Sunday, February 26, 2012

US vs. Toribio

Facts: Respondent Toribio is an owner of carabao, residing in the town of Carmen in the province of Bohol. The trial court of Bohol found that the respondent slaughtered or caused to be slaughtered a carabao without a permit from the municipal treasurer of the municipality wherein it was slaughtered, in violation of Sections 30 and 33 of Act No. 1147, an Act regulating the registration, branding, and slaughter of Large Cattle. The act prohibits the slaughter of large cattle fit for agricultural work or other draft purposes for human consumption.

The respondent counters by stating that what the Act is (1) prohibiting is the slaughter of large cattle in the municipal slaughter house without a permit given by the municipal treasurer. Furthermore, he contends that the municipality of Carmen has no slaughter house and that he slaughtered his carabao in his dwelling, (2) the act constitutes a taking of property for public use in the exercise of the right of eminent domain without providing for the compensation of owners, and it is an undue and unauthorized exercise of police power of the state for it deprives them of the enjoyment of their private property. 

Issue: Whether or not Act. No. 1147, regulating the registration, branding and slaughter of large cattle, is an undue and unauthorized exercise of police power. 

Held:  It is a valid exercise of police power of the state. 

Police power is the inherent power of the state to legislate laws which may interfere with personal liberties. To justify the state in the exercise of its sovereign police power it must appear (1) that the interest of the general public requires it and (2) that the means are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose, and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. 

The court is of the opinion that the act applies generally to the slaughter of large cattle for human consumption, ANYWHERE, without a permit duly secured from the municipal treasurer, For to do otherwise is to defeat the purpose of the law and the intent of the law makers. The act primarily seeks to protect large cattle against theft to make it easy for the recovery and return to owners, which encouraged them to regulate the registration and slaughter of large cattle.

Several years prior to the enactment of the said law, an epidemic struck the Philippine islands which threatened the survival of carabaos in the country. In some provinces seventy, eighty and even one hundred percent of their local carabaos perished due to the said epidemic. This drove the prices of carabaos up to four or five-fold, as a consequence carabao theft became rampant due to the luxurious prices of these work animals. Moreover, this greatly affected the food production of the country which prompted the government to import rice from its neighboring countries. 

As these work animals are vested with public interest for they are of fundamental use for the production of crops, the government was prompted to pass a law that would protect these work animals. The purpose of the law is to stabilize the number of carabaos in the country as well as to redistribute them throughout the entire archipelago. It was also the same reason why large cattles fit for farm work was prohibited to be slaughtered for human consumption. Most importantly, the respondent’s carabao was found to be fit for farm work. 

These reasons satisfy the requisites for the valid exercise of police power. 

Act No. 1147 is not an exercise of the inherent power of eminent domain. The said law does not constitute the taking of carabaos for public purpose; it just serves as a mere regulation for the consumption of these private properties for the protection of general welfare and public interest. Thus, the demand for compensation of the owner must fail. 

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