Friday, March 9, 2012

SJS V Atienza G.R. No. 156052 March 7, 2007

J. Corona

On November 20, 2001, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 8027 and Atienza passed it the following day. Ordinance No. 8027 reclassified the area described therein from industrial to commercial and directed 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. These were the Pandacan oil depots of Shell and Caltex.
But the city of Manila and the DOE entered into an MOU which only scaled down the property covered by the depots and did not stop their operations. In the same resolution, the Sanggunian declared that the MOU was effective only for a period of six months starting July 25, 2002. It was extended to 2003.
Petitioners filed for mandamus in SC urging the city to implement Ordinance 8027. Respondent’s defense is that Ordinance No. 8027 has been superseded by the MOU and the resolutions and that the MOU was more of a guideline to 8027.

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. 8027

Held: Yes to both, Petition granted

1. Rule 65, Section 316 of the Rules of Court- mandamus may be filed 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. The petitioner should have a well-defined, clear and certain legal right to the performance of the act and it must be the clear and imperative duty of respondent to do the act required to be done.
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. Unless the right to the relief sought is unclouded, mandamus will not issue. When a mandamus proceeding concerns a public right and its object is to compel a public duty, the people who are interested in the execution of the laws are regarded as the real parties in interest and they need not show any specific interest. Petitioners are citizens of manila and thus have a direct interest in the ordinances.

On the other hand, the Local Government Code imposes upon respondent the duty, as city mayor, to "enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the governance of the city. "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 it has not been repealed by the Sanggunian or annulled by the courts. He has no other choice. It is his ministerial duty to do so.
These officers cannot refuse to perform their duty on the ground of an alleged invalidity of the statute 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 and ordinances imposing duties upon them and which have not judicially been declared unconstitutional. Officers of the government from the highest to the lowest are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it.
2. 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 full force and effect only until April 30, 2003.

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