Political Law

Sandoval Notes – Political Law Part V Bill of Rights 1

B. THE BILL OF RIGHTS

 

The Due Process Clause

 

  1. Discuss the Due Process Clause. Distinguish substantive due process from procedural due process.

 

Held: Section 1 of the Bill of Rights lays down what is known as the “due process clause” of the Constitution.

 

In order to fall within the aegis of this provision, two conditions must concur, namely, that there is a deprivation and that such deprivation is done without proper observance of due process. When one speaks of due process of law, however, a distinction must be made between matters of procedure and matters of substance. In essence, procedural due process “refers to the method or manner by which the law is enforced,” while substantive due process “requires that the law itself, not merely the procedures by which the law would be enforced, is fair, reasonable, and just.” (Corona v. United Harbor Pilots Association of the Phils., 283 SCRA 31, Dec. 12, 1997 [Romero])

 

  1. Respondents United Harbor Pilots Association of the Philippines argue that due process was not observed in the adoption of PPA-AO No. 04-92 which provides that: “(a)ll existing regular appointments which have been previously issued by the Bureau of Customs or the PPA shall remain valid up to 31 December 1992 only,” and “(a)ll appointments to harbor pilot positions in all pilotage districts shall, henceforth, be only for a term of one (1) year from date of effectivity subject to renewal or cancellation by the Philippine Ports Authority after conduct of a rigid evaluation of performance,” allegedly because no hearing was conducted whereby “relevant government agencies” and the harbor pilots themselves could ventilate their views. They also contended that the sole and exclusive right to the exercise of harbor pilotage by pilots has become vested and can only be “withdrawn or shortened” by observing the constitutional mandate of due process of law.

 

Held: They are obviously referring to the procedural aspect of the enactment. Fortunately, the Court has maintained a clear position in this regard, a stance it has stressed in the recent case of Lumiqued v. Hon. Exevea (G.R. No. 117565, November 18, 1997), where it declared that “(a)s long as a party was given the opportunity to defend his interests in due course, he cannot be said to have been denied due process of law, for this opportunity to be heard is the very essence of due process. Moreover, this constitutional mandate is deemed satisfied if a person is granted an opportunity to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.”

 

In the case at bar, respondents questioned PPA-AO No. 04-92 no less than four times before the matter was finally elevated to this Tribunal. Their arguments on this score, however, failed to persuade. X x x

 

Neither does the fact that the pilots themselves were not consulted in any way taint the validity of the administrative order. As a general rule, notice and hearing, as the fundamental requirements of procedural due process, are essential only when an administrative body exercises its quasi-judicial function. In the performance of its executive or legislative functions, such as issuing rules and regulations, an administrative body need not comply with the requirements of notice and hearing.

 

Upon the other hand, it is also contended that the sole and exclusive right to the exercise of harbor pilotage by pilots is a settled issue. Respondents aver that said right has become vested and can only be “withdrawn or shortened” by observing the constitutional mandate of due process of law. Their argument has thus shifted from the procedural to one of substance. It is here where PPA-AO No. 04-92 fails to meet the condition set by the organic law.

 

Pilotage, just like other professions, may be practiced only by duly licensed individuals. Licensure is “the granting of license especially to practice a profession.” It is also “the system of granting licenses (as for professional practice) in accordance with established standards.” A license is a right or permission granted by some competent authority to carry on a business or do an act which, without such license, would be illegal.

 

Before harbor pilots can earn a license to practice their profession, they literally have to pass through the proverbial eye of a needle by taking, not one but five examinations, each followed by actual training and practice. X x x

 

Their license is granted in the form of an appointment which allows them to engage in pilotage until they retire at the age of 70 years. This is a vested right. Under the terms of PPA-AO No. 04-92, “[a]ll existing regular appointments which have been previously issued by the Bureau of Customs or the PPA shall remain valid up to 31 December 1992 only,” and “(a)ll appointments to harbor pilot positions in all pilotage districts shall, henceforth, be only for a term of one (1) year from date of effectivity subject to renewal or cancellation by the Authority after conduct of a rigid evaluation of performance.”

 

It is readily apparent that PPA-AO No. 04-92 unduly restricts the right of harbor pilots to enjoy their profession before their compulsory retirement. In the past, they enjoyed a measure of security knowing that after passing five examinations and undergoing years of on-the-job training, they would have a license which they could use until their retirement, unless sooner revoked by the PPA for mental or physical unfitness. Under the new issuance, they have to contend with an annual cancellation of their license which can be temporary or permanent depending on the outcome of their performance evaluation. Veteran pilots and neophytes alike are suddenly confronted with one-year terms which ipso facto expire at the end of that period. Renewal of their license is now dependent on a “rigid evaluation of performance” which is conducted only after the license has already been cancelled. Hence, the use of the term “renewal.” It is this pre-evaluation cancellation which primarily makes PPA-AO No. 04-92 unreasonable and constitutionally infirm. In a real sense, it is a deprivation of property without due process of law. (Corona v. United Harbor Pilots Association of the Phils., 283 SCRA 31, December 12, 1997 [Romero])

 

  1. Does the due process clause encompass the right to be assisted by counsel during an administrative inquiry?

 

Held: The right to counsel, which cannot be waived unless the waiver is in writing and in the presence of counsel, is a right afforded a suspect or an accused during custodial investigation. It is not an absolute right and may, thus, be invoked or rejected in a criminal proceeding and, with more reason, in an administrative inquiry. In the case at bar, petitioners invoke the right of an accused in criminal proceedings to have competent and independent counsel of his own choice. Lumiqued, however, was not accused of any crime in the proceedings below. The investigation conducted by the committee x x x was for the sole purpose of determining if he could be held administratively liable under the law for the complaints filed against him. x x x As such, the hearing conducted by the investigating committee was not part of a criminal prosecution. X x x

 

While investigations conducted by an administrative body may at times be akin to a criminal proceeding, the fact remains that under existing laws, a party in an administrative inquiry may or may not be assisted by counsel, irrespective of the nature of the charges and of the respondent’s capacity to represent himself, and no duty rests on such a body to furnish the person being investigated with counsel. In an administrative proceeding x x x a respondent x x x has the option of engaging the services of counsel or not. x x x Thus, the right to counsel is not imperative in administrative investigations because such inquiries are conducted merely to determine whether there are facts that merit disciplinary measures against erring public officers and employees, with the purpose of maintaining the dignity of government service.

 

The right to counsel is not indispensable to due process unless required by the Constitution or the law. X x x. (Lumiqued v. Exevea, 282 SCRA 125, Nov. 18, 1997 [Romero])

 

  1. Does an extraditee have the right to notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of an extradition proceeding?

 

Held: Considering that in the case at bar, the extradition proceeding is only at its evaluation stage, the nature of the right being claimed by the private respondent is nebulous and the degree of prejudice he will allegedly suffer is weak, we accord greater weight to the interests espoused by the government thru the petitioner Secretary of Justice. X x x

 

In tilting the balance in favor of the interests of the State, the Court stresses that it is not ruling that the private respondent has no right to due process at all throughout the length and breadth of the extradition proceedings. Procedural due process requires a determination of what process is due, when it is due, and the degree of what is due. Stated otherwise, a prior determination should be made as to whether procedural protections are at all due and when they are due, which in turn depends on the extent to which an individual will be “condemned to suffer grievous loss.”  We have explained why an extraditee has no right to notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of the extradition process. As aforesaid, P.D. No. 1069 which implements the RP-US Extradition Treaty affords an extraditee sufficient opportunity to meet the evidence against him once the petition is filed in court. The time for the extraditee to know the basis of the request for his extradition is merely moved to the filing in court of the formal petition for extradition. The extraditee’s right to know is momentarily withheld during the evaluation stage of the extradition process to accommodate the more compelling interest of the State to prevent escape of potential extraditees which can be precipitated by premature information of the basis of the request for his extradition. No less compelling at that stage of the extradition proceedings is the need to be more deferential to the judgment of a co-equal branch of the government, the Executive, which has been endowed by our Constitution with greater power over matters involving our foreign relations. Needless to state, this balance of interests is not a static but a moving balance which can be adjusted as the extradition process moves from the administrative stage to the judicial stage and to the execution stage depending on factors that will come into play. In sum, we rule that the temporary hold on private respondent’s privilege of notice and hearing is a soft restraint on his right to due process which will not deprive him of fundamental fairness should he decide to resist the request for his extradition to the United States. There is no denial of due process as long as fundamental fairness is assured a party. (Secretary of Justice v. Hon. Ralph C. Lantion, G.R. No. 139465, Oct. 17, 2000, En Banc [Puno])

 

 

  1. Will Mark Jimenez’s detention prior to the conclusion of the extradition proceedings not amount to a violation of his right to due process?

 

Held: Contrary to his contention, his detention prior to the conclusion of the extradition proceedings does not amount to a violation of his right to due process. We iterate the familiar doctrine that the essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard (Garcia v. NLRC, GR No. 110494, November 18, 1996; Paat v. Court of Appeals, January 10, 1997) but, at the same time, point out that the doctrine does not always call for a prior opportunity to be heard (See Central Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 220 SCRA 536, March 20, 1993). Where the circumstances – such as those present in an extradition case – call for it, a subsequent opportunity to be heard is enough (Ibid. See also Busuego v. Court of Appeals, 304 SCRA 473, March 11, 1999). In the present case, respondent will be given full opportunity to be heard subsequently, when the extradition court hears the Petition for Extradition. Hence, there is no violation of his right to due process and fundamental fairness.

 

Contrary to the contention of Jimenez, we find no arbitrariness, either, in the immediate deprivation of his liberty prior to his being heard. That his arrest and detention will not be arbitrary is sufficiently ensured by (1) the DOJ’s filing in court the Petition with its supporting documents after a determination that the extradition request meets the requirements of the law and the relevant treaty; (2) the extradition judge’s independent prima facie determination that his arrest will best serve the ends of justice before the issuance of a warrant for his arrest; and (3) his opportunity, once he is under the court’s custody, to apply for bail as an exception to the no-initial-bail rule.

 

It is also worth noting that before the US government requested the extradition of respondent, proceedings had already been conducted in that country. But because he left the jurisdiction of the requesting state before those proceedings could be completed, it was hindered from continuing with the due processes prescribed under its laws. His invocation of due process now had thus become hollow. He already had that opportunity in the requesting state; yet, instead of taking it, he ran away.

 

In this light, would it be proper and just for the government to increase the risk of violating its treaty obligations in order to accord Respondent Jimenez his personal liberty in the span of time that it takes to resolve the Petition for Extradition? His supposed immediate deprivation of liberty without due process that he had previously shunned pales against the government’s interest in fulfilling its Extradition Treaty obligations and in cooperating with the world community in the suppression of crime. Indeed, “[c]onstitutional liberties do not exist in a vacuum; the due process rights accorded to individuals must be carefully balanced against exigent and palpable government interest.” (Coquia, “On the Implementation of the US-RP Extradition Treaty,” supra; citing Kelso v. US Department of State, 13 F Supp. 291 [DDC 1998])

 

Too, we cannot allow our country to be a haven for fugitives, cowards and weaklings who, instead of facing the consequences of their actions, choose to run and hide. Hence, it would not be good policy to increase the risk of violating our treaty obligations if, through overprotection or excessively liberal treatment, persons sought to be extradited are able to evade arrest or escape from our custody. In the absence of any provision – in the Constitution, the law or the treaty – expressly guaranteeing the right to bail in extradition proceedings, adopting the practice of not granting them bail, as a general rule, would be a step towards deterring fugitives from coming to the Philippines to hide from or evade their prosecutors.

 

The denial of bail as a matter of course in extradition cases falls into place with and gives life to Article 14 (It states: “If the person sought consents in writing to surrender to the Requesting State, the Requested State may surrender the person as expeditiously as possible without further proceedings.”) of the Treaty, since this practice would encourage the accused to voluntarily surrender to the requesting state to cut short their detention here. Likewise, their detention pending the resolution of extradition proceedings would fall into place with the emphasis of the Extradition Law on the summary nature of extradition cases and the need for their speedy disposition. (Government of the United States of America v. Hon. Guillermo Purganan, G.R. No. 148571, Sept. 24, 2002, En Banc [Panganiban])

  

  1. Is respondent in an Extradition Proceeding entitled to notice and hearing before the issuance of a warrant of arrest?

 

Held: Both parties cite Section 6 of PD 1069 in support of their arguments. X x x

 

Does this provision sanction RTC Judge Purganan’s act of immediately setting for hearing the issuance of a warrant of arrest? We rule in the negative.

 

  1. On the Basis of the Extradition Law

 

It is significant to note that Section 6 of PD 1069, our Extradition Law, uses the word “immediate” to qualify the arrest of the accused. This qualification would be rendered nugatory by setting for hearing the issuance of the arrest warrant. Hearing entails sending notices to the opposing parties, receiving facts and arguments from them, and giving them time to prepare and present such facts and arguments. Arrest subsequent to a hearing can no longer be considered “immediate.” The law could not have intended the word as a mere superfluity but, on the whole, as a means of impairing a sense of urgency and swiftness in the determination of whether a warrant of arrest should be issued.

 

By using the phrase “if it appears,” the law further conveys that accuracy is not as important as speed at such early stage. The trial court is not expected to make an exhaustive determination to ferret out the true and actual situation, immediately upon the filing of the petition. From the knowledge and the material then available to it, the court is expected merely to get a good first impression – a prima facie finding – sufficient to make a speedy initial determination as regards the arrest and detention of the accused.

 

X x x

 

We stress that the prima facie existence of probable cause for hearing the petition and, a priori, for issuing an arrest warrant was already evident from the Petition itself and its supporting documents. Hence, after having already determined therefrom that a prima facie finding did exist, respondent judge gravely abused his discretion when he set the matter for hearing upon motion of Jimenez.

 

Moreover, the law specifies that the court sets a hearing upon receipt of the answer or upon failure of the accused to answer after receiving the summons. In connection with the matter of immediate arrest, however, the word “hearing” is notably absent from the provision. Evidently, had the holding of a hearing at that stage been intended, the law could have easily so provided. It also bears emphasizing at this point that extradition proceedings are summary (See Sec. 9, PD 1069) in nature. Hence, the silence of the Law and the Treaty leans to the more reasonable interpretation that there is no intention to punctuate with a hearing every little step in the entire proceedings.

 

X x x

 

Verily x x x sending to persons sought to be extradited a notice of the request for their arrest and setting it for hearing at some future date would give them ample opportunity to prepare and execute an escape. Neither the Treaty nor the Law could have intended that consequence, for the very purpose of both would have been defeated by the escape of the accused from the requested state.

 

  1. On the Basis of the Constitution

 

Even Section 2 of Article III of our Constitution, which is invoked by Jimenez, does not require a notice or a hearing before the issuance of a warrant of arrest. X x x

 

To determine probable cause for the issuance of arrest warrants, the Constitution itself requires only the examination – under oath or affirmation – of complainants and the witnesses they may produce. There is no requirement to notify and hear the accused before the issuance of warrants of arrest.

 

In Ho v. People (280 SCRA 365, October 9, 1997) and in all the cases cited therein, never was a judge required to go to the extent of conducting a hearing just for the purpose of personally determining probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. All we required was that the “judge must have sufficient supporting documents upon which to make his independent judgment, or at the very least, upon which to verify the findings of the prosecutor as to the existence of probable cause.”

 

In Webb v. De Leon (247 SCRA 652, 680, per Puno, J.), the Court categorically stated that a judge was not supposed to conduct a hearing before issuing a warrant of arrest x x x.

 

At most, in cases of clear insufficiency of evidence on record, judges merely further examine complainants and their witnesses (Ibid; citing Allado v. Diokno, 233 SCRA 192, May 5, 1994). In the present case, validating the act of respondent judge and instituting the practice of hearing the accused and his witnesses at this early stage would be discordant with the rationale for the entire system. If the accused were allowed to be heard and necessarily to present evidence during the prima facie determination for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, what would stop him from presenting his entire plethora of defenses at this stage – if he so desires – in his effort to negate a prima facie finding? Such a procedure could convert the determination of a prima facie case into a full-blown trial of the entire proceedings and possibly make trial of the main case superfluous. This scenario is also anathema to the summary nature of extraditions. (Government of the United States of America v. Hon. Guillermo Purganan, G.R. No. 148571, Sept. 24, 2002, En Banc [Panganiban])

 

The Equal Protection Clause

 

  1. Explain and discuss the equal protection of the law clause.

 

Held: 1. The equal protection of the law is embraced in the concept of due process, as every unfair discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has nonetheless been embodied in a separate clause in Article III, Sec. 1, of the Constitution to provide for a more specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the government. Arbitrariness in general may be challenged on the basis of the due process clause. But if the particular act assailed partakes of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.

 

According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed. Similar subjects, in other words, should not be treated differently, so as to give undue favor to some and unjustly discriminate against others.

 

The equal protection clause does not require the universal application of the laws on all persons or things without distinction. This might in fact sometimes result in unequal protection, as where, for example, a law prohibiting mature books to all persons, regardless of age, would benefit the morals of the youth but violate the liberty of adults. What the clause requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. By classification is meant the grouping of persons or things similar to each other in certain particulars and different from all others in these same particulars. (Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, 227 SCRA 703, 711-712, Nov. 11, 1993, En Banc [Cruz])

 

  1. The equal protection clause exists to prevent undue favor or privilege. It is intended to eliminate discrimination and oppression based on inequality. Recognizing the existence of real difference among men, the equal protection clause does not demand absolute equality. It merely requires that all persons shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to the privileges conferred and liabilities enforced. Thus, the equal protection clause does not absolutely forbid classifications x x x. If the classification is based on real and substantial differences; is germane to the purpose of the law; applies to all members of the same class; and applies to current as well as future conditions, the classification may not be impugned as violating the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee. A distinction based on real and reasonable considerations related to a proper legislative purpose x x x is neither unreasonable, capricious nor unfounded. (Himagan v. People, 237 SCRA 538, Oct. 7, 1994, En Banc [Kapunan])

 

  1. Congress enacted R.A. No. 8189 which provides, in Section 44 thereof, that “No Election Officer shall hold office in a particular city or municipality for more than four (4) years. Any election officer who, either at the time of the approval of this Act or subsequent thereto, has served for at least four (4) years in a particular city or municipality shall automatically be reassigned by the Commission to a new station outside the original congressional district.” Petitioners, who are City and Municipal Election Officers, theorize that Section 44 of RA 8189 is violative of the “equal protection clause” of the 1987 Constitution because it singles out the City and Municipal Election Officers of the COMELEC as prohibited from holding office in the same city or municipality for more than four (4) years. They maintain that there is no substantial distinction between them and other COMELEC officials, and therefore, there is no valid classification to justify the objective of the provision of law under attack. Resolve.

 

Held: The Court is not persuaded by petitioners’ arguments. The “equal protection clause” of the 1987 Constitution permits a valid classification under the following conditions:

 

  • The classification must rest on substantial distinction;
  • The classification must be germane to the purpose of the law;
  • The classification must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
  • The classification must apply equally to all members of the same class.

 

After a careful study, the ineluctable conclusion is that the classification under Section 44 of RA 8189 satisfies the aforestated requirements.

 

The singling out of election officers in order to “ensure the impartiality of election officials by preventing them from developing familiarity with the people of their place of assignment” does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

 

In Lutz v. Araneta (98 Phil. 148, 153 [1955]), it was held that “the legislature is not required by the Constitution to adhere to a policy of ‘all or none'”. This is so for underinclusiveness is not an argument against a valid classification. It may be true that all other officers of COMELEC referred to by petitioners are exposed to the same evils sought to be addressed by the statute. However, in this case, it can be discerned that the legislature thought the noble purpose of the law would be sufficiently served by breaking an important link in the chain of corruption than by breaking up each and every link thereof. Verily, under Section 3(n) of RA 8189, election officers are the highest officials or authorized representatives of the COMELEC in a city or municipality. It is safe to say that without the complicity of such officials, large-scale anomalies in the registration of voters can hardly be carried out. (Agripino A. De Guzman, Jr., et al. v. COMELEC (G.R. No. 129118, July 19, 2000, en Banc [Purisima])

 

 

  1. Appellant, who was charged with Illegal Recruitment in the RTC of Zamboanga City, invokes the equal protection clause in her defense. She points out that although the evidence purportedly shows that Jasmine Alejandro handed out application forms and even received Lourdes Modesto’s payment, appellant was the only one criminally charged. Alejandro, on the other hand, remained scot-free. From this, appellant concludes that the prosecution discriminated against her on grounds of regional origins. Appellant is a Cebuana while Alejandro is a Zamboanguena, and the alleged crime took place in Zamboanga City.

 

Held: The argument has no merit.

 

The prosecution of one guilty while others equally guilty are not prosecuted, however, is not, by itself, a denial of the equal protection of the laws (Application of Finn, 356 P.2d 685 [1960]). Where the official action purports to be in conformity to the statutory classification, an erroneous or mistaken performance of the statutory duty, although a violation of the statute, is not without more a denial of the equal protection of the laws (Snowden v. Hughes, 321 US 1, 88 L Ed 497, 64 S Ct 397 [1943]). The unlawful administration by officers of a statute fair on its face, resulting in its unequal application to those who are entitled to be treated alike, is not a denial of equal protection, unless there is shown to be present in it an element of intentional or purposeful discrimination. This may appear on the face of the action taken with respect to a particular class or person, or it may only be shown by extrinsic evidence showing a discriminatory design over another not to be inferred from the action itself. But a discriminatory purpose is not presumed, there must be a showing of “clear and intentional discrimination.” (Ibid.) Appellant has failed to show that, in charging appellant in court, that there was a “clear and intentional discrimination” on the part of the prosecuting officials.

 

The discretion of who to prosecute depends on the prosecution’s sound assessment whether the evidence before it can justify a reasonable belief that a person has committed an offense (Tan, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan [Third Division], 292 SCRA 452 [1998]). The presumption is that the prosecuting officers regularly performed their duties (Rules of Court, Rule 131, Sec. 5 [m]), and this presumption can be overcome only by proof to the contrary, not by mere speculation. Indeed, appellant has not presented any evidence to overcome this presumption. The mere allegation that appellant, a Cebuana, was charged with the commission of a crime, while a Zamboanguena, the guilty party in appellant’s eyes, was not, is insufficient to support a conclusion that the prosecution officers denied appellant equal protection of the laws.

 

There is also common sense practicality in sustaining appellant’s prosecution.

 

While all persons accused of crime are to be treated on a basis of equality before the law, it does not follow that they are to be protected in the commission of crime. It would be unconscionable, for instance, to excuse a defendant guilty of murder because others have murdered with impunity. The remedy for unequal enforcement of the law in such instances does not lie in the exoneration of the guilty at the expense of society x x x. Protection of the law will be extended to all persons equally in the pursuit of their lawful occupations, but no person has the right to demand protection of the law in the commission of a crime (People v. Montgomery, 117 P.2d 437 [1941]).

 

Likewise,

 

[i]f the failure of prosecutors to enforce the criminal laws as to some persons should be converted into a defense for others charged with crime, the result would be that the trial of the district attorney for nonfeasance would become an issue in the trial of many persons charged with heinous crimes and the enforcement of law would suffer a complete breakdown (State v. Hicks, 325 P.2d 794 [1958]).

(People v. Dela Piedra, 350 SCRA 163, Jan. 24, 2001, 1st Div. [Kapunan])

 

 

 

  1. Are there substantial distinctions between print media and broadcast media to justify the requirement for the latter to give free airtime to be used by the Comelec to inform the public of qualifications and program of government of candidates and political parties during the campaign period? Discuss.

 

Held: There are important differences in the characteristics of the two media which justify their differential treatment for free speech purposes. Because of the physical limitations of the broadcast spectrum, the government must, of necessity, allocate broadcast frequencies to those wishing to use them. There is no similar justification for government allocation and regulation of the print media.

 

In the allocation of limited resources, relevant conditions may validly be imposed on the grantees or licensees. The reason for this is that the government spends public funds for the allocation and regulation of the broadcast industry, which it does not do in the case of print media. To require radio and television broadcast industry to provide free airtime for the Comelec Time is a fair exchange for what the industry gets.

 

From another point of view, the SC has also held that because of the unique and pervasive influence of the broadcast media, “[n]ecessarily x x x the freedom of television and radio broadcasting is somewhat lesser in scope than the freedom accorded to newspaper and print media.” (TELEBAP, Inc. v. COMELEC, 289 SCRA 337, April 21, 1998 [Mendoza])

 

  1. Does the death penalty law (R.A. No. 7659) violate the equal protection clause considering that, in effect, it punishes only people who are poor, uneducated, and jobless?

 

Held: R.A. No. 7659 specifically provides that “[T]he death penalty shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed x x x when the victim is a religious or a child below seven (7) years old.” Apparently, the death penalty law makes no distinction. It applies to all persons and to all classes of persons – rich or poor, educated or uneducated, religious or non-religious. No particular person or classes of persons are identified by the law against whom the death penalty shall be exclusively imposed. The law punishes with death a person who shall commit rape against a child below seven years of age. Thus, the perpetration of rape against a 5-year old girl does not absolve or exempt an accused from the imposition of the death penalty by the fact that he is poor, uneducated, jobless, and lacks catechetical instruction. To hold otherwise will not eliminate but promote inequalities.

 

In Cecilleville Realty and Service Corporation v. CA, 278 SCRA 819 [1997]), the SC clarified that compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but only when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege. (People v. Jimmy Mijano y Tamora, G.R. No. 129112, July 23, 1999, En Banc [Per Curiam])

 

  1. The International School Alliance of Educators (ISAE) questioned the point-of-hire classification employed by International School, Inc. to justify distinction in salary rates between foreign-hires and local-hires, i.e., salary rates of foreign-hires are higher by 25% than their local counterparts, as discriminatory and, therefore, violates the equal protection clause. The International School contended that this is necessary in order to entice foreign-hires to leave their domicile and work here. Resolve.

 

Held: That public policy abhors inequality and discrimination is beyond contention. Our Constitution and laws reflect the policy against these evils. X x x

 

International law, which springs from general principles of law, likewise proscribes discrimination x x x. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. 111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation – all embody the general principle against discrimination, the very antithesis of fairness and justice. The Philippines, through its Constitution, has incorporated this principle as part of its national laws.

 

[I]t would be an affront to both the spirit and letter of these provisions if the State, in spite of its primordial obligation to promote and ensure equal employment opportunities, closes its eyes to unequal and discriminatory terms and conditions of employment x x x.

 

Discrimination, particularly in terms of wages, is frowned upon by the Labor Code. Article 135, for example, prohibits and penalizes the payment of lesser compensation to a female employee as against a male employee for work of equal value. Article 248 declares it an unfair labor practice for an employer to discriminate in regards to wages in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization. X x x

 

The foregoing provisions impregnably institutionalize in this jurisdiction the long honored legal truism of “Equal pay for equal work.” Persons who work with substantially equal qualifications, skill, effort and responsibility, under similar conditions, should be paid similar salaries. This rule applies to the School (International School, Inc.), its “international character” notwithstanding.

 

The School contends that petitioner has not adduced evidence that local-hires perform work equal to that of foreign-hires. The Court finds this argument a little cavalier. If an employer accords employees the same position and rank, the presumption is that these employees perform equal work. This presumption is borne by logic and human experience. If the employer pays one employee less than the rest, it is not for that employee to explain why he receives less or why the others receive more. That would be adding insult to injury. The employer has discriminated against that employee; it is for the employer to explain why the employee is treated unfairly.

 

The employer in this case failed to discharge this burden. There is no evidence here that foreign-hires perform 25% more efficiently or effectively than the local-hires. Both groups have similar functions and responsibilities, which they perform under similar working conditions.

 

The School cannot invoke the need to entice foreign-hires to leave their domicile to rationalize the distinction in salary rates without violating the principle of equal work for equal pay.

 

X x x

 

While we recognize the need of the School to attract foreign-hires, salaries should not be used as an enticement to the prejudice of local-hires. The local-hires perform the same services as foreign-hires and they ought to be paid the same salaries as the latter. For the same reason, the “dislocation factor” and the foreign-hires’ limited tenure also cannot serve as valid bases for the distinction in salary rates. The dislocation factor and limited tenure affecting foreign-hires are adequately compensated by certain benefits accorded them which are not enjoyed by local-hires, such as housing, transportation, shipping costs, taxes and home leave travel allowances.

 

The Constitution enjoins the State to “protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare”, “to afford labor full protection.” The State, therefore, has the right and duty to regulate the relations between labor and capital. These relations are not merely contractual but are so impressed with public interest that labor contracts, collective bargaining agreements included, must yield to the common good. Should such contracts contain stipulations that are contrary to public policy, courts will not hesitate to strike down these stipulations.

 

In this case, we find the point-of-hire classification employed by respondent School to justify the distinction in the salary rates of foreign-hires and local-hires to be an invalid classification. There is no reasonable distinction between the services rendered by foreign-hires and local-hires. The practice of the School of according higher salaries to foreign-hires contravenes public policy and, certainly, does not deserve the sympathy of this Court. (International School Alliance of Educators (ISAE) v. Hon. Leonardo A. Quisumbing, G.R. No. 128845, June 1, 2000, 1st Div. [Kapunan])

 

  1. Accused-appellant Romeo G. Jalosjos filed a motion before the Court asking that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a Congressman, including attendance at legislative sessions and committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a non-bailable offense. Does being an elective official result in a substantial distinction that allows different treatment? Is being a Congressman a substantial differentiation which removes the accused-appellant as a prisoner from the same class as all persons validly confined under law?

 

Held: In the ultimate analysis, the issue before us boils down to a question of constitutional equal protection.

 

X x x

 

The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. The duties imposed by the “mandate of the people” are multifarious. The accused-appellant asserts that the duty to legislate ranks highest in the hierarchy of government. The accused-appellant is only one of 250 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of the Senate, charged with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in the physical absence of one or a few of its members. Depending on the exigency of Government that has to be addressed, the President or the Supreme Court can also be deemed the highest for that particular duty. The importance of a function depends on the need for its exercise. The duty of a mother to nurse her infant is most compelling under the law of nature. A doctor with unique skills has the duty to save the lives of those with a particular affliction. An elective governor has to serve provincial constituents. A police officer must maintain peace and order. Never had the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law.

 

A strict scrutiny of classifications is essential lest wittingly or otherwise, insidious discriminations are made in favor of or against groups or types of individuals.

 

The Court cannot validate badges of inequality. The necessities imposed by public welfare may justify exercise of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded.

 

We, therefore, find that election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. The functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class.

 

X x x

 

It can be seen from the foregoing that incarceration, by its nature, changes an individual’s status in society. Prison officials have the difficult and often thankless job of preserving the security in a potentially explosive setting, as well as of attempting to provide rehabilitation that prepare inmates for re-entry into the social mainstream. Necessarily, both these demands require the curtailment and elimination of certain rights.

 

Premises considered, we are constrained to rule against the accused-appellant’s claim that re-election to public office gives priority to any other right or interest, including the police power of the State. (People v. Jalosjos, 324 SCRA 689, Feb. 3, 2000, En Banc [Ynares-Santiago])

 

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