License Fees Physical Therapy Org. vs. Municipal Board G.R. No. L-10448, August 30, 1957

Facts: The petitioner-appellant, an association of registered massagists and licensed operators of massage clinics in the City of Manila and other parts of the country, filed an action in the Court of First Instance of Manila for declaratory judgment regarding the validity of Municipal Ordinance No. 3659, promulgated by the Municipal Board and approved by the City Mayor. To stop the City from enforcing said ordinance, the petitioner secured an injunction upon filing of a bond in the sum of P1,000.00. A hearing was held, but the parties without introducing any evidence submitted the case for decision on the pleadings, although they submitted written memoranda. Thereafter, the trial court dismissed the petition and later dissolved the writ of injunction previously issued. The petitioner appealed said order of dismissal directly to this Court. In support of its appeal, petitioner-appellant contends among other things that the trial court erred in holding that the Ordinance in question has not restricted the practice of massotherapy in massage clinics to hygienic and aesthetic massage, that the Ordinance is valid as it does not regulate the practice of massage, that the Municipal Board of Manila has the power to enact the Ordinance in question by virtue of Section 18, Subsection (kk), Republic Act 409, and that permit fee of P100.00 is moderate and not unreasonable. Inasmuch as the appellant assails and discuss certain provisions regarding the ordinance in question, and it is necessary to pass upon the same, for purposes of ready reference, we are reproducing said ordinance in toto.

Issue: Whether the license fee of P100.00 for operator of the Ordinance is unreasonable, nay, unconscionable.

Held: No, The amount of the fee or charge is properly considered in determining whether it is a tax or an exercise of the police power. The amount may be so large as to itself show that the purpose was to raise revenue and not to regulate, but in regard to this matter there is a marked distinction between license fees imposed upon useful and beneficial occupations which the sovereign wishes to regulate but not restrict, and those which are inimical and dangerous to public health, morals or safety. In the latter case the fee may be very large without necessarily being a tax. (Cooley on Taxation, Vol. IV, pp. 3516-17; underlining supplied.) Evidently, the Manila Municipal Board considered the practice of hygienic and aesthetic massage not as a useful and beneficial occupation which will promote and is conducive to public morals, and consequently, imposed the said permit fee for its regulation.

 

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