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[G.R. No. 157523. June 18, 2003]

EDILLO vs. CA

THIRD DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this court dated JUN 18 2003.

G.R. No. 157523(Roberto A. Edillo vs. Court of Appeals and the City of Cebu and the City Council of Cebu City.)

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure seeking to set aside the decision of (1) the Court of Appeals dated September 5, 2002 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City (2) of Branch 21 of the RTC of Cebu City dismissing the case of petitioner Roberto A. Edillo for declaratory relief with preliminary injunction and (3) its resolution dated February 18, 2003 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

The antecedent facts of the case follow.

Roberto A. Edillo was engaged in the business of mimeographing and printing of jai-alai tip sheets under the firm name Roedil Enterprises & Printing Press. In relation thereto, he was issued the corresponding Certificate of Registration by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) and a Mayor's Permit. The tip sheets were referred to by petitioner as "Speed Computer" for which he was issued a patent by the Philippine Patent Office on September 25, 1979 to protect said trademark.

On January 31, 1996, public respondents Rodolfo Y. Cabrera and Michael L. Rama, then Members of the Sangguniang Panlunsod of Cebu City (Sanggunian), filed a proposed ordinance entitled: AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING AND PENALIZING THE MAKING, PRINTING, PRODUCTION, REPRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, SALE OR POSSESSION OF ANY MATERIAL SHOWING FIGURES, SIGNS OR SYMBOLS OR ANY OTHER MATERIAL CONTAINING WORDS, LETTERS OR NUMBERS WHICH PERTAIN TO JAI-ALAI, JUETENG AND/OR SIMILAR GAMES OR LOTTERY WHICH IS NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

Consequently, petitioner protested the proposed ordinance in his letters to the Sanggunian dated February 19, 1996 and February 24, 1996 on the ground that it was oppressive, partial, unfair and prohibits rather than regulates trade, contravenes the Constitution or statutes. He further argued that the proposed ordinance did not comply with the requisites for a valid exercise of police power.

In Resolution No. 2355, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cebu City enacted Ordinance No. 1616 which was approved by City Mayor Alvin B. Garcia on March 15, 1996.

Ordinance No. 1616 in substance provides:

xxx          xxx         xxx

WHEREAS, in order to give full meaning and effectivity to the campaign waged by the Government, the Church and the concerned Private Sector against illegal gambling, it is imperative to pass an ordinance supplementing the provisions of P.D. 1602 to prevent its circumvention, in order to protect the greater interest and welfare of the citizenry from the illegal operations of unscrupulous individuals who thrive and make a living on the gullibility and weakness of other persons;

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Cebu, in a regular session assembled, hereby ordains that:

xxx          xxx         xxx

Section 2. Unlawful Acts - It shall be unlawful for any person to make, print, produce, distribute, sell or possess any material showing figures, signs or symbols of any other material containing words, letters or numbers which pertain to jai-alai, jueteng and/or similar games or lottery which is not authorized by law.

xxx          xxx         xxx

Petitioner then filed before the RTC of Cebu City a petition for declaratory relief with preliminary injunction praying that Ordinance No. 1616 be declared as ultra vires, unconstitutional, illegal, oppressive, partial, unfair and, in particular, prohibits rather than regulates trade, contravenes common rights, is inconsistent with public policy and is unreasonable.

On May 10, 1996 the trial court issued a writ of preliminary injunction for the purpose of preserving the status quo of the parties during the pendency of the case.

On September 16, 1996, the trial court rendered a decision against petitioner, thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the complaint and declaring Ordinance No. 1616 of Cebu City as neither invalid nor unconstitutional. Accordingly, the writ of preliminary injunction is hereby lifted.

Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals and argued that the trial court erred in holding that the ordinance in question was a valid exercise of the police power of the City of Cebu.

On September 5, 2002, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision:

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the Decision dated September 16, 1996 of Branch 21 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City in Civil Case No. CEB-18544, the same is hereby AFFIRMED and the instant appeal is ordered DISMISSED, for lack of merit.

The Court of Appeals likewise denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner. Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner argues that the ordinance's introductory statement alone shows that the passage of such measure was intended only to accommodate the perceived inability of the law enforcement agencies of Cebu City to curb the proliferation of illegal gambling. Further, the ordinance is oppressive, partial and unfair as it targets only the printers of Cebu City. Lastly, the "SPEED COMPUTER" cannot be classified as part of trade malpractices or a hazardous product from which the consumers or inhabitants of the City of Cebu must be protected. Petitioner maintains that "SPEED COMPUTER" is a registered trademark and his application therefor was duly processed and approved by the proper government agency.

We find no merit in the petition.

Section 5, Article II of our present Constitution provides:

The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.

In its exercise of police power, the State may impose appropriate impositions or restraints upon liberty or property in order to foster the common good. Corollarily, municipal corporations, being the agencies of the State for the promotion and maintenance of local self-government, are endowed with police powers in order to effectively accomplish and carry out the declared objects of their creation. Pursuant to the general welfare clause in Section 16 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160), local government units are empowered to enact ordinances in the exercise of police power. Every local government unit has the sworn obligation to enact measures that will enhance the public health, safety and convenience, maintain peace and order, and promote the general prosperity of the inhabitants of the local units.

As far back as U.S. vs. Salaveria[1]cralaw, this Court, through Justice George A. Malcolm, clarified the significance and scope of such a clause which "delegates in statutory form the police power to a municipality." As above-stated, this clause has been given wide application by municipal authorities and has, in its relation to the particular circumstances of the case, been liberally construed by the courts. This, it is well to recall, is the progressive view of Philippine jurisprudence. As it was then, so it has continued to be. This Court will not lightly set aside local legislation unless a clear invasion and transgression of personal or property rights under the guise of police regulation is shown.[2]cralaw

For an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be within the corporate powers of the municipality or city to enact but must also be passed according to the procedure prescribed by law, and must be in consonance with certain well established and basic principles of a substantive nature. These principles require that a municipal ordinance (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.[3]cralaw Ordinance No. 1616 meets these criteria.

The objections interposed by petitioner to the validity of the ordinance have not been substantiated. The reason and purpose for the enactment of Ordinance No. 1616 are well within the objectives of sound government. No undue restraint is placed upon the petitioner or for anybody to engage in trade but merely a prohibition from the making, printing, reproduction, distribution or sale of any material showing figures, signs or symbols, letters or numbers which pertain to jai-alai, jueteng and similar games or lottery which are not authorized by law. Pursuant to Section 2 of PD 483,[4]cralaw betting in jai-alai is illegal. And whether under PD 810[5]cralaw or its repealing enactment EO 169,[6]cralaw jai-alai games are authorized to be conducted solely as a sports contest. Betting on the results thereof, whether on or off-fronton, is illegal.[7]cralaw

In maintaining a state policy on the various forms of gambling, the political branches of government are best equipped to regulate and control such activities and they therefore assume full responsibility to the people for such policy. Thus, as far as public policy is concerned, there can be no better policy than what has been conceived by the government of the City of Cebu. There is no showing, therefore, of the unconstitutionality of Ordinance No. 1616.

WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.)JULIETA Y. CARREON
Clerk of Court



Endnotes:

[1]cralaw 39 Phil. 102 [1918].

[2]cralaw Mejorada vs. Mun. Council of Dipolog, 52 SCRA 451 [1973].

[3]cralaw U.S. vs. Abendan, 24 Phil. 165 (1913).

[4]cralaw Penalizing Betting, Game-Fixing, Or Point Shaving And Machination In Sport Contests.

[5]cralaw An Act Granting The Philippine Jai-Alai And Amusement Corporation A Franchise To Operate, Construct And Maintain A Fronton For Basque Pelota And Similar Games Of Skill In The Greater Manila Area.

[6]cralaw Repealing Presidential Decree No. 810, Entitled "An Act Granting The Philippine Jai-Alai And Amusement Corporation A Franchise To Operate, Construct And Maintain A Fronton For Basque Pelota And Similar Games Of Skill In The Greater Manila Area As Amended, And Accordingly Revoking And Canceling The Recent Privilege, And Authority Granted Therein."

[7]cralaw Lim vs. Pacquing, 240 SCRA 649 [1995].


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