MARTIN CENTENO, petitioner,
HON. VICTORIA VILLALON-PORNILLOS, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 10, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Santiago V. Marcos, Jr. for petitioner.
Ponente: REGALADO J.
Respondent Judge filed a case against petitioner in violation of Presidential Decree No. 1564, or the Solicitation Permit Law, before the Municipal Trial Court (criminal case). Petitioner filed a motion to quash the information on the ground that the facts alleged therein do not constitute an offense, claiming that Presidential Decree No. 1564 only covers solicitations made for charitable or public welfare purposes, but not those made for a religious purpose such as the construction of a chapel. This was denied by the trial court, and petitioner’s motion for reconsideration having met the same fate, trial on the merits ensued. Trial court found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied by the court.
Whether or not the phrase “charitable purposes” should be construed in its broadest sense so as to include a religious purpose.
NO. Decision appealed was reversed and set aside. Petitioner was acquitted.
[S]olicitation for religious purposes may be subject to proper regulation by the State in the exercise of police power. However, in the case at bar, considering that solicitations intended for a religious purpose are not within the coverage of Presidential Decree No. 1564, as earlier demonstrated, petitioner cannot be held criminally liable therefor.
[I]t is a well-entrenched rule that penal laws are to be construed strictly against the State and liberally in favor of the accused. They are not to be extended or enlarged by implications, intendments, analogies or equitable considerations.
[I]t is an elementary rule of statutory construction that the express mention of one person, thing, act, or consequence excludes all others. This rule is expressed in the familiar maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius.” Where a statute, by its terms, is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or construction, be extended to others. The rule proceeds from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumerations in a statute had the intention been not to restrict its meaning and to confine its terms to those expressly mentioned.
First. Solicitation of contributions for the construction of a church is not solicitation for “charitable or public welfare purpose” but for a religious purpose, and a religious purpose is not necessarily a charitable or public welfare purpose. A fund campaign for the construction or repair of a church is not like fund drives for needy families or victims of calamity or for the construction of a civic center and the like. Like solicitation of subscription to religious magazines, it is part of the propagation of religious faith or evangelization. Such solicitation calls upon the virtue of faith, not of charity, save as those solicited for money or aid may not belong to the same religion as the solicitor. Such solicitation does not engage the philantrophic as much as the religious fervor of the person who is solicited for contribution.
Second. The purpose of the Decree is to protect the public against fraud in view of the proliferation of fund campaigns for charity and other civic projects. On the other hand, since religious fund drives are usually conducted among those belonging to the same religion, the need for public protection against fraudulent solicitations does not exist in as great a degree as does the need for protection with respect to solicitations for charity or civic projects so as to justify state regulation.
Third. To require a government permit before solicitation for religious purpose may be allowed is to lay a prior restraint on the free exercise of religion. Such restraint, if followed, may well justify requiring a permit before a church can make Sunday collections or enforce tithing. But in American Bible Society v. City of Manila, we precisely held that an ordinance requiring payment of a license fee before one may engage in business could not be applied to the appellant’s sale of bibles because that would impose a condition on the exercise of a constitutional right. It is for the same reason that religious rallies are exempted from the requirement of prior permit for public assemblies and other uses of public parks and streets.