VOL. 80, JANUARY 27, 1948

FACTS

The Philippine Legislature has delegated the exercise of the police power to the Municipal Board of the City of Manila which is provided in Administrative Code, Sec. 2439. Included among others is the power granted “ (1) to provide prohibition and suppression of riots, affrays, disturbances and disorderly assemblies, (2)  to regulate the use of streets, parks and other public places (3) to enact ordinances it may deem necessary and proper for sanitation and safety…

Under the delegated power of Philippine Legislature, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila, enacted Revised Ordinance of 1927 that prohibits any act in public place, meeting or procession tending to disrupt public peace or riot or disquiet any congregation engaged in any lawful assembly (Sec 844) and to secure permit from the mayor for the use of public places and streets.

The petitioner Cipriano Primicias, a campaign manager of the Coalesced Minority Parties against Valeriano Fugoso, as Mayor of the City of Manila, instituted an action of mandamus to compel the latter to issue a permit for the holding of a public meeting at Plaza Miranda on Sunday afternoon, November 16, 1947, for the purpose of petitioning the government for redress to grievances on the ground that the respondent refused to grant such permit.

The reason alleged by the respondent in his defense for refusing the permit is, “that there is a reasonable ground to believe that the utterances and speeches may undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government, which might threaten breaches of the peace and a disruption of public order.

ISSUE

(1) Whether or not the Administrative Code granting the Mayor the power to grant or refuse permit for the use of public places for processions, parades and meetings is invalid?

HELD

(1) YES. Grant of unregulated and unlimited power to grant or refuse a permit for the use of streets and other public places for processions, parades, or meetings, would be null and void. Under the democratic system of government in the Philippines, no such unlimited power may be validly granted to any officer of the government, except perhaps in cases of national emergency. To refuse the permit on his mere opinion that such refusal will prevent riots, disturbances or disorderly assemblage. It can thus, be made the instrument of arbitrary suppression of free expression of views on national affairs, for the prohibition of all speaking will undoubtedly ‘prevent’ such eventualities.

The Municipal Board cannot grant the Mayor a power which it does not have. The powers and duties of the Mayor as the Chief Executive of the City are executive, and the legislative police power of the Municipal Board to enact ordinances cannot be delegated to the Mayor or any other officer by conferring upon him unregulated discretion or without laying down rules to guide and control his action by which its impartial execution can be secured or partiality and oppression prevented. “The discretion with which the council is vested is a legal discretion to be exercised within the limits of the law, and not a discretion to transcend it or to confer upon any city officer an arbitrary authority making in its exercise a petty tyrant.”

DISPOSITIVE PORTION

In view of all the foregoing, the petition for mandamus is granted and, there appearing no reasonable objection to the use of the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, for the meeting applied for, the respondent is ordered to issue the corresponding permit, as requested. So ordered.

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