THE Court of Appeals upheld the 20-percent discount to persons with disability (PWD) in drugstores nationwide as it turned down a petition filed by an organization of drug store operators.

Drugstores Association of the Philippines Inc., Save More Drug Inc., Manson Drug Corp., South Star Drug Inc., and Northern Luzon Drug Corp. filed a petition for prohibition of the discount move with application for temporary restraining order (TRO).

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The drugstore group assailed that several provisions of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons were unconstitutional.

In a 20-page decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the CA's Eleventh Division, however temporarily enjoined the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) from implementing its Administrative Order No. 1.

The NCDA order allowed the issuance of identification cards for bonafide PWDs that will be valid for three years.

The appellate court said that while the said NCDA-AO No. 1 is constitutional, its implementation should be deferred due to the agency's failure to comply with the requirements of filing the order at the Office of the National Administrative Register.

The CA said the respondents NCDA, Department of Health, Department of Finance, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Social Welfare and Development failed to support their allegation that the assailed order was filed with the ONAR on October 22, 2009.

"Administrative rules and regulations must be published, if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant to a valid delegation," the CA said.

The Court further held that the grant of 20 percent discount to PWDs is a legitimate exercise of police power as what the Court declared in the case of Carlos Superdrug Corporation et al. Vs DWSD et al.

In that case, the CA ruled that Section 4 of RA 9257, which grants 20 percent discount on the purchased of medicine to senior citizens is a legitimate exercise of police power.

"Based on the foregoing reasoning and justification, we find that the grant of 20 percent discount on the purchased medicines of the PWDs is similarly considered a valid exercise of police power of the State, hence, it is constitutional," the CA said.

The CA also did not give weight to the argument of the petitioners that the 20 percent discount should be limited to medicines which are connected with the particular disability of the PWDs saying that RA 9442 is intended "to give full support to the improvement of the total-well being of the disabled persons" like the Senior Citizens Act.

Aside from the purchase of medicines, RA 9442 also grants PWDs 20-percent discounts from all establishments such as hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers.

The CA also denied the claim of the petitioners that Section 32 of RA 9442 is arbitrary and violates due process.

It said that while it is true that Section 32 of RA 9442 do not specifically provide a requirement of certification from a license physician, its implementing rules and regulations clearly stated that its implementation is subject to the guidelines to be issued by the DOH, NCDA and other concerned government agencies.

The CA also did not give weight to the argument of the petitioners that the 20 percent discount should be limited to medicines which are connected with the particular disability of the PWDs saying that RA 9442 is intended "to give full support to the improvement of the total-well being of the disabled persons" like the Senior Citizens Act.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Danton Bueser.

In their petition, the drugstores argued that the 20 percent discount granted under Section 32 of RA 9442 to PWDs is unconstitutional for failing to provide just compensation upon taking of property for public use and for violating due process.

They explained that the prescribed tax deduction scheme under RA 9442, based on the net cost of goods, does not allow them to collect full reimbursement of the 20 percent discount granted to PWDs, thus, they are deprived of their earnings.

Petitioners claimed that the law is arbitrary as it does not require an applicant to present certification from a licensed private or government physician, showing that the applicant is indeed considered a PWD as described under RA 9442.(JCV/Sunnex)