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Case Digest: Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, Inc. v. Robredo, G.R. No. 200903, 22 July 2014

Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, Inc. v. Robredo, G.R. No. 200903, 22 July 2014

TOPIC: Conditions for the Exercise of Judicial Review: Lis Mota


This is a petition for prohibition and mandamus to enjoin the public respondents from evicting the individual petitioners as well as the petitioner-associations� members from their dwellings in the cities of San Juan, Navotas and Quezon without any court order, and to compel the respondents to afford them judicial process prior to evictions and demolitions. The petition primarily seeks to declare as unconstitutional Section 28 (a) and (b) of Republic Act No. 7279 (RA 7279), otherwise known as Urban Development Housing Act, which authorizes evictions and demolitions under certain circumstances without any court order.


WON the resolution of the constitutionality of Section 28 (a) and (b) of RA 7279 is  the lis mota of the case


Even if we treat the present petition as one for certiorari since it assails the constitutionality of Section 28 (a) and (b) of RA 7279, the petition must necessarily fail for failure to show the essential requisites that would warrant the Court�s exercise of judicial review. It is a rule firmly entrenched in our jurisprudence that the courts will not determine the constitutionality of a law unless� the following requisites are present: (1) the existence of an actual case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial determination; (2) the existence of personal and substantial interest on the part of the party raising the constitutional question; (3) recourse to judicial review is made at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the resolution of the constitutional question must be necessary to the decision of the case.21

Save for the petition pertaining to the City of Quezon�s threat of eviction and demolition, this case no longer presents a justiciable controversy with respect to the Mayors of Navotas and San Juan. We take note of the Comments of these Mayors who alleged that they had already successfully evicted the concerned petitioners in their respective cities at the time of the filing of the petition.

What further constrains this Court from touching on the issue of constitutionality is the fact that this issue is not the lis mota of this case. Lis mota literally means “the cause of the suit or action”. it is rooted in the principle of separation of powers and is thus merely an offshoot of the presumption of validity accorded the executive and legislative acts of our co-equal branches of the government.

This means that the petitioner who claims the unconstitutionality of a law has the burden of showing first that the case cannot be resolved unless the disposition of the constitutional question that he raised is unavoidable. If there is some other ground upon which the court may rest its judgment, that course will be adopted and the question of constitutionality should be avoided. Thus, to justify the nullification of a law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, and not one that is doubtful, speculative or argumentative.

We carefully read the petitions and we conclude that they fail to compellingly show the necessity of examining the constitutionality of Section 28 (a) and (b) of RA 7279 in the light of Sections 1 and 6, Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution. In Magkalas v. NHA, this Court had already ruled on the validity of evictions and demolitions without any court order. In that case, we affirmed the validity of Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 1472 which authorizes the NHA to summarily eject all informal settlers colonies on government resettlement projects as well as any illegal occupant in any homelot, apartment or dwelling unit owned or administered by the NHA. In that case, we held that Caridad Magkalas’ illegal possession of the property should not hinder the NHA’s development of Bagong Barrio Urban Bliss Project. We further stated that demolitions and evictions may be validly carried out even without a judicial order in the following instances:

  • when the property involved is an expropriated property xxx pursuant to Section 1 of P.D. No. 1315;
  • when there are squatters on government resettlement projects and illegal occupants in any homelot, apartment or dwelling unit owned or administered by the NHA pursuant to Section 2 of P.D. No. 1472;
  • when persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and playgrounds, pursuant to Section 28(a) of R.A. No. 7279;
  • when government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented pursuant to Section 28(b) of R.A. No. 7279.26 (emphasis ours)

We note that Section 10, Article 13 of the 1987 Constitution provides that urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwelling demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner. Paragraph 1, Section 28 of RA 7279 allows summary evictions and demolition in cases where persons or entities occupy danger areas and when persons or entities occupy areas where government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented.

To ensure that evictions and demolitions are conducted in a just and humane manner, paragraph 2, Section 28 of RA 7279 commands the public respondents to comply with the following prescribed procedure in executing eviction and/or demolition orders:

In the execution of eviction or demolition orders involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, the following shall be mandatory:

(1)Notice upon the effected persons or entities at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of eviction or demolition;

(2)Adequate consultations on the matter of settlement with the duly designated representatives of the families to be resettled and the affected communities in the areas where they are to be relocated;

(3)Presence of local government officials or their representatives during eviction or demolition;

(4)Proper identification of all persons taking part in the demolition;

(5)Execution of eviction or demolition only during regular office hours from Mondays to Fridays and during good weather, unless the affected families consent otherwise;

(6)No use of heavy equipment for demolition except for structures that are permanent and of concrete materials;

(7)Proper uniforms for members of the Philippine National Police who shall occupy the first line of law enforcement and observe proper disturbance control procedures; and

(8) Adequate relocation, whether temporary or permanent: Provided, however, That in cases of eviction and demolition pursuant to a court order involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, relocation shall be undertaken by the local government unit concerned and the National Housing Authority with the assistance of other government agencies within forty-five (45) days from service of notice of final judgment by the court, after which period the said order shall be executed: Provided, further, That should relocation not be possible within the said period, financial assistance in the amount equivalent to the prevailing minimum daily wage multiplied by sixty (60) days shall be extended to the affected families by the local government unit concerned.

This Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council shall jointly promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to carry out the above provision.

Lastly, the petitioners failed to substantiate their allegations that the public respondents gravely abused their discretion in implementing Section 28 (a) and (b) of RA 7279. Instead, they merely imputed jurisdictional abuse to the public respondents through general averments in their pleading, but without any basis to support their claim.

This is precisely the reason why we frown upon the direct filing of Rule 65 petitions before the Court. To the point of being repetitive, we emphasize that we are not trier of facts and this applies with greater force to Rule 65 petitions which are original and independent actions. To justify judicial intrusion into what is fundamentally the domain of the executive department, the petitioners must establish facts that are necessarily linked to the jurisdictional problem they presented in this case, i.e., whether the public respondents exercised their power in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility in implementing Section 28 (a) and (b) of RA 7279.



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