Beltran v. Secretary of Health G.R. No. 133640, November 25, 2005

Fact:  Republic Act No. 7719 or the National Blood Services Act of 1994 was enacted into law on April 2, 1994. The Act seeks to provide an adequate supply of safe blood by promoting voluntary blood donation and by regulating blood banks in the country. Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, constituting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of said law was promulgated by respondent Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH). Section 7 of R.A. 7719 provides Phase-out of Commercial Blood Banks – All commercial blood banks shall be phased-out over a period of two (2) years after the effectivity of this Act, extendable to a maximum period of two (2) years by the Secretary.” Section 23 of Administrative Order No. 9 provides Process of Phasing Out. — The Department shall effect the phasing-out of all commercial blood banks over a period of two (2) years, extendible for a maximum period of two (2) years after the effectivity of R.A. 7719. The decision to extend shall be based on the result of a careful study and review of the blood supply and demand and public safety.” On August 23, 1994, the National Blood Services Act providing for the phase out of commercial blood banks took effect. On April 28, 1995, Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1995, constituting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of said law was promulgated by DOH. The phase-out period was extended for two years by the DOH. Hence, petitioners were granted by the Secretary of Health their licenses to open and operate a blood bank only until May 27, 1998. On May 20, 1998, prior to the expiration of the licenses granted to petitioners, they filed a petition for certiorari with application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the constitutionality and validity of the aforementioned Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Issue: Whether the law and its implementing rules and regulations violate the equal protection clause enshrined in the Constitution because it unduly discriminates against commercial or free standing blood banks in a manner that is not germane to the purpose of the law.

Held: No, the court deem the classification to be valid and reasonable for the following reasons:

One, it was based on substantial distinctions. The former operates for purely humanitarian reasons and as a medical service while the latter is motivated by profit. Also, while the former wholly encourages voluntary blood donation, the latter treats blood as a sale of commodity.

Two, the classification, and the consequent phase out of commercial blood banks is germane to the purpose of the law, that is, to provide the nation with an adequate supply of safe blood by promoting voluntary blood donation and treating blood transfusion as a humanitarian or medical service rather than a commodity. This necessarily involves the phase out of commercial blood banks based on the fact that they operate as a business enterprise, and they source their blood supply from paid blood donors who are considered unsafe compared to voluntary blood donors as shown by the USAID-sponsored study on the Philippine blood banking system.

Three, the Legislature intended for the general application of the law. Its enactment was not solely to address the peculiar circumstances of the situation nor was it intended to apply only to the existing conditions.

Lastly, the law applies equally to all commercial blood banks without exception.

 

 

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