Rubi vs Provincial Board

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Political Law – Delegation of Powers

Rubi and various other Manguianes in the province of Mindoro were ordered  by the provincial governor of Mindoro to remove their residence from their native habitat and to established themselves on a reservation at Tigbao in the province of Mindoro and to remain there, or be punished by imprisonment if they escaped. Manguianes had been ordered to live in a reservation made to that end and for purposes of cultivation under certain plans. The Manguianes are a Non-Christian tribe with a very low culture. These reservations, as appears from the resolution of the Provincial Board, extends over an area of 800 hectares of land, which is approximately 2000 acres, on which about 300 Manguianes are confined. One of the Manguianes, Dabalos, escaped from the reservation and was taken in hand by the provincial sheriff and placed in prison at Calapan, solely because he escaped from the reservation. An application for habeas corpus was made on behalf of Rubi and other Manguianes of the province, alleging that by virtue of the resolution of the provincial board of Mindoro creating the reservation, they had been illegally deprived of their liberty. In this case the validity of section 2145 of the Administrative Code, reading: “With the prior approval of the Department Head, the provincial governor of any province in which non-Christian inhabitants are found is authorized, when such a course is deemed necessary in the interest of law and order, to direct such inhabitants to take up their habitation on sites on unoccupied public lands to be selected by him and approved by the provincial board,” was challenged.

ISSUE: Whether or not the said law is constitutional.

HELD: By a vote of five to four, the Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of this section of the Administrative Code. Among other things, it was held that the term “non-Christian” should not be given a literal meaning or a religious signification, but that it was intended to relate to degrees of civilization. The term “non-Christian” it was said, 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. On the other hand, none of the provisions of the Philippine Organic Law could have had the effect of denying to the Government of the Philippine Islands, acting through its Legislature, the right to exercise that most essential, insistent, and illimitable of powers, the sovereign police power, in the promotion of the general welfare and the public interest. when to advance the public welfare, the law was found to be a legitimate exertion of the police power,  And it is unnecessary to add that the prompt registration of titles to land in the Philippines constitutes an advancement of the public interests, for, besides promoting peace and good order among landowners in particular and the people in general, it helps increase the industries of the country, and makes for the development of the natural resources, with the consequent progress of the general prosperity. And these ends are pursued in a special manner by the State through the exercise of its police power. The Supreme Court held that the resolution of the provincial board of Mindoro was neither discriminatory nor class legislation, and stated among other things: “. . . one cannot hold that the liberty of the citizen is unduly interfered with when the degree of civilization of the Manguianes is considered. They are restrained for their own good and the general good of the Philippines. Nor can one say that due process of law has not been followed. To go back to our definition of due process of law and equal protection of the laws, there exists a law; the law seems to be reasonable; it is enforced according to the regular methods of procedure prescribed; and it applies alike to all of a class.”


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