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ERMITA-MALATE HOTEL & MOTEL OPERATORS v.

CITY MAYOR OF MANILA

Facts:
The petitioners filed a petition for prohibition against Ordinance No. 4760 for being violative of the
due process clause, contending that said ordinance is not only arbitrary, unreasonable or oppressive but
also vague, indefinite and uncertain, and likewise allege the invasion of the right to privacy and the
guaranty against self-incrimination.

Ordinance No. 4760 proposes to check the clandestine harboring of transients and guests of
these establishments by requiring these transients and guests to fill up a registration form, prepared for
the purpose, in a lobby open to public view at all times, and by introducing several other amendatory
provisions calculated to shatter the privacy that characterizes the registration of transients and guests."
Moreover, the increase in the licensed fees was intended to discourage "establishments of the kind from
operating for purpose other than legal" and at the same time, to increase "the income of the city
government."

The lower court ruled in favor of the petitioners. Hence, the appeal.

Issue: Whether or not Ordinance No. 4760 is unconstitutional

Held: No.

Rationale:

The mantle of protection associated with the due process guaranty does not cover petitioners.
This particular manifestation of a police power measure being specifically aimed to safeguard public
morals is immune from such imputation of nullity resting purely on conjecture and unsupported by
anything of substance. To hold otherwise would be to unduly restrict and narrow the scope of police
power which has been properly characterized as the most essential, insistent and the least limitable of
powers,4 extending as it does "to all the great public needs."

It would be, to paraphrase another leading decision, to destroy the very purpose of the state if it
could be deprived or allowed itself to be deprived of its competence to promote public health, public
morals, public safety and the general welfare. Negatively put, police power is that inherent and plenary
power in the State which enables it to prohibit all that is hurt full to the comfort, safety, and welfare of
society.

On the legislative organs of the government, whether national or local, primarily rest the exercise
of the police power, which, it cannot be too often emphasized, is the power to prescribe regulations to
promote the health, morals, peace, good order, safety and general welfare of the people.

In view of the requirements of due process, equal protection and other applicable constitutional
guaranties however, the exercise of such police power insofar as it may affect the life, liberty or property
of any person is subject to judicial inquiry. Where such exercise of police power may be considered as
either capricious, whimsical, unjust or unreasonable, a denial of due process or a violation of any other
applicable constitutional guaranty may call for correction by the courts.

The Court reversed the judgment of the lower court and lifted the injuction on the Ordinance in
question.

*** Liberty is a blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to prevail
over authority because then society will fall into anarchy. Neither should authority be made to prevail over
liberty because then the individual will fall into slavery.