Espina vs Zamora

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REPRESENTATIVES GERARDO S. ESPINA, ORLANDO FUA, JR., PROSPERO AMATONG, ROBERT ACE S. BARBERS, RAUL M. GONZALES, PROSPERO PICHAY, JUAN MIGUEL ZUBIRI and FRANKLIN BAUTISTA,Petitioners, vs. HON. RONALDO ZAMORA, JR. (Executive Secretary), HON. MAR ROXAS (Secretary of Trade and Industry), HON. FELIPE MEDALLA (Secretary of National Economic and Development Authority), GOV. RAFAEL BUENAVENTURA (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) and HON. LILIA BAUTISTA (Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission), Respondents.

FACTS: The case at bar deals with the question of constitutionality of Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 Republic Act 8762) which was signed by President Joseph Estrada on March 7, 2000. Unlike its predecessor Republic Act 1180, which absolutely prohibits foreign nationals from engaging in retail trade business in the Philippines, the questioned law allows the said foreign trade placing them under 4 categories. The petitioners filed a case assailing the constitutionality of R.A. 8762 as it is a clear violation of Section 9, 19 and 20 of Article II of the Constitution. The petitioners stressed that the presence of foreign nationals would result in alien control and monopoly of the retail trade. On the other hand, the respondents contended that the petitioners have no legal standing to file the petition. Aside from that, the Constitution mandates the mere regulation but not the prohibition of foreign investments in the country. ISSUE: Whether or not R.A. 8762 is unconstitutional. RULING: No. The Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 is not unconstitutional. The Court emphasized that the petitioners indeed has no legal standing to file the petition as there is no clear showing that the implementation of R.A. 8762 prejudices the petitioners or inflicts damage on them, either as taxpayers or as legislators. Legal standing is one of the requisites necessary before one could validly attack the constitutionality of a certain law. Legal standing implies that one must have personal and substantial interest in that he has suffered or will suffer direct injury as a result of the passage of that law. Also, Section 9, 19 and 20 of Article II are not self- executing by nature, thus, are not judicially demandable. The said sections in Article II highlight the necessity of having a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipino entrepreneurs. However, the objective of the provisions is to simply prohibit foreign powers or interests from maneuvering our economic policies and ensure that Filipinos are given preference in all areas of development. With the assailed provision, Filipinos continue to have the right to engage in the kind of retail business which the law in question has permitted the entry of foreign investors. The Legislative acknowledges that indeed it is integral to primarily promote the welfare of Filipino investors as mandated by the Constitution. Nonetheless, it is equally important that holistic economic growth must be assured for the overall development of our country’s trade industry. This can be done by allowing entry of foreign investors that will be allowed to engage in businesses regulated by the provisions of R.A. 8762.

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