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Ermita Malate v City of

Manila 20 SCRA 849


It was also unlawful for the owner to lease any room

or portion thereof more than twice every 24 hours.
There was also a prohibition for persons below 18 in
the hotel.
The challenged ordinance also caused the automatic
cancellation of the license of the hotels that violated
the ordinance.

J. Fernando





Hence, this appeal by the city of Manila.


Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association,

and one of its members Hotel del Mar Inc. petitioned
for the prohibition of Ordinance 4670 on June 14,
1963 to be applicable in the city of Manila.
They claimed that the ordinance was beyond the
powers of the Manila City Board to regulate due to the
fact that hotels were not part of its regulatory powers.
They also asserted that Section 1 of the challenged
ordinance was unconstitutional and void for being
unreasonable and violative of due process insofar
because it would impose P6,000.00 license fee per
annum for first class motels and P4,500.00 for second
class motels; there was also the requirement that the
guests would fill up a form specifying their personal
There was also a provision that the premises and
facilities of such hotels, motels and lodging houses
would be open for inspection from city authorites.
They claimed this to be violative of due process for
being vague.
The law also classified motels into two classes and
required the maintenance of certain minimum facilities
in first class motels such as a telephone in each room,
a dining room or, restaurant and laundry. The
petitioners also invoked the lack of due process on
this for being arbitrary.

Whether Ordinance No. 4760 of the City of Manila is
violative of the due process clause?
Held: No. Judgment reversed.


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

"The presumption is towards the validity of a law.

However, 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

Police power 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 power must not be unreasonable or violative of
due process.

O'Gorman & Young v. Hartford Fire Insurance...Case

was in the scope of police power.

As underlying questions of fact may condition

constitutionality of legislation of this character,
resumption of constitutionality must prevail in
absence of some factual foundation of record
overthrowing the statute."


There is no controlling and precise definition of due

process. It has 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 from legal infirmity?
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.

It is responsiveness to the supremacy of reason,

obedience to the dictates of justice.

Negatively put, arbitrariness

unfairness avoided.
There is no question but that the challenged
ordinance was precisely enacted to minimize certain
practices hurtful to public morals, particularly
fornication and prostitution.





Due process is not a narrow or "technical conception

with fixed content unrelated to time, place and
circumstances," decisions based on such a clause
requiring a "close and perceptive inquiry into
fundamental principles of our society." Questions of
due process are not to be treated narrowly or
pedantically in slavery to form or phrase.

Nothing in the petition is sufficient to prove the

ordinances nullity for an alleged failure to meet the
due process requirement.

license fee of the operator of a massage clinic, even if

it were viewed purely as a police power measure.

On the impairment of freedom to contract by limiting

duration of use to twice every 24 hours- It was not
violative of due process. '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 wellbeing.
Laurel- 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.

Cu Unjieng case: 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. Eg.
Sale of liquors.

Lutz v. Araneta- Taxation may be made to supplement

the states police power.

In one case- much discretion is given to municipal

corporations in determining the amount," here the

The freedom to contract no longer "retains its virtuality

as a living principle, unlike in the sole case of People
v Pomar. 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.
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.
On the law being vague on the issue of personal
information, the maintenance of establishments, and
the full rate of payment- Holmes- 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."