Espiritu vs Mun. Council of Pozorrubio

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-11014 January 21, 1958 VICTORIANA ESPIRITU, JORGE ROBLES, JOSEFINA DE VERA, FAUSTINO QINTIVES, LEONOR BRIONES, EVANGELINA PATACSIL, TEOFILO ANCHETA and BRIGIDA MANGONON, petitionersappellants, vs. THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL, MUNICIPAL MAYOR and THE CHIEF OF POLICE OF POZORRUBIO, PANGASINAN,respondents-appellees. Teodulfo L. Reyes and Romulo M. Abarcar for appellants. MONTEMAYOR, J.: This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of
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  1 Republic of the Philippines   SUPREME COURT  ManilaEN BANC G.R. No. L-11014 January 21, 1958   VICTORIANA ESPIRITU, JORGE ROBLES, JOSEFINA DE VERA, FAUSTINO QINTIVES, LEONORBRIONES, EVANGELINA PATACSIL, TEOFILO ANCHETA and BRIGIDA MANGONON, petitioners-appellants,vs. THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL, MUNICIPAL MAYOR and THE CHIEF OF POLICE OF POZORRUBIO,PANGASINAN, respondents-appellees. Teodulfo L. Reyes and Romulo M. Abarcar for appellants.     MONTEMAYOR, J. :  This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan of April 28, 1956, dismissingthe petition for prohibition filed by appellants, lifting the preliminary injunction against the appellees and   ordering the removal of appellants' stalls from the public plaza of appellee municipality, within ten days fromnotice. Pending appeal, counsel for the appellees filed a Manifestation  on September 16, 1957, copy of whichwas duly served on appellants, that several months after the oral argument held before this Tribunal on   January 25, 1957, appellants had voluntarily vacated the public plaza of Pozorrubio by transferring andremoving their buildings and therefrom to private lots fronting the plaza; and that the municipality had already   begun the construction of concrete fences in the premises, formerly occupied by appellants, without anycomplaint whatsover from them or their counsel; and that consequently, the present case has become mootand academic, and asking that the present appeal be dismissed. By resolution of this Court of October 21,   1957, appellants were required to comment on this Manifestation  and petition for dismissal, within ten daysfrom notice. Despite notice of his resolution, appellants failed to file their required comment. For this reason,we could well summarily dismiss this appeal by resolution. However, for the satisfaction of the parties and for   possible guidance of town officials and residents, we havre deemed it convenient and necessary to decide thecase by formal decision.The facts are not disputed. In fact, no evidence was submitted at the hearing before the trial court, the parties   having petitioned that the case be decided on the pleadings. During the last world war, the market building ofthe town of Pozorrubio was destroyed, and after Liberation, the market vendors began constructing temporaryand make-shifts stalls,, even small residences, on a portion of the town plaza. The Municipal Treasurer   collected from these stall owners fees at the rate of P.25 per square meter a month. In time, the wholemunicipal market was rehabilitated, but the owners of the structures on the plaza failed and refused to transferto said market place.   The Municipal Council of Pozorrubio received petitions from civic organizations like the Women's Club and thePuericulture Center, for the removal of the market stalls on the plaza, which were being used not only as stalls,   but also for residence purposes, said organization desiring to convert said portion of the plaza into a children'spark. The Provincial Board of Pangasinan had also presented to the Council the petition of another civicorganization of Pozorrubio, asking for the removal of the stalls from the plaza, and the attention of the COuncil   was also called to the latter-circular of the Secretary of the Interior about the existence of these stalls on thepublic plaza, said to be illegal.As a result, the Municipal Council of Pozorrubio No. 20, Series of 1951, stating that the public market had   already been rehabilitated, and ordering the occupants and owners of the structures on the plaza to removetheir buildings within sixty days from receipt of the resolution. In answer to this resolution, eight of the marketstall building owners filed a petition for prohibition in the Cour of First Instance of Pangasinan against the   Municipal Council, the Municipal Mayor, and the Chief of Police of Pozorrubio. Pending hearing, the trial courtissued a writ of preliminary injunction.The trial court found that the fee of P.25 per square meter collected by the Municipal Tresurer, was not for the   rent of the portion of the public plaza occupied by the market stalls, as claimed by appellants, but rather themarket stall fees charges on all market vendors in a public market; and that there was absolutely no contract oragreement between the appellants on one side and the municipality on the other, about renting of the Plaza to   the former. There is reason to believe that the occupation of the plaza and the construction of temporarybuildings thereon by appellants mostly for market, even residence purposes, was merley tolerated by the  2 municipality, because of the destruction of the public market during thewar, but the trouble is that appellants,   even after the rehabilitationof the old market, refused to transfer to said market place, perhaps to save thetrouble and expense of transferring their buildings, or possibly to continue enjoying the benefits from the   strategic position of their stalls at the plaza. There is absolutelyno question that the town plaza cannot be used   for the construction of market stalls, specially of residences, and that such structures constitute a nuisancesubject to abatement according to law. Town Plazas are properties of public dominion, to be devoted to public   use and to be made available to the public in general. They are outside the commerce of man and cannot bedisposed of or even leased by the municipality to private parties. 1 While in case of war or during anemergency, town plazas may be occupied temporarily by private individuals, as was done and as was tolerated   by the Municipality of Pozorrubio, when the emergency has ceased, said temporary occupation or use mustalso cease, and the town officials should see to it that the town plazas should ever be kept open to the publicand free from encumbrances or illegal private constructions.   Appellants must have realized the absolute lack of merit in their stand and the futility of their appeal becausethey voluntarily removed their buildings on the plaza. As a matter f fact, after the filing of the prohibition with thetrial court, two out of the eight petitioners informed the trial court that they were included as petitioners without   their consent, and so asked that they be excluded from the case.In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed. With costs against appellants. Bengzon, Paras, C.J., Padilla, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Endencia,   and Felix, JJ., concur. Footnotes   1 Municipality of Cavite vs. Hilaria Rojas, et al., 30 Phil. 602.
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