Rubi vs Provincial Board of Mindoro

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39 Phil. 660 – Political Law – Delegation of Powers – Liberty and due process

Rubi and various other Manguianes (Mangyans) 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 in Tigbao, still 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 who were considered to be of “very low culture”.

One of the Manguianes, a certain Dabalos, escaped from the reservation but was later caught and was placed in prison at Calapan, solely because he escaped from the reservation. An application for habeas corpus was made on behalf by 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, which provides:

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 Section 2145 of the Administrative Code constitutes undue delegation. Whether or not the Manguianes are being deprived of their liberty.

HELD:

I. No. By a vote of five to four, the Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of this section of the Administrative Code. Under the doctrine of necessity, who else was in a better position to determine whether or not to execute the law but the provincial governor. It is optional for the provincial governor to execute the law as circumstances may arise. It is necessary to give discretion to the provincial governor. The Legislature may make decisions of executive departments of subordinate official thereof, to whom it has committed the execution of certain acts, final on questions of fact.

II. No. Among other things, 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. In this case, the Manguianes were being reconcentrated in the reservation to promote peace and to arrest their seminomadic lifestyle. This will ultimately settle them down where they can adapt to the changing times.

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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