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CASE: Social Justice Society (SJS) Officers v. Mayor Alfredo S.

Lim
(G.R. Nos. 187836 and 187916)
DATE: 25 November 2014
PONENTE: J. Perez
FACTS
-  It is an invalid exercise of police power because it does not
promote the general welfare of the people

-  It is violative of Section 15 and 16, Article II of the 1987


Constitution as well as health and environment related municipal
laws and international conventions and treaties, such as: Clean Air
Act; Environment Code; Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law; Civil
Code provisions on nuisance and human relations; Universal
Declaration of Human Rights; and Convention on the Rights of the
Child

petroleum gas, aviation fuel, diesel, gasoline, kerosene and fuel oil
among others;
. (2) The depot is open to attack through land, water and air;

. (3) It is situated in a densely populated place and near Malacañang


Palace;
and

. (4) In case of an explosion or conflagration in the depot, the fire


could
spread to the neighboring communities.
The Ordinance was intended to safeguard the rights to life, security and
safety of all the inhabitants of Manila and not just of a particular class.
The depot is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a representation of western
interests which means that it is a terrorist target. As long as there is such
a target in their midst, the residents of Manila are not safe. It therefore
becomes necessary to remove these terminals to dissipate the threat.”
The same best interest of the public guides the present decision. The
Pandacan oil depot remains a terrorist target even if the contents have
been lessened. In the absence of any convincing reason to persuade the
Court that the life, security and safety of the inhabitants of Manila are no
longer put at risk by the presence of the oil depots, the SC holds that the
Ordinance No. 8187 in relation to the Pandacan Terminals is invalid and
unconstitutional.
For, given that the threat sought to be prevented may strike at one point
or another, no matter how remote it is as perceived by one or some, the
SC cannot allow the right to life be dependent on the unlikelihood of an
event. Statistics and theories of probability have no place in situations
where the very life of not just an individual but of residents of big
neighbourhoods is at stake.
DISPOSITIVE PORTION
1. Ordinance No. 8187 is declared unconstitutional and invalid with
respect to the continued stay of the Pandacan Oil Terminals.

2. The incumbent mayor of the City of Manila is ordered to cease and


desist from enforcing Ordinance No. 8187 and to oversee the
relocation and transfer of the oil terminals out of the Pandacan area

3. The oil companies shall, within a non-extendible period of


forty-five (45) days, submit to the RTC Manila, Branch 39 an
updated comprehensive plan and relocation schedule, which
relocation shall be completed not later than six (6) months
from the date the required document is submitted.

-  There is a valid exercise of police power

On 28 August 2012, the SP enacted Ordinance No. 8283 which


essentially amended the
assailed Ordinance to exclude the area where petroleum refineries
and oil depots are located from the Industrial Zone. The same was
vetoed by Mayor Lim.
ISSUES

1. WON there are violations of environmental laws

2. WON the principle of hierarchy of courts is violated

3. WON the petitioners have legal standing to sue

4. WON Ordinance No. 8187 is unconstitutional in relation to the


Pandacan Terminals

RULING
1. None. The scope of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases
is embodied in Section 2, Part I, Rule I thereof. It states that the Rules
shall govern the procedure in civil, criminal and special civil actions
before the MeTCs, MTCCs, MTCs and MCTCs, and the RTCs involving
the enforcement or violations of environmental and other related laws,
rules and regulations such as but not limited to: R.A. No. 6969, Toxic
Substances and Hazardous Waste Act; R.A. No. 8749, Clean Air Act;
Provisions in C.A. No. 141; and other existing laws that relate to the
conservation, development, preservation, protection and utilization of
the environment and natural resources.
Notably, the aforesaid Rules are limited in scope. While, indeed, there
are allegations of violations of environmental laws in the petitions, these
only serve as collateral attacks that would support the other position of
the petitioners – the protection of the right to life, security and safety.
2. No. The SC held that it is true that the petitions should have been
filed with the RTC, it having concurrent jurisdiction with the SC
over a special civil action for prohibition, and original jurisdiction
over petitions for declaratory relief.
However, the petitions at bar are of transcendental importance
warranting a relaxation of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. This
is in accordance with the well- entrenched principle that rules of
procedure are not inflexible tools designed to hinder or delay, but
to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. Their strict
and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend
to frustrate, rather than promote substantial justice, must always be
eschewed. (Jaworski v. PAGCOR, 464 Phil. 375)

3. Yes. The SC referred to their Decision dated 7 March 2007 which


ruled that the petitioners in that case have a legal right to seek the
enforcement of Ordinance No. 8027 because the subject of the
petition concerns a public right, and they, as residents of Manila,
have a direct interest in the implementation of the ordinances of
the city.
No different are herein petitioners who seek to prohibit the
enforcement of the assailed ordinance, and who deal with the same
subject matter that concerns a public right.
In like manner, the preservation of the life, security and safety of
the people is indisputably a right of utmost importance to the
public. Certainly, the petitioners, as residents of Manila, have the
required personal interest to seek relief to protect such right.

4. Yes. In striking down the contrary provisions of the assailed


Ordinance relative to the continued stay of the oil depots, the SC
followed the same line of reasoning used in its 7 March 2007
decision, to wit:
“Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted for the purpose of promoting a
sound urban planning, ensuring health, public safety and general
welfare of the residents of Manila. The Sanggunian was impelled
to take measures to protect the residents of Manila from
catastrophic devastation in case of a terrorist attack on the
Pandacan Terminals. Towards this objective, the Sanggunian
reclassified the area defined in the ordinance from industrial to
commercial.
The following facts were found by the Committee on Housing,
Resettlement and Urban Development of the City of Manila which
recommended the approval of the ordinance:
(1) The depot facilities contained 313.5 million liters of highly
flammable and highly volatile products which inc

Code provisions on nuisance and human relations; Universal Declaration


of Human Rights; and Convention on the Rights of the Child

-  The title of Ordinance No. 8187 purports to amend or repeal


Ordinance No. 8119 when it actually intends to repeal Ordinance
No. 8027

On the other hand, the respondents Mayor Lim, et.al. and the
intervenors oil companies contend that:
- The petitioners have no legal standing to sue whether as
citizens, taxpayers or legislators. They further failed to show
that they have suffered any injury or threat of injury as a
result of the act complained of

-  The petition should be dismissed outright for failure to


properly apply the related provisions of the Constitution, the
Rules of Court, and/or the Rules of Procedure for
Environmental Cases relative to the appropriate remedy
available

-  The principle of the hierarchy of courts is violated because


the SC only exercises appellate jurisdiction over cases
involving the constitutionality or validity of an ordinance
under Section 5, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution

-  It is the function of the SP to enact zoning ordinance


without prior referral to the Manila Zoning Board of
Adjustment and Appeals; thus, it may repeal all or part of
zoning ordinance sought to be modified

-  There is a valid exercise of police power

On 28 August 2012, the SP enacted Ordinance No. 8283 which


essentially amended the
assailed Ordinance to exclude the area where petroleum refineries
and oil depots are located from the Industrial Zone. The same was
vetoed by Mayor Lim.
ISSUES

1. WON there are violations of environmental laws


2. WON the principle of hierarchy of courts is violated

3. WON the petitioners have legal standing to sue

4. WON Ordinance No. 8187 is unconstitutional in relation to t