Petitioners filed before the court a petition for declaratory judgment with application for temporary restraining order and injunction. It seeks the declaration of nullification of administrative issuances for being inconsistent with the provisions of Republic Act 2000 (Limited Access Highway Act) which was enacted in 1957.
Previously, pursuant to its mandate under RA 2000, DPWH issued on June 25, 1998 Dept. Order no. 215 declaring the Manila Cavite (Coastal Road) Toll Expressway as limited access facilities.
Petitioners filed an Amended Petition on February 8, 2001 wherein petitioners sought the declaration of nullity of the aforesaid administrative issuances.
The petitioners prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to prevent the enforcement of the total ban on motorcycles along NLEX, SLEX, Manila-Cavite (Coastal Road) toll Expressway under DO 215.
RTC, after due hearing, granted the petitioner’s application for preliminary injunction conditioned upon petitioner’s filing of cash bond in the amount of P100, 000 which petitioners complied.
DPWH issued an order (DO 123) allowing motorcycles with engine displacement of 400 cubic centimeters inside limited access facilities (toll ways).
Upon assumption of Hon. Presiding Judge Cornejo, both the petitioners and respondents were required to file their Memoranda.
The court issued an order dismissing the petition but declaring invalid DO 123.
The petitioners moved for reconsideration but it was denied.
RTC ruled that DO 74 is valid but DO 123 is invalid being violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution
Whether RTC’s decision is barred by res judicata?
Whether DO 74, DO 215 and the TRB regulation contravene RA 2000.
Whether AO 1 is unconstitutional.
1. NO. The petitioners are mistaken because they rely on the RTC’s Order granting their prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. Since petitioners did not appeal from that order, the petitioners presumed that the order became a final judgment on the issues.
The order granting the prayer is not an adjudication on the merits of the case that would trigger res judicata.
A preliminary injunction does not serve as a final determination of the issues, it being a provisional remedy.
2. YES. The petitioners claimed that DO 74, DO 215 and TRB’s rules and regulation issued under them unduly expanded the power of the DPWH in sec. 4 of RA 2000 to regulate toll ways.
They contend that DPWH’s regulatory authority is limited to acts like redesigning curbings or central dividing sections.
They claim that DPWH is only allowed to redesign the physical structure of toll ways and not to determine “who or what can be qualifies as toll ways user”.
The court ruled that DO 74 and DO 215 are void because the DPWH has no authority to declare certain expressways as limited access facilities.
Under the law, it is the DOTC which is authorized to administer and enforce all laws, rules and regulations in the field of transportation and to regulate related activities.
Since the DPWH has no authority to regulate activities relative to transportation, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) cannot derive its power from the DPWH to issue regulations governing limited access facilities.
The DPWH cannot delegate a power or function which it does not possess in the first place.
3. NO. The Court emphasized that the secretary of the then Department of Public Works and Communications had issued AO 1 in February 1968, as authorized under Section 3 of Republic Act 2000, prior to the splitting of the department and the eventual devolution of its powers to the DOTC.
Because administrative issuances had the force and effect of law, AO 1 enjoyed the presumption of validity and constitutionality. The burden to prove its unconstitutionality rested on the party assailing it, more so when police power was at issue and passed the test of reasonableness. The Administrative Order was not oppressive, as it did not impose unreasonable restrictions or deprive petitioners of their right to use the facilities. It merely set rules to ensure public safety and the uninhibited flow of traffic within those limited-access facilities.
The right to travel did not mean the right to choose any vehicle in traversing a tollway. Petitioners were free to access the tollway as much as the rest of the public. However, the mode in which they wished to travel, pertaining to their manner of using the tollway, was a subject that could validly be limited by regulation. There was no absolute right to drive; on the contrary, this privilege was heavily regulated.