Police power

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Police power is the state authority to enact legislation that may interfere with personal liberty or property to promote the general welfare. It consists of (a) an imposition of restraint upon liberty or property; (b) in order to foster the common good. It is not capable of an exact definition, but has been, purposely, veiled in general terms to underscore its all comprehensive embrace. [1]

It is characterized as "the most essential, insistent and the least limitable of powers, extending as it does to all the great public needs." Negatively, it is defined as "that inherent and plenary power in the State which enables it to prohibit all that is hurtful to the comfort, safety, and welfare of society." The most frequent cited definition, however, has been Chief Justice Shaw's classic statement which calls police power "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 penalties or without, not repugnant to the constitution, as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and of the subjects of the same. [2]"

Exercise of Police Power

Police Power is primarily vested in the National Legislature -- The Congress of the Philippines, but may also be exercised by the President of the Philippines and administrative boards by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power.

The tests to determine the validity of legislative enactments are:

  1. The interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require the exercise of police power; and
  2. The means employed are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive upon individuals.


  1. ^ Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. vs. Drilon, GR 81958, 30 June 1988, En Banc, Sarmiento, J.
  2. ^ Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association Inc. vs. Mayor of Manila, L-24693, 31 July 1967.
  3. Cruz, Isagani A. Constitutional Law. 2000 ed.



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