CA affirms QC ordinance regulating commercial signs

MANILAThe Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the legality of a 2011 Quezon City ordinance regulating commercial signs.

In a seven-page ruling dated Nov. 9 penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez, the CA's Special Fifteenth Division reversed a ruling issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, which declared as null and void Ordinance No. SP-2109, S-2011.

Associate Justices Maria Filomena Singh and Pablito Perez concurred with the decision.

The lower court, in its ruling, said the local legislation contradicts the National Building Code and is an invalid exercise of police power. It likewise directed the Quezon City government to stop implementing the ordinance and from rolling down or dismantling billboard materials and other similar structures.

The appellate court, however, explained that the local government unit must possess the power to enact an ordinance covering a particular subject matter and according to the procedure prescribed by law; and that the ordinance must not go against the Constitution, enacted laws or against public policy or must not be unreasonable, oppressive or discriminating.

The CA ruled that Congress has given the Quezon City government the power to regulate billboard structures within its territorial jurisdiction by virtue of Republic Act 537, otherwise known as the Revised Charter of Quezon City.

It noted that Republic Act 537 gave the Sangguniang Panlungsod the authority, by ordinance or resolution, to tax, fix the license fee, and regulate the business of signs, signboards, and billboards.

Thus, the CA pointed out, the ordinance does not need to refer to the procedures laid down in the National Building Code.

More importantly, Ordinance No. SP-2109 is a valid exercise of police power. It has lawful subject and seeks to regulate all signs and sign structures based on prescribed standards as to their design, construction, installation and maintenance to : (a) stop the proliferation of illegal signage and billboards along Quezon City's thoroughfares; (b) safeguard the life and property of local inhabitants; and (c) preserve the aesthetics of the surroundings, the CA declared.

It added that the ordinance uses lawful methods and rules in implementing its policies.

We reiterate that an ordinance is presumed valid. The courts must not be quick at declaring it unconstitutional unless the rules imposed are so excessive, prohibitive, arbitrary, unreasonable, oppressive, or confiscatory, the appellate court noted.

The case arose from the petition filed by advertising firm United Neon Advertising, Inc., which sought to declare the ordinance as unconstitutional.

It argued that the ordinance is an invalid exercise of police power since Congress delegated to the Department of Public Works and Highways the authority to issue rules governing commercial signs.

The firm received notices of violation from the QC Department of Building Official following safety inspection in 2013.

It pointed out that United Neon's structures are dangerous and ruinous for lack of maintenance and non-compliance with the technical specification under the ordinance.

Due to its failure to rectify the defects, the city government issued notices to the respondent but were unheeded, prompting authorities to dismantle its structures. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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