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RE: Letter of Valenciano, AM 10-4-19-SC, 7 March 2017, En Banc Resolution, Mendoza
This controversy originated from a series of letters written by Valenciano and addressed to the Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno reporting that the basement of the Hall of Justice of Quezon City had been converted into a Roman Catholic Chapel, complete with Catholic religious icons and other instrument for religious activities. He believe that such practice violated the constitutional provisions on the separation of Church and State and the constitutional prohibition against the appropriation of public money and property for the benefit of a sect, church, denomination, or any other system of religion. He further averred that the holding of masses at the basement of Hall of Justice showed that it tended to favor the Catholic litigants; that the rehearsals and other activities caused great disturbance to the employees; and that court functions are affected due to the masses that is being held from 12:00 to 1:15 in the afternoon.
Whether or not the holding of masses at the basement of the Quezon City Hall of Justice violates the constitutional principle of separation of Church and State
No, the holding of masses in the Hall of Justice does not violate the constitutional principle of separation of Church and State
The 1987 Constitution provides that the separation of Church and State shall be inviolable; if further provides that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed. Allowing religion to flourish is not contrary to the principle of separation of Church and State. The Roman Catholic expresses their worship through the Holy Mass and to stop these would be tantamount to repressing the right to the free exercise of their religion,
The holding of Masses at the basement of Quezon City Hall of Justice is not a case of establishment but merely accommodation wherein the government recognize the reality that some measures may not be imposed on a certain portion of the population for the reason that these measures are contrary to their religious beliefs, as long as it can be shown that the exercise of the right does not impair the public welfare.