Supreme Court upholds mall parking fees

October 7, 2009

In its ruling in the case of The Office of the Solicitor General vs. Ayala Land Inc., et al., the Supreme Court has declared that mall owners are not obliged to provide free parking spaces in their malls to their patrons and the general public. In a 26-page decision penned by Associate Justice Minita Chico-Nazario, the Court upheld the decisions of Branch 138 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City and the Court of Appeals which were in favor of the mall owners. 

In finding for the respondents, the Court held that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) cannot rely on Section 102 of the National Building Code to expand the coverage of Section 803 of the same Code and Rule XIX of the IRR, so as to include the regulation of parking fees. Thus:

“The explicit directive of the afore-quoted statutory and regulatory provisions, garnered from a plain reading thereof, is that respondents, as operators/lessors of neighborhood shopping centers, should provide parking and loading spaces, in accordance with the minimum ratio of one slot per 100 square meters of shopping floor area.  There is nothing therein pertaining to the collection (or non-collection) of parking fees by respondents.   In fact, the term “parking fees” cannot even be found at all in the entire National Building Code and its IRR.

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The OSG limits its citation to the first part of Section 102 of the National Building Code declaring the policy of the State “to safeguard life, health, property, and public welfare, consistent with the principles of sound environmental management and control”; but totally ignores the second part of said provision, which reads, “and to this end, make it the purpose of this Code to provide for all buildings and structures, a framework of minimum standards and requirements to regulate and control their location, site, design, quality of materials, construction, use, occupancy, and maintenance.” While the first part of Section 102 of the National Building Code lays down the State policy, it is the second part thereof that explains how said policy shall be carried out in the Code. Section 102 of the National Building Code is not an all-encompassing grant of regulatory power to the DPWH Secretary and local building officials in the name of life, health, property, and public welfare. On the contrary, it limits the regulatory power of said officials to ensuring that the minimum standards and requirements for all buildings and structures, as set forth in the National Building Code, are complied with.

Consequently, the OSG cannot claim that in addition to fixing the minimum requirements for parking spaces for buildings, Rule XIX of the IRR also mandates that such parking spaces be provided by building owners free of charge. If Rule XIX is not covered by the enabling law, then it cannot be added to or included in the implementing rules. The rule-making power of administrative agencies must be confined to details for regulating the mode or proceedings to carry into effect the law as it has been enacted, and it cannot be extended to amend or expand the statutory requirements or to embrace matters not covered by the statute. Administrative regulations must always be in harmony with the provisions of the law because any resulting discrepancy between the two will always be resolved in favor of the basic law.”

The Supreme Court also declared that prohibiting mall owners from collecting parking fees from the public would be tantamount to taking or confiscation of their properties without justification or just compensation. In this wise, the Court held:

“In conclusion, the total prohibition against the collection by respondents of parking fees from persons who use the mall parking facilities has no basis in the National Building Code or its IRR.  The State also cannot impose the same prohibition by generally invoking police power, since said prohibition amounts to a taking of respondents’ property without payment of just compensation.”

One Response to “Supreme Court upholds mall parking fees”

  1. Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

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