The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on third and final reading a proposed ordinance amending Section 164 or Ordinance No. 18, series of 2016, to clarify that the collection of sewerage fees in accordance with Section 163 of the same measure is only from the actual user.
Under Section 164 of Ordinance No. 18, series of 2016, otherwise known as the Environment Code of Baguio City, it provides that the sewerage fees shall be levied and collected based on actual use only once annually from the owners, administrators, concessionaires and users of establishments, private residences, apartments, commercial buildings, etc., whose domestic waste or waste water effluent, whether raw sewage or partially-treated sewage, are connected to the sewerage system of the city.
Further, ordinances relating or implementing the provisions of Section 164 of Ordinance No. 18, series of 2016 as amended, including Ordinance No. 2003-04, are also amended.
Ordinance No. 18, series of 2016 directs the collection of sewerage fees for the maintenance and operation of the city’s sewerage system pursuant to the schedule of fees provided under Section 163 of the same.
While it will appear from the prescribed schedule that the different flat rate fees to be collected was based on the distinctive use of each place that can only mean that the fees are to be paid by the actual user, the body claimed that the implementation of the collection of the fees allowed separate collection of fees from the owner of the structure and also from the user of the said place primarily because of Section 164 of the aforesaid ordinance which earlier provided that the said fees shall be levied and collected from owners and/or administrators or concessionaires of the establishments, private residences, apartments, commercial buildings, among others.
In a legal research entitled and/or the proper use of legal language published in the Maryland Law Review, Volume 73: 311, the author, expressing that while critics maintain that the term and/or is inherently ambiguous and should be avoided whenever possible which, many detractors would argue, is always, asserted that and/or, however, is not ambiguous at all. It has a definite agreed upon meaning when used properly, the construct signifies A or B or both.
The research further explained that in most areas of law, there is simply no compelling reason to avoid using and/or. The term is clear and concise. It derives criticism mainly from instances in which people use it incorrectly. Pleadings, contracts, statutes, and patent claims all allow for a cogent use of and/or conversely, some legal areas such as jury instructions, search warrants and jury verdicts do not typically allow a drafter to provide options, making and/or unsuitable. Despite the few contexts in which and/or should be avoided, the construct should not be discarded simply because individuals occasionally misuse the term.
However, the research also recognizes instances or cases in which interpretation of the term and/or is not consistent with the aforesaid study. In fact, in a case in the local jurisdiction, the Supreme Court went to the extent to state that the conjunctive and should not be taken in its ordinary acceptance but should be construed like the disjunctive or if the literal interpretation of the law would pervert or obscure the legislative intent.