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: Southern Luzon Drug Corporation v. DSWD
Petitioner Southern Luzon Drug Corporation filed a petition for prohibition against the DSWD, NCWDP (now National Council on Disability Affairs or
NCDA), DOF and the BIR, which sought to prohibit the implementation of Section 4(a) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9257, otherwise known as the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003” and Section 32 of R.A. No. 9442, which amends the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons,” particularly the granting of a 20% discount on the purchase of medicines by senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD), respectively, and treating them as tax deduction.
RA 9257 amended some provisions of RA 7432. The new law retained the 20% discount on the purchase of medicines but removed the annual income ceiling thereby qualifying all senior citizens to the privileges under the law. Further, R.A. No. 9257 modified the tax treatment of the discount granted to senior citizens, from tax credit to tax deduction from gross income, computed based on the net cost of goods sold or services rendered. Meanwhile, on March 24, 1992, R.A. No. 7277 pertaining to the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons” was enacted, codifying the rights and privileges of PWDs. Thereafter, on April 30, 2007, R.A. No. 9442 was enacted, amending R.A. No. 7277. One of the salient amendments in the law is the insertion of Chapter 8 in Title 2 thereof, which enumerates the other privileges and incentives of PWDs, including the grant of 20% discount on the purchase of medicines. Similar to R.A. No. 9257, covered establishments shall claim the discounts given to PWDs as tax deductions from the gross income, based on the net cost of goods sold or services rendered.
Whether or not the 20% Sales Discount for Senior Citizens and PWDs is a valid exercise of police power
Yes. It is in the exercise of its police power that the Congress enacted R.A. Nos. 9257 and 9442. In the exercise of police power, "property rights of private individuals are subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State." Even then, the State's claim of police power cannot be arbitrary or unreasonable. After all, the overriding purpose of the exercise of the power is to promote general welfare, public health and safety, among others. It is a measure, which by sheer necessity, the State exercises, even to the point of interfering with personal liberties or property rights in order to advance common good. To warrant such interference, two requisites must concur: (a) the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require the interference of the State; and (b) the means employed are reasonably necessary to the: attainment of the object sought to be accomplished and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. In other words, the proper exercise of the police power requires the concurrence of a lawful subject and a lawful method.
Moreover, the 20% Discount does not violate equal protection. The equal protection clause is not infringed by legislation which applies only to those persons falling within a specified class. If the groupings are characterized by substantial distinctions that make real differences, one class may be treated and regulated differently from another." For a classification to be valid, (1) it must be based upon substantial distinctions, (2) it must be germane to the purposes of the law, (3) it must not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) it must apply equally to all members of the same class.