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THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,
JULIO POMAR, defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-22008
November 3, 1924
The accused being the manager and person in charge of La Flor de la Isabela, a tobacco factory pertaining to La Campania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, a corporation duly authorized to transact business and the petitioner Macaria Fajardo, whom he granted vacation leave which began on the 16th d,y of July, 1923, by reason of her pregnancy, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously fail and refuse to pay to said woman the sum of eighty pesos (P80), Philippine currency, to which she was entitled as her regular wages corresponding to thirty days before and thirty days after her delivery and confinement which took place on the 12th day of August, 1923, despite and over the demands made by her, the said Macaria Fajardo, upon said accused, to do so.
To said complaint, the defendant contended that the provisions of said Act No. 3071, upon which the complaint was based were illegal, unconstitutional and void.
The lower court, found the defendant guilty of the alleged offense described in the complaint, and sentenced him to pay a fine of P50, in accordance with the provisions of section 15 of said Act, to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.
From that sentence the defendant appealed, and now makes the following assignments of error: That the court erred in overruling the demurrer; in convicting him of the crime charged in the information; and in not declaring section 13 of Act No. 3071, unconstitutional.
Whether or not the provisions of sections 13 and 15 of Act No. 3071 are a reasonable and lawful exercise of the police power of the state
Said section 13 was enacted by the Legislature of the Philippine Islands in the exercise of its supposed police power, with the praiseworthy purpose of safeguarding the health of pregnant women laborers in "factory, shop or place of labor of any description," and of insuring to them, to a certain extent, reasonable support for one month before and one month after their delivery.
The statute now under consideration is attacked upon the ground that it authorizes an unconstitutional interference with the freedom of contract including within the guarantees of the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. That the right to contract about one's affairs is a part of the liberty of the individual protected by this clause is settled by the decision of this court, and is no longer open to question. The law takes account of the necessities of only one party to the contract. It ignores the necessities of the employer by compelling him to pay not less than a certain sum, not only whether the employee is capable of earning it, but irrespective of the ability of his business to sustain the burden, generously leaving him, of course, the privilege of abandoning his business as an alternative for going on at a loss. Liberty includes not only the right to labor, but to refuse to labor, and, consequently, the right to contract to labor or for labor, and to terminate such contracts, and to refuse to make such contracts.. Hence, we are of the opinion that this Act contravenes those provisions of the state and Federal constitutions, which guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
Clearly, therefore, the law has deprived, every person, firm, or corporation owning or managing a factory, shop or place of labor of any description within the Philippine Islands, of his right to enter into contracts of employment upon such terms as he and the employee may agree upon. The law creates a term in every such contract, without the consent of the parties. Such persons are, therefore, deprived of their liberty to contract. The constitution of the Philippine Islands guarantees to every citizen his liberty and one of his liberties is the liberty to contract. It has been decided in a long line of decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, that the right to contract about one's affairs is a part of the liberty of the individual, protected by the "due process of law" clause of the constitution. The rule in this jurisdiction is, that the contracting parties may establish any agreements, terms, and conditions they may deem advisable, provided they are not contrary to law, morals or public policy. (Art. 1255, Civil Code.)
For all of the foregoing reasons, we are fully persuaded, under the facts and the law, that the provisions of section 13, of Act No. 3071 of the Philippine Legislature, are unconstitutional and void, in that they violate and are contrary to the provisions of the first paragraph of section 3 of the Act of Congress of the United States of August 29, 1916. (Vol. 12, Public Laws, p. 238.)
Acknowledgement: Lanie Bornilla