Patricio Dumlao et al vs COMELEC
“Equal Protection” – Eligibility to Office after Being 65
Dumlao was the former governor of Nueva Vizcaya. He has retired from his office and he has been receiving retirement benefits therefrom. He filed for reelection to the same office for the 1980 local elections. On the other hand, BP 52 was passed (par 1 thereof) providing disqualification for the likes of Dumlao. Dumlao assailed the BP averring that it is class legislation hence unconstitutional. His petition was joined by Atty. Igot and Salapantan Jr. These two however have different issues. The suits of Igot and Salapantan are more of a taxpayer’s suit assailing the other provisions of BP 52 regarding the term of office of the elected officials, the length of the campaign and the provision barring persons charged for crimes may not run for public office and that the filing of complaints against them and after preliminary investigation would already disqualify them from office. In general, Dumlao invoked equal protection in the eye of the law.
ISSUE: Whether or not the there is cause of action.
HELD: The SC pointed out the procedural lapses of this case for this case would never have been merged. Dumlao’s cause is different from Igot’s. They have separate issues. Further, this case does not meet all the requisites so that it’d be eligible for judicial review. There are standards that have to be followed in the exercise of the function of judicial review, namely: (1) the existence of an appropriate case; (2) an interest personal and substantial by the party raising the constitutional question; (3) the plea that the function be exercised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the necessity that the constitutional question be passed upon in order to decide the case. In this case, only the 3rd requisite was met. The SC ruled however that the provision barring persons charged for crimes may not run for public office and that the filing of complaints against them and after preliminary investigation would already disqualify them from office as null and void.
The assertion that Sec 4 of BP 52 is contrary to the safeguard of equal protection is neither well taken. The constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws is subject to rational classification. If the groupings are based on reasonable and real differentiations, one class can be treated and regulated differently from another class. For purposes of public service, employees 65 years of age, have been validly classified differently from younger employees. Employees attaining that age are subject to compulsory retirement, while those of younger ages are not so compulsorily retirable.
In respect of election to provincial, city, or municipal positions, to require that candidates should not be more than 65 years of age at the time they assume office, if applicable to everyone, might or might not be a reasonable classification although, as the Solicitor General has intimated, a good policy of the law should be to promote the emergence of younger blood in our political elective echelons. On the other hand, it might be that persons more than 65 years old may also be good elective local officials.
Retirement from government service may or may not be a reasonable disqualification for elective local officials. For one thing, there can also be retirees from government service at ages, say below 65. It may neither be reasonable to disqualify retirees, aged 65, for a 65-year old retiree could be a good local official just like one, aged 65, who is not a retiree.
But, in the case of a 65-year old elective local official (Dumalo), who has retired from a provincial, city or municipal office, there is reason to disqualify him from running for the same office from which he had retired, as provided for in the challenged provision.