PASEI v Drilon, – GR 81958, 30 Jun 1988

Facts:
The Department of Labor issued a deployment ban.

Issue:
Whether the Department Order No. 1, Series of 1988, of DOLE, in the character of “GUIDELINES GOVERNING THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF DEPLOYMENT OF FILIPINO DOMESTIC AND HOUSEHOLD WORKERS,” violates the equal protection clause.

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; – 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.

(2) they are germane to the purposes of the law; – no doubt that such a classification is germane to the purpose behind the measure. Unquestionably, it is the avowed objective of Department Order No. 1 to “enhance the protection for Filipino female overseas workers” the Court has no quarrel that in the midst of the terrible mistreatment Filipina workers have suffered abroad, a ban on deployment will be for their own good and welfare.

(3) they are not confined to existing conditions; – The Order does not narrowly apply to existing conditions. Rather, it is intended to apply indefinitely so long as those conditions exist. This is clear from the Order itself (“Pending review of the administrative and legal measures, in the Philippines and in the host countries . . .”), meaning to say that should the authorities arrive at a means impressed with a greater degree of permanency, the ban shall be lifted. As a stop-gap measure, it is possessed of a necessary malleability, depending on the circumstances of each case. and

(4) they apply equally to all members of the same class. – The Court finds, finally, the impugned guidelines to be applicable to all female domestic overseas workers. That it does not apply to “all Filipina workers” is not an argument for unconstitutionality. Had the ban been given universal applicability, then it would have been unreasonable and arbitrary. For obvious reasons, not all of them are similarly circumstanced. What the Constitution prohibits is the singling out of a select person or group of persons within an existing class, to the prejudice of such a person or group or resulting in an unfair advantage to another person or group of persons.

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