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G.R. No.

15574 September 17, 1919


SMITH, BELL & COMPAN !LT".#, petitioner,
vs.
$OA%&IN NATI'I"A", Co((e)tor o* C+,tom, o* t-e port o* Ceb+, respondent.
Ross and Lawrence for petitioner.
Attorney-General Paredes for respondent.
MALCOLM, J.:
A writ of mandamus is prayed for by Smith, Bell & Co. (Ltd.), against Joa!in "atividad, Colle#tor of
C!stoms of the port of Ceb!, $hilippine %slands, to #ompel him to iss!e a #ertifi#ate of $hilippine
registry to the petitioner for its motor vessel Bato. &he Attorney'(eneral, a#ting as #o!nsel for
respondent, dem!rs to the petition on the general gro!nd that it does not state fa#ts s!ffi#ient to
#onstit!te a #a!se of a#tion. )hile the fa#ts are th!s admitted, and while, moreover, the pertinent
provisions of law are #lear and !nderstandable, and interpretative Ameri#an *!rispr!den#e is fo!nd in
ab!ndan#e, yet the iss!e s!bmitted is not lightly to be resolved. &he !estion, flatly presented, is,
whether A#t. "o. +,-. of the $hilippine Legislat!re is valid / or, more dire#tly stated, whether the
(overnment of the $hilippine %slands, thro!gh its Legislat!re, #an deny the registry of vessels in its
#oastwise trade to #orporations having alien sto#0holders.
1AC&S.
Smith, Bell & Co., (Ltd.), is a #orporation organi2ed and e3isting !nder the laws of the $hilippine
%slands. A ma*ority of its sto#0holders are British s!b*e#ts. %t is the owner of a motor vessel 0nown as
the Bato b!ilt for it in the $hilippine %slands in .4.-, of more than fifteen tons gross &he Bato was
bro!ght to Ceb! in the present year for the p!rpose of transporting plaintiff5s mer#handise between
ports in the %slands. Appli#ation was made at Ceb!, the home port of the vessel, to the Colle#tor of
C!stoms for a #ertifi#ate of $hilippine registry. &he Colle#tor ref!sed to iss!e the #ertifi#ate, giving as
his reason that all the sto#0holders of Smith, Bell & Co., Ltd., were not #iti2ens either of the 6nited
States or of the $hilippine %slands. &he instant a#tion is the res!lt.
LA).
&he A#t of Congress of April +4, .478, repealing the Shipping A#t of April 97, .47- b!t reena#ting a
portion of se#tion 9 of this Law, and still in for#e, provides in its se#tion .:
&hat !ntil Congress shall have a!thori2ed the registry as vessels of the 6nited States of
vessels owned in the $hilippine %slands, the (overnment of the $hilippine %slands is hereby
a!thori2ed to adopt, from time to time, and enfor#e reg!lations governing the transportation
of mer#handise and passengers between ports or pla#es in the $hilippine Ar#hipelago. (9;
Stat. at L., ,7< Se#tion 94.+, 6. S. Comp Stat. =.4.->< , $!b. Laws, 9-?.)
&he A#t of Congress of A!g!st +4, .4.-, #ommonly 0nown as the Jones Law, still in for#e, provides
in se#tion 9, (first paragraph, first senten#e), -, ,, 8, .7, and 9., as follows.
S@C. 9. &hat no law shall be ena#ted in said %slands whi#h shall deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property witho!t d!e pro#ess of law, or deny to any person therein the e!al
prote#tion of the laws. . . .
S@C. -. &hat the laws now in for#e in the $hilippines shall #ontin!e in for#e and effe#t,
e3#ept as altered, amended, or modified herein, !ntil altered, amended, or repealed by the
legislative a!thority herein provided or by A#t of Congress of the 6nited States.
S@C. ,. &hat the legislative a!thority herein provided shall have power, when not
in#onsistent with this A#t, by d!e ena#tment to amend, alter modify, or repeal any law, #ivil or
#riminal, #ontin!ed in for#e by this A#t as it may from time to time see fit
&his power shall spe#ifi#ally e3tend with the limitation herein provided as to the tariff to all
laws relating to reven!e provided as to the tariff to all laws relating to reven!e and ta3ation in
effe#t in the $hilippines.
S@C. 8. &hat general legislative power, e3#ept as otherwise herein provided, is hereby
granted to the $hilippine Legislat!re, a!thori2ed by this A#t.
S@C. .7. &hat while this A#t provides that the $hilippine government shall have the a!thority
to ena#t a tariff law the trade relations between the islands and the 6nited States shall
#ontin!e to be governed e3#l!sively by laws of the Congress of the 6nited States: Provided,
&hat tariff a#ts or a#ts amendatory to the tariff of the $hilippine %slands shall not be#ome law
!ntil they shall re#eive the approval of the $resident of the 6nited States, nor shall any a#t of
the $hilippine Legislat!re affe#ting immigration or the #!rren#y or #oinage laws of the
$hilippines be#ome a law !ntil it has been approved by the $resident of the 6nited
States: Provided further, &hat the $resident shall approve or disapprove any a#t mentioned
in the foregoing proviso within si3 months from and after its ena#tment and s!bmission for
his approval, and if not disapproved within s!#h time it shall be#ome a law the same as if it
had been spe#ifi#ally approved.
S@C. 9.. &hat all laws or parts of laws appli#able to the $hilippines not in #onfli#t with any of
the provisions of this A#t are hereby #ontin!ed in for#e and effe#t.A (94 Stat at L., ;?-.)
Bn 1ebr!ary +9, .4.8, the $hilippine Legislat!re ena#ted A#t "o. +,-.. &he first se#tion of this law
amended se#tion ..,+ of the Administrative Code to read as follows:
S@C. ..,+. Certificate of Philippine register. / 6pon registration of a vessel of domesti#
ownership, and of more than fifteen tons gross, a #ertifi#ate of $hilippine register shall be
iss!ed for it. %f the vessel is of domesti# ownership and of fifteen tons gross or less, the
ta0ing of the #ertifi#ate of $hilippine register shall be optional with the owner.
AComesti# ownership,A as !sed in this se#tion, means ownership vested in some one or
more of the following #lasses of persons: (a) Citi2ens or native inhabitants of the $hilippine
%slands< () #iti2ens of the 6nited States residing in the $hilippine %slands< (c) any
corporation or company composed wholly of citi!ens of the Philippine "slands or of the
#nited $tates or of oth, #reated !nder the laws of the 6nited States, or of any State thereof,
or of thereof, or the managing agent or master of the vessel resides in the $hilippine %slands
Any vessel of more than fifteen gross tons whi#h on 1ebr!ary eighth, nineteen h!ndred and
eighteen, had a #ertifi#ate of $hilippine register !nder e3isting law, shall li0ewise be deemed
a vessel of domesti# ownership so long as there shall not be any #hange in the ownership
thereof nor any transfer of sto#0 of the #ompanies or #orporations owning s!#h vessel to
person not in#l!ded !nder the last pre#eding paragraph.
Se#tions + and 9 of A#t "o. +,-. amended se#tions ..,- and .+7+ of the Administrative Code to
read as follows:
S@C. ..,-. "nvestigation into character of vessel. % &o application for a certificate of
Philippine register shall e approved until the collector of customs is satisfied from an
inspe#tion of the vessel that it is engaged or destined to be engaged in legitimate trade
and that it is of domestic ownership as such ownership is defined in section eleven hundred
and seventy-two of this Code.
&he #olle#tor of #!stoms may at any time inspe#t a vessel or e3amine its owner, master,
#rew, or passengers in order to as#ertain whether the vessel is engaged in legitimate trade
and is entitled to have or retain the #ertifi#ate of $hilippine register.
S@C. .+7+. Limiting n!mber of foreign offi#ers and engineers on board vessels. / "o
$hilippine vessel operating in the #oastwise trade or on the high seas shall be permitted to
have on board more than one master or one mate and one engineer who are not #iti2ens of
the 6nited States or of the $hilippine %slands, even if they hold li#enses !nder se#tion one
tho!sand one h!ndred and ninety'nine hereof. "o other person who is not a #iti2en of the
6nited States or of the $hilippine %slands shall be an offi#er or a member of the #rew of s!#h
vessel. Any s!#h vessel whi#h fails to #omply with the terms of this se#tion shall be re!ired
to pay an additional tonnage ta3 of fifty #entavos per net ton per month d!ring the
#ontin!an#e of said fail!re.
%SS6@S.
$redi#ated on these fa#ts and provisions of law, the iss!es as above stated re#!r, namely, whether
A#t "o +,-. of the $hilippine Legislat!re is valid in whole or in part / whether the (overnment of
the $hilippine %slands, thro!gh its Legislat!re, #an deny the registry of vessel in its #oastwise trade
to #orporations having alien sto#0holders .
B$%"%B".
.. Considered from a positive standpoint, there #an e3ist no meas!re of do!bt as to the power of the
$hilippine Legislat!re to ena#t A#t "o. +,-.. &he A#t of Congress of April +4, .478, with its spe#ifi#
delegation of a!thority to the (overnment of the $hilippine %slands to reg!late the transportation of
mer#handise and passengers between ports or pla#es therein, the liberal #onstr!#tion given to the
provisions of the $hilippine Bill, the A#t of Congress of J!ly ., .47+, by the #o!rts, and the grant by
the A#t of Congress of A!g!st +4, .4.-, of general legislative power to the $hilippine Legislat!re,
are #ertainly s!perab!ndant a!thority for s!#h a law. )hile the A#t of the lo#al legislat!re may in a
way be in#onsistent with the A#t of Congress reg!lating the #oasting trade of the Continental 6nited
States, yet the general r!le that only s!#h laws of the 6nited States have for#e in the $hilippines as
are e3pressly e3tended thereto, and the abnegation of power by Congress in favor of the $hilippine
%slands wo!ld leave no starting point for #onvin#ing arg!ment. As a matter of fa#t, #o!nsel for
petitioner does not assail legislative a#tion from this dire#tion ($ee 6. S. vs. B!ll =.4.7>, .; $hil., ,<
Sinnot vs. Cavenport =.8;4> ++ Dow., ++,.)
+. %t is from the negative, prohibitory standpoint that #o!nsel arg!es against the #onstit!tionality of
A#t "o. +,-.. &he first paragraph of the $hilippine Bill of Eights of the $hilippine Bill, repeated again
in the first paragraph of the $hilippine Bill of Eights as set forth in the Jones Law, provides A&hat no
law shall be ena#ted in said %slands whi#h shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property witho!t
d!e pro#ess of law, or deny to any person therein the e!al prote#tion of the laws.A Co!nsel says
that A#t "o. +,-. denies to Smith, Bell & Co., Ltd., the e!al prote#tion of the laws be#a!se it, in
effe#t, prohibits the #orporation from owning vessels, and be#a!se #lassifi#ation of #orporations
based on the #iti2enship of one or more of their sto#0holders is #apri#io!s, and that A#t "o. +,-.
deprives the #orporation of its properly witho!t d!e pro#ess of law be#a!se by the passage of the
law #ompany was a!tomati#ally deprived of every benefi#ial attrib!te of ownership in the Bato and
left with the na0ed title to a boat it #o!ld not !se .
&he g!aranties e3tended by the Congress of the 6nited States to the $hilippine %slands have been
!sed in the same sense as li0e provisions fo!nd in the 6nited States Constit!tion. )hile the Ad!e
pro#ess of law and e!al prote#tion of the lawsA #la!se of the $hilippine Bill of Eights is #o!#hed in
slightly different words than the #orresponding #la!se of the 1o!rteenth Amendment to the 6nited
States Constit!tion, the first sho!ld be interpreted and given the same for#e and effe#t as the latter.
(Fepner vs. 6.S. =.47?>, .4; 6. S., .77< Sierra vs. Gortiga =.47,>, +7? 6. S.,.?,7< 6. S. vs. B!ll
=.4.7>, .; $hil., ,.) &he meaning of the 1o!rteenth Amendment has been anno!n#ed in #lassi#
de#isions of the 6nited States S!preme Co!rt. @ven at the e3pense of restating what is so well
0nown, these basi# prin#iples m!st again be set down in order to serve as the basis of this de#ision.
&he g!aranties of the 1o!rteenth Amendment and so of the first paragraph of the $hilippine Bill of
Eights, are !niversal in their appli#ation to all person within the territorial *!risdi#tion, witho!t regard
to any differen#es of ra#e, #olor, or nationality. &he word ApersonA in#l!des aliens. (Hi#0 )o vs.
Dop0ins =.88->, ..8 6. S., 9;-< &r!a3 vs. Eai#h =.4.;>, +94 6. S., 99.) $rivate #orporations, li0ewise,
are ApersonsA within the s#ope of the g!aranties in so far as their property is #on#erned. (Santa
Clara Co!nty vs. So!thern $a#. E. E. Co. =.88->, ..8.6. S., 94?< $embina Gining
Co. vs. $ennsylvania =.888>,..+; 6. S., .8. Covington & L. &!rnpi0e Eoad Co. vs. Sandford =.84->,
.-? 6. S., ;,8.) Classifi#ation with the end in view of providing diversity of treatment may be made
among #orporations, b!t m!st be based !pon some reasonable gro!nd and not be a mere arbitrary
sele#tion ((!lf, Colorado & Santa 1e Eailway Co. vs. @llis =.84,>,..-; 6. S., .;7.) @3amples of laws
held !n#onstit!tional be#a!se of !nlawf!l dis#rimination against aliens #o!ld be #ited. (enerally,
these de#isions relate to stat!tes whi#h had attempted arbitrarily to forbid aliens to engage in
ordinary 0inds of b!siness to earn their living. (State vs.Gontgomery =.477>, 4? Gaine, .4+, peddling
/ b!t see. Commonwealth vs. Dana =.47,>, .4; Gass., +-+< &emplar vs. Board of @3aminers of
Barbers =.47+>, .9. Gi#h., +;?, barbers< Hi#0 )o vs. Dop0ins =.88->, ..8 6. S.,.9;-, dis#rimination
against Chinese< &r!a3 vs. Eai#h =.4.;>, +94 6. S., 99< "n re $arrott =.887>, . 1ed , ?8.<
1raser vs. G#Conway & &orley Co. =.84,>, 8+ 1ed , +;,< J!niata Limestone Co. vs. 1agley =.848>,
.8, $enn., .49, all relating to the employment of aliens by private #orporations.)
A literal appli#ation of general prin#iples to the fa#ts before !s wo!ld, of #o!rse, #a!se the inevitable
ded!#tion that A#t "o. +,-. is !n#onstit!tional by reason of its denial to a #orporation, some of
whole members are foreigners, of the e!al prote#tion of the laws. Li0e all benefi#ient propositions,
deeper resear#h dis#loses provisos. @3amples of a denial of rights to aliens notwithstanding the
provisions of the 1o!rteenth Amendment #o!ld be #ited. (&ragesser vs. (ray =.847>, ,9 Gd., +;7,
li#enses to sell spirit!o!s li!ors denied to persons not #iti2ens of the 6nited States<
Commonwealth vs. Dana =.47,>, .4; Gass , +-+, e3#l!ding aliens from the right to peddle<
$atsone vs. Commonwealth of $ennsylvania =.4.?>, +9+ 6. S. , .98, prohibiting the 0illing of any
wild bird or animal by any !nnat!rali2ed foreign'born resident< '( parte (illeti =.4.;>, ,7 1la., ??+,
dis#riminating in favor of #iti2ens with referen#e to the ta0ing for private !se of the #ommon property
in fish and oysters fo!nd in the p!bli# waters of the State< Deim vs. G#Call =.4.;>, +94 6. S.,..,;,
and Crane vs. "ew Hor0 =.4.;>, +94 6. S., .4;, limiting employment on p!bli# wor0s by, or for, the
State or a m!ni#ipality to #iti2ens of the 6nited States.)
Bne of the e3#eptions to the general r!le, most persistent and far rea#hing in infl!en#e is, that
neither the 1o!rteenth Amendment to the 6nited States Constit!tion, broad and #omprehensive as it
is, nor any other amendment, Awas designed to interfere with the power of the State, sometimes
termed its Ipoli#e power,5 to pres#ribe reg!lations to promote the health, pea#e, morals, ed!#ation,
and good order of the people, and legislate so as to in#rease the ind!stries of the State, develop its
reso!r#es and add to its wealth and prosperity. 1rom the very ne#essities of so#iety, legislation of a
spe#ial #hara#ter, having these ob*e#ts in view, m!st often be had in #ertain distri#ts.A
(Barbier vs. Connolly =.88?>, ..9 6.S., +,< "ew Brleans (as Co. vs. Lo!siana Light Co. =.88;>, ..;
6.S., -;7.) &his is the same poli#e power whi#h the 6nited States S!preme Co!rt say Ae3tends to so
dealing with the #onditions whi#h e3ist in the state as to bring o!t of them the greatest welfare in of
its people.A (Ba#on vs.)al0er =.47,>, +7? 6.S., 9...) 1or !ite similar reasons, none of the provision
of the $hilippine Brgani# Law #o!ld #o!ld have had the effe#t of denying to the (overnment of the
$hilippine %slands, a#ting thro!gh its Legislat!re, the right to e3er#ise that most essential, insistent,
and illimitable of powers, the sovereign poli#e power, in the promotion of the general welfare and the
p!bli# interest. (6. S. vs. &oribio =.4.7>, .; $hil., 8;< Ch!r#hill and &aitvs. Eafferty =.4.;>, 9+ $hil.,
;87< E!bi vs. $rovin#ial Board of Gindoro =.4.4>, 94 $hil., --7.) Another notable e3#eption permits
of the reg!lation or distrib!tion of the p!bli# domain or the #ommon property or reso!r#es of the
people of the State, so that !se may be limited to its #iti2ens. ('( parte (illeti =.4.;>, ,7 1la., ??+<
G#Cready vs.Jirginia =.8,->, 4? 6. S., 94.< $atsone vs. Commonwealth of $ennsylvania =.4.?>,
+9+6. S., .98.) Still another e3#eption permits of the limitation of employment in the #onstr!#tion of
p!bli# wor0s by, or for, the State or a m!ni#ipality to #iti2ens of the 6nited States or of the State.
(At0in vs. Fansas =.479>,.4. 6. S., +7,< Deim vs.G#Call =.4.;>, +94 6.S., .,;< Crane vs. "ew Hor0
=.4.;>, +94 6. S., .4;.) @ven as to #lassifi#ation, it is admitted that a State may #lassify with
referen#e to the evil to be prevented< the !estion is a pra#ti#al one, dependent !pon e3perien#e.
($atsone vs. Commonwealth of $ennsylvania =.4.?>, +9+ 6. S., .98.)
&o *!stify that portion of A#t no. +,-. whi#h permits #orporations or #ompanies to obtain a #ertifi#ate
of $hilippine registry only on #ondition that they be #omposed wholly of #iti2ens of the $hilippine
%slands or of the 6nited States or both, as not infringing $hilippine Brgani# Law, it m!st be done
!nder some one of the e3#eptions here mentioned &his m!st be done, moreover, having parti#!larly
in mind what is so often of #ontrolling effe#t in this *!risdi#tion / o!r lo#al e3perien#e and o!r
pe#!liar lo#al #onditions.
&o re#all a few fa#ts in geography, within the #onfines of $hilippine *!risdi#tional limits are fo!nd
more than three tho!sand islands. Literally, and absol!tely, steamship lines are, for an %ns!lar
territory th!s sit!ated, the arteries of #ommer#e. %f one be severed, the life'blood of the nation is lost.
%f on the other hand these arteries are prote#ted, then the se#!rity of the #o!ntry and the promotion
of the general welfare is s!stained. &ime and again, with s!#h #onditions #onfronting it, has the
e3e#!tive bran#h of the (overnment of the $hilippine %slands, always later with the san#tion of the
*!di#ial bran#h, ta0en a firm stand with referen#e to the presen#e of !ndesirable foreigners. &he
(overnment has th!s ass!med to a#t for the all's!ffi#ient and primitive reason of the benefit and
prote#tion of its own #iti2ens and of the self'preservation and integrity of its dominion. ( "n
re $atterson =.47+>, . $hil., 49< 1orbes vs. Ch!o#o, &ia#o and Crossfield =.4.7>, .- $hil., ;9?<.++8
6.S., ;?4< "n re G#C!llo#h Ci#0 =.4.8>, 98 $hil., ?..) Boats owned by foreigners, parti#!larly by s!#h
solid and rep!table firms as the instant #laimant, might indeed traverse the waters of the $hilippines
for ages witho!t doing any parti#!lar harm. Again, some evilminded foreigner might very easily ta0e
advantage of s!#h lavish hospitality to #hart $hilippine waters, to obtain val!able information for
!nfriendly foreign powers, to stir !p ins!rre#tion, or to pre*!di#e 1ilipino or Ameri#an #ommer#e.
Goreover, !nder the Spanish portion of $hilippine law, the waters within the domesti# *!risdi#tion are
deemed part of the national domain, open to p!bli# !se. (Boo0 %%, &it. %J, Ch. %, Civil Code< Spanish
Law of )aters of A!g!st 9, .8--, arts ., +, 9.) Common #arriers whi#h in the $hilippines as in the
6nited States and other #o!ntries are, as Lord Dale said, Aaffe#ted with a p!bli# interest,A #an only
be permitted to !se these p!bli# waters as a privilege and !nder s!#h #onditions as to the
representatives of the people may seem wise. ($ee Ce Jillata vs. Stanley =.4.;>, 9+ $hil., ;?..)
%n $atsone vs. Commonwealth of $ennsylvania (=.4.9>, +9+ 6.S., .98), a #ase herein before
mentioned, J!sti#e Dolmes delivering the opinion of the 6nited States S!preme Co!rt said:
&his stat!te ma0es it !nlawf!l for any !nnat!rali2ed foreign'born resident to 0ill any wild bird
or animal e3#ept in defense of person or property, and Ito that end5 ma0es it !nlawf!l for
s!#h foreign'born person to own or be possessed of a shotg!n or rifle< with a penalty of K+;
and a forfeit!re of the g!n or g!ns. &he plaintiff in error was fo!nd g!ilty and was senten#ed
to pay the abovementioned fine. &he *!dgment was affirmed on s!##essive appeals. (+9.
$a., ?-< ,4 Atl., 4+8.) De brings the #ase to this #o!rt on the gro!nd that the stat!te is
#ontrary to the .?th Amendment and also is in #ontravention of the treaty between the 6nited
States and %taly, to whi#h latter #o!ntry the plaintiff in error belongs .
6nder the .?th Amendment the ob*e#tion is twofold< !n*!stifiably depriving the alien of
property, and dis#rimination against s!#h aliens as a #lass. B!t the former really depends
!pon the latter, sin#e it hardly #an be disp!ted that if the lawf!l ob*e#t, the prote#tion of wild
life ((eer vs. Conne#ti#!t, .-. 6.S., ;.4< ?7 L. ed., ,49< .- S!p. Ct. Eep., -77), warrants the
dis#rimination, the, means adopted for ma0ing it effe#tive also might be adopted. . . .
&he dis#rimination !ndo!btedly presents a more diffi#!lt !estion. B!t we start with
referen#e to the evil to be prevented, and that if the #lass dis#riminated against is or
reasonably might be #onsidered to define those from whom the evil mainly is to be feared, it
properly may be pi#0ed o!t. A la#0 of abstra#t symmetry does not matter. &he !estion is a
pra#ti#al one, dependent !pon e3perien#e. . . .
&he !estion therefore narrows itself to whether this #o!rt #an say that the legislat!re of
$ennsylvania was not warranted in ass!ming as its premise for the law that resident
!nnat!rali2ed aliens were the pe#!liar so!r#e of the evil that it desired to prevent.
(Barrett vs. %ndiana,. ++4 6.S., +-, +4< ;, L. ed., .7;7, .7;+< 99 S!p. Ct. Eep., -4+.)
Bbvio!sly the !estion, so stated, is one of lo#al e3perien#e, on whi#h this #o!rt o!ght to be
very slow to de#lare that the state legislat!re was wrong in its fa#ts (Adams vs. Gilwa!0ee,
++8 6.S., ;,+, ;89< ;, L. ed., 4,.,.4,,< 99 S!p. Ct. Eep., -.7.) %f we might tr!st pop!lar
spee#h in some states it was right< b!t it is eno!gh that this #o!rt has no s!#h 0nowledge of
lo#al #onditions as to be able to say that it was manifestly wrong. . . .
J!dgment affirmed.
)e are in#lined to the view that while Smith, Bell & Co. Ltd., a #orporation having alien sto#0holders,
is entitled to the prote#tion afforded by the d!e'pro#ess of law and e!al prote#tion of the laws
#la!se of the $hilippine Bill of Eights, nevertheless, A#t "o. +,-. of the $hilippine Legislat!re, in
denying to #orporations s!#h as Smith, Bell &. Co. Ltd., the right to register vessels in the $hilippines
#oastwise trade, does not belong to that vi#io!s spe#ies of #lass legislation whi#h m!st always be
#ondemned, b!t does fall within a!thori2ed e3#eptions, notably, within the p!rview of the poli#e
power, and so does not offend against the #onstit!tional provision.
&his opinion might well be bro!ght to a #lose at this point. %t o##!rs to !s, however, that the
legislative history of the 6nited States and the $hilippine %slands, and, probably, the legislative
history of other #o!ntries, if we were to ta0e the time to sear#h it o!t, might dis#lose similar attempts
at restri#tion on the right to enter the #oastwise trade, and might th!s f!rnish val!able aid by whi#h
to as#ertain and, if possible, effe#t!ate legislative intention.
9. &he power to reg!late #ommer#e, e3pressly delegated to the Congress by the
Constit!tion, in#l!des the power to nationali2e ships b!ilt and owned in the 6nited States by
registries and enrollments, and the re#ording of the m!niments of title of Ameri#an vessels.
&he Congress Amay en#o!rage or it may entirely prohibit s!#h #ommer#e, and it may
reg!late in any way it may see fit between these two e3tremes.A (6.S. vs.Craig =.88->, +8
1ed., ,4;< (ibbons vs. Bgden =.8+?>, 4 )heat., .< &he $assenger Cases =.8?4>, , Dow.,
+89.)
A#ting within the p!rview of s!#h power, the first Congress of the 6nited States had not been long
#onvened before it ena#ted on September ., .,84, AAn A#t for Eegistering and Clearing Jessels,
Eeg!lating the Coasting &rade, and for other p!rposes.A Se#tion . of this law provided that for any
ship or vessel to obtain the benefits of Ameri#an registry, it m!st belong wholly to a #iti2en or #iti2ens
of the 6nited States Aand no other.A (. Stat. at L., ;;.) &hat A#t was shortly after repealed, b!t the
same idea was #arried into the A#ts of Congress of Ce#ember 9., .,4+ and 1ebr!ary .8, .,49. (.
Stat. at L., +8,, 97;.).Se#tion ? of the A#t of .,4+ provided that in order to obtain the registry of any
vessel, an oath shall be ta0en and s!bs#ribed by the owner, or by one of the owners thereof, before
the offi#er a!thori2ed to ma0e s!#h registry, de#laring, Athat there is no s!b*e#t or #iti2en of any
foreign prin#e or state, dire#tly or indire#tly, by way of tr!st, #onfiden#e, or otherwise, interested in
s!#h vessel, or in the profits or iss!es thereof.A Se#tion 9+ of the A#t of .,49 even went so far as to
say Athat if any li#ensed ship or vessel shall be transferred to any person who is not at the time of
s!#h transfer a #iti2en of and resident within the 6nited States, ... every s!#h vessel with her ta#0le,
apparel, and f!rnit!re, and the #argo fo!nd on board her, shall be forefeited.A %n #ase of alienation to
a foreigner, Chief J!sti#e Garshall said that all the privileges of an Ameri#an bottom were ipso
facto forfeited. (6.S. vs. )illings and 1ran#is =.87,>, ? Cran#h, ?8.) @ven as late as .8,9, the
Attorney'(eneral of the 6nited States was of the opinion that !nder the provisions of the A#t of
Ce#ember 9., .,4+, no vessel in whi#h a foreigner is dire#tly or indire#tly interested #an lawf!lly be
registered as a vessel of the 6nited. States. (.? Bp. Atty.'(en. =6.S.>, 9?7.)
&hese laws #ontin!ed in for#e witho!t #ontest, altho!gh possibly the A#t of Gar#h 9, .8+;, may have
affe#ted them, !ntil amended by the A#t of Gay +8, .84- (+4 Stat. at L., .88) whi#h e3tended the
privileges of registry from vessels wholly owned by a #iti2en or #iti2ens of the 6nited States to
#orporations #reated !nder the laws of any of the states thereof. &he law, as amended, made
possible the ded!#tion that a vessel belonging to a domesti# #orporation was entitled to registry or
enrollment even tho!gh some sto#0 of the #ompany be owned by aliens. &he right of ownership of
sto#0 in a #orporation was thereafter distin#t from the right to hold the property by the #orporation
(D!mphreys vs. G#Fisso#0 =.847>, .?7 6.S., 97?< L!een vs. Arna!d =.8?->, 4 L. B., 87-< +4 Bp.
Atty.'(en. =6.S.>,.88.)
Bn Ameri#an o##!pation of the $hilippines, the new government fo!nd a s!bstantive law in
operation in the %slands with a #ivil law history whi#h it wisely #ontin!ed in for#e Arti#le fifteen of the
Spanish Code of Commer#e permitted any foreigner to engage in $hilippine trade if he had legal
#apa#ity to do so !nder the laws of his nation. )hen the $hilippine Commission #ame to ena#t the
C!stoms Administrative A#t ("o. 9;;) in .47+, it ret!rned to the old Ameri#an poli#y of limiting the
prote#tion and flag of the 6nited States to vessels owned by #iti2ens of the 6nited States or by
native inhabitants of the $hilippine %slands (Se#. ..,.) &wo years later, the same body reverted to the
e3isting Congressional law by permitting #ertifi#ation to be iss!ed to a #iti2en of the 6nited States or
to a #orporation or #ompany #reated !nder the laws of the 6nited States or of any state thereof or of
the $hilippine %slands (A#t "o. .+9;, se#. 9.) &he two administration #odes repeated the same
provisions with the ne#essary amplifi#ation of in#l!sion of #iti2ens or native inhabitants of the
$hilippine %slands (Adm. Code of .4.-, se#. .9?;< Adm. Code of .4.,, se#. ..,+). And now A#t "o.
+,-. has ret!rned to the restri#tive idea of the original C!stoms Administrative A#t whi#h in t!rn was
merely a refle#tion of the stat!tory lang!age of the first Ameri#an Congress.
$rovisions s!#h as those in A#t "o. +,-., whi#h deny to foreigners the right to a #ertifi#ate of
$hilippine registry, are th!s fo!nd not to be as radi#al as a first reading wo!ld ma0e them appear.
)itho!t any s!bterf!ge, the apparent p!rpose of the $hilippine Legislat!re is seen to be to ena#t an
anti'alien shipping a#t. &he !ltimate p!rpose of the Legislat!re is to en#o!rage $hilippine ship'
b!ilding. &his, witho!t do!bt, has, li0ewise, been the intention of the 6nited States Congress in
passing navigation or tariff laws on different o##asions. &he ob*e#t of s!#h a law, the 6nited States
S!preme Co!rt on#e said, was to en#o!rage Ameri#an trade, navigation, and ship'b!ilding by giving
Ameri#an ship'owners e3#l!sive privileges. (Bld Cominion Steamship Co. vs. Jirginia =.47;>, .48
6.S., +44< Fent5s Commentaries, Jol. 9, p. .94.)
%n the #on#!rring opinion of J!sti#e Johnson in (ibbons vs. Bgden (=.8+?>, 4 )heat., .) is fo!nd the
following:
Li#ensing a#ts, in fa#t, in legislation, are !niversally restraining a#ts< as, for e3ample, a#ts
li#ensing gaming ho!ses, retailers of spirit!o!s li!ors, et#. &he a#t, in this instan#e, is
distin#tly of that #hara#ter, and forms part of an e3tensive system, the ob*e#t of whi#h is to
en#o!rage Ameri#an shipping, and pla#e them on an e!al footing with the shipping of other
nations. Almost every #ommer#ial nation reserves to its own s!b*e#ts a monopoly of its
#oasting trade< and a #o!ntervailing privilege in favor of Ameri#an shipping is #ontemplated,
in the whole legislation of the 6nited States on this s!b*e#t. %t is not to give the vessel an
Ameri#an #hara#ter, that the li#ense is granted< that effe#t has been #orre#tly attrib!ted to
the a#t of her enrollment. B!t it is to #onfer on her Ameri#an privileges, as
#ontradisting!ished from foreign< and to preserve the. (overnment from fra!d by foreigners,
in s!rreptitio!sly intr!ding themselves into the Ameri#an #ommer#ial marine, as well as
fra!ds !pon the reven!e in the trade #oastwise, that this whole system is pro*e#ted.
&he 6nited States Congress in ass!ming its grave responsibility of legislating wisely for a new
#o!ntry did so imb!ed with a spirit of Ameri#anism. Comesti# navigation and trade, it de#reed, #o!ld
only be #arried on by #iti2ens of the 6nited States. %f the representatives of the Ameri#an people
a#ted in this patrioti# manner to advan#e the national poli#y, and if their a#tion was a##epted witho!t
protest in the #o!rts, who #an say that they did not ena#t s!#h benefi#ial laws !nder the all'
pervading poli#e power, with the prime motive of safeg!arding the #o!ntry and of promoting its
prosperityM L!ite similarly, the $hilippine Legislat!re made !p entirely of 1ilipinos, representing the
mandate of the 1ilipino people and the g!ardian of their rights, a#ting !nder pra#ti#ally a!tonomo!s
powers, and imb!ed with a strong sense of $hilippinism, has desired for these %slands safety from
foreign interlopers, the !se of the #ommon property e3#l!sively by its #iti2ens and the #iti2ens of the
6nited States, and prote#tion for the #ommon good of the people. )ho #an say, therefore, espe#ially
#an a #o!rt, that with all the fa#ts and #ir#!mstan#es affe#ting the 1ilipino people before it, the
$hilippine Legislat!re has erred in the ena#tment of A#t "o. +,-.M
S!rely, the members of the *!di#iary are not e3pe#ted to live apart from a#tive life, in monasti#
se#l!sion amidst d!sty tomes and an#ient re#ords, b!t, as 0een spe#tators of passing events and
alive to the di#tates of the general / the national / welfare, #an in#line the s#ales of their de#isions
in favor of that sol!tion whi#h will most effe#tively promote the p!bli# poli#y. All the pres!mption is in
favor of the #onstit!tionally of the law and witho!t good and strong reasons, #o!rts sho!ld not
attempt to n!llify the a#tion of the Legislat!re. A%n #onstr!ing a stat!te ena#ted by the $hilippine
Commission (Legislat!re), we deem it o!r d!ty not to give it a #onstr!#tion whi#h wo!ld be
rep!gnant to an A#t of Congress, if the lang!age of the stat!te is fairly s!s#eptible of another
#onstr!#tion not in #onfli#t with the higher law.A ("n re (!ariNa =.4.9>, +?. $hil., 9-< 6.S. vs. &en H!
=.4.+>, +? $hil., ..) &hat is the tr!e #onstr!#tion whi#h will best #arry legislative intention into effe#t.
)ith f!ll #ons#io!sness of the importan#e of the !estion, we nevertheless are #learly of the opinion
that the limitation of domesti# ownership for p!rposes of obtaining a #ertifi#ate of $hilippine registry
in the #oastwise trade to #iti2ens of the $hilippine %slands, and to #iti2ens of the 6nited States, does
not violate the provisions of paragraph . of se#tion 9 of the A#t of Congress of A!g!st +4, .4.- "o
treaty right relied !pon A#t "o. +,-. of the $hilippine Legislat!re is held valid and #onstit!tional .
&he petition for a writ of mandamus is denied, with #osts against the petitioner. So ordered.
Arellano, C.)., *orres, )ohnson, Araullo, $treet, Avance+a and ,oir, ))., #on#!r.