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Through the Local Government Code or R.A. 7160 Congress delegated upon the local sanggunian the power to enact or legislate ordinances which are “laws” applicable within the jurisdiction of the sanggunian which enacted them. This legislative power having been bestowed by congress has limitations as defined under R.A. 7160. The limitation is only with respect to the penalty that may be imposed but not as to the subject. Meaning, local sanggunians can actually penalize acts which are already penalized by national laws. It has become a practice for most local legislative bodies to adopt national laws so that through their local version of the law they can impose penalties that will enter their coffers. The Constitution (Article III, Section 21) itself allows it: “If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.” The above-quoted provision on double jeopardy, contemplates a situation where an act constitutes the violation of two laws, one local and the other national and prosecution under the provisions of one shall be a bar to prosecution under the other.



A decision of the Supreme Court as early as 1938 already dealt with the subject matter: “But the fact that an act is already prohibited and penalized by a general law does not preclude the enactment of a municipal ordinance covering the same matter. The rule is well-settled that the same act may constitute an offense against both the state and a political subdivision thereof and both jurisdictions may punish the act, without infringing any constitutional principle. (See U. S. vs. Pacis, 31 Phil., 524.) Indeed, this principle is impliedly accepted in our Constitution by the limitation provided that “If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.” (Art. III, sec. 1, par. 20.) (People vs. Chong Hong, G.R. No. L-45363, June 13, 1938) The Supreme Court through then Justice Laurel went on to say: “At any rate, the enlargement upon the provision of a statute of the state, as by the imposition of additional penalties, does not result in inconsistency. “As a general rule, additional regulation to that of the state law does not constitute a conflict therewith. The fact that an ordinance enlarges upon the provisions of a statute by requiring more than the statute requires creates no conflict therewith, unless the statute limits the requirements for all cases to its own prescription.”

Although allowed to cover subjects or acts already covered by national laws, local ordinances however, cannot contradict or go against them. “In Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp., Inc., The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cagayan de Oro City passed Ordinance Nos. 3353 and 3375-93 prohibiting the operation of casinos in the city. We ruled that these ordinances were void for contravening PD 1869 or the charter of the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation which had the power to operate casinos.” Social Justice Society vs Atienza (13 February 2008 G.R. No. 156052). It was very clear in this case that the ordinance prohibits a business which is allowed and regulated by a national law. The local sanggunian being a mere creation of congress cannot prohibit that which congress itself allows and vice versa. On the contrary, if the local ordinance prohibits an act also prohibited by a national law, it is considered valid provided it complies with all other requirements stated under the Local Government Code.


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