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White Light v. City of Manila, 576 SCRA 416 (2009)
Whether or not the assailed Ordinance of the City of Manila is a valid exercise of police power .
No, the Supreme Court reversed the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) and reinstated the Decision of RTC Manila, Branch 9 upholding that the Ordinance is unconstitutional.
Under the Constitution, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Liberty, as guaranteed by the Constitution, was defined by Justice Malcolm to include "the right to exist and the right to be free from arbitrary restraint or servitude”. To consider the exercise of police power as valid, it must appear that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require an interference with private rights and the means must be reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive of private rights. It must also be evident that no other alternative for the accomplishment of the purpose less intrusive of private rights can work. More importantly, a reasonable relation must exist between the purposes of the measure and the means employed for its accomplishment, for even under the guise of protecting the public interest, personal rights and those pertaining to private property will not be permitted to be arbitrarily invaded.
In this case, although the objective of the Ordinance is to minimize, if not eliminate, the use of the covered establishments for illicit sex, prostitution, drug use and other similar activities, which certainly fall within the ambit of the police power of the State, other legitimate activities would also be impaired. Similarly, the behavior which the Ordinance seeks to curtail is in fact already prohibited and could be diminished by simply applying existing laws.
Hence, the exercise of police power through the assailed Ordinance is considered an arbitrary intrusion into private rights and is deemed unconstitutional and invalid.