The MMDA is not vested with police power.
In Metro Manila Development Authority v. Bel-Air Village Association, Inc., we categorically stated that Rep. Act No. 7924 does not grant the MMDA with police power, let alone legislative power, and that all its functions are administrative in nature.
The said case also involved the herein petitioner MMDA which claimed that it had the authority to open a subdivision street owned by the Bel-Air Village Association, Inc. to public traffic because it is an agent of the state endowed with police power in the delivery of basic services in Metro Manila. From this premise, the MMDA argued that there was no need for the City of Makati to enact an ordinance opening Neptune Street to the public.
Tracing the legislative history of Rep. Act No. 7924 creating the MMDA, we concluded that the MMDA is not a local government unit or a public corporation endowed with legislative power, and, unlike its predecessor, the Metro Manila Commission, it has no power to enact ordinances for the welfare of the community. Thus, in the absence of an ordinance from the City of Makati, its own order to open the street was invalid.
We restate here the doctrine in the said decision as it applies to the case at bar: police power, as an inherent attribute of sovereignty, is the power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with penalties or without, not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the subjects of the same.
Having been lodged primarily in the National Legislature, it cannot be exercised by any group or body of individuals not possessing legislative power. The National Legislature, however, may delegate this power to the president and administrative boards as well as the lawmaking bodies of municipal corporations or local government units (LGUs). Once delegated, the agents can exercise only such legislative powers as are conferred on them by the national lawmaking body.
Our Congress delegated police power to the LGUs in the Local Government Code of 1991. A local government is a “political subdivision of a nation or state which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs.” Local government units are the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, which exercise police power through their respective legislative bodies.
Metropolitan or Metro Manila is a body composed of several local government units. With the passage of Rep. Act No. 7924 in 1995, Metropolitan Manila was declared as a “special development and administrative region” and the administration of “metro-wide” basic services affecting the region placed under “a development authority” referred to as the MMDA. Thus:
. . . [T]he powers of the MMDA are limited to the following acts: formulation, coordination, regulation, implementation, preparation, management, monitoring, setting of policies, installation of a system and administration. There is no syllable in R. A. No. 7924 that grants the MMDA police power, let alone legislative power. Even the Metro Manila Council has not been delegated any legislative power. Unlike the legislative bodies of the local government units, there is no provision in R. A. No. 7924 that empowers the MMDA or its Council to “enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare” of the inhabitants of Metro Manila. The MMDA is, as termed in the charter itself, a “development authority.” It is an agency created for the purpose of laying down policies and coordinating with the various national government agencies, people’s organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector for the efficient and expeditious delivery of basic services in the vast metropolitan area. All its functions are administrative in nature and these are actually summed up in the charter itself, viz:
“Sec. 2. Creation of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. — -x x x.
The MMDA shall perform planning, monitoring and coordinative functions, and in the process exercise regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within Metro Manila, without diminution of the autonomy of the local government units concerning purely local matters.”
Clearly, the MMDA is not a political unit of government. The power delegated to the MMDA is that given to the Metro Manila Council to promulgate administrative rules and regulations in the implementation of the MMDA’s functions. There is no grant of authority to enact ordinances and regulations for the general welfare of the inhabitants of the metropolis.  (footnotes omitted, emphasis supplied)
Therefore, insofar as Sec. 5(f) of Rep. Act No. 7924 is understood by the lower court and by the petitioner to grant the MMDA the power to confiscate and suspend or revoke drivers’ licenses without need of any other legislative enactment, such is an unauthorized exercise of police power.
- Sec. 5(f) grants the MMDA with the duty to enforce existing traffic rules and regulations.
Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 7924 enumerates the “Functions and Powers of the Metro Manila Development Authority.” The contested clause in Sec. 5(f) states that the petitioner shall “install and administer a single ticketing system, fix, impose and collect fines and penalties for all kinds of violations of traffic rules and regulations, whether moving or nonmoving in nature, and confiscate and suspend or revoke drivers’ licenses in the enforcement of such traffic laws and regulations, the provisions of Rep. Act No. 4136 and P.D. No. 1605 to the contrary notwithstanding,” and that “(f)or this purpose, the Authority shall enforce all traffic laws and regulations in Metro Manila, through its traffic operation center, and may deputize members of the PNP, traffic enforcers of local government units, duly licensed security guards, or members of non-governmental organizations to whom may be delegated certain authority, subject to such conditions and requirements as the Authority may impose.”
Thus, where there is a traffic law or regulation validly enacted by the legislature or those agencies to whom legislative powers have been delegated (the City of Manila in this case), the petitioner is not precluded – and in fact is duty-bound – to confiscate and suspend or revoke drivers’ licenses in the exercise of its mandate of transport and traffic management, as well as the administration and implementation of all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services and traffic education programs.
This is consistent with our ruling in Bel-Air that the MMDA is a development authority created for the purpose of laying down policies and coordinating with the various national government agencies, people’s organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, which may enforce, but not enact, ordinances.
This is also consistent with the fundamental rule of statutory construction that a statute is to be read in a manner that would breathe life into it, rather than defeat it, and is supported by the criteria in cases of this nature that all reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of the constitutionality of a statute.
A last word. The MMDA was intended to coordinate services with metro-wide impact that transcend local political boundaries or would entail huge expenditures if provided by the individual LGUs, especially with regard to transport and traffic management, and we are aware of the valiant efforts of the petitioner to untangle the increasingly traffic-snarled roads of Metro Manila. But these laudable intentions are limited by the MMDA’s enabling law, which we can but interpret, and petitioner must be reminded that its efforts in this respect must be authorized by a valid law, or ordinance, or regulation arising from a legitimate source.