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Case Digest: MMDA v. Viron Trans.
ISSUE: Whether or not E.O, 179 is constitutional.
FACTS: To solve the worsening traffic congestions problem in Metro Manila the President issued Executive Order (E.O.) 179, ―Providing for the Establishment of Greater Manila Mass Transportation System. As determined in E.O. 179, the primary cause of traffic congestion in Metro Manila has been the numerous buses plying the streets that impede the flow of vehicles and commuters and the inefficient connectivity of the different transport modes. To decongest traffic, petitioner Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) came up with a recommendation, proposing the elimination of bus terminals located along major Metro Manila thoroughfares, and the construction of mass transport terminal facilties to provide a more convenient access to mass transport system to the commuting public. The project provided for under this E.O. was called ―Greater Manila Transport System‖ (Project) wherein the MMDA was designated as the implementing agency. Accordingly, the Metro Manila Council the governing board of the MMDA issued a resolution, expressing full support of the project. The respondents, which are engaged in the business of public transportation with a provincial bus operation, Viron Transport Co., Inc. and Mencorp Transportation System, Inc., assailed the constitutionality of E.O. 179 before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. They alleged that the E.O., insofar as it permitted the closure of existing bus terminal, constituted a deprivation of property without due process; that it contravened the Public Service Act which mandates public utilities to provide and maintain their own terminals as a requisite for the privilege of operating as common carriers; and that Republic Act 7924, which created MMDA, did not authorize the latter to order the closure of bus terminals. The trial court declared the E.O. unconstitutional. The MMDA argued before the Court that there was no justiciable controversy in the case for declaratory relief filed by the respondents; that E.O. 179 was only an administrative directive to government agencies to coordinate with the MMDA, and as such did not bind third persons; that the President has the authority to implement the Project pursuant to E.O. 125; and that E.O. 179 was a valid exercise of police power.
RATIO DECIDENDI: By designating the MMDA as implementing agency of the “Greater Manila Transport System,” the President clearly overstepped the limits of the authority conferred by law, rendering E.O. 179 ultra vires. Executive Order 125, invoked by the MMDA, was issued by former President Aquino in her exercise of legislative powers. This executive order reorganized the Ministry (now Department) of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and defined its powers and functions. It mandated the DOTC to be the primary policy, planning, programming, coordinating, implementing, regulating and administrative entity to promote, develop and regulate networks of transportation and communications. The grant of authority to the DOTC includes the power to establish and administer comprehensive and integrated programs for transportation and communications. Accordingly, it is the DOTC Secretary who is authorized to issue such orders, rules, regulations and other issuances as may be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the law. The President may also exercise the same power and authority to order the implementation of the mass transport system project, which admittedly is one for transportation. Such authority springs from the President‘s power of control over all executive departments as well as for the faithful execution of the laws under the Constitution. Thus, the President, although authorized to establish or cause the implementation of the Project, must exercise the authority through the instrumentality of the DOTC, which, by law, is the primary implementing and administrative entity in the promotion, development and regulation of networks of transportation. It is the DOTC, and not the MMDA, which is authorized to establish and implement a project such as the mass transport system. By designating the MMDA as implementing agency of the Project, the President clearly overstepped the limits of the authority conferred by law, rendering E.O. 179 ultra vires. In the absence of a specific grant of authority to it under R.A. 7924, MMDA cannot issue order for the closure of existing bus terminals Republic Act (R.A.) 7924 authorizes the MMDA to perform planning, monitoring and coordinative functions, and in the process exercises regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services, including transport and traffic management. While traffic decongestion has been recognized as a valid ground in the exercise of police power, MMDA is not granted police power, let alone legislative power. Unlike the legislative bodies of the local government units, there is no provision in R.A. 7924 that empowers the MMDA or the Metro Manila Council to enact ordinances, approveresolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the inhabitants of Metro Manila. In light of the administrative nature of its powers and functions, the MMDA is devoid of authority to implement the Greater Manila Transport System as envisioned by E.O. 179; hence, it could not have been validly designated by the President to undertake the project. It follows that the MMDA cannot validly order the elimination of respondents‘ terminals. Even assuming arguendo that police power was delegated to the MMDA, its exercise of such power does not satisfy the two sets of a valid police power measure: (1) the interest of the public generally, as distinguished from that of a particular class, requires its exercise; and (2) the means employed are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. In various cases, the Court has recognized that traffic congestion is a public, not merely a private concern. Indeed, the E.O. was issued due to the felt need to address the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila which, the MMDA so determined, is caused by the increasing volume of buses plying the major thoroughfares and the inefficient connectivity of existing transport system. With the avowed objective of decongesting traffic in Metro Manila the E.O. seeks to eliminate the bus terminals now located along major Metro Manila thoroughfares and provide more convenient access to the mass transport system to the commuting public through the provision of mass transport terminal facilities. Common carriers with terminals along the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila would thus be compelled to close down their existing bus terminals and use the MMDA-designated common parking areas. The Court fails to see how the prohibition against respondents‘ terminals can be considered a reasonable necessity to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis. On the contrary, the elimination of respondents‘ bus terminals brings forth the distinct possibility and the equally harrowing reality of traffic congestion in the common parking areas, a case of transference from one site to another. Moreover, an order for the closure of bus terminals is not in line with the provisions of the Public Service Act. The establishment, as well as the maintenance of vehicle parking areas or passenger terminals, is generally considered a necessary service by provincial bus operators, hence, the investments they have poured into the acquisition or lease of suitable terminal sites.
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