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PASTOR M. ENDENCIA and FERNANDO JUGO, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. SATURNINO DAVID, as Collector of Internal Revenue, defendant-appellant.

Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag and Solicitor Jose P. Alejandro for appellant. Manuel O. Chan for appellees. SYLLABUS 1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; TAXATION; INTERPRETATION OF LAWS, A JUDICIAL FUNCTION. The Legislature cannot lawfully declare the collection of income tax on the salary of a public official, specially a judicial officer, not a decrease of his salary, after the Supreme Court has found and decided otherwise. "Defining and interpreting the law is a judicial function and the legislative branch may not limit or restrict the power granted to the courts by the Constitution." (Bandy vs. Mickelson et al., 44 N.W., 2nd, 341, 342; see also 11 Am. Jur., 714- 715 and 905.) The act of interpreting the Constitution or any part thereof by the Legislature is an invasion of the well-defined and established province and jurisdiction of the Judiciary. 2. ID.; SEPARATION OF POWERS. Under our system of constitutional government, the Legislative department is assigned the power to make and enact laws. The Executive department is charged with the execution or carrying out of the provisions of said laws. But the interpretation and application of said laws belong exclusively to the Judicial department. And this authority to interpret and apply the laws extends to the Constitution. Before the courts can determine whether a law is constitutional or not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning not only of said law, but also of the pertinent portion of the Constitution in order to decide whether there is a conflict between the two, because if there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid and unconstitutional. 3. TAXATION; INCOME TAX; TAXING SALARIES OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS, A DIMINUTION OF THEIR COMPENSATION AS FIXED BY LAW. The doctrine laid down in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer (85 Phil., 552) to the effect that the collection of income tax on the salary of a judicial officer is a diminution thereof and so violates the Constitution, is reiterated. DECISION MONTEMAYOR, J p: This is a joint appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila declaring section 13 of Republic Act No. 590 unconstitutional, and ordering the appellant Saturnino David as Collector of Internal Revenue to refund to Justice Pastor M. Endencia the sum of P1,744.45, representing the income tax collected on his salary as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals in 1951, and to Justice Fernando Jugo the amount of P2,345.46, representing the income tax collected on his salary from January 1, 1950 to October 19, 1950, as Presiding Justice of the

Court of Appeals, and from October 20, 1950 to December 31, 1950, as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, without special pronouncement as to costs. Because of the similarity of the two cases, involving as they do the same question of law, they were jointly submitted for determination in the lower court. Judge Higinio B. Macadaeg presiding, in a rather exhaustive and well considered decision found and held that under the doctrine laid down by this Court in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, the collection of income taxes from the salaries of Justice Jugo and Justice Endencia was a diminution of their compensation and therefore was in violation of the Constitution of the Philippines, and so ordered the refund of said taxes. We see no profit and necessity in again discussing and considering the proposition and the arguments pro and con involved in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, which are raised, brought up and presented here. In that case, we have held despite the ruling enunciated by the United States Federal Supreme Court in the case of O'Malley vs. Woodrought 307 U. S., 277, that taxing the salary of a judicial officer in the Philippines is a diminution of such salary and so violates the Constitution. We shall now confine ourselves to a discussion and determination of the remaining question of whether or not Republic Act No. 590, particularly section 13, can justify and legalize the collection of income tax on the salary of judicial officers. According to the brief of the Solicitor General on behalf of appellant Collector of Internal Revenue, our decision in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, was not received favorably by Congress, because immediately after its promulgation, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 590. To bring home his point, the Solicitor General reproduces what he considers the pertinent discussion in the Lower House of House Bill No. 1127 which became Republic Act No. 590. For purposes of reference, we are reproducing section 9, Article VIII of our Constitution: "SEC. 9. The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior courts shall hold office during good behavior, until they reach the age of seventy years, or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. They shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. Until the Congress shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall receive an annual compensation of sixteen thousand pesos, and each Associate Justice, fifteen thousand pesos." As already stated construing and applying the above constitutional provision, we held in the Perfecto case that judicial officers are exempt from the payment of income tax on their salaries, because the collection thereof by the Government was a decrease or diminution of their salaries during their continuance in office, a thing which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution. Thereafter, according to the Solicitor General, because Congress did not favorably receive the decision in the

Perfecto case, Congress promulgated Republic Act No. 590, if not to counteract the ruling in that decision, at least now to authorize and legalize the collection of income tax on the salaries of judicial officers. We quote section 13 of Republic Act No. 590: "SEC. 13. No salary wherever received by any public officer of the Republic of the Philippines shall be considered as exempt from the income tax, payment of which is hereby declared not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or by law." So we have this situation. The Supreme Court in a decision interpreting the Constitution, particularly section 9, Article VIII, has held that judicial officers are exempt from payment of income tax on their salaries, because the collection thereof was a diminution of such salaries, specifically prohibited by the Constitution. Now comes the Legislature and in section 13, Republic Act No. 590, says that "no salary wherever received by any public officer of the Republic (naturally including a judicial officer) shall be considered as exempt from the income tax," and proceeds to declare that payment of said income tax is not a diminution of his compensation. Can the Legislature validly do this? May the Legislature lawfully declare the collection of income tax on the salary of a public official, specially a judicial officer, not a decrease of his salary, after the Supreme Court has found and decided otherwise? To determine this question, we shall have to go back to the fundamental principles regarding separation of powers. Under our system of constitutional government, the Legislative department is assigned the power to make and enact laws. The Executive department is charged with the execution or carrying out of the provisions of said laws. But the interpretation and application of said laws belong exclusively to the Judicial department. And this authority to interpret and apply the laws extends to the Constitution. Before the courts can determine whether a law is constitutional or not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning not only of said law, but also of the pertinent portion of the Constitution in order to decide whether there is a conflict between the two, because if there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid and unconstitutional. "Defining and interpreting the law is a judicial function and the legislative branch may not limit or restrict the power granted to the courts by the Constitution." (Bandy vs. Mickelson et al., 44 N. W., 2nd 341, 342.) "When it is clear that a statute transgresses the authority vested in the legislature by the Constitution, it is the duty of the courts to declare the act unconstitutional because they cannot shrink from it without violating their oaths of office. This duty of the courts to maintain the Constitution as the fundamental law of the state is imperative and unceasing; and, as Chief Justice Marshall said, whenever a statute is in violation of the fundamental law, the courts must so adjudge and thereby give

effect to the Constitution. Any other course would lead to the destruction of the Constitution. Since the question as to the constitutionality of a statute is a judicial matter, the courts will not decline the exercise of jurisdiction upon the suggestion that action might be taken by political agencies in disregard of the judgment of the judicial tribunals." 11 Am. Jur., 714-715.) "Under the American system of constitutional government, among the most important functions intrusted to the judiciary are the interpreting of Constitutions and, as a closely connected power, the determination of whether laws and acts of the legislature are or are not contrary to the provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions." (11 Am. Jur., 905.) By legislative fiat as enunciated in section 13, Republic Act No. 590, Congress says that taxing the salary of a judicial officer is not a decrease of compensation. This is a clear example of interpretation or ascertainment of the meaning of the phrase "which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office," found in section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution, referring to the salaries of judicial officers. This act of interpreting the Constitution or any part thereof by the Legislature is an invasion of the well-defined and established province and jurisdiction of the Judiciary. "The rule is recognized elsewhere that the legislature cannot pass any declaratory act, or act declaratory of what the law was before its passage, so as to give it any binding weight with the courts. A legislative definition of a word as used in a statute is not conclusive of its meaning as used elsewhere; otherwise, the legislature would be usurping a judicial function in defining a term. (11 Am. Jur., 914, emphasis supplied). "The legislature cannot, upon passing a law which violates a constitutional provision, validate it so as to prevent an attack thereon in the courts, by a declaration that it shall be so construed as not to violate the constitutional inhibition." (11 Am. Jur., 919, emphasis supplied). We have already said that the Legislature under our form of government is assigned the task and the power to make and enact laws, but not to interpret them. This is more true with regard to the interpretation of the basic law, the Constitution, which is not within the sphere of the Legislative department. If the Legislature may declare what a law means, or what a specific portion of the Constitution means, especially after the courts have in actual case ascertain its meaning by interpretation and applied it in a decision, this would surely cause confusion and instability in judicial processes and court decisions. Under such a system, a final court determination of a case based on a judicial interpretation of the law or of the Constitution may be undermined or even annulled by a subsequent and different interpretation of the law or of the Constitution by the Legislative department. That would be neither wise nor desirable, besides being clearly violative of the

fundamental principles of our constitutional system of government, particularly those governing the separation of powers. So much for the constitutional aspect of the case. Considering the practical side thereof, we believe that the collection of income tax on a salary is an actual and evident diminution thereof. Under the old system where the income tax was paid at the end of the year or sometime thereafter, the decrease may not be so apparent and clear. All that the official who had previously received his full salary was called upon to do, was to fulfill his obligation and to exercise his privilege of paying his income tax on his salary. His salary fixed by law was received by him in full, and when he later pays his income tax, especially when the amount of said tax comes from his other sources of income, he may not fully realize the fact that his salary had been decreased in the amount of said income tax. But under the present system of withholding the income tax at the source, where the full amount of the income tax corresponding to his salary is computed in advance and divided into equal portions corresponding to the number of paydays during the year and actually deducted from his salary corresponding to each payday, said official actually does not receive his salary in full, because the income tax is deducted therefrom every payday, that is to say, twice a month. Let us take the case of Justice Endencia. As Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, his salary is fixed at P12,000 a year, that is to say, he should receive P1,000 a month or P500 every payday, fifteenth and end of month. In the present case, the amount collected by the Collector of Internal Revenue on said salary is P1,744.45 for one year. Divided by twelve (months) we shall have P145.37 a month. And further dividing it by two paydays will bring it down to P72.685, which is the income tax deducted from and collected on his salary each half month. So, if Justice Endencia's salary as a judicial officer were not exempt from payment of the income tax, instead of receiving P500 every payday, he would be actually receiving P427.31 only, and instead of receiving P12,000 a year, he would be receiving but P10,255.55. Is it not therefore clear that every payday, his salary is actually decreased by P72.685 and every year is decreased by P1,744.45? Reading the discussion in the lower House in connection with House Bill No. 1127, which became Republic Act No. 590, it would seem that one of the main reasons behind the enactment of the law was the feeling among certain legislators that members of the Supreme Court should not enjoy any exemption and that as citizens, out of patriotism and love for their country, they should pay income tax on their salaries. It might be stated in this connection that the exemption is not enjoyed by the members of the Supreme Court alone but also by all judicial officers including Justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of inferior courts. The exemption also extends to other constitutional officers, like the President of the Republic, the Auditor General, the members of the Commission on Elections, and possibly members of the Board of Tax Appeals, commissioners of the Public Service Commission, and judges of the Court of Industrial Relations. Compared to the

number of all these officials, that of the Supreme Court Justices is relatively insignificant. There are more than 990 other judicial officers enjoying the exemption, including 15 Justices of the Court of Appeals, about 107 Judges of First Instance, 38 Municipal Judges and about 830 Justices of the Peace. The reason behind the exemption in the Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Federal Supreme Court and this Court, is to preserve the independence of the Judiciary, not only of this High Tribunal but of the other courts, whose present membership number more than 990 judicial officials. The exemption was not primarily intended to benefit judicial officers, but was grounded on public policy. As said by Justice Van Devanter of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Evans vs. Gore (253 U. S., 245): "The primary purpose of the prohibition against diminution was not to benefit the judges, but, like the clause in respect of tenure, to attract good and competent men to the bench and to promote that independence of action and judgment which is essential to the maintenance of the guaranties, limitations and pervading principles of the Constitution and to the administration of justice without respect to persons and with equal concern for the poor and the rich. Such being its purpose, it is to be construed, not as a private grant, but as a limitation imposed in the public interest; in other words, not restrictively, but in accord with its spirit and the principle on which it proceeds." Having in mind the limited number of judicial officers in the Philippines enjoying this exemption, especially when the great bulk thereof are justices of the peace, many of them receiving, as low as P200 a month, and considering further the other exemptions allowed by the income tax law, such as P3,000 for a married person and P600 for each dependent, the amount of national revenue to be derived from income tax on the salaries of judicial officers, were if not for the constitutional exemption, could not be large or substantial. But even if it were otherwise, it should not affect, much less outweigh the purpose and the considerations that prompted the establishment of the constitutional exemption. In the same case of Evans vs. Gore, supra, the Federal Supreme Court declared "that they (fathers of the Constitution) regarded the independence of the judges as of far greater importance than any revenue that could come from taxing their salaries." When a judicial officer assumes office, he does not exactly ask for exemption from payment of income tax on his salary, as a privilege. It is already attached to his office, provided and secured by the fundamental law, not primarily for his benefit, but based on public interest, to secure and preserve his independence of judicial thought and action. When we come to the members of the Supreme Court, this exemption to them is relatively of short duration. Because of the limited membership in this High Tribunal, eleven, and due to the high standards of experience, practice and training required, one generally enters its portals and comes to join its membership quite late in life, on the average, around his sixtieth

year, and being required to retire at seventy, assuming that he does not die or become incapacitated earlier, naturally he is not in a position to receive the benefit of exemption for long. It is rather to the justices of the peace that the exemption can give more benefit. They are relatively more numerous, and because of the meager salary they receive, they can less afford to pay the income tax on it and its diminution by the amount of the income tax if paid would be real, substantial and onerous. Considering exemption in the abstract, there is nothing unusual or abhorrent in it, as long as it is based on public policy or public interest. While all other citizens are subject to arrest when charged with the commission of a crime, members of the Senate and House of Representatives except in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace are exempt from arrest, during their attendance in the session of the Legislature; and while all other citizens are generally liable for any speech, remark or statement, oral or written, tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead, Senators and Congressmen in making such statements during their sessions are extended immunity and exemption. And as to tax exemption, there are not a few citizens who enjoy this exemption. Persons, natural and juridical, are exempt from taxes on their lands, buildings and improvements thereon when used exclusively for educational purposes, even if they derive income therefrom. (Art. VI, Sec. 22 [3].) Holders of government bonds are exempted from the payment of taxes on the income or interest they receive therefrom (sec. 29 (b) [4], National Internal Revenue Code as amended by Republic Act No. 566). Payments or income received by any person residing in the Philippines under the laws of the United States administered by the United States Veterans Administration are exempt from taxation. (Republic Act No. 360). Funds received by officers and enlisted men of the Philippine Army who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, allowances earned by virtue of such services corresponding to the taxable years 1942 to 1945, inclusive, are exempted from income tax. (Republic Act No. 210). The payment of wages and allowances of officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines sent to Korea are also exempted from taxation. (Republic Act No. 815). New and necessary industries are also exempted from taxation for a certain number of years. (Republic Act No. 35). In other words, for reasons of public policy and public interest, a citizen may justifiably by constitutional provision or statute be exempted from his ordinary obligation of paying taxes on his income. Under the same public policy and perhaps for the same it not higher considerations, the framers of the Constitution deemed it wise and necessary to exempt judicial officers from paying taxes on their salaries so as not to decrease their compensation, thereby insuring the independence of the Judiciary. In conclusion we reiterate the doctrine laid down in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, to the effect that the collection of income tax on the salary of a judicial officer is a diminution thereof and so violates the Constitution. We further hold that

the interpretation and application of the Constitution and of statutes is within the exclusive province and jurisdiction of the judicial department, and that in enacting a law, the Legislature may not legally provide therein that it be interpreted in such a way that it may not violate a Constitutional prohibition, thereby tying the hands of the courts in their task of later interpreting said statute, specially when the interpretation sought and provided in said statute runs counter to a previous interpretation already given in a case by the highest court of the land. Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Reyes and Labrador, JJ., concur. Separate Opinions BAUTISTA ANGELO, J., concurring: Without expressing any opinion on the doctrine laid down by this Court in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, GR. No. L-2314, in view of the part I had in that case as former Solicitor General, I wish however to state that I concur in the opinion of the majority to the effect that section 13, Republic Act No. 590, in so far as it provides that taxing of the salary of a judicial officer shall be considered "not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or by law", constitutes an invasion of the province and jurisdiction of the judiciary. In this sense, I am of the opinion that said section is null and void, it being a transgression of the fundamental principle underlying the separation of powers. PARAS, C.J., concurring and dissenting: I dissent for the same reasons stated in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Ozaeta in Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, in which I concurred. But I disagree with the majority in ruling that no legislation may provide that it be held valid although against a provision of the Constitution.

FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 45459. March 13, 1937.] GREGORIO AGLIPAY, petitioner, vs. JUAN RUIZ, respondent. Vicente Sotto for petitioner. Solicitor-General Tuason for respondent. SYLLABUS 1. PROHIBITION; ISSUANCE OF WRIT FOR ACTS PERFORMED WITHOUT JURISDICTION. While, generally, prohibition as an extraordinary legal writ will not issue to restrain or control the performance of other than judicial or quasi-judicial function (50 C. J., 658), its issuance and enforcement are regulated by statute and in this jurisdiction may issue to ". . . inferior tribunals, corporations, boards, or persons, whether exercising functions judicial or ministerial, which are without or in excess of the jurisdiction of such tribunal, corporation, board, or person . . .." (Secs. 516 and 226, Code of Civil Procedure.) 2. ID.; ID.; DIRECTOR OF POSTS. The term "judicial" and "ministerial" used with reference to "functions" in the statute are undoubtedly comprehensive and include the challenge act of the respondent Director of Posts in the present case, which act because alleged to be violative of the Constitution is a fortiori "without or in excess of . . . jurisdiction." 3. ID.; ID.; WRIT NOT CONFINED EXCLUSIVELY TO COURTS OR TRIBUNALS. The statutory rule, therefore, in this jurisdiction is that the writ of prohibition is not confined exclusively to courts or tribunals to keep them within the limits of their own jurisdiction and to prevent them from encroaching upon the jurisdiction of other tribunals, but will issue, in appropriate cases, to an officer or person whose acts are without or in excess of his authority. Not infrequently, "the writ is granted, where it is necessary for the orderly administration of justice, or the prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive or vindictive manner, or a multiplicity of actions." (Dimayuga and Fajardo vs. Fernandez [1922], 43 Phil., 304, 307.) 4. CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES; RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. What is guaranteed by our Constitution is religious liberty, not mere religious toleration. Religious freedom, however, as a constitutional mandate is not inhibition of profound reverence for religion and is not a denial of its influence in human affairs. Religion as a profession of faith to an active power that binds and elevates man to his Creator is recognized. And, in so far as it instills into the minds the purest principles of morality, its influence is deeply felt and highly appreciated. 5. ID.; ID.; POSTAGE STAMPS ISSUED UNDER ACT No. 4052. The respondent Director of Posts issued the postage stamps in question under the provision of Act

No. 4052 of the Philippine Legislature which appropriates the sum of sixty thousand pesos for the cost of plates and printing of postage stamps with new designs and other expenses incident thereto, and authorizes the Director of Posts, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, to dispose of the amount appropriated in the manner indicated and "as often as may be deemed advantageous to the Government." 6. ID.; ID.; ID. Act No. 4052 contemplates no religious purpose in view. What it gives the Director of Posts is the discretionary power to determine when the issuance of special postage stamps would be "advantageous to the Government." Of course, the phrase ""advantageous to the Government" does not authorize the violation of the Constitution. It does not authorize the appropriation, use or application of public money or property for the use, benefit or support of a particular sect or church. In the present case, however, the issuance of the postage stamps in question by the Director of Posts and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications was not inspired by any sectarian feeling to favor a particular church or religious denominations. The stamps were not issued and sold for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. Nor were money derived from the sale of the stamps given to that church. 7. ID.; ID.; ID. The only purpose in issuing and selling the stamps was "to advertise the Philippines and attract more tourists to this country." The officials concerned merely took advantage of an event considered of international importance "to give publicity to the Philippines and its people." The stamps as actually designed and printed (Exhibit 2), instead of showing a Catholic Church chalice as originally planned, contains a map of the Philippines and the location of the City of Manila, and an inscription as follows: "Seat XXXIII International Eucharistic Congress, Feb. 3-7, 1937." What is emphasized is not the Eucharistic Congress itself but Manila, the capital of the Philippines, as the seat of that congress. 8. ID.; ID.; ID. While the issuance and sale of the stamps in question may be said to be inseparably linked with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the Roman Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Government. The Government should not be embarrassed in its activities simply because of incidental results, more or less religious in character, if the purpose had in view is one which could legitimately be undertaken by appropriate legislation. The main purpose should not be frustrated by its subordination to mere incidental results not contemplated. (Vide Bradfield vs. Roberts, 175 U. S., 295; 20 Sup. Ct. Rep., 121; 44 Law. ed., 168.) DECISION LAUREL, J p:

The petitioner, Mons. Gregorio Aglipay, Supreme Head of the Philippine Independent Church, seeks the issuance from this court of a writ of prohibition to prevent the respondent Director of Posts from issuing and selling postage stamps commemorative of the Thirty-third International Eucharistic Congress. In May, 1936, the Director of Posts announced in the dailies of Manila that he would order the issuance of postage stamps commemorating the celebration in the City of Manila of the Thirty- third International Eucharistic Congress, organized by the Roman Catholic Church. The petitioner, in the fulfillment of what he considers to be a civic duty, requested Vicente Sotto, Esq., member of the Philippine Bar, to denounce the matter to the President of the Philippines. In spite of the protest of the petitioner's attorney, the respondent publicly announced having sent to the United States the designs of the postage for printing as follows: "In the center is a chalice, with grape vine and stalks of wheat as border design. The stamps are blue, green, brown, cardinal red, violet and orange, 1 inch by 1.094 inches. The denominations are for 2, 6, 16, 20, 36, and 50 centavos." the said stamps were actually issued and sold though the greater part thereof, to this day, remains unsold. The further sale of the stamps is sought to be prevented by the petitioner herein. The Solicitor-General contends that the writ of prohibition is not the proper legal remedy in the instant case, although he admits that the writ may properly restrain ministerial functions. While, generally, prohibition as an extraordinary legal writ will not issue to restrain or control the performance of other than judicial or quasijudicial functions (50 C. J., 658), its issuance and enforcement are regulated by statute and in this jurisdiction may issue to ". . . inferior tribunals, corporations, boards, or persons, whether exercising functions judicial or ministerial, which are without or in excess of the jurisdiction of such tribunal, corporation, board, or person . . .." (Secs. 516 and 226, Code of Civil Procedure.) The terms "judicial" and "ministerial" used with reference to "functions" in the statute are undoubtedly comprehensive and include the challenged act of the respondent Director of Posts in the present case, which act because alleged to be violative of the Constitution is a fortiori "without or in excess of . . . jurisdiction." The statutory rule, therefore, in this jurisdiction is that the writ of prohibition is not confined exclusively to courts or tribunals to keep them within the limits of their own jurisdiction and to prevent them from encroaching upon the jurisdiction of other tribunals but will issue, in appropriate cases, to an officer or person whose acts are without or in excess of his authority. Not infrequently, "the writ is granted, where it is necessary for the orderly administration of justice, or to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive or vindictive manner, or a multiplicity of actions," (Dimayuga and Fajardo vs. Fernandez [1923], 43 Phil., 304, 307.) The more important question raised refers to the alleged violation of the Constitution by the respondent in issuing and selling postage stamps

commemorative of the Thirty-third International Eucharistic Congress. It is alleged that this action of the respondent is violative of the provisions of section 13, Article VI, of the Constitution of the Philippines, which provides as follows: "No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces or to any penal institution, orphanage, or leprosarium." The prohibition herein expressed is a direct corollary of the principle of separation of church and state. Without the necessity of adverting to the historical background of this principle in our country, it is sufficient to say that our history, not to speak of the history of mankind, has taught us that the union of church and state is prejudicial to both, for occasions might arise when the state will use the church, and the church the state, as a weapon in the furtherance of their respective ends and aims. The Malolos Constitution recognized this principle of separation of church and state in the early stages of our constitutional development; it was inserted in the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain of December 10, 1898, reiterated in President McKinley's Instructions to the Philippine Commission, reaffirmed in the Philippine Bill of 1902 and in the Autonomy Act of August 29, 1916, and finally embodied in the Constitution of the Philippines as the supreme expression of the Filipino People. It is almost trite to say now that in this country we enjoy both religious and civil freedom. All the officers of the Government, from the highest to the lowest, in taking their oath to support and defend the Constitution, bind themselves to recognize and respect the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, with its inherent limitations and recognized implications. It should be stated that what is guaranteed by our Constitution is religious liberty, not mere religious toleration. Religious freedom, however, as a constitutional mandate is not inhibition of profound reverence for religion and is not a denial of its influence in human affairs. Religion as a profession of faith to an active power that binds and elevates man to his Creator is recognized. And, in so far as it instills into the minds the purest principles of morality, its influence is deeply felt and highly appreciated. When the Filipino people, in the preamble of their Constitution, implored "the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty and democracy," they thereby manifested their intense religious nature and placed unfaltering reliance upon Him who guides the destinies of men and nations. The elevating influence of religion in human society is recognized here as elsewhere. In fact, certain general concessions are indiscriminately accorded to religious sects and denominations. Our Constitution

and laws exempt from taxation properties devoted exclusively to religious purposes (sec. 14, subsec. 3, Art. VI, Constitution of the Philippines and sec. 1, subsec. Ordinance appended thereto; Assessment Law, sec. 344, par [c], Adm. Code) sectarian aid is not prohibited when a priest, preacher, minister or other religious teacher or dignitary as such is assigned to the armed forces or to any penal institution, orphanage or leprosarium (sec. 13, subsec. 3 Art. VI, Constitution of the Philippines). Optional religious instruction in the public schools is by constitutional mandate allowed (sec. 5, Art. XIII, Constitution of the Philippines, in relation to sec. 928, Ad. Code). Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Sundays are made legal holidays (sec. 29, Adm. Code) because of the secular idea that their observance is conducive to beneficial moral results. The law allows divorce but punishes polygamy and bigamy; and certain crimes against religious worship are considered crimes against the fundamental laws of the state (see arts. 132 and 133, Revised Penal Code). In the case at bar, it appears that the respondent Director of Posts issued the postage stamps in question under the provisions of Act. No. 4052 of the Philippine Legislature. this Act is as follows: No. 4052. AN ACT APPROPRIATING THE SUM OF SIXTY THOUSAND PESOS AND MAKING THE SAME AVAILABLE OUT OF ANY FUNDS IN THE INSULAR TREASURY NOT OTHERWISE APPROPRIATED FOR THE COST OF PLATES AND PRINTING OF POSTAGE STAMPS WITH NEW DESIGNS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in legislature assembled and by the authority of the same: "SECTION 1. The sum of sixty thousand pesos is hereby appropriated and made immediately available out of any funds in the Insular Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the cost of plates, and printing of postage stamps with new designs, and other expenses incident thereto. "SECTION 2. The Director of Posts, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, is hereby authorized to dispose of the whole or any portion of the amount herein appropriated in the manner indicated and as often as may be deemed advantageous to the Government. "SECTION 3. This amount or any portion thereof not otherwise expended shall not revert to the Treasury. "SECTION 4. This act shall take effect on its approval. "Approved, February 21, 1933." It will be seen that the Act appropriate the sum of sixty thousand pesos for the cost of plates and printing of postage stamps with new designs and other expenses incident thereto, and authorizes the Director of Posts, with the approval of the

Secretary of Public Works and Communications, to dispose of the amount appropriated in the manner indicated and "as often as may be deemed advantageous to the Government". The printing and issuance of the postage stamps in question appears to have been approved by authority of the President of the Philippines in a letter dated September 1, 1936, made part of the respondent's memorandum as Exhibit A. The respondent alleges that the Government of the Philippines would suffer losses if the writ prayed for is granted. He estimates the revenue to be derived from the sale of the postage stamps in question at P1,618,179.10 and states that there still remain to be sold stamps worth P1,402,279.02. Act No. 4052 contemplates no religious purpose in view. What it gives the Director of Posts is the discretionary power to determine when the issuance of special postage stamps would be "advantageous to the Government." Of course, the phrase "advantageous to the Government" does not authorize the violation of the Constitution. It does not authorize the appropriation, use or application of public money or property for the use, benefit or support of a particular sect or church. In the present case, however, the issuance of the postage stamps in question by the Director of Posts and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications was not inspired by any sectarian feeling to favor a particular church or religious denominations. The stamps were not issued and sold for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. Nor were money derived from the sale of the stamps given to that church. On the contrary, it appears from the letter of the Director of Posts of June 5, 1936, incorporated on page 2 of the petitioner's complaint, that the only purpose in issuing and selling the stamps was "to advertise the Philippines and attract more tourists to this country." The officials concerned merely took advantage of an event considered of international importance "to give publicity to the Philippines and its people" (Letter of the Undersecretary of Public Works and Communications in the President of the Philippines, June 9, 1936; p. 3, petitioner's complaint). It is significant to note that the stamps as actually designed and printed (Exhibit 2), instead of showing a Catholic Church chalice as originally planned, contains a map of the Philippines and the location of the City of Manila, and an inscription as follows: "Seat XXXIII International Eucharistic Congress, Feb. 3-7, 1937." What is emphasized is not the Eucharistic Congress itself but Manila, the capital of the Philippines, as the seat of that congress. It is obvious that while the issuance and sale of the stamps in question may be said to be inseparably linked with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the Roman Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Government. We are of the opinion that the Government should not be embarrassed in its activities simply because of incidental results, more or less religious in character, if the purpose had in view is one which could legitimately be undertaken by appropriate legislation. The main purpose should not be frustrated by its subordination to mere incidental results not contemplated. (Vide Bradfield vs. Roberts, 175 U. S., 295; 20 Sup. Ct. Rep., 121; 44 Law. ed., 168.)

We are much impressed with the vehement appeal of counsel for the petitioner to maintain inviolate the complete separation of church and state and curb any attempt to infringe by indirection a constitutional inhibition. Indeed, in the Philippines, once the scene of religious intolerance and persecution, care should be taken that at this stage of our political development nothing is done by the Government or its officials that may lead to the belief that the Government is taking sides or favoring a particular religious sect or institution. But, upon very serious reflection, examination of Act No. 4052, and scrutiny of the attending circumstances, we have come to the conclusion that there has been no constitutional infraction in the case at bar. Act. No. 4052 grants the Director of Posts, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, discretion to issue postage stamps with new designs "as often as may be deemed advantageous to the Government. "Even if we were to assume that these officials made use of a poor judgment in issuing and selling the postage stamps in question still, the case of the petitioner would fail to take in weight. Between the exercise of a poor judgment and the unconstitutionality of the step taken, a gap exists which is yet to be filled to justify the court in setting aside the official act assailed as coming within a constitutional inhibition. The petition for a writ of prohibition is hereby denied, without pronouncement as to costs. So ordered. Avancea, C. J., Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Imperial Diaz and Concepcion, JJ., concur.

DAVID G. NITAFAN, WENCESLAO M. POLO, and MAXIMO A. SAVELLANO, JR., petitioners, vs. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and THE FINANCIAL OFFICER, SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. RESOLUTION

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J p: Petitioners, the duly appointed and qualified Judges presiding over Branches 52, 19 and 53, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, all with stations in Manila, seek to prohibit and/or perpetually enjoin respondents, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Financial Officer of the Supreme Court, from making any deduction of withholding taxes from their salaries. prcd In a nutshell, they submit that "any tax withheld from their emoluments or compensation as judicial officers constitutes a decrease or diminution of their salaries, contrary to the provision of Section 10, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution mandating that '(d)uring their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased,' even as it is anathema to the ideal of an independent judiciary envisioned in and by said Constitution." It may be pointed out that, early on, the Court had dealt with the matter administratively in response to representations that the Court direct its Finance Officer to discontinue the withholding of taxes from salaries of members of the Bench. Thus, on June 4, 1987, the Court en banc had reaffirmed the Chief Justice's directive as follows: "RE: Question of exemption from income taxation. The Court REAFFIRMED the Chief Justice's previous and standing directive to the Fiscal Management and Budget Office of this Court to continue with the deduction of the withholding taxes from the salaries of the Justices of the Supreme Court as well as from the salaries of all other members of the judiciary." That should have resolved the question. However, with the filing of this petition, the Court has deemed it best to settle the legal issue raised through this judicial pronouncement. As will be shown hereinafter, the clear intent of the Constitutional Commission was to delete the proposed express grant of exemption from payment of income tax to members of the Judiciary, so as to "give substance to equality among the three branches of Government" in the words of Commissioner Rigos. In the course of the deliberations, it was further expressly made clear, specially with regard to Commissioner Joaquin F. Bernas' accepted amendment to the amendment of Commissioner Rigos, that the salaries of members of the Judiciary would be subject to the general income tax applied to all taxpayers. This intent was somehow and inadvertently not clearly set forth in the final text of the Constitution as approved and ratified in February, 1987 (infra, pp. 7-8). Although the intent may have been obscured by the failure to include in the General Provisions a proscription against exemption of any public officer or employee, including constitutional officers, from payment of income tax, the Court since then has authorized the continuation of the deduction of the withholding tax from the salaries of the members of the Supreme Court, as well as from the salaries of all other members of the Judiciary. The Court hereby makes of record that it had then

discarded the ruling in Perfecto vs. Meer and Endencia vs. David, infra, that declared the salaries of members of the Judiciary exempt from payment of the income tax and considered such payment as a diminution of their salaries during their continuance in office. The Court hereby reiterates that the salaries of Justices and Judges are properly subject to a general income tax law applicable to all income earners and that payment of such income tax by Justices and Judges does not fall within the constitutional protection against decrease of their salaries during their continuance in office. cdphil A comparison of the Constitutional provisions involved is called for. The 1935 Constitution provided: ". . . (The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior courts) shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office . . ." 1 (Emphasis supplied). Under the 1973 Constitution, the same provision read: "The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and of judges of inferior courts shall be fixed by law, which shall not be decreased during their continuance in office . . ." 2 (Emphasis ours). And in respect of income tax exemption, another provision in the same 1973 Constitution specifically stipulated: "No salary or any form of emolument of any public officer or employee, including constitutional officers, shall be exempt from payment of income tax." 3 The provision in the 1987 Constitution, which petitioners rely on, reads: "The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased.". 4 (Emphasis supplied). The 1987 Constitution does not contain a provision similar to Section 6, Article XV of the 1973 Constitution, for which reason, petitioners claim that the intent of the framers is to revert to the original concept of "non-diminution" of salaries of judicial officers. The deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission relevant to Section 10, Article VIII, negate such contention. The draft proposal of Section 10, Article VIII, of the 1987 Constitution read: "Section 13. The salary of the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and of judges of the lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be diminished nor subjected to income tax. Until the National Assembly shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice shall

receive an annual salary of _________ and each Associate Justice ____ pesos." 5 (Emphasis ours). During the debates on the draft Article (Committee Report No. 18), two Commissioners presented their objections to the provision on tax exemption, thus: LibLex "MS. AQUINO. Finally, on the matter of exemption from tax of the salary of justices, does this not violate the principle of the uniformity of taxation and the principle of equal protection of the law? After all, tax is levied not on the salary but on the combined income, such that when the judge receives a salary and it is comingled with the other income, we tax the income, not the salary. Why do we have to give special privileges to the salary of justices? "MR. CONCEPCION. It is the independence of the judiciary. We prohibit the increase or decrease of their salary during their term. This is an indirect way of decreasing their salary and affecting the independence of the judges. "MS. AQUINO. I appreciate that to be in the nature of a clause to respect tenure, but the special privilege on taxation might, in effect, be a violation of the principle of uniformity in taxation and the equal protection clause. 6 xxx xxx xxx

"MR. OPLE. . . . "Of course, we share deeply the concern expressed by the sponsor, Commissioner Roberto Concepcion, for whom we have the highest respect, to surround the Supreme Court and the judicial system as a whole with the whole armor of defense against the executive and legislative invasion of their independence. But in so doing, some of the citizens outside, especially the humble government employees, might say that in trying to erect a bastion of justice, we might end up with the fortress of privileges, an island of extra territoriality under the Republic of the Philippines, because a good number of powers and rights accorded to the Judiciary here may not be enjoyed in the remotest degree by other employees of the government. "An example is the exception from income tax, which is a kind of economic immunity, which is, of course, denied to the entire executive department and the legislative." 7 And during the period of amendments on the draft Article, on July 14, 1986, Commissioner Cirilo A. Rigos proposed that the term "diminished" be changed to "decreased" and that the words "nor subjected to income tax" be deleted so as to "give substance to equality among the three branches in the government."

Commissioner Florenz D. Regalado, on behalf of the Committee on the Judiciary, defended the original draft and referred to the ruling of this Court in Perfecto vs. Meer 8 that "the independence of the judges is of far greater importance than any revenue that could come from taxing their salaries." Commissioner Rigos then moved that the matter be put to a vote. Commissioner Joaquin G. Bernas stood up "in support of an amendment to the amendment with the request for a modification of the amendment," as follows: "FR. BERNAS. Yes. I am going to propose an amendment to the amendment saying that it is not enough to drop the phrase 'shall not be subjected to income tax,' because if that is all that the Gentleman will do, then he will just fall back on the decision in Perfecto vs. Meer and in Dencia vs. David [should be Endencia and Jugo vs. David, etc., 93 Phil. 696] which excludes them from income tax, but rather I would propose that the statement will read: 'During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be diminished BUT MAY BE SUBJECT TO GENERAL INCOME TAX.' In support of this position, I would say that the argument seems to be that the justice and judges should not be subjected to income tax because they already gave up the income from their practice. That is true also of Cabinet members and all other employees. And I know right now, for instance, there are many people who have accepted employment in the government involving a reduction of income and yet are still subject to income tax. So, they are not the only citizens whose income is reduced by accepting service in government." Commissioner Rigos accepted the proposed amendment to the amendment. Commissioner Rustico F. de los Reyes, Jr. then moved for a suspension of the session. Upon resumption, Commissioner Bernas announced: "During the suspension, we came to an understanding with the original proponent, Commissioner Rigos, that his amendment on page 6,. line 4 would read: 'During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be DECREASED.' But this is on the understanding that there will be a provision in the Constitution similar to Section 6 of Article XV, the General Provisions of the 1973 Constitution, which says: 'No salary or any form of emolument of any public officer or employee, including constitutional officers, shall be exempt from payment of income tax.' "So, we put a period (.) after 'DECREASED' on the understanding that the salary of justices is subject to tax." When queried about the specific Article in the General Provisions on non-exemption from tax of salaries of public officers, Commissioner Bernas replied: "FR. BERNAS. Yes, I do not know if such an article will be found in the General Provisions. But at any rate, when we put a period (.) after 'DECREASED,' it is on the understanding that the doctrine in Perfecto vs. Meer and Dencia vs. David will not apply anymore."

The amendment to the original draft, as discussed and understood, was finally approved without objection. LLjur "THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bengzon). The understanding, therefore, is that there will be a provision under the Article on General Provisions. Could Commissioner Rosario Braid kindly take note that the salaries of officials of the government including constitutional officers shall not be exempt from income tax? The amendment proposed herein and accepted by the Committee now reads as follows: 'During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be DECREASED'; and the phrase 'nor subjected to income tax' is deleted." 9 The debates, interpellations and opinions expressed regarding the constitutional provision in question until it was finally approved by the Commission disclosed that the true intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, in adopting it, was to make the salaries of members of the Judiciary taxable. The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the people adopting it should be given effect. 10 The primary task in constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution. 11 It may also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers. 12 Besides, construing Section 10, Articles VIII, of the 1987 Constitution, which, for clarity, is again reproduced hereunder: "The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased." (Emphasis supplied). it is plain that the Constitution authorizes Congress to pass a law fixing another rate of compensation of Justices and Judges but such rate must be higher than that which they are receiving at the time of enactment, or if lower, it would be applicable only to those appointed after its approval. It would be a strained construction to read into the provision an exemption from taxation in the light of the discussion in the Constitutional Commission. With the foregoing interpretation, and as stated heretofore, the ruling that "the imposition of income tax upon the salary of judges is a dimunition thereof, and so violates the Constitution" in Perfecto vs. Meer, 13 as affirmed in Endencia vs. David 14 must be declared discarded. The framers of the fundamental law, as the alter ego of the people, have expressed in clear and unmistakable terms the meaning and import of Section 10, Article VIII, of the 1987 Constitution that they have adopted.

Stated otherwise, we accord due respect to the intent of the people, through the discussions and deliberations of their representatives, in the spirit that all citizens should bear their aliquot part of the cost of maintaining the government and should share the burden of general income taxation equitably. WHEREFORE, the instant petition for Prohibition is hereby dismissed. Teehankee, C .J ., Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ ., concur. Yap, J ., is on leave. Footnotes 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Section 9, Article VIII. Section 10, Article X. Section 6, Article XV, General Provisions. Section 10, Article VIII. Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. I, p. 433. Record of the Constitutional Commission, p. 460. ibid., at page 467. 85 Phil. 552 (1950). Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. I, p. 506. Gold Creek Mining Co. vs. Rodriguez, 66 Phil. 259 (1938).

11. J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. vs. Land Tenure Administration, No. L-21064, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 413. 12. 13. 14. Taada, Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1, p. 21. 85 Phil. 552 (1950). 93 Phil. 696 (1953).