In 2008, Baguio City suspended the issuance of permits for motorcades along its roads, citing the a Civil Code provision against splurging during critical times. In 2002, a court in Nueva Vizcaya issued a “temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members from buying 13 luxury vehicles” for their own individual use, citing the same Civil Code provision.
Anyone, of course, is entitled to spend his money in any manner he pleases, so long as it is not against the law. Perhaps this is captured by the saying: “Work hard, party hard”. The law, however, provides for a limitation against thoughtless extravagance. The Civil Code reads:
Article 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.
The rationale for this legal provision is succinctly pointed out by a respected civil law author: “When the rich indulge in thoughtless extravagance or display during a period of acute public want or emergency, they may unwittingly kindle the flame of unrest in the hearts of the poor who thereby become more keenly conscious of their privation and poverty and who may rise against the obvious inequality.” (Tolentino, I Civil Code of the Philippines , p. 91)
There is yet no definitive Supreme Court ruling which involves this legal provision. Nevertheless, it would appear that three requisites must be present for this provision to apply. First, there must be an acute public want or emergency. Second, there must be a thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display. Third, only government or private charitable institutions could file the action seeking to stop the thoughtless extravagance.