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G.R. No.

L-45987

May 5, 1939

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CAYAT, defendant-appellant. Sinai Hamada y Cario for appellant. Office of the Solicitor-General Tuason for appellee. MORAN, J.: Prosecuted for violation of Act No. 1639 (secs. 2 and 3), the accused, Cayat, a native of Baguio, Benguet, Mountain Province, was sentenced by the justice of the peace court of Baguio to pay a fine of five pesos (P5) or suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On appeal of the Court of First Instance, the following information was filed against him: That on or about the 25th day of January, 1937, in the City of Baguio, Commonwealth of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this court, the above-named accused, Cayat, being a member of the non-Christian tribes, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and illegally receive, acquire, and have in his possession and under his control or custody, one bottle of A-1-1 gin, an intoxicating liquor, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of Act No. 1639. Accused interposed a demurrer which was overruled. At the trial, he admitted all the facts alleged in the information, but pleaded not guilty to the charge for the reasons adduced in his demurrer and submitted the case on the pleadings. The trial court found him guilty of the crime charged and sentenced him to pay a fine of fifty pesos (P50) or supper subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The case is now before this court on appeal. Sections 2 and 3 of Act No. 1639 read: SEC. 2. It shall be unlawful for any native of the Philippine Islands who is a member of a non-Christian tribe within the meaning of the Act Numbered Thirteen hundred and ninetyseven, to buy, receive, have in his possession, or drink any ardent spirits, ale, beer, wine, or intoxicating liquors of any kind, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of this Act, except as provided in section one hereof; and it shall be the duty of any police officer or other duly authorized agent of the Insular or any provincial, municipal or township government to seize and forthwith destroy any such liquors found unlawfully in the possession of any member of a non-Christian tribe. SEC. 3. Any person violating the provisions of section one or section two of this Act shall, upon conviction thereof, be punishable for each offense by a fine of not exceeding two hundred pesos or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, in the discretion of the court. The accused challenges the constitutionality of the Act on the following grounds: (1) That it is discriminatory and denies the equal protection of the laws; (2) That it is violative of the due process clause of the Constitution: and.

(3) That it is improper exercise of the police power of the state. Counsel for the appellant holds out his brief as the "brief for the non-Christian tribes." It is said that as these less civilized elements of the Filipino population are "jealous of their rights in a democracy," any attempt to treat them with discrimination or "mark them as inferior or less capable rate or less entitled" will meet with their instant challenge. As the constitutionality of the Act here involved is questioned for purposes thus mentioned, it becomes imperative to examine and resolve the issues raised in the light of the policy of the government towards the non-Christian tribes adopted and consistently followed from the Spanish times to the present, more often with sacrifice and tribulation but always with conscience and humanity. As early as 1551, the Spanish Government had assumed an unvarying solicitous attitude toward these inhabitants, and in the different laws of the Indies, their concentration in so-called "reducciones" (communities) have been persistently attempted with the end in view of according them the "spiritual and temporal benefits" of civilized life. Throughout the Spanish regime, it had been regarded by the Spanish Government as a sacred "duty to conscience and humanity" to civilize these less fortunate people living "in the obscurity of ignorance" and to accord them the "the moral and material advantages" of community life and the "protection and vigilance afforded them by the same laws." (Decree of the Governor-General of the Philippines, Jan. 14, 1887.) This policy had not been deflected from during the American period. President McKinley in his instructions to the Philippine Commission of April 7, 1900, said: In dealing with the uncivilized tribes of the Islands, the Commission should adopt the same course followed by Congress in permitting the tribes of our North American Indians to maintain their tribal organization and government, and under which many of those tribes are now living in peace and contentment, surrounded by civilization to which they are unable or unwilling to conform. Such tribal government should, however, be subjected to wise and firm regulation; and, without undue or petty interference, constant and active effort should be exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs. Since then and up to the present, the government has been constantly vexed with the problem of determining "those practicable means of bringing about their advancement in civilization and material prosperity." (See, Act No. 253.) "Placed in an alternative of either letting them alone or guiding them in the path of civilization," the present government "has chosen to adopt the latter measure as one more in accord with humanity and with the national conscience." (Memorandum of Secretary of the Interior, quoted in Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil., 660, 714.) To this end, their homes and firesides have been brought in contact with civilized communities through a network of highways and communications; the benefits of public education have to them been extended; and more lately, even the right of suffrage. And to complement this policy of attraction and assimilation, the Legislature has passed Act No. 1639 undoubtedly to secure for them the blessings of peace and harmony; to facilitate, and not to mar, their rapid and steady march to civilization and culture. It is, therefore, in this light that the Act must be understood and applied. It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. And the classification, to be reasonable, (1) must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) must be germane to the purposes of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class. (Borgnis vs.Falk Co., 133 N.W., 209; Lindsley vs. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61; 55 Law. ed., Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil., 660; People and Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation vs. Vera and Cu Unjieng, 37 Off. Gaz ., 187.)

Act No. 1639 satisfies these requirements. The classification rests on real and substantial, not merely imaginary or whimsical, distinctions. It is not based upon "accident of birth or parentage," as counsel to the appellant asserts, but upon the degree of civilization and culture. "The term 'nonChristian tribes' refers, not to religious belief, but, in a way, to the geographical area, and, more directly, to natives of the Philippine Islands of a low grade of civilization, usually living in tribal relationship apart from settled communities." (Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, supra.) This distinction is unquestionably reasonable, for the Act was intended to meet the peculiar conditions existing in the non-Christian tribes. The exceptional cases of certain members thereof who at present have reached a position of cultural equality with their Christian brothers, cannot affect the reasonableness of the classification thus established. That it is germane to the purposes of law cannot be doubted. The prohibition "to buy, receive, have in his possession, or drink any ardent spirits, ale, beer, wine, or intoxicating liquors of any kind, other than the so-called native wines and liquors which the members of such tribes have been accustomed themselves to make prior to the passage of this Act.," is unquestionably designed to insure peace and order in and among the non-Christian tribes. It has been the sad experience of the past, as the observations of the lower court disclose, that the free use of highly intoxicating liquors by the non-Christian tribes have often resulted in lawlessness and crimes, thereby hampering the efforts of the government to raise their standard of life and civilization. The law is not limited in its application to conditions existing at the time of its enactment. It is intended to apply for all times as long as those conditions exist. The Act was not predicated, as counsel for appellant asserts, upon the assumption that the non-Christians are "impermeable to any civilizing influence." On the contrary, the Legislature understood that the civilization of a people is a slow process and that hand in hand with it must go measures of protection and security. Finally, that the Act applies equally to all members of the class is evident from a perusal thereof. That it may be unfair in its operation against a certain number non-Christians by reason of their degree of culture, is not an argument against the equality of its application. Appellants contends that that provision of the law empowering any police officer or other duly authorized agent of the government to seize and forthwith destroy any prohibited liquors found unlawfully in the possession of any member of the non-Christian tribes is violative of the due process of law provided in the Constitution. But this provision is not involved in the case at bar. Besides, to constitute due process of law, notice and hearing are not always necessary. This rule is especially true where much must be left to the discretion of the administrative officials in applying a law to particular cases. (McGehee, Due Process of Law p. 371, cited with approval in Rubivs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, supra.) Due process of law means simply: (1) that there shall be a law prescribed in harmony with the general powers of the legislative department of the government; (2) that it shall be reasonable in its operation; (3) that it shall be enforced according to the regular methods of procedure prescribed; and (4) that it shall be applicable alike to all citizens of the state or to all of the class. (U.S. vs. Ling Su Fan, 10 Phil., 104, affirmed on appeal by the United States Supreme Court, 218 U.S., 302: 54 Law. ed., 1049.) Thus, a person's property may be seized by the government in payment of taxes without judicial hearing; or property used in violation of law may be confiscated (U.S. vs. Surla, 20 Phil., 163, 167), or when the property constitutes corpus delicti, as in the instant case (Moreno vs. Ago Chi, 12 Phil., 439, 442). Neither is the Act an improper exercise of the police power of the state. It has been said that the police power is the most insistent and least limitable of all powers of the government. It has been aptly described as a power co-extensive with self-protection and constitutes the law of overruling necessity. Any measure intended to promote the health, peace, morals, education and good order of the people or to increase the industries of the state, develop its resources and add to its wealth and

prosperity (Barbier vs. Connolly, 113 U.S., 27), is a legitimate exercise of the police power, unless shown to be whimsical or capricious as to unduly interfere with the rights of an individual, the same must be upheld. Act No. 1639, as above stated, is designed to promote peace and order in the non-Christian tribes so as to remove all obstacles to their moral and intellectual growth and, eventually, to hasten their equalization and unification with the rest of their Christian brothers. Its ultimate purpose can be no other than to unify the Filipino people with a view to a greater Philippines. The law, then, does not seek to mark the non-Christian tribes as "an inferior or less capable race." On the contrary, all measures thus far adopted in the promotion of the public policy towards them rest upon a recognition of their inherent right to equality in tht enjoyment of those privileges now enjoyed by their Christian brothers. But as there can be no true equality before the law, if there is, in fact, no equality in education, the government has endeavored, by appropriate measures, to raise their culture and civilization and secure for them the benefits of their progress, with the ultimate end in view of placing them with their Christian brothers on the basis of true equality. It is indeed gratifying that the non-Christian tribes "far from retrograding, are definitely asserting themselves in a competitive world," as appellant's attorney impressively avers, and that they are "a virile, up-and coming people eager to take their place in the world's social scheme." As a matter of fact, there are now lawyers, doctors and other professionals educated in the best institutions here and in America. Their active participation in the multifarious welfare activities of community life or in the delicate duties of government is certainly a source of pride and gratification to people of the Philippines. But whether conditions have so changed as to warrant a partial or complete abrogation of the law, is a matter which rests exclusively within the prerogative of the National Assembly to determine. In the constitutional scheme of our government, this court can go no farther than to inquire whether the Legislature had the power to enact the law. If the power exists, and we hold it does exist, the wisdom of the policy adopted, and the adequacy under existing conditions of the measures enacted to forward it, are matters which this court has no authority to pass upon. And, if in the application of the law, the educated non-Christians shall incidentally suffer, the justification still exists in the allcomprehending principle of salus populi suprema est lex. When the public safety or the public morals require the discontinuance of a certain practice by certain class of persons, the hand of the Legislature cannot be stayed from providing for its discontinuance by any incidental inconvenience which some members of the class may suffer. The private interests of such members must yield to the paramount interests of the nation (Cf. Boston Beer Co. vs. Mass., 97 U.S., 25; 24 law. ed., 989). Judgment is affirmed, with costs against appellant.

G.R. No. L-59234

September 30, 1982

TAXICAB OPERATORS OF METRO MANILA, INC., FELICISIMO CABIGAO and ACE TRANSPORTATION CORPORATION, petitioners, vs.

THE BOARD OF TRANSPORTATION and THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF LAND TRANSPORTATION, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

This Petition for "Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus with Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order" filed by the Taxicab Operators of Metro Manila, Inc., Felicisimo Cabigao and Ace Transportation, seeks to declare the nullity of Memorandum Circular No. 77-42, dated October 10, 1977, of the Board of Transportation, and Memorandum Circular No. 52, dated August 15, 1980, of the Bureau of Land Transportation.

Petitioner Taxicab Operators of Metro Manila, Inc. (TOMMI) is a domestic corporation composed of taxicab operators, who are grantees of Certificates of Public Convenience to operate taxicabs within the City of Manila and to any other place in Luzon accessible to vehicular traffic. Petitioners Ace Transportation Corporation and Felicisimo Cabigao are two of the members of TOMMI, each being an operator and grantee of such certificate of public convenience.

On October 10, 1977, respondent Board of Transportation (BOT) issued Memorandum Circular No. 7742 which reads:

SUBJECT: Phasing out and Replacement of

Old and Dilapidated Taxis

WHEREAS, it is the policy of the government to insure that only safe and comfortable units are used as public conveyances;

WHEREAS, the riding public, particularly in Metro-Manila, has, time and again, complained against, and condemned, the continued operation of old and dilapidated taxis;

WHEREAS, in order that the commuting public may be assured of comfort, convenience, and safety, a program of phasing out of old and dilapidated taxis should be adopted;

WHEREAS, after studies and inquiries made by the Board of Transportation, the latter believes that in six years of operation, a taxi operator has not only covered the cost of his taxis, but has made reasonable profit for his investments;

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to this policy, the Board hereby declares that no car beyond six years shall be operated as taxi, and in implementation of the same hereby promulgates the following rules and regulations:

1. As of December 31, 1977, all taxis of Model 1971 and earlier are ordered withdrawn from public service and thereafter may no longer be registered and operated as taxis. In the registration of cards for 1978, only taxis of Model 1972 and later shall be accepted for registration and allowed for operation;

2. As of December 31, 1978, all taxis of Model 1972 are ordered withdrawn from public service and thereafter may no longer be registered and operated as taxis. In the registration of cars for 1979, only taxis of Model 1973 and later shall be accepted for registration and allowed for operation; and every year thereafter, there shall be a six-year lifetime of taxi, to wit:

1980 Model 1974

1981 Model 1975, etc.

All taxis of earlier models than those provided above are hereby ordered withdrawn from public service as of the last day of registration of each particular year and their respective plates shall be surrendered directly to the Board of Transportation for subsequent turnover to the Land Transportation Commission.

For an orderly implementation of this Memorandum Circular, the rules herein shall immediately be effective in Metro-Manila. Its implementation outside Metro- Manila shall be carried out only after the project has been implemented in Metro-Manila and only after the date has been determined by the Board. 1

Pursuant to the above BOT circular, respondent Director of the Bureau of Land Transportation (BLT) issued Implementing Circular No. 52, dated August 15, 1980, instructing the Regional Director, the MV Registrars and other personnel of BLT, all within the National Capitol Region, to implement said Circular, and formulating a schedule of phase-out of vehicles to be allowed and accepted for registration as public conveyances. To quote said Circular:

Pursuant to BOT Memo-Circular No. 77-42, taxi units with year models over six (6) years old are now banned from operating as public utilities in Metro Manila. As such the units involved should be considered as automatically dropped as public utilities and, therefore, do not require any further dropping order from the BOT.

Henceforth, taxi units within the National Capitol Region having year models over 6 years old shall be refused registration. The following schedule of phase-out is herewith prescribed for the guidance of all concerned:

Year Model

Automatic Phase-Out Year

1980

1974

1981

1975

1982

1976

1983

1977

etc.

etc.

Strict compliance here is desired. 2

In accordance therewith, cabs of model 1971 were phase-out in registration year 1978; those of model 1972, in 1979; those of model 1973, in 1980; and those of model 1974, in 1981.

On January 27, 1981, petitioners filed a Petition with the BOT, docketed as Case No. 80-7553, seeking to nullify MC No. 77-42 or to stop its implementation; to allow the registration and operation in 1981 and subsequent years of taxicabs of model 1974, as well as those of earlier models which were phased-out, provided that, at the time of registration, they are roadworthy and fit for operation.

On February 16, 1981, petitioners filed before the BOT a "Manifestation and Urgent Motion", praying for an early hearing of their petition. The case was heard on February 20, 1981. Petitioners presented testimonial and documentary evidence, offered the same, and manifested that they would submit additional documentary proofs. Said proofs were submitted on March 27, 1981 attached to petitioners' pleading entitled, "Manifestation, Presentation of Additional Evidence and Submission of the Case for Resolution." 3

On November 28, 1981, petitioners filed before the same Board a "Manifestation and Urgent Motion to Resolve or Decide Main Petition" praying that the case be resolved or decided not later than December 10, 1981 to enable them, in case of denial, to avail of whatever remedy they may have under the law for the protection of their interests before their 1975 model cabs are phased-out on January 1, 1982.

Petitioners, through its President, allegedly made personal follow-ups of the case, but was later informed that the records of the case could not be located.

On December 29, 1981, the present Petition was instituted wherein the following queries were posed for consideration by this Court:

A. Did BOT and BLT promulgate the questioned memorandum circulars in accord with the manner required by Presidential Decree No. 101, thereby safeguarding the petitioners' constitutional right to procedural due process?

B. Granting, arguendo, that respondents did comply with the procedural requirements imposed by Presidential Decree No. 101, would the implementation and enforcement of the assailed memorandum circulars violate the petitioners' constitutional rights to.

(1)

Equal protection of the law;

(2)

Substantive due process; and

(3)

Protection against arbitrary and unreasonable classification and standard?

On Procedural and Substantive Due Process:

Presidential Decree No. 101 grants to the Board of Transportation the power

4. To fix just and reasonable standards, classification, regulations, practices, measurements, or service to be furnished, imposed, observed, and followed by operators of public utility motor vehicles.

Section 2 of said Decree provides procedural guidelines for said agency to follow in the exercise of its powers:

Sec. 2. Exercise of powers. In the exercise of the powers granted in the preceding section, the Board shag proceed promptly along the method of legislative inquiry.

Apart from its own investigation and studies, the Board, in its discretion, may require the cooperation and assistance of the Bureau of Transportation, the Philippine Constabulary, particularly the Highway Patrol Group, the support agencies within the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications, or any other government office or agency that may be able to furnish useful information or data in the formulation of the Board of any policy, plan or program in the implementation of this Decree.

The Board may also can conferences, require the submission of position papers or other documents, information, or data by operators or other persons that may be affected by the implementation of this Decree, or employ any other suitable means of inquiry.

In support of their submission that they were denied procedural due process, petitioners contend that they were not caged upon to submit their position papers, nor were they ever summoned to attend any conference prior to the issuance of the questioned BOT Circular.

It is clear from the provision aforequoted, however, that the leeway accorded the Board gives it a wide range of choice in gathering necessary information or data in the formulation of any policy, plan or program. It is not mandatory that it should first call a conference or require the submission of position papers or other documents from operators or persons who may be affected, this being only one of the options open to the Board, which is given wide discretionary authority. Petitioners cannot justifiably claim, therefore, that they were deprived of procedural due process. Neither can they state with certainty that public respondents had not availed of other sources of inquiry prior to issuing the challenged Circulars. operators of public conveyances are not the only primary sources of the data and information that may be desired by the BOT.

Dispensing with a public hearing prior to the issuance of the Circulars is neither violative of procedural due process. As held in Central Bank vs. Hon. Cloribel and Banco Filipino, 44 SCRA 307 (1972):

Pevious notice and hearing as elements of due process, are constitutionally required for the protection of life or vested property rights, as well as of liberty, when its limitation or loss takes place in consequence of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, generally dependent upon a past act or event which has to be established or ascertained. It is not essential to the validity of general rules or regulations promulgated to govern future conduct of a class or persons or enterprises, unless the law provides otherwise. (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioners further take the position that fixing the ceiling at six (6) years is arbitrary and oppressive because the roadworthiness of taxicabs depends upon their kind of maintenance and the use to which they are subjected, and, therefore, their actual physical condition should be taken into consideration at the time of registration. As public contend, however, it is impractical to subject every taxicab to constant and recurring evaluation, not to speak of the fact that it can open the door to the adoption of multiple standards, possible collusion, and even graft and corruption. A reasonable standard must be adopted to apply to an vehicles affected uniformly, fairly, and justly. The span of six years supplies that reasonable standard. The product of experience shows that by that time taxis have fully depreciated, their cost recovered, and a fair return on investment obtained. They are also generally dilapidated and no longer fit for safe and comfortable service to the public specially considering that they are in continuous operation practically 24 hours everyday in three shifts of eight hours per shift. With that standard of reasonableness and absence of arbitrariness, the requirement of due process has been met.

On Equal Protection of the Law:

Petitioners alleged that the Circular in question violates their right to equal protection of the law because the same is being enforced in Metro Manila only and is directed solely towards the taxi industry. At the outset it should be pointed out that implementation outside Metro Manila is also envisioned in Memorandum Circular No. 77-42. To repeat the pertinent portion:

For an orderly implementation of this Memorandum Circular, the rules herein shall immediately be effective in Metro Manila. Its implementation outside Metro Manila shall be carried out only after the project has been implemented in Metro Manila and only after the date has been determined by the Board. 4

In fact, it is the understanding of the Court that implementation of the Circulars in Cebu City is already being effected, with the BOT in the process of conducting studies regarding the operation of taxicabs in other cities.

The Board's reason for enforcing the Circular initially in Metro Manila is that taxicabs in this city, compared to those of other places, are subjected to heavier traffic pressure and more constant use. This is of common knowledge. Considering that traffic conditions are not the same in every city, a substantial distinction exists so that infringement of the equal protection clause can hardly be successfully claimed.

As enunciated in the preambular clauses of the challenged BOT Circular, the overriding consideration is the safety and comfort of the riding public from the dangers posed by old and dilapidated taxis. The State, in the exercise, of its police power, can prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, peace, good order, safety and general welfare of the people. It can prohibit all things hurtful to comfort,

safety and welfare of society. 5 It may also regulate property rights. 6 In the language of Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando "the necessities imposed by public welfare may justify the exercise of governmental authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded". 7

In so far as the non-application of the assailed Circulars to other transportation services is concerned, it need only be recalled that the equal protection clause does not imply that the same treatment be accorded all and sundry. It applies to things or persons Identically or similarly situated. It permits of classification of the object or subject of the law provided classification is reasonable or based on substantial distinction, which make for real differences, and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. 8 What is required under the equal protection clause is the uniform operation by legal means so that all persons under Identical or similar circumstance would be accorded the same treatment both in privilege conferred and the liabilities imposed. 9 The challenged Circulars satisfy the foregoing criteria.

Evident then is the conclusion that the questioned Circulars do not suffer from any constitutional infirmity. To declare a law unconstitutional, the infringement of constitutional right must be clear, categorical and undeniable. 10

WHEREFORE, the Writs prayed for are denied and this Petition is hereby dismissed. No costs.