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Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law

Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

Immoral Doctrines, Obscene Publication, and Exhibitions. The word "obscene" and the term "obscenity" may be
defined as meaning something offensive to chastity, decency,
or delicacy. "Indecency" is an act against good behavior and a
G.R. No. 20569 | 10-29-1923
just delicacy. The test ordinarily followed by the courts in
Facts: On November 24, 1922, detective Juan Tolentino determining whether a particular publication or other thing is
raided the premises known as Camera Supply Co. at 110 obscene within the meaning of the statutes, is whether the
Escolta, Manila. He found and confiscated the post-cards tendency of the matter charged as obscene, is to deprave or
which subsequently were used as evidenced against J. J. corrupt those who minds are open to such immoral influences
Kottinger, the manager of the company. and into whose hands a publication or other article charged as
being obscene may fall. Another test of obscenity is that which
Out of these facts arose the criminal prosecution of J.
shocks the ordinary and common sense of men as an
J. Kottinger in the Court of First Instance of Manila. The
indecency. (29 Cyc., 1315; 8 R. C. L., 312.)
information filed in court charged him with living kept for sale
in the store of the Camera Supply Co., obscene and indecent The Philippine statute does not attempt to define
pictures, in violation of section 12 of Act No, 277. Following obscenity or indecent pictures, writings, papers, or books. But
the presentation of evidence by the Government and the the words "obscene or indecent" are themselves descriptive.
defense, judgment was rendered finding the defendant guilty They are words in common use and every person of average
of the offenses charged and sentencing him to pay a fine of P50 intelligence understands their meaning. Indeed, beyond the
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and the evidence furnished by the pictures themselves, there is but
costs. little scope for bearing on the issue of obscenity or indecency.
Whether a picture is obscene of indecent must depend upon
The pictures which it is argued offend against the law
the circumstances of the case. (People vs. Muller [1884], 96 N.
on account of being obscene and indecent, disclose six
Y., 408; 48 Am. Rep., 635.)
different postures of non-Christian inhabitants of the
Philippines. Exhibit A carries the legend "Philippines, Bontoc The pictures in question merely depict persons as
Woman." Exhibit A-1 is a picture of five young boys and carries they actually live, without attempted presentation of persons
the legend "Greetings from the Philippines." Exhibit A-2 has in unusual postures or dress. The aggregate judgment of the
the legend "Ifugao Belle, Philippines. Greetings from the Philippine community, the moral sense of all the people in the
Philippines." Exhibit A-3 has the legend "Igorrot Girl, Rice Field Philippines, would not be shocked by photographs of this type.
Costume." Exhibit A-4 has the legend "Kalinga Girls, The Court were convinced that the post-card pictures in this
Philippines." Exhibit A-5 has the legend "Moros, Philippines." case cannot be characterized as offensive to chastity, or foul,
or filthy. The Court held that the pictures portraying the
Issue: WON pictures portraying the inhabitants of the
inhabitants of the country in native dress and as they appear
country in native dress and as they appear and can be seen in
and can be seen in the regions in which they live, are not
the regions in which they live, are obscene or indecent.
obscene or indecent within the meaning of the Libel Law.
Held: No.
Act No. 277 is the Philippine Libel Law. But included 52 OG 249 | n.d.
therein is a section, No. 12, making obscene or indecent
publications misdemeanors. Said section 12 which, it is Facts: On February 3, 1953, Detectives Nibungco and Jose,
contended by the Government, has here been violated, and accompanied by photographers Fajardo and Domingo of the
which, appellant argues, does not apply to the information and Manila Chronicle, went to Azcaragga Theatre in order to
the facts, reads as follows: observe what was being exhibited by the accused Virginia
Aparici there. She was in a dimly lit stage “dancing with her
"Any person who writes, composes, stereotypes, prints, publishes, hips swaying” with nothing on except nylon patches over her
sells, or keeps for sale, distributes, or exhibits any obscene or indecent
breasts and a “too abbreviated pair of nylon panties to
writing, paper, book, or other matter, or who designs, copies, draws,
interrupt her stark nakedness” and around her waist was a
engraves, paints, or otherwise prepares any such writing, paper,
book, print, or figure shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished
“furry white girdle with a middle piece punctuating attention
by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars or by imprisonment on the thing she was supposed to hide.” There were more than
not exceeding one year, or both." 100 customers and all of them were men. Most of them have
been howling and shouting in tagalog: “sigue muna, sigue

Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law
Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

nakakalibog.” Detectives Nibungco and Jose stopped the show About that time of the night, there was already a
and asked the accused to put on her dress and to surrender to crowd around the building, but the people were not admitted
them her brassiere and panties. into it until about an hour later, and the show did not begin
until about 9:15. The Manila Police Department must have
In her defense, she claimed that her performance
gotten wind of the affair; it bought tickets and provided several
(hula-hula dance) was her portrayal of the life of a widow
of its members who later attended the show, but in plain
whose guerilla husband was killed by the Japanese; depicting
clothes, and after the show conducted a raid and made arrests.
the different emotions of the widow such as sadness, anger,
At the trial, said policemen testified as to what actually took
and happiness. She was prosecuted for violation of Article 201
place inside the building. About two civilians who attended the
of the Revised Penal Code which penalizes : “3. Those who in
affair gave testimony as to what they saw.
theatres, fairs, cinematographs, or any other place open to
public view, shall exhibit indecent or immoral plays, scenes, The customers not provided with tickets actually paid
acts and shows. P3 at the entrance to defendant Ernesto Reyes. He also
collected tickets. In all, there were about ninety paying
Issue: WON accused-appellant’s dancing was indecent or
customers, while about sixteen were allowed to enter free,
immoral in violation of Art. 201 of the RPC.
presumably friends of the management. Jose Fajardo y Garcia
Held: Yes, the Court held that the accused had exhibited was clearly the manager of the show. He was at the door to
indecent or immoral acts. see to it that the customers either were provided with tickets
The test of obscenity is whether the tendency of the or paid P3.00 entrance fee. He even asked them from whom
matter charged as obscene is to deprave or corrupt those they had bought the tickets. He ordered that an army steel bed
whose minds are open to such immoral influences. be placed at the center of the floor, covered with an army
blanket and provided with a pillow. Once the spectators, about
The test therefore was satisfied with the crowd’s 106 in number, were crowded inside that small building, the
reaction. Her defense that the crowd was of lower class was show started. Fajardo evidently to arouse more interest
not supported by any proof. Moreover, it doesn’t matter what among the customers, asked them to select among two girls
class the crowd belonged to. What is important is Aparici, present who was to be one of the principal actors. By pointing
while performing the hula-hula dance was able to induced or to or holding his hand over the head of each of the two women
encourage the crowd to think of immoral acts. one after the other, and judging by the shouts of approval
emitted by the spectators, he decided that defendant Marina
Padan was the subject of popular approval, and he selected
G.R. No. L-7295 | 06-28-1957
her. After her selection, the other woman named Concha, left.
Facts: In the Court of First Instance of Manila, Marina Padan,
Without much ado, Fajardo selected Cosme Espinosa
Jose Fajardo, Cosme Espinosa, and Ernesto Reyes were
to be Marina's partner. Thereafter, Cosme and Marina
charged with a violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal
proceeded to disrobe while standing around the bed. When
completely naked, they turned around to exhibit their bodies
At the corner of Morga Extension and Camba to the spectators. Then they indulged in lascivious acts,
Extension, Tondo, Manila, was a one story building, with a floor consisting of petting, kissing, and touching the private parts of
space of eight by fifteen meters which was mainly used for each other. When sufficiently aroused, they lay on the bed and
playing ping-pong. A ping-pong table must have been placed in proceeded to consummate the act of coitus in three different
the center and on two sides were built benches in tiers, so that positions which we deem unnecessary to describe. The four or
the spectators seated on them could look down and see the five witnesses who testified for the Government when asked
game. about their reaction to what they saw, frankly admitted that
they were excited beyond description. Then the police who
On September 13, 1953, however, the building was
were among the spectators and who were previously provided
used for a different purpose. It was to be the scene of what
with a search warrant made the raid, arrested the four
was said to be an exhibition of human "fighting fish", the actual
defendants herein, and took pictures of Marina and Cosme still
act of coitus of copulation. It must have been advertised by
naked and of the army bed, which pictures were presented as
word of mouth; tickets therefor were sold at P3 each, and the
exhibits during the trial.
show was supposed to begin at 8:00 o'clock in the evening.

Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law
Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

The four accused was found guilty for the crime collected from the spectators, submitted as exhibits, said
charged. They appealed the decision of the CFI but was tickets while bearing on one side printed matter regarding an
dismissed. Because of her plea of guilty in the lower court, excursion to Balara to be held on August 30, 1953, from 7:00
appellant Marina in her appeal does not question her a.m. to 5:00 p.m., sponsored by a certain club, on the other
conviction; she merely urges the reduction of the penalty by side appears the following typewritten form, reading:
eliminating the prison sentence.
"P3.00 Admit one
Going to the appeal of Jose Fajardo, while he does not
deny the fact of the commission of the offense charged, he
insists that he was not the manager or the person in charge of Place: P. Morga Ext. and Camba Ext.
the show or proceedings on the night of September 13, 1953;
Time: 8:00 o'clock sharp",
that his participation, if he participated at all, was to play the
role of an innocent bystander, but that because of his And, superimposed on the same is the rubber stamped name
popularity in the neighborhood, being popularly known as a "Pepe Fajardo," which defendant Fajardo admits to be his
"siga-siga" character, he was requested by the spectators to name. Considering all the above circumstances, we agree with
select the man and the woman to engage or indulge in the the trial court that Jose Fajardo is the most guilty of the four,
actual act of coitus before the spectators; that after making the for he was the one who conducted the show and presumably
selection, he did not even care to witness the act but left the derived the most profit or gain from the same.
scene and returned to it only when he heard a commotion
produced by the raid conducted by the police.
G.R. No. 80806 | 10-05-1989
Issue: Whether or not the contentions of the accused are
meritorious. Facts: Pursuant to an Anti-Smut Campaign initiated by
Manila Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing, elements of the Special
Held: No. Anti-Narcotics Group, et al, seized and confiscated from
The Court believed that the penalty imposed fits the dealers, distributors, newsstand owners and peddlers along
crime, considering its seriousness. As far as we know, this is the Manila sidewalks, publications believed to be obscene,
first time that the courts in this jurisdiction, at least this pornographic and indecent and later burned the seized
Tribunal, have been called upon to take cognizance of an materials in public at the University belt. Among the
offense against morals and decency of this kind. We have had publications seized and burned, was "Pinoy Playboy"
occasion to consider offenses like the exhibition of still or magazines published and co-edited by petitioner Leo Pita.
moving pictures of women in the nude, which we have Pita subsequently filed a case for injunction against
condemned for obscenity and as offensive to morals. In those Bagatsing and the police force, seeking to enjoin said
cases, one might yet claim that there was involved the element defendants and their agents from confiscating plaintiffs
of art; that connoisseurs of the same, and painters and magazines or preventing the sale or circulation thereof,
sculptors might find inspiration in the showing of pictures in claiming that the magazine was a decent one, and that the
the nude, or the human body exhibited in sheer nakedness, as publication was protected by the Constitutional guarantees of
models in tableaux vivants. But an actual exhibition of the freedom of speech and of the press.
sexual act, preceded by acts of lasciviousness, can have no
redeeming feature. In it, there is no room for art. One can see The trial court denied the motion for a writ of
nothing in it but clear and unmitigated obscenity, indecency, preliminary injunction and dismissed the case for lack of merit.
and an offense to public morals, inspiring and causing as it The CA also dismissed Pita’s appeal and ruled that freedom of
does, nothing but lust and lewdness, and exerting a corrupting the press was not without restraint, as the state had the right
influence especially on the youth of the land. We repeat that to protect society from pornographic literature that was
because of all this, the penalty imposed by the trial court on offensive to public morals.
Marina, despite her plea of guilty, is neither excessive nor Issue: WON the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the
unreasonable. decision of the trial court and, in effect, holding that the police
There can be no doubt that Jose Fajardo, contrary to officers could without any court warrant or order seize and
what he claims, was the person in charge of the show. Besides, confiscate petitioner's magazines on the basis simply of their
as found by the trial court and as shown by some of the tickets determination that they are obscene.

Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law
Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

Held: Yes. The Court is not convinced that the (c) The judge must determine whether or not the same are
private respondents have shown the required proof to justify indeed "obscene:" the question is to be resolved on a case-to-
a ban and to warrant confiscation of the literature for which case basis and on His Honor's sound discretion.
mandatory injunction had been sought below. First of all, they
(d) If, in the opinion of the court, probable cause exists, it may
were not possessed of a lawful court order: (1) finding the said
issue the search warrant prayed for.
materials to be pornography, and (2) authorizing them to carry
out a search and seizure, by way of a search warrant. (e) The proper suit is then brought in the court under Article
201 of the Revised Penal Code.
People v. Kottinger; it ruled that obscenity upon
circumstance on the aggregate sense of the community. It (f) Any conviction is subject to appeal. The appellate court may
would render hypothetical community standard. assess whether or not the properties seized are indeed
People v. Go Pin; it is caused reviewed, if for
commercial purpose and if artistic values are commercialized FERNANDO v. CA
and gain or profit was main consideration, and audience did G.R. No. 159751 | 12-06-2006
not care for the art. The primary manifestation is the purpose
Facts: The RTC convicted Gaudencio E. Fernando and Rudy
of commercialization making its obscene removing the artistic
Estorninos for violation of Article 201[2] of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 960 and 969,
People v. Padan; the concept of redeeming feature and sentenced each to imprisonment of four (4) years and one
Gonzales v. Kalaw Katigbak; whether the (1) day to six (6) years of prision correccional, and to pay the
determination of the obscene, whether the average person fine of P6,000 and cost of suit.
who take dominantly on the point of the material. Acting on reports of sale and distribution of
It is largely a judicial question, if the law enforcement pornographic materials, officers of the Philippine National
if they want to apprehend must submit the question to the Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the
court. You have convinced the judge that there must be National Capital Region (PNP-CIDG NCR) conducted police
probable cause. It largely rests on the discretion of the judge surveillance on the store bearing the name of Gaudencio E.
and weighed on a case to case. Fernando Music Fair (Music Fair). On May 5, 1999, Judge
Perfecto Laguio of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
The court here also applied the Reyes v. Bagatsing 19, issued Search Warrant No. 99-1216 for violation of Article
ruling wherein the clear and present danger was applied in 201 of the Revised Penal Code against petitioner Gaudencio E.
showing if whether or not the publication is also considered Fernando and a certain Warren Tingchuy. The warrant ordered
obscene. the search of Gaudencio E. Fernando Music Fair at 564 Quezon
However, it was shown that the seizure was without Blvd., corner Zigay Street, Quiapo, Manila, and the seizure of
a valid search warrant, and that it does not fall under the valid the following items:
instances of warrantless searches. Regardless, the case still a. Copies of New Rave Magazines with nude obscene pictures;
considered moot and academic for the seized materials were b. Copies of IOU Penthouse Magazine with nude obscene
already destroyed. pictures;
c. Copies of Hustler International Magazine with nude
Guidelines Laid Down By the SC obscene pictures; and
(a) The authorities must apply for the issuance of a search d. Copies of VHS tapes containing pornographic shows.
warrant from a judge, if in their opinion, an obscenity rap is in On the same day, police officers of the PNP-CIDG NCR
order served the warrant on Rudy Estorninos, who, according to the
(b) The authorities must convince the court that the materials prosecution, introduced himself as the store attendant of
sought to be seized are "obscene", and pose a clear and Music Fair. The police searched the premises and confiscated
present danger of an evil substantive enough to warrant State twenty-five (25) VHS tapes and ten (10) different magazines,
interference and action. which they deemed pornographic. Petitioners with Warren
Tingchuy, werecharged for selling and exhibiting obscene
copies of x-rated VHS Tapes pursuant to Article 201 of the
Revised Penal Code.

Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law
Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

Petitioners contend that the prosecution failed to In the present case, we find that petitioners are
prove that at the time of the search, they were selling engaged in selling and exhibiting obscene materials.
pornographic materials. Fernando contends that since he was
Notably, the subject premises of the search warrant
not charged as the owner of an establishment selling obscene
was the Gaudencio E. Fernando Music Fair, named after
materials, the prosecution must prove that he was present
petitioner Fernando. The mayor's permit was under his name.
during the raid and that he was selling the said materials.
Even his bail bond shows that he lives in the same place.
Moreover, he contends that the appellate court's reason for
Moreover, the mayor's permit dated August 8, 1996, shows
convicting him, on a presumption of continuing ownership
that he is the owner/operator of the store. While the mayor's
shown by an expired mayor's permit, has no sufficient basis
permit had already expired, it does not negate the fact that
since the prosecution failed to prove his ownership of the
Fernando owned and operated the establishment. It would be
establishment. Estorninos, on the other hand, insists that he
absurd to make his failure to renew his business permit and
was not an attendant in Music Fair, nor did he introduce
illegal operation a shield from prosecution of an unlawful act.
himself so.
Furthermore, when he preferred not to present contrary
The Solicitor General counters that owners of establishments evidence, the things which he possessed were presumptively
selling obscene publications are expressly held liable under his.
Article 201, and petitioner Fernando's ownership was
Petitioner Estorninos is likewise liable as the store
sufficiently proven. As the owner, according to the Solicitor
attendant actively engaged in selling and exhibiting the
General, Fernando was naturally a seller of the prohibited
obscene materials. Prosecution witness Police Inspector
materials and liable under the Information. The Solicitor
Tababan, who led the PNP-CIDG NCR that conducted the
General also maintains that Estorninos was identified by
search, identified him as the store attendant upon whom the
Barangay Chairperson Socorro Lipana as the store attendant,
search warrant was served. Tababan had no motive for
thus he was likewise liable.
testifying falsely against Estorninos and we uphold the
Issue: WON the appellate court erred in affirming the presumption of regularity in the performance of his duties.
petitioners’ conviction. Lastly, this Court accords great respect to and treats with
finality the findings of the trial court on the matter of
Held: No.
credibility of witnesses, absent any palpable error or
As obscenity is an unprotected speech which the arbitrariness in their findings. In our view, no reversible error
State has the right to regulate, the State in pursuing its was committed by the appellate court as well as the trial court
mandate to protect, as parens patriae, the public from in finding the herein petitioners guilty as charged.
obscene, immoral and indecent materials must justify the
regulation or limitation. PEOPLE v. SITON
G.R. No. 169364 | 09-18-2009
One such regulation is Article 201 of the Revised Penal
Code. To be held liable, the prosecution must prove that (a) Facts: Respondents Evangeline Siton and Krystel Kate
the materials, publication, picture or literature are obscene; Sagarano were charged with vagrancy pursuant to Article 202
and (b) the offender sold, exhibited, published or gave away (2) of the Revised Penal Code in two separate Informations
such materials. Necessarily, that the confiscated materials are dated November 18, 2003, raffled to Branch 3 of the Municipal
obscene must be proved. Trial Court in Cities, Davao City.

We emphasized that mere possession of obscene In the information, it was stated therein that on
materials, without intention to sell, exhibit, or give them away, November 14, 2003, Evangeline Siton and Krystel Kate
is not punishable under Article 201, considering the purpose of Sagarano were caught wandering and loitering around San
the law is to prohibit the dissemination of obscene materials Pedro and Legaspi Streets, without any visible means to
to the public. The offense in any of the forms under Article 201 support herself nor lawful and justifiable purpose.
is committed only when there is publicity. The law does not Instead of submitting their counter-affidavits as
require that a person be caught in the act of selling, giving directed, respondents filed separate Motions to Quash on the
away or exhibiting obscene materials to be liable, for as long ground that Article 202 (2) is unconstitutional for being vague
as the said materials are offered for sale, displayed or exhibited and overbroad. Article 202 (2) reads: “2. Any person found
to the public. loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places or

Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law
Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

tramping or wandering about the country or the streets those who have no visible means of support by force of
without visible means of support.” circumstance and those who choose to loiter about and bum
around, who are the proper subjects of vagrancy legislation, it
In an Order dated April 28, 2004, the municipal trial
cannot pass a judicial scrutiny of its constitutionality.”
court denied the motions and directed respondents anew to
file their respective counter-affidavits. The municipal trial Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
court also declared that the law on vagrancy was enacted
Issue: WON the RTC committed a reversible error in
pursuant to the State's police power and justified by the Latin
declaring Article 202(2) as unconstitutional.
maxim "salus populi est suprema lex," which calls for the
subordination of individual benefit to the interest of the Petitioner argues that every statute is presumed valid
greater number. and all reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of its
constitutionality; that, citing Romualdez v. Sandiganbayan,[13]
The municipal trial court also noted that in the
the overbreadth and vagueness doctrines have special
affidavit of the arresting police officer, SPO1 Jay Plaza, it was
application to free-speech cases only and are not appropriate
stated that there was a prior surveillance conducted on the
for testing the validity of penal statutes; that respondents
two accused in an area reported to be frequented by vagrants
failed to overcome the presumed validity of the statute, failing
and prostitutes who solicited sexual favors. Hence, the
to prove that it was vague under the standards set out by the
prosecution should be given the opportunity to prove the
Courts; and that the State may regulate individual conduct for
crime, and the defense to rebut the evidence.
the promotion of public welfare in the exercise of its police
Respondents thus filed an original petition for power.
certiorari and prohibition with the Regional Trial Court of
On the other hand, respondents argue against the
Davao City, directly challenging the constitutionality of the
limited application of the overbreadth and vagueness
anti-vagrancy law, claiming that the definition of the crime of
doctrines. They insist that Article 202 (2) on its face violates the
vagrancy under Article 202 (2), apart from being vague, results
constitutionally-guaranteed rights to due process and the
as well in an arbitrary identification of violators, since the
equal protection of the laws; that the due process vagueness
definition of the crime includes in its coverage persons who are
standard, as distinguished from the free speech vagueness
otherwise performing ordinary peaceful acts. They likewise
doctrine, is adequate to declare Article 202 (2)
claimed that Article 202 (2) violated the equal protection
unconstitutional and void on its face; and that the presumption
clause under the Constitution because it discriminates against
of constitutionality was adequately overthrown.
the poor and unemployed, thus permitting an arbitrary and
unreasonable classification. Held: Yes.

The RTC granted the petition and declared Article Criminally, public order laws encompass a whole
202(2) of the RPC as unconstitutional for being vague and for range of acts - from public indecencies and immoralities, to
violating the equal protection clause. On its pronouncement public nuisances, to disorderly conduct. The acts punished are
that Article 202 (2) violated the equal protection clause of the made illegal by their offensiveness to society's basic
Constitution, the trial court declared: sensibilities and their adverse effect on the quality of life of the
people of society. For example, the issuance or making of a
“The application of the Anti-Vagrancy Law, crafted in
bouncing check is deemed a public nuisance, a crime against
the 1930s, to our situation at present runs afoul of the equal
public order that must be abated.[33] As a matter of public
protection clause of the constitution as it offers no reasonable
policy, the failure to turn over the proceeds of the sale of the
classification between those covered by the law and those who
goods covered by a trust receipt or to return said goods, if not
are not.
sold, is a public nuisance to be abated by the imposition of
Class legislation is such legislation which denies rights penal sanctions.[34] Thus, public nuisances must be abated
to one which are accorded to others, or inflicts upon one because they have the effect of interfering with the
individual a more severe penalty than is imposed upon another comfortable enjoyment of life or property by members of a
in like case offending. community.
Applying this to the case at bar, since the definition of Article 202 (2) does not violate the equal protection
Vagrancy under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code offers no clause; neither does it discriminate against the poor and the
guidelines or any other reasonable indicators to differentiate unemployed. Offenders of public order laws are punished not

Ateneo de Davao University – College of Law
Criminal Law II | Atty. Paolo Evangelista

for their status, as for being poor or unemployed, but for and the President of the Philippines, a law has been carefully
conducting themselves under such circumstances as to studied, crafted and determined to be in accordance with the
endanger the public peace or cause alarm and apprehension in fundamental law before it was finally enacted.
the community. Being poor or unemployed is not a license or
It must not be forgotten that police power is an
a justification to act indecently or to engage in immoral
inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as the
power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make,
Vagrancy must not be so lightly treated as to be ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable
considered constitutionally offensive. It is a public order crime laws, statutes and ordinances, either with penalties or without,
which punishes persons for conducting themselves, at a not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be for
certain place and time which orderly society finds unusual, the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the
under such conditions that are repugnant and outrageous to subjects of the same. The power is plenary and its scope is vast
the common standards and norms of decency and morality in and pervasive, reaching and justifying measures for public
a just, civilized and ordered society, as would engender a health, public safety, public morals, and the general welfare.
justifiable concern for the safety and well-being of members of As an obvious police power measure, Article 202(2) must
the community. therefore be viewed in a constitutional light.
Instead of taking an active position declaring public
order laws unconstitutional, the State should train its eye on
their effective implementation, because it is in this area that
the Court perceives difficulties. Red light districts abound,
gangs work the streets in the wee hours of the morning,
dangerous robbers and thieves ply their trade in the trains
stations, drunken men terrorize law-abiding citizens late at
night and urinate on otherwise decent corners of our streets.
Rugby-sniffing individuals crowd our national parks and busy
intersections. Prostitutes wait for customers by the roadside
all around the metropolis, some even venture in bars and
restaurants. Drug-crazed men loiter around dark avenues
waiting to pounce on helpless citizens. Dangerous groups
wander around, casing homes and establishments for their
next hit. The streets must be made safe once more. Though a
man's house is his castle, outside on the streets, the king is fair
game. The dangerous streets must surrender to orderly
On Presumption of Constitutionality
Finally, we agree with the position of the State that
first and foremost, Article 202 (2) should be presumed valid
and constitutional. When confronted with a constitutional
question, it is elementary that every court must approach it
with grave care and considerable caution bearing in mind that
every statute is presumed valid and every reasonable doubt
should be resolved in favor of its constitutionality. The policy
of our courts is to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and
to presume that the acts of the political departments are valid
in the absence of a clear and unmistakable showing to the
contrary. To doubt is to sustain, this presumption is based on
the doctrine of separation of powers which enjoins upon each
department a becoming respect for the acts of the other
departments. The theory is that as the joint act of Congress