G.R. No. L-3491 June 24, 1983
CITY GOVERNMENT OF QUEZON CITY and CITY COUNCIL OF QUEZON CITY, petitioners,
HON. JUDGE VICENTE G. ERICTA as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City, Branch XVIII; HIMLAYANG PILIPINO, INC., respondents.
Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, S-64 provides that at least 6% of the total area of the memorial park cemetery shall be set aside for the charity burial of deceased persons who are paupers and have been residents of Quezon City for at least 5 years prior to their death. As such, the Quezon City engineer required the respondent, Himlayang Pilipino Inc, to stop any further selling and/or transaction of memorial park lots in Quezon City where the owners thereof have failed to donate the required 6% space intended for paupers burial.
The then Court of First Instance and its judge, Hon. Ericta, declared Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, S-64 null and void.
Petitioners argued that the taking of the respondent’s property is a valid and reasonable exercise of police power and that the land is taken for a public use as it is intended for the burial ground of paupers. They further argued that the Quezon City Council is authorized under its charter, in the exercise of local police power, ” to make such further ordinances and resolutions not repugnant to law as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred by this Act and such as it shall deem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good order, comfort and convenience of the city and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property therein.”
On the otherhand, respondent Himlayang Pilipino, Inc. contended that the taking or confiscation of property was obvious because the questioned ordinance permanently restricts the use of the property such that it cannot be used for any reasonable purpose and deprives the owner of all beneficial use of his property.
Is Section 9 of the ordinance in question a valid exercise of the police power?
No. The Sec. 9 of the ordinance is not a valid exercise of the police power.
Occupying the forefront in the bill of rights is the provision which states that ‘no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law’ (Art. Ill, Section 1 subparagraph 1, Constitution). On the other hand, there are three inherent powers of government by which the state interferes with the property rights, namely-. (1) police power, (2) eminent domain, (3) taxation. These are said to exist independently of the Constitution as necessary attributes of sovereignty.
An examination of the Charter of Quezon City (Rep. Act No. 537), does not reveal any provision that would justify the ordinance in question except the provision granting police power to the City. Section 9 cannot be justified under the power granted to Quezon City to tax, fix the license fee, and regulate such other business, trades, and occupation as may be established or practised in the City. The power to regulate does not include the power to prohibit or confiscate. The ordinance in question not only confiscates but also prohibits the operation of a memorial park cemetery.
Police power is defined by Freund as ‘the power of promoting the public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property’. It is usually exerted in order to merely regulate the use and enjoyment of property of the owner. If he is deprived of his property outright, it is not taken for public use but rather to destroy in order to promote the general welfare. In police power, the owner does not recover from the government for injury sustained in consequence thereof.
Under the provisions of municipal charters which are known as the general welfare clauses, a city, by virtue of its police power, may adopt ordinances to the peace, safety, health, morals and the best and highest interests of the municipality. It is a well-settled principle, growing out of the nature of well-ordered and society, that every holder of property, however absolute and may be his title, holds it under the implied liability that his use of it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having an equal right to the enjoyment of their property, nor injurious to the rights of the community. A property in the state is held subject to its general regulations, which are necessary to the common good and general welfare. Rights of property, like all other social and conventional rights, are subject to such reasonable limitations in their enjoyment as shall prevent them from being injurious, and to such reasonable restraints and regulations, established by law, as the legislature, under the governing and controlling power vested in them by the constitution, may think necessary and expedient. The state, under the police power, is possessed with plenary power to deal with all matters relating to the general health, morals, and safety of the people, so long as it does not contravene any positive inhibition of the organic law and providing that such power is not exercised in such a manner as to justify the interference of the courts to prevent positive wrong and oppression.
However, in the case at hand, there is no reasonable relation between the setting aside of at least six (6) percent of the total area of an private cemeteries for charity burial grounds of deceased paupers and the promotion of health, morals, good order, safety, or the general welfare of the people. The ordinance is actually a taking without compensation of a certain area from a private cemetery to benefit paupers who are charges of the municipal corporation. Instead of building or maintaining a public cemetery for this purpose, the city passes the burden to private cemeteries.
The expropriation without compensation of a portion of private cemeteries is not covered by Section 12(t) of Republic Act 537, the Revised Charter of Quezon City which empowers the city council to prohibit the burial of the dead within the center of population of the city and to provide for their burial in a proper place subject to the provisions of general law regulating burial grounds and cemeteries. When the Local Government Code, Batas Pambansa Blg. 337 provides in Section 177 (q) that a Sangguniang panlungsod may “provide for the burial of the dead in such place and in such manner as prescribed by law or ordinance” it simply authorizes the city to provide its own city owned land or to buy or expropriate private properties to construct public cemeteries. This has been the law and practise in the past. It continues to the present. Expropriation, however, requires payment of just compensation. The questioned ordinance is different from laws and regulations requiring owners of subdivisions to set aside certain areas for streets, parks, playgrounds, and other public facilities from the land they sell to buyers of subdivision lots. The necessities of public safety, health, and convenience are very clear from said requirements which are intended to insure the development of communities with salubrious and wholesome environments. The beneficiaries of the regulation, in turn, are made to pay by the subdivision developer when individual lots are sold to home-owners.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby DISMISSED. The decision of the respondent court is affirmed.