Pao Ho is a Chinese national employed in the City of Manila. On 27 March 1968, then Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas signed Ordinance No. 6537 which prohibited foreign nationals from being employed within the City of Manila without first securing a permit from the Mayor. The permit will cost them P50.00. Pao Ho, on 04 May 1968 filed a petition for prohibition against the said Ordinance alleging that as a police power measure, it makes no distinction between useful and non-useful occupations, imposing a fixed P50.00 employment permit, which is out of proportion to the cost of registration and that it fails to prescribe any standard to guide and/or limit the action of the Mayor, thus, violating the fundamental principle on illegal delegation of legislative powers. Judge Francisco Arca of the Court of First Instance of Manila ruled in favor of Pao Ho and he declared the Ordinance as void.
ISSUE: Whether or not Ordinance No. 6537 violates the equal protection clause.
HELD: Yes. The decision of Judge Arca was affirmed. Ordinance No. 6537 does not lay down any criterion or standard to guide the Mayor in the exercise of his discretion. Hence an undue delegation of power.
Further, the P50.00 fee is unreasonable not only because it is excessive but because it fails to consider valid substantial differences in situation among individual aliens who are required to pay it. Although the equal protection clause of the Constitution does not forbid classification, it is imperative that the classification, should be based on real and substantial differences having a reasonable relation to the subject of the particular legislation. The same amount of P50.00 is being collected from every employed alien, whether he is casual or permanent, part time or full time or whether he is a lowly employee or a highly paid executive. Requiring a person before he can be employed to get a permit from the City Mayor of Manila who may withhold or refuse it at will is tantamount to denying him the basic right of the people in the Philippines to engage in a means of livelihood. While it is true that the Philippines as a State is not obliged to admit aliens within its territory, once an alien is admitted, he cannot be deprived of life without due process of law. This guarantee includes the means of livelihood. The shelter of protection under the due process and equal protection clause is given to all persons, both aliens and citizens.