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CASE: Social Justice Society (SJS) Officers v. Mayor Alfredo S.

Lim
(G.R. Nos. 187836 and 187916) November 25, 2014

FACTS
On 12 October 2001, a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into by oil companies (Chevron, Petron and
Shell) and Department of Energy for the creation of a Master Plan to address and minimize the potential risks and
hazards posed by the proximity of communities, business and offices to Pandacan oil terminals without affecting security
and reliability of supply and distribution of petroleum products. On 20 November 2001, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP)
enacted Ordinance No. 8027 which reclassifies the land use of Pandacan, Sta. Ana, and its adjoining areas from
Industrial II to Commercial I. Owners and operators of the businesses affected by the reclassification were given six (6)
months from the date of effectivity to stop the operation of their businesses. It was later extended until 30 April 2003. On 4
December 2002, a petition for mandamus was filed before the Supreme Court (SC) to enforce Ordinance No. 8027.
Unknown to the SC, the oil companies filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila an action to annul Ordinance No.
8027 with application for writs of preliminary prohibitory injunction and preliminary mandatory injunction. The same was
issued in favor of Chevron and Shell. Petron, on the other hand, obtained a status quo on 4 August 2004. On 16 June
2006, Mayor Jose Atienza, Jr. approved Ordinance No. 8119 entitled An Ordinance Adopting the Manila Comprehensive
Land Use Plan and Zoning Regulations of 2006 and Providing for the Administration, Enforcement and Amendment
thereto. This designates Pandacan oil depot area as a Planned Unit Development/Overlay Zone. On 7 March 2007, the
SC granted the petition for mandamus and directed Mayor Atienza to immediately enforce Ordinance No. 8027. It
declared that the objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of manila from the catastrophic devastation that
will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack on the Pandacan Terminals. The oil companies filed a Motion for
Reconsideration (MR) on the 7 March 2007 Decision. The SC later resolved that Ordinance No. 8027 is constitutional and
that it was not impliedly repealed by Ordinance No. 8119 as there is no irreconcilable conflict between them. SC later on
denied with finality the second MR of the oil companies. On 14 May 2009, during the incumbency of Mayor Alfredo Lim
(Mayor Lim), the SP enacted Ordinance No. 8187. The Industrial Zone under Ordinance No. 8119 was limited to Light
Industrial Zone, Ordinance No. 8187 appended to the list a Medium and a Heavy Industrial Zone where petroleum
refineries and oil depots are expressly allowed. Petitioners Social Justice Society Officers, Mayor Atienza, et.al. filed a
petition for certiorari under Rule 65 assailing the validity of Ordinance No. 8187. Their contentions are as follows: It is an
invalid exercise of police power because it does not promote the general welfare of the people It is violative of Section
15 and 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution as well as health and environment related municipal laws and international
conventions and treaties, such as: Clean Air Act; Environment Code; Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law; Civil Code
provisions on nuisance and human relations; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and Convention on the Rights of the
Child The title of Ordinance No. 8187 purports to amend or repeal Ordinance No. 8119 when it actually intends to repeal
Ordinance No. 8027 On the other hand, the respondents Mayor Lim, et.al. and the intervenors oil companies contend
that: The petitioners have no legal standing to sue whether as citizens, taxpayers or legislators. They further failed to show
that they have suffered any injury or threat of injury as a result of the act complained of The petition should be dismissed
outright for failure to properly apply the related provisions of the Constitution, the Rules of Court, and/or the Rules of
Procedure for Environmental Cases relative to the appropriate remedy available The principle of the hierarchy of courts
is violated because the SC only exercises appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the constitutionality or validity of an
ordinance under Section 5, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution It is the function of the SP to enact zoning ordinance
without prior referral to the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals; thus, it may repeal all or part of zoning
ordinance sought to be modified There is a valid exercise of police power On 28 August 2012, the SP enacted Ordinance
No. 8283 which essentially amended the assailed Ordinance to exclude the area where petroleum refineries and oil
depots are located from the Industrial Zone. The same was vetoed by Mayor Lim.

ISSUES
1. Whether or not there are violations of environmental laws2. WON the principle of hierarchy of courts is
violated3. WON the petitioners have legal standing to sue4.
2. Whether or not Ordinance No. 8187 is unconstitutional in relation to the Pandacan Terminals

RULING
1. None. The scope of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases is embodied in Section 2, Part I, Rule I
thereof. It states that the Rules shall govern the procedure in civil, criminal and special civil actions before the MeTCs,
MTCCs, MTCs and MCTCs, and the RTCs involving the enforcement or violations of environmental and other related laws,
rules and regulations such as but not limited to: R.A. No. 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste Act; R.A. No. 8749,
Clean Air Act; Provisions in C.A. No. 141; and other existing laws that relate to the conservation, development,
preservation, protection and utilization of the environment and natural resources.
Notably, the aforesaid Rules are limited in scope. While, indeed, there are allegations of violations of environmental laws
in the petitions, these only serve as collateral attacks that would support the other position of the petitioners the
protection of the right to life, security and safety.

2. No. The SC held that it is true that the petitions should have been filed with the RTC, it having concurrent
jurisdiction with the SC over a special civil action for prohibition, and original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory
relief.
However, the petitions at bar are of transcendental importance warranting a relaxation of the doctrine of hierarchy of
courts. This is in accordance with the well-entrenched principle that rules of procedure are not inflexible tools designed
to hinder or delay, but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which
would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate, rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed.
(Jaworski v. PAGCOR, 464 Phil. 375)

3. Yes. The SC referred to their Decision dated 7 March 2007 which ruled that the petitioners in that case have a
legal right to seek the enforcement of Ordinance No. 8027 because the subject of the petition concerns a public right,
and they, as residents of Manila, have a direct interest in the implementation of the ordinances of the city.
No different are herein petitioners who seek to prohibit the enforcement of the assailed ordinance, and who deal with
the same subject matter that concerns a public right.
In like manner, the preservation of the life, security and safety of the people is indisputably a right of utmost importance
to the public. Certainly, the petitioners, as residents of Manila, have the required personal interest to seek relief to protect
such right.
4. Yes. In striking down the contrary provisions of the assailed Ordinance relative to the continued stay of the oil
depots, the SC followed the same line of reasoning used in its 7 March 2007 decision, to wit:
Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted for the purpose of promoting a sound urban planning, ensuring health, public safety
and general welfare of the residents of Manila. The Sanggunian was impelled to take measures to protect the residents
of Manila from catastrophic devastation in case of a terrorist attack on the Pandacan Terminals. Towards this objective,
the Sanggunian reclassified the area defined in the ordinance from industrial to commercial.

The following facts were found by the Committee on Housing, Resettlement and Urban Development of the City of
Manila which recommended the approval of the ordinance:
(1) The depot facilities contained 313.5 million liters of highly flammable and highly volatile products which
include petroleum gas, liquefied petroleum gas, aviation fuel, diesel, gasoline, kerosene and fuel oil among
others;
(2) The depot is open to attack through land, water and air;
(3) It is situated in a densely populated place and near Malacaang Palace; and
(4) In case of an explosion or conflagration in the depot, the fire could spread to the neighboring communities.

The Ordinance was intended to safeguard the rights to life, security and safety of all the inhabitants of Manila
and not just of a particular class. The depot is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a representation of western interests which
means that it is a terrorist target. As long as there is such a target in their midst, the residents of Manila are not safe. It
therefore becomes necessary to remove these terminals to dissipate the threat.
The same best interest of the public guides the present decision. The Pandacan oil depot remains a terrorist
target even if the contents have been lessened. In the absence of any convincing reason to persuade the Court that
the life, security and safety of the inhabitants of Manila are no longer put at risk by the presence of the oil depots, the SC
holds that the Ordinance No. 8187 in relation to the Pandacan Terminals is invalid and unconstitutional.
For, given that the threat sought to be prevented may strike at one point or another, no matter how remote it is
as perceived by one or some, the SC cannot allow the right to life be dependent on the unlikelihood of an event.
Statistics and theories of probability have no place in situations where the very life of not just an individual but of residents
of big neighbourhoods is at stake.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION
1. Ordinance No. 8187 is declared unconstitutional and invalid with respect to the continued stay of the Pandacan Oil
Terminals.2. The incumbent mayor of the City of Manila is ordered to cease and desist from enforcing Ordinance No.
8187 and to oversee the relocation and transfer of the oil terminals out of the Pandacan area3. The oil companies shall,
within a non-extendible period of forty-five (45) days, submit to the RTC Manila, Branch 39 an updated comprehensive
plan and relocation schedule, which relocation shall be completed not later than six (6) months from the date the
required document is submitted.

MANILA MEMORIAL PARK, INC v. SECRETARY OF DSWD


711 SCRA 302 G.R. No. 175356 December 3, 2013

FACTS:
RA 7432 was passed into law (amended by RA 9257), granting senior citizens 20% discount on certain
establishments. To implement the tax provisions of RA 9257, the Secretary of Finance and the DSWD issued its own Rules
and Regulations. Hence, this petition.

Petitioners are not questioning the 20% discount granted to senior citizens but are only assailing the
constitutionality of the tax deduction scheme prescribed under RA 9257 and the implementing rules and regulations
issued by the DSWD and the DOF. Petitioners posit that the tax deduction scheme contravenes Article III, Section 9 of the
Constitution, which provides that: "private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation."
Respondents maintain that the tax deduction scheme is a legitimate exercise of the State’s police power.
ISSUE:
Whether the legally mandated 20% senior citizen discount is an exercise of police power or eminent domain.

RULING:
The 20% senior citizen discount is an exercise of police power.

It may not always be easy to determine whether a challenged governmental act is an exercise of police
power or eminent domain. The judicious approach, therefore, is to look at the nature and effects of the challenged
governmental act and decide on the basis thereof.

The 20% discount is intended to improve the welfare of senior citizens who, at their age, are less likely to be
gainfully employed, more prone to illnesses and other disabilities, and, thus, in need of subsidy in purchasing basic
commodities. It serves to honor senior citizens who presumably spent their lives on contributing to the development and
progress of the nation.

In turn, the subject regulation affects the pricing, and, hence, the profitability of a private establishment. The
subject regulation may be said to be similar to, but with substantial distinctions from, price control or rate of return on
investment control laws which are traditionally regarded as police power measures.

The subject regulation differs there from in that (1) the discount does not prevent the establishments from
adjusting the level of prices of their goods and services, and (2) the discount does not apply to all customers of a given
establishment but only to the class of senior citizens. Nonetheless, to the degree material to the resolution of this case,
the 20% discount may be properly viewed as belonging to the category of price regulatory measures which affect the
profitability of establishments subjected thereto. On its face, therefore, the subject regulation is a police power measure.