The accused-appellant, Romeo G. Jalosjos is a full-fledged member of Congress who is now confined at the national penitentiary while his conviction for statutory rape on two counts and acts of lasciviousness on six counts is pending appeal. The accused-appellant filed this motion asking that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a Congressman, including attendance at legislative sessions and committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a non-bailable offense.
Whether or not being a Congressman is a substantial differentiation which removes the accused-appellant as a prisoner from the same class as all persons validly confined under law by reason of the “mandate of the sovereign will”.
NO. While the Constitution guarantees: “x x x nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of laws.”, this simply means that all persons similarly situated shall be treated alike both in rights enjoyed and responsibilities imposed. The duties imposed by the “mandate of the people” are multifarious. The Court cannot validate badges of inequality. The necessities imposed by public welfare may justify exercise of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded. Here, election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. The functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class. Hence, the performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison.