Nuisance per se; police power

In Cabrera v. Lapid, the Supreme Court upheld the dismissal by the Office of the Ombudsman of criminal charges against respondents local government officials who had ordered and carried out the demolition of a fishpond which purportedly blocked the flow of the Pasak River in Sasmuan, Pampanga, The Court agreed with the findings of the Ombudsman that "those who participated in the blasting of the subject fishpond were only impelled by their desire to serve the best interest of the general public; for the good and the highest good."

In her Complaint-Affidavit, petitioner stated that she entered into a lease agreement with the Municipality of Sasmuan over a tract of land for the purpose of devoting it to fishpond operations. According to petitioner, she had spent approximately P5,000,000.00 for its construction before the fishpond operations commenced in August 1995. A month later, petitioner learned from newspaper reports of the impending demolition of her fishpond as it was purportedly illegal and blocked the flow of the Pasak River. Thus, petitioner sent the fishpond administrator to dissuade respondents (local government officials) from destroying her property.

Despite pleas from petitioner, respondents ordered the destruction of petitioner's fishpond. The property was demolished on 10 October 1995 by dynamite blasting. Petitioner alleged that the demolition was purposely carried out in the presence of media representatives and other government officials to gain media mileage. Petitioner imputed evident bad faith on respondents Mayor Baltazar and Vice-Mayor Cabrera in allowing the destruction of the fishpond despite their prior knowledge of the existence of the lease agreement. She also charged respondents Governor Lapid and Senior Superintendent Ventura with gross inexcusable negligence for ordering the destruction of the fishpond without first verifying its legality.

On 13 May 1996, the Ombudsman issued the assailed Resolution, dismissing petitioner's complaint. The dismissal was based on the declaration that the fishpond was a nuisance per se and, thus, may be abated by respondents in the exercise of the police power of the State. (G.R. No. 129098. December 6, 2006)