Case Brief: Gonzales v. Hernandez

G.R. No. L-15482. May 30, 1961.

GUILLERMO GONZALES, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

THE HON. JAIME HERNANDEZ, as Secretary of Finance and JOVENCIO FOJAS, Respondents-Appellants.

 

Facts:

Petitioner Gonzales was appointed attorney-agent of Investigation and Secret Service Division, Department of Finance. But in an administrative case instituted against him, he was found guilty of disreputable conduct prior to entering the service, and called upon to resign or be separated for cause as per decision of the Commissioner of Civil Service. In view of this, Gonzales filed a letter of resignation, which was then accepted by the Undersecretary of Finance. Subsequently, his wife was appointed for the position, and then it was transferred over to respondent Fojas; on the otherhand, Gonzales worked for GSIS.

Eventually, the Civil Service Board of Appeals modified the decision of Commissioner of Civil Service, and imposed upon Gonzales a suspension of two months without pay. When he went to Department of Finance to report for duty, the Department of Finance could not reinstate him, alleging that there was an abandonment of work.

Lower court: Undersecretary of Finance had no right to treat petitioner’s conditional resignation as an absolute one, and that the Undersecretary’s unconditional acceptance of petitioner’s conditional resignation is equivalent to a rejection of said resignation and petitioner’s position did not become vacant thereby; that petitioner’s acceptance of an emergency position in the Government Service Insurance System is not an abandonment of the position in question, as it is not incompatible with his claim for reinstatement; that the appointment of respondent Fojas to the position of the petitioner is only temporary in nature.

 

Issue:

Was there a valid resignation? Did he abandon his position by accepting another position in GSIS?

 

Held:

  1. PUBLIC OFFICERS; RESIGNATION; WHEN NOT DEEMED COMPLETE AND OPERATIVE. — Where an an employee’s resignation from his position in the government service was made expressly “subject to the result of my appeal to the Civil Service Board of Appeals, there is no resignation to speak of, because to constitute a complete and operative act of resignation, the officer or employee must show a clear intention to relinquish or surrender his position.
  2. ID.; ID.; ACCEPTANCE OF EMERGENCY POSITION AFTER CONDITIONAL RESIGNATION; WHY NOT AN ABANDONMENT OF OLD POSITION. — The acceptance, by an employee who resigned conditionally from his position pending the termination of his case in the Civil Service Board of Appeals, of another position as emergency laborer in a government corporation, does not constitute an abandonment of his old position, because his temporary employment is not incompatible with his old position, and he could resign from the same any time, as soon as his case had been definitely decided in his favor.
  3. ID.; ID.; WHY OBJECTION TO REINSTATEMENT AFTER WIFE’S APPOINTMENT TO SAME OFFICE NOT TENABLE. — Where an employee’s wife was appointed in the same office where the husband was employed before his conditional resignation therefrom, no objection can be made on this account to husband’s reinstatement, since he was already employed before his wife was appointed. If any objection is to be made at all, it should be against the wife’s appointment, not his own.
  4. ID.; ID.; ID.; PAYMENT OF BACK SALARIES NOT PROPER IF EMPLOYEE WAS NOT COMPLETELY EXONERATED. — Back salaries may be ordered paid to an officer or employee only if he is exonerated of the charge against him and his suspension or dismissal is found and declared to be illegal. They should not be ordered paid where the employee was not completely exonerated, as where, although the decision of the Commissioner of Civil Service was modified and the employee was allowed to be reinstated, the decision ordered him to forfeit two months pay and not to be given back salaries.

Case Brief: Laguna Lake Development Authority v CA

G.R. Nos. 120865-71   December 7, 1995

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE HERCULANO TECH, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 70, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BINANGONAN RIZAL; FLEET DEVELOPMENT, INC. and CARLITO ARROYO; THE MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE AURELIO C. TRAMPE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 163, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG; MANILA MARINE LIFE BUSINESS RESOURCES, INC. represented by, MR. TOBIAS REYNALD M. TIANGCO; MUNICIPALITY OF TAGUIG, METRO MANILA and/or MAYOR RICARDO D. PAPA, JR., respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ALEJANDRO A. MARQUEZ, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 79, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; GREENFIELD VENTURES INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and R. J. ORION DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE MANUEL S. PADOLINA, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 162, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, METRO MANILA; IRMA FISHING & TRADING CORP.; ARTM FISHING CORP.; BDR CORPORATION, MIRT CORPORATION and TRIM CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 78, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; BLUE LAGOON FISHING CORP. and ALCRIS CHICKEN GROWERS, INC.; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 78, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; AGP FISH VENTURES, INC., represented by its PRESIDENT ALFONSO PUYAT; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE EUGENIO S. LABITORIA, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 161, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, METRO MANILA; SEA MAR TRADING CO. INC.; EASTERN LAGOON FISHING CORP.; MINAMAR FISHING CORP.; MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

Facts:

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) was created through RA No. 4850 in order to execute the policy towards environmental protection and sustainable development so as to accelerate the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces and towns.

Upon implementation of RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), the municipalities assumed exclusive jurisdiction & authority to issue fishing privileges within their municipal waters since Sec.149 thereof provides: “Municipal corporations shall have the authority to grant fishery privileges in the municipal waters and impose rental fees or charges therefore…” Big fishpen operators took advantage of the occasion to establish fishpens & fish cages to the consternation of the LLDA.

The implementation of separate independent policies in fish cages & fish pen operation and the indiscriminate grant of fishpen permits by the lakeshore municipalities have saturated the lake with fishpens, thereby aggravating the current environmental problems and ecological stress of Laguna Lake.

The LLDA then served notice to the general public that:

(1) fishpens, cages & other aqua-culture structures unregistered with the LLDA as of March 31, 1993 are declared illegal;

(2) those declared illegal shall be subject to demolition by the Presidential Task Force for Illegal Fishpen and Illegal Fishing; and

(3) owners of those declared illegal shall be criminally charged with violation of Sec.39-A of RA 4850 as amended by PD 813.

A month later, the LLDA sent notices advising the owners of the illegally constructed fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures advising them to dismantle their respective structures otherwise demolition shall be effected.

 

Issue

Which agency of the Government — the Laguna Lake Development Authority or the towns and municipalities comprising the region — should exercise jurisdiction over the Laguna Lake and its environs insofar as the issuance of permits for fishery privileges is concerned?

 

Held

LLDA has jurisdiction over such matters because the charter of the LLDA prevails over the Local Government Code of 1991.

The said charter constitutes a special law, while the latter is a general law.

The Local Government Code of 1991, has not repealed the provisions of the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended.

Thus, the Authority has the exclusive jurisdiction to issue permits for the enjoyment of fishery privileges in Laguna de Bay to the exclusion of municipalities situated therein and the authority to exercise such powers as are by its charter vested on it.

In addition, the charter of the LLDA embodies a valid exercise of police power for the purpose of protecting and developing the Laguna Lake region, as opposed to the Local Government Code, which grants powers to municipalities to issue fishing permits for revenue purposes.

Thus, it has to be concluded that the charter of the LLDA should prevail over the Local Government Code of 1991 on matters affecting Laguna de Bay.

 

Note:  Credits to https://lexislove.wordpress.com/tag/laguna-lake-development-authority-vs-court-of-appeals/.  See this blog’s Disclaimer.

Case Brief: Laurel v Desierto

GR No 145368     April 12, 2012

Laurel

vs.

Desierto 

Facts:

Petitioner is the Chair of the National Centennial Commission (NCC), tasked to “take charge of the nationwide preparations for the National Celebration of the Philippine Centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the Inauguration of the Malolos Congress.”

Subsequently, a corporation named the Philippine Centennial Expo ’98 Corporation (Expocorp) was created and Petitioner was elected Expocorp Chief Executive Officer.

An investigation of the anomalies in the construction and operation of the centennial projects was effected and the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee filed with the Secretary of the Senate its Committee Final Report recommending for “the prosecution by the Ombudsman/DOJ of Dr. Salvador Laurel, chair of NCC and of EXPOCORP for violating the rules on public bidding, in violation of the anti-graft law.”

The Evaluation and Preliminary Investigation Bureau issued a resolution finding “probable cause to indict petitioner before the Sandiganbayan for conspiring to violate Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, in relation to Republic Act No. 1594.”

Petitioner assails the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman on the ground that he is not a public officer because he, both as chairman of the NCC and of the EXPOCORP was not a “public officer.”

Issue:

WON petitioner, as Chair of the NCC, is a public officer.

Held:

yes. .—The characteristics of a public office, according to Mechem, include the delegation of sovereign functions, its creation by law and not by contract, an oath, salary, continuance of the position, scope of duties, and the designation of the position as an office . The court hold that the NCC performs executive functions. The executive power “is generally defined as the power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance.” The executive function, therefore, concerns the implementation of the policies as set forth by law.

The NCC was precisely created to ensure a more coordinated and synchronized celebrations of the Philippine Centennial and wider participation from the government and non-government or private organizations and to rationalize the relevance of historical links with other countries and to carry them into effect.Clearly, the NCC performs sovereign functions. It is, therefore, a public office, and petitioner, as its Chair, is a public officer.

Diplomatic Immunity and Territoriality Principle

A few months ago, our PIL professor asked us to review the 2014 Political Law bar exam questions and answer those which fall under the purview of Public International Law course.  Below is what I came up with.  If you have any feedback or opinion as to the accuracy and the way I answered the questions, please feel free to comment on the post.  After all, criticism can be a great teacher.

 

Ambassador Gaylor is State Juvenus’ diplomatic representative to State Hinterlands. During one of his vacations, Ambassador Gaylor decided to experience for himself the sights and sounds of State Paradise, a country known for its beauty and other attractions. While in State Paradise, Ambassador Gaylor was caught in the company of children under suspicious circumstances. He was arrested for violation of the strict anti-pedophilia statute of State Paradise. He claims that he is immune from arrest and incarceration by virtue of his diplomatic immunity. Does the claim of Ambassador Gaylor hold water? (4%)

No, Ambassador Gaylor does not hold any merit in the case.

While it is true that according to the Diplomatic Convention, a diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state, it is subject to the following exceptions: a) a real action relating to private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving state, unless he holds it on behalf of the sending state for the purposes of the mission; b) an action relating to succession in which the diplomatic agent is involved as an executor, administrator, heir, or legatee as a private person and not on behalf of the sending state; c) an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving state outside his official functions.

The third exception applies in the case. When Ambassador Gaylor was caught, he was not in the process of exercising his official functions; he was merely on vacation and was taking a stroll, and it just so happened that he was suspiciously caught in the company of children. As such, his diplomatic immunity cannot be invoked in this case.

 

Alienmae is a foreign tourist. She was asked certain questions in regard to a complaint that was filed against her by someone who claimed to have been defrauded by her. Alienmae answered all the questions asked, except in regard to some matters in which she invoked her right against self-incrimination. When she was pressed to elucidate, she said that the questions being asked might tend to elicit incriminating answers insofar as her home state is concerned. Could Alienmae invoke the right against self-incrimination if the fear of incrimination is in regard to her foreign law? (4%)

No. Alienmae cannot invoke her right against self-incrimination even if the fear of incrimination is in regard to her foreign law.

Under the territoriality principle, the general rule is that a state has jurisdiction over all persons and property within its territory. The jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory is necessary, exclusive, and absolute. However, the are a few exceptions on when a state cannot exercise jurisdiction even within its own territory, to wit: 1) foreign states, head of states, diplomatic representatives, and consults to a certain degree; 2) foreign state property; 3) acts of state; 4) foreign merchant vessels exercising rights of innocent passage or arrival under stress; 5) foreign armies passing through or stationed in its territories with its permission; and 6) such other persons or property, including organisations like the United Nations, over which it may, by agreement, waive jurisdiction.

Seeing that the circumstances surrounding Alienmae do not fall under those exceptions, that she is a foreign tourist who received a complaint for fraud, such principle of territoriality can be exercised by the State to get the information it needs to proceed with the case.

Case Brief: White Light Corporation v City of Manila

G.R. No. 122846 January 20, 2009
WHITE LIGHT CORPORATION, TITANIUM CORPORATION and STA. MESA TOURIST & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioners,
vs.
CITY OF MANILA, represented by DE CASTRO, MAYOR ALFREDO S. LIM, Respondent.

Facts:

On December 3, 1992, City Mayor Alfredo S. Lim signed into law Manila City Ordinance No. 7774 entitled “An Ordinance Prohibiting Short-Time Admission, Short-Time Admission Rates, and Wash-Up Rate Schemes in Hotels, Motels, Inns, Lodging Houses, Pension Houses, and Similar Establishments in the City of Manila” (the Ordinance).” The ordinance sanctions any person or corporation who will allow the admission and charging of room rates for less than 12 hours or the renting of rooms more than twice a day.

The petitioners White Light Corporation (WLC), Titanium Corporation (TC), and Sta. Mesa Tourist and Development Corporation (STDC), who own and operate several hotels and motels in Metro Manila, filed a motion to intervene and to admit attached complaint-in-intervention on the ground that the ordinance will affect their business interests as operators. The respondents, in turn, alleged that the ordinance is a legitimate exercise of police power.

RTC declared Ordinance No. 7774 null and void as it “strikes at the personal liberty of the individual guaranteed and jealously guarded by the Constitution.” Reference was made to the provisions of the Constitution encouraging private enterprises and the incentive to needed investment, as well as the right to operate economic enterprises. Finally, from the observation that the illicit relationships the Ordinance sought to dissuade could nonetheless be consummated by simply paying for a 12-hour stay,
When elevated to CA, the respondents asserted that the ordinance is a valid exercise of police power pursuant to Section 458 (4)(iv) of the Local Government Code which confers on cities the power to regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of cafes, restaurants, beerhouses, hotels, motels, inns, pension houses, lodging houses and other similar establishments, including tourist guides and transports. Also, they contended that under Art III Sec 18 of Revised Manila Charter, they have the power to enact all ordinances it may deem necessary and proper for the sanitation and safety, the furtherance of the prosperity and the promotion of the morality, peace, good order, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants and to fix penalties for the violation of ordinances.

Petitioners argued that the ordinance is unconstitutional and void since it violates the right to privacy and freedom of movement; it is an invalid exercise of police power; and it is unreasonable and oppressive interference in their business.
CA, in turn, reversed the decision of RTC and affirmed the constitutionality of the ordinance. First, it held that the ordinance did not violate the right to privacy or the freedom of movement, as it only penalizes the owners or operators of establishments that admit individuals for short time stays. Second, the virtually limitless reach of police power is only constrained by having a lawful object obtained through a lawful method. The lawful objective of the ordinance is satisfied since it aims to curb immoral activities. There is a lawful method since the establishments are still allowed to operate. Third, the adverse effect on the establishments is justified by the well-being of its constituents in general.

Hence, the petitioners appeared before the SC.

Issue:

Whether Ordinance No. 7774 is a valid exercise of police power of the State.

Held:

No. Ordinance No. 7774 cannot be considered as a valid exercise of police power, and as such, it is unconstitutional.

The facts of this case will recall to mind not only the recent City of Manila v Laguio Jr ruling, but the 1967 decision in Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operations Association, Inc., v. Hon. City Mayor of Manila. The common thread that runs through those decisions and the case at bar goes beyond the singularity of the localities covered under the respective ordinances. All three ordinances were enacted with a view of regulating public morals including particular illicit activity in transient lodging establishments. This could be described as the middle case, wherein there is no wholesale ban on motels and hotels but the services offered by these establishments have been severely restricted. At its core, this is another case about the extent to which the State can intrude into and regulate the lives of its citizens

The test of a valid ordinance is well established. A long line of decisions including City of Manila has held that for an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be within the corporate powers of the local government unit to enact and pass according to the procedure prescribed by law, it must also conform to the following substantive requirements: (1) must not contravene the Constitution or any statute; (2) must not be unfair or oppressive; (3) must not be partial or discriminatory; (4) must not prohibit but may regulate trade; (5) must be general and consistent with public policy; and (6) must not be unreasonable.

The ordinance in this case prohibits two specific and distinct business practices, namely wash rate admissions and renting out a room more than twice a day. The ban is evidently sought to be rooted in the police power as conferred on local government units by the Local Government Code through such implements as the general welfare clause.

Police power is based upon the concept of necessity of the State and its corresponding right to protect itself and its people. Police power has been used as justification for numerous and varied actions by the State.

The apparent goal of the ordinance is to minimize if not eliminate the use of the covered establishments for illicit sex, prostitution, drug use and alike. These goals, by themselves, are unimpeachable and certainly fall within the ambit of the police power of the State. Yet the desirability of these ends do not sanctify any and all means for their achievement. Those means must align with the Constitution.

SC contended that if they were to take the myopic view that an ordinance should be analyzed strictly as to its effect only on the petitioners at bar, then it would seem that the only restraint imposed by the law that they were capacitated to act upon is the injury to property sustained by the petitioners. Yet, they also recognized the capacity of the petitioners to invoke as well the constitutional rights of their patrons – those persons who would be deprived of availing short time access or wash-up rates to the lodging establishments in question. The rights at stake herein fell within the same fundamental rights to liberty. Liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution was defined by Justice Malcolm to include “the right to exist and the right to be free from arbitrary restraint or servitude. The term cannot be dwarfed into mere freedom from physical restraint of the person of the citizen, but is deemed to embrace the right of man to enjoy the facilities with which he has been endowed by his Creator, subject only to such restraint as are necessary for the common welfare,

Indeed, the right to privacy as a constitutional right must be recognized and the invasion of it should be justified by a compelling state interest. Jurisprudence accorded recognition to the right to privacy independently of its identification with liberty; in itself it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. Governmental powers should stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen.

An ordinance which prevents the lawful uses of a wash rate depriving patrons of a product and the petitioners of lucrative business ties in with another constitutional requisite for the legitimacy of the ordinance as a police power measure. It must appear that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require an interference with private rights and the means must be reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive of private rights. It must also be evident that no other alternative for the accomplishment of the purpose less intrusive of private rights can work. More importantly, a reasonable relation must exist between the purposes of the measure and the means employed for its accomplishment, for even under the guise of protecting the public interest, personal rights and those pertaining to private property will not be permitted to be arbitrarily invaded.

Lacking a concurrence of these requisites, the police measure shall be struck down as an arbitrary intrusion into private rights.
The behavior which the ordinance seeks to curtail is in fact already prohibited and could in fact be diminished simply by applying existing laws. Less intrusive measures such as curbing the proliferation of prostitutes and drug dealers through active police work would be more effective in easing the situation. So would the strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations penalizing prostitution and drug use. These measures would have minimal intrusion on the businesses of the petitioners and other legitimate merchants. Further, it is apparent that the ordinance can easily be circumvented by merely paying the whole day rate without any hindrance to those engaged in illicit activities. Moreover, drug dealers and prostitutes can in fact collect “wash rates” from their clientele by charging their customers a portion of the rent for motel rooms and even apartments.

SC reiterated that individual rights may be adversely affected only to the extent that may fairly be required by the legitimate demands of public interest or public welfare. The State is a leviathan that must be restrained from needlessly intruding into the lives of its citizens. However well¬-intentioned the ordinance may be, it is in effect an arbitrary and whimsical intrusion into the rights of the establishments as well as their patrons. The ordinance needlessly restrains the operation of the businesses of the petitioners as well as restricting the rights of their patrons without sufficient justification. The ordinance rashly equates wash rates and renting out a room more than twice a day with immorality without accommodating innocuous intentions.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED, and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 9, is REINSTATED. Ordinance No. 7774 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL. No pronouncement as to costs.

Case Brief: Office of the Solicitor General v Ayala Land Incorporated

G.R. No. 177056  September 18, 2009
THE OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, Petitioner,
vs.
AYALA LAND INCORPORATED, ROBINSON’S LAND CORPORATION, SHANGRI-LA PLAZA CORPORATION and SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., Respondents.

Facts:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, filed by petitioner seeking the reversal and setting aside of the decision of CA which affirmed the decision of RTC, which denied the Motion for Reconsideration of OSG. The RTC adjudged that respondents Ayala Land Incorporated (Ayala Land), Robinsons Land Corporation (Robinsons), Shangri-la Plaza Corporation (Shangri-la), and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) could not be obliged to provide free parking spaces in their malls to their patrons and the general public.

The Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce found that the collection of parking fees by shopping malls is contrary to National Building Code and figuratively speaking, the Code has “expropriated” the land for parking. Also, Committee stated that the collection of parking fees would be against Article II of RA 9734 (Consumer Act of the Philippines) as to the State’s policy of protecting the interest of consumers. Moreover, Section 201 of the National Building Code gives the responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of the Code, including the imposition of penalties for administrative violations thereof to the Secretary of Public Works. This is not being strictly followed as the LGUs are tasked to discharge the regulatory powers of DPWH instead of DPWH instead.

As such, Senate Committee recommended that: 1) Office of Solicitor General should institute the action to enjoin the collction of parking fees and enforce the sanctions for violation of National Building Code; 2) DTI pursuant to RA 7394 should enforce the provisions of Code relative to parking; and 3) Congress should amend and update the National Building Code to prohibit the collection of parking fees and its waiver of liability.

Respondent SM Prime assailed the recommendation of the Committee and filed a Petition for Declaratory Relief under Rule 63 of the Revised Rules of Court against DPWH and local building officials, contending that: 1) Rule XIX of Implementing Rules and Regulations of National Building Code is unconstitutional and void; 2) respondent has the legal right to lease parking spaces; and 3) National Building Code IRR is ineffective as it was not published for 3 consecutive weeks in newspaper of general circulation as mandated by Section 211 of PD 1096.

OSG then filed a Petition for Declaratory Relief and Injunction (with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction) to the RTC against respondents, prohibiting them from collecting parking fees and contending that their practice of charging parking fees is violative of National Building Code.

The RTC held that: 1) OSG has the capacity to institute the proceeding it being a controversy of public welfare; 2) a petition for declaratory relief is proper since all the requisites are present; 3) the Building Code with its IRR does not necessarily impose that parking spaces shall be free of charge and providing parking spaces for free can be considered as unlawful taking of property right without just compensation; and 4) there was no sufficient evidence to justify any award for damages. They deemed that the respondents are not obligated to provide parking spaces free of charge.

OSG appealed the decision to CA, saying that RTC erred in holding that the National Building Code did not intend the parking spaces to be free of charge. On the otherhand, respondent SM filed a separate appeal to the CA, contending that: 1) RTC erred in failing to declare Rule XIX of IRR as unconstitutional; 2) RTC erred in failing to declare IRR ineffective for not having been published as required by law; 3) RTC erred in dismissing the OSG’s petition for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and 4) RTC erred in failing to declare that OSG has no legal standing as it is not a real party-in-interest.

CA denied the appeals of both petitioners and respondents on the following grounds: 1) OSG did not fail to exhaust administrative remedies and that an administrative review is not a condition precedent to judicial relief where the question in dispute is purely a legal one and nothing of an administrative nature is to be or can be done; 2) the validity of National Building Code IRR cannot be proceeded as it was not discussed in RTC and the controversy could be settled on other grounds without touching the issue of validity since the courts should refrain from passing upon the constitutionality of a law; and 3) Section 803 of National Building Code and Rule XIX of IRR are clear that they are only intended to control the occupancy of areas and structures, and in the absence of provision of law, respondents could not be obliged to provide parking spaces free of charge.

As such, OSG presented itself to SC for the instant Petition for Review.

Issues:

1. Whether the CA erred in affirming the ruling of RTC that respondents are not obliged to provide free parking spaces to their customers or the public.

2. Whether the petition of OSG for prohibiting the collection of parking fees is a valid exercise of the police power of State.

Held:

1. No. The CA was correct in affirming the ruling of RTC, and the respondents are not obliged to provide free parking spaces. SC found no merit in the OSG’s petition:

Sec 803 of National Building Code.

Percentage of Site Occupancy states that maximum site occupancy shall be governed by the use, type of construction, and height of the building and the use, area, nature, and location of the site; and subject to the provisions of the local zoning requirements and in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the Secretary.

RULE XIX – PARKING AND LOADING SPACE REQUIREMENTS

Pursuant to Section 803 of the National Building Code (PD 1096) providing for maximum site occupancy, the following provisions on parking and loading space requirements shall be observed:
1. The parking space ratings listed below are minimum off-street requirements for specific uses/occupancies for buildings/structures:
1.1 The size of an average automobile parking slot shall be computed as 2.4 meters by 5.00 meters for perpendicular or diagonal parking, 2.00 meters by 6.00 meters for parallel parking. A truck or bus parking/loading slot shall be computed at a minimum of 3.60 meters by 12.00 meters. The parking slot shall be drawn to scale and the total number of which shall be indicated on the plans and specified whether or not parking accommodations, are attendant-managed. (See Section 2 for computation of parking requirements).
x x x x
1.7 Neighborhood shopping center – 1 slot/100 sq. m. of shopping floor area

 SECTION 102. Declaration of Policy

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to safeguard life, health, property, and public welfare, consistent with the principles of sound environmental management and control; and to this end, make it the purpose of this Code to provide for all buildings and structures, a framework of minimum standards and requirements to regulate and control their location, site, design, quality of materials, construction, use, occupancy, and maintenance.
The requirement of free-of-charge parking, the OSG argues, greatly contributes to the aim of safeguarding “life, health, property, and public welfare, consistent with the principles of sound environmental management and control.” Adequate parking spaces would contribute greatly to alleviating traffic congestion when complemented by quick and easy access thereto because of free-charge parking. Moreover, the power to regulate and control the use, occupancy, and maintenance of buildings and structures carries with it the power to impose fees and, conversely, to control — partially or, as in this case, absolutely — the imposition of such fees.

The explicit directive of the above is that respondents, as operators/lessors of neighborhood shopping centers, should provide parking and loading spaces with the minimum ratio of one slot per 100 square meters of shopping floor area. There is nothing therein pertaining to the collection (or non-collection) of parking fees by respondents. In fact, the term “parking fees” cannot even be found at all in the entire National Building Code and its IRR. One rule of statutory construction is that if a statute is clear and unequivocal, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without any attempt at interpretation. Since Section 803 of the National Building Code and Rule XIX of its IRR do not mention parking fees, then simply, said provisions do not regulate the collection of the same

The OSG cannot rely on Section 102 of the National Building Code to expand the coverage of Section 803 of the same Code and Rule XIX of the IRR, so as to include the regulation of parking fees. The OSG limits its citation to the first part of Section 102 of the National Building Code declaring the policy of the State “to safeguard life, health, property, and public welfare, consistent with the principles of sound environmental management and control”; but totally ignores the second part of said provision, which reads, “and to this end, make it the purpose of this Code to provide for all buildings and structures, a framework of minimum standards and requirements to regulate and control their location, site, design, quality of materials, construction, use, occupancy, and maintenance.” While the first part of Section 102 of the National Building Code lays down the State policy, it is the second part thereof that explains how said policy shall be carried out in the Code. Section 102 of the National Building Code is not an all-encompassing grant of regulatory power to the DPWH Secretary and local building officials in the name of life, health, property, and public welfare. On the contrary, it limits the regulatory power of said officials to ensuring that the minimum standards and requirements for all buildings and structures, as set forth in the National Building Code, are complied with.

Consequently, the OSG cannot claim that in addition to fixing the minimum requirements for parking spaces for buildings, Rule XIX of the IRR also mandates that such parking spaces be provided by building owners free of charge. If Rule XIX is not covered by the enabling law, then it cannot be added to or included in the implementing rules. The rule-making power of administrative agencies must be confined to details for regulating the mode or proceedings to carry into effect the law as it has been enacted, and it cannot be extended to amend or expand the statutory requirements or to embrace matters not covered by the statute. Administrative regulations must always be in harmony with the provisions of the law because any resulting discrepancy between the two will always be resolved in favor of the basic law.

2. No. The petition of OSG to prohibit collection of parking fees is not a valid exercise of the police power of State.

It is not sufficient for the OSG to claim that “the power to regulate and control the use, occupancy, and maintenance of buildings and structures carries with it the power to impose fees and, conversely, to control, partially or, as in this case, absolutely, the imposition of such fees.” Firstly, the fees within the power of regulatory agencies to impose are regulatory fees. It has been settled law in this jurisdiction that this broad and all-compassing governmental competence to restrict rights of liberty and property carries with it the undeniable power to collect a regulatory fee. It looks to the enactment of specific measures that govern the relations not only as between individuals but also as between private parties and the political society. True, if the regulatory agencies have the power to impose regulatory fees, then conversely, they also have the power to remove the same. Even so, it is worthy to note that the present case does not involve the imposition by the DPWH Secretary and local building officials of regulatory fees upon respondents; but the collection by respondents of parking fees from persons who use the mall parking facilities. Secondly, assuming arguendo that the DPWH Secretary and local building officials do have regulatory powers over the collection of parking fees for the use of privately owned parking facilities, they cannot allow or prohibit such collection arbitrarily or whimsically. Whether allowing or prohibiting the collection of such parking fees, the action of the DPWH Secretary and local building officials must pass the test of classic reasonableness and propriety of the measures or means in the promotion of the ends sought to be accomplished.

Without using the term outright, the OSG is actually invoking police power to justify the regulation by the State, through the DPWH Secretary and local building officials, of privately owned parking facilities, including the collection by the owners/operators of such facilities of parking fees from the public for the use thereof. The Court finds, however, that in totally prohibiting respondents from collecting parking fees, the State would be acting beyond the bounds of police power.

Police power is 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 the property of the owner. The power to regulate, however, does not include the power to prohibit. A fortiori, the power to regulate does not include the power to confiscate. Police power does not involve the taking or confiscation of property, with the exception of a few cases where there is a necessity to confiscate private property in order to destroy it for the purpose of protecting peace and order and of promoting the general welfare; for instance, the confiscation of an illegally possessed article, such as opium and firearms.

When there is a taking or confiscation of private property for public use, the State is no longer exercising police power, but another of its inherent powers, namely, eminent domain. Eminent domain enables the State to forcibly acquire private lands intended for public use upon payment of just compensation to the owner.

Normally, of course, the power of eminent domain results in the taking or appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property; but no cogent reason appears why the said power may not be availed of only to impose a burden upon the owner of condemned property, without loss of title and possession. It is a settled rule that neither acquisition of title nor total destruction of value is essential to taking. It is usually in cases where title remains with the private owner that inquiry should be made to determine whether the impairment of a property is merely regulated or amounts to a compensable taking. A regulation that deprives any person of the profitable use of his property constitutes a taking and entitles him to compensation, unless the invasion of rights is so slight as to permit the regulation to be justified under the police power. Similarly, a police regulation that unreasonably restricts the right to use business property for business purposes amounts to a taking of private property, and the owner may recover therefor.

Although in the present case, title to and/or possession of the parking facilities remain/s with respondents, the prohibition against their collection of parking fees from the public, for the use of said facilities, is already tantamount to a taking or confiscation of their properties. The State is not only requiring that respondents devote a portion of the latter’s properties for use as parking spaces, but is also mandating that they give the public access to said parking spaces for free. Such is already an excessive intrusion into the property rights of respondents. Not only are they being deprived of the right to use a portion of their properties as they wish, they are further prohibited from profiting from its use or even just recovering therefrom the expenses for the maintenance and operation of the required parking facilities.

In conclusion, the total prohibition against the collection by respondents of parking fees from persons who use the mall parking facilities has no basis in the National Building Code or its IRR. The State also cannot impose the same prohibition by generally invoking police power, since said prohibition amounts to a taking of respondents’ property without payment of just compensation.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated 25 January 2007 and Resolution dated 14 March 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 76298, affirming in toto the Joint Decision dated 29 May 2002 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138, in Civil Cases No. 00-1208 and No. 00-1210 are hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.

Case Brief: In Re Bermudez

G.R. No. 76180 October 24, 1986
IN RE: SATURNINO V. BERMUDEZ

Facts:
In a petition for declaratory relief with no respondents, petitioner asked the court if the provision of the Section 5 Article XVIII of the 1986 Constitution, to wit: “The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992,” refers to the then-incumbent President Corazon Aquino and Vice-President Salvador Laurel or the previously-elected President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Vice-President Arturo M. Tolentino.

After the election of February 7, 1986 where Marcos and Tolentino were declared the winners, Aquino and Laurel were installed into the position last February 25, 1986 after the infamous People Power Revolution. The next regular election for the President and Vice-President was held last May 2, 1992.

Issue:
Whether the aforecited article applies to the then-incumbent President and Vice-President, or the previously elected President and Vice-President.

Held:
The petition was hereby dismissed outright for:

1. Lack of jurisdiction. Court has no jurisdiction over petition for declaratory relief. Rules of Court states that it is the RTC (Regional Trial Courts) who has the jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief. Also, incumbent Presidents are immune from suit or from being brought to court during the period of their incumbency and tenure.

2. Lack of cause of action on the part of petitioner. Petitioner had no personality to use, and his allegation was manifestly gratuitous. The legitimacy of the Aquino government was not a justiciable matter. It belongs to the realm of politics where only the people of the Philippines are the judge, and the people have made judgment.