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G.R. No. 150194 – 517 SCRA 488 – Political Law – Municipal Corporation – Police Power of LGUs
Criminal Law – Special Penal Laws – Graft and Corrupt Practices – Elements of Violation of Section 3(e), R.A. No. 3019; Bad Faith
In 1988, Roberto Tayaban was the mayor of Tinoc, Ifugao. He made a project proposal with the Governor for a public market to be erected. The same was approved and it was funded by the Cordillera Executive Board. The project bidding was subsequently won by Lopez Pugong. Pugong began erecting the market but in 1989, Tayaban and Tinoc’s councilors enforced a resolution to demolish the structure being built on the grounds that (1) the structure is not being erected in the proper area as specified by Tayaban, (2) that the structure is a public nuisance, and (3) by virtue of police power to protect general welfare.
Tayaban and some councilors then went to the site and demolished the structure. Pugong sued Tayaban et al for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti Graft Act). In particular, Pugong averred that Tayaban acted with manifest bad faith in causing him injury/damages. Pugong also averred that the resolution reviewing the said local public development project (market) that the council passed in 1989 was not posted in a conspicuous place as required by Sections 56 and 59(a) of the 1991 Local Government Code (R.A. No. 7160). Tayaban lost the case and he appealed contending that he demolished the structure by virtue of PD 1096 (National Building Code) and Letter Of Instruction No. 19 (removal of illegal structures).
ISSUE: Whether or not Tayaban’s demolition of the structure is a valid exercise of police power by a LGU officer.
HELD: No. The SC is not impressed with Tayaban’s contention that the subject demolition is a valid exercise of police power. The exercise of police power by the local government is valid unless it contravenes the fundamental law of the land, or an act of the legislature, or unless it is against public policy, or is unreasonable, oppressive, partial, discriminating, or in derogation of a common right. In the present case, the acts of Tayaban have been established as a violation of law, particularly of the provisions of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as he was indeed in bad faith. Records show that he gave no notice to Pugong about the planned demolition. Worse, the council resolution about the demolition plan was passed after the demolition was made.
On the other hand though, as contended by the Office of the Solicitor General, Sec. 56 and 59 of the LGC of 1991 is not applicable as said law was not yet passed in 1989 hence there was no need for Tayaban to post the 1989 resolution in a conspicuous place. Also, Tayaban’s defense that he acted by virtue of LOI 19 and PD 1096 is a mere afterthought, nowhere in the resolution was it said that they are going to demolish because of these two laws but rather only on the ground that the market being built is in the wrong place. Further, Tayaban actually never specified as to where he intended the market to be built.