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PHILIPPINE JURISPRUDENCE - FULL TEXT The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation G.R. No.

L-45987 May 5, 1939 PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. vs. CAYAT Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-45987 May 5, 1939

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CAYAT, defendant-appellant. Sinai Hamada y Cario for appellant. Office of the Solicitor-General Tuason for appellee. MORAN, J.: Prosecuted for violation of Act No. 1639 (secs. 2 and 3), the accused, Cayat, a native of Baguio, Benguet, Mountain Province, was sentenced by the justice of the peace court of Baguio to pay a fine of five pesos (P5) or suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On appeal of the Court of First Instance, the following information was filed against him: That on or about the 25th day of January, 1937, in the City of Baguio, Commonwealth of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this court, the above-named accused, Cayat, being a member of the non-Christian tribes, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and illegally receive, acquire, and have in his possession and under his control or custody, one bottle of A-1-1 gin, an intoxicating liquor, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of Act No. 1639. Accused interposed a demurrer which was overruled. At the trial, he admitted all the facts alleged in the information, but pleaded not guilty to the charge for the reasons adduced in his demurrer and submitted the case on the pleadings. The trial court found him guilty of the crime charged and sentenced him to pay a fine of fifty pesos (P50) or supper subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The case is now before this court on appeal. Sections 2 and 3 of Act No. 1639 read: SEC. 2. It shall be unlawful for any native of the Philippine Islands who is a member of a nonChristian tribe within the meaning of the Act Numbered Thirteen hundred and ninety-seven, to buy, receive, have in his possession, or drink any ardent spirits, ale, beer, wine, or intoxicating liquors of any kind, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of this Act, except as provided in section one hereof; and it shall be the duty of any police officer or other duly authorized agent of the Insular

or any provincial, municipal or township government to seize and forthwith destroy any such liquors found unlawfully in the possession of any member of a non-Christian tribe. SEC. 3. Any person violating the provisions of section one or section two of this Act shall, upon conviction thereof, be punishable for each offense by a fine of not exceeding two hundred pesos or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, in the discretion of the court. The accused challenges the constitutionality of the Act on the following grounds: (1) That it is discriminatory and denies the equal protection of the laws; (2) That it is violative of the due process clause of the Constitution: and. (3) That it is improper exercise of the police power of the state. Counsel for the appellant holds out his brief as the "brief for the non-Christian tribes." It is said that as these less civilized elements of the Filipino population are "jealous of their rights in a democracy," any attempt to treat them with discrimination or "mark them as inferior or less capable rate or less entitled" will meet with their instant challenge. As the constitutionality of the Act here involved is questioned for purposes thus mentioned, it becomes imperative to examine and resolve the issues raised in the light of the policy of the government towards the non-Christian tribes adopted and consistently followed from the Spanish times to the present, more often with sacrifice and tribulation but always with conscience and humanity. As early as 1551, the Spanish Government had assumed an unvarying solicitous attitude toward these inhabitants, and in the different laws of the Indies, their concentration in so-called "reducciones" (communities) have been persistently attempted with the end in view of according them the "spiritual and temporal benefits" of civilized life. Throughout the Spanish regime, it had been regarded by the Spanish Government as a sacred "duty to conscience and humanity" to civilize these less fortunate people living "in the obscurity of ignorance" and to accord them the "the moral and material advantages" of community life and the "protection and vigilance afforded them by the same laws." (Decree of the Governor-General of the Philippines, Jan. 14, 1887.) This policy had not been deflected from during the American period. President McKinley in his instructions to the Philippine Commission of April 7, 1900, said: In dealing with the uncivilized tribes of the Islands, the Commission should adopt the same course followed by Congress in permitting the tribes of our North American Indians to maintain their tribal organization and government, and under which many of those tribes are now living in peace and contentment, surrounded by civilization to which they are unable or unwilling to conform. Such tribal government should, however, be subjected to wise and firm regulation; and, without undue or petty interference, constant and active effort should be exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs. Since then and up to the present, the government has been constantly vexed with the problem of determining "those practicable means of bringing about their advancement in civilization and material prosperity." (See, Act No. 253.) "Placed in an alternative of either letting them alone or guiding them in the path of civilization," the present government "has chosen to adopt the latter measure as one more in accord

with humanity and with the national conscience." (Memorandum of Secretary of the Interior, quoted in Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil., 660, 714.) To this end, their homes and firesides have been brought in contact with civilized communities through a network of highways and communications; the benefits of public education have to them been extended; and more lately, even the right of suffrage. And to complement this policy of attraction and assimilation, the Legislature has passed Act No. 1639 undoubtedly to secure for them the blessings of peace and harmony; to facilitate, and not to mar, their rapid and steady march to civilization and culture. It is, therefore, in this light that the Act must be understood and applied. It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. And the classification, to be reasonable, (1) must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) must be germane to the purposes of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class. (Borgnis vs. Falk Co., 133 N.W., 209; Lindsley vs. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61; 55 Law. ed., Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil., 660; People and Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation vs. Vera and Cu Unjieng, 37 Off. Gaz ., 187.) Act No. 1639 satisfies these requirements. The classification rests on real and substantial, not merely imaginary or whimsical, distinctions. It is not based upon "accident of birth or parentage," as counsel to the appellant asserts, but upon the degree of civilization and culture. "The term 'non-Christian tribes' refers, not to religious belief, but, in a way, to the geographical area, and, more directly, to natives of the Philippine Islands of a low grade of civilization, usually living in tribal relationship apart from settled communities." (Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, supra.) This distinction is unquestionably reasonable, for the Act was intended to meet the peculiar conditions existing in the non-Christian tribes. The exceptional cases of certain members thereof who at present have reached a position of cultural equality with their Christian brothers, cannot affect the reasonableness of the classification thus established. That it is germane to the purposes of law cannot be doubted. The prohibition "to buy, receive, have in his possession, or drink any ardent spirits, ale, beer, wine, or intoxicating liquors of any kind, other than the socalled native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of this Act.," is unquestionably designed to insure peace and order in and among the non-Christian tribes. It has been the sad experience of the past, as the observations of the lower court disclose, that the free use of highly intoxicating liquors by the non-Christian tribes have often resulted in lawlessness and crimes, thereby hampering the efforts of the government to raise their standard of life and civilization. The law is not limited in its application to conditions existing at the time of its enactment. It is intended to apply for all times as long as those conditions exist. The Act was not predicated, as counsel for appellant asserts, upon the assumption that the non-Christians are "impermeable to any civilizing influence." On the contrary, the Legislature understood that the civilization of a people is a slow process and that hand in hand with it must go measures of protection and security. Finally, that the Act applies equally to all members of the class is evident from a perusal thereof. That it may be unfair in its operation against a certain number non-Christians by reason of their degree of culture, is not an argument against the equality of its application.

Appellants contends that that provision of the law empowering any police officer or other duly authorized agent of the government to seize and forthwith destroy any prohibited liquors found unlawfully in the possession of any member of the non-Christian tribes is violative of the due process of law provided in the Constitution. But this provision is not involved in the case at bar. Besides, to constitute due process of law, notice and hearing are not always necessary. This rule is especially true where much must be left to the discretion of the administrative officials in applying a law to particular cases. (McGehee, Due Process of Law p. 371, cited with approval in Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, supra.) Due process of law means simply: (1) that there shall be a law prescribed in harmony with the general powers of the legislative department of the government; (2) that it shall be reasonable in its operation; (3) that it shall be enforced according to the regular methods of procedure prescribed; and (4) that it shall be applicable alike to all citizens of the state or to all of the class. (U.S. vs. Ling Su Fan, 10 Phil., 104, affirmed on appeal by the United States Supreme Court, 218 U.S., 302: 54 Law. ed., 1049.) Thus, a person's property may be seized by the government in payment of taxes without judicial hearing; or property used in violation of law may be confiscated (U.S. vs. Surla, 20 Phil., 163, 167), or when the property constitutes corpus delicti, as in the instant case (Moreno vs. Ago Chi, 12 Phil., 439, 442). Neither is the Act an improper exercise of the police power of the state. It has been said that the police power is the most insistent and least limitable of all powers of the government. It has been aptly described as a power co-extensive with self-protection and constitutes the law of overruling necessity. Any measure intended to promote the health, peace, morals, education and good order of the people or to increase the industries of the state, develop its resources and add to its wealth and prosperity (Barbier vs. Connolly, 113 U.S., 27), is a legitimate exercise of the police power, unless shown to be whimsical or capricious as to unduly interfere with the rights of an individual, the same must be upheld. Act No. 1639, as above stated, is designed to promote peace and order in the non-Christian tribes so as to remove all obstacles to their moral and intellectual growth and, eventually, to hasten their equalization and unification with the rest of their Christian brothers. Its ultimate purpose can be no other than to unify the Filipino people with a view to a greater Philippines. The law, then, does not seek to mark the non-Christian tribes as "an inferior or less capable race." On the contrary, all measures thus far adopted in the promotion of the public policy towards them rest upon a recognition of their inherent right to equality in tht enjoyment of those privileges now enjoyed by their Christian brothers. But as there can be no true equality before the law, if there is, in fact, no equality in education, the government has endeavored, by appropriate measures, to raise their culture and civilization and secure for them the benefits of their progress, with the ultimate end in view of placing them with their Christian brothers on the basis of true equality. It is indeed gratifying that the non-Christian tribes "far from retrograding, are definitely asserting themselves in a competitive world," as appellant's attorney impressively avers, and that they are "a virile, up-and -coming people eager to take their place in the world's social scheme." As a matter of fact, there are now lawyers, doctors and other professionals educated in the best institutions here and in America. Their active participation in the multifarious welfare activities of community life or in the delicate duties of government is certainly a source of pride and gratification to people of the Philippines. But whether conditions have so changed as to warrant a partial or complete abrogation of the law, is a matter which rests exclusively within the prerogative of the National Assembly to determine. In the constitutional scheme of our government, this court can go no farther than to inquire whether the Legislature had the power to enact the law. If the power exists, and we hold it does exist, the

wisdom of the policy adopted, and the adequacy under existing conditions of the measures enacted to forward it, are matters which this court has no authority to pass upon. And, if in the application of the law, the educated non-Christians shall incidentally suffer, the justification still exists in the all-comprehending principle of salus populi suprema est lex. When the public safety or the public morals require the discontinuance of a certain practice by certain class of persons, the hand of the Legislature cannot be stayed from providing for its discontinuance by any incidental inconvenience which some members of the class may suffer. The private interests of such members must yield to the paramount interests of the nation (Cf. Boston Beer Co. vs. Mass., 97 U.S., 25; 24 law. ed., 989). Judgment is affirmed, with costs against appellant. Avancea, C.J., Villa-Real, Imperial, Diaz, Laurel, and Conception, JJ., concur. The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Introduction: The Heuristic


[A]ll destructive discoursesmust inhabit the structures they demolish Jacques Derrida1 Cayat, an Ibaloi2, was fortunate to have been found languishing in the jail by a young enterprising lawyer. He was convicted of violating Philippine Act No. 1639. That law made it unlawful for any native of the Philippines who was a member of a non-Christian tribe to possess or drink intoxicating liquor, other than native liquor. Cayat was inebriated and possessed A-1 gin which was liquor produced in the Philippines but not native to the Ibaloi. His lawyer challenged the discriminatory act legally by promptly filing an original petition for habeas corpus with the Philippine Supreme Court. The legal argument was simple. Act No. 1639 violated the equal protection clause of the Philippine constitution.3 Therefore, it was null and void ab initio. Thus, the continued detention of Cayat, albeit under warrant of a final judgment, was really without any legal justification. In People v Cayat4 the Supreme Court, recalling established doctrine in the Philippines and in the United States concluded: It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. And the classification, to be reasonable, (1) must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) must be germane to the purposes of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class. Act No. 1639 satisfies these requirements. The classification rests on real or substantial, not merely imaginary or whimsical, distinctions. It is not based upon accident of birth or parentage, as counsel for the appellant asserts, but upon the degree of civilization and

culture. The term non-Christian tribes refers, not to religious belief, but in a way, to the geographical area, and, more directly, to natives of the Philippine Islands of a low grade of civilization, usually living in tribal relationship apart from settled communities. 5
Derrida, Writing and Difference (1978), cited in Adler, Amy, Whats Left?: Hate Speech, Pornography, and the Problem for Artistic Expression, 84 Cal. L. Rev. 1499, 1517 (December 1996). 2 The Ibaloi is an ethnoliguistic grouping composed of different communities organized by clans found in the lower portion of the Cordillera mountain range of Luzon, Philippines. The area is now covered by portions of the province of Benguet and the Mountain Province. It was customary at that time for the Ibaloi to have only one name. 3 No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the law. 4 68 Phil 12, 18 (1939). Unless specified citations of cases refer to reports of Philippine Supreme Court cases. 5 68 Phil 12, 18 (1939) citing Rubi v. Provincial Board of Mindoro, per Malcolm J.
1

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7

39 Phil. 660, G.R. No. 14078 (1919). Rubi v. Provincial Board, 39 Phil. 660.

People v Cayat was decided under the shadow of an earlier case: Rubi v Provincial Board6, penned by no less than Justice Malcolm. Claiming protection from the due process clause, Rubi, a Mangyan from Mindoro, filed an original petition for habeas corpus against the provincial government to prevent them from proceeding to forcibly place their communities in civil reservations. The Provincial Government relied on legislation that allowed them to do this for non-christian tribes. A number of Mangyans have been converted to Christianity at the time of the decision. After reviewing their colonial history in the Philippines and the efforts of colonial administrators, the Supreme Court declared: In resume, therefore, the Legislature and the Judiciary, inferentially, and different executive officials, specifically, join in the proposition that the term "non-Christian" refers, not to religious belief, but, in a way, to geographical area, and, more directly, to natives of the Philippine Islands of a low grade of civilization, usually living in tribal relationship apart from settled communities.7 (emphasis provided) Justifying the denial of habeas corpus petition, the eminent jurist emphasized: In so far as the Manguianes themselves are concerned, the purpose of the Government is evident. Here, we have on the Island of Mindoro, the Manguianes, leading a nomadic life, making depredations on their more fortunate neighbors, uneducated in the ways of civilization, and doing nothing for the advancement of the Philippine Islands. What the Government wished to do by bringing them into a reservation was to gather together the children for educational purposes, and to improve the health and morals was in fine, to begin the process of civilization. This method was termed in Spanish times, "bringing under the bells." The same idea adapted to the existing situation, has been followed with reference to the Manguianes and other peoples of the same class, because it required, if they are to be improved, that they be gathered together. On these few reservations there live under restraint in some cases, and in other instances voluntarily, a few thousands of the uncivilized people. Segregation really constitutes protection for the Manguianes. Theoretically, one may assert that all men are created free and equal. Practically, we know that the axiom is not precisely accurate. The Manguianes, for instance, are not free, as civilized men are free, and they are not the equals of their more fortunate brothers. True, indeed, they are

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citizens, with many but not all the rights which citizenship implies. And true, indeed, they are Filipinos. But just as surely, the Manguianes are citizens of a low degree of intelligence, and Filipinos who are a drag upon the progress of the State. (emphasis ours)
8

See for instance the interview statement of noted Philippine Historian Dr. William Henry Scott, Sagada, 29 May 1986 where he says: "I have always rejected the term `cultural minorities' because it seems to divide the Filipino people into two groups--the majority and the minority...I consider it harmful for two different reasons....In the first place, human nature being what it is, it invites exploitation of the one group by the other and is therefore inhumane, un-Christian, and bodes ill for the development of a healthy republic in the archipelago. And in the second place, it disguises the real division of the Filipino people into two groups--the rich and the poor, the overfed and the undernourished, those who make decisions and those who carry them out..." 9 The same point was made of gender projects by Brown, Wendy, Suffering the Paradox of Rights, in Brown and Halley, eds., LEFT LEGALISM, LEFT CRITIQUE 422 (2002) citing Catherine MacKinnon, FEMINISM UNMODIFIED 73 (1987). On race Brown suggests Cheryl Harris, Whiteness as Property, and Neil Gotanda, A critique of Our Constitution is Color Blind, in Kimberle Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, et al., CRITICAL RACE THEORY: THE KEY WRITINGS THAT FORMED THE MOVEMENT (1995). 10 Minow, Martha, Justice Engendered, 101 Harv. L. Rev. 10, 32 (1987). Minow claims that there are five judicial tendencies that contribute to this result: first, that differences are treated as intrinsic rather than constructed; second, that the unstated point of referencei.e. the usualis treated as the norm; third, that the judges perspective, though colored by cultural stereotypes, is treated as objectives; fourth, that the perspectives of those being judged are treated as irrelevant; and fifth, that there is an assumption that the current social and economic situation is neutral and natural. 11 G.R. No. 76539, October 11, 1990. 12 41 Phil. 935 (1909) 13 Indigneous community that inhabits part of the Mountain Province in the Cordillera Region, Philippines.

The resulting discrimination was obvious. Even those who are uninitiated in the process of formal legal reasoning can easily unmask the decision.8 Yet the legal foundation for the States paternalistic attitude to indigenous groups persisted affecting the allocation of rights of individuals belonging to these communities. The irony however is that a the very advanced principle on non-discrimination enshrined in no less than the Philippine Constitution was construed to limit the freedoms of significant populations of indigenous groups. Legal advocates in the Philippines realized quite early that the more general the textual bases of rights, the less chances there are for an interpretation in favor of minority or marginalized cultures.9 Judicial tendency might be to treat the usual state of affairs as the norm.10 Or, quite simply resources of those who are privileged by the dominant interpretation of a legal system simply dwarf the ability of those in the margins. Cayat was lucky that a young enterprising lawyer took his case. But, the formal adjudicatory system was simply not ready to expand its existing notions of non-discrimination. But there have also been cases where the formal adjudicatory processes delivered results that recognized customary informal processes. We examine as additional heuristics for this paper the case of Pit-og v People11 and Carino v Insular Government12. Erkey Pit-og along with three other Kankanai13 gathered sugarcane and banana trunks in an area which were considered to be part of their tayan. The tayan, among the Kankanai, is an area owned by a collective grouping in their community and is used principally as a watershed. The tayan in this case was under the management of specific individuals. It was shown that Erkey Pit-og was a member of that group.

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supra 41 Phil. 935, 212 U.S. 449 (1909).

The municipal circuit trial court convicted Pit-og for the crime of theft. Reading the provisions of the Revised Penal Code, it saw that all the requirements for the crime to have occurred were present. The Regional Trial Court affirmed this decision but the Supreme Court reversed. In finding for the accused, the Court observed: We see this case as exemplifying a clash between a claim of ownership founded on customs and tradition and another such claim supported by written evidence but nonetheless based on the same customs and tradition. When a court is beset with this kind of case, it can never be too careful. More so in this case, where the accused, an illiterate tribeswoman who cannot be expected to resort to written evidence of ownership, stands to lose her liberty on account of an oversight in the court's appreciation of the evidence. We find, that Erkey Pit-og took the sugarcane and bananas believing them to be her own. That being the case, she could not have had a criminal intent. It is therefore not surprising why her counsel believes that this case is civil and not criminal in nature. There are indeed legal issues that must be ironed out with regard to claims of ownership over the tayan. But those are matters which should be threshed out in an appropriate civil action.14 Custom as fact was used to create a reasonable doubt sufficient to acquit. However, the allocation of rights between the parties in the conflict was not clearly resolved. At the time this case was decided, there could not have been any way that the official national legal system could decide using customary law. Carino v Insular Government15 also provides another set of problems in the use of formal justice systems. The operative facts from which the legal issues arose were found by the court to be as follows: ...The applicant and plaintiff in error (Mateo Cario) is an Igorot of the Province of Benguet, where the land lies. For more than fifty years before the Treaty of Paris, April 11, 1899, as far back as the findings go, the plaintiff and his ancestors had held the land as owners. His grandfather had lived upon it, and had maintained fences sufficient for the holding of cattle, according to the custom of the country, some of the fences, it seems, having been of much earlier date. His father had cultivated parts and had used parts for pasturing cattle, and he had used it for pasture in turn. They all had been recognized

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17

Id, at 936-937, underscoring supplied

as owners by the Igorots, and he had inherited or received the land from his father, in accordance with Igorot custom. No document of title, however, had issued from the Spanish crown...In 1901 the plaintiff filed a petition, alleging ownership...16 In a paper written by the Cordillera Studies Program, they point out that the Ibaloi, to which ethnolinguistic group Mateo Cario belonged, had no concept of exclusive or alienable ownership. They did not "own" land as one owned a pair of shoes. Instead, they considered themselves stewards of the land from which they obtained their livelihood. During the early part of Benguet's history however, a few of the baknang (rich) mined gold which was then exchanged for cattle. This resulted in the establishment of pasture lands. Later, to prevent the spread of the rinder pest disease, cattle owners set up fences. It was only with the erection of these fences that new concept of rights to land arose. The real factual circumstances, the evidence of which may have not been appreciated by the court, are significant in that the exclusive right to use the land--ownership as we understand it--was only a relatively new development and which by custom applied only to pasture land. The court focused only on the issue: "whether plaintiff (Cario) owned the land." It did not focus on the kind of property tenure Mateo had with respect to the kind of land involved. The law, which the judge was implementing, was simply not equipped to assist him discover this important point. It is conceded that Cario carved out a doctrine which is advantageous in so far as it assists in the creation of an exception to the Regalian Doctrine and perhaps recognizes certain legal rights to these peoples. Lynch observes that: ...Cario remains a landmark decision. It establishes an important precedent in Philippine jurisprudence: Igorots, and by logical extension other tribal Filipinos with comparable customs and long associations, have constitutionally protected native titles to their ancestral lands.17