Invalid exercise of police power

Section 2 of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 2772 mandates newspapers of general circulation in every province or city to provide free print space of not less than 1/2 page as COMELEC space.

The law was held to be an INVALID exercise of the police power in the case of Philippine Press Institute v. COMELEC. The Supreme Court held that there was no showing of the existence of a national emergency or imperious public necessity for the taking of print space, nor that the resolution was the only reasonable and calibrated response to such necessity.

In fact, the Court said that this may even be considered as an INVALID exercise of the power of eminent domain, albeit invalid, because the COMELEC would not pay for the space to be given to it by the newspapers. It must be recalled that private property cannot be taken for public use without payment of just compensation. (G.R. No. L-119694. May 22, 1995)

Similarly, in City Government of Quezon City v. Ericta, the Quezon City ordinance which required commercial cemetery owners to reserve 6% of burial lots for paupers in the City was held to be an INVALID exercise of the police power, but was, instead, an exercise of the power of eminent domain which would make the City liable to pay the owners just compensation. (G.R. No. L-34915. June 24, 1983)

In discussions on police power having an effect of seizure of private property, the Supreme Court normally relates it to eminent domain which also relates to private property. It is worthy to note that, if property is taken during an emergency, typically temporarily, in the exercise of police power, just compensation is not required.