence, no justification for the

issuance of the warrant. The only possible explanation (not justification) for its issuance is the necessity of fishing evidence of the commission of a crime. But, then, this fishing expedition is indicative of the absence of evidence to establish a probable cause. Moreover, the theory that the criminal prosecution of those who secure an illegal search warrant and/or make unreasonable searches or seizures would suffice to protect the constitutional guarantee under consideration, overlooks the fact that violations thereof are, in general, committed By agents of the party in power, for, certainly, those belonging to the minority could not possibly abuse a power they do not have. Regardless of the handicap under which the minority usually but, understandably finds itself in prosecuting agents of the majority, one must not lose sight of the fact that the psychological and moral effect of the possibility 21 of securing their conviction, is watered down by the pardoning power of the party for whose benefit the illegality had been committed. In their Motion for Reconsideration and Amendment of the Resolution of this Court dated June 29, 1962, petitioners allege that Rooms Nos. 81 and 91 of Carmen Apartments, House No. 2008, Dewey Boulevard, House No. 1436, Colorado Street, and Room No. 304 of the Army-Navy Club, should be included among the premises considered in said Resolution as residences of herein petitioners, Harry S. Stonehill, Robert P. Brook, John J. Brooks and Karl Beck, respectively, and that, furthermore, the records, papers and other effects seized in the offices of the corporations above referred to include personal belongings of said petitioners and other effects under their exclusive possession and control, for the

exclusion of which they have a standing under the latest rulings of the federal courts of federal courts of the United States. 22 We note, however, that petitioners' theory, regarding their alleged possession of and control over the aforementioned records, papers and effects, and the alleged "personal" nature thereof, has Been Advanced, notin their petition or amended petition herein, but in the Motion for Reconsideration and Amendment of the Resolution of June 29, 1962. In other words, said theory would appear to be readjustment of that followed in said petitions, to suit the approach intimated in the Resolution sought to be reconsidered and amended. Then, too, some of the affidavits or copies of alleged affidavits attached to said motion for reconsideration, or submitted in support thereof, contain either inconsistent allegations, or allegations inconsistent with the theory now advanced by petitioners herein. Upon the other hand, we are not satisfied that the allegations of said petitions said motion for reconsideration, and the contents of the aforementioned affidavits and other papers submitted in support of said motion, have sufficiently established the facts or conditions contemplated in the cases relied upon by the petitioners; to warrant application of the views therein expressed, should we agree thereto. At any rate, we do not deem it necessary to express our opinion thereon, it being best to leave the matter open for determination in appropriate cases in the future. We hold, therefore, that the doctrine adopted in the Moncado case must be, as it is hereby, abandoned; that the warrants for the

search of three (3) residences of herein petitioners, as specified in the Resolution of June 29, 1962, are null and void; that the searches and seizures therein made are illegal; that the writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued, in connection with the documents, papers and other effects thus seized in said residences of herein petitioners is hereby made permanent; that the writs prayed for are granted, insofar as the documents, papers and other effects so seized in the aforementioned residences are concerned; that the aforementioned motion for Reconsideration and Amendment should be, as it is hereby, denied; and that the petition herein is dismissed and the writs prayed for denied, as regards the documents, papers and other effects seized in the twenty-nine (29) places, offices and other premises enumerated in the same Resolution, without special pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered. Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur. CASTRO, J., concurring and dissenting: From my analysis of the opinion written by Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and from the import of the deliberations of the Court on this case, I gather the following distinct conclusions: 1. All the search warrants served by the National Bureau of Investigation in this case are general warrants and are therefore proscribed by, and in violation of, paragraph 3 of section 1 of Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution;

2. All the searches and seizures conducted under the authority of the said search warrants were consequently illegal; 3. The non-exclusionary rule enunciated in Moncado vs. People, 80 Phil. 1, should be, and is declared, abandoned; 4. The search warrants served at the three residences of the petitioners are expressly declared null and void the searches and seizures therein made are expressly declared illegal; and the writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued against the use of the documents, papers and effect seized in the said residences is made permanent; and 5. Reasoning that the petitioners have not in their pleadings satisfactorily demonstrated that they have legal standing to move for the suppression of the documents, papers and effects seized in the places other than the three residences adverted to above, the opinion written by the Chief Justice refrains from expresslydeclaring as null and void the such warrants served at such other places and as illegal the searches and seizures made therein, and leaves "the matter open for determination in appropriate cases in the future." It is precisely the position taken by the Chief Justice summarized in the immediately preceding paragraph (numbered 5) with which I am not in accord. I do not share his reluctance or unwillingness to expressly declare, at this time, the nullity of the search warrants served at places other

than the three residences, and the illegibility of the searches and seizures conducted under the authority thereof. In my view even the exacerbating passions and prejudices inordinately generated by the environmental political and moral developments of this case should not deter this Court from forthrightly laying down the law not only for this case but as well for future cases and future generations. All the search warrants, without exception, in this case are admittedly general, blanket and roving warrants and are therefore admittedly and indisputably outlawed by the Constitution; and the searches and seizures made were therefore unlawful. That the petitioners, let us assume in gratia argumente, have no legal standing to ask for the suppression of the papers, things and effects seized from places other than their residences, to my mind, cannot in any manner affect, alter or otherwise modify the intrinsic nullity of the search warrants and the intrinsic illegality of the searches and seizures made thereunder. Whether or not the petitioners possess legal standing the said warrants are void and remain void, and the searches and seizures were illegal and remain illegal. No inference can be drawn from the words of the Constitution that "legal standing" or the lack of it is a determinant of the nullity or validity of a search warrant or of the lawfulness or illegality of a search or seizure. On the question of legal standing, I am of the conviction that, upon the pleadings submitted to this Court the petitioners have the requisite legal standing to move for the suppression and return of the documents, papers and effects that were seized from places other than their family residences.

Our constitutional provision on searches and seizures was derived almost verbatim from the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the many years of judicial construction and interpretation of the said constitutional provision, our courts have invariably regarded as doctrinal the pronouncement made on the Fourth Amendment by federal courts, especially the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals. The U.S. doctrines and pertinent cases on standing to move for the suppression or return of documents, papers and effects which are the fruits of an unlawful search and seizure, may be summarized as follows; (a) ownership of documents, papers and effects gives "standing;" (b) ownership and/or control or possession actual or constructive of premises searched gives "standing"; and (c) the "aggrieved person" doctrine where the search warrant and the sworn application for search warrant are "primarily" directed solely and exclusively against the "aggrieved person," gives "standing." An examination of the search warrants in this case will readily show that, excepting three, all were directed against the petitioners personally. In some of them, the petitioners were named personally, followed by the designation, "the President and/or General Manager" of the particular corporation. The three warrants excepted named three corporate defendants. But the "office/house/warehouse/premises" mentioned in the said three warrants were also the same "office/house/warehouse/premises" declared to be owned by or under the control of the petitioners in all the other search warrants directed against the petitioners and/or "the President and/or General Manager" of the particular

corporation. (see pages 5-24 of Petitioners' Reply of April 2, 1962). The searches and seizures were to be made, and were actually made, in the "office/house/warehouse/premises" owned by or under the control of the petitioners. Ownership of matters seized gives "standing." Ownership of the properties seized alone entitles the petitioners to bring a motion to return and suppress, and gives them standing as persons aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure regardless of their location at the time of seizure. Jones vs. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 261 (1960) (narcotics stored in the apartment of a friend of the defendant); Henzel vs. United States, 296 F. 2d. 650, 652-53 (5th Cir. 1961), (personal and corporate papers of corporation of which the defendant was president), United States vs. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48 (1951) (narcotics seized in an apartment not belonging to the defendant); Pielow vs. United States, 8 F. 2d 492, 493 (9th Cir. 1925) (books seized from the defendant's sister but belonging to the defendant); Cf. Villano vs. United States, 310 F. 2d 680, 683 (10th Cir. 1962) (papers seized in desk neither owned by nor in exclusive possession of the defendant). In a very recent case (decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 12, 1966), it was held that under the constitutional provision against unlawful searches and seizures, a person places himself or his property within a constitutionally protected area, be it his home or his office, his hotel room or his automobile:

Where the argument falls is in its misapprehension of the fundamental nature and scope of Fourth Amendment protection. What the Fourth Amendment protects is the security a man relies upon when heplaces himself or his property within a constitutionally protected area, be it his home or his office, his hotel room or his automobile. There he is protected from unwarranted governmental intrusion. And when he puts some thing in his filing cabinet, in his desk drawer, or in his pocket, he has the right to know it will be secure from an unreasonable search or an unreasonable seizure. So it was that the Fourth Amendment could not tolerate the warrantless search of the hotel room in Jeffers, the purloining of the petitioner's private papers in Gouled, or the surreptitious electronic surveilance in Silverman. Countless other cases which have come to this Court over the years have involved a myriad of differing factual contexts in which the protections of the Fourth Amendment have been appropriately invoked. No doubt, the future will bring countless others. By nothing we say here do we either foresee or foreclose factual situations to which the Fourth Amendment may be applicable. (Hoffa vs. U.S., 87 S. Ct. 408 (December 12, 1966). See also U.S. vs. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48, 72 S. Ct. 93 (November 13, 1951). (Emphasis supplied). Control of premises searched gives "standing." Independent of ownership or other personal interest in the records and documents seized, the petitioners have standing to move for return and suppression by virtue of their proprietary or leasehold

interest in many of the premises searched. These proprietary and leasehold interests have been sufficiently set forth in their motion for reconsideration and need not be recounted here, except to emphasize that the petitioners paid rent, directly or indirectly, for practically all the premises searched (Room 91, 84 Carmen Apts; Room 304, Army & Navy Club; Premises 2008, Dewey Boulevard; 1436 Colorado Street); maintained personal offices within the corporate offices (IBMC, USTC); had made improvements or furnished such offices; or had paid for the filing cabinets in which the papers were stored (Room 204, Army & Navy Club); and individually, or through their respective spouses, owned the controlling stock of the corporations involved. The petitioners' proprietary interest in most, if not all, of the premises searched therefore independently gives them standing to move for the return and suppression of the books, papers and affects seized therefrom. In Jones vs. United States, supra, the U.S. Supreme Court delineated the nature and extent of the interest in the searched premises necessary to maintain a motion to suppress. After reviewing what it considered to be the unduly technical standard of the then prevailing circuit court decisions, the Supreme Court said (362 U.S. 266): We do not lightly depart from this course of decisions by the lower courts. We are persuaded, however, that it is unnecessarily and ill-advised to import into the law surrounding the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures subtle distinctions, developed and refined by the common law in evolving the

body of private property law which, more than almost any other branch of law, has been shaped by distinctions whose validity is largely historical. Even in the area from which they derive, due consideration has led to the discarding of those distinctions in the homeland of the common law. See Occupiers' Liability Act, 1957, 5 and 6 Eliz. 2, c. 31, carrying out Law Reform Committee, Third Report, Cmd. 9305. Distinctions such as those between "lessee", "licensee," "invitee," "guest," often only of gossamer strength, ought not be determinative in fashioning procedures ultimately referable to constitutional safeguards. See also Chapman vs. United States, 354 U.S. 610, 616-17 (1961). It has never been held that a person with requisite interest in the premises searched must own the property seized in order to have standing in a motion to return and suppress. In Alioto vs. United States, 216 F. Supp. 48 (1963), a Bookkeeper for several corporations from whose apartment the corporate records were seized successfully moved for their return. In United States vs. Antonelli, Fireworks Co., 53 F. Supp. 870, 873 (W D. N. Y. 1943), the corporation's president successfully moved for the return and suppression is to him of both personal and corporate documents seized from his home during the course of an illegal search: The lawful possession by Antonelli of documents and property, "either his own or the corporation's was entitled to protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Under the circumstances in the case at bar, the search and seizure were unreasonable and unlawful. The motion for the return of

seized article and the suppression of the evidence so obtained should be granted. (Emphasis supplied). Time was when only a person who had property in interest in either the place searched or the articles seize had the necessary standing to invoke the protection of the exclusionary rule. But in MacDonald vs. Unite States, 335 U.S. 461 (1948), Justice Robert Jackson joined by Justice Felix Frankfurter, advanced the view that "even a guest may expect the shelter of the rooftree he is under against criminal intrusion." This view finally became the official view of the U.S. Supreme Court and was articulated in United States vs. Jeffers, 432 U.S 48 (1951). Nine years later, in 1960, in Jones vs. Unite States, 362 U.S. 257, 267, the U.S. Supreme Court went a step further. Jones was a mere guest in the apartment unlawfully searched but the Court nonetheless declared that the exclusionary rule protected him as well. The concept of "person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure" was enlarged to include "anyone legitimately on premise where the search occurs." Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's Jones decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the defendant organizer, sole stockholder and president of a corporation had standing in a mail fraud prosecution against him to demand the return and suppression of corporate property. Henzel vs. United States, 296 F 2d 650, 652 (5th Cir. 1961), supra. The court conclude that the defendant had standing on two independent grounds: First he had a sufficient interest in the property seized, and second he had an adequate interest in the premises searched (just like in the case at bar). A postal inspector had

unlawfully searched the corporation' premises and had seized most of the corporation's book and records. Looking to Jones, the court observed: Jones clearly tells us, therefore, what is not required qualify one as a "person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure." It tells us that appellant should not have been precluded from objecting to the Postal Inspector's search and seizure of the corporation's books and records merely because the appellant did not show ownership or possession of the books and records or a substantial possessory interest in the invade premises . . . (Henzel vs. United States, 296 F. 2d at 651). . Henzel was soon followed by Villano vs. United States, 310 F. 2d 680, 683, (10th Cir. 1962). In Villano, police officers seized two notebooks from a desk in the defendant's place of employment; the defendant did not claim ownership of either; he asserted that several employees (including himself) used the notebooks. The Court held that the employee had a protected interest and that there also was an invasion of privacy. Both Henzel and Villanoconsidered also the fact that the search and seizure were "directed at" the moving defendant. Henzel vs. United States, 296 F. 2d at 682; Villano vs. United States, 310 F. 2d at 683. In a case in which an attorney closed his law office, placed his files in storage and went to Puerto Rico, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recognized his standing to move to quash as

unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution a grand jury subpoena duces tecum directed to the custodian of his files. The Government contended that the petitioner had no standing because the books and papers were physically in the possession of the custodian, and because the subpoena was directed against the custodian. The court rejected the contention, holding that Schwimmer legally had such possession, control and unrelinquished personal rights in the books and papers as not to enable the question of unreasonable search and seizure to be escaped through the mere procedural device of compelling a third-party naked possessor to produce and deliver them. Schwimmer vs. United States, 232 F. 2d 855, 861 (8th Cir. 1956). Aggrieved person doctrine where the search warrant s primarily directed against said person gives "standing." The latest United States decision squarely in point is United States vs. Birrell, 242 F. Supp. 191 (1965, U.S.D.C. S.D.N.Y.). The defendant had stored with an attorney certain files and papers, which attorney, by the name of Dunn, was not, at the time of the seizing of the records, Birrell's attorney. * Dunn, in turn, had stored most of the records at his home in the country and on a farm which, according to Dunn's affidavit, was under his (Dunn's) "control and management." The papers turned out to be private, personal and business papers together with corporate books and records of certain unnamed corporations in which Birrell did not even claim

ownership. (All of these type records were seized in the case at bar). Nevertheless, the search in Birrell was held invalid by the court which held that even though Birrell did not own the premises where the records were stored, he had "standing" to move for the return of all the papers and properties seized. The court, relying on Jones vs. U.S., supra; U.S. vs. Antonelli Fireworks Co., 53 F. Supp. 870, Aff'd 155 F. 2d 631: Henzel vs. U.S., supra; and Schwimmer vs. U.S., supra, pointed out that It is overwhelmingly established that the searches here in question were directed solely and exclusively against Birrell. The only person suggested in the papers as having violated the law was Birrell. The first search warrant described the records as having been used "in committing a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, by the use of the mails by one Lowell M. Birrell, . . ." The second search warrant was captioned: "United States of America vs. Lowell M. Birrell. (p. 198) Possession (actual or constructive), no less than ownership, gives standing to move to suppress. Such was the rule even before Jones. (p. 199) If, as thus indicated Birrell had at least constructive possession of the records stored with Dunn, it matters not whether he had any interest in the premises searched. See also Jeffers v. United States, 88 U.S. Appl. D.C. 58, 187 F. 2d 498 (1950), affirmed 432 U.S. 48, 72 S. Ct. 93, 96 L. Ed. 459 (1951).

The ruling in the Birrell case was reaffirmed on motion for reargument; the United States did not appeal from this decision. The factual situation in Birrell is strikingly similar to the case of the present petitioners; as in Birrell, many personal and corporate papers were seized from premises not petitioners' family residences; as in Birrell, the searches were "PRIMARILY DIRECTED SOLETY AND EXCLUSIVELY" against the petitioners. Still both types of documents were suppressed in Birrell because of the illegal search. In the case at bar, the petitioners connection with the premises raided is much closer than in Birrell. Thus, the petitioners have full standing to move for the quashing of all the warrants regardless whether these were directed against residences in the narrow sense of the word, as long as the documents were personal papers of the petitioners or (to the extent that they were corporate papers) were held by them in a personal capacity or under their personal control. Prescinding a from the foregoing, this Court, at all events, should order the return to the petitioners all personaland private papers and effects seized, no matter where these were seized, whether from their residences or corporate offices or any other place or places. The uncontradicted sworn statements of the petitioners in their, various pleadings submitted to this Court indisputably show that amongst the things seized from the corporate offices and other places were personal and private papers and effects belonging to the petitioners.

If there should be any categorization of the documents, papers and things which where the objects of the unlawful searches and seizures, I submit that the grouping should be: (a) personal or private papers of the petitioners were they were unlawfully seized, be it their family residences offices, warehouses and/or premises owned and/or possessed (actually or constructively) by them as shown in all the search and in the sworn applications filed in securing the void search warrants and (b) purely corporate papers belonging to corporations. Under such categorization or grouping, the determination of which unlawfully seized papers, documents and things arepersonal/private of the petitioners or purely corporate papers will have to be left to the lower courts which issued the void search warrants in ultimately effecting the suppression and/or return of the said documents. And as unequivocally indicated by the authorities above cited, the petitioners likewise have clear legal standing to move for the suppression of purely corporate papers as "President and/or General Manager" of the corporations involved as specifically mentioned in the void search warrants. Finally, I must articulate my persuasion that although the cases cited in my disquisition were criminal prosecutions, the great clauses of the constitutional proscription on illegal searches and seizures do not withhold the mantle of their protection from cases not criminal in origin or nature. Footnotes

Hon. Jose W. Diokno, in his capacity as Secretary of Justice, Jose Lukban, in his capacity as Acting Director, National Bureau of Investigation, Special Prosecutors Pedro D. Cenzon, Efren I. Plana and Manuel Villareal, Jr. and Assistant Fiscal Maneses G. Reyes, City of Manila.
2

Hon. Amado Roan, Judge of the Municipal (now City) Court of Manila, Hon. Roman Cansino, Judge of the Municipal (now City) Court of Manila, Hon. Hermogenes Caluag, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City Branch, Hon. Eulogio Mencias, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch, and Hon. Damian Jimenez, Judge of the Municipal (now City) Court of Quezon City.
3

Covering the period from March 3 to March 9, 1962.

Harry S. Stonehill, Robert P. Brooks, John J. Brooks and Karl Beck.


5

U.S. Tobacco Corporation, Atlas Cement Corporation, Atlas Development Corporation, Far East Publishing Corporation (Evening News), Investment Inc., Industrial Business Management Corporation, General Agricultural Corporation, American Asiatic Oil Corporation, Investment Management Corporation, Holiday Hills, Inc., Republic Glass Corporation, Industrial and Business Management Corporation, United Housing Corporation, The Philippine Tobacco-Flue-Curing and Redrying Corporation, Republic Real Estate Corporation and Merconsel Corporation.

Inter alia.

"Without prejudice to explaining the reasons for this order in the decision to be rendered in the case, the writ of preliminary injunction issued by us in this case against the use of the papers, documents and things from the following premises: (1) The office of the U.S. Tobacco Corp. at the Ledesma Bldg., Arzobispo St., Manila; (2) 932 Gonzales, Ermita, Manila; (3) office at Atlanta St. bounded by Chicago, 15th & 14th Sts., Port Area, Manila; (4) 527 Rosario St., Mla.; (5) Atlas Cement Corp. and/or Atlas Development Corp., Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Ermita, Mla.; (6) 205 13th St., Port Area, Mla.; (7) No. 224 San Vicente St., Mla.; (8) Warehouse No. 2 at Chicago & 23rd Sts., Mla.; (9) Warehouse at 23rd St., between Muelle de San Francisco & Boston, Port Area, Mla.; (10) Investment Inc., 24th St. & Boston; (11) IBMC, Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Mla.; (12) General Agricultural Corp., Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (13) American Asiatic Oil Corp., Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (14) Room 91, Carmen Apts.; Dewey Blvd., Manila; (15) Warehouse Railroad St. between 17 & 12 Sts., Port Area, Manila; (16) Rm. 304, Army & Navy Club, Manila, South Blvd.; (17) Warehouse Annex Bldg., 18th St., Port Area, Manila; (18) Rm. 81 Carmen Apts.; Dewey Blvd., Manila; (19) Holiday Hills, Inc., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (20) No. 2008 Dewey Blvd.; (21) Premises of 24th St. & Boston, Port Area, Manila; (22) Republic Glass Corp., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (23) IBMC, 2nd Floor, Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (24) IBMC, 2nd Flr., Gochangco Blg., 610 San Luis,

Manila; (25) United Housing Corp., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (26) Republic Real Estate Corp., Trinity Bldg., San Luis, Manila; (27) 1437 Colorado St., Malate, Manila; (28) Phil. Tobacco Flue-Curing, Magsaysay Bldg., San Luis, Manila and (29) 14 Baldwin St., Sta. Cruz, Manila, in the hearing of Deportation Cases Nos. R-953 and 955 against petitioners, before the Deportation Board, is hereby lifted. The preliminary injunction shall continue as to the papers, documents and things found in the other premises namely: in those of the residences of petitioners, as follows: (1) 13 Narra Road, Forbes Park, Makati, Rizal; (2) 15 Narra Road, Forbes Park, Makati, Rizal; and (3) 8 Urdaneta Avenue, Urdaneta Village, Makati, Rizal."
8

Newingham, et al. vs. United States, 4 F. 2d. 490. Lesis vs. U.S., 6 F. 2d. 22.

10

In re Dooley (1931) 48 F 2d. 121; Rouda vs. U.S., 10 F. 60 2d 916; Lusco vs. U.S. 287 F. 69; Ganci vs. U.S., 287 F. Moris vs. U.S., 26 F. 2d 444.
11

U.S. vs. Gass 17 F. 2d. 997; People vs. Rubio, 57 Phil. 384, 394.
12

On March 22, 1962. Section 1, paragraph 3, of Article III thereof.

13

14

Reading: . . . A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause to be determined by the judge or justice of the peace after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
15

US 206, 4 L. ed. 2d. 1669, 80 S. Ct. 1437 (1960); Mapp vs. Ohio (1961), 367 US 643, 6 L. ed. 2d. 1081, 81 S. Ct. 1684.
21

Even if remote.

22

. . . A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined by the judge or justice of the peace after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized. No search warrant shall issue for more than one specific offense. (Sec. 3, Rule 126.)
16

Particularly, Jones vs. U.S. 362 U.S. 257; Alioto vs. U.S., 216 Fed. Supp. 49: U.S. vs. Jeffries, 72 S. Ct. 93: Villano vs, U.S., 300 Fed. 2d 680; and Henzel vs. U.S., 296 Fed. 2d 650. CASTRO, J., CONCURRING AND DISSENTING:
*

Attorney-client relationship played no part in the decision of the case.

People vs. Defore, 140 NE 585.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

17

Wolf vs. Colorado, 93 L. ed. 1782. Pugliese (1945) 133 F. 2d. 497.

18

19

Weeks vs. United States (1914) 232 U.S. 383, 58 L. ed. 652, 34 S. Ct. 341; emphasis supplied.
20

G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993 JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors, and represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA, ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all

Gouled vs. United States (1921) 255 US 298, 65 L. ed, 647, 41 S. Ct. 261; Olmstead vs. United States (1928) 277 US 438, 72 L. ed. 944, 48 S. Ct. 564, Wolf vs. Colorado, 338 US 25, 93 L. ed. 1782, 69 S. Ct. 1359; Elkins vs. United States, 364

surnamed FLORES, minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents SIGRID and DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN, minor, represented by his parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor, represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA DESAMPARADO, minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T. NARVASA, minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their parents ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA, PHILIP JOSEPH,

STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents. Oposa Law Office for petitioners. The Solicitor General for respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.: In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth."

The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources. The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The complaint2 was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests." The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally concerned about the preservation of said resource but are "so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn." 4Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered: . . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to

(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country; (2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements. and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises." 5 The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since time immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology, the country's land area should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu and the Municipality of Bacoor,

Cavite, (c) massive erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum approximately the size of the entire island of Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e) the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the absence of windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect." Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and deforestation are so capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.

As their cause of action, they specifically allege that: CAUSE OF ACTION


7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.

8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of rainforests constituting roughly 53% of the country's land mass. 9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of said rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area. 10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left, barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of immature and uneconomical secondary growth forests. 11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license agreements ('TLA's') to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial logging purposes. A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex "A".

12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per hour nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included the Philippines will be bereft of forest resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier. 13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this continued trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minor's generation and to generations yet unborn are evident and incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are already being felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults. 14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs especially plaintiff minors and their successors who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural resource treasure. This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource property he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations. 15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to

protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae. 16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office. On March 2, 1990, plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country. A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B". 17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's to the continuing serious damage and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs. 18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act violative of the rights of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the Philippines had been abundantly blessed with. 19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to the public policy enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy of the State

(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other; (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos and; (c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and well-being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977) 20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is contradictory to the Constitutional policy of the State to a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "make full and efficient use of natural resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution); b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid); c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article XIV,id.); d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.)

21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind the natural law and violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support 6 systems and continued rape of Mother Earth.

On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the defendant's abuse of discretion. On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In the said order, not only was the defendant's claim that the complaint states no cause of action against him and that it raises a political question sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental law of the land. Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent

Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8 On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto. Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent's correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's right to a healthful environment. It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial question.

Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause, petitioners maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They likewise submit that even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked by the State when the public interest so requires. On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They see nothing in the complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then reiterate the theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted in the country is a political question which should be properly addressed to the executive or legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert that the petitioners' resources is not to file an action to court, but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a bill that would ban logging totally. As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of time usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and

regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative of the requirements of due process. Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue with this matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an incident to the former. This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers

the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10 Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come. The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of the petition. After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the respondent Judge's challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads as follows: xxx xxx xxx

After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree with the defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and protect, or a specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action in its Complaint against the herein defendant. Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political color and involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing violence to the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal branches of the Government.
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored ( sic) by the 11 fundamental law.

unverified data. A reading of the complaint itself belies these conclusions. The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides: Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same article: Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the

We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague assumptions and conclusions based on

inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life. The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the following exchange transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question: MR. VILLACORTA: Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution air, water and noise pollution? MR. AZCUNA:
Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it the correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided for impairment of 12 environmental balance.

The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the country's forests. Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted. Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development and utilization of the country's natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country's environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof makes the following statement of policy: Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the sustainable use, development, management, renewal, and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas and other natural resources, including the protection and

enhancement of the quality of the environment, and equitable access of the different segments of the population to the development and the use of the country's natural resources, not only for the present generation but for future generations as well. It is also the policy of the state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and environmental cost implications relative to their utilization, development and conservation of our natural resources. This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, 15specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads: Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people, the full exploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of making the exploration, development and utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the different segments of the present as well as future generations.

(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into account social and environmental cost implications relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our natural resources. The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment." Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular reference to the fact of the agency's being subject to law and higher authority. Said section provides: Sec. 2. Mandate. (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy. (2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State's constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the country's natural resources. Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR. It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes already paid special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and

P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code) were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding generations." 17The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy. Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR's duty under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 to protect and advance the said right. A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted. A cause of action is defined as:

. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the 18 defendant, and act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right.

It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? 20 In Militante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute." After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is

the need to implead, as party defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties. The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely put in issue. What is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that: 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. Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a distinguished member of this Court, says: The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the settlement of

conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government. As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the power to rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, is the meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very elastic phrase that can expand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary. In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted: In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly provides: . . .

The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored ( sic) by the 24 fundamental law.

Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property or a property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court held: . . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case. A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576). We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26 . . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the

We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the timber license holders because he would have forever bound the Government to strictly respect the said licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides: . . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify, replace or rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .

end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302]. Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
27

the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp. 28 this Court stated: The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare. The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, 30 to wit: Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.

cannot be invoked. In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the nonimpairment clause. This is because by its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of

In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31 Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the nonimpairment clause could apply with respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a matter of right. WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the challenged Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby set aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur. Narvasa, C.J., Puno and Vitug, JJ., took no part.

Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which, to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The seminal principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying. The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners' claim that their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the concept of "class" here involved membership in this "class" appears to embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the future it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The

Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency concerned must be shown ("prior exhaustion of administrative remedies"), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for future determination in an appropriate case. The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" (Decision, p. 14). There is no question that "the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it has been "constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great respect, that it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character than a right to "a balanced and healthful ecology." The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents, garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines and whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-

pit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming; destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151, dated 6 June 1977 all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 ("the right to a balanced and healthful ecology") and 15 ("the right to health"). P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code," is, upon the other hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment management policies" and "environment quality standards" (fourth "Whereas" clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics: (a) air quality management; (b) water quality management; (c) land use management; (d) natural resources management and conservation embracing: (i) fisheries and aquatic resources; (ii) wild life;

(iii) forestry and soil conservation; (iv) flood control and natural calamities; (v) energy development; (vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water (vii) mineral resources Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of the headings and sub-headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code does not, in other words, appear to contemplate action on the part of private persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code. As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those

implications are too large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here. My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss. It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter. The second is a broader-gauge consideration where a specific violation of law or applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded

conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads: Section 1. . . . 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 agrave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied) When substantive standards as general as "the right to a balanced and healthy ecology" and "the right to health" are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments the legislative and executive departments must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene.

My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded is not dependent upon proof of breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus between petitioners' specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist. I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the Court's decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.

Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring

I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which, to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The seminal principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying. The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners' claim that their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the concept of "class" here involved membership in this "class" appears to embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the future it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency

concerned must be shown ("prior exhaustion of administrative remedies"), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for future determination in an appropriate case. The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" (Decision, p. 14). There is no question that "the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it has been "constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great respect, that it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character than a right to "a balanced and healthful ecology." The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents, garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines and whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or openpit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming; destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151,

dated 6 June 1977 all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 ("the right to a balanced and healthful ecology") and 15 ("the right to health"). P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code," is, upon the other hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment management policies" and "environment quality standards" (fourth "Whereas" clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics: (a) air quality management; (b) water quality management; (c) land use management; (d) natural resources management and conservation embracing: (i) fisheries and aquatic resources; (ii) wild life; (iii) forestry and soil conservation; (iv) flood control and natural calamities; (v) energy development;

(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water (vii) mineral resources Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of the headings and sub-headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code does not, in other words, appear to contemplate action on the part of private persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code. As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here. My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the

Constitution that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss. It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter. The second is a broader-gauge consideration where a specific violation of law or applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads: Section 1. . . .

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 agrave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied) When substantive standards as general as "the right to a balanced and healthy ecology" and "the right to health" are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments the legislative and executive departments must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene. My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded is not dependent upon proof of

breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus between petitioners' specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist. I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the Court's decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.
#

7 Annex "B" of Petitions; Id., 43-44. 8 Paragraph 7, Petition, 6; Rollo, 20. 9 Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, 1986, 1508. 10 Title XIV (Environment and Natural Resources), Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, E.O. No. 292. 11 Annex "B" of Petition; Rollo, 43-44. 12 Record of the Constitutional Commission, vol. 4, 913. 13 For instance, the Preamble and Article XII on the National Economy and Patrimony. 14 The Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 15 E.O. No. 292. 16 Section 1. 17 Section 2. 18 Ma-ao Sugar Central Co. vs. Barrios, 79 Phil. 666 [1947]; Community Investment and Finance Corp. vs. Garcia, 88 Phil. 215 [1951]; Remitere vs. Vda. de Yulo, 16 SCRA 251 [1966]; Caseas vs. Rosales, 19 SCRA

Footnotes 1 Rollo, 164; 186. 2 Id., 62-65, exclusive of annexes. 3 Under Section 12, Rule 3, Revised Rules of Court. 4 Rollo, 67. 5 Id., 74. 6 Rollo, 70-73.

462 [1967]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayan, 202 SCRA 680 [1991]; Madrona vs. Rosal, 204 SCRA 1 [1991]. 19 Section 1(q), Rule 16, Revised Rules of Court. 20 Adamos vs. J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. 25 SCRA 529 [1968]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayn, supra; Madrona vs. Rosal, supra. 21 39 SCRA 473, 479 [1971]. 22 1991 ed., 226-227. 23 180 SCRA 496, 501-502 [1989]. See also, Coseteng vs. Mitra, 187 SCRA 377 [1990]; Gonzales vs. Macaraig, 191 SCRA 452 [1990]; Llamas vs. Orbos, 202 SCRA 844 [1991]; Bengzon vs. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 203 SCRA 767 [1991]. 24 Rollo, 44. 25 125 SCRA 302, 325 [1983]. 26 190 SCRA 673, 684 [1990]. 27 Article III, 1987 Constitution. 28 110 Phil. 198, 203 [1960]; footnotes omitted. 29 291 U.S. 502, 523, 78 L. ed. 940, 947-949.

30 22 SCRA 135, 146-147 [1968]. 31 Ongsiako vs. Gamboa, 86 Phil. 50 [1950]; Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp. supra.; Phil. American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, supra.; Alalayan vs. NPC, 24 SCRA 172[1968]; Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union, 59 SCRA 54 [1974]; Kabiling vs. National Housing Authority, 156 SCRA 623 [1987].

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-72119 May 29, 1987 VALENTIN L. LEGASPI, petitioner, vs. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, respondent.

CORTES, J.: The fundamental right of the people to information on matters of public concern is invoked in this special civil action for mandamus instituted by petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi against the Civil Service

Commission. The respondent had earlier denied Legaspi's request for information on the civil service eligibilities of certain persons employed as sanitarians in the Health Department of Cebu City. These government employees, Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, had allegedly represented themselves as civil service eligibles who passed the civil service examinations for sanitarians. Claiming that his right to be informed of the eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, is guaranteed by the Constitution, and that he has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to acquire the information, petitioner prays for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of mandamus to compel the respondent Commission to disclose said information. This is not the first tune that the writ of mandamus is sought to enforce the fundamental right to information. The same remedy was resorted to in the case of Tanada et. al. vs. Tuvera et. al., (G.R. No. L-63915, April 24,1985,136 SCRA 27) wherein the people's right to be informed under the 1973 Constitution (Article IV, Section 6) was invoked in order to compel the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions and other presidential issuances. Prior to the recognition of the right in said Constitution the statutory right to information provided for in the Land Registration Act (Section 56, Act 496, as amended) was claimed by a newspaper editor in another mandamus proceeding, this time to demand access to the records of the Register of Deeds for the purpose of gathering data on real estate transactions involving aliens (Subido vs. Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383 [1948]).

The constitutional right to information on matters of public concern first gained recognition in the Bill of Rights, Article IV, of the 1973 Constitution, which states: Sec. 6. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, shall be afforded the citizen subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. The foregoing provision has been retained and the right therein provided amplified in Article III, Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution with the addition of the phrase, "as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development." The new provision reads: The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis. for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such stations as may be provided by law. These constitutional provisions are self-executing. They supply the rules by means of which the right to information may be enjoyed (Cooley, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations 167 [1927]) by guaranteeing the right and mandating the duty to afford access to sources of information. Hence, the fundamental right therein

recognized may be asserted by the people upon the ratification of the constitution without need for any ancillary act of the Legislature. (Id. at, p. 165) What may be provided for by the Legislature are reasonable conditions and limitations upon the access to be afforded which must, of necessity, be consistent with the declared State policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Constitution, Art. 11, Sec. 28). However, it cannot be overemphasized that whatever limitation may be prescribed by the Legislature, the right and the duty under Art. III Sec. 7 have become operative and enforceable by virtue of the adoption of the New Charter. Therefore, the right may be properly invoked in a mandamus proceeding such as this one. The Solicitor General interposes procedural objections to Our giving due course to this Petition. He challenges the petitioner's standing to sue upon the ground that the latter does not possess any clear legal right to be informed of the civil service eligibilities of the government employees concerned. He calls attention to the alleged failure of the petitioner to show his actual interest in securing this particular information. He further argues that there is no ministerial duty on the part of the Commission to furnish the petitioner with the information he seeks. 1. To be given due course, a Petition for mandamus must have been instituted by a party aggrieved by the alleged inaction of any tribunal, corporation, board or person which unlawfully excludes said party from the enjoyment of a legal right. (Ant;-Chinese League of the Philippines vs. Felix, 77 Phil. 1012 [1947]). The petitioner in every case must therefore be an "aggrieved party" in

the sense that he possesses a clear legal right to be enforced and a direct interest in the duty or act to be performed. In the case before Us, the respondent takes issue on the personality of the petitioner to bring this suit. It is asserted that, the instant Petition is bereft of any allegation of Legaspi's actual interest in the civil service eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, At most there is a vague reference to an unnamed client in whose behalf he had allegedly acted when he made inquiries on the subject (Petition, Rollo, p. 3). But what is clear upon the face of the Petition is that the petitioner has firmly anchored his case upon the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, which, by its very nature, is a public right. It has been held that: * * * when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws * * * (Tanada et. al. vs. Tuvera, et. al., G.R. No. L- 63915, April 24, 1985, 136 SCRA 27, 36). From the foregoing, it becomes apparent that when a mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement

of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of the general "public" which possesses the right. The Court had opportunity to define the word "public" in the Subido case, supra, when it held that even those who have no direct or tangible interest in any real estate transaction are part of the "public" to whom "(a)ll records relating to registered lands in the Office of the Register of Deeds shall be open * * *" (Sec. 56, Act No. 496, as amended). In the words of the Court: * * * "Public" is a comprehensive, all-inclusive term. Properly construed, it embraces every person. To say that only those who have a present and existing interest of a pecuniary character in the particular information sought are given the right of inspection is to make an unwarranted distinction. *** (Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra at p. 387). The petitioner, being a citizen who, as such is clothed with personality to seek redress for the alleged obstruction of the exercise of the public right. We find no cogent reason to deny his standing to bring the present suit. 2. For every right of the people recognized as fundamental, there lies a corresponding duty on the part of those who govern, to respect and protect that right. That is the very essence of the Bill of Rights in a constitutional regime. Only governments operating under fundamental rules defining the limits of their power so as to

shield individual rights against its arbitrary exercise can properly claim to be constitutional (Cooley, supra, at p. 5). Without a government's acceptance of the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution in order to uphold individual liberties, without an acknowledgment on its part of those duties exacted by the rights pertaining to the citizens, the Bill of Rights becomes a sophistry, and liberty, the ultimate illusion. In recognizing the people's right to be informed, both the 1973 Constitution and the New Charter expressly mandate the duty of the State and its agents to afford access to official records, documents, papers and in addition, government research data used as basis for policy development, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. The guarantee has been further enhanced in the New Constitution with the adoption of a policy of full public disclosure, this time "subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law," in Article 11, Section 28 thereof, to wit: Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest. (Art. 11, Sec. 28). In the Tanada case, supra, the constitutional guarantee was bolstered by what this Court declared as an imperative duty of the government officials concerned to publish all important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature as well as all executive orders and proclamations of general applicability. We granted

mandamus in said case, and in the process, We found occasion to expound briefly on the nature of said duty: * * * That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern is to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to what must be in included or excluded from such publication. (Tanada v. Tuvera,supra, at 39). (Emphasis supplied). The absence of discretion on the part of government agencia es in allowing the examination of public records, specifically, the records in the Office of the Register of Deeds, is emphasized in Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra: Except, perhaps when it is clear that the purpose of the examination is unlawful, or sheer, idle curiosity, we do not believe it is the duty under the law of registration officers to concern themselves with the motives, reasons, and objects of the person seeking access to the records. It is not their prerogative to see that the information which the records contain is not flaunted before public gaze, or that scandal is not made of it. If it be wrong to publish the contents of the records, it is the legislature and not the officials having custody thereof

which is called upon to devise a remedy. *** (Subido v. Ozaeta, supra at 388). (Emphasis supplied). It is clear from the foregoing pronouncements of this Court that government agencies are without discretion in refusing disclosure of, or access to, information of public concern. This is not to lose sight of the reasonable regulations which may be imposed by said agencies in custody of public records on the manner in which the right to information may be exercised by the public. In the Subido case, We recognized the authority of the Register of Deeds to regulate the manner in which persons desiring to do so, may inspect, examine or copy records relating to registered lands. However, the regulations which the Register of Deeds may promulgate are confined to: * * * prescribing the manner and hours of examination to the end that damage to or loss of, the records may be avoided, that undue interference with the duties of the custodian of the books and documents and other employees may be prevented, that the right of other persons entitled to make inspection may be insured * * * (Subido vs. Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383, 387) Applying the Subido ruling by analogy, We recognized a similar authority in a municipal judge, to regulate the manner of inspection by the public of criminal docket records in the case of Baldoza vs. Dimaano (Adm. Matter No. 1120-MJ, May 5, 1976, 71 SCRA 14). Said administrative case was filed against the respondent judge for his alleged refusal to allow examination of the criminal docket

records in his sala. Upon a finding by the Investigating Judge that the respondent had allowed the complainant to open and view the subject records, We absolved the respondent. In effect, We have also held that the rules and conditions imposed by him upon the manner of examining the public records were reasonable. In both the Subido and the Baldoza cases, We were emphatic in Our statement that the authority to regulate the manner of examining public records does not carry with it the power to prohibit. A distinction has to be made between the discretion to refuse outright the disclosure of or access to a particular information and the authority to regulate the manner in which the access is to be afforded. The first is a limitation upon the availability of access to the information sought, which only the Legislature may impose (Art. III, Sec. 6, 1987 Constitution). The second pertains to the government agency charged with the custody of public records. Its authority to regulate access is to be exercised solely to the end that damage to, or loss of, public records may be avoided, undue interference with the duties of said agencies may be prevented, and more importantly, that the exercise of the same constitutional right by other persons shall be assured (Subido vs. Ozaetal supra). Thus, while the manner of examining public records may be subject to reasonable regulation by the government agency in custody thereof, the duty to disclose the information of public concern, and to afford access to public records cannot be discretionary on the part of said agencies. Certainly, its performance cannot be made contingent upon the discretion of such agencies. Otherwise, the enjoyment of the constitutional right may be rendered nugatory by

any whimsical exercise of agency discretion. The constitutional duty, not being discretionary, its performance may be compelled by a writ of mandamus in a proper case. But what is a proper case for Mandamus to issue? In the case before Us, the public right to be enforced and the concomitant duty of the State are unequivocably set forth in the Constitution. The decisive question on the propriety of the issuance of the writ of mandamus in this case is, whether the information sought by the petitioner is within the ambit of the constitutional guarantee. 3. The incorporation in the Constitution of a guarantee of access to information of public concern is a recognition of the essentiality of the free flow of ideas and information in a democracy (Baldoza v. Dimaano, Adm. Matter No. 1120-MJ, May 5, 1976, 17 SCRA 14). In the same way that free discussion enables members of society to cope with the exigencies of their time (Thornhill vs. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88,102 [1939]), access to information of general interest aids the people in democratic decision-making (87 Harvard Law Review 1505 [1974]) by giving them a better perspective of the vital issues confronting the nation. But the constitutional guarantee to information on matters of public concern is not absolute. It does not open every door to any and all information. Under the Constitution, access to official records, papers, etc., are "subject to limitations as may be provided by law" (Art. III, Sec. 7, second sentence). The law may therefore exempt certain types of information from public scrutiny, such as those affecting national security (Journal No. 90, September 23, 1986, p.

10; and Journal No. 91, September 24, 1986, p. 32, 1986 Constitutional Commission). It follows that, in every case, the availability of access to a particular public record must be circumscribed by the nature of the information sought, i.e., (a) being of public concern or one that involves public interest, and, (b) not being exempted by law from the operation of the constitutional guarantee. The threshold question is, therefore, whether or not the information sought is of public interest or public concern. a. This question is first addressed to the government agency having custody of the desired information. However, as already discussed, this does not give the agency concerned any discretion to grant or deny access. In case of denial of access, the government agency has the burden of showing that the information requested is not of public concern, or, if it is of public concern, that the same has been exempted by law from the operation of the guarantee. To hold otherwise will serve to dilute the constitutional right. As aptly observed, ". . . the government is in an advantageous position to marshall and interpret arguments against release . . ." (87 Harvard Law Review 1511 [1974]). To safeguard the constitutional right, every denial of access by the government agency concerned is subject to review by the courts, and in the proper case, access may be compelled by a writ of Mandamus. In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. "Public concern" like "public interest" is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or

simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine in a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it relates to or affects the public. The public concern invoked in the case of Tanada v. Tuvera, supra, was the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws which are to regulate the actions and conduct of citizens. In Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra,the public concern deemed covered by the statutory right was the knowledge of those real estate transactions which some believed to have been registered in violation of the Constitution. The information sought by the petitioner in this case is the truth of the claim of certain government employees that they are civil service eligibles for the positions to which they were appointed. The Constitution expressly declares as a State policy that: Appointments in the civil service shall be made only according to merit and fitness to be determined, as far as practicable, and except as to positions which are policy determining, primarily confidential or highly technical, by competitive examination. (Art. IX, B, Sec. 2.[2]). Public office being a public trust, [Const. Art. XI, Sec. 1] it is the legitimate concern of citizens to ensure that government positions requiring civil service eligibility are occupied only by persons who

are eligibles. Public officers are at all times accountable to the people even as to their eligibilities for their respective positions. b. But then, it is not enough that the information sought is of public interest. For mandamus to lie in a given case, the information must not be among the species exempted by law from the operation of the constitutional guarantee. In the instant, case while refusing to confirm or deny the claims of eligibility, the respondent has failed to cite any provision in the Civil Service Law which would limit the petitioner's right to know who are, and who are not, civil service eligibles. We take judicial notice of the fact that the names of those who pass the civil service examinations, as in bar examinations and licensure examinations for various professions, are released to the public. Hence, there is nothing secret about one's civil service eligibility, if actually possessed. Petitioner's request is, therefore, neither unusual nor unreasonable. And when, as in this case, the government employees concerned claim to be civil service eligibles, the public, through any citizen, has a right to verify their professed eligibilities from the Civil Service Commission. The civil service eligibility of a sanitarian being of public concern, and in the absence of express limitations under the law upon access to the register of civil service eligibles for said position, the duty of the respondent Commission to confirm or deny the civil service eligibility of any person occupying the position becomes imperative. Mandamus, therefore lies.

WHEREFORE, the Civil Service Commission is ordered to open its register of eligibles for the position of sanitarian, and to confirm or deny, the civil service eligibility of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, for said position in the Health Department of Cebu City, as requested by the petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi. Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin and Sarmiento, JJ., concur. Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 122846 January 20, 2009

WHITE LIGHT CORPORATION, TITANIUM CORPORATION and STA. MESA TOURIST & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioners, vs. CITY OF MANILA, represented by DE CASTRO, MAYOR ALFREDO S. LIM, Respondent. DECISION

Tinga, J.: With another city ordinance of Manila also principally involving the tourist district as subject, the Court is confronted anew with the incessant clash between government power and individual liberty in tandem with the archetypal tension between law and morality. In City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr.,1 the Court affirmed the nullification of a city ordinance barring the operation of motels and inns, among other establishments, within the Ermita-Malate area. The petition at bar assails a similarly-motivated city ordinance that prohibits those same establishments from offering short-time admission, as well as pro-rated or "wash up" rates for such abbreviated stays. Our earlier decision tested the city ordinance against our sacred constitutional rights to liberty, due process and equal protection of law. The same parameters apply to the present petition. This Petition2 under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure, which seeks the reversal of the Decision3 in C.A.-G.R. S.P. No. 33316 of the Court of Appeals, challenges the validity of Manila City Ordinance No. 7774 entitled, "An Ordinance Prohibiting Short-Time Admission, Short-Time Admission Rates, and Wash-Up Rate Schemes in Hotels, Motels, Inns, Lodging Houses, Pension Houses, and Similar Establishments in the City of Manila" (the Ordinance). I. The facts are as follows:

On December 3, 1992, City Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (Mayor Lim) signed into law the Ordinance.4 The Ordinance is reproduced in full, hereunder: SECTION 1. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby the declared policy of the City Government to protect the best interest, health and welfare, and the morality of its constituents in general and the youth in particular. SEC. 2. Title. This ordinance shall be known as "An Ordinance" prohibiting short time admission in hotels, motels, lodging houses, pension houses and similar establishments in the City of Manila. SEC. 3. Pursuant to the above policy, short-time admission and rate [sic], wash-up rate or other similarly concocted terms, are hereby prohibited in hotels, motels, inns, lodging houses, pension houses and similar establishments in the City of Manila. SEC. 4. Definition of Term[s]. Short-time admission shall mean admittance and charging of room rate for less than twelve (12) hours at any given time or the renting out of rooms more than twice a day or any other term that may be concocted by owners or managers of said establishments but would mean the same or would bear the same meaning. SEC. 5. Penalty Clause. Any person or corporation who shall violate any provision of this ordinance shall upon conviction thereof be punished by a fine of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos or imprisonment for a period of not exceeding one (1) year or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court; Provided,

That in case of [a] juridical person, the president, the manager, or the persons in charge of the operation thereof shall be liable: Provided, further, That in case of subsequent conviction for the same offense, the business license of the guilty party shall automatically be cancelled. SEC. 6. Repealing Clause. Any or all provisions of City ordinances not consistent with or contrary to this measure or any portion hereof are hereby deemed repealed. SEC. 7. Effectivity. This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon approval. Enacted by the city Council of Manila at its regular session today, November 10, 1992. Approved by His Honor, the Mayor on December 3, 1992. On December 15, 1992, the Malate Tourist and Development Corporation (MTDC) filed a complaint for declaratory relief with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order ( TRO)5 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 9 impleading as defendant, herein respondent City of Manila (the City) represented by Mayor Lim.6 MTDC prayed that the Ordinance, insofar as it includes motels and inns as among its prohibited establishments, be declared invalid and unconstitutional. MTDC claimed that as owner and operator of the Victoria Court in Malate, Manila it was authorized by Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 259 to admit customers on a short time basis as well as to charge customers wash up rates for stays of only three hours.

On December 21, 1992, petitioners White Light Corporation (WLC), Titanium Corporation (TC) and Sta. Mesa Tourist and Development Corporation (STDC) filed a motion to intervene and to admit attached complaint-in-intervention7 on the ground that the Ordinance directly affects their business interests as operators of drive-in-hotels and motels in Manila.8 The three companies are components of the Anito Group of Companies which owns and operates several hotels and motels in Metro Manila.9 On December 23, 1992, the RTC granted the motion to intervene.10 The RTC also notified the Solicitor General of the proceedings pursuant to then Rule 64, Section 4 of the Rules of Court. On the same date, MTDC moved to withdraw as plaintiff.11 On December 28, 1992, the RTC granted MTDC's motion to withdraw.12 The RTC issued a TRO on January 14, 1993, directing the City to cease and desist from enforcing the Ordinance.13 The City filed an Answer dated January 22, 1993 alleging that the Ordinance is a legitimate exercise of police power.14 On February 8, 1993, the RTC issued a writ of preliminary injunction ordering the city to desist from the enforcement of the Ordinance.15 A month later, on March 8, 1993, the Solicitor General filed his Comment arguing that the Ordinance is constitutional. During the pre-trial conference, the WLC, TC and STDC agreed to submit the case for decision without trial as the case involved a purely legal question.16 On October 20, 1993, the RTC rendered a

decision declaring the Ordinance null and void. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, [O]rdinance No. 7774 of the City of Manila is hereby declared null and void. Accordingly, the preliminary injunction heretofor issued is hereby made permanent. SO ORDERED.17 The RTC noted that the ordinance "strikes at the personal liberty of the individual guaranteed and jealously guarded by the Constitution."18 Reference was made to the provisions of the Constitution encouraging private enterprises and the incentive to needed investment, as well as the right to operate economic enterprises. Finally, from the observation that the illicit relationships the Ordinance sought to dissuade could nonetheless be consummated by simply paying for a 12-hour stay, the RTC likened the law to the ordinance annulled in Ynot v. Intermediate Appellate Court,19 where the legitimate purpose of preventing indiscriminate slaughter of carabaos was sought to be effected through an interprovince ban on the transport of carabaos and carabeef. The City later filed a petition for review on certiorari with the Supreme Court.20 The petition was docketed as G.R. No. 112471. However in a resolution dated January 26, 1994, the Court treated the petition as a petition forcertiorari and referred the petition to the Court of Appeals.21

Before the Court of Appeals, the City asserted that the Ordinance is a valid exercise of police power pursuant to Section 458 (4)(iv) of the Local Government Code which confers on cities, among other local government units, the power: [To] regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of cafes, restaurants, beerhouses, hotels, motels, inns, pension houses, lodging houses and other similar establishments, including tourist guides and transports.22 The Ordinance, it is argued, is also a valid exercise of the power of the City under Article III, Section 18(kk) of the Revised Manila Charter, thus: "to enact all ordinances it may deem necessary and proper for the sanitation and safety, the furtherance of the prosperity and the promotion of the morality, peace, good order, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, and such others as be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred by this Chapter; and to fix penalties for the violation of ordinances which shall not exceed two hundred pesos fine or six months imprisonment, or both such fine and imprisonment for a single offense.23 Petitioners argued that the Ordinance is unconstitutional and void since it violates the right to privacy and the freedom of movement; it is an invalid exercise of police power; and it is an unreasonable and oppressive interference in their business.

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the RTC and affirmed the constitutionality of the Ordinance.24 First, it held that the Ordinance did not violate the right to privacy or the freedom of movement, as it only penalizes the owners or operators of establishments that admit individuals for short time stays. Second, the virtually limitless reach of police power is only constrained by having a lawful object obtained through a lawful method. The lawful objective of the Ordinance is satisfied since it aims to curb immoral activities. There is a lawful method since the establishments are still allowed to operate. Third, the adverse effect on the establishments is justified by the well-being of its constituents in general. Finally, as held in Ermita-Malate Motel Operators Association v. City Mayor of Manila, liberty is regulated by law. TC, WLC and STDC come to this Court via petition for review on certiorari.25 In their petition and Memorandum, petitioners in essence repeat the assertions they made before the Court of Appeals. They contend that the assailed Ordinance is an invalid exercise of police power. II. We must address the threshold issue of petitioners standing. Petitioners allege that as owners of establishments offering "washup" rates, their business is being unlawfully interfered with by the Ordinance. However, petitioners also allege that the equal protection rights of their clients are also being interfered with. Thus, the crux of the matter is whether or not these establishments have

the requisite standing to plead for protection of their patrons' equal protection rights. Standing or locus standi is the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case. More importantly, the doctrine of standing is built on the principle of separation of powers,26 sparing as it does unnecessary interference or invalidation by the judicial branch of the actions rendered by its co-equal branches of government. The requirement of standing is a core component of the judicial system derived directly from the Constitution.27The constitutional component of standing doctrine incorporates concepts which concededly are not susceptible of precise definition. 28 In this jurisdiction, the extancy of "a direct and personal interest" presents the most obvious cause, as well as the standard test for a petitioner's standing.29 In a similar vein, the United States Supreme Court reviewed and elaborated on the meaning of the three constitutional standing requirements of injury, causation, and redressability in Allen v. Wright.30 Nonetheless, the general rules on standing admit of several exceptions such as the overbreadth doctrine, taxpayer suits, third party standing and, especially in the Philippines, the doctrine of transcendental importance.31 For this particular set of facts, the concept of third party standing as an exception and the overbreadth doctrine are appropriate.

In Powers v. Ohio,32 the United States Supreme Court wrote that: "We have recognized the right of litigants to bring actions on behalf of third parties, provided three important criteria are satisfied: the litigant must have suffered an injury-in-fact, thus giving him or her a "sufficiently concrete interest" in the outcome of the issue in dispute; the litigant must have a close relation to the third party; and there must exist some hindrance to the third party's ability to protect his or her own interests."33 Herein, it is clear that the business interests of the petitioners are likewise injured by the Ordinance. They rely on the patronage of their customers for their continued viability which appears to be threatened by the enforcement of the Ordinance. The relative silence in constitutional litigation of such special interest groups in our nation such as the American Civil Liberties Union in the United States may also be construed as a hindrance for customers to bring suit.34 American jurisprudence is replete with examples where parties-ininterest were allowed standing to advocate or invoke the fundamental due process or equal protection claims of other persons or classes of persons injured by state action. In Griswold v. Connecticut,35 the United States Supreme Court held that physicians had standing to challenge a reproductive health statute that would penalize them as accessories as well as to plead the constitutional protections available to their patients. The Court held that: "The rights of husband and wife, pressed here, are likely to be diluted or adversely affected unless those rights are considered in a

suit involving those who have this kind of confidential relation to them."36 An even more analogous example may be found in Craig v. Boren,37 wherein the United States Supreme Court held that a licensed beverage vendor has standing to raise the equal protection claim of a male customer challenging a statutory scheme prohibiting the sale of beer to males under the age of 21 and to females under the age of 18. The United States High Court explained that the vendors had standing "by acting as advocates of the rights of third parties who seek access to their market or function."38 Assuming arguendo that petitioners do not have a relationship with their patrons for the former to assert the rights of the latter, the overbreadth doctrine comes into play. In overbreadth analysis, challengers to government actionare in effect permitted to raise the rights of third parties. Generally applied to statutes infringing on the freedom of speech, the overbreadth doctrine applies when a statute needlessly restrains even constitutionally guaranteed rights.39 In this case, the petitioners claim that the Ordinance makes a sweeping intrusion into the right to liberty of their clients. We can see that based on the allegations in the petition, the Ordinance suffers from overbreadth. We thus recognize that the petitioners have a right to assert the constitutional rights of their clients to patronize their establishments for a "wash-rate" time frame.

III. To students of jurisprudence, the facts of this case will recall to mind not only the recent City of Manila ruling, but our 1967 decision in Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operations Association, Inc., v. Hon. City Mayor of Manila.40Ermita-Malate concerned the City ordinance requiring patrons to fill up a prescribed form stating personal information such as name, gender, nationality, age, address and occupation before they could be admitted to a motel, hotel or lodging house. This earlier ordinance was precisely enacted to minimize certain practices deemed harmful to public morals. A purpose similar to the annulled ordinance in City of Manila which sought a blanket ban on motels, inns and similar establishments in the Ermita-Malate area. However, the constitutionality of the ordinance in Ermita-Malate was sustained by the Court. The common thread that runs through those decisions and the case at bar goes beyond the singularity of the localities covered under the respective ordinances. All three ordinances were enacted with a view of regulating public morals including particular illicit activity in transient lodging establishments. This could be described as the middle case, wherein there is no wholesale ban on motels and hotels but the services offered by these establishments have been severely restricted. At its core, this is another case about the extent to which the State can intrude into and regulate the lives of its citizens.

The test of a valid ordinance is well established. A long line of decisions including City of Manila has held that for an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be within the corporate powers of the local government unit to enact and pass according to the procedure prescribed by law, it must also conform to the following substantive requirements: (1) must not contravene the Constitution or any statute; (2) must not be unfair or oppressive; (3) must not be partial or discriminatory; (4) must not prohibit but may regulate trade; (5) must be general and consistent with public policy; and (6) must not be unreasonable.41 The Ordinance prohibits two specific and distinct business practices, namely wash rate admissions and renting out a room more than twice a day. The ban is evidently sought to be rooted in the police power as conferred on local government units by the Local Government Code through such implements as the general welfare clause. A. Police power, while incapable of an exact definition, has been purposely veiled in general terms to underscore its comprehensiveness to meet all exigencies and provide enough room for an efficient and flexible response as the conditions warrant.42 Police power is based upon the concept of necessity of the State and its corresponding right to protect itself and its people.43 Police power has been used as justification for numerous and varied actions by the State. These range from the regulation of dance halls,44 movie theaters,45 gas stations46 and cockpits.47 The

awesome scope of police power is best demonstrated by the fact that in its hundred or so years of presence in our nations legal system, its use has rarely been denied. The apparent goal of the Ordinance is to minimize if not eliminate the use of the covered establishments for illicit sex, prostitution, drug use and alike. These goals, by themselves, are unimpeachable and certainly fall within the ambit of the police power of the State. Yet the desirability of these ends do not sanctify any and all means for their achievement. Those means must align with the Constitution, and our emerging sophisticated analysis of its guarantees to the people. The Bill of Rights stands as a rebuke to the seductive theory of Macchiavelli, and, sometimes even, the political majorities animated by his cynicism. Even as we design the precedents that establish the framework for analysis of due process or equal protection questions, the courts are naturally inhibited by a due deference to the co-equal branches of government as they exercise their political functions. But when we are compelled to nullify executive or legislative actions, yet another form of caution emerges. If the Court were animated by the same passing fancies or turbulent emotions that motivate many political decisions, judicial integrity is compromised by any perception that the judiciary is merely the third political branch of government. We derive our respect and good standing in the annals of history by acting as judicious and neutral arbiters of the rule of law, and there is no surer way to that end than through the development of rigorous and sophisticated legal standards through

which the courts analyze the most fundamental and far-reaching constitutional questions of the day. B. The primary constitutional question that confronts us is one of due process, as guaranteed under Section 1, Article III of the Constitution. Due process evades a precise definition. 48 The purpose of the guaranty is to prevent arbitrary governmental encroachment against the life, liberty and property of individuals. The due process guaranty serves as a protection against arbitrary regulation or seizure. Even corporations and partnerships are protected by the guaranty insofar as their property is concerned. The due process guaranty has traditionally been interpreted as imposing two related but distinct restrictions on government, "procedural due process" and "substantive due process." Procedural due process refers to the procedures that the government must follow before it deprives a person of life, liberty, or property.49 Procedural due process concerns itself with government action adhering to the established process when it makes an intrusion into the private sphere. Examples range from the form of notice given to the level of formality of a hearing. If due process were confined solely to its procedural aspects, there would arise absurd situation of arbitrary government action, provided the proper formalities are followed. Substantive due process completes the protection envisioned by the due process

clause. It inquires whether the government has sufficient justification for depriving a person of life, liberty, or property.50 The question of substantive due process, moreso than most other fields of law, has reflected dynamism in progressive legal thought tied with the expanded acceptance of fundamental freedoms. Police power, traditionally awesome as it may be, is now confronted with a more rigorous level of analysis before it can be upheld. The vitality though of constitutional due process has not been predicated on the frequency with which it has been utilized to achieve a liberal result for, after all, the libertarian ends should sometimes yield to the prerogatives of the State. Instead, the due process clause has acquired potency because of the sophisticated methodology that has emerged to determine the proper metes and bounds for its application. C. The general test of the validity of an ordinance on substantive due process grounds is best tested when assessed with the evolved footnote 4 test laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Carolene Products.51 Footnote 4 of the Carolene Products case acknowledged that the judiciary would defer to the legislature unless there is a discrimination against a "discrete and insular" minority or infringement of a "fundamental right."52 Consequently, two standards of judicial review were established: strict scrutiny for laws dealing with freedom of the mind or restricting the political process, and the rational basis standard of review for economic legislation.

A third standard, denominated as heightened or immediate scrutiny, was later adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court for evaluating classifications based on gender53 and legitimacy.54 Immediate scrutiny was adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Craig,55 after the Court declined to do so in Reed v. Reed.56 While the test may have first been articulated in equal protection analysis, it has in the United States since been applied in all substantive due process cases as well. We ourselves have often applied the rational basis test mainly in analysis of equal protection challenges.57 Using the rational basis examination, laws or ordinances are upheld if they rationally further a legitimate governmental interest.58 Under intermediate review, governmental interest is extensively examined and the availability of less restrictive measures is considered.59 Applying strict scrutiny, the focus is on the presence of compelling, rather than substantial, governmental interest and on the absence of less restrictive means for achieving that interest. In terms of judicial review of statutes or ordinances, strict scrutiny refers to the standard for determining the quality and the amount of governmental interest brought to justify the regulation of fundamental freedoms.60 Strict scrutiny is used today to test the validity of laws dealing with the regulation of speech, gender, or race as well as other fundamental rights as expansion from its earlier applications to equal protection.61 The United States Supreme Court has expanded the scope of strict scrutiny to protect fundamental rights such as suffrage,62 judicial access63 and interstate travel.64

If we were to take the myopic view that an Ordinance should be analyzed strictly as to its effect only on the petitioners at bar, then it would seem that the only restraint imposed by the law which we are capacitated to act upon is the injury to property sustained by the petitioners, an injury that would warrant the application of the most deferential standard the rational basis test. Yet as earlier stated, we recognize the capacity of the petitioners to invoke as well the constitutional rights of their patrons those persons who would be deprived of availing short time access or wash-up rates to the lodging establishments in question. Viewed cynically, one might say that the infringed rights of these customers were are trivial since they seem shorn of political consequence. Concededly, these are not the sort of cherished rights that, when proscribed, would impel the people to tear up their cedulas. Still, the Bill of Rights does not shelter gravitas alone. Indeed, it is those "trivial" yet fundamental freedoms which the people reflexively exercise any day without the impairing awareness of their constitutional consequence that accurately reflect the degree of liberty enjoyed by the people. Liberty, as integrally incorporated as a fundamental right in the Constitution, is not a Ten Commandments-style enumeration of what may or what may not be done; but rather an atmosphere of freedom where the people do not feel labored under a Big Brother presence as they interact with each other, their society and nature, in a manner innately understood by them as inherent, without doing harm or injury to others. D.

The rights at stake herein fall within the same fundamental rights to liberty which we upheld in City of Manila v. Hon. Laguio, Jr. We expounded on that most primordial of rights, thus: Liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution was defined by Justice Malcolm to include "the right to exist and the right to be free from arbitrary restraint or servitude. The term cannot be dwarfed into mere freedom from physical restraint of the person of the citizen, but is deemed to embrace the right of man to enjoy the facilities with which he has been endowed by his Creator, subject only to such restraint as are necessary for the common welfare."[65] In accordance with this case, the rights of the citizen to be free to use his faculties in all lawful ways; to live and work where he will; to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling; and to pursue any avocation are all deemed embraced in the concept of liberty.[ 66] The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Roth v. Board of Regents, sought to clarify the meaning of "liberty." It said: While the Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty . . . guaranteed [by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments], the term denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized . . . as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. In a Constitution for a free people, there

can be no doubt that the meaning of "liberty" must be broad indeed.67[Citations omitted] It cannot be denied that the primary animus behind the ordinance is the curtailment of sexual behavior. The City asserts before this Court that the subject establishments "have gained notoriety as venue of prostitution, adultery and fornications in Manila since they provide the necessary atmosphere for clandestine entry, presence and exit and thus became the ideal haven for prostitutes and thrill seekers."68 Whether or not this depiction of a mise-en-scene of vice is accurate, it cannot be denied that legitimate sexual behavior among willing married or consenting single adults which is constitutionally protected69 will be curtailed as well, as it was in the City of Manila case. Our holding therein retains significance for our purposes: The concept of liberty compels respect for the individual whose claim to privacy and interference demands respect. As the case of Morfe v. Mutuc, borrowing the words of Laski, so very aptly stated: Man is one among many, obstinately refusing reduction to unity. His separateness, his isolation, are indefeasible; indeed, they are so fundamental that they are the basis on which his civic obligations are built. He cannot abandon the consequences of his isolation, which are, broadly speaking, that his experience is private, and the will built out of that experience personal to himself. If he surrenders his will to others, he surrenders himself. If his will is set by the will of others, he ceases to be a master of himself. I

cannot believe that a man no longer a master of himself is in any real sense free. Indeed, the right to privacy as a constitutional right was recognized in Morfe, the invasion of which should be justified by a compelling state interest. Morfe accorded recognition to the right to privacy independently of its identification with liberty; in itself it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. Governmental powers should stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. 70 We cannot discount other legitimate activities which the Ordinance would proscribe or impair. There are very legitimate uses for a wash rate or renting the room out for more than twice a day. Entire families are known to choose pass the time in a motel or hotel whilst the power is momentarily out in their homes. In transit passengers who wish to wash up and rest between trips have a legitimate purpose for abbreviated stays in motels or hotels. Indeed any person or groups of persons in need of comfortable private spaces for a span of a few hours with purposes other than having sex or using illegal drugs can legitimately look to staying in a motel or hotel as a convenient alternative. E. That the Ordinance prevents the lawful uses of a wash rate depriving patrons of a product and the petitioners of lucrative business ties in with another constitutional requisite for the legitimacy of the Ordinance as a police power measure. It must appear that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished

from those of a particular class, require an interference with private rights and the means must be reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive of private rights.71 It must also be evident that no other alternative for the accomplishment of the purpose less intrusive of private rights can work. More importantly, a reasonable relation must exist between the purposes of the measure and the means employed for its accomplishment, for even under the guise of protecting the public interest, personal rights and those pertaining to private property will not be permitted to be arbitrarily invaded.72 Lacking a concurrence of these requisites, the police measure shall be struck down as an arbitrary intrusion into private rights. As held in Morfe v. Mutuc, the exercise of police power is subject to judicial review when life, liberty or property is affected.73 However, this is not in any way meant to take it away from the vastness of State police power whose exercise enjoys the presumption of validity. 74 Similar to the Comelec resolution requiring newspapers to donate advertising space to candidates, this Ordinance is a blunt and heavy instrument.75 The Ordinance makes no distinction between places frequented by patrons engaged in illicit activities and patrons engaged in legitimate actions. Thus it prevents legitimate use of places where illicit activities are rare or even unheard of. A plain reading of section 3 of the Ordinance shows it makes no classification of places of lodging, thus deems them all susceptible to illicit patronage and subject them without exception to the unjustified prohibition.

The Court has professed its deep sentiment and tenderness of the Ermita-Malate area, its longtime home,76 and it is skeptical of those who wish to depict our capital city the Pearl of the Orient as a modern-day Sodom or Gomorrah for the Third World set. Those still steeped in Nick Joaquin-dreams of the grandeur of Old Manila will have to accept that Manila like all evolving big cities, will have its problems. Urban decay is a fact of mega cities such as Manila, and vice is a common problem confronted by the modern metropolis wherever in the world. The solution to such perceived decay is not to prevent legitimate businesses from offering a legitimate product. Rather, cities revive themselves by offering incentives for new businesses to sprout up thus attracting the dynamism of individuals that would bring a new grandeur to Manila. The behavior which the Ordinance seeks to curtail is in fact already prohibited and could in fact be diminished simply by applying existing laws. Less intrusive measures such as curbing the proliferation of prostitutes and drug dealers through active police work would be more effective in easing the situation. So would the strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations penalizing prostitution and drug use. These measures would have minimal intrusion on the businesses of the petitioners and other legitimate merchants. Further, it is apparent that the Ordinance can easily be circumvented by merely paying the whole day rate without any hindrance to those engaged in illicit activities. Moreover, drug dealers and prostitutes can in fact collect "wash rates" from their clientele by charging their customers a portion of the rent for motel rooms and even apartments.

IV. We reiterate that individual rights may be adversely affected only to the extent that may fairly be required by the legitimate demands of public interest or public welfare. The State is a leviathan that must be restrained from needlessly intruding into the lives of its citizens. However well-intentioned the Ordinance may be, it is in effect an arbitrary and whimsical intrusion into the rights of the establishments as well as their patrons. The Ordinance needlessly restrains the operation of the businesses of the petitioners as well as restricting the rights of their patrons without sufficient justification. The Ordinance rashly equates wash rates and renting out a room more than twice a day with immorality without accommodating innocuous intentions. The promotion of public welfare and a sense of morality among citizens deserves the full endorsement of the judiciary provided that such measures do not trample rights this Court is sworn to protect.77 The notion that the promotion of public morality is a function of the State is as old as Aristotle.78 The advancement of moral relativism as a school of philosophy does not de-legitimize the role of morality in law, even if it may foster wider debate on which particular behavior to penalize. It is conceivable that a society with relatively little shared morality among its citizens could be functional so long as the pursuit of sharply variant moral perspectives yields an adequate accommodation of different interests.79

To be candid about it, the oft-quoted American maxim that "you cannot legislate morality" is ultimately illegitimate as a matter of law, since as explained by Calabresi, that phrase is more accurately interpreted as meaning that efforts to legislate morality will fail if they are widely at variance with public attitudes about right and wrong.80 Our penal laws, for one, are founded on age-old moral traditions, and as long as there are widely accepted distinctions between right and wrong, they will remain so oriented. Yet the continuing progression of the human story has seen not only the acceptance of the right-wrong distinction, but also the advent of fundamental liberties as the key to the enjoyment of life to the fullest. Our democracy is distinguished from non-free societies not with any more extensive elaboration on our part of what is moral and immoral, but from our recognition that the individual liberty to make the choices in our lives is innate, and protected by the State. Independent and fair-minded judges themselves are under a moral duty to uphold the Constitution as the embodiment of the rule of law, by reason of their expression of consent to do so when they take the oath of office, and because they are entrusted by the people to uphold the law.81 Even as the implementation of moral norms remains an indispensable complement to governance, that prerogative is hardly absolute, especially in the face of the norms of due process of liberty. And while the tension may often be left to the courts to relieve, it is possible for the government to avoid the constitutional conflict by employing more judicious, less drastic means to promote morality.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED, and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 9, is REINSTATED. Ordinance No. 7774 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. DANTE O. TINGA Associate Justice WE CONCUR: REYNATO S. PUNO Chief Justice LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice (On Official Leave) ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice RENATO C. CORONA Associate Justice ADOLFO S. AZCUNA CONSUELO YNARESSANTIAGO Associate Justice MA. ALICIA AUSTRIAMARTINEZ Associate Justice CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice PRESBITERO J.

Associate Justice MINITA V. CHICONAZARIO Associate Justice TERESITA LEONARDO DE CASTRO Associate Justice

VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHUR Associate Justice (On Sick Leave) ARTURO D. BRION Associate Justice

(On Official Leave) DIOSDADO M. PERALTA Associate Justice CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court. REYNATO S. PUNO Chief Justice

Footnotes

G.R. 118127, 12 April 2005, 455 SCRA 308. See rollo, pp. 4-41.

16

Id. at 49. Id. at 52.

17

Id. at 42-59. Penned by Associate Justice Jaime M. Lantin, concurred in by Associate Justices Ricardo P. Galvez (later, Solicitor-General) and Antonio P. Solano.
4

18

Id. at 120. No. L-74457, 20 March 1987, 148 SCRA 659. Rollo, pp. 129-145. Id. at 158. Id. at 53. Id. Id. at 43-59. Id. at 4-40. Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737 (1984).

19

Id. at 46. Id. at 62-69. Id. at 45-46. Id. at 70-77. Id. at 47.

20

21

22

23

24

Id. Id. Id. at 48. Id. at 81. Id. at 82-83. Id. at 84-99. Id. at 104-105.

25

10

26

11

27

Const., Art. VIII , Sec. 5, Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary Reyes, 466 Phil. 482 (2004).
28

12

13

Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 100, 99 S.Ct. 1601, 1608, 60 L.Ed.2d 66 (1979).
29

14

15

See Domingo v. Carague, G.R. No. 161065, 15 April 2005, 456 SCRA 450. See also Macasiano v. National Housing Authority, G.R. No. 107921, 1 July 1993, 224 SCRA 236.

30

468 U.S. 737 (1984).

31

837, 845; Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp., Inc., G.R. No. 111097, 20 July 1994, 234 SCRA 255, 268-267.
42

Supra note 29. 499 U.S. 400 (1991). Id. at p 410-411. Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association, Inc. v. City Mayor of Manila, 127 Phil. 306 (1967).
43

32

33

34

See Kelsey McCowan Heilman, The Rights of Others: Protection and Advocacy Organizations Associational Standing to Sue, 157 U. Pa. L. Rev. 237, for a general discussion on advocacy groups.
35

JMM Promotion and Management Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 329 Phil. 87, 94 (1996) citing Rubi v. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 660 (1919).
44

U.S. v. Rodriguez, 38 Phil. 759. People v. Chan, 65 Phil. 611 (1938). Javier v. Earnshaw, 64 Phil. 626 (1937). Pedro v. Provincial Board of Rizal, 56 Phil. 123 (1931).

45

381 U.S. 479(1965).


46

36

Id. at 481.
47 48

37

429 U.S. 190 (1976). Id. at 194. See U.S. v. Ling Su Fan, 10 Phil. 104 (1908); Insular Government v. Ling Su Fan, 15 Phil. 58 (1910).
49

38

39

Chavez v. Comelec, G.R. No. 162777, 31 August 2004, 437 SCRA 415; Adiong v. Comelec, G.R. No. 103956, 31 March 1992, 207 SCRA 712.
40

Lopez v. Director of Lands, 47 Phil. 23, 32 (1924).

50

127 Phil. 306 (1967).

See City of Manila v. Hon. Laguio, Jr., supra note 1 at 330 citing CHEMERINSKY, ERWIN, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PRINCIPLES AND POLICIES, 2nd Ed. 523 (2002).
51

41

City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., supra note 1; Tatel v. Municipality of Virac, G.R. No. 40243, 11 March 1992, 207 SCRA 157, 161; Solicitor General v. Metropolitan Manila Authority, G.R. No. 102782, 11 December 1991, 204 SCRA

304 U.S. 144 (1938). Id, at 152.

52

53

Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976). Clark v. Jeter, 486 U.S. 456 (1988). 429 U.S. 190 (1976). 404 U.S. 71 (1971).

62

Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000). Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371 (1971).

54

63

55

64

56

Central Bank Employees Association v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, 487 Phil. 531 (2004); Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. Nos. 78742, 79310, 79744, and 79777, July 14, 1989, 175 SCRA 343; In Ermita-Malate, supra note 1 at 324, the Court in fact noted: "if the liberty involved were freedom of the mind or the person, the standard for the validity of government acts is much more rigorous and exacting, but where the liberty curtailed affects what are at the most rights of property, the permissible scope of regulatory measures is wider."
57

Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969). It has been opined by Chemerinsky that the use of the equal protection clause was to avoid the use of substantive due process since the latter fell into disfavor in the United States. See Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law, Principles and Policies (2nd ed. 2002).
65

Morfe v. Mutuc, 130 Phil. 415 (1968).

66

Id. at 440. City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., supra note 1 at 336-337. Rollo, p. 258.

67

68

69

Central Bank Employees Association v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, supra note 57.
58 59

Id.

60

Mendoza, J., Concurring Opinion in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 148560, 19 November 2001, 369 SCRA 394.
61

Id.

"Motel patrons who are single and unmarried may invoke this right to autonomy to consummate their bonds in intimate sexual conduct within the motel's premises be it stressed that their consensual sexual behavior does not contravene any fundamental state policy as contained in the Constitution. (See Concerned Employee v. Glenda Espiritu Mayor, A.M. No. P-02-1564, 23 November 2004) Adults have a right to choose to forge such relationships with others in the confines of their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows persons the right to make this choice. Their right to liberty

under the due process clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government, as long as they do not run afoul of the law. Liberty should be the rule and restraint the exception. Liberty in the constitutional sense not only means freedom from unlawful government restraint; it must include privacy as well, if it is to be a repository of freedom. The right to be let alone is the beginning of all freedom it is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." City of Manila v. Hon. Laguio, Jr. supra note 1 at 337-338.
70

77

City of Manila v. Hon. Laguio, Jr., supra note 1; De La Cruz, et al. v. Hon. Paras, et al., 208 Phil. 490 (1983); Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operations Association, Inc. v. City Mayor of Manila, supra note 42.
78

City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., supra note 1 at 338-339.

71

Metro Manila Development Authority v. Viron Transportation Co., G.R. Nos. 170656 and 170657, 15 August 2007, 530 SCRA 341.
72

"The end of the state is not mere life; it is, rather, a good quality of life." Therefore any state "which is truly so called, and is not merely one in name, must devote itself to the end of encouraging goodness. Otherwise, a political association sinks into a mere alliance" The law "should be a rule of life such as will make the members of a [state] good and just." Otherwise it "becomes a mere covenant or (in the phrase of the Sophist Lycophron) a guarantor of mens rights against one another." Politics II.9.6-8.1280 31-1280bii; cited in Hamburger, M., Morals and Law: The Growth of Aristotles Legal Theory (1951 ed.), p. 178.
79

U.S. v. Toribio, 15 Phil. 85 (1910). 130 Phil. 415 (1968).

Greenwalt, K., Conflicts of Law and Morality (1989 ed.), at 38.


80

73

74

Carlos Superdrug v. DSWD, G.R. No. 166494, June 29, 2007, Alalayan v. National Power Corporation, 24 Phil. 172 (1968); U.S. v. Salaveria, 39 Phil. 102 (1918).
75

Philippine Press Institute v. Comelec, 314 Phil. 131 (1995). Supra note 1.

Steven G., Render Unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and unto God that which is Gods, 31 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 495. He cites the example of the failed Twentieth (?) Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the sale and consumption of liquor, where it was clear that the State cannot justly and successfully regulate consumption of alcohol, when huge portions of the population engage in its consumption.

76

See also Posner, Richard H., The Problematics of Moral And Legal Theory, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2002). He writes: . . . Holmes warned long ago of the pitfalls of misunderstanding law by taking its moral vocabulary too seriously. A big part of legal education consists of showing students how to skirt those pitfalls. The law uses moral terms in part because of its origin, in part to be impressive, in part to speak a language that the laity, to whom the commands of the law are addressed, is more likely to understand and in part, because there is a considerable overlap between law and morality. The overlap, however, is too limited to justify trying to align these two systems of social control (the sort of project that Islamic nations such as Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have been engaged in of late). It is not a scandal when the law to pronounce it out of phase with current moral feeling. If often is, and for good practical reasons (in particular, the law is a flywheel, limiting the effects of wide swings in public opinion). When people make that criticismas many do of the laws, still found on the statute books of many states, punishing homosexual relationswhat they mean is that the law neither is supported by public opinion nor serves any temporal purpose, even that of stability, that it is merely a vestige, an empty symbol.
81

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

G.R. No. 95770 March 1, 1993 ROEL EBRALINAG, EMILY EBRALINAG, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. LEONARDO EBRALINAG, JUSTINIANA TANTOG, represented by her father AMOS TANTOG; JEMILOYAO & JOEL OYAO, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. ELIEZER OYAO; JANETH DIAMOS & JEREMIAS DIAMOS, represented by parents MR. & MRS. GODOFREDO DIAMOS; SARA OSTIA & JONATHAN OSTIA, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. FAUTO OSTIA; IRVIN SEQUINO & RENAN SEQUINO, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. LYDIO SEQUINO; NAPTHALE TANACAO, represented by his parents MR. & MRS. MANUEL TANACAO; PRECILA PINO, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. FELIPE PINO; MARICRIS ALFAR, RUWINA ALFAR, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. HERMINIGILDO ALFAR; FREDESMINDA ALFAR & GUMERSINDO ALFAR, represented by their parents ABDON ALFAR; ALBERTO ALFAR & ARISTIO ALFAR, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. GENEROSO ALFAR; MARTINO VILLAR, represented by his parents MR. & MRS.

See Burton, S., Judging in Good Faith, (1992 ed.), at 218.

GENARO VILLAR; PERGEBRIEL GUINITA & CHAREN GUINITA, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. CESAR GUINITA; ALVIN DOOP, represented by his parents MR. & MRS. LEONIDES DOOP; RHILYN LAUDE, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. RENE LAUDE; LEOREMINDA MONARES, represented by her parents, MR. & MRS. FLORENCIO MONARES; MERCY MONTECILLO, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. MANUEL MONTECILLO; ROBERTO TANGAHA, represented by his parent ILUMINADA TANGAHA; EVELYN, MARIA & FLORA TANGAHA, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. ALBERTO TANGAHA; MAXIMO EBRALINAG, represented by his parents, MR. & MRS. PAQUITO EBRALINAG; JUTA CUMON, GIDEON CUMON & JONATHAN CUMON, represented by their father RAFAEL CUMON; EVIE LUMAKANG & JUNAR LUMAKANG, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. LUMAKANG; EMILIO SARSOZO, PAZ AMOR SARSOZO & IGNA MARIE SARSOZO, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. VIRGILIO SARSOZO; MICHAEL JOSEPH & HENRY JOSEPH, represented by parent ANNIE JOSEPH; EMERSON TABLASON & MASTERLOU TABLASON, represented by their parent EMERLITO TABLASON, petitioners, vs. THE DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF CEBU, respondent. G.R. No. 95887 March 1, 1993 MAY AMOLO, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. ISAIAS AMOLO; REDFORD ALSADO, JOEBERT ALSADO & RUDYARD

ALSADO, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. ABELARDO ALSADO; NELIA ALSADO, REU ALSADO & LILIBETH ALSADO, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. ROLANDO ALSADO; SUZETTE NAPOLES, represented by her parents ISMAILITO NAPOLES & OPHELIA NAPOLES; JESICA CARMELOTES, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. SERGIO CARMELOTES; BABY JEAN MACAPAS, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. TORIBIO MACAPAS; GERALDINE ALSADO, represented by her parents MR. & MRS. JOEL ALSADO; RAQUEL DEMOTOR & LEAH DEMOTOR, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. LEONARDO DEMOTOR; JURELL VILLA & MELONEY VILLA, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. JOVENIANO VILLA; JONELL HOPE MAHINAY, MARY GRACE MAHINAY and MAGDALENE MAHINAY, represented by their parents MR. & MRS. FELIX MAHINAY; JONALYN ANTIOLA and JERWIN ANTIOLA, represented by their parents FELIFE ANTIOLA and ANECITA ANTIOLA; MARIA CONCEPCION CABUYAO, represented by her parents WENIFREDO CABUYAO and ESTRELLITA CABUYAO, NOEMI TURNO represented by her parents MANUEL TURNO and VEVENCIA TURNO; SOLOMON PALATULON, SALMERO PALATULON and ROSALINDA PALATULON, represented by their parents MARTILLANO PALATULON and CARMILA PALATULON, petitioners, vs. THE DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF CEBU and ANTONIO A. SANGUTAN, respondents. Felino M. Ganal for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

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

GRIO-AQUINO, J.: 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

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, lawabiding 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 nondiscriminatory 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 Cario 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 readmit 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. Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Campos, Jr., JJ., concur. Quiason, J., took no part. Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

and the State cannot prevent him from doing so. For that matter, neither can it compel him to do so. As long as his beliefs are not externalized in acts that offend the public interest, he cannot be prohibited from harboring them or punished for doing so. In requiring the herein petitioners to participate in the flag ceremony, the State has declared ex cathedra that they are not violating the Bible by saluting the flag. This is to me an unwarranted intrusion into their religious beliefs, which tell them the opposite. The State cannot interpret the Bible for them; only they can read it as they see fit. Right or wrong, the meaning they derive from it cannot be revised or reversed except perhaps by their own acknowledged superiors. But certainly not the State. It has no competence in this matter. Religion is forbidden territory that the State, for all its power and authority, cannot invade. I am not unaware of Justice Frankfurter's admonition that "the constitutional protection of religious freedom terminated disabilities, it did not create new privileges. It 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." But in the case at bar, the law to which the petitioners are made to conform clashes with their own understanding of their religious obligations. Significantly, as the ponencia notes, their intransigence does not disturb the peaceful atmosphere

CRUZ, J., concurring: I am happy to concur with Mme. Justice Carolina Grio-Aquino in her quietly eloquent affirmation of a vital postulate of freedom. I would only add my brief observations concerning Gerona v. Secretary of Education. In my humble view, Gerona was based on an erroneous assumption. The Court that promulgated it was apparently laboring under the conviction that the State had the right to determine what was religious and what was not and to dictate to the individual what he could and could not worship. In pronouncing that the flag was not a religious image but a symbol of the nation, it was implying that no one had the right to worship it or as the petitioners insisted not to worship it. This was no different from saying that the cult that reveres Rizal as a divinity should not and cannot do so because he is only a civic figure deserving honor but not veneration. It seems to me that every individual is entitled to choose for himself whom or what to worship or whether to worship at all. This is a personal decision he alone can make. The individual may worship a spirit or a person or a beast or a tree (or a flag),

of the school or otherwise prejudice the public order. Their refusal to salute the flag and recite the patriotic pledge does not disrupt the flag ceremony. They neither mock nor disdain it. The petitioners simply stand at attention and keep quiet "to show their respect for the right of those who choose to participate in the solemn proceedings." It is for this innocuous conduct that, pursuant to the challenged law and regulations, the teachers have been dismissed and the students excelled. Freedom of speech includes the right to be silent. Aptly has it been said that the Bill of Rights that guarantees to the individual the liberty to utter what is in his mind also guarantees to him the liberty not to utter what is not in his mind. The salute is a symbolic manner of communication that conveys its message as clearly as the written or spoken word. As a valid form of expression, it cannot be compelled any more than it can be prohibited in the face of valid religious objections like those raised in this petition. To impose it on the petitioners is to deny them the right not to speak when their religion bids them to be silent. This coercion of conscience has no place in the free society. The democratic system provides for the accommodation of diverse ideas, including the unconventional and even the bizarre or eccentric. The will of the majority prevails, but it cannot regiment thought by prescribing the recitation by rote of its opinions or proscribing the assertion of unorthodox or unpopular views as in this case. The conscientious objections of the petitioners, no less than the impatience of those who

disagree with them, are protected by the Constitution. The State cannot make the individual speak when the soul within rebels. PADILLA, J., concurring: I concur in the Court's decision penned by Madame Justice Carolina C. Grio-Aquino that school teachers and students who cannot salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the pledge of loyalty to the country, on grounds of religious belief or conviction, may not on this ground alone be dismissed from the service or expelled from the school. At the same time, I am really concerned with what could be the far-reaching consequences of our ruling in that, we may in effect be sanctioning a privileged or eliteclass of teachers and students who will hereafter be exempt from participating, even when they are in the school premises, in the flag ceremony in deference to their religious scruples. What happens, for instance, if some citizens, based also on their religious beliefs, were to refuse to pay taxes and license fees to the government? Perhaps problems of this nature should not be anticipated. They will be resolved when and if they ever arise. But with today's decision, we may have created more problems than we have solved. It cannot also be denied that the State has the right and even the duty to promote among its citizens, especially the youth, love and country, respect for the flag and reverence for its

national heroes. It cannot also be disputed that the State has the right to adopt reasonable means by which these laudable objectives can be effectively pursued and achieved. The flag ceremony is one such device intended to inspire patriotism and evoke the finest sentiments of love of country and people. In fine, the flag ceremony is a legitimate means to achieve legitimate (and noble) ends. For a select fewto be exempt from the flag ceremony and all that it represent seven if the exemption is predicated on respect for religious scruples, could be divisive in its impact on the school population or community. I would therefore submit that, henceforth, teachers and students who because of religious scruples or beliefs cannot actively participate in the flag ceremony conducted in the school premises should be excluded beforehand from such ceremony. Instead of allowing the religious objector to attend the flag ceremony and display therein his inability to salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the pledge of loyalty to the Republic, he or she should remain in the classroom while honors to the flag are conducted and manifested in the "quadrangle" or equivalent place within school premises; or if the flag ceremony must be held in a hall, the religious objector must take his or her place at the rear of (or outside) the hall while those who actively participate in the ceremony must take the front places. This arrangement can, in my view, achieve an accommodation and, to a certain extent, harmonization of a citizen's constitutional right to freedom of religion and a valid

exercise of the State's fundamental and legitimate authority to require homage and honor to the flag as the symbol of the Nation.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., concurring: I am happy to concur with Mme. Justice Carolina Grio-Aquino in her quietly eloquent affirmation of a vital postulate of freedom. I would only add my brief observations concerning Gerona v. Secretary of Education. In my humble view, Gerona was based on an erroneous assumption. The Court that promulgated it was apparently laboring under the conviction that the State had the right to determine what was religious and what was not and to dictate to the individual what he could and could not worship. In pronouncing that the flag was not a religious image but a symbol of the nation, it was implying that no one had the right to worship it or as the petitioners insisted not to worship it. This was no different from saying that the cult that reveres Rizal as a divinity should not and cannot do so because he is only a civic figure deserving honor but not veneration. It seems to me that every individual is entitled to choose for himself whom or what to worship or whether to worship at all.

This is a personal decision he alone can make. The individual may worship a spirit or a person or a beast or a tree (or a flag), and the State cannot prevent him from doing so. For that matter, neither can it compel him to do so. As long as his beliefs are not externalized in acts that offend the public interest, he cannot be prohibited from harboring them or punished for doing so. In requiring the herein petitioners to participate in the flag ceremony, the State has declared ex cathedra that they are not violating the Bible by saluting the flag. This is to me an unwarranted intrusion into their religious beliefs, which tell them the opposite. The State cannot interpret the Bible for them; only they can read it as they see fit. Right or wrong, the meaning they derive from it cannot be revised or reversed except perhaps by their own acknowledged superiors. But certainly not the State. It has no competence in this matter. Religion is forbidden territory that the State, for all its power and authority, cannot invade. I am not unaware of Justice Frankfurter's admonition that "the constitutional protection of religious freedom terminated disabilities, it did not create new privileges. It 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." But in the case at bar, the law to which the petitioners are made to conform clashes with their own understanding of their

religious obligations. Significantly, as the ponencia notes, their intransigence does not disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the school or otherwise prejudice the public order. Their refusal to salute the flag and recite the patriotic pledge does not disrupt the flag ceremony. They neither mock nor disdain it. The petitioners simply stand at attention and keep quiet "to show their respect for the right of those who choose to participate in the solemn proceedings." It is for this innocuous conduct that, pursuant to the challenged law and regulations, the teachers have been dismissed and the students excelled. Freedom of speech includes the right to be silent. Aptly has it been said that the Bill of Rights that guarantees to the individual the liberty to utter what is in his mind also guarantees to him the liberty not to utter what is not in his mind. The salute is a symbolic manner of communication that conveys its message as clearly as the written or spoken word. As a valid form of expression, it cannot be compelled any more than it can be prohibited in the face of valid religious objections like those raised in this petition. To impose it on the petitioners is to deny them the right not to speak when their religion bids them to be silent. This coercion of conscience has no place in the free society. The democratic system provides for the accommodation of diverse ideas, including the unconventional and even the bizarre or eccentric. The will of the majority prevails, but it cannot regiment thought by prescribing the recitation by rote of its opinions or proscribing the assertion of unorthodox or

unpopular views as in this case. The conscientious objections of the petitioners, no less than the impatience of those who disagree with them, are protected by the Constitution. The State cannot make the individual speak when the soul within rebels. PADILLA, J., concurring: I concur in the Court's decision penned by Madame Justice Carolina C. Grio-Aquino that school teachers and students who cannot salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the pledge of loyalty to the country, on grounds of religious belief or conviction, may not on this ground alone be dismissed from the service or expelled from the school. At the same time, I am really concerned with what could be the far-reaching consequences of our ruling in that, we may in effect be sanctioning a privileged or eliteclass of teachers and students who will hereafter be exempt from participating, even when they are in the school premises, in the flag ceremony in deference to their religious scruples. What happens, for instance, if some citizens, based also on their religious beliefs, were to refuse to pay taxes and license fees to the government? Perhaps problems of this nature should not be anticipated. They will be resolved when and if they ever arise. But with today's decision, we may have created more problems than we have solved.

It cannot also be denied that the State has the right and even the duty to promote among its citizens, especially the youth, love and country, respect for the flag and reverence for its national heroes. It cannot also be disputed that the State has the right to adopt reasonable means by which these laudable objectives can be effectively pursued and achieved. The flag ceremony is one such device intended to inspire patriotism and evoke the finest sentiments of love of country and people. In fine, the flag ceremony is a legitimate means to achieve legitimate (and noble) ends. For a select fewto be exempt from the flag ceremony and all that it represent seven if the exemption is predicated on respect for religious scruples, could be divisive in its impact on the school population or community. I would therefore submit that, henceforth, teachers and students who because of religious scruples or beliefs cannot actively participate in the flag ceremony conducted in the school premises should be excluded beforehand from such ceremony. Instead of allowing the religious objector to attend the flag ceremony and display therein his inability to salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the pledge of loyalty to the Republic, he or she should remain in the classroom while honors to the flag are conducted and manifested in the "quadrangle" or equivalent place within school premises; or if the flag ceremony must be held in a hall, the religious objector must take his or her place at the rear of (or outside) the hall while those who actively participate in the ceremony must take

the front places. This arrangement can, in my view, achieve an accommodation and, to a certain extent, harmonization of a citizen's constitutional right to freedom of religion and a valid exercise of the State's fundamental and legitimate authority to require homage and honor to the flag as the symbol of the Nation.
#

Footnotes ** The flag salute, singing the national anthem and reciting the patriotic pledge are all forms of utterances.