Carlos Superdrug v. Department of Social Welfare and Development
Petitioners are domestic corporations and proprietors operating drugstores in the Philippines.
Public respondents, on the other hand, include the (DOH), (DOF), the (DOJ), and the (DILG) which have been specifically tasked to monitor the drugstores’ compliance with the law; promulgate the implementing rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the law; and prosecute and revoke the licenses of erring drugstore establishments.
DoH issued Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003, providing “[t]he grant of twenty percent (20%) discount shall be provided in the purchase of medicines from all establishments dispensing medicines for the exclusive use of the senior citizens.”
Petitioners assail the constitutionality of Section 4(a) of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act because it infringes Art. III, Sec. 9 of the Constitution which provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
Compelling drugstore owners and establishments to grant the discount will result in a loss of profit and capital because 1) drugstores impose a mark-up of only 5% to 10% on branded medicines; and 2) the law failed to provide a scheme whereby drugstores will be justly compensated for the discount.
Whether the State, in promoting the health and welfare of a special group of citizens, can impose upon private establishments the burden of partly subsidizing a government program?
The Senior Citizens Act was enacted primarily to maximize the contribution of senior citizens to nation building, and to grant benefits and privileges to them for their improvement and well-being as the State considers them an integral part of our society.
Thus, the Act provides:
(f) To recognize the important role of the private sector in the improvement of the welfare of senior citizens and to actively seek their partnership.”
As a form of reimbursement, the law provides that business establishments extending the twenty percent discount to senior citizens may claim the discount as a tax deduction. The law is a legitimate exercise of police power which, similar to the power of eminent domain, has general welfare for its object. When the conditions so demand as determined by the legislature, property rights must bow to the primacy of police power because property rights, though sheltered by due process, must yield to general welfare; Police power as an attribute to promote the common good would be diluted considerably if on the mere plea of property owners that they will suffer loss of earnings and capital, a questioned provision is invalidated.
Without sufficient proof that Section 4(a) of R.A. No. 9257 is arbitrary, and that the continued implementation of the same would be unconscionably detrimental to petitioners, the Court will refrain from quashing a legislative act. 31 WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.