Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-45987 May 5, 1939
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
Sinai Hamada y Cariño for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Tuason for appellee.
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 non-Christian 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...
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