Friday, February 24, 2012

Villegas vs. Hiu Chiong Tsai Pao Ho [November 10, 1978,L-29646]

Facts: The Ordinance No. 6537 was passed by the Municipal Board of Manila on February 22, 1968 and signed by the herein petitioner Mayor Antonio J. Villegas of Manila on March 27, 1968. Section 1 of said Ordinance No. 6537 prohibits aliens from being employed or to engage or participate in any position or occupation or business enumerated therein, whether permanent, temporary or casual, without first securing an employment permit from the Mayor of Manila and paying the permit fee of P50.00 except persons employed in the diplomatic or consular missions of foreign countries, or in the technical assistance programs of both the Philippine Government and any foreign government, and those working in their respective households, and members of religious orders or congregations, sect or denomination, who are not paid monetarily or in kind. 

On May 4, 1968, private respondent Hiu Chiong Tsai Pao Ho, who was employed in Manila, filed a petition with the Court of First Instance praying for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction and restraining order to stop the enforcement of Ordinance No. 6637 as well as for a judgment declaring said Ordinance No. 6537 null and void. The said court ruled declaring Ordinance No. 6537 of the City of Manila as null and void. 

Issue: Whether or not Ordinance No. 6537 is null and void because it violates the rule on uniformity of taxation. 

Held: Yes. The contention that Ordinance No. 6537 is not a purely tax or revenue measure because its principal purpose is regulatory in nature has no merit. While it is true that the first part which requires that the alien shall secure an employment permit from the Mayor involves the exercise of discretion and judgment in the processing and approval or disapproval of applications for employment permits and therefore is regulatory in character the second part which requires the payment of P50.00 as employee's fee is not regulatory but a revenue measure. There is no logic or justification in exacting P50.00 from aliens who have been cleared for employment. It is obvious that the purpose of the ordinance is to raise money under the guise of regulation. Moreover, the P50.00 fee is unreasonable not only because it is excessive but because it fails to consider valid substantial differences in situation among individual aliens who are required to pay it. 

Ordinance No. 6537 does not lay down any criterion or standard to guide the Mayor in the exercise of his discretion. Ordinance No. 6537 is void because it does not contain or suggest any standard or criterion to guide the mayor in the exercise of the power which has been granted to him by the ordinance. 

The ordinance in question violates the due process of law and equal protection rule of the Constitution. 

Requiring a person before he can be employed to get a permit from the City Mayor of Manila who may withhold or refuse it at will is tantamount to denying him the basic right of the people in the Philippines to engage in a means of livelihood. While it is true that the Philippines as a State is not obliged to admit aliens within its territory, once an alien is admitted, he cannot be deprived of life without due process of law. This guarantee includes the means of livelihood. The shelter of protection under the due process and equal protection clause is given to all persons, both aliens and citizens. 


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