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[SABINA BASA v. FEDERACION OBRERA DE LA INDUSTRIA TABAQUERA Y OTROS TRABAJADORES DE FILIPINAS](https://lawyerly.ph/juris/view/c525e?user=fbGU2WFpmaitMVEVGZ2lBVW5xZ2RVdz09)
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DIVISION

[ GR No. L-27113, Nov 19, 1974 ]

SABINA BASA v. FEDERACION OBRERA DE LA INDUSTRIA TABAQUERA Y OTROS TRABAJADORES DE FILIPINAS +

DECISION

158 Phil. 753

SECOND DIVISION

[ G.R. No. L-27113, November 19, 1974 ]

SABINA BASA, BONIFACIO BASA, BONIFACIO CABALHIN AND PRIMITIVO GALLARDO, PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLEES, VS. FEDERACION OBRERA DE LA INDUSTRIA TABAQUERA Y OTROS TRABAJADORES DE FILIPINAS (FOITAF) AND LA DICHA LA PAZ Y BUEN VIAJE CIGAR AND CIGARRETTE FACTORY, DEFENDANTS, FEDERACION OBRERA DE LA INDUSTRIA TABAQUERA Y OTROS TRABAJADORES DE FILIPINAS (FOITAF), DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N

ANTONIO, J.:

Appeal from the decision, dated March 31, 1966, of the Court of First Instance, Branch IV, Quezon City, (1) enjoining defendant La Dicha La Paz y Buen Viaje Cigar and Cigarette Factory from dismissing plaintiffs-appellees Sabina Basa, Bonifacio Basa, Bonifacio Cabalhin and Primitivo Gallardo, from their employment in said company; and (2) ordering both the company and defendant-appellant Federacion Obrera de la Industria  Tabaquera y Otros  Trabajadores de Filipinas (FOITAF) to reimburse all union dues and assessments collected from plaintiffs-appellees from the date of their resignation as members in defendant union until the date of the last collection, to pay attorney's fees in the amount of P900.00 and the costs of suit.

The records show that plaintiffs-appellees Sabina Basa, Bonifacio Basa, Bonifacio Cabalhin and Primitivo Gallardo, who are members of "Iglesia ni Cristo", have been employed with the defendant company, La Dicha La Paz y Buen Viaje Cigar and Cigarette Factory, since 1949, 1952, 1960 and 1957, respectively, and were therefore employees of that company on April 21, 1961, when the collective bargaining contract between the company and the defendant union, Federacion Obrera de la Industria Tabaquera y Otros Trabajadores de Filipinas (FOITAF) was executed.  This agreement provided for a union shop clause, thus:
"RECOGNITION AND UNION SECURITY:  (2) ALL workers and laborers who are members of the FOITAF shall remain and maintain their membership in good standing in the Union as a condition of their continued employment with the Company.  New workers whom the Management may employ shall, as a condition of continued employment with the company, become members of the FOITAF after 60 working days of continuous employment."
The plaintiffs-appellees were members in good standing of the labor union until August 28, 1964, when they formally resigned from the Union (Annex "A", Complaint), invoking their constitutional right to freedom of religion, the free exercise of which exempts them from being compelled to join any labor organization, when such is contrary to their religious beliefs and convictions, as provided by Republic Act No. 3350,[1] which became a law on June 18, 1961.  In its answer dated August 31, 1964, to the resignation of the plaintiffs-appellees (Annex "B", ibid.), the Union, through its president Severino Tabalno, gave them fifteen (15) days from receipt of said letter to reconsider their resignation, otherwise it would ask the Company to enforce the above-quoted union shop agreement.  Thereafter, or on October 14, 1964, the Company, through its president Bienvenido A. Tan, Jr., formally gave the plaintiffs-appellees up to October 23, 1964 within which to reaffiliate with the Union on pain of dismissal (Annex "C", ibid.).  Instead of reconsidering their resignation, the plaintiffs-appellees filed on October 20, 1964 the present action for injunction, which was amended on January 30, 1965, alleging, among others, that (1) they have a right to remain in their employment, which is properly within the meaning of constitutional guarantees,[2] for they cannot be legally dismissed by defendant Company for failing to maintain their membership in the defendant Union, being old employees of the former;[3] (2) their resignation from the labor Union is but an exercise of their right to freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution, which guarantee is implemented by Republic Act No. 3350; and (3) being no longer members of the labor Union, they were no longer obliged to pay said dues and assessments through payroll deductions;[4] Plaintiffs-appellees, therefore, prayed that judgment be rendered (1) to enjoin immediately ex-parte the defendants from dismissing plaintiffs from their employment, and from collecting union dues and assessments through payroll deduction from plaintiffs' earned wages; (2) to order defendants to reimburse, jointly and severally, all union dues and assessments collected from plaintiffs since their resignation from defendant Union, and to pay moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees of P900.00 and costs.

Both defendants filed their respective answers.  In its answer with special and affirmative defenses, dated November 13, 1964, defendant Company averred, among others, that (1) there is an existing working agreement between defendant Union and defendant Company providing for a "closed shop"; (2) plaintiffs resigned from the Union; (3) defendant Union insists that defendant Company comply with the contract recognizing a closed shop; and (4) if defendant Company does not comply with the collective bargaining agreement with the Union, it will be subjected to a suit for damages or risk the possibility of a strike for violation of the collective bargaining agreement.  Defendant Company then prayed that plaintiffs and defendant Union be required to interplead their respective cases and that judgment be rendered in favor of whomsoever is entitled to just relief as may be proper under the circumstances.

Defendant-appellant Union, in its amended answer with affirmative and special defenses, dated March 26, 1965, to the amended complaint, alleged, among others, that the plaintiffs are covered by the collective bargaining contract as Republic Act No. 3350 under which they seek exemption from membership in the Union, is unconstitutional for it (1) impairs the obligations of contracts (Sec. 1[10], Art. III, 1935 Constitution); (2) denies to workers the right to equal protection of the laws (Sec. 1[1], Art. III, id.); (3) abridges the freedom of workers to form associations (Sec. 1[6], Art. III, id.); and (4) contravenes the constitutional mandate that the State shall afford protection to labor (Sec. 6, Art. XIV, id.); and that this Act was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Industrial Relations in the case of National Labor Union vs. Hacienda Luisita, et al., Case No. 49-IPA.  Defendant-appellant Union then prayed that the complaint be dismissed.

Subsequently, or on March 31, 1966, the lower court rendered the aforementioned decision.  From the aforesaid decision, defendant Union has appealed to this Court, contending that the lower court erred in not declaring Republic Act No. 3350 as unconstitutional, reiterating the arguments it advanced before the court a quo.

We find the appeal to be without merit.

To begin with, House Bill No. 5859, which later became Republic Act No. 3350, was enacted into law with the explicit purpose of safeguarding and maintaining inviolate the religious freedom of all individuals.[5]

In this appeal, appellant labor union contends that Republic Act No. 3350 is violative of the fundamental charter, as (a) it infringes on the constitutional bar against a law respecting an establishment of religion or a religious test for the exercise of civil and political rights (Sec. 1[7] of Article III, 1935 Constitution, (b) impairs the obligation of contracts (Sec. 1[10], Art. III, id.), (c) denies the equal protection of the laws (Sec. 1[1], Art. III, id.), (d) abridges the freedom to form associations not contrary to law (Sec. 1[6], Art. III, id.), and (e) impairs the constitutional mandate that the State shall afford protection to labor (Sec. 5, Art. III; Sec. 6, Art. XIV, id.).

Recently, in Benjamin Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union, et al.,[6] a unanimous Court sustained the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 3350.  In rejecting the arguments advanced by appellant labor Union, imputing to said statute alleged constitutional infirmities similar to those now asserted by the defendant-appellant in the case at bar, We declared:
"Both the Constitution and Republic Act No. 875 recognized freedom of association.  Section 1[6] of Article III of the Constitution of 1935, as well as Section 7 of Article IV of the Constitution of 1973, provide that the right to form associations or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.  Section 3 of Republic Act No. 875 provides that employees shall have the right to self-organization and to form, join or assist labor organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of collective bargaining and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining and other mutual aid or protection.  What the Constitution and the Industrial Peace Act recognize and guarantee is the 'right' to form or join associations.  Notwithstanding the different theories propounded by the different schools of jurisprudence regarding the nature and contents of a 'right', it can be safely said that whatever theory one subscribes to, a right comprehends at least two broad notions, namely:  first, liberty or freedom, i.e., the absence of legal restraint, whereby an employee may act for himself without being prevented by law; and second, power, whereby an employee may, as he pleases, join or refrain from joining an association.  It is, therefore, the employee who should decide for himself whether he should join or not an association; and should he choose to join, he himself makes up his mind as to which association he would join; and even after he has joined, he still retains the liberty and the power to leave and cancel his membership with said organization at any time.  It is clear, therefore, that the right to join a union includes the right to abstain from joining any union.  Inasmuch as what both the Constitution and the Industrial Peace Act have recognized, and guaranteed to the employee, is the 'right' to join associations of his choice, it would be absurd to say that the law also imposes, in the same breath, upon the employee the duty to join associations.  The law does not enjoin an employee to sign up with any association.

"The right to refrain from joining labor organizations recognized by Section 3 of the Industrial Peace Act is, however, limited.  The legal protection granted to such right to refrain from joining is withdrawn by operation of law, where a labor union and an employer have agreed on a closed shop, by virtue of which the employer may employ only members of the collective bargaining union, and the employees must continue to be members of the union for the duration of the contract in order to keep their jobs.  Thus Section 4[a] (4) of the Industrial Peace Act, before its amendment by Republic Act No. 3350, provides that although it would be an unfair labor practice for an employer 'to discriminate in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization' the employer is, however, not precluded 'from making an agreement with a labor organization to require as a condition of employment membership therein, if such labor organization is the representative of the employees'.  By virtue, therefore, of a closed shop agreement, before the enactment of Republic Act No. 3350, if any person, regardless of his religious beliefs, wishes to be employed or to keep his employment, he must become a member of the collective bargaining union.  Hence, the right of said employee not to join the labor union is curtailed and withdrawn.

"To that all-embracing coverage of the closed shop arrangement, Republic Act No. 3350 introduced an exception, when it added to Section 4[a] (4) of the Industrial Peace Act the following proviso:  'but such agreement shall not cover members of any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in any such labor organization'.  Republic Act No. 3350 merely excludes ipso jure from the application and coverage of the closed shop agreement the employees belonging to any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members with any labor organization.  What the exception provides, therefore, is that members of said religious sects cannot be compelled or coerced to join labor unions even when said unions have closed shop agreements with the employers; that in spite of any closed shop agreement, members of said religious sects cannot be refused employment or dismissed from their jobs on the sole ground that they are not members of the collective bargaining union.  It is clear, therefore, that the assailed Act, far from infringing the constitutional provision on freedom of association, upholds and reinforces it.  It does not prohibit the members of said religious sects from affiliating with labor unions.  It still leaves to said members the liberty and the power to affiliate, or not to affiliate, with labor unions.  If, notwithstanding their religious beliefs, the members of said religious sects prefer to sign up with the labor union, they can do so.  If in deference and fealty to their religious faith, they refuse to sign up, they can do so; the law does not coerce them to join; neither does the law prohibit them from joining; and neither may the employer or labor union compel them to join.  Republic Act No. 3350, therefore, does not violate the constitutional provision on freedom of association.

"2. Appellant Union also contends that the Act is unconstitutional for impairing the obligation of its contract, specifically, the 'union security clause' embodied in its Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Company, by virtue of which 'membership in the union was required as a condition for employment for all permanent employees workers'.  This agreement was already in existence at the time Republic Act No. 3350 was enacted on June 18, 1961, and it cannot, therefore, be deemed to have been incorporated into the agreement.  But by reason of this amendment, Appellee, as well as others similarly situated, could no longer be dismissed from his job even if he should cease to be a member, or disaffiliate from the Union, and the Company could continue employing him notwithstanding his disaffiliation from the Union.  The Act, therefore, introduced a change into the express terms of the union security clause; the Company was partly absolved by law from the contractual obligation it had with the Union of employing only Union members in permanent positions.  It cannot be denied, therefore, that there was indeed an impairment of said union security clause.

xxx                      xxx                      xxx

"It should not be overlooked, however, that the prohibition to impair the obligation of contracts is not absolute and unqualified.  The prohibition is general, affording a broad outline and requiring construction to fill in the details.  The prohibition is not to be read with literal exactness like a mathematical formula, for it prohibits unreasonable impairment only.  In spite of the constitutional prohibition, the State continues to possess authority to safeguard the vital interests of its people.  Legislation appropriate to safeguarding said interests may modify or abrogate contracts already in effect.  For not only are existing laws read into contracts in order to fix the obligations as between the parties, but the reservation of essential attributes of sovereign power is also read into contracts as a postulate of the legal order.  All contracts made with reference to any matter that is subject to regulation under the police power must be understood as made in reference to the possible exercise of that power.  Otherwise, important and valuable reforms may be precluded by the simple device of entering into contracts for the purpose of doing that which otherwise may be prohibited.  The policy of protecting contracts against impairment presupposes the maintenance of a government by virtue of which contractual relations are worthwhile a government which retains adequate authority to secure the peace and good order of society.  The contract clause of the Constitution must, therefore, be not only in harmony with, but also in subordination to, in appropriate instances, the reserved power of the state to safeguard the vital interests of the people.  It follows that not all legislations, which have the effect of impairing a contract are obnoxious to the constitutional prohibition as to impairment, and a statute passed in the legitimate exercise of police power, although it incidentally destroys existing contract rights, must be upheld by the courts.  This has special application to contracts regulating relations between capital and labor which are not merely contractual, and said labor contracts, for being impressed with public interest, must yield to the common good.

xxx                      xxx                      xxx

"In order to determine whether legislation unconstitutionally impairs contract obligations, no unchanging yardstick, applicable at all times and under all circumstances, by which the validity of each statute may be measured or determined, has been fashioned, but every case must be determined upon its own circumstances.  Legislation impairing the obligation of contracts can be sustained when it is enacted for the promotion of the general good of the people, and when the means adopted to secure that end are reasonable.  Both the end sought and the means adopted must be legitimate, i.e., within the scope of the reserved power of the state construed in harmony with the constitutional limitation of that power.

"What then was the purpose sought to be achieved by Republic Act No. 3350?  Its purpose was to insure freedom of belief and religion, and to promote the general welfare by preventing discrimination against those members of religious sects which prohibit their members from joining labor unions, confirming thereby their natural, statutory and constitutional right to work, the fruits of which work are usually the only means whereby they can maintain their own life and the life of their dependents.  It cannot be gainsaid that said purpose is legitimate.

"The questioned Act also provides protection to members of said religious sects against two aggregates of group strength from which the individual needs protection.  The individual employee, at various times in his working life, is confronted by two aggregates of power collective labor, directed by a union, and collective capital, directed by management.  The union, an institution developed to organize labor into a collective force and thus protect the individual employee from the power of collective capital, is, paradoxically, both the champion of employee rights, and a new source of their frustration.  Moreover, when the Union interacts with management, it produces yet a third aggregate of group strength from which the individual also needs protection the collective bargaining relationship.

xxx                      xxx                      xxx

"It may not be amiss to point out here that the free exercise of religious profession or belief is superior to contract rights.  In case of conflict, the latter must, therefore, yield to the former.  The Supreme Court of the United States has also declared on several occasions that the rights in the First Amendment, which include freedom of religion, enjoy a preferred position in the constitutional system.  Religious freedom, although not unlimited, is a fundamental personal right and liberty, and has a preferred position in the hierarchy of values.  Contractual rights, therefore, must yield to freedom of religion.  It is only where unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger.

"3.  In further support of its contention that Republic Act No. 3350 is unconstitutional, appellant Union averred that said Act discriminates in favor of members of said religious sects in violation of Section 1[7] of Article III of the 1935 Constitution, and which is now Section 8 of Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, which provides:
'No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discremination and preference, shall forever be allowed.  No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.'
"The constitutional provision not only prohibits legislation for the support of any religious tenets or the modes of worship of any sect, thus forestalling compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship, but also assures the free exercise of one's chosen form of religion within limits of utmost amplitude.  It has been said that the religion clauses of the Constitution are all designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good.  Any legislation whose effect or purpose is to impede the observance of one or all religions, or to discriminate inviciously between the religions, is invalid, even though the burden may be characterized as being only indirect.  But if the state regulates conduct by enacting, within its power, a general law which has for its purpose and effect to advance the state's secular goals, the statute is valid despite its indirect burden on religious observance, unless the state can accomplish its purpose without imposing such burden.

"In Aglipay vs. Ruiz, this Court had occasion to state that the government should not be precluded from pursuing valid objectives secular in character even if the incidental result would be favorable to a religion or sect.  It has likewise been held that the statute, in order to withstand the strictures of constitutional prohibition, must have a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion.  Assessed by these criteria, Republic Act No. 3350 cannot be said to violate the constitutional inhibition of the 'no-establishment' (of religion) clause of the Constitution.

"The purpose of Republic Act No. 3350 is secular, worldly, and temporal, not spiritual or religious or holy and eternal.  It was intended to serve the secular purpose of advancing the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, by averting that certain persons be refused work, or be dismissed from work, or be dispossessed of their right to work and of being impeded to pursue a modest means of livelihood, by reason of union security agreements.  To help its citizens to find gainful employment whereby they can make a living to support themselves and their families is a valid objective of the state.  In fact, the state is enjoined, in the 1935 Constitution, to afford protection to labor, and regulate the relations between labor and capital and industry.  More so now in the 1973 Constitution where it is mandated that 'the State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race or creed and regulate the relation between workers and employers.'

"The primary effects of the exemption from closed shop agreements in favor of members of religious sects that prohibit their members from affiliating with a labor organization, is the protection of said employees against the aggregate force of the collective bargaining agreement, and relieving certain citizens of a burden on their religious beliefs; and by eliminating to a certain extent economic insecurity due to unemployment, which is a serious menace to the health, morals, and welfare of the people of the State, the Act also promotes the well-being of society.  It is our view that the exemption from the effects of closed shop agreement does not directly advance, or diminish, the interests of any particular religion.  Although the exemption may benefit those who are members of religious sects that prohibit their members from joining labor unions, the benefit upon the religious sects is merely incidental and indirect.  The 'establishment clause' (of religion) does not ban regulation on conduct whose reason or effect merely happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions.  The free exercise clause of the Constitution has been interpreted to require that religious exercise be preferentially aided.

"We believe that in enacting Republic Act No. 3350, Congress acted consistently with the spirit of the constitutional provision.  It acted merely to relieve the exercise of religion, by certain persons, of a burden that is imposed by union security agreements.  It was Congress itself that imposed that burden when it enacted the Industrial Peace Act (Republic Act 875), and, certainly, Congress, if it so deems advisable, could take away the same burden.  It is certain that not every conscience can be accommodated by all the laws of the land; but when general laws conflict with scruples of conscience, exemptions ought to be granted unless some `compelling state interest' intervenes.  In the instant case, We see no such compelling state interest to withhold the exemption.

"Appellant bewails that while Republic Act No. 3350 protects members of certain religious sects, it leaves no right to, and is silent as to the protection of, labor organizations.  The purpose of Republic Act No. 3350 was not to grant rights to labor unions.  The rights of labor unions are amply provided for in Republic Act No. 875 and the new Labor Code.  As to the lamented silence of the Act regarding the rights and protection of labor unions, suffice it to say, first, that the validity of a statute is determined by its provisions, not by its silence; and, second, the fact that the law may work hardship does not render it unconstitutional.

"It would not be amiss to state, regarding this matter, that to compel persons to join and remain members of a union to keep their jobs in violation of their religious scruples, would hurt rather than help, labor unions.  Congress has seen it fit to exempt religious objectors lest their resistance spread to other workers, for religious objections have contagious potentialities more than political and philosophic objections.

"Furthermore, let it be noted that coerced unity and loyalty even to the country, and a fortiori to a labor union assuming that such unity and loyalty can be attained through coercion is not a goal that is constitutionally obtainable at the expense of religious liberty.  A desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.

"4.  Appellant's fourth contention, that Republic Act No. 3350 violates the constitutional prohibition against requiring a religious test for the exercise of the civil right or a political right, is not well taken.  The Act does not require as a qualification, or condition, for joining any lawful association membership in any particular religion or in any religious sect; neither does the Act require affiliation with a religious sect that prohibits its members from joining a labor union as a condition or qualification for withdrawing from a labor union.  Joining or withdrawing from a labor union requires a positive act.  Republic Act No. 3350 only exempts members with such religious affiliation from the coverage of closed shop agreements.  So, under this Act, a religious objector is not required to do a positive act - to exercise the right to join or to resign from the union.  He is exempted ipso jure without need of any positive act on his part.  A conscientious religious objector need not perform a positive act or exercise the right of resigning from the labor union he is exempted from the coverage of any closed shop agreement that a labor union may have entered into.  How then can there be a religious test required for the exercise of a right when no right need be exercised?

xxx                      xxx                      xxx

"5.  Appellant avers as its fifth ground that Republic Act No. 3350 is a discriminatory legislation, inasmuch as it grants to the members of certain religious sects undue advantages over other workers, thus violating Section 1 of Article III of the 1935 Constitution which forbids the denial to any person of the equal protection of the laws.

"The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the state.  It is not, therefore, a requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that every man, woman and child should be affected alike by a statute.  Equality of operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate operation on persons merely as such, but on persons according to the circumstances surrounding them.  It guarantees equality, not identity of rights.  The Constitution does not require that things which are different in fact be treated in law as though they were the same.  The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are different.  It does not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by the territory within which it is to operate.

"The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows classification.  Classification in law, as in the other departments of knowledge or practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with one another in certain particulars.  A law is not invalid because of simple inequality.  The very idea of classification is that of inequality, so that it goes without saying that the mere fact of inequality in no manner determines the matter of constitutionality.  All that is required of a valid classification is that it be reasonable, which means that the classification should be based on substantial distinctions which make for real differences; that it must be germane to the purpose of the law; that it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and that it must apply equally to each member of the class.  This Court has held that the standard is satisfied if the classification or distinction is based on a reasonable foundation on rational basis and is not palpably arbitrary.

"In the exercise of its power to make classifications for the purpose of enacting laws over matters within its jurisdiction, the state is recognized as enjoying a wide range of discretion.  It is not necessary that the classification be based on scientific or marked differences of things or in their relation.  Neither is it necessary that the classification be made with mathematical nicety.  Hence legislative classification may in many cases properly rest on narrow distinctions, for the equal protection guaranty does not preclude the legislature from recognizing degrees of evil or harm, and legislation is addressed to evils as they may appear.

"We believe that Republic Act No. 3350 satisfies the aforementioned requirements.  The Act classifies employees and workers, as to the effect and coverage of union shop security agreements, into those who by reason of their religious beliefs and convictions cannot sign up with a labor union, and those whose religion does not prohibit membership in labor unions.  The classification rests on real or substantial, not merely imaginary or whimsical, distinctions.  There is such real distinction in the beliefs, feelings and sentiments of employees.  Employees do not believe in the same religious faith and different religions differ in their dogmas and canons.  Religious beliefs, manifestations and practices, though they are found in all places, and in all times, take so many varied forms as to be almost beyond imagination.  There are many views that comprise the broad spectrum of religious beliefs among the people.  There are diverse manners in which beliefs, equally paramount in the lives of their possessors, may be articulated.  Today the country is far more heterogenous in religion than before, differences in religion do exist, and these differences are important and should not be ignored.

"Even from the psychological point of view, the classification is based on real and important differences.  Religious beliefs are not mere beliefs, mere ideas existing only in the mind, for they carry with them practical consequences and are the motives of certain rules of human conduct and the justification of certain acts.  Religious sentiment makes a man view things and events in their relation to his God.  It gives to human life its distinctive character, its tone, its happiness, or unhappiness, its enjoyment or irksomeness.  Usually, a strong and passionate desire is involved in a religious belief.  To certain persons, no single factor of their experience is more important to them than their religion, or their not having any religion.  Because of differences in religious belief and sentiments, a very poor person may consider himself better than the rich, and the man who even lacks the necessities of life may be more cheerful than the one who has all possible luxuries.  Due to their religious beliefs people, like the martyrs, became resigned to the inevitable and accepted cheerfully even the most painful and excruciating pains.  Because of differences in religious beliefs, the world has witnessed turmoil, civil strife, persecution, hatred, bloodshed and war, generated to a large extent by members of sects who were intolerant of other religious beliefs.  The classification, introduced by Republic Act No. 3350, therefore, rests on substantial distinctions.

"The classification introduced by said Act is also germane to its purpose.  The purpose of the law is precisely to avoid those who cannot, because of their religious belief, join labor unions, from being deprived of their right to work and from being dismissed from their work because of union shop security agreements.

xxx                      xxx                      xxx

"6. Appellant's further contention that Republic Act No. 3350 violates the constitutional provision on social justice is also baseless.  Social justice is intended to promote the welfare of all the people.  Republic Act No. 3350 promotes that welfare insofar as it looks after the welfare of those who, because of their religious belief, cannot join labor unions; the Act prevents their being deprived of work and of the means of livelihood.  In determining whether any particular measure is for public advantage, it is not necessary that the entire state be directly benefited it is sufficient that a portion of the state be benefited thereby.

"Social justice also means that adoption by the Government of measures calculated to insure economic stability of all component elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the inter-relations of the members of the community.  Republic Act No. 3350 insures economic stability to the members of a religious sect, like the Iglesia ni Cristo, who are also component elements of society, for it insures security in their employment notwithstanding their failure to join a labor union having a closed shop agreement with the employer.  The Act also advances the proper economic and social equilibrium between labor unions and employees who cannot join labor unions, for it exempts the latter from the compelling necessity of joining labor unions that have closed shop agreements, and equalizes, in so far as opportunity to work is concerned, those whose religion prohibits membership in labor unions with those whose religion does not prohibit said membership.  Social justice does not imply social equality, because social inequality will always exist as long as social relations depend on personal or subjective proclivities.  Social justice does not require legal equality because legal equality, being a relative term, is necessarily premised on differentiations based on personal or natural conditions.  Social justice guarantees equality of opportunity, and this is precisely what Republic Act No. 3350 proposes to accomplish it gives laborers, irrespective of their religious scrupples, equal opportunity for work."
xxx                      xxx                      xxx

As comprehensively observed by Justice Fernando in his concurring opinion in that case:
"3. There is, however, the question of whether such an exception possesses an implication that lessens the effectiveness of state efforts to protect labor, likewise, as noted, constitutionally ordained.  Such a view, on the surface, may not be lacking in plausibility, but upon closer analysis, it cannot stand scrutiny.  Thought must be given to the freedom of association, likewise an aspect of intellectual liberty.  For the late Professor Howe, a constitutionalist and in his lifetime the biographer of the great Holmes, it even partakes of the political theory of pluralistic sovereignty.  So great is the respect for the autonomy accorded voluntary societies.  Such a right implies at the very least that one can determine for himself whether or not he should join or refrain from joining a labor organization, an institutional device for promoting the welfare of the working than.  A closed shop, on the other hand, is inherently coercive.  That is why, as is unmistakably reflected in our decisions, the latest of which is Guijarno vs. Court of Industrial Relations, it is far from being a favorite of the law.  For a statutory provision then to further curtail its operation, is precisely to follow the dictates of sound public policy."
Plaintiffs-appellees cannot, therefore, be summarily dismissed from their employment in the defendant Company as a result of their resignation from the appellant notwithstanding the existence of a union shop clause in the labor union collective bargaining agreement, as Republic Act No. 3350 exempts them from joining any labor organization, when such is contrary to their religious beliefs and convictions.  We have also previously held that a member of a labor union may leave and cancel his membership with the union at anytime.  When an employee or laborer joins a labor union, he does not make any commitment or assume an undertaking to continue his membership therein for any fixed period of time, much less indefinitely.  The moment he has resigned or separated from the Union, he is no longer obliged to pay his dues and assessments to said organization.[7] We find, therefore, no error in the trial court's order, requiring both the company and defendant-appellant labor Union to reimburse all union dues and assessments collected from plaintiffs-appellees from the date of their resignations as members of the Union until the date of the last collection.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with costs against the defendant-appellant.

Fernando, (Chairman), Barredo, Fernandez, and Aquino, JJ., concur.



[1] The amendatory Republic Act No. 3350 reads:
"SECTION 1.  Paragraph (4), subsection (a) of Section four of Republic Act Numbered Eight hundred seventy-five is hereby amended by providing an exception to the application of the proviso, and as amended should read as follows:

'(4) Provided.  That nothing in this Act or in any Act or statute of the Republic of the Philippines shall preclude an employer from making an agreement with a labor organization to require as a condition of employment membership therein, if such labor organization is the representative of the employees as provided in Section twelve, but such agreement shall not cover members of any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in any such labor organization.'

"SEC. 2.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval."
Enacted, without Executive approval, June 18, 1961.

[2] Citing Philippine Movie Pictures Workers Association vs. Premiere Productions, Inc., 50 O.G., 1096.

[3] Citing San Carlos Milling Co., et al, vs. CIR, et al., L-15453-15723, March 17, 1961.

[4] Citing Pagkakaisa Samahang Manggagawa ng SMB at Mga Kasangay (PAFLU) vs. Hon. Juan Enriquez et al., L-12999, July 26,1960.

[5]
"The underlined words (i.e., but such agreement shall not cover members of any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in any such labor organization) are proposed to be added to the above-quoted provision in order to safeguard and maintain inviolate the religious freedom of all individuals.  This proposed exception has for its source of authority the very provision of the Philippine Constitution which runs thus:
'No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.  No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.' (Italics supplied, Article III, Section 1, Clause 7).
"The freedom of religion in a constitutional sense allows every person to entertain any belief of his relations to the Creator, and his obligation arising from such relation.  He may follow any form of worship in accordance with such belief provided that the manifestation of such religious feeling is not inimical to the peace, safety, good order and morals of the community.  Thus, the above-quoted constitutional provision explicitly guarantees the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference.  It is not even within the competence of the Government to inquire into the truth or validity of a religious doctrine (U.S. vs. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78).

"It is clear then, that the 'free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship' can be limited or regulated only if the same is inimical to the peace, safety, good order and morals of the community.  The limitation goes only as far as the common welfare of the community suffers.  Beyond that, the Constitution comes in to sanction and protect one's religious faith and beliefs free from any molestation and agitation, whatsoever.

"The exception proposed to be added to the above-quoted proviso of the Industrial Peace Act (Rep. Act 875) would not be inimical to the peace, safety, good order and morals of the community; instead, it would work for the promotion of the same.  It would be unthinkable indeed to refuse employing a person who, on account of his religious beliefs and convictions, cannot accept membership in a labor organization although he possesses all the qualifications for the job.  That is tantamount to punishing such person for believing in a doctrine he has a right under the law to believe in.  The law would not allow discrimination to flourish to the detriment of those whose religion discards membership in any labor organization.  Likewise, the law would not commend the deprivation of their right to work and pursue a modest means of livelihood without in any manner violating their religious faith and/or belief.  As it is now, Republic Act 875 gives preference to persons whose religion do not prohibit their joining any labor organization, in contrast to those who are placed in a dilemma of choosing between religion and employment, two salient civil liberties equally protected by the Constitution.

"It might be stated that with or without the proposed exception, employees whose religion does not prohibit membership in any labor organization will not be adversely affected.  Republic Act 875 will continue to apply to them without embarassing their religious doctrine and precepts.  It is but natural, therefore, that a similar protection be extended to maintain inviolate the religious freedom of all others concerned." (See Congressional Record, Vol. II-Part II, 1961, May 17, 1961, pp. 3300-3301.)
[6] G.R. No. L-25246, September 12, 1974.

[7] Pagkakaisa Samahang Manggagawa ng SMB at Mga Kasangay (PAFLU) vs. Hon. Juan Enriquez, et al. supra.

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