CELESTINO TATEL vs. MUNICIPALITY OF VIRAC, G.R. No. 40243, March 11, 1992

Facts:
On the basis of complaints received from the residents of barrio Sta. Elena on March 18, 1966 against the disturbance caused by the operation of the abaca bailing machine inside the warehouse of petitioner which affected the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood due to the smoke, obnoxious odor and dust emitted by the machine, a committee was appointed by the municipal council of Virac to investigate the matter. The committee noted the crowded nature of the neighborhood with narrow roads and the surrounding residential houses, so much so that an accidental fire within the warehouse of the petitioner occasioned by the continuance of the activity inside the warehouse and the storing of inflammable materials created a danger to the lives and properties of the people within the neighborhood.

Resultantly, Resolution No. 29 was passed by the Municipal Council of Virac on April 22, 1966 declaring the warehouse owned and operated by petitioner a public nuisance within the purview of Article 694 of the New Civil Code.

His motion for reconsideration having been denied by the Municipal Council of Virac, petitioner instituted the present petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction. Respondent municipal officials contend that petitioner’s warehouse was constructed in violation of Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, prohibiting the construction of warehouses near a block of houses either in the poblacion or barrios without maintaining the necessary distance of 200 meters from said block of houses to avoid loss of lives and properties by accidental fire.

On the other hand, petitioner contends that said ordinance is unconstitutional, contrary to the due process and equal protection clause of the Constitution and null and void for not having been passed in accordance with law.
The CFI Ruled against the petitioner and held that the ordinance is a valid exercise of Police Power, hence the appeal to the SC.

Issue:
Whether the Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, of the Municipality of Virac, Catanduanes, is a legitimate and valid exercise of police power of the Municipal Council, and therefore, constitutional;

Held:
Yes. Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, was passed by the Municipal Council of Virac in the exercise of its police power. It is a settled principle of law that municipal corporations are agencies of the State for the promotion and maintenance of local self-government and as such are endowed with the police powers in order to effectively accomplish and carry out the declared objects of their creation. Its authority emanates from the general welfare clause under the Administrative Code, which reads:

The municipal council shall enact such ordinances and make such regulations, not repugnant to law, as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred upon it by law and such as shall seem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good order, comfort and convenience of the municipality and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property therein.

For an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be within the corporate powers of the municipality 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. 5Ordinance No. 13, Series of 1952, meets these criteria.

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