Several news articles last week reported Quezon City’s plans to “strictly implement the no-CCTV no business permit policy in line with the city’s peace and order campaign particularly against carnapping and kidnapping ... CCTVs will also be used by the city for disaster preparedness purposes …”.
Before Quezon City enacts a law to that effect, they should find guidance from the Bill of Rights -
“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. “ (Sec. 1, Article III Bill of Rights means, Philippine Constitution)
The Due Process and Equal Protection clauses above mean that if a government plans to restrict an individual or a class of individuals’ rights to life, liberty, property and equality, the restriction must be reasonable and not arbitrary and such individuals or classes must be treated in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances
Should Quezon City be of the impression that they can proceed with their policy in its exercise of police power, the Supreme Court has several times upheld the doctrine that -
The “exercise of police power is subject to judicial inquiry and could be set aside if it is either capricious, discriminatory, whimsical, arbitrary, unjust, or a denial of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.”
Equal Protection of the Laws
The Supreme Court, as recently as December 2010 in the consolidated cases declaring the unconstitutionality of the Truth Commission - having been tasked to investigate corruption only during Gloria Arroyo’s administration - , reiterated the settled doctrine that to be valid, a law which denies protection to one class of subject “must pass the test of reasonableness. The test has four requisites: (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.”
By requiring only businesses to install CCTV cameras, Quezon City has denied protection to the former that other classes like individuals, residences, government agencies, non-profit entities enjoy since the latter classes are not similarly required.
The classification must rest on substantial distinctions
In the context of peace and order for which the CCTVs are apparently required, what is the substantial distinction between businesses and other entities that justifies Quezon City’s singling out businesses? Are residences and government offices free from crime? Do all businesses pose a significantly high crime risk than other entities? Quezon City has a high rate of carnapping. Are the carnap victims predominantly business owners or do the incidents mostly occur in business premises?
What is the relation of crime and disaster preparedness to business establishments which does not exist with other entities that only businesses are required to install CCTV cameras?
Let’s take an example of reasonable classification. Requiring banks to have CCTV cameras is not unreasonable because of the money and other valuables deposited therein, the interest by their depositors in the safety of their deposits and the banks’ easy accessibility to the general public. Banks are clearly substantially different from all other entities in any given city and may be justifiably required to raise their security by installing CCTV cameras in the interest of peace and order. Although in the interest of disaster preparedness … not so much.
The classification must be germane to the purpose of the law
What binds all businesses together that they should all be required, regardless of nature, purpose, size, location, or anything else, to install CCTVs in the interest of peace and order and disaster preparedness?
How crucial is it for a beauty parlor to have a CCTV camera in the pursuit of peace and order and disaster preparedness? What crimes and disasters in a carinderia would a CCTV camera frequently capture? What is so precious inside a bakery – or how disaster prone exactly is a bakery - that CCTV cameras must be installed? What threat to peace and order and disaster risk is being prevented by installing a CCTV camera in a Mr. Quickie shop?
What is it in all business establishments that attracts threats to peace and order and raises the risks of disaster that necessitate the installation of CCTV cameras in their premises, which other entities have not?
The classification applies equally to all members of the same class
“The mayor [Herbert Bautista] reminded business establishments, particularly the high-risk ones such as car dealership stores (both high-end and trade-ins), as well as schools, convenience stores, gasoline stations and banks to comply with the CCTV requirement or face non-renewal of their business permit.”
If the mayor readily admits some businesses as high-risk, why then require all businesses to install CCTV cameras?
In the case of businesses that own shops, stalls and carts, where should the CCVTV cameras be installed, in the office or in each of their shops, stalls and carts or in all of them? Do all shops, stalls and carts in a mall need to have a CCTV camera each?
And in the near future when people realize that CCTV cameras do not substantially prevent crime – as frequent news reports of crimes captured by CCTV cameras (here and abroad) show and because criminals can so readily buy and put on ski masks – nor crucially alert people to disasters, what then? Should the whims of a city government be allowed to extend to a new law requiring all businesses to employ security guards prior to obtaining their business licenses? Whims can be so hard to suppress.
The job of peace and order preservation and disaster prevention belongs to the government. It is already unfair for any government to delegate that job, especially a first class city that should have enough funds to effectively accomplish such job. It becomes more unreasonable and arbitrary when the government singles out a class of subjects for purposes that affect other classes equally.
 Chavez, C.A. (2011, June 14). QC wants CCTV as tool to deter crimes and disasters. Retrieved from http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/322632/qc-wants-cctv-tool-deter-crimes-and-disasters
 Central Bank v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. L-50031-32, July 27, 1981, 106 SCRA 143
 Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (G.R. No. 192935) and Lagman, et al. vs. Executive Secretary, et al. (G.R. No. 193036), December 7, 2010, citing Beltran v. Secretary of Health, 512 Phil 560, 583 (2005).
 Chavez, ibid.