CBEA v. BSP G.R. No. 148208 | 15 December 2004 Special Civil Action in the SC. Prohibition J. Puno
3 Jul. 1993: RA 7653 (the New Central Bank Act) took effect and abolished the old Central Bank of the Phils., creating a new BSP. 8 Jun. 2001: Almost 8 years after effectivity of RA 7653, petitioner Central Bank Employees Association, Inc. (CBEA) filed a petition for prohibition against the respondents BSP & Executive Secretary of the Office of the President, to restrain the latter from further implementing the last proviso in Sec. 15-c, Art. II of said rule. o Petitioner alleged that the aforementioned proviso makes an unconstitutional cut between 2 classes of employees in the BSP, i.e., “a classic case of class legislation” based solely on the SG & not on substantial distinctions.
(1) officers or those exempted from the coverage of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL); and (2) rank-and-file (SG 19), or those not exempted from the coverage of the SSL.
BSP contended that said provision does not violate the equal protection clause, provided it be construed with other provisions of the said law. The SolGen also argued that the classification adheres to the policy of the said law to establish professionalism and excellence within the BSP. ISSUE: HELD: RATIO:
Whether Sec. 15-c, Art. II of RA 7653 is a violation of the equal protection clause, and is thus unconstitutional. Yes. Under present standards of Equal Protection, it is valid. o It is settled in constitutional law that the equal protection clause does not prevent the Legislature from establishing classes of individuals or objects upon which different rules shall operate—so long as the classification is not unreasonable. o In the present case, the exemption of officers (SG 20 and above) was intended to address the lack of competitiveness of employees, and was not intended to discriminate against the rank-and-file. But the Court held that the enactment of subsequent laws which exempted all other rank-and-file employees of Govt. Financial Institutions (GFI), rendered the continued application of the provision a violation of the equal protection clause, i.e., such circumstances considerably altered the reasonability of the continued operation of the proviso in question. o Concept of Relative Constitutionality – A statute valid at one time may become void at another time because of altered circumstances. The principle of equality has long been recognized under International Law (Art. 1 of UDHR). Non-discrimination, together with equality before the law and equal protection of the law without any discrimination, constitutes basic principles in the protection of human rights. In the present case, the conclusion of unconstitutionality of the proviso in question are in cadence and in consonance with the progressive trend of other jurisdictions and in international law. There should be no hesitation in using the equal protection clause as a major cutting edge to eliminate every conceivable irrational discrimination in our society. Indeed, the social justice imperatives in the Constitution, coupled with the special status and protection afforded to labor, compel this approach. Under the policy of social justice, the law bends over backward to accommodate the interests of the working class on the humane justification that those with less privilege in life should have more in law. And the obligation to afford protection to labor is incumbent not only on the legislative and executive branches but also on the judiciary
to translate this pledge into a living reality. Social justice calls for the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated