Aglipay vs. Ruiz

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JUAN RUIZ, respondent.

64 PHIL 201
March 13, 1937


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. 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.


Is there a violation of principle of separation of church and state?


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.

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”. It is significant to note that the stamps as actually designed and printed, 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.

There is no violation of the principle of separation of church and state. The issuance and sale of the stamps in question maybe said to be separably linked with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the government (to promote tourism).

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