Magtajas vs Pryce Properties, Inc. [234 SCRA 255]

(Municipal Corporation –  Tests of a Valid Ordinance)

Facts: The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is a corporation created directly by P.D. 1869 to help centralize and regulate all games of chance, including casinos on land and sea within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines. In Basco v. Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, this Court sustained the constitutionality of the decree and even cited the benefits of the entity to the national economy as the third highest revenue-earner in the government.

PAGCOR decided to expand its operations to Cagayan de Oro City by leasing a portion of a building belonging to Pryce Properties Corporation Inc. for its casino.

On December 7, 1992, Sangguniang Panlungsod of CDO enacted ordinance 3353, prohibiting the issuance of business permit and cancelling existing business permit to any establishment for the using and allowing to be used its premises or portion thereof for the operation of a casino.

On January 4, 1993, it enacted Ordinance 3375-93, prohibiting the operation of casino and providing penalty for violation therefore.

Pryce assailed the ordinances before the CA, where it was joined by PAGCOR as intervenor.

The Court found the ordinances invalid and issued the writ prayed for to prohibit their enforcement. CDO City and its mayor filed a petition for review under Rules of Court with the Supreme Court.

Issue: WON the Sangguniang Panlungsod can prohibit the establishment of casino operated by PAGCOR through an ordinance or resolution.

Held: No. Gambling is not illegal per se. While it is generally considered inimical to the interests of the people, there is nothing in the Constitution categorically proscribing or penalizing gambling or, for that matter, even mentioning it at all. In the exercise of its own discretion, the Congress may prohibit gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it may prohibit some forms of gambling and allow others for whatever reasons it may consider sufficient.

Under Sec. 458 of the Local Government Code, local government units are authorized to prevent or suppress, among others, “gambling and other prohibited games of chance.”

Ordinances should not contravene a statue as municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated powers conferred on them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter.

The tests of a valid ordinance are well established. A long line of decisions has held that to be valid, an ordinance must conform to the following substantive requirements:

1) It must not contravene the constitution or any statute.

2) It must not be unfair or oppressive.

3) It must not be partial or discriminatory.

4) It must not prohibit but may regulate trade.

5) It must be general and consistent with public policy.

6) It must not be unreasonable.

 

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