Ermita- Malate Hotel vs. City of Manila
· The principal question in this appeal from a judgment of the lower court in an action for prohibition is whether Ordinance No. Of the City of Manila is violating of due process clause.
. It was alleged that Sec. 1 of the challenged ordinance is unconstitutional and void for being unreasonable and violate of due process insofar as it would impose P6,000 fee per annum for first class motels and P4,500 for second class motels, that Sec. 2, prohibiting a person less than 18 years from being accepted in such hotels, motels, lodging houses, tavern or common inn unless accompanied by parents or a lawful guardian and making it unlawful for the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of such establishments to lease any room or portion thereof more than twice every 24 hours runs counter to due process guarantee for lack of certainty and for its unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive character
ISSUE/S: Whether or not the ordinance is violative of the due process clause?
RULING: A Manila ordinance regulating the operation of hotels, motels and lodging houses is a police measure specifically aimed to safeguards public morals. As such it is immune from any imputation of nullity resting purely on conjecture and unsupported by anything of substance. To hold otherwise would be to unduly restrict and narrow the scope of police power which has been properly characterized as the most essential, insistent and the less limitable of powers extending as it does to all great public needs.
Much discretion is given to municipal corporations in determining the amount of license fees to be imposed for revenue. The mere fact that some individuals in the community may be deprived of their present business or a particular mode of earning a living cannot prevent the exercise of police power.
There is no controlling and precise definition of due process. It furnishes though a standard to which governmental action should conform in order that deprivation of life, liberty or property, in each appropriate case, be valid. The standard of due process which must exist both as a procedural and as substantive requisite to free the challenged ordinance, or any governmental action for that matter, from imputation of legal infirmity is responsiveness to the supremacy of reason, obedience to the dictates of justice. It would be an affront to reason to stigmatize an ordinance enacted precisely to meet what a municipal lawmaking body considers an evil of rather serious proportions as an arbitrary and capricious exercise of authority. What should be deemed unreasonable and what would amount to an abduction of the power to govern is inaction in the face of an admitted deterioration of the state of public morals.
The provision in Ordinance No. 4760 of the City of Manila, making it unlawful for the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of any hotel, motel, lodging house, tavern or common inn or the like, to lease or rent any room or portion thereof more than twice every 24 hours, with a proviso that in all cases full payment shall be charged, cannot be viewed as a transgression against the command of due process. The prohibition is neither unreasonable nor arbitrary, because there appears a correspondence between the undeniable existence of an undesirable situation and the legislative attempt at correction. Moreover, every regulation of conduct amounts to curtailment of liberty, which cannot be absolute.