On Police Power
When will the public roads be safe again after Typhoon “Frank”?
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
(Note: This article was published in The Daily Guardian, June 2008)
Thursday, June 26, 2008, Iloilo City.—I am afraid that as of this writing, there is yet mud all over the public roads in Iloilo City.
In the case of People vs. Pomar, the Supreme Court defined police power as the power vested in the legislature by the Constitution to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes, and ordinances, either with or without penalties not repugnant to the Consitution as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the State and of the subjects of the same.
Although police power is primarily lodged in the national legislature, by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power and pursuant to the Local Government Code, police power of the State may also be exercised by lawmaking bodies on all municipal levels, including the barangay. As one of the State’s inherent power, Professor Freund describes police power as the most pervasive power among the three fundamental powers of the State because it is the power of promoting public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property. That is why police power is regarded as the most important and demanding among the three powers. The other powers are powers of eminent domain and taxation.
That is why I’m surprised why police power has not been exercised when it’s obvious that there is a need to exercise the same. Why is it that amidst the depressing after-effects of the calamity which we are now facing here in Iloilo City, there is no visible help from the local government? Where is the police power that is supposed to co-exist with the State? It is already a tragedy that we have lost our loved ones and friends, homes and livelihood because of this killer flood. We can no longer take further losses like that of public safety and security which is supposed to be guaranteed by the government for its people.
Look at our muddy roads.
I spoke to commuters, taxicab and jeepney drivers as well as the common people in the city and they also wonder like I wonder why the mud has not been taken out from the public roads. When everybody else is busy cleaning their homes or looking for potable water and food, the mud-covered roads remain untouched since Monday.
On a Thursday morning, I happened to witness a motorcycle accident when the motorcycle skid on the road and eventually turned over because of the encroaching mud still on the roads. This kind of obstruction poses a danger to the life and limb of the public.
There was yet no deployment from the government to clean up the mess. There is no excuse for the local government’s unjustifiable delay of taking out the mud from the public roads as Typhoon “Frank” has already passed. People are on their own helping themselves but asking “where the hell are the police officers?” Aren’t they supposed to assist us by at least making sure that our welfare is supreme above everything else? They can do that by cleaning up the roads. The barangay officials can do that as they can also exercise police power by cleaning the roads in their own barangays.
How can we feel safe when we know that even our roads are not safe? In Kalibo, I was told that they have already started cleaning their roads by using bulldozers and high powered equipment to remove mud as it is certainly a nuisance, thus, posing danger to the public and it must be abated.
When are we starting the clean-up?