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EN BANC

G.R. No. L-24693 July 31, 1967


ERMITA-MALATE HOTEL AND MOTEL OPERATORS ASSOCIATION, INC., HOTEL DEL MAR INC. and
GO CHIU, petitioners-appellees, vs. THE HONORABLE CITY MAYOR OF MANILA, respondent-appellant.
VICTOR ALABANZA, intervenor-appellee.
FERNANDO, J.: chanrobles vi rtual law li brary
The principal question in this appeal from a judgment of the lower court in an action for prohibition is
whether Ordinance No. 4760 of the City of Manila is violative of the due process clause. The lower court held
that it is and adjudged it "unconstitutional, and, therefore, null and void." For reasons to be more
specifically set forth, such judgment must be reversed, there being a failure of the requisite showing to
sustain an attack against its validity.chanroblesvi rtualawl ibrary chanrobles vi rtual law li brary
The petition for prohibition against Ordinance No. 4760 was filed on July 5, 1963 by the petitioners, Ermita-
Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association, one of its members, Hotel del Mar Inc., and a certain Go Chiu,
who is "the president and general manager of the second petitioner" against the respondent Mayor of the
City of Manila who was sued in his capacity as such "charged with the general power and duty to enforce
ordinances of the City of Manila and to give the necessary orders for the faithful execution and enforcement
of such ordinances." (par. 1). It was alleged that the petitioner non-stock corporation is dedicated to the
promotion and protection of the interest of its eighteen (18) members "operating hotels and motels,
characterized as legitimate businesses duly licensed by both national and city authorities, regularly paying
taxes, employing and giving livelihood to not less than 2,500 person and representing an investment of
more than P3 million."
1
(par. 2). It was then alleged that on June 13, 1963, the Municipal Board of the City
of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 4760, approved on June 14, 1963 by the then Vice-Mayor Herminio
Astorga, who was at the time acting as Mayor of the City of Manila. (par. 3).chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles vi rtual law li brary
After which the alleged grievances against the ordinance were set forth in detail. There was the assertion of
its being beyond the powers of the Municipal Board of the City of Manila to enact insofar as it would regulate
motels, on the ground that in the revised charter of the City of Manila or in any other law, no reference is
made to motels; that Section 1 of the challenged ordinance is unconstitutional and void for being
unreasonable and violative of due process insofar as it would impose P6,000.00 fee per annum for first class
motels and P4,500.00 for second class motels; that the provision in the same section which would require
the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of a hotel, motel, or lodging house to refrain
from entertaining or accepting any guest or customer or letting any room or other quarter to any person or
persons without his filling up the prescribed form in a lobby open to public view at all times and in his
presence, wherein the surname, given name and middle name, the date of birth, the address, the
occupation, the sex, the nationality, the length of stay and the number of companions in the room, if any,
with the name, relationship, age and sex would be specified, with data furnished as to his residence
certificate as well as his passport number, if any, coupled with a certification that a person signing such form
has personally filled it up and affixed his signature in the presence of such owner, manager, keeper or duly
authorized representative, with such registration forms and records kept and bound together, it also being
provided that the premises and facilities of such hotels, motels and lodging houses would be open for
inspection either by the City Mayor, or the Chief of Police, or their duly authorized representatives is
unconstitutional and void again on due process grounds, not only for being arbitrary, unreasonable or
oppressive but also for being vague, indefinite and uncertain, and likewise for the alleged invasion of the
right to privacy and the guaranty against self-incrimination; that Section 2 of the challenged ordinance
classifying motels into two classes and requiring the maintenance of certain minimum facilities in first class
motels such as a telephone in each room, a dining room or, restaurant and laundry similarly offends against
the due process clause for being arbitrary, unreasonable and oppressive, a conclusion which applies to the
portion of the ordinance requiring second class motels to have a dining room; that the provision of Section 2
of the challenged ordinance prohibiting a person less than 18 years old from being accepted in such hotels,
motels, lodging houses, tavern or common inn unless accompanied by parents or a lawful guardian and
making it unlawful for the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of such establishments
to lease any room or portion thereof more than twice every 24 hours, runs counter to the due process
guaranty for lack of certainty and for its unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive character; and that insofar
as the penalty provided for in Section 4 of the challenged ordinance for a subsequent conviction would,
cause the automatic cancellation of the license of the offended party, in effect causing the destruction of the
business and loss of its investments, there is once again a transgression of the due process clause.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law l ibrary
There was a plea for the issuance of preliminary injunction and for a final judgment declaring the above
ordinance null and void and unenforceable. The lower court on July 6, 1963 issued a writ of preliminary
injunction ordering respondent Mayor to refrain from enforcing said Ordinance No. 4760 from and after July
8, 1963.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law l ibrary
In the a answer filed on August 3, 1963, there was an admission of the personal circumstances regarding
the respondent Mayor and of the fact that petitioners are licensed to engage in the hotel or motel business
in the City of Manila, of the provisions of the cited Ordinance but a denial of its alleged nullity, whether on
statutory or constitutional grounds. After setting forth that the petition did fail to state a cause of action and
that the challenged ordinance bears a reasonable relation, to a proper purpose, which is to curb immorality,
a valid and proper exercise of the police power and that only the guests or customers not before the court
could complain of the alleged invasion of the right to privacy and the guaranty against self incrimination,
with the assertion that the issuance of the preliminary injunction ex parte was contrary to law, respondent
Mayor prayed for, its dissolution and the dismissal of the petition.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles vi rtual law li brary
Instead of evidence being offered by both parties, there was submitted a stipulation of facts dated
September 28, 1964, which reads:
1. That the petitioners Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association, Inc. and Hotel del Mar Inc. are
duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines, both with offices in the City of Manila, while
the petitioner Go Chin is the president and general manager of Hotel del Mar Inc., and the intervenor Victor
Alabanza is a resident of Baguio City, all having the capacity to sue and be sued; chanrobles virtual law li brary
2. That the respondent Mayor is the duly elected and incumbent City Mayor and chief executive of the City
of Manila charged with the general power and duty to enforce ordinances of the City of Manila and to give
the necessary orders for the faithful execution and enforcement of such ordinances; chanrobles virtual law l ibrary
3. That the petitioners are duly licensed to engage in the business of operating hotels and motels in Malate
and Ermita districts in Manila; chanrobles vi rtual law library
4. That on June 13, 1963, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 4760, which was
approved on June 14, 1963, by Vice-Mayor Herminio Astorga, then the acting City Mayor of Manila, in the
absence of the respondent regular City Mayor, amending sections 661, 662, 668-a, 668-b and 669 of the
compilation of the ordinances of the City of Manila besides inserting therein three new sections. This
ordinance is similar to the one vetoed by the respondent Mayor (Annex A) for the reasons stated in its 4th
Indorsement dated February 15, 1963 (Annex B); chanrobles vi rtual law library
5. That the explanatory note signed by then Councilor Herminio Astorga was submitted with the proposed
ordinance (now Ordinance 4760) to the Municipal Board, copy of which is attached hereto as Annex C; chanrobles virtual law library
6. That the City of Manila derived in 1963 an annual income of P101,904.05 from license fees paid by the
105 hotels and motels (including herein petitioners) operating in the City of Manila.
Thereafter came a memorandum for respondent on January 22, 1965, wherein stress was laid on the
presumption of the validity of the challenged ordinance, the burden of showing its lack of conformity to the
Constitution resting on the party who assails it, citing not onlyU.S. v. Salaveria, but likewise applicable
American authorities. Such a memorandum likewise refuted point by point the arguments advanced by
petitioners against its validity. Then barely two weeks later, on February 4, 1965, the memorandum for
petitioners was filed reiterating in detail what was set forth in the petition, with citations of what they
considered to be applicable American authorities and praying for a judgment declaring the challenged
ordinance "null and void and unenforceable" and making permanent the writ of preliminary injunction
issued.chanroblesvirtualawl ibrary chanrobles vi rtual law library
After referring to the motels and hotels, which are members of the petitioners association, and referring to
the alleged constitutional questions raised by the party, the lower court observed: "The only remaining issue
here being purely a question of law, the parties, with the nod of the Court, agreed to file memoranda and
thereafter, to submit the case for decision of the Court." It does appear obvious then that without any
evidence submitted by the parties, the decision passed upon the alleged infirmity on constitutional grounds
of the challenged ordinance, dismissing as is undoubtedly right and proper the untenable objection on the
alleged lack of authority of the City of Manila to regulate motels, and came to the conclusion that "the
challenged Ordinance No. 4760 of the City of Manila, would be unconstitutional and, therefore, null and
void." It made permanent the preliminary injunction issued against respondent Mayor and his agents "to
restrain him from enforcing the ordinance in question." Hence this appeal.chanroblesvirtualawli brary chanrobles vi rtual law library
As noted at the outset, the judgment must be reversed. A decent regard for constitutional doctrines of a
fundamental character ought to have admonished the lower court against such a sweeping condemnation of
the challenged ordinance. Its decision cannot be allowed to stand, consistently with what has hitherto been
the accepted standards of constitutional adjudication, in both procedural and substantive aspects.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles vi rtual law li brary
Primarily what calls for a reversal of such a decision is the absence of any evidence to offset the
presumption of validity that attaches to a challenged statute or ordinance. As was expressed categorically by
Justice Malcolm: "The presumption is all in favor of validity x x x . The action of the elected representatives
of the people cannot be lightly set aside. The councilors must, in the very nature of things, be familiar with
the necessities of their particular municipality and with all the facts and circumstances which surround the
subject and necessitate action. The local legislative body, by enacting the ordinance, has in effect given
notice that the regulations are essential to the well being of the people x x x . The Judiciary should not
lightly set aside legislative action when there is not a clear invasion of personal or property rights under the
guise of police regulation.
2
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It admits of no doubt therefore that there being a presumption of validity, the necessity for evidence to
rebut it is unavoidable, unless the statute or ordinance is void on its face which is not the case here. The
principle has been nowhere better expressed than in the leading case of O'Gorman & Young v. Hartford Fire
Insurance Co.,
3
where the American Supreme Court through Justice Brandeis tersely and succinctly summed
up the matter thus: The statute here questioned deals with a subject clearly within the scope of the police
power. We are asked to declare it void on the ground that the specific method of regulation prescribed is
unreasonable and hence deprives the plaintiff of due process of law. As underlying questions of fact may
condition the constitutionality of legislation of this character, the resumption of constitutionality must prevail
in the absence of some factual foundation of record for overthrowing the statute." No such factual
foundation being laid in the present case, the lower court deciding the matter on the pleadings and the
stipulation of facts, the presumption of validity must prevail and the judgment against the ordinance set
aside.chanroblesvirtualawli brary chanrobles virtual law library
Nor may petitioners assert with plausibility that on its face the ordinance is fatally defective as being
repugnant to the due process clause of the Constitution. 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."
5
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
genera welfare.
6
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.
7
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There is no question but that the challenged ordinance was precisely enacted to minimize certain practices
hurtful to public morals. The explanatory note of the Councilor Herminio Astorga included as annex to the
stipulation of facts, speaks of the alarming increase in the rate of prostitution, adultery and fornication in
Manila traceable in great part to the existence of motels, which "provide a necessary atmosphere for
clandestine entry, presence and exit" and thus become the "ideal haven for prostitutes and thrill-seekers."
The challenged ordinance then 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." It would
appear therefore that the stipulation of facts, far from sustaining any attack against the validity of the
ordinance, argues eloquently for it.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It is a fact worth noting that this Court has invariably stamped with the seal of its approval, ordinances
punishing vagrancy and classifying a pimp or procurer as a vagrant;
8
provide a license tax for and regulating
the maintenance or operation of public dance halls;
9
prohibiting gambling;
10
prohibiting jueteng;
11
and
monte;
12
prohibiting playing of panguingui on days other than Sundays or legal holidays;
13
prohibiting the
operation of pinball machines;
14
and prohibiting any person from keeping, conducting or maintaining an
opium joint or visiting a place where opium is smoked or otherwise used,
15
all of which are intended to
protect public morals.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law l ibrary
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.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles vi rtual law li brary
We are thus led to considering the insistent, almost shrill tone, in which the objection is raised to the
question of due process.
16
There is no controlling and precise definition of due process. It furnishes though a
standard to which the governmental action should conform in order that deprivation of life, liberty or
property, in each appropriate case, be valid. What then is the standard of due process which must exist both
as a procedural and a substantive requisite to free the challenged ordinance, or any governmental action for
that matter, from the imputation of legal infirmity sufficient to spell its doom? It is responsiveness to the
supremacy of reason, obedience to the dictates of justice. Negatively put, arbitrariness is ruled out and
unfairness avoided. To satisfy the due process requirement, official action, to paraphrase Cardozo, must not
outrun the bounds of reason and result in sheer oppression. Due process is thus hostile to any official action
marred by lack of reasonableness. Correctly it has been identified as freedom from arbitrariness. It is the
embodiment of the sporting idea of fair play.
17
It exacts fealty "to those strivings for justice" and judges the
act of officialdom of whatever branch "in the light of reason drawn from considerations of fairness that
reflect [democratic] traditions of legal and political thought."
18
It is not a narrow or "technical conception
with fixed content unrelated to time, place and circumstances,"
19
decisions based on such a clause requiring
a "close and perceptive inquiry into fundamental principles of our society."
20
Questions of due process are
not to be treated narrowly or pedantically in slavery to form or phrases.
21
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It would thus be an affront to reason to stigmatize an ordinance enacted precisely to meet what a municipal
lawmaking body considers an evil of rather serious proportion an arbitrary and capricious exercise of
authority. It would seem that what should be deemed unreasonable and what would amount to an
abdication of the power to govern is inaction in the face of an admitted deterioration of the state of public
morals. To be more specific, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila felt the need for a remedial measure.
It provided it with the enactment of the challenged ordinance. A strong case must be found in the records,
and, as has been set forth, none is even attempted here to attach to an ordinance of such character the
taint of nullity for an alleged failure to meet the due process requirement. Nor does it lend any semblance
even of deceptive plausibility to petitioners' indictment of Ordinance No. 4760 on due process grounds to
single out such features as the increased fees for motels and hotels, the curtailment of the area of freedom
to contract, and, in certain particulars, its alleged vagueness.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law l ibrary
Admittedly there was a decided increase of the annual license fees provided for by the challenged ordinance
for hotels and motels, 150% for the former and over 200% for the latter, first-class motels being required to
pay a P6,000 annual fee and second-class motels, P4,500 yearly. It has been the settled law however, as far
back as 1922 that municipal license fees could be classified into those imposed for regulating occupations or
regular enterprises, for the regulation or restriction of non-useful occupations or enterprises and for revenue
purposes only.
22
As was explained more in detail in the above Cu Unjieng case: (2) Licenses for non-useful
occupations are also incidental to the police power and the right to exact a fee may be implied from the
power to license and regulate, but in fixing amount of the license fees the municipal corporations are
allowed a much wider discretion in this class of cases than in the former, and aside from applying the well-
known legal principle that municipal ordinances must not be unreasonable, oppressive, or tyrannical, courts
have, as a general rule, declined to interfere with such discretion. The desirability of imposing restraint upon
the number of persons who might otherwise engage in non-useful enterprises is, of course, generally an
important factor in the determination of the amount of this kind of license fee. Hence license fees clearly in
the nature of privilege taxes for revenue have frequently been upheld, especially in of licenses for the sale of
liquors. In fact, in the latter cases the fees have rarely been declared unreasonable.
23
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Moreover in the equally leading case of Lutz v. Araneta
24
this Court affirmed the doctrine earlier announced
by the American Supreme Court that taxation may be made to implement the state's police power. Only the
other day, this Court had occasion to affirm that the broad taxing authority conferred by the Local Autonomy
Act of 1959 to cities and municipalities is sufficiently plenary to cover a wide range of subjects with the only
limitation that the tax so levied is for public purposes, just and uniform.
25
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As a matter of fact, even without reference to the wide latitude enjoyed by the City of Manila in imposing
licenses for revenue, it has been explicitly held in one case that "much discretion is given to municipal
corporations in determining the amount," here the license fee of the operator of a massage clinic, even if it
were viewed purely as a police power measure.
26
The discussion of this particular matter may fitly close with
this pertinent citation from another decision of significance: "It is urged on behalf of the plaintiffs-appellees
that the enforcement of the ordinance could deprive them of their lawful occupation and means of livelihood
because they can not rent stalls in the public markets. But it appears that plaintiffs are also dealers in
refrigerated or cold storage meat, the sale of which outside the city markets under certain conditions is
permitted x x x . And surely, the mere fact, that some individuals in the community may be deprived of their
present business or a particular mode of earning a living cannot prevent the exercise of the police power. As
was said in a case, persons licensed to pursue occupations which may in the public need and interest be
affected by the exercise of the police power embark in these occupations subject to the disadvantages which
may result from the legal exercise of that power."
27
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Nor does the restriction on the freedom to contract, insofar as the challenged ordinance makes it unlawful
for the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of any hotel, motel, lodging house,
tavern, common inn or the like, to lease or rent room or portion thereof more than twice every 24 hours,
with a proviso that in all cases full payment shall be charged, call for a different conclusion. Again, such a
limitation cannot be viewed as a transgression against the command of due process. It is neither
unreasonable nor arbitrary. Precisely it was intended to curb the opportunity for the immoral or illegitimate
use to which such premises could be, and, according to the explanatory note, are being devoted. How could
it then be arbitrary or oppressive when there appears a correspondence between the undeniable existence
of an undesirable situation and the legislative attempt at correction. Moreover, petitioners cannot be
unaware that every regulation of conduct amounts to curtailment of liberty which as pointed out by Justice
Malcolm cannot be absolute. Thus: "One thought which runs through all these different conceptions of
liberty is plainly apparent. It is this: 'Liberty' as understood in democracies, is not license; it is 'liberty
regulated by law.' Implied in the term is restraint by law for the good of the individual and for the greater
good of the peace and order of society and the general well-being. No man can do exactly as he pleases.
Every man must renounce unbridled license. The right of the individual is necessarily subject to reasonable
restraint by general law for the common good x x x The liberty of the citizen may be restrained in the
interest of the public health, or of the public order and safety, or otherwise within the proper scope of the
police power."
28
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A similar observation was made by Justice Laurel: "Public welfare, then, lies at the bottom of the enactment
of said law, and the state in order to promote the general welfare may interfere with personal liberty, with
property, and with business and occupations. Persons and property may be subjected to all kinds of
restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the state x x x To
this fundamental aim of our Government the rights of the individual are subordinated. 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. The citizen should achieve the required balance of liberty and authority in his mind
through education and personal discipline, so that there may be established the resultant equilibrium, which
means peace and order and happiness for all.
29
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It is noteworthy that the only decision of this Court nullifying legislation because of undue deprivation of
freedom to contract, People v. Pomar,
30
no longer "retains its virtuality as a living principle. The policy
of laissez faire has to some extent given way to the assumption by the government of the right of
intervention even in contractual relations affected with public interest.
31
What may be stressed sufficiently is
that if the liberty involved were freedom of the mind or the person, the standard for the validity of
governmental acts is much more rigorous and exacting, but where the liberty curtailed affects at the most
rights of property, the permissible scope of regulatory measure is wider.
32
How justify then the allegation of
a denial of due process? chanrobles vi rtual law library
Lastly, there is the attempt to impugn the ordinance on another due process ground by invoking the
principles of vagueness or uncertainty. It would appear from a recital in the petition itself that what seems
to be the gravamen of the alleged grievance is that the provisions are too detailed and specific rather than
vague or uncertain. Petitioners, however, point to the requirement that a guest should give the name,
relationship, age and sex of the companion or companions as indefinite and uncertain in view of the
necessity for determining whether the companion or companions referred to are those arriving with the
customer or guest at the time of the registry or entering the room With him at about the same time or
coming at any indefinite time later to join him; a proviso in one of its sections which cast doubt as to
whether the maintenance of a restaurant in a motel is dependent upon the discretion of its owners or
operators; another proviso which from their standpoint would require a guess as to whether the "full rate of
payment" to be charged for every such lease thereof means a full day's or merely a half-day's rate. It may
be asked, do these allegations suffice to render the ordinance void on its face for alleged vagueness or
uncertainty? To ask the question is to answer it. From Connally v. General Construction Co.
33
to Adderley v.
Florida,
34
the principle has been consistently upheld that what makes a statute susceptible to such a charge
is an enactment either forbidding or requiring the doing of an act that men of common intelligence must
necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. Is this the situation before us? A citation
from Justice Holmes would prove illuminating: "We agree to all the generalities about not supplying criminal
laws with what they omit but there is no canon against using common sense in construing laws as saying
what they obviously mean."
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That is all then that this case presents. As it stands, with all due allowance for the arguments pressed with
such vigor and determination, the attack against the validity of the challenged ordinance cannot be
considered a success. Far from it. Respect for constitutional law principles so uniformly held and so
uninterruptedly adhered to by this Court compels a reversal of the appealed decision.chanroblesvi rtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law li brary
Wherefore, the judgment of the lower court is reversed and the injunction issued lifted forthwith. With costs.