Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-23080 September 20, 1965
PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, petitioner,
CITY OF DAVAO and the PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, respondents,
ITT PHILIPPINES, INC., intervenor.
Ponce Enrile, Siquion Reyna, Montecillo & Belo Jalandoni & Jamir for petitioner.
Jesus K. Calderon for respondent Public Service Commission.
The City Fiscal of Davao for respondent City of Davao.
Picazo & Agcaoili for intervenor ITT Philippines, Inc.
BENGZON, J.P., J.:
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Inc. filed on June 23, 1964 this suit for prohibition and mandamus against the City of Davao and the Public Service Commission. Petitioner seeks to enjoin Davao City from fulfilling its contract with ITT Philippines, Inc. for the installation of Davao City's telephone system. It further seeks to compel the Public Service Commission to require that Davao City first obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity.
The Public Service Commission filed its answer on July 15, 1964, Davao City on August 11, 1964. ITT Philippines, Inc. filed a motion to intervene, which was granted, and an answer in intervention on August 7, 1964. Petitioner replied to the answer in intervention on October 15, 1964.
Petitioner twice applied for preliminary injunction but same was denied.
The record shows that on August 7, 1963 and December 27, 1963 the Davao City Council Passed Resolutions Nos. 664 and 2015, respectively, authorizing the establishment and maintenance of a city-wide telephone system, owned, maintained and operated by Davao City.
Pursuant thereto Davao City entered into a contract with ITT Philippines, Inc. on February 26, 1964, under the terms of which ITT Philippines, Inc. agreed to install and deliver the telephone system for the consideration of P3,587,000.00. A down payment of P717,000.00 was paid on May 29, 1964, from which date ITT Philippines, Inc. was given 18 months, or until November 29, 1966, to deliver the telephone system. Practically all the materials for the project have arrived and the process of construction of the aforesaid telephone system is now well in its advanced stage.
Petitioner maintains that, unless restrained, the projected installation of a telephone system for Davao City would result not only in unlawful expenditure of public funds but prejudicial to the rights of petitioner as prior owner and operator since 1931 of a city-wide telephone system in the City of Davao.
Petitioner would therefore rest on two contentions: (1) Davao City has no power to establish and operate a telephone system; and (2) Davao City has first to secure a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Public Service Commission.
Davao City's Charter, Commonwealth Act 51, in Section 14 (ee) provides:
SEC. 14. General powers and duties of the Council. — Except as otherwise provided by law, and subject to the conditions and limitations thereof, the City Council shall have the following legislative powers:
x x x x x x x x x
(ee) To enact all ordinances it may deem necessary and proper for the sanitation and safety, the furtherance of the prosperity, and the promotion of the morality, peace, good order, comfort, convenience, and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, and such others as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred by this charter; and to fix penalties for the violation of ordinances which shall not exceed a two hundred-peso fine or six months imprisonment, or both such fine and imprisonment, for a single offense.
Resolution No. 664 of Davao City's Council stated as reasons for the establishment of the new telephone system.
WHEREAS, numerous changes in the economic aspects of the City of Davao during these last ten (10) years have brought about an urgent necessity, not only for the improvement of the present telephone service, but also, the immediate expansion of facilities in order to accommodate the ever-increasing demands for telephone connection by the Davao public;
WHEREAS, the National Government, recognizing these demands and considering the inability of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company to meet these requirements in places where it has a franchise to operate, has taken the necessary steps for the establishment of a nation-wide telephone network and that, as a matter of fact, it has just signed with the International Telegraph & Telephone Company of the Philippines a contract for $11,880,000.00 to put up the project;
WHEREAS, said project of the National Government for a nation-wide telephone network includes, among other thing, the establishment of a 1000-line automatic telephone system in Davao City;
WHEREAS, it will be to the advantage of the people and government of the City of Davao if the automatic telephone system proposed for the City of Davao should be owned and operated by the City Government of Davao, not only because of its profitable nature, but because of the need of expanding it to a minimum of 3000 lines which is actually the immediate requirement in order to satisfy long standing requests for telephone connections, and also, in order that the City can include provisions for the establishment of microwave telephone system for the Districts of Calinan, Tugbok, Mintal, Daliao, Toril, Talomo, Panacan, Tibungco, Bunawan and Lasang and pave the way for better control of peace and order and emergencies arising from the occurence of fire and epidemics;
It is admitted that petitioner's existing telephone system in Davao City covers only the poblacion. Its plans for expansion do not appear to include the 10 districts near the poblacion. While petitioner hopes to provide 40,000 additional lines throughout the country by 1969, the country's need as of May 31, 1964 was already for 58,000 additional lines (Annex 2 to Answer in Intervention).1awphîl.nèt
Petitioner does not question the immediate need for 3,000 additional lines in Davao City. It has not supplied and — from all that appears in the record — there is no immediate plan to supply such need adequately. Account must be taken of the fact within judicial notice that Davao City, with an area of 942 square miles 1 (1,507.2 square kilometers), is one of the biggest cities, if not the biggest city, in the world.2 It is also the main port and commercial center of Southern Mindanao.
Clearly, therefore, Davao City was responding to a pressing necessity in adopting the resolutions to establish a telephone system that can fully serve and benefit the people in its territory. Such resolutions, in the light of the foregoing set-up, constitute a lawful exercise of Davao City's power under Section 14 (ee) of its Charter to legislate for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.
The power of a municipal corporation to establish and maintain a public utility, not under a specific and express provision of its charter, but under the general welfare clause therein, should the same be deemed conducive to the health, comfort and convenience of the inhabitants has long been recognized in American jurisprudence.3 The Supreme Court of Georgia, in 1918, said in Saunders vs. Mayor of Arlington, 147 Ga. 581, 94 SE 1022, 1022-24.
The controlling question in the case is whether the mayor and council of the town of Arlington, under the general welfare clause of its charter, can install and operate an "ice plant and cold-storage system," and whether bonds can be issued and validated for that purpose. ...
x x x x x x x x x
Express provision is made in the charter for the erection, installation, and maintenance of a system of waterworks and an electric light plant within said town. Acts 1905, p. 608, sec. 2, et seq. The charter also provides, under the general welfare clause, that the town may issue bonds, in addition to the bonds already provided for, etc., in a certain amount, whenever the mayor and board of aldermen "shall deem it proper and expedient so to do for the purpose of making any public improvement or improvements for the benefit of said town." Does this provision of the charter authorize the issuance of bonds, for and the erection and maintenance of, an ice plant and cold-storage system by the town? It is suggested that the town of Arlington had express authority given to it by the Legislature to establish a waterworks and electric light system etc., and that, together with the general authority conferred of making any other improvements within said town (Acts 1913, p. 492, sec. 1), included the power to establish the ice plant and cold-storage system. Construing the two paragraphs of the charter together, we are of the opinion that the legislative intent was to confer the power to establish and maintain an ice plant and cold-storage systems. ...
x x x x x x x x x
It was held in Heilbron v. Cutbert, 96 Ga. 312, 314, 23, S. E. 206, that under a general welfare clause which empowered the mayor and council to "contract and be contracted with; sue and be sued; ... and ... and do all things for the benefit of the city, and all things not in violation of the Constitution and laws of this state," the mayor and council could, upon complying with the requisite constitutional and legal provisions, contract a debt for the construction and maintenance of waterworks and an electric light plant, and could issue bonds for this purpose. ...
x x x x x x x x x
... It can hardly be doubted that the installation of an ice plant and cold-storage system for the benefit of the citizens of the town is a public improvement, and one which would promote the health and comfort of the citizens as much as those specifically enumerated in the act. It would mean the furnishing of pure ice to its citizens, under sanitary conditions and regulations, free from disease germs, etc.; and the same may be said of the cold-storage system for the preservation of perishable articles of food. These things certainly tend to the preservation of health, convenience, and comfort of the citizens; and we see no good reason why, in the exercise of the police power of the state, this right cannot be and has not been conferred by the Legislature on the municipality of Arlington by the grants in its charter. ...4
Petitioner would, however, argue that Davao City's telephone system cannot be justified under general welfare clause provisions because said telephone system is commercial in nature and, therefore, not the proper subject of the exercise of police power.
Suffice it to state as to this that, firstly, Section 14 (ee) of Davao City's Charter speaks of "the furtherance of the prosperity" and "the promotion of the ... comfort, convenience, and the general welfare of the City and its inhabitants." If, as stated in Resolution No. 664, the City Government stands to profit from the telephone system, the same is in accordance with, rather than opposed to, the aforementioned general welfare clause.
Secondly, an adequate local telephone service is no longer a mere convenience but is indispensable to the social life, business communications, transactions, law enforcement, fire alarms, etc., of the City.5 As already observed, the proposed telephone system in, Davao City would include 10 districts, thereby enhancing the promotion of peace and order in said districts as well as facilitating the control of fire, flood, and other emergencies therein.
After this case was submitted for decision, Congress enacted the Revised Charter of Davao City, Republic Act 4354, effective June 19, 1965. Section 16(aa-1) thereof states:
SEC. 16 Legislative powers. — The City council shall have the following legislative powers:
x x x x x x x x x
(aa-1) To provide for the establishment and Maintenance, of a telephone system, and, subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act, to fix the charges for the use of said service.
Arguing on the basis of the above legislation, intervenor ITT Philippines, Inc. moved to dismiss this case, for having allegedly become most. On the other hand, petitioner opposed said motion on the ground that the validity of the challenged Resolutions Nos. 664 and 2015 of the Davao City Council depends on the existence of Davao City's authority to establish and maintain a telephone system as of the time of the passage of said resolutions, on August 7, 1963 and December 27, 1963, respectively, and not thereafter. Anent this point, Davao City had the power and authority to establish and maintain the telephone system ordained under said resolutions, as of the time of their passage in view of the special facts and circumstances existing in Davao City which brought the same within the scope of the general welfare clause in Davao City's charter, as above discussed. We therefore find no reason to pass upon the question of whether Republic Act 4354, particularly Section 16 (aa-1) thereof, had or had no curative effect on Resolutions Nos. 664 and 2015.
Petitioner would further argue that the Davao City's entry as another and new telephone operator in the area covered by petitioner's franchise would violate its vested rights as prior operator. We need only point out in this regard that the law granting petitioner's franchise expressly provided that the rights thereunder conferred are not exclusive. Section 14 of Act No. 3436 states:
SEC. 14. The rights herein granted shall not be exclusive, and the rights and power to grant any corporation, association, or person other than the grantee franchise for the telephone or electrical transmission of messages or signals shall not be impaired or affected by the granting of this franchise.
A municipal corporation is not prevented from constructing and operating a competing plant, although a franchise had been granted a private company for a similar public utility, provided the franchise is not exclusive. (McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, 3rd Ed., Sec. 35.13, Vol. 12, pp. 607-608.)
Furthermore, petitioner cannot invoke, in this instance, the prior operator rule, for the same requires for its application that the old operator offers to meet the increase in the demand the moment it arises and not when another operator, even a new one, had made the offer to serve the public needs.6
Regarding the issue of whether Davao City has first to secure a certificate of public convenience and necessity, the Public Service Act exempts from said requirement all government entities:
Section 13. (a) The Commission shall have jurisdiction, supervision, and control over all public services and their franchises, equipment, and their properties, and in the exercise of its authority, it shall have the necessary powers and the aid of the public force: Provided, That public service owned or operated by government entities or government-owned or controlled corporations shall be regulated by the Commission in the same way as privately-owned public services, but certificates of public convenience or certificates of public convenience and necessity shall not be required of such entities or corporations. ...
Section 14. The following are exempted from the provisions of the preceding section:
(e) Public service owned or operated by any instrumentality of the National Government or by any government-owned or controlled corporations, except with respect to the fixing of rates.
It cannot be seriously denied that Davao City is a Government entity.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby denied, without costs. So ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Dizon, Makalintal and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L., and Regala, JJ., took no part.
1See Collier's Encyclopedia, 1964 Ed., Vol. 7, p. 737.
2Approximately, London has 700 square miles; Tokyo, 625 sq. mi.; Brasilia, 400 sq. mi. and New York, 321 sq. mi., Cf. Collier's Encyclopedia, 1964 Ed.
3The general welfare clause in our laws is of American origin. See Section 2238(jj). Revised Administrative Code, taken from Section 2184, 2611 of old Administrative Code.
4It can be discerned from the above ruling that enumeration of specific powers in the Charter of a municipal corporation does not preclude exercise of other powers not so enumerated but implied from the general welfare clause.
5Pensacola Tel. Co. v. Western U. Tel. Co., 96 U.S. 1, 24 L. Ed. 708; Fink v. City of Clarendon, 282 S.W. 912.
6Fernando v. Gallardo, L-4860, Sept. 8, 1953, Raymundo Trans. Co., Inc. v. Cerda, L-7880, May 18, 1956; Saulog Transit, Inc. v. Medina, L-7329, May 30, 1956; Medina v. Saulog Transit, Inc., L-7244, June 28, 1956; Estate of F.P. Buan v. La Mallorca, L-8729, Feb. 28, 1957; Isidro v. Ocampo, L-12331, May 29, 1959, Manila Yellow Taxicab Co., Inc. v. Castelo, L-139, May 30, 1960.
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