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VILLANUEVA, ET. AL. VS CASTAEDA, JR., ET. AL.

VILLANUEVA, ET. AL. VS CASTAEDA, JR., ET. AL.


G.R. No. L-61311 September 2l, 1987 (damnun absque injuria)
Appeal from a decision of CFI Pampanga holding that the land in question, being public in
nature, was beyond the commerce of man and therefore could not be the subject of private
occupancy.
CRUZ, J.:
Facts: In the vicinity of the public market of San Fernando, Pampanga, there stands on a strip of
land, a conglomeration of vendors stalls together. The petitioners claim they have a right to
remain in and conduct business in this area by virtue of a previous authorization (Resolution no.
28) granted to them by the municipal government. The respondents deny this and justify the
demolition of their stalls as illegal constructions on public property per municipal council
Resolution G.R. No. 29, which declared the subject area as "the parking place and as the public
plaza of the municipality, thereby impliedly revoking Resolution No. 218.
Issue: WON petitioners have the right to occupy the subject land.
Ruling: Petition Dismissed.
It is a well-settled doctrine that the town plaza cannot be used for the construction of market
stalls, and that such structures constitute a nuisance subject to abatement according to law. The
petitioners had no right in the first place to occupy the disputed premises and cannot insist in
remaining there now on the strength of their alleged lease contracts. Even assuming a valid lease
of the property in dispute, the resolution could have effectively terminated the agreement for it is
settled that the police power cannot be surrendered or bargained away through the medium of a
contract. Hence, the loss or damage caused to petitioners, in the case at bar, does not constitute a
violation of a legal right or amount to a legal wrong - damnum absque injuria

Villanueva v. Castaeda (G.R. No. L-61311. September


21, 1987)
18 Aug

FACTS:
The case involved a strip of land near public market on which stands a conglomeration of vendor
stalls known as talipapa. Said vendors was authorized by Sanggunian resolution to operate. This
was protested in a civil case causing an injunction. Pending case, municipal council adopted a
new resolution which declared the subject area the parking space and as the public plaza of the
municipality. The CFI made the injunction permanent. However, the decision apparently was
not enforced because the occupants were never evicted. Stall owners were even made to enter a
lease agreement with the municipal government. After some time, clamor was raised to restore

the area into its public use. The office of the mayor attempted to demolish the stalls. The stall
owners filed petition for prohibition but was denied.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the stall owners may validly invoke the non-impairment clause as against the
action to restore the area for public use.
HELD:
No. Petition must be denied because the non-impairment clause does not apply here.
RATIO:
A public plaza is beyond the commerce of man and so cannot be the subject of lease or any other
contractual undertaking. This is elementary. Applying this well-settled doctrine, the Supreme
Court ruled that the petitioners had no right in the first place to occupy the disputed premises and
cannot insist in remaining there now on the strength of their alleged lease contracts. The
problems caused by the usurpation of the place by the petitioners are covered by the police
power as delegated to the municipality under the general welfare clause. In fact, every contract
affecting the public interest suffers a congenital infirmity in that it contains an implied
reservation of the police power as a postulate of the existing legal order. This power can be
activated at any time to change the provisions of the contract, or even abrogate it entirely, for the
promotion or protection of the general welfare. Such an act will not militate against the
impairment clause, which is subject to and limited by the paramount police power.