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MMDA slammed over demolition job

[ ] October 17, 2011

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Metro Manila Development Authority had illegally demolished the party wall of the building along EDSA owned by retired Supreme Court Justice Emilio Gancayco.

In a decision penned by Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, the Court En Banc unanimously affirmed the finding of the Court of Appeals that the MMDA went beyond its powers in its clearing operations in 2003.

In its petition before the Court, the MMDA claimed that it demolished the property under the Building Code and Quezon City Ordinance 2904 issued on March 27, 1956, which required Gancayco to provide an arcade 4.50 meters wide and 5 meters high.

But the Court said the authority to order demolition belonged to the Building Official and the ordinance said regular courts would determine whether there was a violation without prescribing demolition among the penalties.

Citing MMDA v. Trackworks, the Court said the MMDA had no power to enact ordinances and thus “cannot supplement” Ordinance 2904 through Metro Manila Council Resolution 02-28, series of 2002 that authorized the agency to “clear the sidewalks, streets, avenues, alleys, bridges, parks, and other public places in Metro Manila of all illegal structures and obstructions.”

The Court said neither was there a valid delegation of power to agency nor a nuisance in the property.

But the ruling noted that Ordinance 2904 itself was a valid exercise of the police power delegated by Congress to the city government in RA 537, the Revised Charter of Quezon City, to provide safe and convenient passage along the sidewalk for commuters and pedestrians more so in the case of Gancayco’s property in a business zone along EDSA.

On May 29, 2003, Gancayco filed a petition with prayer for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction before the QC Regional Trial Court to prohibit the MMDA and City Hall from demolishing his property. The RTC ruled in his favor and ordered the MMDA to immediately restore the party wall. It also declared Ordinance 2094 unconstitutional for being confiscatory and oppressive.

On appeal by the MMDA, the Court of Appeals modified the RTC’s decision by upholding the said ordinance and lifting the injunction against its implementation. Both parties then appealed to the Supreme Court. Rey E. Requejo

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