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Parayno vs Jovellanos

G.R. No. 148408


Subject: Public Corporation
Doctrine: Police power
Facts:
Petitioner was the owner of a gasoline filling station in Calasiao, Pangasinan. In 1989, some
residents of Calasiao petitioned the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of said municipality for the closure
or transfer of the station to another location. The matter was referred to the Municipal Engineer,
Chief of Police, Municipal Health Officer and the Bureau of Fire Protection for investigation.
Upon their advise, the Sangguniang Bayan recommended to the Mayor the closure or transfer of
location of petitioners gasoline station. In Resolution No. 50, it declared that the existing
gasoline station is a blatant violation and disregard of existing law.
According to the Resolution, 1) the gasoline filling station is in violation of The Official Zoning
Code of Calasiao, Art. 6, Section 44, the nearest school building which is San Miguel
Elementary School and church, the distances are less than 100 meters. (No neighbors were called
as witnesses when actual measurements were done by HLURB Staff, Baguio City dated 22 June
1989); 2) it remains in thickly populated area with commercial/residential buildings, houses
closed (sic) to each other which still endangers the lives and safety of the people in case of fire;
3) residents of our barangay always complain of the irritating smell of gasoline most of the time
especially during gas filling which tend to expose residents to illness, and 4) It hampers the flow
of traffic.
Petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the resolution but was denied by the SB. Hence she
filed a case before the RTC claiming that the gasoline filling station was not covered under Sec
44 of the mentioned law but is under Sec 21. Case was denied by the court and by the CA. Hence
this appeal.
ISSUE: Whether or not the closure/transfer of her gasoline filling station by respondent
municipality was an invalid exercise of the latters police powers
HELD:
The respondent is barred from denying their previous claim that the gasoline filling station is not
under Sec 44. The Counsel in fact admitted that : That the business of the petitioner [was] one
of a gasoline filling station as defined in Article III, Section 21 of the zoning code and not as a
service station as differently defined under Article 42 of the said official zoning code;
The foregoing were judicial admissions which were conclusive on the municipality, the party
making them. hence, because of the distinct and definite meanings alluded to the two terms by
the zoning ordinance, respondents could not insist that gasoline service station under Section
44 necessarily included gasoline filling station under Section 21. Indeed, the activities
undertaken in a gas service station did not automatically embrace those in a gas filling
station.
As for the main issue, the court held that the respondent municipality invalidly used its police
powers in ordering the closure/transfer of petitioners gasoline station. While it had, under RA
7160, the power to take actions and enact measures to promote the health and general welfare of
its constituents, it should have given due deference to the law and the rights of petitioner.
A local government is considered to have properly exercised its police powers only when the
following requisites are met: (1) the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those
of a particular class, require the interference of the State and (2) the means employed are
reasonably necessary for the attainment of the object sought to be accomplished and not unduly
oppressive. The first requirement refers to the equal protection clause and the second, to the due
process clause of the Constitution.
Respondent municipality failed to comply with the due process clause when it passed Resolution
No. 50. While it maintained that the gasoline filling station of petitioner was less than 100 meters
from the nearest public school and church, the records do not show that it even attempted to
measure the distance, notwithstanding that such distance was crucial in determining whether
there was an actual violation of Section 44. The different local offices that respondent
municipality tapped to conduct an investigation never conducted such measurement either.
Moreover, petitioners business could not be considered a nuisance which respondent
municipality could summarily abate in the guise of exercising its police powers. The abatement
of a nuisance without judicial proceedings is possible only if it is a nuisance per se. A gas station
is not a nuisance per se or one affecting the immediate safety of persons and property, hence, it
cannot be closed down or transferred summarily to another location.
On the alleged hazardous effects of the gasoline station to the lives and properties of the people
of Calasiao, we again note: Hence, the Board is inclined to believe that the project being
hazardous to life and property is more perceived than factual. For, after all, even the Fire Station
Commander.. recommended to build such buildings after conform (sic) all the requirements of
PP 1185. It is further alleged by the complainants that the proposed location is in the heart of
the thickly populated residential area of Calasiao. Again, findings of the [HLURB] staff negate
the allegations as the same is within a designated Business/Commercial Zone per the Zoning
Ordinance.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed resolution of the Court of the
Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Municipality of Calasiao is hereby
directed to cease and desist from enforcing Resolution No. 50 against petitioner insofar as it
seeks to close down or transfer her gasoline station to another location.