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FIRST DIVISION permits to the oil companies. Resolution No. 13, s.

2003 also called for a reassessment of the

G.R. No. 156052 March 7, 2007
Meanwhile, petitioners filed this original action for mandamus on December 4, 2002 praying that
SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (SJS), VLADIMIR ALARIQUE T. CABIGAO, and BONIFACIO S. Mayor Atienza be compelled to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 and order the immediate removal of the
TUMBOKON, Petitioners, terminals of the oil companies.11
HON. JOSE L. ATIENZA, JR., in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Manila, Respondent. The issues raised by petitioners are as follows:

DECISION 1. whether respondent has the mandatory legal duty to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 and order the
removal of the Pandacan Terminals, and
2. whether the June 26, 2002 MOU and the resolutions ratifying it can amend or repeal Ordinance No.
In this original petition for mandamus,1 petitioners Social Justice Society (SJS), Vladimir Alarique T. 8027.12
Cabigao and Bonifacio S. Tumbokon seek to compel respondent Hon. Jose L. Atienza, Jr., mayor of
the City of Manila, to enforce Ordinance No. 8027. Petitioners contend that respondent has the mandatory legal duty, under Section 455 (b) (2) of the
Local Government Code (RA 7160),13 to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 and order the removal of the
The antecedents are as follows. Pandacan Terminals of the oil companies. Instead, he has allowed them to stay.

On November 20, 2001, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 8027.2 Respondent’s defense is that Ordinance No. 8027 has been superseded by the MOU and the
Respondent mayor approved the ordinance on November 28, 2001.3 It became effective on December resolutions.14 However, he also confusingly argues that the ordinance and MOU are not inconsistent
28, 2001, after its publication.4 with each other and that the latter has not amended the former. He insists that the ordinance remains
valid and in full force and effect and that the MOU did not in any way prevent him from enforcing and
Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted pursuant to the police power delegated to local government units, a implementing it. He maintains that the MOU should be considered as a mere guideline for its full
principle described as the power inherent in a government to enact laws, within constitutional limits, implementation.15
to promote the order, safety, health, morals and general welfare of the society.5 This is evident from
Sections 1 and 3 thereof which state: Under Rule 65, Section 316 of the Rules of Court, a petition for mandamus may be filed when any
tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the
SECTION 1. For the purpose of promoting sound urban planning and ensuring health, public safety, law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station. Mandamus is an
and general welfare of the residents of Pandacan and Sta. Ana as well as its adjoining areas, the land extraordinary writ that is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty
use of [those] portions of land bounded by the Pasig River in the north, PNR Railroad Track in the that is already imposed on the respondent and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in
east, Beata St. in the south, Palumpong St. in the southwest, and Estero de Pancacan in the west[,] PNR the ordinary course of law. The petitioner should have a well-defined, clear and certain legal right to
Railroad in the northwest area, Estero de Pandacan in the [n]ortheast, Pasig River in the southeast and the performance of the act and it must be the clear and imperative duty of respondent to do the act
Dr. M.L. Carreon in the southwest. The area of Punta, Sta. Ana bounded by the Pasig River, Marcelino required to be done.17
Obrero St., Mayo 28 St., and F. Manalo Street, are hereby reclassified from Industrial II to Commercial
I. Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right, or to compel compliance with a duty, which is questionable
or over which a substantial doubt exists. The principal function of the writ of mandamus is to command
xxx xxx xxx and to expedite, not to inquire and to adjudicate; thus, it is neither the office nor the aim of the writ to
secure a legal right but to implement that which is already established. Unless the right to the relief
SEC. 3. Owners or operators of industries and other businesses, the operation of which are no longer sought is unclouded, mandamus will not issue.18
permitted under Section 1 hereof, are hereby given a period of six (6) months from the date of
effectivity of this Ordinance within which to cease and desist from the operation of businesses which To support the assertion that petitioners have a clear legal right to the enforcement of the ordinance,
are hereby in consequence, disallowed. petitioner SJS states that it is a political party registered with the Commission on Elections and has its
offices in Manila. It claims to have many members who are residents of Manila. The other petitioners,
Ordinance No. 8027 reclassified the area described therein from industrial to commercial and directed Cabigao and Tumbokon, are allegedly residents of Manila.
the owners and operators of businesses disallowed under Section 1 to cease and desist from operating
their businesses within six months from the date of effectivity of the ordinance. Among the businesses We need not belabor this point. We have ruled in previous cases that when a mandamus proceeding
situated in the area are the so-called "Pandacan Terminals" of the oil companies Caltex (Philippines), concerns a public right and its object is to compel a public duty, the people who are interested in the
Inc., Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation. execution of the laws are regarded as the real parties in interest and they need not show any specific
interest.19 Besides, as residents of Manila, petitioners have a direct interest in the enforcement of the
However, on June 26, 2002, the City of Manila and the Department of Energy (DOE) entered into a city’s ordinances. Respondent never questioned the right of petitioners to institute this proceeding.
memorandum of understanding (MOU)6 with the oil companies in which they agreed that "the scaling
down of the Pandacan Terminals [was] the most viable and practicable option." Under the MOU, the On the other hand, the Local Government Code imposes upon respondent the duty, as city mayor, to
oil companies agreed to perform the following: "enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the governance of the city.">20 One of these is Ordinance
No. 8027. As the chief executive of the city, he has the duty to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 as long as
Section 1. - Consistent with the objectives stated above, the OIL COMPANIES shall, upon signing of it has not been repealed by the Sanggunian or annulled by the courts.21 He has no other choice. It is
this MOU, undertake a program to scale down the Pandacan Terminals which shall include, among his ministerial duty to do so. In Dimaporo v. Mitra, Jr.,22 we stated the reason for this:
others, the immediate removal/decommissioning process of TWENTY EIGHT (28) tanks starting with
the LPG spheres and the commencing of works for the creation of safety buffer and green zones These officers cannot refuse to perform their duty on the ground of an alleged invalidity of the statute
surrounding the Pandacan Terminals. xxx imposing the duty. The reason for this is obvious. It might seriously hinder the transaction of public
business if these officers were to be permitted in all cases to question the constitutionality of statutes
Section 2. – Consistent with the scale-down program mentioned above, the OIL COMPANIES shall and ordinances imposing duties upon them and which have not judicially been declared
establish joint operations and management, including the operation of common, integrated and/or unconstitutional. Officers of the government from the highest to the lowest are creatures of the law
shared facilities, consistent with international and domestic technical, safety, environmental and and are bound to obey it.23
economic considerations and standards. Consequently, the joint operations of the OIL COMPANIES
in the Pandacan Terminals shall be limited to the common and integrated areas/facilities. A separate The question now is whether the MOU entered into by respondent with the oil companies and the
agreement covering the commercial and operational terms and conditions of the joint operations, shall subsequent resolutions passed by the Sanggunian have made the respondent’s duty to enforce
be entered into by the OIL COMPANIES. Ordinance No. 8027 doubtful, unclear or uncertain. This is also connected to the second issue raised
by petitioners, that is, whether the MOU and Resolution Nos. 97, s. 2002 and 13, s. 2003 of the
Section 3. - The development and maintenance of the safety and green buffer zones mentioned therein, Sanggunian can amend or repeal Ordinance No. 8027.
which shall be taken from the properties of the OIL COMPANIES and not from the surrounding
communities, shall be the sole responsibility of the OIL COMPANIES. We need not resolve this issue. Assuming that the terms of the MOU were inconsistent with Ordinance
No. 8027, the resolutions which ratified it and made it binding on the City of Manila expressly gave it
The City of Manila and the DOE, on the other hand, committed to do the following: full force and effect only until April 30, 2003. Thus, at present, there is nothing that legally hinders
respondent from enforcing Ordinance No. 8027.24
Section 1. - The City Mayor shall endorse to the City Council this MOU for its appropriate action with
the view of implementing the spirit and intent thereof. Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted right after the Philippines, along with the rest of the world, witnessed
the horror of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New
Section 2. - The City Mayor and the DOE shall, consistent with the spirit and intent of this MOU, York City. The objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of Manila from the catastrophic
enable the OIL COMPANIES to continuously operate in compliance with legal requirements, within devastation that will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack25 on the Pandacan Terminals. No reason
the limited area resulting from the joint operations and the scale down program. exists why such a protective measure should be delayed.

Section 3. - The DOE and the City Mayor shall monitor the OIL COMPANIES’ compliance with the WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Respondent Hon. Jose L. Atienza, Jr., as mayor of
provisions of this MOU. the City of Manila, is directed to immediately enforce Ordinance No. 8027.

Section 4. - The CITY OF MANILA and the national government shall protect the safety buffer and SO ORDERED.
green zones and shall exert all efforts at preventing future occupation or encroachment into these areas
by illegal settlers and other unauthorized parties. RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
The Sangguniang Panlungsod ratified the MOU in Resolution No. 97.7 In the same resolution, the
Sanggunian declared that the MOU was effective only for a period of six months starting July 25, WE CONCUR:
2002.8 Thereafter, on January 30, 2003, the Sanggunian adopted Resolution No. 139 extending the
validity of Resolution No. 97 to April 30, 2003 and authorizing Mayor Atienza to issue special business REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
Chairperson 19 Licaros v. Sandiganbayan, 421 Phil. 1075 (2001); Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No.
L-72119, 29 May 1987, 150 SCRA 530, 536; Tañada v. Tuvera, G.R. No. L-63915, 24 April 1985,
Associate Justice (On official leave)
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA 20 Supra note 13.
Asscociate Justice
CANCIO C. GARCIA 21 Tuzon v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 90107, 21 August 1992, 212 SCRA 739, 747. According to
Associate Justice respondent, the oil companies separately filed actions for annulment of Ordinance No. 8027 which are
now pending before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branches 39 and 42; Rollo, p. 143.
22 G.R. No. 96859, 15 October 1991, 202 SCRA 779.
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above
decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of 23 Id., p. 795, citing Cu Unjieng v. Patstone, 42 Phil. 818 (1922) and Burton v. U.S., 202 U.S. 344.
the Court’s Division.
24 According to respondent, a Temporary Restraining Order was issued in the action filed by the oil
REYNATO S. PUNO companies to annul Ordinance No. 8027 (see note 21, supra); rollo, p. 143. This presumably has already
Chief Justice lapsed.

25 This was alleged by petitioners and not refuted by respondent; id., pp. 7 and 118.

1 Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

2 Entitled "Ordinance Reclassifying the Land Use of [Those] Portions of Land Bounded by the Pasig
River In The North[,] PNR Railroad Track in the East, Beata St. in the South, Palumpong St. in the
Southwest and Estero De Pandacan in the West, PNR Railroad in the Northwest Area, Estero of
Pandacan in the Northeast, Pasig River in the Southeast and Dr. M. L. Carreon in the Southwest; the
Area of Punta, Sta. Ana Bounded by the Pasig River, Marcelino Obrero St.[,] Mayo 28 St. and the F.
Manalo Street from Industrial II to Commercial I."

3 Rollo, p. 12.

4 Id., p. 6.

5 Philtread Workers Union (PTWU) v. Confesor, 336 Phil. 375 (1997), citing Union of Filipro
Employees v. Nestlé Philippines, Inc., G.R. Nos. 88710-13, 19 December 1990, 192 SCRA 396.

6 Rollo, pp. 16-18. This MOU modified the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) executed on October
12, 2001 by the oil companies and the DOE. This MOA called for close coordination among the parties
with a view of formulating appropriate measures to arrive at the best possible option to ensure, maintain
and at the same time harmonize the interests of both government and the oil companies; id., p. 36.

7 Entitled "Resolution Ratifying the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Entered into by and
Among the Department of Energy, the City of Manila, Caltex (Philippines), Inc., Petron Corporation
and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation on 26 June 2002, and Known as Document No. 60, Page
No. 12, Book No. 1, Series of 2002 in the Notarial Registry of Atty. Neil Lanson Salcedo, Notary
Public for and in the City of Manila;" id., p. 36.

8 Id.

9 Entitled "Resolution Extending the Validity of Resolution 97, Series of 2002, to April 30, 2003,
Thereby Authorizing his Honor Mayor Jose L. Atienza, Jr., to Issue Special Business Permits to Caltex
Phil., Inc., Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation Situated within the Pandacan
Oil Terminal Covering the said Period;" id., p. 38.

10 Id.

11 Id., p. 9.

12 Id., p. 15.

13 It states:

Section 455. Chief Executive: Powers, Duties and Compensation. – xxx

(b) For efficient, effective and economical governance the purpose of which is the general welfare of
the city and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code, the city mayor shall:

xxx xxx xxx

(2) Enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the governance of the city xxxx

14 Rollo, pp. 28 and 144.

15 Id., pp. 31 and 146-147.

16 The full text reads:

SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus. — When any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully
neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office,
trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to
which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging
the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent,
immediately or at some other time to be specified by the court, to do the act required to be done to
protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the
wrongful acts of the respondent. xxxx

17 University of San Agustin, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 100588, 7 March 1994, 230 SCRA
761, 771, citations omitted.

18 BPI Family Savings Bank, Inc. v. Manikan, G.R. No. 148789, 16 January 2003, 395 SCRA 373,
375, citing Pacheco v. Court of Appeals, 389 Phil. 200 (2000).