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Alferdz C.

Neffe
WHITE LIGHT CORPORATION, TITANIUM CORPORATION and STA. MESA TOURIST & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION vs CITY OF MANILA (G.R. No. 122846 January 20, 2009)

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. Sec.3 of Ordinance no. 7774 of Manila states Pursuant to the above policy, shorttime admission and rate, wash-up rate or other similarly concocted terms, and hereby prohibited in hotels, motels, inns, lodging houses, pension houses and similar establishment in the City of Manila. Sec.4 of Ordinance no. 7774 of Manila states Definition of Terms. Short-time admission shall mean admittance and charging of room rate for less than twelve hours at any given time or the renting out of rooms more than twice a day or any other term that may be concocted by owners or managers of said establishments but would mean the same or would bear the same meaning. On December 15, 1992 Malate Tourist and Development Corporation filed a complaint for declaratory relief with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and or temporary restraining order with the Regional Trial Court of Manila. On December 21, 1992, petitioners White Light Corporation (WLC), Titanium Corporation (TC) and Sta. Mesa Tourist and Development Corporation (STDC) filed a motion to intervene on the ground that the Ordinance directly affects their business interests as operator of drive-in-hotels and motels in Manila. On October 20, 1993 the RTC rendered a decision declaring the Ordinance null and void. RTC noted that the ordinance strikes at the personal liberty of the individual guaranteed and jealously guarded by the Constitution. Court of appeals reversed the decision of the RTC and affirmed the constitutionality of the ordinance. TL, WLC and STDC came to the Supreme Court via petition for review on certiorari. In their petition and Memorandum, petitioners in essence repeat the assertions they made before the Court of Appeals. ISSUE: Whether or not Ordinance no. 7774 of Manila is a valid exercise of police power?

HELD: No, 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. is not a valid exercise of Police Power. However well intentioned the ordinance may be it is in effect a arbitrary and whimsical intrusion into the rights of the establishments as well as their patrons. The Ordinance needlessly restrains the operation of the business of the petitioners as well as restricting the rights of their patrons without sufficient justification. 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 contravenes with the bill of rights Section 1 of Article 3 of the constitution No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. It is unfair in the sense that not everyone who avails of the wash-up rates, and short-time admission in hotels and motels are doing immoral acts like the using of drugs in the rooms or using it as where to bring prostitutes, they are not the only patrons of the said establishments there are those who use it for a different and moral way. Even if they do not have short-time rates or wash-up rates, the ones who sell drugs or sell their body for money could easily rent the rooms for a whole day and just ask their clients to pay them for the time they used while they are in the room doing the immoral acts. The Government can only regulate, but never prohibit the practices of the businesses. The ordinance is of course unreasonable, because the government cannot keep a watchful eye on every room in every motel, lodges, pension houses and hotels that have short-time rates. 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. In accordance with this case the rights of the citizen to be free to use his faculties in all lawful ways; to live and work where he will; to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling, and to pursue any avocation are all deemed embrace in the concept of liberty. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila is REINSTATED. Ordinance no. 7774 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL and the exercise of Police power is invalid.