Fact: The petitioner, engaged principally in the recruitment of Filipino workers, male and female, for overseas placement, challenges the Constitutional validity of Department Order No. 1, Series of 1988, of the Department of Labor and Employment, in the character of “GUIDELINES GOVERNING THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF DEPLOYMENT OF FILIPINO DOMESTIC AND HOUSEHOLD WORKERS,” in this petition for certiorari and prohibition. Specifically, the measure is assailed for “discrimination against males or females;” that it “does not apply to all Filipino workers but only to domestic helpers and females with similar skills;” and that it is violative of the right to travel. It is held likewise to be an invalid exercise of the lawmaking power, police power being legislative, and not executive, in character. In its supplement to the petition, PASEI invokes Section 3, of Article XIII, of the Constitution, providing for worker participation “in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law.” 4 Department Order No. 1, it is contended, was passed in the absence of prior consultations. It is claimed, finally, to be in violation of the Charter’s non-impairment clause, in addition to the “great and irreparable injury” that PASEI members face should the Order be further enforced.
Issue: Whether the Department Order of the Respondent is in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Discriminatory against Sexes
Held: No, the petitioner has shown no satisfactory reason why the contested measure should be nullified. There is no question that Department Order No. 1 applies only to “female contract workers,” but it does not thereby make an undue discrimination between the sexes. It is well-settled that “equality before the law” under the Constitution does not import a perfect Identity of rights among all men and women. It admits of classifications, provided that (1) such classifications rest on substantial distinctions; (2) they are germane to the purposes of the law; (3) they are not confined to existing conditions; and (4) they apply equally to all members of the same class. The Court is well aware of the unhappy plight that has befallen our female labor force abroad, especially domestic servants, amid exploitative working conditions marked by, in not a few cases, physical and personal abuse. The sordid tales of maltreatment suffered by migrant Filipina workers, even rape and various forms of torture, confirmed by testimonies of returning workers, are compelling motives for urgent Government action. As precisely the caretaker of Constitutional rights, the Court is called upon to protect victims of exploitation. In fulfilling that duty, the Court sustains the Government’s efforts. The State through the labor Secretary Exercise the police power which is a power coextensive with self- protection, and it is not inaptly termed the “law of overwhelming necessity.” It may be said to be that inherent and plenary power in the State which enables it to prohibit all things hurtful to the comfort, safety, and welfare of society.”
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