ORTIGAS & CO., LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, vs. FEATI BANK AND TRUST CO., G.R. No. L-24670 December 14, 1979

Facts:
Plaintiff as vendor and Augusto Padilla y Angeles and Natividad Angeles, as vendees, entered into separate agreements of sale on installments over two parcels of land situated at Mandaluyong, Rizal. The said vendees transferred their rights and interests over the aforesaid lots in favor of one Emma Chavez. Upon completion of payment of the purchase price, the plaintiff executed the corresponding deeds of sale in favor of Emma Chavez. Both the agreements and the deeds of sale contained the stipulations or restrictions that: 1. The parcel of land subject of this deed of sale shall be used the Buyer exclusively for residential purposes, and she shall not be entitled to take or remove soil, stones or gravel from it or any other lots belonging to the Seller. And 2. All buildings and other improvements (except the fence) which may be constructed at any time in said lot must be, (a) of strong materials and properly painted, (b) provided with modern sanitary installations connected either to the public sewer or to an approved septic tank, and (c) shall not be at a distance of less than two (2) meters from its boundary lines.

The above restrictions were later annotated in TCT Nos. 101509 and 101511 of the Register of Deeds of Rizal, covering the said lots and issued in the name of Emma Chavez. Eventually, defendant acquired Lots Nos. 5 and 6, with TCT Nos. 101613 and 106092 issued in its name, respectively and the building restrictions were also annotated therein.

Plaintiff-appellant claims that the restrictions annotated on TCT Nos. 101509, 101511, 101719, 101613, and 106092 were imposed as part of its general building scheme designed for the beautification and development of the Highway Hills Subdivision which forms part of the big landed estate of plaintiff-appellant where commercial and industrial sites are also designated or established.

Defendant-appellee, upon the other hand, maintains that the area along the western part of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) from Shaw Boulevard to Pasig River, has been declared a commercial and industrial zone, per Resolution No. 27, dated February 4, 1960 of the Municipal Council of Mandaluyong, Rizal which had been declared a commercial and industrial zone.

Defendant-appellee began laying the foundation and commenced the construction of a building on Lots Nos. 5 and 6, to be devoted to banking purposes, but which defendant-appellee claims could also be devoted to, and used exclusively for, residential purposes. The following day, plaintiff-appellant demanded in writing that defendant-appellee stop the construction of the commerical building on the said lots. The latter refused to comply with the demand, contending that the building was being constructed in accordance with the zoning regulations, defendant-appellee having filed building and planning permit applications with the Municipality of Mandaluyong, and it had accordingly obtained building and planning permits to proceed with the construction.

Plaintiff filed a case in the RTC for a writ of preliminary injunction, restraining and enjoining defendant, its agents, assigns, and those acting on its or their behalf from continuing or completing the construction of a commercial bank building in the premises involved, with the view to commanding the defendant to observe and comply with the building restrictions annotated in the defendant’s transfer certificate of title.

The lower court ruled in favor of the defendant, hence the case was appealed to the SC.

Issue:
whether the resolution of the Municipal Council of Mandaluyong declaring Lots Nos. 5 and 6, among others, as part of the commercial and industrial zone of the municipality prevailed over the building restrictions imposed by plaintiff-appellant is valid in the exercise of its police power.

Held:
Yes, that while non-impairment of contracts is constitutionally guaranteed, the rule is not absolute, since it has to be reconciled with the legitimate exercise of police power. The power to prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety and general welfare of the people. Invariably described as “the most essential, insistent, and illimitable of powers” and “in a sense, the greatest and most powerful attribute of government, the exercise of the power may be judicially inquired into and corrected only if it is capricious, ‘whimsical, unjust or unreasonable, there having been a denial of due process or a violation of any other applicable constitutional guarantee. Police power “is elastic and must be responsive to various social conditions; it is not, confined within narrow circumscriptions of precedents resting on past conditions; it must follow the legal progress of a democratic way of life.” We do not see why public welfare when clashing with the individual right to property should not be made to prevail through the state’s exercise of its police power.

Resolution No. 27, s-1960 declaring the western part of highway 54, now E. de los Santos Avenue (EDSA, for short) from Shaw Boulevard to the Pasig River as an industrial and commercial zone, was obviously passed by the Municipal Council of Mandaluyong, Rizal in the exercise of police power to safeguard or promote the health, safety, peace, good order and general welfare of the people in the locality, Judicial notice may be taken of the conditions prevailing in the area, especially where lots Nos. 5 and 6 are located. The lots themselves not only front the highway; industrial and commercial complexes have flourished about the place. EDSA, a main traffic artery which runs through several cities and municipalities in the Metro Manila area, supports an endless stream of traffic and the resulting activity, noise and pollution are hardly conducive to the health, safety or welfare of the residents in its route. Having been expressly granted the power to adopt zoning and subdivision ordinances or regulations, the municipality of Mandaluyong, through its Municipal ‘council, was reasonably, if not perfectly, justified under the circumstances, in passing the subject resolution.

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