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[US v. TEN YU ET AL.](
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[ GR No. 7482, Dec 28, 1912 ]



24 Phil. 1

[ G.R. No. 7482, December 28, 1912 ]




On or about the 11th day of October, 1911, a complaint was presented against  said  defendants in  the  municipal court of the city  of Manila accusing them  of a violation of section 3 of Ordinance  No. 152 of the city of Manila. They were duly arraigned.  After hearing the evidence the Hon.  Manuel Camus, judge of said municipal court, found each of the defendants  guilty of the offense charged and sentenced each of them to  pay a fine of P100.  From that sentence each  of the defendants appealed to the Court of First instance of the city of Manila.

The complaint presented against the defendants alleged: 

"That on  or about October  10, 1911, in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, the said defendants, at that time and in that place, did willfully and unlawfully visit and were found in and within a place where opium was smoked and in some way or other used  in or upon the human body and where it was sold, distributed, or where it was disposed of in some  way or other, to wit, No. 408  Calle Salazar,  Binondo, with infraction  of the ordinances  of the city  of Manila."

To  the complaint the defendants presented a  demurrer. The demurrer alleged: 

"I.  That the ordinance  whereunder this  complaint has been presented is  and ought  to be declared null and void for the reason that the Municipal Board of the city of Manila neither did nor does have legal authority to enact it. 

"II. That the ordinance  whereunder this  complaint has been presented  is unreasonable, for it punishes the presence of anyone who may visit an opium joint or  a place where opium is kept, sold, or smoked, without considering whether said  visit has  a lawful or  unlawful purpose or is with  or without knowledge of the nature of such place. 

"III. That the ordinance whereunder this complaint has been presented is  and ought to be declared  null and void, for it imposes a cruel and  excessive punishment  upon persons who may without knowledge or criminal intent violate its provisions. 

"IV.  That the complaint in this  case  does  not contain facts sufficient to constitute a public crime."

After hearing the evidence pro and con,  upon the questions presented by said demurrer, the Hon. A. S.  Crossfield, judge, overruled  the demurrer,  stating that "the grounds of  demurrer in this case are  identical with those in case No. 7949, U. S. vs. Chua Ong  et al.[1]   I see no  reason for changing the conclusion arrived at in that case. The complaint states a cause of action.   The demurrer is overruled."

In case No.  7949, U.  S. vs. Chua Ong et al.,[1]  to which the Honorable Judge Crossfield makes reference in his order overruling the  demurrer in the present case, the following, among other things, was given as the ground for overruling the demurrer: 

"Counsel contends that by the general law in relation to the use and possession of opium this provision of the charter of Manila has been  placed in abeyance. I am  of the opinion that Act No. 1761 which amended and  repealed Act No.  1461 of the Philippine Commission  has in no way affected the charter of Manila.   The Municipal Board then had legislative  authority which was conferred upon it, and the authority thus conferred included the making of ordinances necessary to carry out the powers conferred  by the charter,  and to fix the  penalty within certain limits, and one of  these powers was to provide for  the closing of opium joints and  to prohibit the keeping  or  visiting of places where opium  was smoked. 

"The ordinance in question prohibits places where  opium is smoked or  dealt in prohibits  opium joints.  The two sections  (of the ordinance) are practically the  same. The ordinance prohibits the visiting or being present at a place where opium is smoked  or sold,  and I am  of  the opinion that this is within the power of the  board.  The fact that the ordinance adds to the visiting,  specifically mentioned in the powers of the board, 'or being present at' does not affect the legality of the prohibition of visiting.  *  *  * The fact that the charter provides that no fine shall exceed $100 (P200)  and no imprisonment shall exceed six months, is not  exceeded by the statement  that either one of the penalties provided may be imposed by  adding thereto that both the fine and imprisonment may be imposed in the discretion of the court. 

"With regard to the objection made  on the ground that the punishment is cruel  and unusual because it provides for the punishment of innocent persons, I am of the opinion that the ordinance  does  not so  provide.  It must clearly be read  and  understood  in  the  light of the general rule with regard to the intention of persons when violating its terms. The person going to a place where opium was sold without knowledge of the fact would not be visiting it in contemplation of this ordinance; neither if he had legal business to transact at a place where opium was sold and visited it for the purpose of transacting his lawful business only and so doing  he would not be  visiting  a place where opium  is sold in contemplation of this ordinance.  I am of the opinion that the grounds of the demurrer are not well taken.   The demurrer is overruled."

Immediately following the overruling of the demurrer the said defendants were placed upon trial.   After hearing the evidence the Honorable A. S. Crossfield found that the evidence was insufficient  to show that Dee Ong, Uy Chong, Chit Eng, Co Lo, Ong Tui Co, Gaw Kee, and Tian Hi were guilty  of the  crime  charged and dismissed the complaint against them  and  discharged each  one of them from the custody of the law.  The lower court found, however, that the evidence was sufficient to show that Ten Yu, Tin  Quac, Lim Yan, Ong To, Yeng Sing, and Co King  were guilty of the crime charged  and sentenced each of them to pay a fine of P100 and each one-thirteenth part of the costs, and in case the fine be  not  paid, that  each of the sentenced defendants  be imprisoned  at  Bilibid  Prison until  their respective fines be satisfied at the rate  of Pl per day.
From that sentence the defendants appealed and in this court presented the following assignments of error: 

"I. That the ordinance whereunder this information  has been filed is and ought to be declared null and void,  for the reason  that thf Municipal Board of the city of Manila did not have legal authority to enact said ordinance. 

"II. That the ordinance whereunder this information  has been filed is unreasonable in so far as section 3 thereof is concerned,  for it imposes a penalty upon  any person who may visit or be present in or within any place where opium is  smoked,  etc.,  without  considering whether or  not said visit was made with a lawful or unlawful object or whether or  not said visitor was aware of the nature of said place. 

"III. That the ordinance whereunder  this information has been filed ought to be declared null and void for  the reason that it imposes a cruel and excessive punishment upon persons who may without knowledge or criminal intent violate its provisions. 

"IV. That the  information filed in  this case does  not contain facts sufficient to constitute a public  crime."

With reference to the  first assignment of error above noted, the  appellant correctly states the  rule 'relating to the general powers of municipal corporations.  It  is, that municipal corporations have only such powers as  are  expressly delegated to  them and  such  other powers  as are necessarily  implied from  such express powers.  With this definition of the general powers of  municipal corporations, let  us examine the powers which are delegated to the city of  Manila with reference to  the particular ordinance in question.  Omitting the provisions  of the charter relating to the organization of the city of Manila, we have in section 11  (charter of Manila, Act No. 183) the power to legislate or the power to enact ordinances  or  laws expressly conferred.  In  section 16 we  find that the Municipal Board of the city of Manila "shall  make such ordinances or  regulations as may be necessary  to carry into effect the discharge of the powers and duties conferred by this Act, and to provide for  the peace, order, safety, and general welfare  of the city and its inhabitants; shall fix the penalties for the violation of the ordinances, provided that no fine shall exceed $100  (P200) and no penalty shall exceed six months for a single offense.   The board shall see that the laws and ordinances are faithfully executed and enforced; and shall have such further powers and perform such further duties as may be prescribed by law."

By reference to paragraph (ff) of section 17 (Act No. 183), we find that the Municipal Board of the city of Manila is empowered, in addition to the powers enumerated in said section 16, "to provide for the closing of opium joints and to prohibit the keeping or visiting of any place where opium is smoked or sold for the purpose of smoking."

Assuming to  act under the authority  conferred  in said paragraph (ff)  of section 17, the Municipal Board of the city of Manila adopted  ordinance No.  152, the sections of which relating to the questions under consideration are as follows:

"ORDINANCE No. 152. 

"Section 1. Opium joints prohibited. No person shall keep, conduct, or maintain any opium joint within the city of Manila.
  "Sec. 2. Places where opium is smoked or dealt in prohibited.' 'No person shall keep, conduct,  or  maintain any place where opium in any form, or any of its  derivatives or compounds, is either smoked or otherwise used in or upon the human body, or is unlawfully  sold, given  away,  or otherwise disposed of. 

"Sec. 3. Visiting places where  opium is smoked or dealt in is prohibited. No person shall visit or be present at or in any place where  opium, or any of its derivatives or compounds, is smoked or otherwise used in or upon the human body, or unlawfully  sold,  given  away, or otherwise disposed of. 

*           *           *           *           *           *

"Sec. 5. Penalty. Any person  violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred pesos nor more than two hundred pesos, or by imprisonment for not less than one month nor more than six  months, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court."

By referring to section  3 of said  ordinance  and  comparing the same  with  said  paragraph (ff),  we  find an express  provision  of  the  charter  of  the  city of  Manila, conferring what appears to be full and  ample  power  upon the municipal  board for the adoption of said ordinance. It  would be difficult to  find  an ordinance  which is more nearly within the express powers conferred upon a municipal board than that in  the present case for the adoption of  said Ordinance No. 152.   In  our opinion, the  Municipal Board of the city  of Manila had full authority to  adopt said  ordinance and the  same is also in accordance  with the general  spirit  and  policy  of  the laws of  the  state relating to the use of opium.
  With reference  to the second assignment of error, the appellant alleges that it is unreasonable,  in that section 3 imposes  a penalty upon any  person who  may visit the places described in said ordinance.  The appellant attempts to make it appear  that  any person, even though lawfully visiting  the  places described in  said ordinance,  might be punished.  We think this interpretation of  said ordinance is not justified.  It will be noted that the complaint charges that the defendants "unlawfully  visited, etc."  This allegation must be proved by  the prosecution.  Under this  allegation the defendants may prove, if the fact  exists,  that they visited the place described in the complaint lawfully and not in violation of the provisions nor the spirit of said ordinance.
Ordinances of the class  under consideration are not at all  uncommon.  Many cities  have  ordinances  prohibiting people from visiting houses  of ill  fame;  children  from visiting saloons where alcoholic liquors are sold, and many others of a similar class. In the case of State vs. Botkin (71 Iowa, 87)  the  facts are very similar to those in the present case.  In that case an ordinance  of the  city of Des Moines of the State of Iowa provided that "any person who should be found in or frequenting any disorderly house shall be subject to a fine."  Under that ordinance the defendant (Botkin) was arrested, arraigned and convicted of a violation of the same  in the municipal  court  of said  city. He applied  for the writ of  habeas corpus in the courts of the  State,  upon the ground' that he was  being unlawfully restrained of his liberty, by reason of the sentence under said ordinance, alleging,that the  ordinance was void. The court  of first instance  (the district court) granted the writ of  habeas corpus upon the ground that the ordinance was void and illegal.   From that conclusion an appeal was taken to the supreme court of the State of Iowa, where the decision of the court of first instance was reversed, the court holding that the city had full authority to adopt said ordinance and that the sentence of the municipal court was valid, and ordered the defendant returned to the  custody of the city authorities for  the enforcement of the decision of said municipal court.   The district court in that case (State  vs. Botkin) held that the ordinance was void  for the reason that it failed to prescribe  that, to render one guilty of the offense prohibited, he  shall be unlawfully in the house and  that,  under the language of the ordinance, one  found  in  a disorderly  house is guilty,  though he  be there for a lawful or innocent purpose.

The supreme court,  in  passing  upon that  part of  the decision of the lower court, said':

"This decision [position]  of the  court below is clearly unsound, and in violation of the familiar rules of the construction and interpretation of statutes. The subject matter,  effect  and  consequences,  and  the  reason and spirit of a statute must be considered, as well as its words,  in interpreting and construing  it.  A statute,  intending  to prohibit an offense, will, under these rules, never be applied to an innocent land"] lawful act  The offense is prohibited and  not the lawful  act.  Hence, if  an act is done which is prohibited by the words of the statute, it may be shown to be lawfully or innocently  done.  * *   *  The  court below thought that, as the ordinance imposes upon the accused the burden of showing his lawful presence in a disorderly house, it is void; but it is competent for the legislature to prescribe that an offense may be presumed from an act done.  The ordinance in question, as we have seen, is intended to forbid unlawful presence in a disorderly house and is to be so interpreted.  The presence should be charged in the information as unlawful.   As a defense, the person charged may show that he was lawfully or innocently in the house. These rules are of constant application in the administration  of the criminal law."  (Introduction to Blackstone's Commentaries,  by Judge Cooley,  sec.  2, pp. 59-62.  Ex Parte Johnson, 73 Cal., 228.)
In the present case we have the  express  provision of the  charter of the city of Manila  (Act No.  183, sec. 17, par.  (ff) )  conferring upon said city the right to adopt the ordinance in question (152).   The punishment-imposed by said ordinance is also within the express power of said city,  as defined by its charter.
In our opinion the contention that the ordinance in question is unreasonable is not tenable.
Courts  are  slow to  pronounce statutes invalid or void. The question of the validity of every  statute is first determined by  the legislative  department of the government itself, and the courts should resolve  every presumption in favor of its validity.  Courts are not justified in  adjudging statutes invalid, in the face of the conclusion  of the legislature, when the question of its validity is at  all doubtful. The courts must assume that the validity of the statute Was fully  considered by the legislature when adopted.  Counts will not presume a statute invalid unless it clearly appears that it falls within some of the  inhibitions of the fundamental laws of the state.  The wisdom or advisability of a particular statute is not a  question  for the  courts  to determine that is a question for the legislature to determine.  The courts may or may not agree with  the legislature upon the wisdom  or necessity of the  law.  Their disagreement,  however, furnishes no basis for pronouncing a statute illegal.  If the particular statute is  within  the constitutional power of the legislature  to  enact, whether the courts agree or not in the wisdom of its  enactment, is a matter of no concern. Upon the other hand, however, if the statute covers subjects not authorized by the fundamental laws of the land or its constitution,  then the courts are not only authorized but are justified in pronouncing the same illegal and  void, no matter how wise or-beneficent such legislation may seem to be.
Courts are not justified in measuring  their opinion with the opinion of the legislative  department  of the  government,  as expressed  in statutes,  upon  questions  of  the wisdom, justice or advisability of a particular law.

In  exercising the  high  authority conferred  upon  the courts to pronounce valid  or invalid a  particular  statute, they are  only  the administrators  of the  public will, as expressed in  the fundamental laws  of the land.   If an  act of the legislature is held illegal, it is not because the judges have any control  over  the  legislative power, but because the act is forbidden by the fundamental laws of the land and because the will  of  the people, as declared by such fundamental laws, is paramount and must be obeyed, even by the  legislature.   In pronouncing a statute illegal, the courts are simply interpreting the  meaning, force and application of the fundamental laws of the state.   (Lindsay et al.  vs. Commissioners, 2 Bay  (S.  C), 61; State Board of Health vts.  City of Greenville,, 98 N.E. Reporter (Ohio, April 2, 1912), 1019,   Dissenting opinion of the late Justice Harlan, Standard Oil Company  vs.  V. S., 211 U. S.,  1,),. We find no occasion for modifiying or  reversing the sentence  of the lower court based upon the  second assignment of error.
What we have said with reference to  the second assignment  of error,  we believe fully answers the third.
With reference to the fourth assignment of  error,  we are of the opinion that the facts stated in the  complaint are sufficient, if true, to show that the defendants are guilty of the crime charged.

While we have discussed at  length each of  the assignments of error made by  the appellants,  nevertheless,  the only question,  in fact, presented  by the appeal under  the law, in the first instance, is whether or not the ordinance under  which   the  defendants  were  sentenced  is legal. Having concluded that said ordinance is legal  and within the express powers of the Municipal  Board  to enact,  the appeal  must be dismissed,  with costs  in  this  instance against the appellants in  equal  parts.
It is therefore ordered and  decreed, hereby, that  the appeal  be dismissed  and that the  cause be  remanded to the lower court for the  execution of the sentence hereto-fore rendered.
Arellano,  C. J.,  Torres, Mapa, Carson,  and  Trent,  JJ.,concur.

[1] Court of First Instance, Manila.