Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ichong vs. Hernandez, GR No. L-7995

Facts: Republic Act No. 1180 is entitled "An Act to Regulate the Retail Business." In effect it nationalizes the retail trade business.

Petitioner attacks the constitutionality of the Act, contending that: (1) it denies to alien residents the equal protection of the laws and deprives of their liberty and property without due process of law ; (2) the subject of the Act is not expressed or comprehended in the title thereof; (3) the Act violates international and treaty obligations of the Republic of the Philippines; (4) the provisions of the Act against the transmission by aliens of their retail business thru hereditary succession, and those requiring 100% Filipino capitalization for a corporation or entity to entitle it to engage in the retail business, violate the spirit of Sections 1 and 5, Article XIII and Section 8 of Article XIV of the Constitution.

In answer, the Solicitor-General and the Fiscal of the City of Manila contend that: (1) the Act was passed in the valid exercise of the police power of the State, which exercise is authorized in the Constitution in the interest of national economic survival; (2) the Act has only one subject embraced in the title; (3) no treaty or international obligations are infringed; (4) as regards hereditary succession, only the form is affected but the value of the property is not impaired, and the institution of inheritance is only of statutory origin.

Issue: Whether the conditions which the disputed law purports to remedy really or actually exist.

Held: Yes. We hold that the disputed law was enacted to remedy a real actual threat and danger to national economy posed by alien dominance and control of the retail business and free citizens and country from dominance and control. Such enactment clearly falls within the scope of the police power of the State, thru which and by which it protects its own personality and insures its security and future. Furthermore, the law does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution because sufficient grounds exist for the distinction between alien and citizen in the exercise of the occupation regulated, nor the due process of law clause, because the law is prospective in operation and recognizes the privilege of aliens already engaged in the occupation and reasonably protects their privilege. The wisdom and efficacy of the law to carry out its objectives appear to us to be plainly evident — as a matter of fact it seems not only appropriate but actually necessary — and that in any case such matter falls within the prerogative of the Legislature, with whose power and discretion the Judicial department of the Government may not interfere. Moreover, the provisions of the law are clearly embraced in the title, and this suffers from no duplicity and has not misled the legislators or the segment of the population affected; and that it cannot be said to be void for supposed conflict with treaty obligations because no treaty has actually been entered into on the subject and the police power may not be curtailed or surrendered by any treaty or any other conventional agreement.

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