CA voids Balanga ordinance provision on tobacco ban expansion

MANILA The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld a lower court's ruling voiding a provision of the ordinance passed by the Balanga City Council in Bataan against the prohibition on the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products within the city's University Town.

In a decision dated July 22 by Associate Justice Jane Aurora C. Lantion, the CA said the city's Ordinance No. 09 unduly expanded the prohibition in Republic Act (RA) 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which prohibits tobacco use and trade within 100 meters of schools, playgrounds and other areas frequented by minors.

Section 5 (p) of the city's Ordinance No. 09 enacted on March 2, 2016 however prohibited smoking and sale, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products within three kilometers from the radius of the 80.42-hectare learning and education center.

The appellate court pointed out that RA 9211 prohibits smoking only within specified public places and prohibits sale and advertisement of tobacco products in limited circumstances.

The Philippine Tobacco Institute, Inc., challenged the ordinance before the Balanga City Regional Trial Court (RTC) when the city refused to issue permits and licenses to its members.

The lower court, in July last year, declared unconstitutional and invalid Section 5 (p) of Ordinance No. 09 prompting city government to elevate the issue before the CA where it asserted that the ordinance was enacted to protect public health, morals, safety, and welfare of students in the University Town.

Citing what it said was the lawful use of police power, the city claimed it may validly interfere with lawful businesses and occupation and pointed out that the ban in the ordinance covers only the roads, sidewalks, business establishments such as restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, malls, computer shops and internet shops frequented by students.

Clearly from the foregoing, the City Council of Balanga has overstepped Congress by passing an ordinance which imposes more prohibited acts than those specified under a national statute (RA 9211).

The CA reminded municipal governments that they are only agents of the national government, and local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on them by Congress as the national lawmaking body.

The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute, it added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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