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On 10 October 1977, the Board of Transportation (BOT) issued Memorandum Circular No. 77-42 which has for its purpose the phasing out of old and dilapidated taxis which are 6 years older. The order was set to be immediately implemented in Metro Manila and thereafter, on a date to be fixed by the BOT, it will be implemented outside Metro Manila. Pursuant to this, the Director of the Bureau of Land Transportation issued Implementing Circular No. 52. Taxicab Operators of Metro Manila, Inc. (TOMMI) assailed the constitutionality of the law. It avers, among other things, that the Circular in question violates their right to equal protection of the law because the same is being enforced in Metro Manila only and is directed solely towards the taxi industry. At the outset it should be pointed out that implementation outside Metro Manila is also envisioned in Memorandum Circular No. 77-42.
ISSUE: Whether or not there is a violation of the equal protection clause by the implementation of the said circular.
HELD: The SC held that Memorandum Circular No. 77-42 is valid. BOT’s reason for enforcing the Circular initially in Metro Manila is that taxicabs therein, compared to those in other places, are subjected to heavier traffic pressure and more constant use. Considering that traffic conditions are not the same in every city, a substantial distinction exists so that infringement of the equal protection clause can hardly be successfully claimed.
In so far as the non-application of the assailed Circulars to other transportation services is concerned, it need only be recalled that the equal protection clause does not imply that the same treatment be accorded all and sundry. It applies to things or persons identically or similarly situated. It permits of classification of the object or subject of the law provided classification is reasonable or based on substantial distinction, which make for real differences, and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. What is required under the equal protection clause is the uniform operation by legal means so that all persons under identical or similar circumstance would be accorded the same treatment both in privilege conferred and the liabilities imposed. The challenged Circulars satisfy the foregoing criteria.
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