Basketball is everywhere in the Philippines: on public sports complex, on street corners , and on television screens from north to south of the archipelago

The sport is further nurtured by the school system, from primary school up to the collegiate level. In 1938, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) was born.

UP Fighting Maroons won their first title all the way back in 1939 (Season 2) then followed it up 47 years later in 1986 (Season 49). It was the same year when Edsa People Power happened wherein the dictator was ousted. Then there was the 36 years championship drought until its third title this year.

The UP Fighting Maroons ultimately claimed their first championship in 36 years when it dethroned the Ateneo Blue Eagles during the UAAP Season 84 Finals last May 13, 2022 at the MOA Arena.

Despite its popularity, the sports is not exempt from any controversy.

In Cruz v. Pandacan Hiker’s club, Inc.(G.R. No. 188213, January 11, 2016), the Supreme Court discussed the nature of a basketball court whether or not it is a nuisance subject of summary abatement.

The Barangay Chairman alleged that the basketball court affected the peace in the barangay and was the subject of many complaints from residents asking for its closure.

She claimed that the playing court blocked jeepneys from passing through and was the site of rampant bettings and fights involving persons from within and outside the barangay.

She also claimed that innocent persons have been hurt and property had been damaged by such armed confrontations, which often involved the throwing of rocks and improvised “molotov” bombs.

She also averred that noise from the games caused a lack of sleep among some residents and that the place’s frequent visitors used the community’s fences as places to urinate.

She then gave an order to destroy the basketball ring by cutting it up with a hacksaw thus, rendering the said basketball court unusable. An administrative complaint was filed against her.

The Supreme Court ruled that although the barangay captain merely performed an abatement of a public nuisance, the same was done summarily while failing to follow the proper procedure for which they must be held administratively liable.

“Nuisance” has been applied to those who have interfered with the rights of the citizens, either in person, property, the enjoyment of his property, or his comfort.

A nuisance per se affects the immediate safety of persons and property, which may be summarily abated under the undefined law of necessity.

A nuisance per accidens, which depends upon certain conditions and circumstances, and its existence being a question of fact, cannot be abated without due hearing thereon in a tribunal authorized to decide whether such a thing does in law constitute a nuisance.

The Supreme Court Court held that a basketball ring, at most, as a mere nuisance per accidens, for it does not pose an immediate effect upon the safety of persons and property, the definition of a nuisance per se.

A basketball ring, by itself, poses no immediate harm or danger to anyone but is merely an object of recreation.

Neither is it, by its nature, injurious to rights of property, of health or of comfort of the community and, thus, it may not be abated as a nuisance without the benefit of a judicial hearing.

The Court said that “it is unlike a mad dog on the loose, which may be killed on sight because of the immediate danger it poses to the safety and lives of the people; nor is it like pornographic materials, contaminated meat and narcotic drugs which are inherently pernicious and which may be summarily destroyed; nor is it similar to a filthy restaurant which may be summarily padlocked in the interest of the public health.”

The complete destruction of the basketball ring is justified neither by law or ordinance nor even by equity or necessity, which makes the act illegal.

And even as an action to maintain public order, it was done excessively and was unjustified.

Where a less damaging action, such as the mere padlocking, removal or confiscation of the ring would have sufficed, the barangay captain resorted to the drastic measure of completely destroying and rendering as unusable the said ring, which was a private property, without due process

In 2002, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) issued Resolution No. 02-28 authorizing the MMDA and the local government units to clear the sidewalks, streets, avenues, alleys, bridges, parks and other public places in metro manila of all illegal structures and obstructions.

This includes the setting up of basketball courts.

The resolution cited a Supreme Court case which ruled that “the occupation and use by private individuals of sidewalks and other public places devoted to public use constitute both public nuisances and nuisances per se”.

(Peyups is the moniker of the University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail, or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.)

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