Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sitchon, vs. Aquino

Facts: This decision stems from six (6) different suits. All of the petitioners implead Aquino (the City Engineer of Manila) as respondent so that he may be enjoined from causing the demolition of their respective houses situated in different areas along public streets in Manila inasmuch as these constitute public nuisances. All of the petitioners occupied the subject parcels of land initially entirely without consent. However, all of them subsequently paid concession fees or damages for the use of the land with the agreement that such payment and consent shall be without prejudice to an order to vacate. The time came when the City Engineer demanded that petitioners vacate the occupied streets. Unheeded, he threatened to demolish the houses. Petitioners contend that by virtue of arts. 700 and 702, the power to remove public nuisances is vested in the District Health Officer, not in the City Engineer. 

Issues: Is there a public nuisance? Does the City Engineer have authority to cause the abatement of the nuisance?

Held: There is a public nuisance. This case falls on art. 694 ¶ 4, classifying as a nuisance the obstruction of free passage of any public highway or street. It is public because it affects a community or neighbourhood. The constructions in fact constitute nuisances per se, obstructing at all times the streets. As such, the summary removal of these may be authorized by statute or ordinance.

Aquino, as City Engineer, is vested with authority to effect the abatement of the nuisances through demolition. By virtue of the Revised Charter of Manila, such duty, among others, was placed upon him. Arts. 700 and 702 must yield to this provision not only because it is later law but also because of the principle that special provisions prevail over general ones. Moreover, an ordinance authorized the action sought to be taken by respondent.

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