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G.R. No. L-7995 May 31, 1957
LAO H. ICHONG, in his own behalf and in behalf of other alien residents, corporations and partnerships adversely affected. by Republic Act No. 1180, petitioner,
JAIME HERNANDEZ, Secretary of Finance, and MARCELINO SARMIENTO, City Treasurer of Manila, respondents.
This Court has before it the delicate task of passing upon the validity and constitutionality of a legislative enactment, fundamental and far-reaching in significance. The enactment poses questions of due process, police power and equal protection of the laws. It also poses an important issue of fact, that is whether the conditions which the disputed law purports to remedy really or actually exist. Admittedly springing from a deep, militant, and positive nationalistic impulse, the law purports to protect citizen and country from the alien retailer. Through it, and within the field of economy it regulates, Congress attempts to translate national aspirations for economic independence and national security, rooted in the drive and urge for national survival and welfare, into a concrete and tangible measures designed to free the national retailer from the competing dominance of the alien, so that the country and the nation may be free from a supposed economic dependence and bondage. Do the facts and circumstances justify the enactment?
The rule in general is as follows:
Aliens are under no special constitutional protection which forbids a classification otherwise justified simply because the limitation of the class falls along the lines of nationality. That would be requiring a higher degree of protection for aliens as a class than for similar classes than for similar classes of American citizens. Broadly speaking, the difference in status between citizens and aliens constitutes a basis for reasonable classification in the exercise of police power. (2 Am., Jur. 468-469.)
Is the exclusion in the future of aliens from the retail trade unreasonable. Arbitrary capricious, taking into account the illegitimate and pernicious form and manner in which the aliens have heretofore engaged therein?
Resuming what we have set forth above 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; that the 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; that 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; that 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; that 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.
Some members of the Court are of the opinion that the radical effects of the law could have been made less harsh in its impact on the aliens. Thus it is stated that the more time should have been given in the law for the liquidation of existing businesses when the time comes for them to close. Our legal duty, however, is merely to determine if the law falls within the scope of legislative authority and does not transcend the limitations of due process and equal protection guaranteed in the Constitution. Remedies against the harshness of the law should be addressed to the Legislature; they are beyond our power and jurisdiction.
The petition is hereby denied, with costs against petitioner.