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Drugstore Association of the Phils., VS. National Counicl on Disability Affairs
A Petition for Review on Certiorari with a Prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction which seeks to annul and set aside the Decision dated July 26, 2010, and the Resolution dated November 19, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 109903. The CA dismissed petitioners' Petition for Prohibition and upheld the constitutionality of the mandatory twenty percent (20%) discount on the purchase of medicine by persons with disability (PWD).
On March 24, 1992, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7277, entitled "An Act Providing for the Rehabilitation, Self-Development and Self-Reliance of Disabled Persons and their Integration into the Mainstream of Society and for Other Purposes," otherwise known as the "Magna Carta for Disabled Persons," was passed into law. The law defines "disabled persons", "impairment" and "disability"
On April 23, 2008, the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) issued Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 1, Series of 2008, prescribing guidelines which should serve as a mechanism for the issuance of a PWD Identification Card (IDC) which shall be the basis for providing privileges and discounts to bona fide PWDs in accordance with R.A. 9442.
On May 20, 2009, the DOH issued A.O. No. 2009-001118 specifically stating that the grant of 20% discount shall be provided in the purchase of branded medicines and unbranded generic medicines from all establishments dispensing medicines for the exclusive use of the PWDs. It also detailed the guidelines for the provision of medical and related discounts and special privileges to PWDs pursuant to R.A. 9442.
On July 28, 2009, petitioners filed a Petition for Prohibition with application for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or a Writ of Preliminary Injunction before the Court of Appeals to annul and enjoin the implementation of the following laws
1) Section 32 of R.A. No. 7277 as amended by R.A. No. 9442;
2) Section 6, Rule IV of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9442;
3) NCDA A.O. No. 1;
4) DOF Revenue Regulation No. 1-2009;
5) DOH A.O. No. 2009-0011.
On July 26, 2010, the CA rendered a Decision upholding the constitutionality of R.A. 7277 as amended, as well as the assailed administrative issuances. However, the CA suspended the effectivity of NCDA A.O. No. 1 pending proof of respondent NCDA's compliance with filing of said administrative order with the Office of the National Administrative Register (ONAR) and its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. The dispositive portion of the Decision states
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The effectivity of NCDA Administrative Order No. 1 is hereby SUSPENDED pending Respondent's compliance with the proof of filing of NCDA Administrative Order No. 1 with the Office of the National Administrative Register and its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
Respondent NCDA filed a motion for reconsideration before the CA to lift the suspension of the implementation of NCDA A.O. No. 1 attaching thereto proof of its publication in the Philippine Star and Daily Tribune on August 12, 2010, as well as a certification from the ONAR showing that the same was filed with the said office on October 22, 2009.22 Likewise, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the CA Decision.
In a Resolution dated November 19, 2010, the CA dismissed petitioners' motion for reconsideration and lifted the suspension of the effectivity of NCDA A.O. No. 1 considering the filing of the same with ONAR and its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
I. THE CA SERIOUSLY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE WHEN IT RULED THAT THE MANDATED PWD DISCOUNT IS A VALID EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER. ON THE CONTRARY, IT IS AN INVALID EXERCISE OF THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN BECAUSE IT FAILS TO PROVIDE JUST COMPENSATION TO PETITIONERS AND OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED DRUGSTORES;
II. THE CA SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT SECTION 32 OF RA 7277 AS AMENDED BY RA 9442, NCDA AO 1 AND THE OTHER IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS DID NOT VIOLATE THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE;
III. THE CA SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE DEFINITIONS OF DISABILITIES UNDER SECTION 4(A), SECTION 4(B) AND SECTION 4(C) OF RA 7277 AS AMENDED BY RA 9442, RULE 1 OF THE IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS23 OF RA 7277, SECTION 5.1 OF THE IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS OF RA 9442, NCDA AO 1 AND DOH AO 2009-11 ARE NOT VAGUE, AMBIGUOUS AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL;
IV. THE CA SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE MANDATED PWD DISCOUNT DOES NOT VIOLATE THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE.
The CA is correct when it applied by analogy the case of Carlos Superdrug Corporation et al. v. DSWD, et al wherein We pronouced that Section 4 of R.A. No. 9257 which grants 20% discount on the purchase of medicine of senior citizens is a legitimate exercise of police power
Petitioners contend that R.A. No. 7227, as amended by R.A. No. 9442, violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it fairly singles out drugstores to bear the burden of the discount, and that it can hardly be said to "rationally" meet a legitimate government objective which is the purpose of the law. The law allegedly targets only retailers such as petitioners, and that the other enterprises in the drug industry are not imposed with similar burden. This same argument had been raised in the case of Carlos Superdrug Corp., et al. v. DSWD, et al and We reaffirm and apply the ruling therein in the case at bar.
Under the equal protection clause, all persons or things similarly situated must be treated alike, both in the privileges conferred and the obligations imposed. Conversely, all persons or things differently situated should be treated differently. In the case of ABAKADA Guro Party List, et al. v. Hon. Purisima, et al.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 26, 2010, and the Resolution dated November 19, 2010, in CA-G.R. SP No. 109903 are AFFIRMED.