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G.R. No.

17122

February 27, 1922

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANG TANG HO, defendant-appellant.

Williams & Ferrier for appellant. Acting Attorney-General Tuason for appellee.
JOHNS, J.: At its special session of 1919, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2868, entitled "An Act penalizing the monopoly and holding of, and speculation in, palay, rice, and corn under extraordinary circumstances, regulating the distribution and sale thereof, and authorizing the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, to issue the necessary rules and regulations therefor, and making an appropriation for this purpose," the material provisions of which are as follows: Section 1. The Governor-General is hereby authorized, whenever, for any cause, conditions arise resulting in an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn, to issue and promulgate, with the consent of the Council of State, temporary rules and emergency measures for carrying out the purpose of this Act, to wit: (a) To prevent the monopoly and hoarding of, and speculation in, palay, rice or corn. (b) To establish and maintain a government control of the distribution or sale of the commodities referred to or have such distribution or sale made by the Government itself. (c) To fix, from time to time the quantities of palay rice, or corn that a company or individual may acquire, and the maximum sale price that the industrial or merchant may demand. ( d) . . . SEC. 2. It shall be unlawful to destroy, limit, prevent or in any other manner obstruct the production or milling of palay, rice or corn for the purpose of raising the prices thereof; to corner or hoard said products as defined in section three of this Act; . . . Section 3 defines what shall constitute a monopoly or hoarding of palay, rice or corn within the meaning of this Act, but does not specify the price of rice or define any basic for fixing the price. SEC. 4. The violations of any of the provisions of this Act or of the regulations, orders and decrees promulgated in accordance therewith shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousands pesos, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both, in the discretion of the court: Provided, That in the case of companies or corporations the manager or administrator shall be criminally liable. SEC. 7. At any time that the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, shall consider that the public interest requires the application of the provisions of this Act, he shall so declare by proclamation, and any provisions of other laws inconsistent herewith shall from then on be temporarily suspended. Upon the cessation of the reasons for which such proclamation was issued, the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, shall declare the application of this Act to have likewise terminated, and all laws temporarily suspended by virtue of the same shall again take effect, but such termination shall not prevent the prosecution of any proceedings or cause begun prior to such

termination, nor the filing of any proceedings for an offense committed during the period covered by the Governor-General's proclamation. August 1, 1919, the Governor-General issued a proclamation fixing the price at which rice should be sold. August 8, 1919, a complaint was filed against the defendant, Ang Tang Ho, charging him with the sale of rice at an excessive price as follows: The undersigned accuses Ang Tang Ho of a violation of Executive Order No. 53 of the GovernorGeneral of the Philippines, dated the 1st of August, 1919, in relation with the provisions of sections 1, 2 and 4 of Act No. 2868, committed as follows: That on or about the 6th day of August, 1919, in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, the said Ang Tang Ho, voluntarily, illegally and criminally sold to Pedro Trinidad, one ganta of rice at the price of eighty centavos (P.80), which is a price greater than that fixed by Executive Order No. 53 of the Governor-General of the Philippines, dated the 1st of August, 1919, under the authority of section 1 of Act No. 2868. Contrary to law. Upon this charge, he was tried, found guilty and sentenced to five months' imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500, from which he appealed to this court, claiming that the lower court erred in finding Executive Order No. 53 of 1919, to be of any force and effect, in finding the accused guilty of the offense charged, and in imposing the sentence. The official records show that the Act was to take effect on its approval; that it was approved July 30, 1919; that the Governor-General issued his proclamation on the 1st of August, 1919; and that the law was first published on the 13th of August, 1919; and that the proclamation itself was first published on the 20th of August, 1919. The question here involves an analysis and construction of Act No. 2868, in so far as it authorizes the Governor-General to fix the price at which rice should be sold. It will be noted that section 1 authorizes the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, for any cause resulting in an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn, to issue and promulgate temporary rules and emergency measures for carrying out the purposes of the Act. By its very terms, the promulgation of temporary rules and emergency measures is left to the discretion of the Governor-General. The Legislature does not undertake to specify or define under what conditions or for what reasons the Governor-General shall issue the proclamation, but says that it may be issued "for any cause," and leaves the question as to what is "any cause" to the discretion of the Governor-General. The Act also says: "For any cause, conditions arise resulting in an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn." The Legislature does not specify or define what is "an extraordinary rise." That is also left to the discretion of the Governor-General. The Act also says that the Governor-General, "with the consent of the Council of State," is authorized to issue and promulgate "temporary rules and emergency measures for carrying out the purposes of this Act." It does not specify or define what is a temporary rule or an emergency measure, or how long such temporary rules or emergency measures shall remain in force and effect, or when they shall take effect. That is to say, the Legislature itself has not in any manner specified or defined any basis for the order, but has left it to the sole judgement and discretion of the Governor-General to say what is or what is not "a cause," and what is or what is not "an extraordinary rise in the price of rice," and as to what is a temporary rule or an emergency measure for the carrying out the purposes of the Act. Under this state of facts, if the law is valid and the Governor-General issues a proclamation fixing the minimum price at which rice should be sold, any dealer who, with or without notice, sells rice at a higher price, is a criminal. There may not have been any cause, and the price may not have been extraordinary, and there may not have been an emergency, but, if the Governor-General found the existence of such facts and issued a proclamation, and rice is sold at any higher price, the seller commits a crime. By the organic law of the Philippine Islands and the Constitution of the United States all powers are vested in the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. It is the duty of the Legislature to make the law; of the Executive to execute the law; and of the Judiciary to construe the law. The Legislature has no authority to execute or construe the law, the Executive has no authority to make or construe the law, and the Judiciary has no

power to make or execute the law. Subject to the Constitution only, the power of each branch is supreme within its own jurisdiction, and it is for the Judiciary only to say when any Act of the Legislature is or is not constitutional. Assuming, without deciding, that the Legislature itself has the power to fix the price at which rice is to be sold, can it delegate that power to another, and, if so, was that power legally delegated by Act No. 2868? In other words, does the Act delegate legislative power to the Governor-General? By the Organic Law, all Legislative power is vested in the Legislature, and the power conferred upon the Legislature to make laws cannot be delegated to the Governor-General, or any one else. The Legislature cannot delegate the legislative power to enact any law. If Act no 2868 is a law unto itself and within itself, and it does nothing more than to authorize the Governor-General to make rules and regulations to carry the law into effect, then the Legislature itself created the law. There is no delegation of power and it is valid. On the other hand, if the Act within itself does not define crime, and is not a law, and some legislative act remains to be done to make it a law or a crime, the doing of which is vested in the Governor-General, then the Act is a delegation of legislative power, is unconstitutional and void. The Supreme Court of the United States in what is known as the Granger Cases (94 U.S., 183-187; 24 L. ed., 94), first laid down the rule: Railroad companies are engaged in a public employment affecting the public interest and, under the decision in Munn vs. Ill., ante, 77, are subject to legislative control as to their rates of fare and freight unless protected by their charters. The Illinois statute of Mar. 23, 1874, to establish reasonable maximum rates of charges for the transportation of freights and passengers on the different railroads of the State is not void as being repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or to that of the State. It was there for the first time held in substance that a railroad was a public utility, and that, being a public utility, the State had power to establish reasonable maximum freight and passenger rates. This was followed by the State of Minnesota in enacting a similar law, providing for, and empowering, a railroad commission to hear and determine what was a just and reasonable rate. The constitutionality of this law was attacked and upheld by the Supreme Court of Minnesota in a learned and exhaustive opinion by Justice Mitchell, in the case of State vs. Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul ry. Co. (38 Minn., 281), in which the court held:

Regulations of railway tariffs Conclusiveness of commission's tariffs. Under Laws 1887, c. 10, sec. 8, the determination of the railroad and warehouse commission as to what are equal and reasonable fares and rates for the transportation of persons and property by a railway company is conclusive, and, in proceedings by mandamus to compel compliance with the tariff of rates recommended and published by them, no issue can be raised or inquiry had on that question. Same constitution Delegation of power to commission. The authority thus given to the commission to determine, in the exercise of their discretion and judgement, what are equal and reasonable rates, is not a delegation of legislative power.
It will be noted that the law creating the railroad commission expressly provides That all charges by any common carrier for the transportation of passengers and property shall be equal and reasonable. With that as a basis for the law, power is then given to the railroad commission to investigate all the facts, to hear and determine what is a just and reasonable rate. Even then that law does not make the violation of the order of the commission a crime. The only remedy is a civil proceeding. It was there held That the legislative itself has the power to regulate railroad charges is now too well settled to require either argument or citation of authority.

The difference between the power to say what the law shall be, and the power to adopt rules and regulations, or to investigate and determine the facts, in order to carry into effect a law already passed, is apparent. The true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and the conferring an authority or discretion to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The legislature enacts that all freights rates and passenger fares should be just and reasonable. It had the undoubted power to fix these rates at whatever it deemed equal and reasonable. They have not delegated to the commission any authority or discretion as to what the law shall be, which would not be allowable, but have merely conferred upon it an authority and discretion, to be exercised in the execution of the law, and under and in pursuance of it, which is entirely permissible. The legislature itself has passed upon the expediency of the law, and what is shall be. The commission is intrusted with no authority or discretion upon these questions. It can neither make nor unmake a single provision of law. It is merely charged with the administration of the law, and with no other power. The delegation of legislative power was before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in Dowling vs. Lancoshire Ins. Co. (92 Wis., 63). The opinion says: "The true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made." The act, in our judgment, wholly fails to provide definitely and clearly what the standard policy should contain, so that it could be put in use as a uniform policy required to take the place of all others, without the determination of the insurance commissioner in respect to maters involving the exercise of a legislative discretion that could not be delegated, and without which the act could not possibly be put in use as an act in confirmity to which all fire insurance policies were required to be issued. The result of all the cases on this subject is that a law must be complete, in all its terms and provisions, when it leaves the legislative branch of the government, and nothing must be left to the judgement of the electors or other appointee or delegate of the legislature, so that, in form and substance, it is a law in all its details in presenti, but which may be left to take effect in futuro, if necessary, upon the ascertainment of any prescribed fact or event. The delegation of legislative power was before the Supreme Court in United States vs. Grimaud (220 U.S., 506; 55 L. ed., 563), where it was held that the rules and regulations of the Secretary of Agriculture as to a trespass on government land in a forest reserve were valid constitutional. The Act there provided that the Secretary of Agriculture ". . . may make such rules and regulations and establish such service as will insure the object of such reservations; namely, to regulate their occupancy and use, and to preserve the forests thereon from destruction; and any violation of the provisions of this act or such rules and regulations shall be punished, . . ." The brief of the United States Solicitor-General says: In refusing permits to use a forest reservation for stock grazing, except upon stated terms or in stated ways, the Secretary of Agriculture merely assert and enforces the proprietary right of the United States over land which it owns. The regulation of the Secretary, therefore, is not an exercise of legislative, or even of administrative, power; but is an ordinary and legitimate refusal of the landowner's authorized agent to allow person having no right in the land to use it as they will. The right of proprietary control is altogether different from governmental authority. The opinion says:

From the beginning of the government, various acts have been passed conferring upon executive officers power to make rules and regulations, not for the government of their departments, but for administering the laws which did govern. None of these statutes could confer legislative power. But when Congress had legislated power. But when Congress had legislated and indicated its will, it could give to those who were to act under such general provisions "power to fill up the details" by the establishment of administrative rules and regulations, the violation of which could be punished by fine or imprisonment fixed by Congress, or by penalties fixed by Congress, or measured by the injury done. That "Congress cannot delegate legislative power is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution." If, after the passage of the act and the promulgation of the rule, the defendants drove and grazed their sheep upon the reserve, in violation of the regulations, they were making an unlawful use of the government's property. In doing so they thereby made themselves liable to the penalty imposed by Congress. The subjects as to which the Secretary can regulate are defined. The lands are set apart as a forest reserve. He is required to make provisions to protect them from depredations and from harmful uses. He is authorized 'to regulate the occupancy and use and to preserve the forests from destruction.' A violation of reasonable rules regulating the use and occupancy of the property is made a crime, not by the Secretary, but by Congress." The above are leading cases in the United States on the question of delegating legislative power. It will be noted that in the "Granger Cases," it was held that a railroad company was a public corporation, and that a railroad was a public utility, and that, for such reasons, the legislature had the power to fix and determine just and reasonable rates for freight and passengers. The Minnesota case held that, so long as the rates were just and reasonable, the legislature could delegate the power to ascertain the facts and determine from the facts what were just and reasonable rates,. and that in vesting the commission with such power was not a delegation of legislative power. The Wisconsin case was a civil action founded upon a "Wisconsin standard policy of fire insurance," and the court held that "the act, . . . wholly fails to provide definitely and clearly what the standard policy should contain, so that it could be put in use as a uniform policy required to take the place of all others, without the determination of the insurance commissioner in respect to matters involving the exercise of a legislative discretion that could not be delegated." The case of the United States Supreme Court, supra dealt with rules and regulations which were promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture for Government land in the forest reserve. These decisions hold that the legislative only can enact a law, and that it cannot delegate it legislative authority. The line of cleavage between what is and what is not a delegation of legislative power is pointed out and clearly defined. As the Supreme Court of Wisconsin says: That no part of the legislative power can be delegated by the legislature to any other department of the government, executive or judicial, is a fundamental principle in constitutional law, essential to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government established by the constitution. Where an act is clothed with all the forms of law, and is complete in and of itself, it may be provided that it shall become operative only upon some certain act or event, or, in like manner, that its operation shall be suspended.

The legislature cannot delegate its power to make a law, but it can make a law to delegate a power to determine some fact or state of things upon which the law makes, or intends to make, its own action to depend. The Village of Little Chute enacted an ordinance which provides: All saloons in said village shall be closed at 11 o'clock P.M. each day and remain closed until 5 o'clock on the following morning, unless by special permission of the president. Construing it in 136 Wis., 526; 128 A. S. R., 1100,1 the Supreme Court of that State says: We regard the ordinance as void for two reasons; First, because it attempts to confer arbitrary power upon an executive officer, and allows him, in executing the ordinance, to make unjust and groundless discriminations among persons similarly situated; second, because the power to regulate saloons is a law-making power vested in the village board, which cannot be delegated. A legislative body cannot delegate to a mere administrative officer power to make a law, but it can make a law with provisions that it shall go into effect or be suspended in its operations upon the ascertainment of a fact or state of facts by an administrative officer or board. In the present case the ordinance by its terms gives power to the president to decide arbitrary, and in the exercise of his own discretion, when a saloon shall close. This is an attempt to vest legislative discretion in him, and cannot be sustained. The legal principle involved there is squarely in point here. It must be conceded that, after the passage of act No. 2868, and before any rules and regulations were promulgated by the Governor-General, a dealer in rice could sell it at any price, even at a peso per "ganta," and that he would not commit a crime, because there would be no law fixing the price of rice, and the sale of it at any price would not be a crime. That is to say, in the absence of a proclamation, it was not a crime to sell rice at any price. Hence, it must follow that, if the defendant committed a crime, it was because the Governor-General issued the proclamation. There was no act of the Legislature making it a crime to sell rice at any price, and without the proclamation, the sale of it at any price was to a crime. The Executive order2 provides: (5) The maximum selling price of palay, rice or corn is hereby fixed, for the time being as follows: In Manila Palay at P6.75 per sack of 57 kilos, or 29 centavos per ganta. Rice at P15 per sack of 57 kilos, or 63 centavos per ganta. Corn at P8 per sack of 57 kilos, or 34 centavos per ganta. In the provinces producing palay, rice and corn, the maximum price shall be the Manila price less the cost of transportation from the source of supply and necessary handling expenses to the place of sale, to be determined by the provincial treasurers or their deputies. In provinces, obtaining their supplies from Manila or other producing provinces, the maximum price shall be the authorized price at the place of supply or the Manila price as the case may be, plus the transportation cost, from the place of supply and the necessary handling expenses, to the place of sale, to be determined by the provincial treasurers or their deputies.

(6) Provincial treasurers and their deputies are hereby directed to communicate with, and execute all instructions emanating from the Director of Commerce and Industry, for the most effective and proper enforcement of the above regulations in their respective localities. The law says that the Governor-General may fix "the maximum sale price that the industrial or merchant may demand." The law is a general law and not a local or special law. The proclamation undertakes to fix one price for rice in Manila and other and different prices in other and different provinces in the Philippine Islands, and delegates the power to determine the other and different prices to provincial treasurers and their deputies. Here, then, you would have a delegation of legislative power to the Governor-General, and a delegation by him of that power to provincial treasurers and their deputies, who "are hereby directed to communicate with, and execute all instructions emanating from the Director of Commerce and Industry, for the most effective and proper enforcement of the above regulations in their respective localities." The issuance of the proclamation by the Governor-General was the exercise of the delegation of a delegated power, and was even a sub delegation of that power. Assuming that it is valid, Act No. 2868 is a general law and does not authorize the Governor-General to fix one price of rice in Manila and another price in Iloilo. It only purports to authorize him to fix the price of rice in the Philippine Islands under a law, which is General and uniform, and not local or special. Under the terms of the law, the price of rice fixed in the proclamation must be the same all over the Islands. There cannot be one price at Manila and another at Iloilo. Again, it is a mater of common knowledge, and of which this court will take judicial notice, that there are many kinds of rice with different and corresponding market values, and that there is a wide range in the price, which varies with the grade and quality. Act No. 2868 makes no distinction in price for the grade or quality of the rice, and the proclamation, upon which the defendant was tried and convicted, fixes the selling price of rice in Manila "at P15 per sack of 57 kilos, or 63 centavos per ganta," and is uniform as to all grades of rice, and says nothing about grade or quality. Again, it will be noted that the law is confined to palay, rice and corn. They are products of the Philippine Islands. Hemp, tobacco, coconut, chickens, eggs, and many other things are also products. Any law which single out palay, rice or corn from the numerous other products of the Islands is not general or uniform, but is a local or special law. If such a law is valid, then by the same principle, the Governor-General could be authorized by proclamation to fix the price of meat, eggs, chickens, coconut, hemp, and tobacco, or any other product of the Islands. In the very nature of things, all of that class of laws should be general and uniform. Otherwise, there would be an unjust discrimination of property rights, which, under the law, must be equal and inform. Act No. 2868 is nothing more than a floating law, which, in the discretion and by a proclamation of the Governor-General, makes it a floating crime to sell rice at a price in excess of the proclamation, without regard to grade or quality. When Act No. 2868 is analyzed, it is the violation of the proclamation of the Governor-General which constitutes the crime. Without that proclamation, it was no crime to sell rice at any price. In other words, the Legislature left it to the sole discretion of the Governor-General to say what was and what was not "any cause" for enforcing the act, and what was and what was not "an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn," and under certain undefined conditions to fix the price at which rice should be sold, without regard to grade or quality, also to say whether a proclamation should be issued, if so, when, and whether or not the law should be enforced, how long it should be enforced, and when the law should be suspended. The Legislature did not specify or define what was "any cause," or what was "an extraordinary rise in the price of rice, palay or corn," Neither did it specify or define the conditions upon which the proclamation should be issued. In the absence of the proclamation no crime was committed. The alleged sale was made a crime, if at all, because the Governor-General issued the proclamation. The act or proclamation does not say anything about the different grades or qualities of rice, and the defendant is charged with the sale "of one ganta of rice at the price of eighty centavos (P0.80) which is a price greater than that fixed by Executive order No. 53." We are clearly of the opinion and hold that Act No. 2868, in so far as it undertakes to authorized the Governor-General in his discretion to issue a proclamation, fixing the price of rice, and to make the sale of rice in violation of the price of rice, and to make the sale of rice in violation of the proclamation a crime, is unconstitutional and void.

It may be urged that there was an extraordinary rise in the price of rice and profiteering, which worked a severe hardship on the poorer classes, and that an emergency existed, but the question here presented is the constitutionality of a particular portion of a statute, and none of such matters is an argument for, or against, its constitutionality. The Constitution is something solid, permanent an substantial. Its stability protects the life, liberty and property rights of the rich and the poor alike, and that protection ought not to change with the wind or any emergency condition. The fundamental question involved in this case is the right of the people of the Philippine Islands to be and live under a republican form of government. We make the broad statement that no state or nation, living under republican form of government, under the terms and conditions specified in Act No. 2868, has ever enacted a law delegating the power to any one, to fix the price at which rice should be sold. That power can never be delegated under a republican form of government. In the fixing of the price at which the defendant should sell his rice, the law was not dealing with government property. It was dealing with private property and private rights, which are sacred under the Constitution. If this law should be sustained, upon the same principle and for the same reason, the Legislature could authorize the Governor-General to fix the price of every product or commodity in the Philippine Islands, and empower him to make it a crime to sell any product at any other or different price. It may be said that this was a war measure, and that for such reason the provision of the Constitution should be suspended. But the Stubborn fact remains that at all times the judicial power was in full force and effect, and that while that power was in force and effect, such a provision of the Constitution could not be, and was not, suspended even in times of war. It may be claimed that during the war, the United States Government undertook to, and did, fix the price at which wheat and flour should be bought and sold, and that is true. There, the United States had declared war, and at the time was at war with other nations, and it was a war measure, but it is also true that in doing so, and as a part of the same act, the United States commandeered all the wheat and flour, and took possession of it, either actual or constructive, and the government itself became the owner of the wheat and flour, and fixed the price to be paid for it. That is not this case. Here the rice sold was the personal and private property of the defendant, who sold it to one of his customers. The government had not bought and did not claim to own the rice, or have any interest in it, and at the time of the alleged sale, it was the personal, private property of the defendant. It may be that the law was passed in the interest of the public, but the members of this court have taken on solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and it ought not to be construed to meet the changing winds or emergency conditions. Again, we say that no state or nation under a republican form of government ever enacted a law authorizing any executive, under the conditions states, to fix the price at which a price person would sell his own rice, and make the broad statement that no decision of any court, on principle or by analogy, will ever be found which sustains the constitutionality of the particular portion of Act No. 2868 here in question. By the terms of the Organic Act, subject only to constitutional limitations, the power to legislate and enact laws is vested exclusively in the Legislative, which is elected by a direct vote of the people of the Philippine Islands. As to the question here involved, the authority of the Governor-General to fix the maximum price at which palay, rice and corn may be sold in the manner power in violation of the organic law. This opinion is confined to the particular question here involved, which is the right of the Governor-General, upon the terms and conditions stated in the Act, to fix the price of rice and make it a crime to sell it at a higher price, and which holds that portions of the Act unconstitutional. It does not decide or undertake to construe the constitutionality of any of the remaining portions of the Act. The judgment of the lower court is reversed, and the defendant discharged. So ordered. G.R. No. 159357 April 28, 2004

Brother MARIANO "MIKE" Z. VELARDE, petitioner, vs. SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY, respondent. DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J. : A decision that does not conform to the form and substance required by the Constitution and the law is void and deemed legally inexistent. To be valid, decisions should comply with the form, the procedure and the substantive requirements laid out in the Constitution, the Rules of Court and relevant circulars/orders of the Supreme Court. For the guidance of the bench and the bar, the Court hereby discusses these forms, procedures and requirements. The Case Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the June 12, 2003 Decision2 and July 29, 2003 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila (Branch 49).4 The challenged Decision was the offshoot of a Petition for Declaratory Relief5 filed before the RTC-Manila by herein Respondent Social Justice Society (SJS) against herein Petitioner Mariano "Mike" Z. Velarde, together with His Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Executive Minister Erao Manalo, Brother Eddie Villanueva and Brother Eliseo F. Soriano as co-respondents. The Petition prayed for the resolution of the question "whether or not the act of a religious leader like any of herein respondents, in endorsing the candidacy of a candidate for elective office or in urging or requiring the members of his flock to vote for a specified candidate, is violative of the letter or spirit of the constitutional provisions x x x."6 Alleging that the questioned Decision did not contain a statement of facts and a dispositive portion, herein petitioner filed a Clarificatory Motion and Motion for Reconsideration before the trial court. Soriano, his corespondent, similarly filed a separate Motion for Reconsideration. In response, the trial court issued the assailed Order, which held as follows: "x x x [T]his Court cannot reconsider, because what it was asked to do, was only to clarify a Constitutional provision and to declare whether acts are violative thereof. The Decision did not make a dispositive portion because a dispositive portion is required only in coercive reliefs, where a redress from wrong suffered and the benefit that the prevailing party wronged should get. The step that these movants have to take, is direct appeal under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, for a conclusive interpretation of the Constitutional provision to the Supreme Court."7 The Antecedent Proceedings On January 28, 2003, SJS filed a Petition for Declaratory Relief ("SJS Petition") before the RTC-Manila against Velarde and his aforesaid co-respondents. SJS, a registered political party, sought the interpretation of several constitutional provisions,8 specifically on the separation of church and state; and a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the acts of religious leaders endorsing a candidate for an elective office, or urging or requiring the members of their flock to vote for a specified candidate. The subsequent proceedings were recounted in the challenged Decision in these words: "x x x. Bro. Eddie Villanueva submitted, within the original period [to file an Answer], a Motion to Dismiss. Subsequently, Executive Minister Erao Manalo and Bro. Mike Velarde, filed their Motions to Dismiss. While His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, filed a Comment and Bro. Eli Soriano, filed an Answer within the extended period and similarly prayed for the dismissal of the Petition. All sought the dismissal of the Petition on the common grounds that it does not state a cause of action and that there is no justiciable controversy. They were ordered to submit a pleading by way of advisement, which was closely followed by another Order denying all the Motions to Dismiss. Bro. Mike Velarde, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Executive Minister Erao Manalo moved to reconsider the denial. His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, asked for extension to file memorandum. Only Bro. Eli Soriano complied with the first Order by submitting his Memorandum. x x x.

"x x x the Court denied the Motions to Dismiss, and the Motions for Reconsideration filed by Bro. Mike Velarde, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Executive Minister Erao Manalo, which raised no new arguments other than those already considered in the motions to dismiss x x x."9 After narrating the above incidents, the trial court said that it had jurisdiction over the Petition, because "in praying for a determination as to whether the actions imputed to the respondents are violative of Article II, Section 6 of the Fundamental Law, [the Petition] has raised only a question of law."10 It then proceeded to a lengthy discussion of the issue raised in the Petition the separation of church and state even tracing, to some extent, the historical background of the principle. Through its discourse, the court a quo opined at some point that the "[e]ndorsement of specific candidates in an election to any public office is a clear violation of the separation clause."11 After its essay on the legal issue, however, the trial court failed to include a dispositive portion in its assailed Decision. Thus, Velarde and Soriano filed separate Motions for Reconsideration which, as mentioned earlier, were denied by the lower court. Hence, this Petition for Review.12 This Court, in a Resolution13 dated September 2, 2003, required SJS and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to submit their respective comments. In the same Resolution, the Court gave the other parties -impleaded as respondents in the original case below --the opportunity to comment, if they so desired. On April 13, 2004, the Court en banc conducted an Oral Argument.14 The Issues In his Petition, Brother Mike Velarde submits the following issues for this Courts resolution: "1. Whether or not the Decision dated 12 June 2003 rendered by the court a quo was proper and valid; "2. Whether or not there exists justiceable controversy in herein respondents Petition for declaratory relief; "3. Whether or not herein respondent has legal interest in filing the Petition for declaratory relief; "4. Whether or not the constitutional question sought to be resolved by herein respondent is ripe for judicial determination; "5. Whether or not there is adequate remedy other than the declaratory relief; and, "6. Whether or not the court a quo has jurisdiction over the Petition for declaratory relief of herein respondent."15 During the Oral Argument, the issues were narrowed down and classified as follows: "A. Procedural Issues "Did the Petition for Declaratory Relief raise a justiciable controversy? Did it state a cause of action? Did respondent have any legal standing to file the Petition for Declaratory Relief? "B. Substantive Issues

"1. Did the RTC Decision conform to the form and substance required by the Constitution, the law and the Rules of Court? "2. May religious leaders like herein petitioner, Bro. Mike Velarde, be prohibited from endorsing candidates for public office? Corollarily, may they be banned from campaigning against said candidates?" The Courts Ruling The Petition of Brother Mike Velarde is meritorious. Procedural Issues:

Requisites of Petitions for Declaratory Relief


Section 1 of Rule 63 of the Rules of Court, which deals with petitions for declaratory relief, provides in part: "Section 1. Who may file petition.- Any person interested under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties thereunder." Based on the foregoing, an action for declaratory relief should be filed by a person interested under a deed, a will, a contract or other written instrument, and whose rights are affected by a statute, an executive order, a regulation or an ordinance. The purpose of the remedy is to interpret or to determine the validity of the written instrument and to seek a judicial declaration of the parties rights or duties thereunder.16 The essential requisites of the action are as follows: (1) there is a justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy is between persons whose interests are adverse; (3) the party seeking the relief has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) the issue is ripe for judicial determination.17

Justiciable Controversy
Brother Mike Velarde contends that the SJS Petition failed to allege, much less establish before the trial court, that there existed a justiciable controversy or an adverse legal interest between them; and that SJS had a legal right that was being violated or threatened to be violated by petitioner. On the contrary, Velarde alleges that SJS premised its action on mere speculations, contingent events, and hypothetical issues that had not yet ripened into an actual controversy. Thus, its Petition for Declaratory Relief must fail. A justiciable controversy refers to an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for judicial determination, not one that is conjectural or merely anticipatory.18 The SJS Petition for Declaratory Relief fell short of this test. It miserably failed to allege an existing controversy or dispute between the petitioner and the named respondents therein. Further, the Petition did not sufficiently state what specific legal right of the petitioner was violated by the respondents therein; and what particular act or acts of the latter were in breach of its rights, the law or the Constitution. As pointed out by Brother Eliseo F. Soriano in his Comment,19 what exactly has he done that merited the attention of SJS? He confesses that he does not know the answer, because the SJS Petition (as well as the assailed Decision of the RTC) "yields nothing in this respect." His Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, adds that, at the time SJS filed its Petition on January 28, 2003, the election season had not even started yet; and that, in any event, he has not been actively involved in partisan politics. An initiatory complaint or petition filed with the trial court should contain "a plain, concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim x x x."20 Yet, the SJS Petition stated no ultimate facts.

Indeed, SJS merely speculated or anticipated without factual moorings that, as religious leaders, the petitioner and his co-respondents below had endorsed or threatened to endorse a candidate or candidates for elective offices; and that such actual or threatened endorsement "will enable [them] to elect men to public office who [would] in turn be forever beholden to their leaders, enabling them to control the government"[;]21 and "pos[ing] a clear and present danger of serious erosion of the peoples faith in the electoral process[;] and reinforc[ing] their belief that religious leaders determine the ultimate result of elections,"22 which would then be violative of the separation clause. Such premise is highly speculative and merely theoretical, to say the least. Clearly, it does not suffice to constitute a justiciable controversy. The Petition does not even allege any indication or manifest intent on the part of any of the respondents below to champion an electoral candidate, or to urge their so-called flock to vote for, or not to vote for, a particular candidate. It is a time-honored rule that sheer speculation does not give rise to an actionable right. Obviously, there is no factual allegation that SJS rights are being subjected to any threatened, imminent and inevitable violation that should be prevented by the declaratory relief sought. The judicial power and duty of the courts to settle actual controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable23 cannot be exercised when there is no actual or threatened violation of a legal right. All that the 5-page SJS Petition prayed for was "that the question raised in paragraph 9 hereof be resolved."24 In other words, it merely sought an opinion of the trial court on whether the speculated acts of religious leaders endorsing elective candidates for political offices violated the constitutional principle on the separation of church and state. SJS did not ask for a declaration of its rights and duties; neither did it pray for the stoppage of any threatened violation of its declared rights. Courts, however, are proscribed from rendering an advisory opinion.25 Cause of Action Respondent SJS asserts that in order to maintain a petition for declaratory relief, a cause of action need not be alleged or proven. Supposedly, for such petition to prosper, there need not be any violation of a right, breach of duty or actual wrong committed by one party against the other. Petitioner, on the other hand, argues that the subject matter of an action for declaratory relief should be a deed, a will, a contract (or other written instrument), a statute, an executive order, a regulation or an ordinance. But the subject matter of the SJS Petition is "the constitutionality of an act of a religious leader to endorse the candidacy of a candidate for elective office or to urge or require the members of the flock to vote for a specified candidate."26 According to petitioner, this subject matter is "beyond the realm of an action for declaratory relief."27 Petitioner avers that in the absence of a valid subject matter, the Petition fails to state a cause of action and, hence, should have been dismissed outright by the court a quo. A cause of action is an act or an omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of another, causing injury to the latter.28 Its essential elements are the following: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff; (2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) such defendants act or omission that is violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the former to the latter.29 The failure of a complaint to state a cause of action is a ground for its outright dismissal.30 However, in special civil actions for declaratory relief, the concept of a cause of action under ordinary civil actions does not strictly apply. The reason for this exception is that an action for declaratory relief presupposes that there has been no actual breach of the instruments involved or of rights arising thereunder.31 Nevertheless, a breach or violation should be impending, imminent or at least threatened. A perusal of the Petition filed by SJS before the RTC discloses no explicit allegation that the former had any legal right in its favor that it sought to protect. We can only infer the interest, supposedly in its favor, from its bare allegation that it "has thousands of members who are citizens-taxpayers-registered voters and who are keenly interested in a judicial clarification of the constitutionality of the partisan participation of religious leaders in Philippine politics and in the process to insure adherence to the Constitution by everyone x x x."32

Such general averment does not, however, suffice to constitute a legal right or interest. Not only is the presumed interest not personal in character; it is likewise too vague, highly speculative and uncertain.33 The Rules require that the interest must be material to the issue and affected by the questioned act or instrument, as distinguished from simple curiosity or incidental interest in the question raised.34 To bolster its stance, SJS cites the Corpus Juris Secundum and submits that the "[p]laintiff in a declaratory judgment action does not seek to enforce a claim against [the] defendant, but seeks a judicial declaration of [the] rights of the parties for the purpose of guiding [their] future conduct, and the essential distinction between a declaratory judgment action and the usual action is that no actual wrong need have been committed or loss have occurred in order to sustain the declaratory judgment action, although there must be no uncertainty that the loss will occur or that the asserted rights will be invaded."35 SJS has, however, ignored the crucial point of its own reference that there must be no uncertainty that the loss will occur or that the asserted rights will be invaded. Precisely, as discussed earlier, it merely conjectures that herein petitioner (and his co-respondents below) might actively participate in partisan politics, use "the awesome voting strength of its faithful flock [to] enable it to elect men to public office x x x, enabling [it] to control the government."36 During the Oral Argument, though, Petitioner Velarde and his co-respondents below all strongly asserted that they had not in any way engaged or intended to participate in partisan politics. They all firmly assured this Court that they had not done anything to trigger the issue raised and to entitle SJS to the relief sought. Indeed, the Court finds in the Petition for Declaratory Relief no single allegation of fact upon which SJS could base a right of relief from the named respondents. In any event, even granting that it sufficiently asserted a legal right it sought to protect, there was nevertheless no certainty that such right would be invaded by the said respondents. Not even the alleged proximity of the elections to the time the Petition was filed below (January 28, 2003) would have provided the certainty that it had a legal right that would be jeopardized or violated by any of those respondents. Legal Standing Legal standing or locus standi has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the challenged act.37 Interest means a material interest in issue that is affected by the questioned act or instrument, as distinguished from a mere incidental interest in the question involved.38 Petitioner alleges that "[i]n seeking declaratory relief as to the constitutionality of an act of a religious leader to endorse, or require the members of the religious flock to vote for a specific candidate, herein Respondent SJS has no legal interest in the controversy";39 it has failed to establish how the resolution of the proffered question would benefit or injure it. Parties bringing suits challenging the constitutionality of a law, an act or a statute must show "not only that the law [or act] is invalid, but also that [they have] sustained or [are] in immediate or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that [they] suffer thereby in some indefinite way."40 They must demonstrate that they have been, or are about to be, denied some right or privilege to which they are lawfully entitled, or that they are about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.41

First, parties suing as taxpayers must specifically prove that they have sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation.42 A taxpayers action may be properly brought only when there is an exercise by Congress of its taxing or spending power.43 In the present case, there is no allegation, whether express or implied, that taxpayers money is being illegally disbursed. Second, there was no showing in the Petition for Declaratory Relief that SJS as a political party or its members as registered voters would be adversely affected by the alleged acts of the respondents below, if the question at issue was not resolved. There was no allegation that SJS had suffered or would be deprived

of votes due to the acts imputed to the said respondents. Neither did it allege that any of its members would be denied the right of suffrage or the privilege to be voted for a public office they are seeking.

Finally, the allegedly keen interest of its "thousands of members who are citizens-taxpayers-registered voters" is too general44 and beyond the contemplation of the standards set by our jurisprudence. Not only is the presumed interest impersonal in character; it is likewise too vague, highly speculative and uncertain to satisfy the requirement of standing.45 Transcendental Importance
In any event, SJS urges the Court to take cognizance of the Petition, even sans legal standing, considering that "the issues raised are of paramount public interest." In not a few cases, the Court has liberalized the locus standi requirement when a petition raises an issue of transcendental significance or paramount importance to the people.46 Recently, after holding that the IBP had no locus standi to bring the suit, the Court in IBP v. Zamora47 nevertheless entertained the Petition therein. It noted that "the IBP has advanced constitutional issues which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents."48 Similarly in the instant case, the Court deemed the constitutional issue raised in the SJS Petition to be of paramount interest to the Filipino people. The issue did not simply concern a delineation of the separation between church and state, but ran smack into the governance of our country. The issue was both transcendental in importance and novel in nature, since it had never been decided before. The Court, thus, called for Oral Argument to determine with certainty whether it could resolve the constitutional issue despite the barren allegations in the SJS Petition as well as the abbreviated proceedings in the court below. Much to its chagrin, however, counsels for the parties -- particularly for Respondent SJS -- made no satisfactory allegations or clarifications that would supply the deficiencies hereinabove discussed. Hence, even if the Court would exempt this case from the stringent locus standi requirement, such heroic effort would be futile because the transcendental issue cannot be resolved anyway.

Proper Proceedings Before the Trial Court


To prevent a repetition of this waste of precious judicial time and effort, and for the guidance of the bench and the bar, the Court reiterates the elementary procedure49 that must be followed by trial courts in the conduct of civil cases.50 Prefatorily, the trial court may -- motu proprio or upon motion of the defendant -- dismiss a complaint51 (or petition, in a special civil action) that does not allege the plaintiffs (or petitioners) cause or causes of action.52 A complaint or petition should contain "a plain, concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim or defense."53 It should likewise clearly specify the relief sought.54 Upon the filing of the complaint/petition and the payment of the requisite legal fees, the clerk of court shall forthwith issue the corresponding summons to the defendants or the respondents, with a directive that the defendant answer55 within 15 days, unless a different period is fixed by the court.56 The summons shall also contain a notice that if such answer is not filed, the plaintiffs/petitioners shall take a judgment by default and may be granted the relief applied for.57 The court, however, may -- upon such terms as may be just -allow an answer to be filed after the time fixed by the Rules.58 If the answer sets forth a counterclaim or cross-claim, it must be answered within ten (10) days from service.59 A reply may be filed within ten (10) days from service of the pleading responded to.60 When an answer fails to tender an issue or admits the material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading (except in actions for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage or for legal separation).61 Meanwhile, a party seeking to recover upon a

claim, a counterclaim or crossclaim -- or to obtain a declaratory relief -- may, at any time after the answer thereto has been served, move for a summary judgment in its favor.62 Similarly, a party against whom a claim, a counterclaim or crossclaim is asserted -- or a declaratory relief sought -- may, at any time, move for a summary judgment in its favor.63 After the motion is heard, the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if there is a showing that, except as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact; and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.64 Within the time for -- but before -- filing the answer to the complaint or petition, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss based on any of the grounds stated in Section 1 of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court. During the hearing of the motion, the parties shall submit their arguments on the questions of law, and their evidence on the questions of fact.65 After the hearing, the court may dismiss the action or claim, deny the motion, or order the amendment of the pleadings. It shall not defer the resolution of the motion for the reason that the ground relied upon is not indubitable. In every case, the resolution shall state clearly and distinctly the reasons therefor.66 If the motion is denied, the movant may file an answer within the balance of the period originally prescribed to file an answer, but not less than five (5) days in any event, computed from the receipt of the notice of the denial. If the pleading is ordered to be amended, the defendant shall file an answer within fifteen (15) days, counted from the service of the amended pleading, unless the court provides a longer period.67 After the last pleading has been served and filed, the case shall be set for pretrial,68 which is a mandatory proceeding.69 A plaintiffs/ petitioners (or its duly authorized representatives) non-appearance at the pretrial, if without valid cause, shall result in the dismissal of the action with prejudice, unless the court orders otherwise. A similar failure on the part of the defendant shall be a cause for allowing the plaintiff/petitioner to present evidence ex parte, and the court to render judgment on the basis thereof.70 The parties are required to file their pretrial briefs; failure to do so shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pretrial.71 Upon the termination thereof, the court shall issue an order reciting in detail the matters taken up at the conference; the action taken on them, the amendments allowed to the pleadings; and the agreements or admissions, if any, made by the parties regarding any of the matters considered.72 The parties may further avail themselves of any of the modes of discovery,73 if they so wish. Thereafter, the case shall be set for trial,74 in which the parties shall adduce their respective evidence in support of their claims and/or defenses. By their written consent or upon the application of either party, or on its own motion, the court may also order any or all of the issues to be referred to a commissioner, who is to be appointed by it or to be agreed upon by the parties.75 The trial or hearing before the commissioner shall proceed in all respects as it would if held before the court.76 Upon the completion of such proceedings, the commissioner shall file with the court a written report on the matters referred by the parties.77 The report shall be set for hearing, after which the court shall issue an order adopting, modifying or rejecting it in whole or in part; or recommitting it with instructions; or requiring the parties to present further evidence before the commissioner or the court.78 Finally, a judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be rendered. The decision shall be in writing, personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by the issuing magistrate, and filed with the clerk of court.79 Based on these elementary guidelines, let us examine the proceedings before the trial court in the instant case.

First, with respect to the initiatory pleading of the SJS. Even a cursory perusal of the Petition immediately reveals its gross inadequacy. It contained no statement of ultimate facts upon which the petitioner relied for its claim. Furthermore, it did not specify the relief it sought from the court, but merely asked it to answer a hypothetical question.

Relief, as contemplated in a legal action, refers to a specific coercive measure prayed for as a result of a violation of the rights of a plaintiff or a petitioner.80 As already discussed earlier, the Petition before the trial court had no allegations of fact81 or of any specific violation of the petitioners rights, which the respondents had a duty to respect. Such deficiency amounted to a failure to state a cause of action; hence, no coercive relief could be sought and adjudicated. The Petition evidently lacked substantive requirements and, we repeat, should have been dismissed at the outset. Second, with respect to the trial court proceedings. Within the period set to file their respective answers to the SJS Petition, Velarde, Villanueva and Manalo filed Motions to Dismiss; Cardinal Sin, a Comment; and Soriano, within a priorly granted extended period, an Answer in which he likewise prayed for the dismissal of the Petition.82 SJS filed a Rejoinder to the Motion of Velarde, who subsequently filed a Sur-Rejoinder. Supposedly, there were "several scheduled settings, in which the "[c]ourt was apprised of the respective positions of the parties."83 The nature of such settings -- whether pretrial or trial hearings -- was not disclosed in the records. Before ruling on the Motions to Dismiss, the trial court issued an Order84 dated May 8, 2003, directing the parties to submit their memoranda. Issued shortly thereafter was another Order85 dated May 14, 2003, denying all the Motions to Dismiss.
In the latter Order, the trial court perfunctorily ruled: "The Court now resolves to deny the Motions to Dismiss, and after all the memoranda are submitted, then, the case shall be deemed as submitted for resolution."86 Apparently, contrary to the requirement of Section 2 of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, the Motions were not heard. Worse, the Order purportedly resolving the Motions to Dismiss did not state any reason at all for their denial, in contravention of Section 3 of the said Rule 16. There was not even any statement of the grounds relied upon by the Motions; much less, of the legal findings and conclusions of the trial court. Thus, Velarde, Villanueva and Manalo moved for reconsideration. Pending the resolution of these Motions for Reconsideration, Villanueva filed a Motion to suspend the filing of the parties memoranda. But instead of separately resolving the pending Motions fairly and squarely, the trial court again transgressed the Rules of Court when it immediately proceeded to issue its Decision, even before tackling the issues raised in those Motions. Furthermore, the RTC issued its "Decision" without allowing the parties to file their answers. For this reason, there was no joinder of the issues. If only it had allowed the filing of those answers, the trial court would have known, as the Oral Argument revealed, that the petitioner and his co-respondents below had not committed or threatened to commit the act attributed to them (endorsing candidates) -- the act that was supposedly the factual basis of the suit. Parenthetically, the court a quo further failed to give a notice of the Petition to the OSG, which was entitled to be heard upon questions involving the constitutionality or validity of statutes and other measures.87 Moreover, as will be discussed in more detail, the questioned Decision of the trial court was utterly wanting in the requirements prescribed by the Constitution and the Rules of Court. All in all, during the loosely abbreviated proceedings of the case, the trial court indeed acted with inexplicable haste, with total ignorance of the law -- or, worse, in cavalier disregard of the rules of procedure -- and with grave abuse of discretion. Contrary to the contentions of the trial judge and of SJS, proceedings for declaratory relief must still follow the process described above -- the petition must state a cause of action; the proceedings must undergo the procedure outlined in the Rules of Court; and the decision must adhere to constitutional and legal requirements. First Substantive Issue:

Fundamental Requirements of a Decision


The Constitution commands that "[n]o decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall be refused due course or denied without stating the basis therefor."88 Consistent with this constitutional mandate, Section 1 of Rule 36 of the Rules on Civil Procedure similarly provides: "Sec. 1. Rendition of judgments and final orders. A judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by him and filed with the clerk of court." In the same vein, Section 2 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure reads as follows: "Sec. 2. Form and contents of judgments. -- The judgment must be written in the official language, personally and directly prepared by the judge and signed by him and shall contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the facts proved or admitted by the accused and the law upon which the judgment is based. "x x x xxx x x x."

Pursuant to the Constitution, this Court also issued on January 28, 1988, Administrative Circular No. 1, prompting all judges "to make complete findings of facts in their decisions, and scrutinize closely the legal aspects of the case in the light of the evidence presented. They should avoid the tendency to generalize and form conclusions without detailing the facts from which such conclusions are deduced." In many cases,89 this Court has time and time again reminded "magistrates to heed the demand of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution." The Court, through Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. in Yao v. Court of Appeals,90 discussed at length the implications of this provision and strongly exhorted thus: "Faithful adherence to the requirements of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution is indisputably a paramount component of due process and fair play. It is likewise demanded by the due process clause of the Constitution. The parties to a litigation should be informed of how it was decided, with an explanation of the factual and legal reasons that led to the conclusions of the court. The court cannot simply say that judgment is rendered in favor of X and against Y and just leave it at that without any justification whatsoever for its action. The losing party is entitled to know why he lost, so he may appeal to the higher court, if permitted, should he believe that the decision should be reversed. A decision that does not clearly and distinctly state the facts and the law on which it is based leaves the parties in the dark as to how it was reached and is precisely prejudicial to the losing party, who is unable to pinpoint the possible errors of the court for review by a higher tribunal. More than that, the requirement is an assurance to the parties that, in reaching judgment, the judge did so through the processes of legal reasoning. It is, thus, a safeguard against the impetuosity of the judge, preventing him from deciding ipse dixit. Vouchsafed neither the sword nor the purse by the Constitution but nonetheless vested with the sovereign prerogative of passing judgment on the life, liberty or property of his fellowmen, the judge must ultimately depend on the power of reason for sustained public confidence in the justness of his decision." In People v. Bugarin,91 the Court also explained: "The requirement that the decisions of courts must be in writing and that they must set forth clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which they are based serves many functions. It is intended, among other things, to inform the parties of the reason or reasons for the decision so that if any of them appeals, he can point out to the appellate court the finding of facts or the rulings on points of law with which he disagrees. More than that, the requirement is an assurance

to the parties that, in reaching judgment, the judge did so through the processes of legal reasoning. x x x." Indeed, elementary due process demands that the parties to a litigation be given information on how the case was decided, as well as an explanation of the factual and legal reasons that led to the conclusions of the court.92 In Madrid v. Court of Appeals,93 this Court had instructed magistrates to exert effort to ensure that their decisions would present a comprehensive analysis or account of the factual and legal findings that would substantially address the issues raised by the parties. In the present case, it is starkly obvious that the assailed Decision contains no statement of facts -- much less an assessment or analysis thereof -- or of the courts findings as to the probable facts. The assailed Decision begins with a statement of the nature of the action and the question or issue presented. Then follows a brief explanation of the constitutional provisions involved, and what the Petition sought to achieve. Thereafter, the ensuing procedural incidents before the trial court are tracked. The Decision proceeds to a full-length opinion on the nature and the extent of the separation of church and state. Without expressly stating the final conclusion she has reached or specifying the relief granted or denied, the trial judge ends her "Decision" with the clause "SO ORDERED." What were the antecedents that necessitated the filing of the Petition? What exactly were the distinct facts that gave rise to the question sought to be resolved by SJS? More important, what were the factual findings and analysis on which the trial court based its legal findings and conclusions? None were stated or implied. Indeed, the RTCs Decision cannot be upheld for its failure to express clearly and distinctly the facts on which it was based. Thus, the trial court clearly transgressed the constitutional directive. The significance of factual findings lies in the value of the decision as a precedent. How can it be so if one cannot apply the ruling to similar circumstances, simply because such circumstances are unknown? Otherwise stated, how will the ruling be applied in the future, if there is no point of factual comparison? Moreover, the court a quo did not include a resolutory or dispositive portion in its so-called Decision. The importance of such portion was explained in the early case Manalang v. Tuason de Rickards,94 from which we quote: "The resolution of the Court on a given issue as embodied in the dispositive part of the decision or order is the investitive or controlling factor that determines and settles the rights of the parties and the questions presented therein, notwithstanding the existence of statements or declaration in the body of said order that may be confusing." The assailed Decision in the present case leaves us in the dark as to its final resolution of the Petition. To recall, the original Petition was for declaratory relief. So, what relief did the trial court grant or deny? What rights of the parties did it conclusively declare? Its final statement says, "SO ORDERED." But what exactly did the court order? It had the temerity to label its issuance a "Decision," when nothing was in fact decided. Respondent SJS insists that the dispositive portion can be found in the body of the assailed Decision. It claims that the issue is disposed of and the Petition finally resolved by the statement of the trial court found on page 10 of its 14-page Decision, which reads: "Endorsement of specific candidates in an election to any public office is a clear violation of the separation clause."95 We cannot agree. In Magdalena Estate, Inc. v. Caluag,96 the obligation of the party imposed by the Court was allegedly contained in the text of the original Decision. The Court, however, held: "x x x The quoted finding of the lower court cannot supply deficiencies in the dispositive portion. It is a mere opinion of the court and the rule is settled that where there is a conflict between the

dispositive part and the opinion, the former must prevail over the latter on the theory that the dispositive portion is the final order while the opinion is merely a statement ordering nothing." (Italics in the original) Thus, the dispositive portion cannot be deemed to be the statement quoted by SJS and embedded in the last paragraph of page 10 of the assailed 14-page Decision. If at all, that statement is merely an answer to a hypothetical legal question and just a part of the opinion of the trial court. It does not conclusively declare the rights (or obligations) of the parties to the Petition. Neither does it grant any -- much less, the proper -relief under the circumstances, as required of a dispositive portion. Failure to comply with the constitutional injunction is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Decisions or orders issued in careless disregard of the constitutional mandate are a patent nullity and must be struck down as void.97 Parts of a Decision In general, the essential parts of a good decision consist of the following: (1) statement of the case; (2) statement of facts; (3) issues or assignment of errors; (4) court ruling, in which each issue is, as a rule, separately considered and resolved; and, finally, (5) dispositive portion. The ponente may also opt to include an introduction or a prologue as well as an epilogue, especially in cases in which controversial or novel issues are involved.98 An introduction may consist of a concise but comprehensive statement of the principal factual or legal issue/s of the case. In some cases -- particularly those concerning public interest; or involving complicated commercial, scientific, technical or otherwise rare subject matters -- a longer introduction or prologue may serve to acquaint readers with the specific nature of the controversy and the issues involved. An epilogue may be a summation of the important principles applied to the resolution of the issues of paramount public interest or significance. It may also lay down an enduring philosophy of law or guiding principle. Let us now, again for the guidance of the bench and the bar, discuss the essential parts of a good decision. 1. Statement of the Case The Statement of the Case consists of a legal definition of the nature of the action. At the first instance, this part states whether the action is a civil case for collection, ejectment, quieting of title, foreclosure of mortgage, and so on; or, if it is a criminal case, this part describes the specific charge -- quoted usually from the accusatory portion of the information -- and the plea of the accused. Also mentioned here are whether the case is being decided on appeal or on a petition for certiorari, the court of origin, the case number in the trial court, and the dispositive portion of the assailed decision. In a criminal case, the verbatim reproduction of the criminal information serves as a guide in determining the nature and the gravity of the offense for which the accused may be found culpable. As a rule, the accused cannot be convicted of a crime different from or graver than that charged. Also, quoting verbatim the text of the information is especially important when there is a question on the sufficiency of the charge, or on whether qualifying and modifying circumstances have been adequately alleged therein. To ensure that due process is accorded, it is important to give a short description of the proceedings regarding the plea of the accused. Absence of an arraignment, or a serious irregularity therein, may render the judgment void, and further consideration by the appellate court would be futile. In some instances, especially in appealed cases, it would also be useful to mention the fact of the appellants detention, in order to dispose of the preliminary query -- whether or not they have abandoned their appeal by absconding or jumping bail.

Mentioning the court of origin and the case number originally assigned helps in facilitating the consolidation of the records of the case in both the trial and the appellate courts, after entry of final judgment. Finally, the reproduction of the decretal portion of the assailed decision informs the reader of how the appealed case was decided by the court a quo. 2. Statement of Facts There are different ways of relating the facts of the case. First, under the objective or reportorial method, the judge summarizes -- without comment -- the testimony of each witness and the contents of each exhibit. Second, under the synthesis method, the factual theory of the plaintiff or prosecution and then that of the defendant or defense is summarized according to the judges best light. Third, in the subjective method, the version of the facts accepted by the judge is simply narrated without explaining what the parties versions are. Finally, through a combination of objective and subjective means, the testimony of each witness is reported and the judge then formulates his or her own version of the facts. In criminal cases, it is better to present both the version of the prosecution and that of the defense, in the interest of fairness and due process. A detailed evaluation of the contentions of the parties must follow. The resolution of most criminal cases, unlike civil and other cases, depends to a large extent on the factual issues and the appreciation of the evidence. The plausibility or the implausibility of each version can sometimes be initially drawn from a reading of the facts. Thereafter, the bases of the court in arriving at its findings and conclusions should be explained. On appeal, the fact that the assailed decision of the lower court fully, intelligently and correctly resolved all factual and legal issues involved may partly explain why the reviewing court finds no reason to reverse the findings and conclusions of the former. Conversely, the lower courts patent misappreciation of the facts or misapplication of the law would aid in a better understanding of why its ruling is reversed or modified. In appealed civil cases, the opposing sets of facts no longer need to be presented. Issues for resolution usually involve questions of law, grave abuse of discretion, or want of jurisdiction; hence, the facts of the case are often undisputed by the parties. With few exceptions, factual issues are not entertained in noncriminal cases. Consequently, the narration of facts by the lower court, if exhaustive and clear, may be reproduced; otherwise, the material factual antecedents should be restated in the words of the reviewing magistrate. In addition, the reasoning of the lower court or body whose decision is under review should be laid out, in order that the parties may clearly understand why the lower court ruled in a certain way, and why the reviewing court either finds no reason to reverse it or concludes otherwise. 3. Issues or Assignment of Errors Both factual and legal issues should be stated. On appeal, the assignment of errors, as mentioned in the appellants brief, may be reproduced in toto and tackled seriatim, so as to avoid motions for reconsideration of the final decision on the ground that the court failed to consider all assigned errors that could affect the outcome of the case. But when the appellant presents repetitive issues or when the assigned errors do not strike at the main issue, these may be restated in clearer and more coherent terms. Though not specifically questioned by the parties, additional issues may also be included, if deemed important for substantial justice to be rendered. Note that appealed criminal cases are given de novo review, in contrast to noncriminal cases in which the reviewing court is generally limited to issues specifically raised in the appeal. The few exceptions are errors of jurisdiction; questions not raised but necessary in arriving at a just decision on the case; or unassigned errors that are closely related to those properly assigned, or upon which depends the determination of the question properly raised. 4. The Courts Ruling

This part contains a full discussion of the specific errors or issues raised in the complaint, petition or appeal, as the case may be; as well as of other issues the court deems essential to a just disposition of the case. Where there are several issues, each one of them should be separately addressed, as much as practicable. The respective contentions of the parties should also be mentioned here. When procedural questions are raised in addition to substantive ones, it is better to resolve the former preliminarily. 5. The Disposition or Dispositive Portion In a criminal case, the disposition should include a finding of innocence or guilt, the specific crime committed, the penalty imposed, the participation of the accused, the modifying circumstances if any, and the civil liability and costs. In case an acquittal is decreed, the court must order the immediate release of the accused, if detained, (unless they are being held for another cause) and order the director of the Bureau of Corrections (or wherever the accused is detained) to report, within a maximum of ten (10) days from notice, the exact date when the accused were set free. In a civil case as well as in a special civil action, the disposition should state whether the complaint or petition is granted or denied, the specific relief granted, and the costs. The following test of completeness may be applied. First, the parties should know their rights and obligations. Second, they should know how to execute the decision under alternative contingencies. Third, there should be no need for further proceedings to dispose of the issues. Fourth, the case should be terminated by according the proper relief. The "proper relief" usually depends upon what the parties seek in their pleadings. It may declare their rights and duties, command the performance of positive prestations, or order them to abstain from specific acts. The disposition must also adjudicate costs. The foregoing parts need not always be discussed in sequence. But they should all be present and plainly identifiable in the decision. Depending on the writers character, genre and style, the language should be fresh and free-flowing, not necessarily stereotyped or in a fixed form; much less highfalutin, hackneyed and pretentious. At all times, however, the decision must be clear, concise, complete and correct. Second Substantive Issue:

Religious Leaders Endorsement of Candidates for Public Office


The basic question posed in the SJS Petition -- WHETHER ENDORSEMENTS OF CANDIDACIES BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL -- undoubtedly deserves serious consideration. As stated earlier, the Court deems this constitutional issue to be of paramount interest to the Filipino citizenry, for it concerns the governance of our country and its people. Thus, despite the obvious procedural transgressions by both SJS and the trial court, this Court still called for Oral Argument, so as not to leave any doubt that there might be room to entertain and dispose of the SJS Petition on the merits. Counsel for SJS has utterly failed, however, to convince the Court that there are enough factual and legal bases to resolve the paramount issue. On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General has sided with petitioner insofar as there are no facts supporting the SJS Petition and the assailed Decision. We reiterate that the said Petition failed to state directly the ultimate facts that it relied upon for its claim. During the Oral Argument, counsel for SJS candidly admitted that there were no factual allegations in its Petition for Declaratory Relief. Neither were there factual findings in the assailed Decision. At best, SJS merely asked the trial court to answer a hypothetical question. In effect, it merely sought an advisory opinion, the rendition of which was beyond the courts constitutional mandate and jurisdiction.99 Indeed, the assailed Decision was rendered in clear violation of the Constitution, because it made no findings of facts and final disposition. Hence, it is void and deemed legally inexistent. Consequently, there is nothing for this Court to review, affirm, reverse or even just modify.

Regrettably, it is not legally possible for the Court to take up, on the merits, the paramount question involving a constitutional principle. It is a time-honored rule that "the constitutionality of a statute [or act] will be passed upon only if, and to the extent that, it is directly and necessarily involved in a justiciable controversy and is essential to the protection of the rights of the parties concerned."100 WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review of Brother Mike Velarde is GRANTED . The assailed June 12, 2003 Decision and July 29, 2003 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 49) are hereby DECLARED NULL AND VOID and thus SET ASIDE . The SJS Petition for Declaratory Relief is DISMISSED for failure to state a cause of action. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Court Administrator to evaluate and recommend whether the trial judge may, after observing due process, be held administratively liable for rendering a decision violative of the Constitution, the Rules of Court and relevant circulars of this Court. No costs. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 102782 December 11, 1991 THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, RODOLFO A. MALAPIRA, STEPHEN A. MONSANTO, DAN R. CALDERON, and GRANDY N. TRIESTE, petitioners vs. THE METROPOLITAN MANILA AUTHORITY and the MUNICIPALITY OF MANDALUYONG, respondents.

CRUZ, J.:p In Metropolitan Traffic Command, West Traffic District vs. Hon. Arsenio M. Gonong, G.R. No. 91023, promulgated on July 13, 1990, 1 the Court held that the confiscation of the license plates of motor vehicles for traffic violations was not among the sanctions that could be imposed by the Metro Manila Commission under PD 1605 and was permitted only under the conditions laid dowm by LOI 43 in the case of stalled vehicles obstructing the public streets. It was there also observed that even the confiscation of driver's licenses for traffic violations was not directly prescribed by the decree nor was it allowed by the decree to be imposed by the Commission. No motion for reconsideration of that decision was submitted. The judgment became final and executory on August 6, 1990, and it was duly entered in the Book of Entries of Judgments on July 13, 1990. Subsequently, the following developments transpired: In a letter dated October 17, 1990, Rodolfo A. Malapira complained to the Court that when he was stopped for an alleged traffic violation, his driver's license was confiscated by Traffic Enforcer Angel de los Reyes in Quezon City. On December 18,1990, the Caloocan-Manila Drivers and Operators Association sent a letter to the Court asking who should enforce the decision in the above-mentioned case, whether they could seek damages for confiscation of their driver's licenses, and where they should file their complaints. Another letter was received by the Court on February 14, 1991, from Stephen L. Monsanto, complaining against the confiscation of his driver's license by Traffic Enforcer A.D. Martinez for an alleged traffic violation in Mandaluyong. This was followed by a letter-complaint filed on March 7, 1991, from Dan R. Calderon, a lawyer, also for confiscation of his driver's license by Pat. R.J. Tano-an of the Makati Police Force.

Still another complaint was received by the Court dated April 29, 1991, this time from Grandy N. Trieste, another lawyer, who also protested the removal of his front license plate by E. Ramos of the Metropolitan Manila Authority-Traffic Operations Center and the confiscation of his driver's license by Pat. A.V. Emmanuel of the Metropolitan Police Command-Western Police District. Required to submit a Comment on the complaint against him, Allan D. Martinez invoked Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1988, of Mandaluyong, authorizing the confiscation of driver's licenses and the removal of license plates of motor vehicles for traffic violations. For his part, A.V. Emmanuel said he confiscated Trieste's driver's license pursuant to a memorandum dated February 27, 1991, from the District Commander of the Western Traffic District of the Philippine National Police, authorizing such sanction under certain conditions. Director General Cesar P. Nazareno of the Philippine National Police assured the Court in his own Comment that his office had never authorized the removal of the license plates of illegally parked vehicles and that he had in fact directed full compliance with the above-mentioned decision in a memorandum, copy of which he attached, entitled Removal of Motor Vehicle License Plates and dated February 28, 1991. Pat. R.J. Tano-an, on the other hand, argued that the Gonong decision prohibited only the removal of license plates and not the confiscation of driver's licenses. On May 24, 1990, the Metropolitan Manila Authority issued Ordinance No. 11, Series of 1991, authorizing itself "to detach the license plate/tow and impound attended/ unattended/ abandoned motor vehicles illegally parked or obstructing the flow of traffic in Metro Manila." On July 2, 1991, the Court issued the following resolution: The attention ofthe Court has been called to the enactment by the Metropolitan Manila Authority of Ordinance No. 11, Series of 1991, providing inter alia that: Section 2. Authority to Detach Plate/Tow and Impound. The Metropolitan Manila Authority, thru the Traffic Operatiom Center, is authorized to detach the license plate/tow and impound attended/unattended/abandoned motor vehicles illegally parked or obstructing the flow of traffic in Metro Manila. The provision appears to be in conflict with the decision of the Court in the case at bar (as reported in 187 SCRA 432), where it was held that the license plates of motor vehicles may not be detached except only under the conditions prescribed in LOI 43. Additionally, the Court has received several complaints against the confiscation by police authorities of driver's licenses for alleged traffic violations, which sanction is, according to the said decision, not among those that may be imposed under PD 1605. To clarify these matters for the proper guidance of law-enforcement officers and motorists, the Court resolved to require the Metropolitan Manila Authority and the Solicitor General to submit, within ten (10) days from notice hereof, separate COMMENTS on such sanctions in light of the said decision. In its Comment, the Metropolitan Manila Authority defended the said ordinance on the ground that it was adopted pursuant to the powers conferred upon it by EO 392. It particularly cited Section 2 thereof vesting in the Council (its governing body) the responsibility among others of: 1. Formulation of policies on the delivery of basic services requiring coordination or consolidation for the Authority; and

2. Promulgation of resolutions and other issuances of metropolitan wide application, approval of a code of basic services requiring coordination, and exercise of its rule-making powers. (Emphasis supplied) The Authority argued that there was no conflict between the decision and the ordinance because the latter was meant to supplement and not supplant the latter. It stressed that the decision itself said that the confiscation of license plates was invalid in the absence of a valid law or ordinance, which was why Ordinance No. 11 was enacted. The Authority also pointed out that the ordinance could not be attacked collaterally but only in a direct action challenging its validity. For his part, the Solicitor General expressed the view that the ordinance was null and void because it represented an invalid exercise of a delegated legislative power. The flaw in the measure was that it violated existing law, specifically PD 1605, which does not permit, and so impliedly prohibits, the removal of license plates and the confiscation of driver's licenses for traffic violations in Metropolitan Manila. He made no mention, however, of the alleged impropriety of examining the said ordinance in the absence of a formal challenge to its validity. On October 24, 1991, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted a motion for the early resolution of the questioned sanctions, to remove once and for all the uncertainty of their vahdity. A similar motion was filed by the Metropolitan Manila Authority, which reiterated its contention that the incidents in question should be dismissed because there was no actual case or controversy before the Court. The Metropolitan Manila Authority is correct in invoking the doctrine that the validity of a law or act can be challenged only in a direct action and not collaterally. That is indeed the settled principle. However, that rule is not inflexible and may be relaxed by the Court under exceptional circumstances, such as those in the present controversy. The Solicitor General notes that the practices complained of have created a great deal of confusion among motorists about the state of the law on the questioned sanctions. More importantly, he maintains that these sanctions are illegal, being violative of law and the Gonong decision, and should therefore be stopped. We also note the disturbing report that one policeman who confiscated a driver's license dismissed the Gonong decision as "wrong" and said the police would not stop their "habit" unless they received orders "from the top." Regrettably, not one of the complainants has filed a formal challenge to the ordinances, including Monsanto and Trieste, who are lawyers and could have been more assertive of their rights. Given these considerations, the Court feels it must address the problem squarely presented to it and decide it as categorically rather than dismiss the complaints on the basis of the technical objection raised and thus, through its inaction, allow them to fester. The step we now take is not without legal authority or judicial precedent. Unquestionably, the Court has the power to suspend procedural rules in the exercise of its inherent power, as expressly recognized in the Constitution, to promulgate rules concerning "pleading, practice and procedure in all courts." 2 In proper cases, procedural rules may be relaxed or suspended in the interest of substantial justice, which otherwise may be miscarried because of a rigid and formalistic adherence to such rules. The Court has taken this step in a number of such cases, notably Araneta vs. Dinglasan, 3 where Justice Tuason justified the deviation on the ground that "the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure." We have made similar rulings in other cases, thus: Be it remembered that rules of procedure are but mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment ofjustice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be avoided.

(Aznar III vs. Bernad, G.R. No. 81190, May 9, 1988, 161 SCRA 276.) Time and again, this Court has suspended its own rules and excepted a particular case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice so require. In the instant petition, we forego a lengthy disquisition of the proper procedure that should have been taken by the parties involved and proceed directly to the merits of the case. (Piczon vs. Court of Appeals, 190 SCRA 31). Three of the cases were consolidated for argument and the other two were argued separately on other dates. Inasmuch as all of them present the same fundamental question which, in our view, is decisive, they will be disposed of jointly. For the same reason we will pass up the objection to the personality or sufficiency of interest of the petitioners in case G.R. No. L-3054 and case G.R. No. L-3056 and the question whether prohibition lies in cases G.R. Nos. L-2044 and L2756. No practical benefit can be gained from a discussion of these procedural matters, since the decision in the cases wherein the petitioners'cause of action or the propriety of the procedure followed is not in dispute, will be controlling authority on the others. Above all, the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure. (Avelino vs. Cuenco, G.R. No. L-2821 cited in Araneta vs. Dinglasan, 84 Phil. 368.) Accordingly, the Court will consider the motion to resolve filed by the Solicitor General a petition for prohibition against the enforcement of Ordinance No. 11, Series of 1991, of the Metropohtan Manila Authority, and Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1988, of the Municipality of Mandaluyong. Stephen A. Monsanto, Rodolfo A. Malapira, Dan R. Calderon, and Grandy N. Trieste are considered co-petitioners and the Metropolitan Manila Authority and the Municipality of Mandaluyong are hereby impleaded as respondents. This petition is docketed as G.R. No. 102782. The comments already submitted are duly noted and shall be taken into account by the Court in the resolution of the substantive issues raised. It is stressed that this action is not intended to disparage procedural rules, which the Court has recognized often enough as necessary to the orderly administration of justice. If we are relaxing them in this particular case, it is because of the failure of the proper parties to file the appropriate proceeding against the acts complained of, and the necessity of resolving, in the interest of the public, the important substantive issues raised. Now to the merits. The Metro Manila Authority sustains Ordinance No. 11, Series of 1991, under the specific authority conferred upon it by EO 392, while Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1988, is justified on the basis of the General Welfare Clause embodied in the Local Government Code. 4 It is not disputed that both measures were enacted to promote the comfort and convenience of the public and to alleviate the worsening traffic problems in Metropolitan Manila due in large part to violations of traffic rules. The Court holds that there is a valid delegation of legislative power to promulgate such measures, it appearing that the requisites of such delegation are present. These requisites are. 1) the completeness of the statute making the delegation; and 2) the presence of a sufficient standard. 5 Under the first requirement, the statute must leave the legislature complete in all its terms and provisions such that all the delegate will have to do when the statute reaches it is to implement it. What only can be delegated is not the discretion to determine what the law shall be but the discretion to determine how the law shall be enforced. This has been done in the case at bar. As a second requirement, the enforcement may be effected only in accordance with a sufficient standard, the function of which is to map out the boundaries of the delegate's authority and thus "prevent the delegation from running riot." This requirement has also been met. It is settled that the "convenience and welfare" of the public, particularly the motorists and passengers in the case at bar, is an acceptable sufficient standard to delimit the delegate's authority. 6

But the problem before us is not the validity of the delegation of legislative power. The question we must resolve is the validity of the exercise of such delegated power. The measures in question are enactments of local governments acting only as agents of the national legislature. Necessarily, the acts of these agents must reflect and conform to the will of their principal. To test the validity of such acts in the specific case now before us, we apply the particular requisites of a valid ordinance as laid down by the accepted principles governing municipal corporations. According to Elliot, a municipal ordinance, to be valid: 1) must not contravene the Constitution or any statute; 2) must not be unfair or oppressive; 3) must not be partial or discriminatory; 4) must not prohibit but may regulate trade; 5) must not be unreasonable; and 6) must be general and consistent with public policy. 7 A careful study of the Gonong decision will show that the measures under consideration do not pass the first criterion because they do not conform to existing law. The pertinent law is PD 1605. PD 1605 does not allow either the removal of license plates or the confiscation of driver's licenses for traffic violations committed in Metropolitan Manila. There is nothing in the following provisions of the decree authorizing the Metropolitan Manila Commission (and now the Metropolitan Manila Authority) to impose such sanctions: Section 1. The Metropolitan Manila Commission shall have the power to impose fines and otherwise discipline drivers and operators of motor vehicles for violations of traffic laws, ordinances, rules and regulations in Metropolitan Manila in such amounts and under such penalties as are herein prescribed. For this purpose, the powers of the Land Transportation Commission and the Board of Transportation under existing laws over such violations and punishment thereof are hereby transferred to the Metropolitan Manila Commission. When the proper penalty to be imposed is suspension or revocation of driver's license or certificate of public convenience, the Metropolitan Manila Commission or its representatives shall suspend or revoke such license or certificate. The suspended or revoked driver's license or the report of suspension or revocation of the certificate of public convenience shall be sent to the Land Transportation Commission or the Board of Transportation, as the case may be, for their records update. xxx xxx xxx Section 3.` Violations of traffic laws, ordinances, rules and regulations, committed within a twelve-month period, reckoned from the date of birth of the licensee, shall subject the violator to graduated fines as follows: P10.00 for the first offense, P20.00 for the and offense, P50.00 for the third offense, a one-year suspension of driver's license for the fourth offense, and a revocation of the driver's license for the fifth offense: Provided, That the Metropolitan Manila Commission may impose higher penalties as it may deem proper for violations of its ordinances prohibiting or regulating the use of certain public roads, streets and thoroughfares in Metropolitan Manila. xxx xxx xxx Section 5. In case of traffic violations, the driver's license shall not be confiscated but the erring driver shall be immediately issued a traffic citation ticket prescribed by the Metropolitan Manila Commission which shall state the violation committed, the amount of fine imposed for the violation and an advice that he can make payment to the city or municipal treasurer where the violation was committed or to the Philippine National Bank or Philippine Veterans Bank or their branches within seven days from the date of issuance of the citation ticket. If the offender fails to pay the fine imposed within the period herein prescribed, the Metropolitan Manila Commission or the law-enforcement agency concerned shall endorse the case to the proper fiscal for appropriate proceedings preparatory to the filing of the case with the competent traffic court, city or municipal court.

If at the time a driver renews his driver's license and records show that he has an unpaid fine, his driver's license shall not be renewed until he has paid the fine and corresponding surcharges. xxx xxx xxx Section 8. Insofar as the Metropolitan Manila area is concerned, all laws, decrees, orders, ordinances, rules and regulations, or parts thereof inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or modified accordingly. (Emphasis supplied). In fact, the above provisions prohibit the imposition of such sanctions in Metropolitan Manila. The Commission was allowed to "impose fines and otherwise discipline" traffic violators only "in such amounts and under such penalties as are herein prescribed," that is, by the decree itself. Nowhere is the removal of license plates directly imposed by the decree or at least allowed by it to be imposed by the Commission. Notably, Section 5 thereof expressly provides that "in case of traffic violations, the driver's license shall not be confiscated." These restrictions are applicable to the Metropolitan Manila Authority and all other local political subdivisions comprising Metropolitan Manila, including the Municipality of Mandaluyong. The requirement that the municipal enactment must not violate existing law explains itself. Local political subdivisions are able to legislate only by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power from the national legislature (except only that the power to create their own sources of revenue and to levy taxes is conferred by the Constitution itself). 8 They are mere agents vested with what is called the power of subordinate legislation. As delegates of the Congress, the local government unit cannot contravene but must obey at all times the will of their principal. In the case before us, the enactments in question, which are merely local in origin, cannot prevail against the decree, which has the force and effect of a statute. The self-serving language of Section 2 of the challenged ordinance is worth noting. Curiously, it is the measure itself, which was enacted by the Metropolitan Manila Authority, that authorizes the Metropolitan Manila Authority to impose the questioned sanction. In Villacorta vs, Bemardo, 9 the Court nullified an ordinance enacted by the Municipal Board of Dagupan City for being violative of the Land Registration Act. The decision held in part: In declaring the said ordinance null and void, the court a quo declared: From the above-recited requirements, there is no showing that would justify the enactment of the questioned ordinance. Section 1 of said ordinance clearly conflicts with Section 44 of Act 496, because the latter law does not require subdivision plans to be submitted to the City Engineer before the same is submitted for approval to and verification by the General Land Registration Office or by the Director of Lands as provided for in Section 58 of said Act. Section 2 of the same ordinance also contravenes the provisions of Section 44 of Act 496, the latter being silent on a service fee of P0.03 per square meter of every lot subject of such subdivision application; Section 3 of the ordinance in question also conflicts with Section 44 of Act 496, because the latter law does not mention of a certification to be made by the City Engineer before the Register of Deeds allows registration of the subdivision plan; and the last section of said ordinance impose a penalty for its violation, which Section 44 of Act 496 does not impose. In other words, Ordinance 22 of the City of Dagupan imposes upon a subdivision owner additional conditions. xxx xxx xxx

The Court takes note of the laudable purpose of the ordinance in bringing to a halt the surreptitious registration of lands belonging to the government. But as already intimated above, the powers of the board in enacting such a laudable ordinance cannot be held valid when it shall impede the exercise of rights granted in a general law and/or make a general law subordinated to a local ordinance. We affirm. To sustain the ordinance would be to open the floodgates to other ordinances amending and so violating national laws in the guise of implementing them. Thus, ordinances could be passed imposing additional requirements for the issuance of marriage licenses, to prevent bigamy; the registration of vehicles, to minimize carnapping; the execution of contracts, to forestall fraud; the validation of parts, to deter imposture; the exercise of freedom of speech, to reduce disorder; and so on. The list is endless, but the means, even if the end be valid, would be ultra vires. The measures in question do not merely add to the requirement of PD 1605 but, worse, impose sanctions the decree does not allow and in fact actually prohibits. In so doing, the ordinances disregard and violate and in effect partially repeal the law. We here emphasize the ruling in the Gonong case that PD 1605 applies only to the Metropolitan Manila area. It is an exception to the general authority conferred by R.A. No. 413 on the Commissioner of Land Transportation to punish violations of traffic rules elsewhere in the country with the sanction therein prescribed, including those here questioned. The Court agrees that the challenged ordinances were enacted with the best of motives and shares the concern of the rest of the public for the effective reduction of traffic problems in Metropolitan Manila through the imposition and enforcement of more deterrent penalties upon traffic violators. At the same time, it must also reiterate the public misgivings over the abuses that may attend the enforcement of such sanction in eluding the illicit practices described in detail in the Gonong decision. At any rate, the fact is that there is no statutory authority for and indeed there is a statutory prohibition against the imposition of such penalties in the Metropolitan Manila area. Hence, regardless of their merits, they cannot be impose by the challenged enactments by virtue only of the delegated legislative powers. It is for Congress to determine, in the exercise of its own discretion, whether or not to impose such sanctions, either directly through a statute or by simply delegating authority to this effect to the local governments in Metropolitan Manila. Without such action, PD 1605 remains effective and continues prohibit the confiscation of license plates of motor vehicles (except under the conditions prescribed in LOI 43) and of driver licenses as well for traffic violations in Metropolitan Manila. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: (1) declaring Ordinance No.11, Seriesof l991,of theMetropolitan Manila Authority and Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1988 of the Municipality of Mandaluyong, NULL and VOID; and (2) enjoining all law enforcement authorities in Metropolitan Manila from removing the license plates of motor vehicles (except when authorized under LOI 43) and confiscating driver licenses for traffic violations within the said area. SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

BUREAU OF CUSTOMS EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (BOCEA), represented by its National President (BOCEA National Executive Council) Mr. Romulo A. Pagulayan, Petitioner,

G.R. No. 181704 Present: CORONA,C.J., CARPIO, VELASCO, JR., LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, BRION, PERALTA, BERSAMIN, DEL CASTILLO, ABAD, VILLARAMA, JR., PEREZ, MENDOZA, SERENO, REYES, and PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

- versus -

HON. MARGARITO B. TEVES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Finance, HON. NAPOLEON L. MORALES, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, HON. LILIAN B. HEFTI, in her capacity as Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Respondents.

Promulgated: December 6, 2011 x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x DECISION VILLARAMA, JR., J. :

Before this Court is a petition1[1] for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for injunctive relief/s under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, to declare Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9335,2[2] otherwise known as the Attrition Act of 2005, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations3[3] (IRR) unconstitutional, and the implementation thereof be enjoined permanently.

The Facts
On January 25, 2005, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law R.A. No. 9335 which took effect on February 11, 2005. In Abakada Guro Party List v. Purisima4[4] (Abakada), we said of R.A. No. 9335:
* 1 2 3 4

RA [No.] 9335 was enacted to optimize the revenue-generation capability and collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The law intends to encourage BIR and BOC officials and employees to exceed their revenue targets by providing a system of rewards and sanctions through the creation of a Rewards and Incentives Fund (Fund) and a Revenue Performance Evaluation Board (Board). It covers all officials and employees of the BIR and the BOC with at least six months of service, regardless of employment status. The Fund is sourced from the collection of the BIR and the BOC in excess of their revenue targets for the year, as determined by the Development Budget and Coordinating Committee (DBCC). Any incentive or reward is taken from the fund and allocated to the BIR and the BOC in proportion to their contribution in the excess collection of the targeted amount of tax revenue. The Boards in the BIR and the BOC are composed of the Secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF) or his/her Undersecretary, the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or his/her Undersecretary, the Director General of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) or his/her Deputy Director General, the Commissioners of the BIR and the BOC or their Deputy Commissioners, two representatives from the rank-and-file employees and a representative from the officials nominated by their recognized organization. Each Board has the duty to (1) prescribe the rules and guidelines for the allocation, distribution and release of the Fund; (2) set criteria and procedures for removing from the service officials and employees whose revenue collection falls short of the target; (3) terminate personnel in accordance with the criteria adopted by the Board; (4) prescribe a system for performance evaluation; (5) perform other functions, including the issuance of rules and regulations and (6) submit an annual report to Congress. The DOF, DBM, NEDA, BIR, BOC and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) were tasked to promulgate and issue the implementing rules and regulations of RA [No.] 9335, to be approved by a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee created for such purpose.5
[5]

The Joint Congressional Oversight Committee approved the assailed IRR on May 22, 2006. Subsequently, the IRR was published on May 30, 2006 in two newspapers of general circulation, the

Philippine Star and the Manila Standard, and became effective fifteen (15) days later.6[6]
Contending that the enactment and implementation of R.A. No. 9335 are tainted with constitutional infirmities in violation of the fundamental rights of its members, petitioner Bureau of Customs Employees Association (BOCEA), an association of rank-and-file employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), duly registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and represented by its National President, Mr. Romulo A. Pagulayan (Pagulayan), directly filed the present petition before this Court against respondents Margarito B. Teves, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF), Commissioner Napoleon L. Morales (Commissioner Morales), in his capacity as BOC Commissioner, and Lilian B. Hefti, in her capacity as Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). In its petition, BOCEA made the following averments:

5 6

Sometime in 2008, high-ranking officials of the BOC pursuant to the mandate of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR, and in order to comply with the stringent deadlines thereof, started to disseminate Collection District Performance Contracts7[7] (Performance Contracts) for the lower ranking officials and rank-and-file employees to sign. The Performance Contract pertinently provided: xxxx WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of Sec. 25 (b) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Attrition Act of 2005, that provides for the setting of criteria and procedures for removing from the service Officials and Employees whose revenue collection fall short of the target in accordance with Section 7 of Republic Act 9335. xxxx NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the foregoing premises, parties unto this Agreement hereby agree and so agreed to perform the following: xxxx 2. The Section 2, PA/PE hereby accepts the allocated Revenue Collection Target and further accepts/commits to meet the said target under the following conditions:

a.)

That he/she will meet the allocated Revenue Collection Target and thereby undertakes and binds himself/herself that in the event the revenue collection falls short of the target with due consideration of all relevant factors affecting the level of collection as provided in the rules and regulations promulgated under the Act and its IRR, he/she will voluntarily submit to the provisions of Sec. 25 (b) of the IRR and Sec. 7 of the Act; and

b.) That he/she will cascade and/or allocate to respective Appraisers/Examiners or Employees under his/her section the said Revenue Collection Target and require them to execute a Performance Contract, and direct them to accept their individual target. The Performance Contract executed by the respective Examiners/Appraisers/Employees shall be submitted to the Office of the Commissioner through the LAIC on or before March 31, 2008.

x x x x8[8]

BOCEA opined that the revenue target was impossible to meet due to the Governments own policies on reduced tariff rates and tax breaks to big businesses, the occurrence of natural calamities and because of other economic factors. BOCEA claimed that some BOC employees were coerced and forced to sign the Performance Contract. The majority of them, however, did not sign. In particular, officers of BOCEA were summoned and required to sign the Performance Contracts but they also refused. To ease the brewing
7 8

tension, BOCEA claimed that its officers sent letters, and sought several dialogues with BOC officials but the latter refused to heed them.

In addition, BOCEA alleged that Commissioner Morales exerted heavy pressure on the District Collectors, Chiefs of Formal Entry Divisions, Principal Customs Appraisers and Principal Customs Examiners of the BOC during command conferences to make them sign their Performance Contracts. Likewise, BOC Deputy Commissioner Reynaldo Umali (Deputy Commissioner Umali) individually spoke to said personnel to convince them to sign said contracts. Said personnel were threatened that if they do not sign their respective Performance Contracts, they would face possible reassignment, reshuffling, or worse, be placed on floating status. Thus, all the District Collectors, except a certain Atty. Carlos So of the Collection District III of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), signed the Performance Contracts.

BOCEA further claimed that Pagulayan was constantly harassed and threatened with lawsuits. Pagulayan approached Deputy Commissioner Umali to ask the BOC officials to stop all forms of harassment, but the latter merely said that he would look into the matter. On February 5, 2008, BOCEA through counsel wrote the Revenue Performance Evaluation Board (Board) to desist from implementing R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR and from requiring rank-and-file employees of the BOC and BIR to sign Performance Contracts.9[9] In his letter-reply10[10] dated February 12, 2008, Deputy Commissioner Umali denied having coerced any BOC employee to sign a Performance Contract. He also defended the BOC, invoking its mandate of merely implementing the law. Finally, Pagulayan and BOCEAs counsel, on separate occasions, requested for a certified true copy of the Performance Contract from Deputy Commissioner Umali but the latter failed to furnish them a copy.11[11]

This petition was filed directly with this Court on March 3, 2008. BOCEA asserted that in view of the unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR, and their adverse effects on the constitutional rights of BOC officials and employees, direct resort to this Court is justified. BOCEA argued, among others, that its members and other BOC employees are in great danger of losing their jobs should they fail to meet the required quota provided under the law, in clear violation of their constitutional right to security of tenure, and at their and their respective families prejudice. In their Comment,12[12] respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), countered that R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR do not violate the right to due process and right to security of tenure of BIR and BOC employees. The OSG stressed that the guarantee of security of tenure under the 1987 Constitution is not a guarantee of perpetual employment. R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR provided a reasonable and valid
9 10 11 12

ground for the dismissal of an employee which is germane to the purpose of the law. Likewise, R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR provided that an employee may only be separated from the service upon compliance with substantive and procedural due process. The OSG added that R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR must enjoy the presumption of constitutionality. In its Reply,13[13] BOCEA claimed that R.A. No. 9335 employs means that are unreasonable to achieve its stated objectives; that the law is unduly oppressive of BIR and BOC employees as it shifts the extreme burden upon their shoulders when the Government itself has adopted measures that make collection difficult such as reduced tariff rates to almost zero percent and tax exemption of big businesses; and that the law is discriminatory of BIR and BOC employees. BOCEA manifested that only the high-ranking officials of the BOC benefited largely from the reward system under R.A. No. 9335 despite the fact that they were not the ones directly toiling to collect revenue. Moreover, despite the BOCEAs numerous requests,14[14] BOC continually refused to provide BOCEA the Expenditure Plan on how such reward was distributed. Since BOCEA was seeking similar reliefs as that of the petitioners in Abakada Guro Party List v.

Purisima, BOCEA filed a Motion to Consolidate15[15] the present case with Abakada on April 16, 2008.
However, pending action on said motion, the Court rendered its decision in Abakada on August 14, 2008. Thus, the consolidation of this case with Abakada was rendered no longer possible.16[16]

In Abakada, this Court, through then Associate Justice, now Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, declared Section 1217[17] of R.A. No. 9335 creating a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee to approve the IRR as unconstitutional and violative of the principle of separation of powers. However, the constitutionality of the remaining provisions of R.A. No. 9335 was upheld pursuant to Section 1318[18] of R.A. No. 9335. The Court also held that until the contrary is shown, the IRR of R.A. No. 9335 is presumed valid and effective even without the approval of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.19[19]

Notwithstanding our ruling in Abakada, both parties complied with our Resolution20[20] dated February 10, 2009, requiring them to submit their respective Memoranda.

The Issues
BOCEA raises the following issues:
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE ATTRITION LAW, REPUBLIC ACT [NO.] 9335, AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THESE VIOLATE THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF THE COVERED BIR AND BOC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES[;] II. WHETHER OR NOT THE ATTRITION LAW, REPUBLIC ACT [NO.] 9335, AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THESE VIOLATE THE RIGHT OF BIR AND BOC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES TO THE EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS[;] III. WHETHER OR NOT REPUBLIC ACT [NO.] 9335 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS VIOLATE THE RIGHT TO SECURITY OF TENURE OF BIR AND BOC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES AS ENSHRINED UNDER SECTION 2 (3), ARTICLE IX (B) OF THE CONSTITUTION[;] IV. WHETHER OR NOT REPUBLIC ACT [NO.] 9335 AND ITS IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THEY CONSTITUTE UNDUE DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWERS TO THE REVENUE PERFORMANCE EVALUATION BOARD IN VIOLATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION OF POWERS ENSHRINED IN THE CONSTITUTION[; AND] V. WHETHER OR NOT REPUBLIC ACT [NO.] 9335 IS A BILL OF ATTAINDER AND HENCE[,] UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT INFLICTS PUNISHMENT THROUGH LEGISLATIVE FIAT UPON A PARTICULAR GROUP OR CLASS OF OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES WITHOUT TRIAL.21[21]

BOCEA manifested that while waiting for the Court to give due course to its petition, events unfolded showing the patent unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 9335. It narrated that during the first year of the implementation of R.A. No. 9335, BOC employees exerted commendable efforts to attain their revenue target of P196 billion which they surpassed by as much as P2 billion for that year alone. However, this was attained only because oil companies made advance tax payments to BOC. Moreover, BOC employees were given their reward for surpassing said target only in 2008, the distribution of which they described as unjust, unfair, dubious and fraudulent because only top officials of BOC got the huge sum of reward while the employees, who did the hard task of collecting, received a mere pittance of around P8,500.00. In the same manner, the Bonds Division of BOC-NAIA collected 400+% of its designated target but the higher management gave out to the employees a measly sum of P8,500.00 while the top level officials partook of millions of the excess collections. BOCEA relies on a piece of information revealed by a newspaper showing

21

the list of BOC officials who apparently earned huge amounts of money by way of reward.22[22] It claims that the recipients thereof included lawyers, support personnel and other employees, including a dentist, who performed no collection functions at all. These alleged anomalous selection, distribution and allocation of rewards was due to the failure of R.A. No. 9335 to set out clear guidelines.23[23]

In addition, BOCEA avers that the Board initiated the first few cases of attrition for the Fiscal Year 2007 by subjecting five BOC officials from the Port of Manila to attrition despite the fact that the Port of Manila substantially complied with the provisions of R.A. No. 9335. It is thus submitted that the selection of these officials for attrition without proper investigation was nothing less than arbitrary. Further, the legislative and executive departments promulgation of issuances and the Governments accession to regional trade agreements have caused a significant diminution of the tariff rates, thus, decreasing over-all collection. These unrealistic settings of revenue targets seriously affect BIR and BOC employees tasked with the burden of collection, and worse, subjected them to attrition.24[24]

BOCEA assails the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR on the following grounds:

1. R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR violate the BIR and BOC employees right to due process because the termination of employees who had not attained their revenue targets for the year is peremptory and done without any form of hearing to allow said employees to ventilate their side. Moreover, R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR do not comply with the requirements under CSC rules and regulations as the dismissal in this case is immediately executory. Such immediately executory nature of the Boards decision negates the remedies available to an employee as provided under the CSC rules. 2. R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR violate the BIR and BOC employees right to equal protection of the law because R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR unduly discriminates against BIR and BOC employees as compared to employees of other revenue generating government agencies like the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Department of Transportation and Communication, the Air Transportation Office, the Land Transportation Office, and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, among others, which are not subject to attrition.

3.

R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR violate the BIR and BOC employees right to security of tenure because R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR effectively removed remedies provided in the ordinary course of administrative procedure afforded to government employees. The law likewise created another ground for dismissal, i.e., non-attainment of revenue collection target, which is not provided under CSC rules and which is, by its nature, unpredictable and therefore arbitrary and unreasonable.

4.

R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR violate the 1987 Constitution because Congress granted to the Revenue Performance Evaluation Board (Board) the unbridled discretion of formulating the criteria for termination, the manner of allocating targets, the distribution of rewards and the determination of relevant factors affecting the targets of collection, which is tantamount to undue delegation of legislative power.

22 23 24

5.

R.A. No. 9335 is a bill of attainder because it inflicts punishment upon a particular group or class of officials and employees without trial. This is evident from the fact that the law confers upon the Board the power to impose the penalty of removal upon employees who do not meet their revenue targets; that the same is without the benefit of hearing; and that the removal from service is immediately executory. Lastly, it disregards the presumption of regularity in the performance of the official functions of a public officer.25[25] On the other hand, respondents through the OSG stress that except for Section 12 of R.A. No. 9335, R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR are constitutional, as per our ruling in Abakada. Nevertheless, the OSG argues that the classification of BIR and BOC employees as public officers under R.A. No. 9335 is based on a valid and substantial distinction since the revenue generated by the BIR and BOC is essentially in the form of taxes, which is the lifeblood of the State, while the revenue produced by other agencies is merely incidental or secondary to their governmental functions; that in view of their mandate, and for purposes of tax collection, the BIR and BOC are sui generis; that R.A. No. 9335 complies with the completeness and sufficient standard tests for the permissive delegation of legislative power to the Board; that the Board exercises its delegated power consistent with the policy laid down in the law, that is, to optimize the revenue generation capability and collection of the BIR and the BOC; that parameters were set in order that the Board may identify the officials and employees subject to attrition, and the proper procedure for their removal in case they fail to meet the targets set in the Performance Contract were provided; and that the rights of BIR and BOC employees to due process of law and security of tenure are duly accorded by R.A. No. 9335. The OSG likewise maintains that there was no encroachment of judicial power in the enactment of R.A. No. 9335 amounting to a bill of attainder since R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR merely defined the offense and provided for the penalty that may be imposed. Finally, the OSG reiterates that the separation from the service of any BIR or BOC employee under R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR shall be done only upon due consideration of all relevant factors affecting the level of collection, subject to Civil Service laws, rules and regulations, and in compliance with substantive and procedural due process. The OSG opines that the Performance Contract, far from violating the BIR and BOC employees right to due process, actually serves as a notice of the revenue target they have to meet and the possible consequences of failing to meet the same. More, there is nothing in the law which prevents the aggrieved party from appealing the unfavorable decision of dismissal.26[26]

In essence, the issues for our resolution are: 1. Whether there is undue delegation of legislative power to the Board;

2. Whether R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR violate the rights of BOCEAs members to: (a) equal protection of laws, (b) security of tenure and (c) due process; and

25 26

3.

Whether R.A. No. 9335 is a bill of attainder.

Our Ruling
Prefatorily, we note that it is clear, and in fact uncontroverted, that BOCEA has locus standi. BOCEA impugns the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR because its members, who are rank-andfile employees of the BOC, are actually covered by the law and its IRR. BOCEAs members have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that they have sustained or will sustain, direct injury as a result of the enforcement of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR.27[27]

However, we find no merit in the petition and perforce dismiss the same.

It must be noted that this is not the first time the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR are being challenged. The Court already settled the majority of the same issues raised by BOCEA in our decision in Abakada, which attained finality on September 17, 2008. As such, our ruling therein is worthy of reiteration in this case.

We resolve the first issue in the negative.

The principle of separation of powers ordains that each of the three great branches of government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in matters falling within its own constitutionally allocated sphere.28[28] Necessarily imbedded in this doctrine is the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non delegari potest, which means what has been delegated, cannot be delegated. This doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another.29[29] However, this principle of non-delegation of powers admits of numerous exceptions,30[30] one of which is the delegation of legislative power to various specialized administrative agencies like the Board in this case.

The rationale for the aforementioned exception was clearly explained in our ruling in Gerochi v.

Department of Energy,31[31] to wit:

27 28 29 30 31

In the face of the increasing complexity of modern life, delegation of legislative power to various specialized administrative agencies is allowed as an exception to this principle. Given the volume and variety of interactions in todays society, it is doubtful if the legislature can promulgate laws that will deal adequately with and respond promptly to the minutiae of everyday life. Hence, the need to delegate to administrative bodies the principal agencies tasked to execute laws in their specialized fields the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given statute and effectuate its policies. All that is required for the valid exercise of this power of subordinate legislation is that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law and that the regulation be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by the law. These requirements are denominated as the completeness test and the sufficient standard test.32
[32]

Thus, in Abakada, we held,

Two tests determine the validity of delegation of legislative power: (1) the completeness test and (2) the sufficient standard test. A law is complete when it sets forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate. It lays down a sufficient standard when it provides adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegates authority and prevent the delegation from running riot. To be sufficient, the standard must specify the limits of the delegates authority, announce the legislative policy and identify the conditions under which it is to be implemented. RA [No.] 9335 adequately states the policy and standards to guide the President in fixing revenue targets and the implementing agencies in carrying out the provisions of the law. Section 2 spells out the policy of the law: SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. It is the policy of the State to optimize the revenue-generation capability and collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) by providing for a system of rewards and sanctions through the creation of a Rewards and Incentives Fund and a Revenue Performance Evaluation Board in the above agencies for the purpose of encouraging their officials and employees to exceed their revenue targets. Section 4 canalized within banks that keep it from overflowing the delegated power to the President to fix revenue targets: SEC. 4. Rewards and Incentives Fund. A Rewards and Incentives Fund, hereinafter referred to as the Fund, is hereby created, to be sourced from the collection of the BIR and the BOC in excess of their respective revenue targets of the year, as determined by the Development Budget and Coordinating Committee (DBCC), in the following percentages: Excess of Collection [Over] the Revenue Targets 30% or below More than 30% Percent (%) of the Excess Collection to Accrue to the Fund 15% 15% of the first 30% plus 20% of the remaining excess

The Fund shall be deemed automatically appropriated the year immediately following the year when the revenue collection target was exceeded and shall be released on the same fiscal year.
32

Revenue targets shall refer to the original estimated revenue collection expected of the BIR and the BOC for a given fiscal year as stated in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) submitted by the President to Congress. The BIR and the BOC shall submit to the DBCC the distribution of the agencies revenue targets as allocated among its revenue districts in the case of the BIR, and the collection districts in the case of the BOC. xxx xxx x x x

Revenue targets are based on the original estimated revenue collection expected respectively of the BIR and the BOC for a given fiscal year as approved by the DBCC and stated in the BESF submitted by the President to Congress. Thus, the determination of revenue targets does not rest solely on the President as it also undergoes the scrutiny of the DBCC. On the other hand, Section 7 specifies the limits of the Boards authority and identifies the conditions under which officials and employees whose revenue collection falls short of the target by at least 7.5% may be removed from the service: SEC. 7. Powers and Functions of the Board. The Board in the agency shall have the following powers and functions: xxx xxx xxx

(b) To set the criteria and procedures for removing from service officials and employees whose revenue collection falls short of the target by at least seven and a half percent (7.5%), with due consideration of all relevant factors affecting the level of collection as provided in the rules and regulations promulgated under this Act, subject to civil service laws, rules and regulations and compliance with substantive and procedural due process: Provided, That the following exemptions shall apply: 1. Where the district or area of responsibility is newly-created, not exceeding two years in operation, and has no historical record of collection performance that can be used as basis for evaluation; and

2. Where the revenue or customs official or employee is a recent transferee in the middle of the period under consideration unless the transfer was due to nonperformance of revenue targets or potential nonperformance of revenue targets: Provided, however, That when the district or area of responsibility covered by revenue or customs officials or employees has suffered from economic difficulties brought about by natural calamities or force majeure or economic causes as may be determined by the Board, termination shall be considered only after careful and proper review by the Board.
(c) To terminate personnel in accordance with the criteria adopted in the preceding paragraph: Provided, That such decision shall be immediately executory: Provided, further, That the application of the criteria for the separation of an official or employee from service under this Act shall be without prejudice to the application of other relevant laws on accountability of public officers and employees, such as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officers and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; xxx xxx x x x

At any rate, this Court has recognized the following as sufficient standards: public interest, justice and equity, public convenience and welfare and simplicity, economy and welfare. In this case, the declared policy of optimization of the revenuegeneration capability and collection of the BIR and the BOC is infused with public interest.33[33]

We could not but deduce that the completeness test and the sufficient standard test were fully satisfied by R.A. No. 9335, as evident from the aforementioned Sections 2, 4 and 7 thereof. Moreover, Section 534[34] of R.A. No. 9335 also provides for the incentives due to District Collection Offices. While it is apparent that the last paragraph of Section 5 provides that [t]he allocation, distribution and release of the

district reward shall likewise be prescribed by the rules and regulations of the Revenue Performance and Evaluation Board, Section 7 (a)35[35] of R.A. No. 9335 clearly mandates and sets the parameters for the
Board by providing that such rules and guidelines for the allocation, distribution and release of the fund shall be in accordance with Sections 4 and 5 of R.A. No. 9335. In sum, the Court finds that R.A. No. 9335, read and appreciated in its entirety, is complete in all its essential terms and conditions, and that it contains sufficient standards as to negate BOCEAs supposition of undue delegation of legislative power to the Board.

Similarly, we resolve the second issue in the negative.

Equal protection simply provides that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated in a similar manner, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed. The purpose of the equal protection clause is to secure every person within a states jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by the express terms of a statute or by its improper execution through the states duly constituted authorities. In other words, the concept of equal justice under the law requires the state to govern impartially, and it may not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective.36[36]

Thus, on the issue on equal protection of the laws, we held in Abakada: The equal protection clause recognizes a valid classification, that is, a classification that has a reasonable foundation or rational basis and not arbitrary. With respect to RA [No.] 9335, its expressed public policy is the optimization of the revenuegeneration capability and collection of the BIR and the BOC. Since the subject of the law is the revenue-generation capability and collection of the BIR and the BOC, the incentives and/or sanctions provided in the law should logically pertain to the said agencies. Moreover, the law concerns only the BIR and the BOC because they have the common distinct primary function of generating revenues for the national government through the collection of taxes, customs duties, fees and charges. The BIR performs the following functions:
33 34 35 36

Sec. 18. The Bureau of Internal Revenue. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, which shall be headed by and subject to the supervision and control of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who shall be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary [of the DOF], shall have the following functions: (1) Assess and collect all taxes, fees and charges and account for all revenues collected; (2) Exercise duly delegated police powers for the proper performance of its functions and duties; (3) Prevent and prosecute tax evasions and all other illegal economic activities; (4) Exercise supervision and control over its constituent and subordinate units; and (5) Perform such other functions as may be provided by law. xxx xxx x x x On the other hand, the BOC has the following functions: Sec. 23. The Bureau of Customs. The Bureau of Customs which shall be headed and subject to the management and control of the Commissioner of Customs, who shall be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary [of the DOF] and hereinafter referred to as Commissioner, shall have the following functions: (1) Collect custom duties, taxes and the corresponding fees, charges and penalties; (2) Account for all customs revenues collected; (3) Exercise police authority for the enforcement of tariff and customs laws; (4) Prevent and suppress smuggling, pilferage and all other economic frauds within all ports of entry; (5) Supervise and control exports, imports, foreign mails and the clearance of vessels and aircrafts in all ports of entry; (6) Administer all legal requirements that are appropriate; (7) Prevent and prosecute smuggling and other illegal activities in all ports under its jurisdiction; (8) Exercise supervision and control over its constituent units; (9) Perform such other functions as may be provided by law. xxx xxx x x x Both the BIR and the BOC are bureaus under the DOF. They principally perform the special function of being the instrumentalities through which the State exercises one of its great inherent functions taxation. Indubitably, such substantial distinction is germane and intimately related to the purpose of the law. Hence, the classification and treatment accorded to the BIR and the BOC under RA [No.] 9335 fully satisfy the demands of equal protection.37[37]
37

As it was imperatively correlated to the issue on equal protection, the issues on the security of tenure of affected BIR and BOC officials and employees and their entitlement to due process were also settled in Abakada: Clearly, RA [No.] 9335 in no way violates the security of tenure of officials and employees of the BIR and the BOC. The guarantee of security of tenure only means that an employee cannot be dismissed from the service for causes other than those provided by law and only after due process is accorded the employee. In the case of RA [No.] 9335, it lays down a reasonable yardstick for removal (when the revenue collection falls short of the target by at least 7.5%) with due consideration of all relevant factors affecting the level of collection. This standard is analogous to inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties, a ground for disciplinary action under civil service laws. The action for removal is also subject to civil service laws, rules and regulations and compliance with substantive and procedural due process.38[38]

In addition, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain ones side.39[39] BOCEAs apprehension of deprivation of due process finds its answer in Section 7 (b) and (c) of R.A. No. 9335.40[40] The concerned BIR or BOC official or employee is not simply given a target revenue collection and capriciously left without any quarter. R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR clearly give due consideration to all relevant factors41[41] that may affect the level of collection. In the same manner, exemptions42[42] were set, contravening BOCEAs claim that its members may be removed for unattained target collection even due to causes which are beyond their control. Moreover, an employees right to be heard is not at all prevented and his right to appeal is not deprived of him.43[43] In fine, a BIR or BOC official or employee in this case cannot be arbitrarily removed from the service without according him his constitutional right to due process. No less than R.A. No. 9335 in accordance with the 1987 Constitution guarantees this.

We have spoken, and these issues were finally laid to rest. Now, the Court proceeds to resolve the last, but new issue raised by BOCEA, that is, whether R.A. No. 9335 is a bill of attainder proscribed under Section 22,44[44] Article III of the 1987 Constitution.

On this score, we hold that R.A. No. 9335 is not a bill of attainder. A bill of attainder is a legislative act which inflicts punishment on individuals or members of a particular group without a judicial trial. Essential to a bill of attainder are a specification of certain individuals or a group of individuals, the imposition of a punishment, penal or otherwise, and the lack of judicial trial.45[45]

38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

In his Concurring Opinion in Tuason v. Register of Deeds, Caloocan City,46[46] Justice Florentino P. Feliciano traces the roots of a Bill of Attainder, to wit: Bills of attainder are an ancient instrument of tyranny. In England a few centuries back, Parliament would at times enact bills or statutes which declared certain persons attainted and their blood corrupted so that it lost all heritable quality (Ex Parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 18 L.Ed. 366 [1867]). In more modern terms, a bill of attainder is essentially a usurpation of judicial power by a legislative body. It envisages and effects the imposition of a penalty the deprivation of life or liberty or property not by the ordinary processes of judicial trial, but by legislative fiat. While cast in the form of special legislation, a bill of attainder (or bill of pains and penalties, if it prescribed a penalty other than death) is in intent and effect a penal judgment visited upon an identified person or group of persons (and not upon the general community) without a prior charge or demand, without notice and hearing, without an opportunity to defend, without any of the civilized forms and safeguards of the judicial process as we know it (People v. Ferrer, 48 SCRA 382 [1972]; Cummings and Missouri, 4 Wall. 277, 18 L. Ed. 356 [1867]; U.S. v. Lovett, 328, U.S. 303, 90 L.Ed. 1252 [1945]; U.S. v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437, 14 L.Ed. 2d. 484 [1965]. Such is the archetypal bill of attainder wielded as a means of legislative oppression. x x x47[47] R.A. No. 9335 does not possess the elements of a bill of attainder. It does not seek to inflict punishment without a judicial trial. R.A. No. 9335 merely lays down the grounds for the termination of a BIR or BOC official or employee and provides for the consequences thereof. The democratic processes are still followed and the constitutional rights of the concerned employee are amply protected.

A final note. We find that BOCEAs petition is replete with allegations of defects and anomalies in allocation, distribution and receipt of rewards. While BOCEA intimates that it intends to curb graft and corruption in the BOC in particular and in the government in general which is nothing but noble, these intentions do not actually pertain to the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR, but rather in the faithful implementation thereof. R.A. No. 9335 itself does not tolerate these pernicious acts of graft and corruption.48[48] As the Court is not a trier of facts, the investigation on the veracity of, and the proper action on these anomalies are in the hands of the Executive branch. Correlatively, the wisdom for the enactment of this law remains within the domain of the Legislative branch. We merely interpret the law as it is. The Court has no discretion to give statutes a meaning detached from the manifest intendment and language thereof.49[49] Just like any other law, R.A. No. 9335 has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality, and to justify its nullification, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the

46 47 48 49

Constitution and not one that is doubtful, speculative, or argumentative.50[50] We have so declared in

Abakada, and we now reiterate that R.A. No. 9335 and its IRR are constitutional.
WHEREFORE, the present petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for injunctive relief/s is DISMISSED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 74457 March 20, 1987 RESTITUTO YNOT, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, THE STATION COMMANDER, INTEGRATED NATIONAL POLICE, BAROTAC NUEVO, ILOILO and THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY, REGION IV, ILOILO CITY, respondents.

Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioner.

CRUZ, J.: The essence of due process is distilled in the immortal cry of Themistocles to Alcibiades "Strike but hear me first!" It is this cry that the petitioner in effect repeats here as he challenges the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 626-A. The said executive order reads in full as follows: WHEREAS, the President has given orders prohibiting the interprovincial movement of carabaos and the slaughtering of carabaos not complying with the requirements of Executive Order No. 626 particularly with respect to age; WHEREAS, it has been observed that despite such orders the violators still manage to circumvent the prohibition against inter-provincial movement of carabaos by transporting carabeef instead; and WHEREAS, in order to achieve the purposes and objectives of Executive Order No. 626 and the prohibition against interprovincial movement of carabaos, it is necessary to strengthen the said Executive Order and provide for the disposition of the carabaos and carabeef subject of the violation; NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby promulgate the following:
50

SECTION 1. Executive Order No. 626 is hereby amended such that henceforth, no carabao regardless of age, sex, physical condition or purpose and no carabeef shall be transported from one province to another. The carabao or carabeef transported in violation of this Executive Order as amended shall be subject to confiscation and forfeiture by the government, to be distributed to charitable institutions and other similar institutions as the Chairman of the National Meat Inspection Commission may ay see fit, in the case of carabeef, and to deserving farmers through dispersal as the Director of Animal Industry may see fit, in the case of carabaos. SECTION 2. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately. Done in the City of Manila, this 25th day of October, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty. (SGD.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS P r e s i d e n t Republic of the Philippines The petitioner had transported six carabaos in a pump boat from Masbate to Iloilo on January 13, 1984, when they were confiscated by the police station commander of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, for violation of the above measure. 1 The petitioner sued for recovery, and the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City issued a writ of replevin upon his filing of a supersedeas bond of P12,000.00. After considering the merits of the case, the court sustained the confiscation of the carabaos and, since they could no longer be produced, ordered the confiscation of the bond. The court also declined to rule on the constitutionality of the executive order, as raise by the petitioner, for lack of authority and also for its presumed validity. 2 The petitioner appealed the decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court,* and he has now come before us in this petition for review on certiorari.
3

which upheld the trial court, **

The thrust of his petition is that the executive order is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes outright confiscation of the carabao or carabeef being transported across provincial boundaries. His claim is that the penalty is invalid because it is imposed without according the owner a right to be heard before a competent and impartial court as guaranteed by due process. He complains that the measure should not have been presumed, and so sustained, as constitutional. There is also a challenge to the improper exercise of the legislative power by the former President under Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution. 4 While also involving the same executive order, the case of Pesigan v. Angeles 5 is not applicable here. The question raised there was the necessity of the previous publication of the measure in the Official Gazette before it could be considered enforceable. We imposed the requirement then on the basis of due process of law. In doing so, however, this Court did not, as contended by the Solicitor General, impliedly affirm the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 626-A. That is an entirely different matter.

This Court has declared that while lower courts should observe a becoming modesty in examining constitutional questions, they are nonetheless not prevented from resolving the same whenever warranted, subject only to review by the highest tribunal. 6 We have jurisdiction under the Constitution to "review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or rules of court may provide," final judgments and orders of lower courts in, among others, all cases involving the constitutionality of certain measures. 7 This simply means that the resolution of such cases may be made in the first instance by these lower courts. And while it is true that laws are presumed to be constitutional, that presumption is not by any means conclusive and in fact may be rebutted. Indeed, if there be a clear showing of their invalidity, and of the need to declare them so, then "will be the time to make the hammer fall, and heavily," 8 to recall Justice Laurel's trenchant warning. Stated otherwise, courts should not follow the path of least resistance by simply presuming the constitutionality of a law when it is questioned. On the contrary, they should probe the issue more deeply, to relieve the abscess, paraphrasing another distinguished jurist, 9 and so heal the wound or excise the affliction. Judicial power authorizes this; and when the exercise is demanded, there should be no shirking of the task for fear of retaliation, or loss of favor, or popular censure, or any other similar inhibition unworthy of the bench, especially this Court. The challenged measure is denominated an executive order but it is really presidential decree, promulgating a new rule instead of merely implementing an existing law. It was issued by President Marcos not for the purpose of taking care that the laws were faithfully executed but in the exercise of his legislative authority under Amendment No. 6. It was provided thereunder that whenever in his judgment there existed a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof or whenever the legislature failed or was unable to act adequately on any matter that in his judgment required immediate action, he could, in order to meet the exigency, issue decrees, orders or letters of instruction that were to have the force and effect of law. As there is no showing of any exigency to justify the exercise of that extraordinary power then, the petitioner has reason, indeed, to question the validity of the executive order. Nevertheless, since the determination of the grounds was supposed to have been made by the President "in his judgment, " a phrase that will lead to protracted discussion not really necessary at this time, we reserve resolution of this matter until a more appropriate occasion. For the nonce, we confine ourselves to the more fundamental question of due process. It is part of the art of constitution-making that the provisions of the charter be cast in precise and unmistakable language to avoid controversies that might arise on their correct interpretation. That is the Ideal. In the case of the due process clause, however, this rule was deliberately not followed and the wording was purposely kept ambiguous. In fact, a proposal to delineate it more clearly was submitted in the Constitutional Convention of 1934, but it was rejected by Delegate Jose P. Laurel, Chairman of the Committee on the Bill of Rights, who forcefully argued against it. He was sustained by the body. 10 The due process clause was kept intentionally vague so it would remain also conveniently resilient. This was felt necessary because due process is not, like some provisions of the fundamental law, an "iron rule" laying down an implacable and immutable command for all seasons and all persons. Flexibility must be the best virtue of the guaranty. The very elasticity of the due process clause was meant to make it adapt easily to every situation, enlarging or constricting its protection as the changing times and circumstances may require. Aware of this, the courts have also hesitated to adopt their own specific description of due process lest they confine themselves in a legal straitjacket that will deprive them of the elbow room they may need to vary the meaning of the clause whenever indicated. Instead, they have preferred to leave the import of the protection open-ended, as it were, to be "gradually ascertained by the process of inclusion and exclusion in the course of the decision of cases as they arise." 11 Thus, Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court, for example, would go no farther than to define due process and in so doing sums it all up as nothing more and nothing less than "the embodiment of the sporting Idea of fair play." 12

When the barons of England extracted from their sovereign liege the reluctant promise that that Crown would thenceforth not proceed against the life liberty or property of any of its subjects except by the lawful judgment of his peers or the law of the land, they thereby won for themselves and their progeny that splendid guaranty of fairness that is now the hallmark of the free society. The solemn vow that King John made at Runnymede in 1215 has since then resounded through the ages, as a ringing reminder to all rulers, benevolent or base, that every person, when confronted by the stern visage of the law, is entitled to have his say in a fair and open hearing of his cause. The closed mind has no place in the open society. It is part of the sporting Idea of fair play to hear "the other side" before an opinion is formed or a decision is made by those who sit in judgment. Obviously, one side is only one-half of the question; the other half must also be considered if an impartial verdict is to be reached based on an informed appreciation of the issues in contention. It is indispensable that the two sides complement each other, as unto the bow the arrow, in leading to the correct ruling after examination of the problem not from one or the other perspective only but in its totality. A judgment based on less that this full appraisal, on the pretext that a hearing is unnecessary or useless, is tainted with the vice of bias or intolerance or ignorance, or worst of all, in repressive regimes, the insolence of power. The minimum requirements of due process are notice and hearing 13 which, generally speaking, may not be dispensed with because they are intended as a safeguard against official arbitrariness. It is a gratifying commentary on our judicial system that the jurisprudence of this country is rich with applications of this guaranty as proof of our fealty to the rule of law and the ancient rudiments of fair play. We have consistently declared that every person, faced by the awesome power of the State, is entitled to "the law of the land," which Daniel Webster described almost two hundred years ago in the famous Dartmouth College Case, 14 as "the law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial." It has to be so if the rights of every person are to be secured beyond the reach of officials who, out of mistaken zeal or plain arrogance, would degrade the due process clause into a worn and empty catchword. This is not to say that notice and hearing are imperative in every case for, to be sure, there are a number of admitted exceptions. The conclusive presumption, for example, bars the admission of contrary evidence as long as such presumption is based on human experience or there is a rational connection between the fact proved and the fact ultimately presumed therefrom. 15 There are instances when the need for expeditions action will justify omission of these requisites, as in the summary abatement of a nuisance per se, like 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. Pornographic materials, contaminated meat and narcotic drugs are inherently pernicious and may be summarily destroyed. The passport of a person sought for a criminal offense may be cancelled without hearing, to compel his return to the country he has fled. 16 Filthy restaurants may be summarily padlocked in the interest of the public health and bawdy houses to protect the public morals. 17 In such instances, previous judicial hearing may be omitted without violation of due process in view of the nature of the property involved or the urgency of the need to protect the general welfare from a clear and present danger. The protection of the general welfare is the particular function of the police power which both restraints and is restrained by due process. The police power is simply defined as the power inherent in the State to regulate liberty and property for the promotion of the general welfare. 18 By reason of its function, it extends to all the great public needs and is described as the most pervasive, the least limitable and the most demanding of the three inherent powers of the State, far outpacing taxation and eminent domain. The individual, as a member of society, is hemmed in by the police power, which affects him even before he is born and follows him still after he is dead from the womb to beyond the tomb in practically everything he does or owns. Its reach is virtually limitless. It is a ubiquitous and often unwelcome intrusion. Even so, as long as the activity or the property has some relevance to the public welfare, its regulation under the police power is not only proper but necessary. And the justification is found in the venerable Latin maxims, Salus populi est suprema lex and Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas, which call for the subordination of individual interests to the benefit of the greater number. It is this power that is now invoked by the government to justify Executive Order No. 626-A, amending the basic rule in Executive Order No. 626, prohibiting the slaughter of carabaos except under certain conditions. The original measure was issued for the reason, as expressed in one of its Whereases, that "present

conditions demand that the carabaos and the buffaloes be conserved for the benefit of the small farmers who rely on them for energy needs." We affirm at the outset the need for such a measure. In the face of the worsening energy crisis and the increased dependence of our farms on these traditional beasts of burden, the government would have been remiss, indeed, if it had not taken steps to protect and preserve them. A similar prohibition was challenged in United States v. Toribio, 19 where a law regulating the registration, branding and slaughter of large cattle was claimed to be a deprivation of property without due process of law. The defendant had been convicted thereunder for having slaughtered his own carabao without the required permit, and he appealed to the Supreme Court. The conviction was affirmed. The law was sustained as a valid police measure to prevent the indiscriminate killing of carabaos, which were then badly needed by farmers. An epidemic had stricken many of these animals and the reduction of their number had resulted in an acute decline in agricultural output, which in turn had caused an incipient famine. Furthermore, because of the scarcity of the animals and the consequent increase in their price, cattlerustling had spread alarmingly, necessitating more effective measures for the registration and branding of these animals. The Court held that the questioned statute was a valid exercise of the police power and declared in part as follows: To justify the State in thus interposing its authority in behalf of the public, it must appear, first, that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require such interference; and second, that the means are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose, and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. ... From what has been said, we think it is clear that the enactment of the provisions of the statute under consideration was required by "the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class" and that the prohibition of the slaughter of carabaos for human consumption, so long as these animals are fit for agricultural work or draft purposes was a "reasonably necessary" limitation on private ownership, to protect the community from the loss of the services of such animals by their slaughter by improvident owners, tempted either by greed of momentary gain, or by a desire to enjoy the luxury of animal food, even when by so doing the productive power of the community may be measurably and dangerously affected. In the light of the tests mentioned above, we hold with the Toribio Case that the carabao, as the poor man's tractor, so to speak, has a direct relevance to the public welfare and so is a lawful subject of Executive Order No. 626. The method chosen in the basic measure is also reasonably necessary for the purpose sought to be achieved and not unduly oppressive upon individuals, again following the above-cited doctrine. There is no doubt that by banning the slaughter of these animals except where they are at least seven years old if male and eleven years old if female upon issuance of the necessary permit, the executive order will be conserving those still fit for farm work or breeding and preventing their improvident depletion. But while conceding that the amendatory measure has the same lawful subject as the original executive order, we cannot say with equal certainty that it complies with the second requirement, viz., that there be a lawful method. We note that to strengthen the original measure, Executive Order No. 626-A imposes an absolute ban not on the slaughter of the carabaos but on their movement, providing that "no carabao regardless of age, sex, physical condition or purpose (sic) and no carabeef shall be transported from one province to another." The object of the prohibition escapes us. The reasonable connection between the means employed and the purpose sought to be achieved by the questioned measure is missing We do not see how the prohibition of the inter-provincial transport of carabaos can prevent their indiscriminate slaughter, considering that they can be killed anywhere, with no less difficulty in one province than in another. Obviously, retaining the carabaos in one province will not prevent their slaughter there, any more than moving them to another province will make it easier to kill them there. As for the carabeef, the prohibition is made to apply to it as otherwise, so says executive order, it could be easily circumvented by simply killing the animal. Perhaps so. However, if the movement of the live animals for the purpose of preventing their slaughter cannot be prohibited, it should follow that there is no reason either to prohibit their transfer as, not to be flippant dead meat.

Even if a reasonable relation between the means and the end were to be assumed, we would still have to reckon with the sanction that the measure applies for violation of the prohibition. The penalty is outright confiscation of the carabao or carabeef being transported, to be meted out by the executive authorities, usually the police only. In the Toribio Case, the statute was sustained because the penalty prescribed was fine and imprisonment, to be imposed by the court after trial and conviction of the accused. Under the challenged measure, significantly, no such trial is prescribed, and the property being transported is immediately impounded by the police and declared, by the measure itself, as forfeited to the government. In the instant case, the carabaos were arbitrarily confiscated by the police station commander, were returned to the petitioner only after he had filed a complaint for recovery and given a supersedeas bond of P12,000.00, which was ordered confiscated upon his failure to produce the carabaos when ordered by the trial court. The executive order defined the prohibition, convicted the petitioner and immediately imposed punishment, which was carried out forthright. The measure struck at once and pounced upon the petitioner without giving him a chance to be heard, thus denying him the centuries-old guaranty of elementary fair play. It has already been remarked that there are occasions when notice and hearing may be validly dispensed with notwithstanding the usual requirement for these minimum guarantees of due process. It is also conceded that summary action may be validly taken in administrative proceedings as procedural due process is not necessarily judicial only. 20 In the exceptional cases accepted, however. there is a justification for the omission of the right to a previous hearing, to wit, the immediacy of the problem sought to be corrected and the urgency of the need to correct it. In the case before us, there was no such pressure of time or action calling for the petitioner's peremptory treatment. The properties involved were not even inimical per se as to require their instant destruction. There certainly was no reason why the offense prohibited by the executive order should not have been proved first in a court of justice, with the accused being accorded all the rights safeguarded to him under the Constitution. Considering that, as we held in Pesigan v. Angeles, 21 Executive Order No. 626-A is penal in nature, the violation thereof should have been pronounced not by the police only but by a court of justice, which alone would have had the authority to impose the prescribed penalty, and only after trial and conviction of the accused. We also mark, on top of all this, the questionable manner of the disposition of the confiscated property as prescribed in the questioned executive order. It is there authorized that the seized property shall "be distributed to charitable institutions and other similar institutions as the Chairman of the National Meat Inspection Commission may see fit, in the case of carabeef, and to deserving farmers through dispersal as the Director of Animal Industry may see fit, in the case of carabaos." (Emphasis supplied.) The phrase "may see fit" is an extremely generous and dangerous condition, if condition it is. It is laden with perilous opportunities for partiality and abuse, and even corruption. One searches in vain for the usual standard and the reasonable guidelines, or better still, the limitations that the said officers must observe when they make their distribution. There is none. Their options are apparently boundless. Who shall be the fortunate beneficiaries of their generosity and by what criteria shall they be chosen? Only the officers named can supply the answer, they and they alone may choose the grantee as they see fit, and in their own exclusive discretion. Definitely, there is here a "roving commission," a wide and sweeping authority that is not "canalized within banks that keep it from overflowing," in short, a clearly profligate and therefore invalid delegation of legislative powers. To sum up then, we find that the challenged measure is an invalid exercise of the police power because the method employed to conserve the carabaos is not reasonably necessary to the purpose of the law and, worse, is unduly oppressive. Due process is violated because the owner of the property confiscated is denied the right to be heard in his defense and is immediately condemned and punished. The conferment on the administrative authorities of the power to adjudge the guilt of the supposed offender is a clear encroachment on judicial functions and militates against the doctrine of separation of powers. There is, finally, also an invalid delegation of legislative powers to the officers mentioned therein who are granted unlimited discretion in the distribution of the properties arbitrarily taken. For these reasons, we hereby declare Executive Order No. 626-A unconstitutional.

We agree with the respondent court, however, that the police station commander who confiscated the petitioner's carabaos is not liable in damages for enforcing the executive order in accordance with its mandate. The law was at that time presumptively valid, and it was his obligation, as a member of the police, to enforce it. It would have been impertinent of him, being a mere subordinate of the President, to declare the executive order unconstitutional and, on his own responsibility alone, refuse to execute it. Even the trial court, in fact, and the Court of Appeals itself did not feel they had the competence, for all their superior authority, to question the order we now annul. The Court notes that if the petitioner had not seen fit to assert and protect his rights as he saw them, this case would never have reached us and the taking of his property under the challenged measure would have become a fait accompli despite its invalidity. We commend him for his spirit. Without the present challenge, the matter would have ended in that pump boat in Masbate and another violation of the Constitution, for all its obviousness, would have been perpetrated, allowed without protest, and soon forgotten in the limbo of relinquished rights. The strength of democracy lies not in the rights it guarantees but in the courage of the people to invoke them whenever they are ignored or violated. Rights are but weapons on the wall if, like expensive tapestry, all they do is embellish and impress. Rights, as weapons, must be a promise of protection. They become truly meaningful, and fulfill the role assigned to them in the free society, if they are kept bright and sharp with use by those who are not afraid to assert them. WHEREFORE, Executive Order No. 626-A is hereby declared unconstitutional. Except as affirmed above, the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The supersedeas bond is cancelled and the amount thereof is ordered restored to the petitioner. No costs. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-23825 December 24, 1965

EMMANUEL PELAEZ, petitioner, vs. THE AUDITOR GENERAL, respondent.

Zulueta, Gonzales, Paculdo and Associates for petitioner. Office of the Solicitor General for respondent.
CONCEPCION, J.: During the period from September 4 to October 29, 1964 the President of the Philippines, purporting to act pursuant to Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, issued Executive Orders Nos. 93 to 121, 124 and 126 to 129; creating thirty-three (33) municipalities enumerated in the margin.1 Soon after the date last mentioned, or on November 10, 1964 petitioner Emmanuel Pelaez, as Vice President of the Philippines and as taxpayer, instituted the present special civil action, for a writ of prohibition with preliminary injunction, against the Auditor General, to restrain him, as well as his representatives and agents, from passing in audit any expenditure of public funds in implementation of said executive orders and/or any disbursement by said municipalities. Petitioner alleges that said executive orders are null and void, upon the ground that said Section 68 has been impliedly repealed by Republic Act No. 2370 and constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power. Respondent maintains the contrary view and avers that the present action is premature and that not all proper parties referring to the officials of the new political subdivisions in question have been impleaded. Subsequently, the mayors of several municipalities adversely affected by the aforementioned executive orders because the latter have taken away from the former the barrios composing the new political subdivisions intervened in the case. Moreover, Attorneys Enrique M. Fernando and Emma Quisumbing-Fernando were allowed to and did appear as amici curiae.

The third paragraph of Section 3 of Republic Act No. 2370, reads: Barrios shall not be created or their boundaries altered nor their names changed except under the provisions of this Act or by Act of Congress. Pursuant to the first two (2) paragraphs of the same Section 3: All barrios existing at the time of the passage of this Act shall come under the provisions hereof. Upon petition of a majority of the voters in the areas affected, a new barrio may be created or the name of an existing one may be changed by the provincial board of the province, upon recommendation of the council of the municipality or municipalities in which the proposed barrio is stipulated. The recommendation of the municipal council shall be embodied in a resolution approved by at least two-thirds of the entire membership of the said council: Provided, however, That no new barrio may be created if its population is less than five hundred persons. Hence, since January 1, 1960, when Republic Act No. 2370 became effective, barrios may "not be created or their boundaries altered nor their names changed" except by Act of Congress or of the corresponding provincial board "upon petition of a majority of the voters in the areas affected" and the "recommendation of the council of the municipality or municipalities in which the proposed barrio is situated." Petitioner argues, accordingly: "If the President, under this new law, cannot even create a barrio, can he create a municipality which is composed of several barrios, since barrios are units of municipalities?" Respondent answers in the affirmative, upon the theory that a new municipality can be created without creating new barrios, such as, by placing old barrios under the jurisdiction of the new municipality. This theory overlooks, however, the main import of the petitioner's argument, which is that the statutory denial of the presidential authority to create a new barrio implies a negation of the bigger power to create municipalities, each of which consists of several barrios. The cogency and force of this argument is too obvious to be denied or even questioned. Founded upon logic and experience, it cannot be offset except by a clear manifestation of the intent of Congress to the contrary, and no such manifestation, subsequent to the passage of Republic Act No. 2379, has been brought to our attention. Moreover, section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, upon which the disputed executive orders are based, provides: The (Governor-General) President of the Philippines may by executive order define the boundary, or boundaries, of any province, subprovince, municipality, [township] municipal district, or other political subdivision, and increase or diminish the territory comprised therein, may divide any province into one or more subprovinces, separate any political division other than a province, into such portions as may be required, merge any of such subdivisions or portions with another, name any new subdivision so created, and may change the seat of government within any subdivision to such place therein as the public welfare may require: Provided, That the authorization of the (Philippine Legislature) Congress of the Philippines shall first be obtained whenever the boundary of any province or subprovince is to be defined or any province is to be divided into one or more subprovinces. When action by the (Governor-General) President of the Philippines in accordance herewith makes necessary a change of the territory under the jurisdiction of any administrative officer or any judicial officer, the (Governor-General) President of the Philippines, with the recommendation and advice of the head of the Department having executive control of such officer, shall redistrict the territory of the several officers affected and assign such officers to the new districts so formed. Upon the changing of the limits of political divisions in pursuance of the foregoing authority, an equitable distribution of the funds and obligations of the divisions thereby affected shall be made in such manner as may be recommended by the (Insular Auditor) Auditor General and approved by the (Governor-General) President of the Philippines.

Respondent alleges that the power of the President to create municipalities under this section does not amount to an undue delegation of legislative power, relying upon Municipality of Cardona vs. Municipality of Binagonan (36 Phil. 547), which, he claims, has settled it. Such claim is untenable, for said case involved, not the creation of a new municipality, but a mere transfer of territory from an already existing municipality (Cardona) to another municipality (Binagonan), likewise, existing at the time of and prior to said transfer (See Gov't of the P.I. ex rel. Municipality of Cardona vs. Municipality, of Binagonan [34 Phil. 518, 519-5201) in consequence of the fixing and definition, pursuant to Act No. 1748, of the common boundaries of two municipalities. It is obvious, however, that, whereas the power to fix such common boundary, in order to avoid or settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining municipalities, may partake of an administrative nature involving, as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the law creating said municipalities the authority to create municipal corporations is essentially legislative in nature. In the language of other courts, it is "strictly a legislative function" (State ex rel. Higgins vs. Aicklen, 119 S. 425, January 2, 1959) or "solely and exclusively the exercise of legislative power" (Udall vs. Severn, May 29, 1938, 79 P. 2d 347349). As the Supreme Court of Washington has put it (Territory ex rel. Kelly vs. Stewart, February 13, 1890, 23 Pac. 405, 409), "municipal corporations are purely the creatures of statutes." Although1a Congress may delegate to another branch of the Government the power to fill in the details in the execution, enforcement or administration of a law, it is essential, to forestall a violation of the principle of separation of powers, that said law: (a) be complete in itself it must set forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate2 and (b) fix a standard the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions.2a Indeed, without a statutory declaration of policy, the delegate would in effect, make or formulate such policy, which is the essence of every law; and, without the aforementioned standard, there would be no means to determine, with reasonable certainty, whether the delegate has acted within or beyond the scope of his authority.2b Hence, he could thereby arrogate upon himself the power, not only to make the law, but, also and this is worse to unmake it, by adopting measures inconsistent with the end sought to be attained by the Act of Congress, thus nullifying the principle of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, and, consequently, undermining the very foundation of our Republican system. Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code does not meet these well settled requirements for a valid delegation of the power to fix the details in the enforcement of a law. It does not enunciate any policy to be carried out or implemented by the President. Neither does it give a standard sufficiently precise to avoid the evil effects above referred to. In this connection, we do not overlook the fact that, under the last clause of the first sentence of Section 68, the President: ... may change the seat of the government within any subdivision to such place therein as the public welfare may require. It is apparent, however, from the language of this clause, that the phrase "as the public welfare may require" qualified, not the clauses preceding the one just quoted, but only the place to which the seat of the government may be transferred. This fact becomes more apparent when we consider that said Section 68 was originally Section 1 of Act No. 1748,3 which provided that, "whenever in the judgment of the GovernorGeneral the public welfare requires, he may, by executive order," effect the changes enumerated therein (as in said section 68), including the change of the seat of the government "to such place ... as the public interest requires." The opening statement of said Section 1 of Act No. 1748 which was not included in Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code governed the time at which, or the conditions under which, the powers therein conferred could be exercised; whereas the last part of the first sentence of said section referred exclusively to the place to which the seat of the government was to be transferred. At any rate, the conclusion would be the same, insofar as the case at bar is concerned, even if we assumed that the phrase "as the public welfare may require," in said Section 68, qualifies all other clauses thereof. It is true that in Calalang vs. Williams (70 Phil. 726) and People vs. Rosenthal (68 Phil. 328), this Court had upheld "public welfare" and "public interest," respectively, as sufficient standards for a valid delegation of the authority to execute the law. But, the doctrine laid down in these cases as all judicial

pronouncements must be construed in relation to the specific facts and issues involved therein, outside of which they do not constitute precedents and have no binding effect.4 The law construed in the Calalang case conferred upon the Director of Public Works, with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, the power to issue rules and regulations to promote safe transit upon national roads and streets. Upon the other hand, the Rosenthal case referred to the authority of the Insular Treasurer, under Act No. 2581, to issue and cancel certificates or permits for the sale of speculative securities. Both cases involved grants to administrative officers of powers related to the exercise of their administrative functions, calling for the determination of questions of fact. Such is not the nature of the powers dealt with in section 68. As above indicated, the creation of municipalities, is not an administrative function, but one which is essentially and eminently legislative in character. The question of whether or not "public interest" demands the exercise of such power is not one of fact. it is "purely a legislative question "(Carolina-Virginia Coastal Highway vs. Coastal Turnpike Authority, 74 S.E. 2d. 310-313, 315-318), or a political question (Udall vs. Severn, 79 P. 2d. 347-349). As the Supreme Court of Wisconsin has aptly characterized it, "the question as to whether incorporation is for the best interest of the community in any case is emphatically a question of public policy and statecraft" (In re Village of North Milwaukee, 67 N.W. 1033, 1035-1037). For this reason, courts of justice have annulled, as constituting undue delegation of legislative powers, state laws granting the judicial department, the power to determine whether certain territories should be annexed to a particular municipality (Udall vs. Severn, supra, 258-359); or vesting in a Commission the right to determine the plan and frame of government of proposed villages and what functions shall be exercised by the same, although the powers and functions of the village are specifically limited by statute (In re Municipal Charters, 86 Atl. 307-308); or conferring upon courts the authority to declare a given town or village incorporated, and designate its metes and bounds, upon petition of a majority of the taxable inhabitants thereof, setting forth the area desired to be included in such village (Territory ex rel Kelly vs. Stewart, 23 Pac. 405-409); or authorizing the territory of a town, containing a given area and population, to be incorporated as a town, on certain steps being taken by the inhabitants thereof and on certain determination by a court and subsequent vote of the inhabitants in favor thereof, insofar as the court is allowed to determine whether the lands embraced in the petition "ought justly" to be included in the village, and whether the interest of the inhabitants will be promoted by such incorporation, and to enlarge and diminish the boundaries of the proposed village "as justice may require" (In re Villages of North Milwaukee, 67 N.W. 1035-1037); or creating a Municipal Board of Control which shall determine whether or not the laying out, construction or operation of a toll road is in the "public interest" and whether the requirements of the law had been complied with, in which case the board shall enter an order creating a municipal corporation and fixing the name of the same (Carolina-Virginia Coastal Highway vs. Coastal Turnpike Authority, 74 S.E. 2d. 310). Insofar as the validity of a delegation of power by Congress to the President is concerned, the case of Schechter Poultry Corporation vs. U.S. (79 L. Ed. 1570) is quite relevant to the one at bar. The Schechter case involved the constitutionality of Section 3 of the National Industrial Recovery Act authorizing the President of the United States to approve "codes of fair competition" submitted to him by one or more trade or industrial associations or corporations which "impose no inequitable restrictions on admission to membership therein and are truly representative," provided that such codes are not designed "to promote monopolies or to eliminate or oppress small enterprises and will not operate to discriminate against them, and will tend to effectuate the policy" of said Act. The Federal Supreme Court held: To summarize and conclude upon this point: Sec. 3 of the Recovery Act is without precedent. It supplies no standards for any trade, industry or activity. It does not undertake to prescribe rules of conduct to be applied to particular states of fact determined by appropriate administrative procedure. Instead of prescribing rules of conduct, it authorizes the making of codes to prescribe them. For that legislative undertaking, Sec. 3 sets up no standards, aside from the statement of the general aims of rehabilitation, correction and expansion described in Sec. 1. In view of the scope of that broad declaration, and of the nature of the few restrictions that are imposed, the discretion of the President in approving or prescribing codes, and thus enacting laws for the government of trade and industry throughout the country, is virtually unfettered. We think that the code making authority thus conferred is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.

If the term "unfair competition" is so broad as to vest in the President a discretion that is "virtually unfettered." and, consequently, tantamount to a delegation of legislative power, it is obvious that "public welfare," which has even a broader connotation, leads to the same result. In fact, if the validity of the delegation of powers made in Section 68 were upheld, there would no longer be any legal impediment to a statutory grant of authority to the President to do anything which, in his opinion, may be required by public welfare or public interest. Such grant of authority would be a virtual abdication of the powers of Congress in favor of the Executive, and would bring about a total collapse of the democratic system established by our Constitution, which it is the special duty and privilege of this Court to uphold. It may not be amiss to note that the executive orders in question were issued after the legislative bills for the creation of the municipalities involved in this case had failed to pass Congress. A better proof of the fact that the issuance of said executive orders entails the exercise of purely legislative functions can hardly be given. Again, Section 10 (1) of Article VII of our fundamental law ordains: The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, or offices, exercise general supervision over all local governments as may be provided by law, and take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The power of control under this provision implies the right of the President to interfere in the exercise of such discretion as may be vested by law in the officers of the executive departments, bureaus, or offices of the national government, as well as to act in lieu of such officers. This power is denied by the Constitution to the Executive, insofar as local governments are concerned. With respect to the latter, the fundamental law permits him to wield no more authority than that of checking whether said local governments or the officers thereof perform their duties as provided by statutory enactments. Hence, the President cannot interfere with local governments, so long as the same or its officers act Within the scope of their authority. He may not enact an ordinance which the municipal council has failed or refused to pass, even if it had thereby violated a duty imposed thereto by law, although he may see to it that the corresponding provincial officials take appropriate disciplinary action therefor. Neither may he vote, set aside or annul an ordinance passed by said council within the scope of its jurisdiction, no matter how patently unwise it may be. He may not even suspend an elective official of a regular municipality or take any disciplinary action against him, except on appeal from a decision of the corresponding provincial board.5 Upon the other hand if the President could create a municipality, he could, in effect, remove any of its officials, by creating a new municipality and including therein the barrio in which the official concerned resides, for his office would thereby become vacant.6 Thus, by merely brandishing the power to create a new municipality (if he had it), without actually creating it, he could compel local officials to submit to his dictation, thereby, in effect, exercising over them the power of control denied to him by the Constitution. Then, also, the power of control of the President over executive departments, bureaus or offices implies no more than the authority to assume directly the functions thereof or to interfere in the exercise of discretion by its officials. Manifestly, such control does not include the authority either to abolish an executive department or bureau, or to create a new one. As a consequence, the alleged power of the President to create municipal corporations would necessarily connote the exercise by him of an authority even greater than that of control which he has over the executive departments, bureaus or offices. In other words, Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code does not merely fail to comply with the constitutional mandate above quoted. Instead of giving the President less power over local governments than that vested in him over the executive departments, bureaus or offices, it reverses the process and does the exact opposite, by conferring upon him more power over municipal corporations than that which he has over said executive departments, bureaus or offices. In short, even if it did entail an undue delegation of legislative powers, as it certainly does, said Section 68, as part of the Revised Administrative Code, approved on March 10, 1917, must be deemed repealed by the subsequent adoption of the Constitution, in 1935, which is utterly incompatible and inconsistent with said statutory enactment.7

There are only two (2) other points left for consideration, namely, respondent's claim (a) that "not all the proper parties" referring to the officers of the newly created municipalities "have been impleaded in this case," and (b) that "the present petition is premature." As regards the first point, suffice it to say that the records do not show, and the parties do not claim, that the officers of any of said municipalities have been appointed or elected and assumed office. At any rate, the Solicitor General, who has appeared on behalf of respondent Auditor General, is the officer authorized by law "to act and represent the Government of the Philippines, its offices and agents, in any official investigation, proceeding or matter requiring the services of a lawyer" (Section 1661, Revised Administrative Code), and, in connection with the creation of the aforementioned municipalities, which involves a political, not proprietary, function, said local officials, if any, are mere agents or representatives of the national government. Their interest in the case at bar has, accordingly, been, in effect, duly represented.8 With respect to the second point, respondent alleges that he has not as yet acted on any of the executive order & in question and has not intimated how he would act in connection therewith. It is, however, a matter of common, public knowledge, subject to judicial cognizance, that the President has, for many years, issued executive orders creating municipal corporations and that the same have been organized and in actual operation, thus indicating, without peradventure of doubt, that the expenditures incidental thereto have been sanctioned, approved or passed in audit by the General Auditing Office and its officials. There is no reason to believe, therefore, that respondent would adopt a different policy as regards the new municipalities involved in this case, in the absence of an allegation to such effect, and none has been made by him. WHEREFORE, the Executive Orders in question are hereby declared null and void ab initio and the respondent permanently restrained from passing in audit any expenditure of public funds in implementation of said Executive Orders or any disbursement by the municipalities above referred to. It is so ordered. G.R. No. 168056 September 1, 2005 ABAKADA GURO PARTY LIST (Formerly AASJAS) OFFICERS SAMSON S. ALCANTARA and ED VINCENT S. ALBANO, Petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA; HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE CESAR PURISIMA; and HONORABLE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE GUILLERMO PARAYNO, JR., Respondent. x-------------------------x G.R. No. 168207 AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., LUISA P. EJERCITO-ESTRADA, JINGGOY E. ESTRADA, PANFILO M. LACSON, ALFREDO S. LIM, JAMBY A.S. MADRIGAL, AND SERGIO R. OSMEA III, Petitioners, vs. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO R. ERMITA, CESAR V. PURISIMA, SECRETARY OF FINANCE, GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondent. x-------------------------x G.R. No. 168461 ASSOCIATION OF PILIPINAS SHELL DEALERS, INC. represented by its President, ROSARIO ANTONIO; PETRON DEALERS ASSOCIATION represented by its President, RUTH E. BARBIBI; ASSOCIATION OF CALTEX DEALERS OF THE PHILIPPINES represented by its President, MERCEDITAS A. GARCIA; ROSARIO ANTONIO doing business under the name and style of "ANB NORTH SHELL SERVICE STATION"; LOURDES MARTINEZ doing business under the name and style of "SHELL GATE N. DOMINGO"; BETHZAIDA TAN

doing business under the name and style of "ADVANCE SHELL STATION"; REYNALDO P. MONTOYA doing business under the name and style of "NEW LAMUAN SHELL SERVICE STATION"; EFREN SOTTO doing business under the name and style of "RED FIELD SHELL SERVICE STATION"; DONICA CORPORATION represented by its President, DESI TOMACRUZ; RUTH E. MARBIBI doing business under the name and style of "R&R PETRON STATION"; PETER M. UNGSON doing business under the name and style of "CLASSIC STAR GASOLINE SERVICE STATION"; MARIAN SHEILA A. LEE doing business under the name and style of "NTE GASOLINE & SERVICE STATION"; JULIAN CESAR P. POSADAS doing business under the name and style of "STARCARGA ENTERPRISES"; ADORACION MAEBO doing business under the name and style of "CMA MOTORISTS CENTER"; SUSAN M. ENTRATA doing business under the name and style of "LEONAS GASOLINE STATION and SERVICE CENTER"; CARMELITA BALDONADO doing business under the name and style of "FIRST CHOICE SERVICE CENTER"; MERCEDITAS A. GARCIA doing business under the name and style of "LORPED SERVICE CENTER"; RHEAMAR A. RAMOS doing business under the name and style of "RJRAM PTT GAS STATION"; MA. ISABEL VIOLAGO doing business under the name and style of "VIOLAGOPTT SERVICE CENTER"; MOTORISTS HEART CORPORATION represented by its Vice-President for Operations, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; MOTORISTS HARVARD CORPORATION represented by its VicePresident for Operations, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; MOTORISTS HERITAGE CORPORATION represented by its Vice-President for Operations, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; PHILIPPINE STANDARD OIL CORPORATION represented by its Vice-President for Operations, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; ROMEO MANUEL doing business under the name and style of "ROMMAN GASOLINE STATION"; ANTHONY ALBERT CRUZ III doing business under the name and style of "TRUE SERVICE STATION", Petitioners, vs. CESAR V. PURISIMA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Finance and GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., in his capacity as Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent. x-------------------------x G.R. No. 168463 FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO, VINCENT CRISOLOGO, EMMANUEL JOEL J. VILLANUEVA, RODOLFO G. PLAZA, DARLENE ANTONINO-CUSTODIO, OSCAR G. MALAPITAN, BENJAMIN C. AGARAO, JR. JUAN EDGARDO M. ANGARA, JUSTIN MARC SB. CHIPECO, FLORENCIO G. NOEL, MUJIV S. HATAMAN, RENATO B. MAGTUBO, JOSEPH A. SANTIAGO, TEOFISTO DL. GUINGONA III, RUY ELIAS C. LOPEZ, RODOLFO Q. AGBAYANI and TEODORO A. CASIO, Petitioners, vs. CESAR V. PURISIMA, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance, GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., in his capacity as Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, Respondent. x-------------------------x G.R. No. 168730 BATAAN GOVERNOR ENRIQUE T. GARCIA, JR. Petitioner, vs. HON. EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as the Executive Secretary; HON. MARGARITO TEVES, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance; HON. JOSE MARIO BUNAG, in his capacity as the OIC Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; and HON. ALEXANDER AREVALO, in his capacity as the OIC Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, Respondent. DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J .: The expenses of government, having for their object the interest of all, should be borne by everyone, and the more man enjoys the advantages of society, the more he ought to hold himself honored in contributing to those expenses.

-Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) French statesman and economist Mounting budget deficit, revenue generation, inadequate fiscal allocation for education, increased emoluments for health workers, and wider coverage for full value-added tax benefits these are the reasons why Republic Act No. 9337 (R.A. No. 9337)1 was enacted. Reasons, the wisdom of which, the Court even with its extensive constitutional power of review, cannot probe. The petitioners in these cases, however, question not only the wisdom of the law, but also perceived constitutional infirmities in its passage. Every law enjoys in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. Their arguments notwithstanding, petitioners failed to justify their call for the invalidity of the law. Hence, R.A. No. 9337 is not unconstitutional. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY R.A. No. 9337 is a consolidation of three legislative bills namely, House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705, and Senate Bill No. 1950.

House Bill No. 3555 2 was introduced on first reading on January 7, 2005. The House Committee on Ways and Means approved the bill, in substitution of House Bill No. 1468, which Representative (Rep.) Eric D. Singson introduced on August 8, 2004. The President certified the bill on January 7, 2005 for immediate enactment. On January 27, 2005, the House of Representatives approved the bill on second and third reading. House Bill No. 3705 3 on the other hand, substituted House Bill No. 3105 introduced by Rep. Salacnib F. Baterina, and House Bill No. 3381 introduced by Rep. Jacinto V. Paras. Its "mother bill" is House Bill No. 3555. The House Committee on Ways and Means approved the bill on February 2, 2005. The President also certified it as urgent on February 8, 2005. The House of Representatives approved the bill on second and third reading on February 28, 2005.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means approved Senate Bill No. 1950 4 on March 7, 2005, "in substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 1337, 1838 and 1873, taking into consideration House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705." Senator Ralph G. Recto sponsored Senate Bill No. 1337, while Senate Bill Nos. 1838 and 1873 were both sponsored by Sens. Franklin M. Drilon, Juan M. Flavier and Francis N. Pangilinan. The President certified the bill on March 11, 2005, and was approved by the Senate on second and third reading on April 13, 2005. On the same date, April 13, 2005, the Senate agreed to the request of the House of Representatives for a committee conference on the disagreeing provisions of the proposed bills. Before long, the Conference Committee on the Disagreeing Provisions of House Bill No. 3555, House Bill No. 3705, and Senate Bill No. 1950, "after having met and discussed in full free and conference," recommended the approval of its report, which the Senate did on May 10, 2005, and with the House of Representatives agreeing thereto the next day, May 11, 2005. On May 23, 2005, the enrolled copy of the consolidated House and Senate version was transmitted to the President, who signed the same into law on May 24, 2005. Thus, came R.A. No. 9337. July 1, 2005 is the effectivity date of R.A. No. 9337.5 When said date came, the Court issued a temporary restraining order, effective immediately and continuing until further orders, enjoining respondents from enforcing and implementing the law.

Oral arguments were held on July 14, 2005. Significantly, during the hearing, the Court speaking through Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, voiced the rationale for its issuance of the temporary restraining order on July 1, 2005, to wit: J. PANGANIBAN : . . . But before I go into the details of your presentation, let me just tell you a little background. You know when the law took effect on July 1, 2005, the Court issued a TRO at about 5 oclock in the afternoon. But before that, there was a lot of complaints aired on television and on radio. Some people in a gas station were complaining that the gas prices went up by 10%. Some people were complaining that their electric bill will go up by 10%. Other times people riding in domestic air carrier were complaining that the prices that theyll have to pay would have to go up by 10%. While all that was being aired, per your presentation and per our own understanding of the law, thats not true. Its not true that the e-vat law necessarily increased prices by 10% uniformly isnt it? ATTY. BANIQUED : No, Your Honor. J. PANGANIBAN : It is not? ATTY. BANIQUED : Its not, because, Your Honor, there is an Executive Order that granted the Petroleum companies some subsidy . . . interrupted J. PANGANIBAN : Thats correct . . . ATTY. BANIQUED : . . . and therefore that was meant to temper the impact . . . interrupted J. PANGANIBAN : . . . mitigating measures . . . ATTY. BANIQUED : Yes, Your Honor. J. PANGANIBAN : As a matter of fact a part of the mitigating measures would be the elimination of the Excise Tax and the import duties. That is why, it is not correct to say that the VAT as to petroleum dealers increased prices by 10%. ATTY. BANIQUED : Yes, Your Honor. J. PANGANIBAN : And therefore, there is no justification for increasing the retail price by 10% to cover the E-Vat tax. If you consider the excise tax and the import duties, the Net Tax would probably be in the neighborhood of 7%? We are not going into exact figures I am just trying to deliver a point that different industries, different products, different services are hit differently. So its not correct to say that all prices must go up by 10%. ATTY. BANIQUED : Youre right, Your Honor. J. PANGANIBAN : Now. For instance, Domestic Airline companies, Mr. Counsel, are at present imposed a Sales Tax of 3%. When this E-Vat law took effect the Sales Tax was also removed as a mitigating measure. So, therefore, there is no justification to increase the fares by 10% at best 7%, correct? ATTY. BANIQUED : I guess so, Your Honor, yes. J. PANGANIBAN : There are other products that the people were complaining on that first day, were being increased arbitrarily by 10%. And thats one reason among many others this Court had to issue TRO because of the confusion in the implementation. Thats why we added as an issue in this case, even if its tangentially taken up by the pleadings of the parties, the confusion in the implementation of the E-vat. Our people were subjected to the mercy of that confusion of an across the board increase of 10%, which you yourself now admit and I think even the Government will admit is incorrect. In some cases, it should be 3%

only, in some cases it should be 6% depending on these mitigating measures and the location and situation of each product, of each service, of each company, isnt it? ATTY. BANIQUED : Yes, Your Honor. J. PANGANIBAN : Alright. So thats one reason why we had to issue a TRO pending the clarification of all these and we wish the government will take time to clarify all these by means of a more detailed implementing rules, in case the law is upheld by this Court. . . .6 The Court also directed the parties to file their respective Memoranda. G.R. No. 168056 Before R.A. No. 9337 took effect, petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al., filed a petition for prohibition on May 27, 2005. They question the constitutionality of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108, respectively, of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC). Section 4 imposes a 10% VAT on sale of goods and properties, Section 5 imposes a 10% VAT on importation of goods, and Section 6 imposes a 10% VAT on sale of services and use or lease of properties. These questioned provisions contain a uniform proviso authorizing the President, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, to raise the VAT rate to 12%, effective January 1, 2006, after any of the following conditions have been satisfied, to wit: . . . That the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied: (i) Value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%); or (ii) National government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %). Petitioners argue that the law is unconstitutional, as it constitutes abandonment by Congress of its exclusive authority to fix the rate of taxes under Article VI, Section 28(2) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. G.R. No. 168207 On June 9, 2005, Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., et al., filed a petition for certiorari likewise assailing the constitutionality of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337. Aside from questioning the so-called stand-by authority of the President to increase the VAT rate to 12%, on the ground that it amounts to an undue delegation of legislative power, petitioners also contend that the increase in the VAT rate to 12% contingent on any of the two conditions being satisfied violates the due process clause embodied in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution, as it imposes an unfair and additional tax burden on the people, in that: (1) the 12% increase is ambiguous because it does not state if the rate would be returned to the original 10% if the conditions are no longer satisfied; (2) the rate is unfair and unreasonable, as the people are unsure of the applicable VAT rate from year to year; and (3) the increase in the VAT rate, which is supposed to be an incentive to the President to raise the VAT collection to at least 2 4 /5 of the GDP of the previous year, should only be based on fiscal adequacy. Petitioners further claim that the inclusion of a stand-by authority granted to the President by the Bicameral Conference Committee is a violation of the "no-amendment rule" upon last reading of a bill laid down in Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution. G.R. No. 168461

Thereafter, a petition for prohibition was filed on June 29, 2005, by the Association of Pilipinas Shell Dealers, Inc., et al., assailing the following provisions of R.A. No. 9337: 1) Section 8, amending Section 110 (A)(2) of the NIRC, requiring that the input tax on depreciable goods shall be amortized over a 60-month period, if the acquisition, excluding the VAT components, exceeds One Million Pesos (P1, 000,000.00); 2) Section 8, amending Section 110 (B) of the NIRC, imposing a 70% limit on the amount of input tax to be credited against the output tax; and 3) Section 12, amending Section 114 (c) of the NIRC, authorizing the Government or any of its political subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including GOCCs, to deduct a 5% final withholding tax on gross payments of goods and services, which are subject to 10% VAT under Sections 106 (sale of goods and properties) and 108 (sale of services and use or lease of properties) of the NIRC. Petitioners contend that these provisions are unconstitutional for being arbitrary, oppressive, excessive, and confiscatory. Petitioners argument is premised on the constitutional right of non-deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution. According to petitioners, the contested sections impose limitations on the amount of input tax that may be claimed. Petitioners also argue that the input tax partakes the nature of a property that may not be confiscated, appropriated, or limited without due process of law. Petitioners further contend that like any other property or property right, the input tax credit may be transferred or disposed of, and that by limiting the same, the government gets to tax a profit or value-added even if there is no profit or value-added. Petitioners also believe that these provisions violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution, as the limitation on the creditable input tax if: (1) the entity has a high ratio of input tax; or (2) invests in capital equipment; or (3) has several transactions with the government, is not based on real and substantial differences to meet a valid classification. Lastly, petitioners contend that the 70% limit is anything but progressive, violative of Article VI, Section 28(1) of the Constitution, and that it is the smaller businesses with higher input tax to output tax ratio that will suffer the consequences thereof for it wipes out whatever meager margins the petitioners make. G.R. No. 168463 Several members of the House of Representatives led by Rep. Francis Joseph G. Escudero filed this petition for certiorari on June 30, 2005. They question the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9337 on the following grounds: 1) Sections 4, 5, and 6 of R.A. No. 9337 constitute an undue delegation of legislative power, in violation of Article VI, Section 28(2) of the Constitution; 2) The Bicameral Conference Committee acted without jurisdiction in deleting the no pass on provisions present in Senate Bill No. 1950 and House Bill No. 3705; and 3) Insertion by the Bicameral Conference Committee of Sections 27, 28, 34, 116, 117, 119, 121, 125,7 148, 151, 236, 237 and 288, which were present in Senate Bill No. 1950, violates Article VI, Section 24(1) of the Constitution, which provides that all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives G.R. No. 168730

On the eleventh hour, Governor Enrique T. Garcia filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition on July 20, 2005, alleging unconstitutionality of the law on the ground that the limitation on the creditable input tax in effect allows VAT-registered establishments to retain a portion of the taxes they collect, thus violating the principle that tax collection and revenue should be solely allocated for public purposes and expenditures. Petitioner Garcia further claims that allowing these establishments to pass on the tax to the consumers is inequitable, in violation of Article VI, Section 28(1) of the Constitution. RESPONDENTS COMMENT The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of respondents. Preliminarily, respondents contend that R.A. No. 9337 enjoys the presumption of constitutionality and petitioners failed to cast doubt on its validity. Relying on the case of Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance, 235 SCRA 630 (1994), respondents argue that the procedural issues raised by petitioners, i.e., legality of the bicameral proceedings, exclusive origination of revenue measures and the power of the Senate concomitant thereto, have already been settled. With regard to the issue of undue delegation of legislative power to the President, respondents contend that the law is complete and leaves no discretion to the President but to increase the rate to 12% once any of the two conditions provided therein arise. Respondents also refute petitioners argument that the increase to 12%, as well as the 70% limitation on the creditable input tax, the 60-month amortization on the purchase or importation of capital goods exceeding P1,000,000.00, and the 5% final withholding tax by government agencies, is arbitrary, oppressive, and confiscatory, and that it violates the constitutional principle on progressive taxation, among others. Finally, respondents manifest that R.A. No. 9337 is the anchor of the governments fiscal reform agenda. A reform in the value-added system of taxation is the core revenue measure that will tilt the balance towards a sustainable macroeconomic environment necessary for economic growth. ISSUES The Court defined the issues, as follows: PROCEDURAL ISSUE Whether R.A. No. 9337 violates the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 24, and b. Article VI, Section 26(2) SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES 1. Whether Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108 of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 28(1), and b. Article VI, Section 28(2)

2. Whether Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 110(A)(2) and 110(B) of the NIRC; and Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 114(C) of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 28(1), and b. Article III, Section 1 RULING OF THE COURT As a prelude, the Court deems it apt to restate the general principles and concepts of value-added tax (VAT), as the confusion and inevitably, litigation, breeds from a fallacious notion of its nature. The VAT is a tax on spending or consumption. It is levied on the sale, barter, exchange or lease of goods or properties and services.8 Being an indirect tax on expenditure, the seller of goods or services may pass on the amount of tax paid to the buyer,9 with the seller acting merely as a tax collector.10 The burden of VAT is intended to fall on the immediate buyers and ultimately, the end-consumers. In contrast, a direct tax is a tax for which a taxpayer is directly liable on the transaction or business it engages in, without transferring the burden to someone else.11 Examples are individual and corporate income taxes, transfer taxes, and residence taxes.12 In the Philippines, the value-added system of sales taxation has long been in existence, albeit in a different mode. Prior to 1978, the system was a single-stage tax computed under the "cost deduction method" and was payable only by the original sellers. The single-stage system was subsequently modified, and a mixture of the "cost deduction method" and "tax credit method" was used to determine the value-added tax payable.13 Under the "tax credit method," an entity can credit against or subtract from the VAT charged on its sales or outputs the VAT paid on its purchases, inputs and imports.14 It was only in 1987, when President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 273, that the VAT system was rationalized by imposing a multi-stage tax rate of 0% or 10% on all sales using the "tax credit method."15 E.O. No. 273 was followed by R.A. No. 7716 or the Expanded VAT Law,16 R.A. No. 8241 or the Improved VAT Law,17 R.A. No. 8424 or the Tax Reform Act of 1997,18 and finally, the presently beleaguered R.A. No. 9337, also referred to by respondents as the VAT Reform Act. The Court will now discuss the issues in logical sequence. PROCEDURAL ISSUE I. Whether R.A. No. 9337 violates the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 24, and b. Article VI, Section 26(2) A. The Bicameral Conference Committee Petitioners Escudero, et al., and Pimentel, et al., allege that the Bicameral Conference Committee exceeded its authority by:

1) Inserting the stand-by authority in favor of the President in Sections 4, 5, and 6 of R.A. No. 9337; 2) Deleting entirely the no pass-on provisions found in both the House and Senate bills; 3) Inserting the provision imposing a 70% limit on the amount of input tax to be credited against the output tax; and 4) Including the amendments introduced only by Senate Bill No. 1950 regarding other kinds of taxes in addition to the value-added tax. Petitioners now beseech the Court to define the powers of the Bicameral Conference Committee. It should be borne in mind that the power of internal regulation and discipline are intrinsic in any legislative body for, as unerringly elucidated by Justice Story, "[i]f the power did not exist, it would be utterly impracticable to transact the business of the nation, either at all, or at least with decency, deliberation, and order."19 Thus, Article VI, Section 16 (3) of the Constitution provides that "each House may determine the rules of its proceedings." Pursuant to this inherent constitutional power to promulgate and implement its own rules of procedure, the respective rules of each house of Congress provided for the creation of a Bicameral Conference Committee. Thus, Rule XIV, Sections 88 and 89 of the Rules of House of Representatives provides as follows: Sec. 88. Conference Committee. In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the amendment to any bill or joint resolution, the differences may be settled by the conference committees of both chambers. In resolving the differences with the Senate, the House panel shall, as much as possible, adhere to and support the House Bill. If the differences with the Senate are so substantial that they materially impair the House Bill, the panel shall report such fact to the House for the latters appropriate action. Sec. 89. Conference Committee Reports. . . . Each report shall contain a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject measure. ... The Chairman of the House panel may be interpellated on the Conference Committee Report prior to the voting thereon. The House shall vote on the Conference Committee Report in the same manner and procedure as it votes on a bill on third and final reading. Rule XII, Section 35 of the Rules of the Senate states: Sec. 35. In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on the provision of any bill or joint resolution, the differences shall be settled by a conference committee of both Houses which shall meet within ten (10) days after their composition. The President shall designate the members of the Senate Panel in the conference committee with the approval of the Senate. Each Conference Committee Report shall contain a detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in, or amendments to the subject measure, and shall be signed by a majority of the members of each House panel, voting separately. A comparative presentation of the conflicting House and Senate provisions and a reconciled version thereof with the explanatory statement of the conference committee shall be attached to the report. ...

The creation of such conference committee was apparently in response to a problem, not addressed by any constitutional provision, where the two houses of Congress find themselves in disagreement over changes or amendments introduced by the other house in a legislative bill. Given that one of the most basic powers of the legislative branch is to formulate and implement its own rules of proceedings and to discipline its members, may the Court then delve into the details of how Congress complies with its internal rules or how it conducts its business of passing legislation? Note that in the present petitions, the issue is not whether provisions of the rules of both houses creating the bicameral conference committee are unconstitutional, but whether the bicameral conference committee has strictly complied with the rules of both houses, thereby remaining within the jurisdiction conferred upon it by Congress. In the recent case of Farias vs. The Executive Secretary,20 the Court En Banc, unanimously reiterated and emphasized its adherence to the "enrolled bill doctrine," thus, declining therein petitioners plea for the Court to go behind the enrolled copy of the bill. Assailed in said case was Congresss creation of two sets of bicameral conference committees, the lack of records of said committees proceedings, the alleged violation of said committees of the rules of both houses, and the disappearance or deletion of one of the provisions in the compromise bill submitted by the bicameral conference committee. It was argued that such irregularities in the passage of the law nullified R.A. No. 9006, or the Fair Election Act. Striking down such argument, the Court held thus: Under the "enrolled bill doctrine," the signing of a bill by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and the certification of the Secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed are conclusive of its due enactment. A review of cases reveals the Courts consistent adherence to the rule. The Court finds no reason to deviate from the salutary rule in this case where the irregularities alleged by the petitioners mostly involved the internal rules of Congress, e.g. , creation of the 2nd or 3 rd Bicameral Conference Committee by the House. This Court is not the proper forum for the enforcement of these internal rules of Congress, whether House or Senate. Parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no concern. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Rep. Act No. 9006 must be resolved in its favor. The Court reiterates its ruling in Arroyo vs. De Venecia, viz.: But the cases, both here and abroad, in varying forms of expression, all deny to the courts the power to inquire into allegations that, in enacting a law, a House of Congress failed to comply with its own rules, in the absence of showing that there was a violation of a constitutional provision or the rights of private individuals. In Osmea v. Pendatun, it was held: "At any rate, courts have declared that the rules adopted by deliberative bodies are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them. And it has been said that "Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observance, the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body." Consequently, "mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure."21 (Emphasis supplied) The foregoing declaration is exactly in point with the present cases, where petitioners allege irregularities committed by the conference committee in introducing changes or deleting provisions in the House and Senate bills. Akin to the Farias case,22 the present petitions also raise an issue regarding the actions taken by the conference committee on matters regarding Congress compliance with its own internal rules. As stated earlier, one of the most basic and inherent power of the legislature is the power to formulate rules for its proceedings and the discipline of its members. Congress is the best judge of how it should conduct its own business expeditiously and in the most orderly manner. It is also the sole concern of Congress to instill discipline among the members of its conference committee if it believes that said members violated any of its rules of proceedings. Even the expanded jurisdiction of this Court cannot apply to questions regarding only the internal operation of Congress, thus, the Court is wont to deny a review of the internal proceedings of a co-equal branch of government. Moreover, as far back as 1994 or more than ten years ago, in the case of Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance,23 the Court already made the pronouncement that "[i]f a change is desired in the practice [of

the Bicameral Conference Committee] it must be sought in Congress since this question is not covered by any constitutional provision but is only an internal rule of each house." 24 To date, Congress has not seen it fit to make such changes adverted to by the Court. It seems, therefore, that Congress finds the practices of the bicameral conference committee to be very useful for purposes of prompt and efficient legislative action. Nevertheless, just to put minds at ease that no blatant irregularities tainted the proceedings of the bicameral conference committees, the Court deems it necessary to dwell on the issue. The Court observes that there was a necessity for a conference committee because a comparison of the provisions of House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705 on one hand, and Senate Bill No. 1950 on the other, reveals that there were indeed disagreements. As pointed out in the petitions, said disagreements were as follows: House Bill No. 3555 House Bill No.3705 With regard to "Stand-By Authority" in favor of President Provides for 12% VAT on Provides for 12% VAT in general every sale of goods or on sales of goods or properties and properties (amending Sec. 106 reduced rates for sale of certain of NIRC); 12% VAT on locally manufactured goods and importation of goods petroleum products and raw (amending Sec. 107 of NIRC); materials to be used in the and 12% VAT on sale of manufacture thereof (amending services and use or lease of Sec. 106 of NIRC); 12% VAT on properties (amending Sec. 108 importation of goods and reduced of NIRC) rates for certain imported products including petroleum products (amending Sec. 107 of NIRC); and 12% VAT on sale of services and use or lease of properties and a reduced rate for certain services including power generation (amending Sec. 108 of NIRC) With regard to the "no pass-on" provision No similar provision Provides that the VAT imposed on power generation and on the sale of petroleum products shall be absorbed by generation companies or sellers, respectively, and shall not be passed on to consumers Senate Bill No. 1950 Provides for a single rate of 10% VAT on sale of goods or properties (amending Sec. 106 of NIRC), 10% VAT on sale of services including sale of electricity by generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, and use or lease of properties (amending Sec. 108 of NIRC)

Provides that the VAT imposed on sales of electricity by generation companies and services of transmission companies and distribution companies, as well as those of franchise grantees of electric utilities shall not apply to residential end-users. VAT shall be absorbed by generation, transmission, and distribution companies.

With regard to 70% limit on input tax credit Provides that the input tax No similar provision credit for capital goods on which a VAT has been paid shall be equally distributed over 5 years or the depreciable life of such capital goods; the input tax credit for goods and services other than capital goods shall not exceed 5% of the total amount of such

Provides that the input tax credit for capital goods on which a VAT has been paid shall be equally distributed over 5 years or the depreciable life of such capital goods; the input tax credit for goods and services other than capital goods shall not exceed 90% of the output VAT.

goods and services; and for persons engaged in retail trading of goods, the allowable input tax credit shall not exceed 11% of the total amount of goods purchased. With regard to amendments to be made to NIRC provisions regarding income and excise taxes No similar provision No similar provision Provided for amendments to several NIRC provisions regarding corporate income, percentage, franchise and excise taxes The disagreements between the provisions in the House bills and the Senate bill were with regard to (1) what rate of VAT is to be imposed; (2) whether only the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies should not be passed on to consumers, as proposed in the Senate bill, or both the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies and the VAT imposed on sale of petroleum products should not be passed on to consumers, as proposed in the House bill; (3) in what manner input tax credits should be limited; (4) and whether the NIRC provisions on corporate income taxes, percentage, franchise and excise taxes should be amended. There being differences and/or disagreements on the foregoing provisions of the House and Senate bills, the Bicameral Conference Committee was mandated by the rules of both houses of Congress to act on the same by settling said differences and/or disagreements. The Bicameral Conference Committee acted on the disagreeing provisions by making the following changes: 1. With regard to the disagreement on the rate of VAT to be imposed, it would appear from the Conference Committee Report that the Bicameral Conference Committee tried to bridge the gap in the difference between the 10% VAT rate proposed by the Senate, and the various rates with 12% as the highest VAT rate proposed by the House, by striking a compromise whereby the present 10% VAT rate would be retained until certain conditions arise, i.e., the value-added tax collection as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds 2 4/5%, or National Government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds 1%, when the President, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Finance shall raise the rate of VAT to 12% effective January 1, 2006. 2. With regard to the disagreement on whether only the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies should not be passed on to consumers or whether both the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies and the VAT imposed on sale of petroleum products may be passed on to consumers, the Bicameral Conference Committee chose to settle such disagreement by altogether deleting from its Report any no pass-on provision. 3. With regard to the disagreement on whether input tax credits should be limited or not, the Bicameral Conference Committee decided to adopt the position of the House by putting a limitation on the amount of input tax that may be credited against the output tax, although it crafted its own language as to the amount of the limitation on input tax credits and the manner of computing the same by providing thus: (A) Creditable Input Tax. . . . ...

Provided, The input tax on goods purchased or imported in a calendar month for use in trade or business for which deduction for depreciation is allowed under this Code, shall be spread evenly over the month of acquisition and the fifty-nine (59) succeeding months if the aggregate acquisition cost for such goods, excluding the VAT component thereof, exceeds one million Pesos (P1,000,000.00): PROVIDED, however, that if the estimated useful life of the capital good is less than five (5) years, as used for depreciation purposes, then the input VAT shall be spread over such shorter period: . . .

(B) Excess Output or Input Tax. If at the end of any taxable quarter the output tax exceeds the input tax, the excess shall be paid by the VAT-registered person. If the input tax exceeds the output tax, the excess shall be carried over to the succeeding quarter or quarters: PROVIDED that the input tax inclusive of input VAT carried over from the previous quarter that may be credited in every quarter shall not exceed seventy percent (70%) of the output VAT: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT any input tax attributable to zero-rated sales by a VAT-registered person may at his option be refunded or credited against other internal revenue taxes, . . . 4. With regard to the amendments to other provisions of the NIRC on corporate income tax, franchise, percentage and excise taxes, the conference committee decided to include such amendments and basically adopted the provisions found in Senate Bill No. 1950, with some changes as to the rate of the tax to be imposed. Under the provisions of both the Rules of the House of Representatives and Senate Rules, the Bicameral Conference Committee is mandated to settle the differences between the disagreeing provisions in the House bill and the Senate bill. The term "settle" is synonymous to "reconcile" and "harmonize."25 To reconcile or harmonize disagreeing provisions, the Bicameral Conference Committee may then (a) adopt the specific provisions of either the House bill or Senate bill, (b) decide that neither provisions in the House bill or the provisions in the Senate bill would be carried into the final form of the bill, and/or (c) try to arrive at a compromise between the disagreeing provisions. In the present case, the changes introduced by the Bicameral Conference Committee on disagreeing provisions were meant only to reconcile and harmonize the disagreeing provisions for it did not inject any idea or intent that is wholly foreign to the subject embraced by the original provisions. The so-called stand-by authority in favor of the President, whereby the rate of 10% VAT wanted by the Senate is retained until such time that certain conditions arise when the 12% VAT wanted by the House shall be imposed, appears to be a compromise to try to bridge the difference in the rate of VAT proposed by the two houses of Congress. Nevertheless, such compromise is still totally within the subject of what rate of VAT should be imposed on taxpayers. The no pass-on provision was deleted altogether. In the transcripts of the proceedings of the Bicameral Conference Committee held on May 10, 2005, Sen. Ralph Recto, Chairman of the Senate Panel, explained the reason for deleting the no pass-on provision in this wise: . . . the thinking was just to keep the VAT law or the VAT bill simple. And we were thinking that no sector should be a beneficiary of legislative grace, neither should any sector be discriminated on. The VAT is an indirect tax. It is a pass on-tax. And lets keep it plain and simple. Lets not confuse the bill and put a no pass-on provision. Two-thirds of the world have a VAT system and in this two-thirds of the globe, I have yet to see a VAT with a no pass-though provision. So, the thinking of the Senate is basically simple, lets keep the VAT simple.26 (Emphasis supplied) Rep. Teodoro Locsin further made the manifestation that the no pass-on provision "never really enjoyed the support of either House."27 With regard to the amount of input tax to be credited against output tax, the Bicameral Conference Committee came to a compromise on the percentage rate of the limitation or cap on such input tax credit, but again, the change introduced by the Bicameral Conference Committee was totally within the intent of both houses to put a cap on input tax that may be credited against the output tax. From the inception of the subject revenue bill in the House of Representatives, one of the major objectives was to "plug a glaring loophole in the tax policy and administration by creating vital restrictions on the claiming of input VAT tax credits . . ." and "[b]y

introducing limitations on the claiming of tax credit, we are capping a major leakage that has placed our collection efforts at an apparent disadvantage."28 As to the amendments to NIRC provisions on taxes other than the value-added tax proposed in Senate Bill No. 1950, since said provisions were among those referred to it, the conference committee had to act on the same and it basically adopted the version of the Senate. Thus, all the changes or modifications made by the Bicameral Conference Committee were germane to subjects of the provisions referred to it for reconciliation. Such being the case, the Court does not see any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction committed by the Bicameral Conference Committee. In the earlier cases of Philippine Judges Association vs. Prado29 and Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance,30 the Court recognized the long-standing legislative practice of giving said conference committee ample latitude for compromising differences between the Senate and the House. Thus, in the Tolentino case, it was held that: . . . it is within the power of a conference committee to include in its report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the House bill or in the Senate bill. If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, there is no reason why it cannot propose several provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," so long as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills before the committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the Conference Committee acted as a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis.31 (Emphasis supplied)

B. R.A. No. 9337 Does Not Violate Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution on the "No-Amendment Rule"
Article VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the Constitution, states: No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal. Petitioners argument that the practice where a bicameral conference committee is allowed to add or delete provisions in the House bill and the Senate bill after these had passed three readings is in effect a circumvention of the "no amendment rule" (Sec. 26 (2), Art. VI of the 1987 Constitution), fails to convince the Court to deviate from its ruling in the Tolentino case that: Nor is there any reason for requiring that the Committees Report in these cases must have undergone three readings in each of the two houses. If that be the case, there would be no end to negotiation since each house may seek modification of the compromise bill. . . . Art. VI. 26 (2) must, therefore, be construed as referring only to bills introduced for the first time in either house of Congress, not to the conference committee report.32 (Emphasis supplied) The Court reiterates here that the "no-amendment rule" refers only to the procedure to be followed by each house of Congress with regard to bills initiated in each of said respective houses, before said bill is transmitted to the other house for its concurrence or amendment. Verily, to construe said provision in a way as to proscribe any further changes to a bill after one house has voted on it would lead to absurdity as this would mean that the other house of Congress would be deprived of its constitutional power to amend or introduce changes to said bill. Thus, Art. VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the Constitution cannot be taken to mean that the introduction by the Bicameral Conference Committee of amendments and modifications to disagreeing provisions in bills that have been acted upon by both houses of Congress is prohibited.

C. R.A. No. 9337 Does Not Violate Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution on Exclusive Origination of Revenue Bills
Coming to the issue of the validity of the amendments made regarding the NIRC provisions on corporate income taxes and percentage, excise taxes. Petitioners refer to the following provisions, to wit: Section 27 28(A)(1) 28(B)(1) 34(B)(1) 116 117 119 121 148 151 236 237 288 Rates of Income Tax on Domestic Corporation Tax on Resident Foreign Corporation Inter-corporate Dividends Inter-corporate Dividends Tax on Persons Exempt from VAT Percentage Tax on domestic carriers and keepers of Garage Tax on franchises Tax on banks and Non-Bank Financial Intermediaries Excise Tax on manufactured oils and other fuels Excise Tax on mineral products Registration requirements Issuance of receipts or sales or commercial invoices Disposition of Incremental Revenue

Petitioners claim that the amendments to these provisions of the NIRC did not at all originate from the House. They aver that House Bill No. 3555 proposed amendments only regarding Sections 106, 107, 108, 110 and 114 of the NIRC, while House Bill No. 3705 proposed amendments only to Sections 106, 107,108, 109, 110 and 111 of the NIRC; thus, the other sections of the NIRC which the Senate amended but which amendments were not found in the House bills are not intended to be amended by the House of Representatives. Hence, they argue that since the proposed amendments did not originate from the House, such amendments are a violation of Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution. The argument does not hold water. Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution reads: Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. In the present cases, petitioners admit that it was indeed House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705 that initiated the move for amending provisions of the NIRC dealing mainly with the value-added tax. Upon transmittal of said House bills to the Senate, the Senate came out with Senate Bill No. 1950 proposing amendments not only to NIRC provisions on the value-added tax but also amendments to NIRC provisions on other kinds of taxes. Is the introduction by the Senate of provisions not dealing directly with the value- added tax, which is the only kind of tax being amended in the House bills, still within the purview of the constitutional provision authorizing the Senate to propose or concur with amendments to a revenue bill that originated from the House? The foregoing question had been squarely answered in the Tolentino case, wherein the Court held, thus: . . . To begin with, it is not the law but the revenue bill which is required by the Constitution to "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives. It is important to emphasize this, because a bill originating in the House may undergo such extensive changes in the Senate that the result may be a rewriting of the whole. . . . At this point, what is important to note is that, as a result of the Senate action, a distinct bill may be produced. To insist that a revenue statute and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process culminating in the enactment of the law must substantially be the same as the House bill would be to deny the Senates power not only to " concur with amendments " but also

to " propose amendments ." It would be to violate the coequality of legislative power of the two houses of Congress and in fact make the House superior to the Senate. Given, then, the power of the Senate to propose amendments, the Senate can propose its own version even with respect to bills which are required by the Constitution to originate in the House. ... Indeed, what the Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff or tax bills, bills authorizing an increase of the public debt, private bills and bills of local application must come from the House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the districts, the members of the House can be expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and problems. On the other hand, the senators, who are elected at large, are expected to approach the same problems from the national perspective. Both views are thereby made to bear on the enactment of such laws.33 (Emphasis supplied) Since there is no question that the revenue bill exclusively originated in the House of Representatives, the Senate was acting within its constitutional power to introduce amendments to the House bill when it included provisions in Senate Bill No. 1950 amending corporate income taxes, percentage, excise and franchise taxes. Verily, Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution does not contain any prohibition or limitation on the extent of the amendments that may be introduced by the Senate to the House revenue bill. Furthermore, the amendments introduced by the Senate to the NIRC provisions that had not been touched in the House bills are still in furtherance of the intent of the House in initiating the subject revenue bills. The Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 1468, the very first House bill introduced on the floor, which was later substituted by House Bill No. 3555, stated: One of the challenges faced by the present administration is the urgent and daunting task of solving the countrys serious financial problems. To do this, government expenditures must be strictly monitored and controlled and revenues must be significantly increased. This may be easier said than done, but our fiscal authorities are still optimistic the government will be operating on a balanced budget by the year 2009. In fact, several measures that will result to significant expenditure savings have been identified by the administration. It is supported with a credible package of revenue measures that include measures to improve tax administration and control the leakages in revenues from income taxes and the value-added tax (VAT). (Emphasis supplied) Rep. Eric D. Singson, in his sponsorship speech for House Bill No. 3555, declared that: In the budget message of our President in the year 2005, she reiterated that we all acknowledged that on top of our agenda must be the restoration of the health of our fiscal system. In order to considerably lower the consolidated public sector deficit and eventually achieve a balanced budget by the year 2009, we need to seize windows of opportunities which might seem poignant in the beginning, but in the long run prove effective and beneficial to the overall status of our economy. One such opportunity is a review of existing tax rates, evaluating the relevance given our present conditions.34 (Emphasis supplied) Notably therefore, the main purpose of the bills emanating from the House of Representatives is to bring in sizeable revenues for the government

to supplement our countrys serious financial problems, and improve tax administration and control of the leakages in revenues from income taxes and value-added taxes. As these house bills were transmitted to the Senate, the latter, approaching the measures from the point of national perspective, can introduce amendments within the purposes of those bills. It can provide for ways that would soften the impact of the VAT measure on the consumer, i.e., by distributing the burden across all sectors instead of putting it entirely on the shoulders of the consumers. The sponsorship speech of Sen. Ralph Recto on why the provisions on income tax on corporation were included is worth quoting: All in all, the proposal of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means will raise P64.3 billion in additional revenues annually even while by mitigating prices of power, services and petroleum products. However, not all of this will be wrung out of VAT. In fact, only P48.7 billion amount is from the VAT on twelve goods and services. The rest of the tab P10.5 billion- will be picked by corporations. What we therefore prescribe is a burden sharing between corporate Philippines and the consumer. Why should the latter bear all the pain? Why should the fiscal salvation be only on the burden of the consumer? The corporate worlds equity is in form of the increase in the corporate income tax from 32 to 35 percent, but up to 2008 only. This will raise P10.5 billion a year. After that, the rate will slide back, not to its old rate of 32 percent, but two notches lower, to 30 percent. Clearly, we are telling those with the capacity to pay, corporations, to bear with this emergency provision that will be in effect for 1,200 days, while we put our fiscal house in order. This fiscal medicine will have an expiry date. For their assistance, a reward of tax reduction awaits them. We intend to keep the length of their sacrifice brief. We would like to assure them that not because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, this government will keep on making the tunnel long. The responsibility will not rest solely on the weary shoulders of the small man. Big business will be there to share the burden.35 As the Court has said, the Senate can propose amendments and in fact, the amendments made on provisions in the tax on income of corporations are germane to the purpose of the house bills which is to raise revenues for the government. Likewise, the Court finds the sections referring to other percentage and excise taxes germane to the reforms to the VAT system, as these sections would cushion the effects of VAT on consumers. Considering that certain goods and services which were subject to percentage tax and excise tax would no longer be VAT-exempt, the consumer would be burdened more as they would be paying the VAT in addition to these taxes. Thus, there is a need to amend these sections to soften the impact of VAT. Again, in his sponsorship speech, Sen. Recto said: However, for power plants that run on oil, we will reduce to zero the present excise tax on bunker fuel, to lessen the effect of a VAT on this product. For electric utilities like Meralco, we will wipe out the franchise tax in exchange for a VAT. And in the case of petroleum, while we will levy the VAT on oil products, so as not to destroy the VAT chain, we will however bring down the excise tax on socially sensitive products such as diesel, bunker, fuel and kerosene. ...

What do all these exercises point to? These are not contortions of giving to the left hand what was taken from the right. Rather, these sprang from our concern of softening the impact of VAT, so that the people can cushion the blow of higher prices they will have to pay as a result of VAT.36 The other sections amended by the Senate pertained to matters of tax administration which are necessary for the implementation of the changes in the VAT system. To reiterate, the sections introduced by the Senate are germane to the subject matter and purposes of the house bills, which is to supplement our countrys fiscal deficit, among others. Thus, the Senate acted within its power to propose those amendments. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES I. Whether Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108 of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 28(1), and b. Article VI, Section 28(2)

A. No Undue Delegation of Legislative Power


Petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al., Pimentel, Jr., et al., and Escudero, et al. contend in common that Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108, respectively, of the NIRC giving the President the stand-by authority to raise the VAT rate from 10% to 12% when a certain condition is met, constitutes undue delegation of the legislative power to tax. The assailed provisions read as follows: SEC. 4. Sec. 106 of the same Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows: SEC. 106. Value-Added Tax on Sale of Goods or Properties. (A) Rate and Base of Tax. There shall be levied, assessed and collected on every sale, barter or exchange of goods or properties, a value-added tax equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the gross selling price or gross value in money of the goods or properties sold, bartered or exchanged, such tax to be paid by the seller or transferor: provided, that the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied. (i) value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%) or (ii) national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and onehalf percent (1 %). SEC. 5. Section 107 of the same Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows: SEC. 107. Value-Added Tax on Importation of Goods. (A) In General. There shall be levied, assessed and collected on every importation of goods a value-added tax equivalent to ten percent (10%) based on the total value used by the Bureau of Customs in determining

tariff and customs duties, plus customs duties, excise taxes, if any, and other charges, such tax to be paid by the importer prior to the release of such goods from customs custody: Provided, That where the customs duties are determined on the basis of the quantity or volume of the goods, the value-added tax shall be based on the landed cost plus excise taxes, if any: provided, further, that the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%) after any of the following conditions has been satisfied. (i) value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%) or (ii) national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and onehalf percent (1 %). SEC. 6. Section 108 of the same Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows: SEC. 108. Value-added Tax on Sale of Services and Use or Lease of Properties (A) Rate and Base of Tax. There shall be levied, assessed and collected, a value-added tax equivalent to ten percent (10%) of gross receipts derived from the sale or exchange of services: provided, that the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied. (i) value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%) or (ii) national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and onehalf percent (1 %). (Emphasis supplied) Petitioners allege that the grant of the stand-by authority to the President to increase the VAT rate is a virtual abdication by Congress of its exclusive power to tax because such delegation is not within the purview of Section 28 (2), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides: The Congress may, by law, authorize the President to fix within specified limits, and may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the government. They argue that the VAT is a tax levied on the sale, barter or exchange of goods and properties as well as on the sale or exchange of services, which cannot be included within the purview of tariffs under the exempted delegation as the latter refers to customs duties, tolls or tribute payable upon merchandise to the government and usually imposed on goods or merchandise imported or exported. Petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al., further contend that delegating to the President the legislative power to tax is contrary to republicanism. They insist that accountability, responsibility and transparency should dictate the actions of Congress and they should not pass to the President the decision to impose taxes. They also argue that the law also effectively nullified the Presidents power of control, which includes the authority to set aside and nullify the acts of her subordinates like the Secretary of Finance, by mandating the fixing of the tax rate by the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance. Petitioners Pimentel, et al. aver that the President has ample powers to cause, influence or create the conditions provided by the law to bring about either or both the conditions precedent. On the other hand, petitioners Escudero, et al. find bizarre and revolting the situation that the imposition of the 12% rate would be subject to the whim of the Secretary of Finance, an unelected bureaucrat, contrary to the principle of no taxation without representation. They submit that the Secretary of Finance is not

mandated to give a favorable recommendation and he may not even give his recommendation. Moreover, they allege that no guiding standards are provided in the law on what basis and as to how he will make his recommendation. They claim, nonetheless, that any recommendation of the Secretary of Finance can easily be brushed aside by the President since the former is a mere alter ego of the latter, such that, ultimately, it is the President who decides whether to impose the increased tax rate or not. A brief discourse on the principle of non-delegation of powers is instructive. The principle of separation of powers ordains that each of the three great branches of government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in matters falling within its own constitutionally allocated sphere.37 A logical corollary to the doctrine of separation of powers is the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim: potestas delegata non delegari potest which means "what has been delegated, cannot be delegated."38 This doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such as delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another.39 With respect to the Legislature, Section 1 of Article VI of the Constitution provides that "the Legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives." The powers which Congress is prohibited from delegating are those which are strictly, or inherently and exclusively, legislative. Purely legislative power, which can never be delegated, has been described as the authority to make a complete law complete as to the time when it shall take effect and as to whom it shall be applicable and to determine the expediency of its enactment.40 Thus, the rule is that in order that a court may be justified in holding a statute unconstitutional as a delegation of legislative power, it must appear that the power involved is purely legislative in nature that is, one appertaining exclusively to the legislative department. It is the nature of the power, and not the liability of its use or the manner of its exercise, which determines the validity of its delegation. Nonetheless, the general rule barring delegation of legislative powers is subject to the following recognized limitations or exceptions: (1) Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution; (2) Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution; (3) Delegation to the people at large; (4) Delegation to local governments; and (5) Delegation to administrative bodies. In every case of permissible delegation, there must be a showing that the delegation itself is valid. It is valid only if the law (a) is complete in itself, setting forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate;41 and (b) fixes a standard the limits of which are sufficiently determinate and determinable to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions.42 A sufficient standard is one which defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative command is to be effected.43 Both tests are intended to prevent a total transference of legislative authority to the delegate, who is not allowed to step into the shoes of the legislature and exercise a power essentially legislative.44 In People vs. Vera,45 the Court, through eminent Justice Jose P. Laurel, expounded on the concept and extent of delegation of power in this wise:

In testing whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is usual to inquire whether the statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands of the legislature so that nothing was left to the judgment of any other appointee or delegate of the legislature. ... The true distinction, says Judge Ranney, is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made. ... It is contended, however, that a legislative act may be made to the effect as law after it leaves the hands of the legislature. It is true that laws may be made effective on certain contingencies, as by proclamation of the executive or the adoption by the people of a particular community. In Wayman vs. Southard, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the legislature may delegate a power not legislative which it may itself rightfully exercise. The power to ascertain facts is such a power which may be delegated. There is nothing essentially legislative in ascertaining the existence of facts or conditions as the basis of the taking into effect of a law. That is a mental process common to all branches of the government. Notwithstanding the apparent tendency, however, to relax the rule prohibiting delegation of legislative authority on account of the complexity arising from social and economic forces at work in this modern industrial age, the orthodox pronouncement of Judge Cooley in his work on Constitutional Limitations finds restatement in Prof. Willoughby's treatise on the Constitution of the United States in the following language speaking of declaration of legislative power to administrative agencies: The principle which permits the legislature to provide that the administrative agent may determine when the circumstances are such as require the application of a law is defended upon the ground that at the time this authority is granted, the rule of public policy, which is the essence of the legislative act, is determined by the legislature. In other words, the legislature, as it is its duty to do, determines that, under given circumstances, certain executive or administrative action is to be taken, and that, under other circumstances, different or no action at all is to be taken. What is thus left to the administrative official is not the legislative determination of what public policy demands, but simply the ascertainment of what the facts of the case require to be done according to the terms of the law by which he is governed. The efficiency of an Act as a declaration of legislative will must, of course, come from Congress, but the ascertainment of the contingency upon which the Act shall take effect may be left to such agencies as it may designate. The legislature, then, may provide that a law shall take effect upon the happening of future specified contingencies leaving to some other person or body the power to determine when the specified contingency has arisen. (Emphasis supplied).46 In Edu vs. Ericta,47 the Court reiterated: What cannot be delegated is the authority under the Constitution to make laws and to alter and repeal them; the test is the completeness of the statute in all its terms and provisions when it leaves the hands of the legislature. To determine whether or not there is an undue delegation of legislative power, the inquiry must be directed to the scope and definiteness of the measure enacted. The legislative does not abdicate its functions when it describes what job must be done, who is to do it, and what is the scope of his authority. For a complex economy, that may be the only way in which the legislative process can go forward. A distinction has rightfully been made between delegation of power to make the laws which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, which constitutionally may not be done, and delegation of authority or discretion as to its execution to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law, to which no valid objection can be made. The Constitution is thus not to be regarded as denying the legislature the necessary resources of flexibility and practicability. (Emphasis supplied).48 Clearly, the legislature may delegate to executive officers or bodies the power to determine certain facts or conditions, or the happening of contingencies, on which the operation of a statute is, by its terms, made to

depend, but the legislature must prescribe sufficient standards, policies or limitations on their authority.49 While the power to tax cannot be delegated to executive agencies, details as to the enforcement and administration of an exercise of such power may be left to them, including the power to determine the existence of facts on which its operation depends.50 The rationale for this is that the preliminary ascertainment of facts as basis for the enactment of legislation is not of itself a legislative function, but is simply ancillary to legislation. Thus, the duty of correlating information and making recommendations is the kind of subsidiary activity which the legislature may perform through its members, or which it may delegate to others to perform. Intelligent legislation on the complicated problems of modern society is impossible in the absence of accurate information on the part of the legislators, and any reasonable method of securing such information is proper.51 The Constitution as a continuously operative charter of government does not require that Congress find for itself every fact upon which it desires to base legislative action or that it make for itself detailed determinations which it has declared to be prerequisite to application of legislative policy to particular facts and circumstances impossible for Congress itself properly to investigate.52 In the present case, the challenged section of R.A. No. 9337 is the common proviso in Sections 4, 5 and 6 which reads as follows: That the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied: (i) Value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%); or (ii) National government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %). The case before the Court is not a delegation of legislative power. It is simply a delegation of ascertainment of facts upon which enforcement and administration of the increase rate under the law is contingent. The legislature has made the operation of the 12% rate effective January 1, 2006, contingent upon a specified fact or condition. It leaves the entire operation or non-operation of the 12% rate upon factual matters outside of the control of the executive. No discretion would be exercised by the President. Highlighting the absence of discretion is the fact that the word shall is used in the common proviso. The use of the word shall connotes a mandatory order. Its use in a statute denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion.53 Where the law is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says, and courts have no choice but to see to it that the mandate is obeyed.54 Thus, it is the ministerial duty of the President to immediately impose the 12% rate upon the existence of any of the conditions specified by Congress. This is a duty which cannot be evaded by the President. Inasmuch as the law specifically uses the word shall, the exercise of discretion by the President does not come into play. It is a clear directive to impose the 12% VAT rate when the specified conditions are present. The time of taking into effect of the 12% VAT rate is based on the happening of a certain specified contingency, or upon the ascertainment of certain facts or conditions by a person or body other than the legislature itself. The Court finds no merit to the contention of petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al. that the law effectively nullified the Presidents power of control over the Secretary of Finance by mandating the fixing of the tax rate by the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance. The Court cannot also subscribe to the position of petitioners

Pimentel, et al. that the word shall should be interpreted to mean may in view of the phrase "upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance." Neither does the Court find persuasive the submission of petitioners Escudero, et al. that any recommendation by the Secretary of Finance can easily be brushed aside by the President since the former is a mere alter ego of the latter. When one speaks of the Secretary of Finance as the alter ego of the President, it simply means that as head of the Department of Finance he is the assistant and agent of the Chief Executive. The multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the secretaries of such departments, such as the Department of Finance, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive, presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. The Secretary of Finance, as such, occupies a political position and holds office in an advisory capacity, and, in the language of Thomas Jefferson, "should be of the President's bosom confidence" and, in the language of Attorney-General Cushing, is "subject to the direction of the President."55 In the present case, in making his recommendation to the President on the existence of either of the two conditions, the Secretary of Finance is not acting as the alter ego of the President or even her subordinate. In such instance, he is not subject to the power of control and direction of the President. He is acting as the agent of the legislative department, to determine and declare the event upon which its expressed will is to take effect.56 The Secretary of Finance becomes the means or tool by which legislative policy is determined and implemented, considering that he possesses all the facilities to gather data and information and has a much broader perspective to properly evaluate them. His function is to gather and collate statistical data and other pertinent information and verify if any of the two conditions laid out by Congress is present. His personality in such instance is in reality but a projection of that of Congress. Thus, being the agent of Congress and not of the President, the President cannot alter or modify or nullify, or set aside the findings of the Secretary of Finance and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter. Congress simply granted the Secretary of Finance the authority to ascertain the existence of a fact, namely, whether by December 31, 2005, the value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (24/5%) or the national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1%). If either of these two instances has occurred, the Secretary of Finance, by legislative mandate, must submit such information to the President. Then the 12% VAT rate must be imposed by the President effective January 1, 2006. There is no undue delegation of legislative power but only of the discretion as to the execution of a law. This is constitutionally permissible.57 Congress does not abdicate its functions or unduly delegate power when it describes what job must be done, who must do it, and what is the scope of his authority; in our complex economy that is frequently the only way in which the legislative process can go forward.58 As to the argument of petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al. that delegating to the President the legislative power to tax is contrary to the principle of republicanism, the same deserves scant consideration. Congress did not delegate the power to tax but the mere implementation of the law. The intent and will to increase the VAT rate to 12% came from Congress and the task of the President is to simply execute the legislative policy. That Congress chose to do so in such a manner is not within the province of the Court to inquire into, its task being to interpret the law.59 The insinuation by petitioners Pimentel, et al. that the President has ample powers to cause, influence or create the conditions to bring about either or both the conditions precedent does not deserve any merit as this argument is highly speculative. The Court does not rule on allegations which are manifestly conjectural, as these may not exist at all. The Court deals with facts, not fancies; on realities, not appearances. When the Court acts on appearances instead of realities, justice and law will be short-lived.

B. The 12% Increase VAT Rate Does Not Impose an Unfair and Unnecessary Additional Tax Burden
Petitioners Pimentel, et al. argue that the 12% increase in the VAT rate imposes an unfair and additional tax burden on the people. Petitioners also argue that the 12% increase, dependent on any of the 2 conditions set forth in the contested provisions, is ambiguous because it does not state if the VAT rate would be

returned to the original 10% if the rates are no longer satisfied. Petitioners also argue that such rate is unfair and unreasonable, as the people are unsure of the applicable VAT rate from year to year. Under the common provisos of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, if any of the two conditions set forth therein are satisfied, the President shall increase the VAT rate to 12%. The provisions of the law are clear. It does not provide for a return to the 10% rate nor does it empower the President to so revert if, after the rate is increased to 12%, the VAT collection goes below the 24/5 of the GDP of the previous year or that the national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year does not exceed 1%. Therefore, no statutory construction or interpretation is needed. Neither can conditions or limitations be introduced where none is provided for. Rewriting the law is a forbidden ground that only Congress may tread upon.60 Thus, in the absence of any provision providing for a return to the 10% rate, which in this case the Court finds none, petitioners argument is, at best, purely speculative. There is no basis for petitioners fear of a fluctuating VAT rate because the law itself does not provide that the rate should go back to 10% if the conditions provided in Sections 4, 5 and 6 are no longer present. The rule is that where the provision of the law is clear and unambiguous, so that there is no occasion for the court's seeking the legislative intent, the law must be taken as it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction.61 Petitioners also contend that the increase in the VAT rate, which was allegedly an incentive to the President to raise the VAT collection to at least 2 4/5 of the GDP of the previous year, should be based on fiscal adequacy. Petitioners obviously overlooked that increase in VAT collection is not the only condition. There is another condition, i.e., the national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %). Respondents explained the philosophy behind these alternative conditions: 1. VAT/GDP Ratio > 2.8% The condition set for increasing VAT rate to 12% have economic or fiscal meaning. If VAT/GDP is less than 2.8%, it means that government has weak or no capability of implementing the VAT or that VAT is not effective in the function of the tax collection. Therefore, there is no value to increase it to 12% because such action will also be ineffectual. 2. Natl Govt Deficit/GDP >1.5% The condition set for increasing VAT when deficit/GDP is 1.5% or less means the fiscal condition of government has reached a relatively sound position or is towards the direction of a balanced budget position. Therefore, there is no need to increase the VAT rate since the fiscal house is in a relatively healthy position. Otherwise stated, if the ratio is more than 1.5%, there is indeed a need to increase the VAT rate.62 That the first condition amounts to an incentive to the President to increase the VAT collection does not render it unconstitutional so long as there is a public purpose for which the law was passed, which in this case, is mainly to raise revenue. In fact, fiscal adequacy dictated the need for a raise in revenue. The principle of fiscal adequacy as a characteristic of a sound tax system was originally stated by Adam Smith in his Canons of Taxation (1776), as: IV. Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state. 63

It simply means that sources of revenues must be adequate to meet government expenditures and their variations.64 The dire need for revenue cannot be ignored. Our country is in a quagmire of financial woe. During the Bicameral Conference Committee hearing, then Finance Secretary Purisima bluntly depicted the countrys gloomy state of economic affairs, thus: First, let me explain the position that the Philippines finds itself in right now. We are in a position where 90 percent of our revenue is used for debt service. So, for every peso of revenue that we currently raise, 90 goes to debt service. Thats interest plus amortization of our debt. So clearly, this is not a sustainable situation. Thats the first fact. The second fact is that our debt to GDP level is way out of line compared to other peer countries that borrow money from that international financial markets. Our debt to GDP is approximately equal to our GDP. Again, that shows you that this is not a sustainable situation. The third thing that Id like to point out is the environment that we are presently operating in is not as benign as what it used to be the past five years. What do I mean by that? In the past five years, weve been lucky because we were operating in a period of basically global growth and low interest rates. The past few months, we have seen an inching up, in fact, a rapid increase in the interest rates in the leading economies of the world. And, therefore, our ability to borrow at reasonable prices is going to be challenged. In fact, ultimately, the question is our ability to access the financial markets. When the President made her speech in July last year, the environment was not as bad as it is now, at least based on the forecast of most financial institutions. So, we were assuming that raising 80 billion would put us in a position where we can then convince them to improve our ability to borrow at lower rates. But conditions have changed on us because the interest rates have gone up. In fact, just within this room, we tried to access the market for a billion dollars because for this year alone, the Philippines will have to borrow 4 billion dollars. Of that amount, we have borrowed 1.5 billion. We issued last January a 25-year bond at 9.7 percent cost. We were trying to access last week and the market was not as favorable and up to now we have not accessed and we might pull back because the conditions are not very good. So given this situation, we at the Department of Finance believe that we really need to front-end our deficit reduction. Because it is deficit that is causing the increase of the debt and we are in what we call a debt spiral. The more debt you have, the more deficit you have because interest and debt service eats and eats more of your revenue. We need to get out of this debt spiral. And the only way, I think, we can get out of this debt spiral is really have a front-end adjustment in our revenue base.65 The image portrayed is chilling. Congress passed the law hoping for rescue from an inevitable catastrophe. Whether the law is indeed sufficient to answer the states economic dilemma is not for the Court to judge. In the Farias case, the Court refused to consider the various arguments raised therein that dwelt on the wisdom of Section 14 of R.A. No. 9006 (The Fair Election Act), pronouncing that: . . . policy matters are not the concern of the Court. Government policy is within the exclusive dominion of the political branches of the government. It is not for this Court to look into the wisdom or propriety of legislative determination. Indeed, whether an enactment is wise or unwise, whether it is based on sound economic theory, whether it is the best means to achieve the desired results, whether, in short, the legislative discretion within its prescribed limits should be exercised in a particular manner are matters for the judgment of the legislature, and the serious conflict of opinions does not suffice to bring them within the range of judicial cognizance.66

In the same vein, the Court in this case will not dawdle on the purpose of Congress or the executive policy, given that it is not for the judiciary to "pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation."67 II. Whether Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 110(A)(2) and 110(B) of the NIRC; and Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 114(C) of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 28(1), and b. Article III, Section 1 A. Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses Petitioners Association of Pilipinas Shell Dealers, Inc., et al. argue that Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 110 (A)(2), 110 (B), and Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 114 (C) of the NIRC are arbitrary, oppressive, excessive and confiscatory. Their argument is premised on the constitutional right against deprivation of life, liberty of property without due process of law, as embodied in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution. Petitioners also contend that these provisions violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law. The doctrine is that where the due process and equal protection clauses are invoked, considering that they are not fixed rules but rather broad standards, there is a need for proof of such persuasive character as would lead to such a conclusion. Absent such a showing, the presumption of validity must prevail.68 Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 110(B) of the NIRC imposes a limitation on the amount of input tax that may be credited against the output tax. It states, in part: "[P]rovided, that the input tax inclusive of the input VAT carried over from the previous quarter that may be credited in every quarter shall not exceed seventy percent (70%) of the output VAT: "

Input Tax is defined under Section 110(A) of the NIRC, as amended, as the value-added tax due from or paid by a VAT-registered person on the importation of goods or local purchase of good and services, including lease or use of property, in the course of trade or business, from a VAT-registered person, and Output Tax is the value-added tax due on the sale or lease of taxable goods or properties or services by any person registered or required to register under the law.
Petitioners claim that the contested sections impose limitations on the amount of input tax that may be claimed. In effect, a portion of the input tax that has already been paid cannot now be credited against the output tax. Petitioners argument is not absolute. It assumes that the input tax exceeds 70% of the output tax, and therefore, the input tax in excess of 70% remains uncredited. However, to the extent that the input tax is less than 70% of the output tax, then 100% of such input tax is still creditable. More importantly, the excess input tax, if any, is retained in a businesss books of accounts and remains creditable in the succeeding quarter/s. This is explicitly allowed by Section 110(B), which provides that "if the input tax exceeds the output tax, the excess shall be carried over to the succeeding quarter or quarters." In addition, Section 112(B) allows a VAT-registered person to apply for the issuance of a tax credit certificate or refund for any unused input taxes, to the extent that such input taxes have not been applied against the output taxes. Such unused input tax may be used in payment of his other internal revenue taxes.

The non-application of the unutilized input tax in a given quarter is not ad infinitum, as petitioners exaggeratedly contend. Their analysis of the effect of the 70% limitation is incomplete and one-sided. It ends at the net effect that there will be unapplied/unutilized inputs VAT for a given quarter. It does not proceed further to the fact that such unapplied/unutilized input tax may be credited in the subsequent periods as allowed by the carry-over provision of Section 110(B) or that it may later on be refunded through a tax credit certificate under Section 112(B). Therefore, petitioners argument must be rejected. On the other hand, it appears that petitioner Garcia failed to comprehend the operation of the 70% limitation on the input tax. According to petitioner, the limitation on the creditable input tax in effect allows VAT-registered establishments to retain a portion of the taxes they collect, which violates the principle that tax collection and revenue should be for public purposes and expenditures As earlier stated, the input tax is the tax paid by a person, passed on to him by the seller, when he buys goods. Output tax meanwhile is the tax due to the person when he sells goods. In computing the VAT payable, three possible scenarios may arise: First, if at the end of a taxable quarter the output taxes charged by the seller are equal to the input taxes that he paid and passed on by the suppliers, then no payment is required; Second, when the output taxes exceed the input taxes, the person shall be liable for the excess, which has to be paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR);69 and Third, if the input taxes exceed the output taxes, the excess shall be carried over to the succeeding quarter or quarters. Should the input taxes result from zero-rated or effectively zero-rated transactions, any excess over the output taxes shall instead be refunded to the taxpayer or credited against other internal revenue taxes, at the taxpayers option.70 Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337 however, imposed a 70% limitation on the input tax. Thus, a person can credit his input tax only up to the extent of 70% of the output tax. In laymans term, the value-added taxes that a person/taxpayer paid and passed on to him by a seller can only be credited up to 70% of the value-added taxes that is due to him on a taxable transaction. There is no retention of any tax collection because the person/taxpayer has already previously paid the input tax to a seller, and the seller will subsequently remit such input tax to the BIR. The party directly liable for the payment of the tax is the seller.71 What only needs to be done is for the person/taxpayer to apply or credit these input taxes, as evidenced by receipts, against his output taxes. Petitioners Association of Pilipinas Shell Dealers, Inc., et al. also argue that the input tax partakes the nature of a property that may not be confiscated, appropriated, or limited without due process of law. The input tax is not a property or a property right within the constitutional purview of the due process clause. A VAT-registered persons entitlement to the creditable input tax is a mere statutory privilege. The distinction between statutory privileges and vested rights must be borne in mind for persons have no vested rights in statutory privileges. The state may change or take away rights, which were created by the law of the state, although it may not take away property, which was vested by virtue of such rights.72 Under the previous system of single-stage taxation, taxes paid at every level of distribution are not recoverable from the taxes payable, although it becomes part of the cost, which is deductible from the gross revenue. When Pres. Aquino issued E.O. No. 273 imposing a 10% multi-stage tax on all sales, it was then that the crediting of the input tax paid on purchase or importation of goods and services by VAT-registered persons against the output tax was introduced.73 This was adopted by the Expanded VAT Law (R.A. No. 7716),74 and The Tax Reform Act of 1997 (R.A. No. 8424).75 The right to credit input tax as against the output tax is clearly a privilege created by law, a privilege that also the law can remove, or in this case, limit.

Petitioners also contest as arbitrary, oppressive, excessive and confiscatory, Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 110(A) of the NIRC, which provides: SEC. 110. Tax Credits. (A) Creditable Input Tax.

Provided, That the input tax on goods purchased or imported in a calendar month for use in trade or business for which deduction for depreciation is allowed under this Code, shall be spread evenly over the month of acquisition and the fifty-nine (59) succeeding months if the aggregate acquisition cost for such goods, excluding the VAT component thereof, exceeds One million pesos (P1,000,000.00): Provided, however, That if the estimated useful life of the capital goods is less than five (5) years, as used for depreciation purposes, then the input VAT shall be spread over such a shorter period: Provided, finally, That in the case of purchase of services, lease or use of properties, the input tax shall be creditable to the purchaser, lessee or license upon payment of the compensation, rental, royalty or fee.
The foregoing section imposes a 60-month period within which to amortize the creditable input tax on purchase or importation of capital goods with acquisition cost of P1 Million pesos, exclusive of the VAT component. Such spread out only poses a delay in the crediting of the input tax. Petitioners argument is without basis because the taxpayer is not permanently deprived of his privilege to credit the input tax. It is worth mentioning that Congress admitted that the spread-out of the creditable input tax in this case amounts to a 4-year interest-free loan to the government.76 In the same breath, Congress also justified its move by saying that the provision was designed to raise an annual revenue of 22.6 billion.77 The legislature also dispelled the fear that the provision will fend off foreign investments, saying that foreign investors have other tax incentives provided by law, and citing the case of China, where despite a 17.5% non-creditable VAT, foreign investments were not deterred.78 Again, for whatever is the purpose of the 60-month amortization, this involves executive economic policy and legislative wisdom in which the Court cannot intervene. With regard to the 5% creditable withholding tax imposed on payments made by the government for taxable transactions, Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, which amended Section 114 of the NIRC, reads: SEC. 114. Return and Payment of Value-added Tax. (C) Withholding of Value-added Tax. The Government or any of its political subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) shall, before making payment on account of each purchase of goods and services which are subject to the value-added tax imposed in Sections 106 and 108 of this Code, deduct and withhold a final value-added tax at the rate of five percent (5%) of the gross payment thereof: Provided, That the payment for lease or use of properties or property rights to nonresident owners shall be subject to ten percent (10%) withholding tax at the time of payment. For purposes of this Section, the payor or person in control of the payment shall be considered as the withholding agent. The value-added tax withheld under this Section shall be remitted within ten (10) days following the end of the month the withholding was made. Section 114(C) merely provides a method of collection, or as stated by respondents, a more simplified VAT withholding system. The government in this case is constituted as a withholding agent with respect to their payments for goods and services. Prior to its amendment, Section 114(C) provided for different rates of value-added taxes to be withheld -3% on gross payments for purchases of goods; 6% on gross payments for services supplied by contractors other than by public works contractors; 8.5% on gross payments for services supplied by public work contractors; or 10% on payment for the lease or use of properties or property rights to nonresident owners.

Under the present Section 114(C), these different rates, except for the 10% on lease or property rights payment to nonresidents, were deleted, and a uniform rate of 5% is applied. The Court observes, however, that the law the used the word final. In tax usage, final, as opposed to creditable, means full. Thus, it is provided in Section 114(C): "final value-added tax at the rate of five percent (5%)." In Revenue Regulations No. 02-98, implementing R.A. No. 8424 (The Tax Reform Act of 1997), the concept of final withholding tax on income was explained, to wit: SECTION 2.57. Withholding of Tax at Source (A) Final Withholding Tax. Under the final withholding tax system the amount of income tax withheld by the withholding agent is constituted as full and final payment of the income tax due from the payee on the said income. The liability for payment of the tax rests primarily on the payor as a withholding agent. Thus, in case of his failure to withhold the tax or in case of underwithholding, the deficiency tax shall be collected from the payor/withholding agent. (B) Creditable Withholding Tax. Under the creditable withholding tax system, taxes withheld on certain income payments are intended to equal or at least approximate the tax due of the payee on said income. Taxes withheld on income payments covered by the expanded withholding tax (referred to in Sec. 2.57.2 of these regulations) and compensation income (referred to in Sec. 2.78 also of these regulations) are creditable in nature. As applied to value-added tax, this means that taxable transactions with the government are subject to a 5% rate, which constitutes as full payment of the tax payable on the transaction. This represents the net VAT payable of the seller. The other 5% effectively accounts for the standard input VAT (deemed input VAT), in lieu of the actual input VAT directly or attributable to the taxable transaction.79 The Court need not explore the rationale behind the provision. It is clear that Congress intended to treat differently taxable transactions with the government.80 This is supported by the fact that under the old provision, the 5% tax withheld by the government remains creditable against the tax liability of the seller or contractor, to wit: SEC. 114. Return and Payment of Value-added Tax. (C) Withholding of Creditable Value-added Tax. The Government or any of its political subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) shall, before making payment on account of each purchase of goods from sellers and services rendered by contractors which are subject to the value-added tax imposed in Sections 106 and 108 of this Code, deduct and withhold the value-added tax due at the rate of three percent (3%) of the gross payment for the purchase of goods and six percent (6%) on gross receipts for services rendered by contractors on every sale or installment payment which shall be creditable against the value-added tax liability of the seller or contractor: Provided, however, That in the case of government public works contractors, the withholding rate shall be eight and one-half percent (8.5%): Provided, further, That the payment for lease or use of properties or property rights to nonresident owners shall be subject to ten percent (10%) withholding tax at the time of payment. For this purpose, the payor or person in control of the payment shall be considered as the withholding agent. The valued-added tax withheld under this Section shall be remitted within ten (10) days following the end of the month the withholding was made. (Emphasis supplied) As amended, the use of the word final and the deletion of the word creditable exhibits Congresss intention to treat transactions with the government differently. Since it has not been shown that the class subject to the 5% final withholding tax has been unreasonably narrowed, there is no reason to invalidate the

provision. Petitioners, as petroleum dealers, are not the only ones subjected to the 5% final withholding tax. It applies to all those who deal with the government. Moreover, the actual input tax is not totally lost or uncreditable, as petitioners believe. Revenue Regulations No. 14-2005 or the Consolidated Value-Added Tax Regulations 2005 issued by the BIR, provides that should the actual input tax exceed 5% of gross payments, the excess may form part of the cost. Equally, should the actual input tax be less than 5%, the difference is treated as income.81 Petitioners also argue that by imposing a limitation on the creditable input tax, the government gets to tax a profit or value-added even if there is no profit or value-added. Petitioners stance is purely hypothetical, argumentative, and again, one-sided. The Court will not engage in a legal joust where premises are what ifs, arguments, theoretical and facts, uncertain. Any disquisition by the Court on this point will only be, as Shakespeare describes life in Macbeth,82 "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Whats more, petitioners contention assumes the proposition that there is no profit or value-added. It need not take an astute businessman to know that it is a matter of exception that a business will sell goods or services without profit or value-added. It cannot be overstressed that a business is created precisely for profit. The equal protection clause under the Constitution means that "no person or class of persons shall be deprived of the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances."83 The power of the State to make reasonable and natural classifications for the purposes of taxation has long been established. Whether it relates to the subject of taxation, the kind of property, the rates to be levied, or the amounts to be raised, the methods of assessment, valuation and collection, the States power is entitled to presumption of validity. As a rule, the judiciary will not interfere with such power absent a clear showing of unreasonableness, discrimination, or arbitrariness.84 Petitioners point out that the limitation on the creditable input tax if the entity has a high ratio of input tax, or invests in capital equipment, or has several transactions with the government, is not based on real and substantial differences to meet a valid classification. The argument is pedantic, if not outright baseless. The law does not make any classification in the subject of taxation, the kind of property, the rates to be levied or the amounts to be raised, the methods of assessment, valuation and collection. Petitioners alleged distinctions are based on variables that bear different consequences. While the implementation of the law may yield varying end results depending on ones profit margin and value-added, the Court cannot go beyond what the legislature has laid down and interfere with the affairs of business. The equal protection clause does not require the universal application of the laws on all persons or things without distinction. This might in fact sometimes result in unequal protection. What the clause requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. By classification is meant the grouping of persons or things similar to each other in certain particulars and different from all others in these same particulars.85 Petitioners brought to the Courts attention the introduction of Senate Bill No. 2038 by Sens. S.R. Osmea III and Ma. Ana Consuelo A.S. Madrigal on June 6, 2005, and House Bill No. 4493 by Rep. Eric D. Singson. The proposed legislation seeks to amend the 70% limitation by increasing the same to 90%. This, according to petitioners, supports their stance that the 70% limitation is arbitrary and confiscatory. On this score, suffice it to say that these are still proposed legislations. Until Congress amends the law, and absent any unequivocal basis for its unconstitutionality, the 70% limitation stays. B. Uniformity and Equitability of Taxation

Article VI, Section 28(1) of the Constitution reads: The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation. Uniformity in taxation means that all taxable articles or kinds of property of the same class shall be taxed at the same rate. Different articles may be taxed at different amounts provided that the rate is uniform on the same class everywhere with all people at all times.86 In this case, the tax law is uniform as it provides a standard rate of 0% or 10% (or 12%) on all goods and services. Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108, respectively, of the NIRC, provide for a rate of 10% (or 12%) on sale of goods and properties, importation of goods, and sale of services and use or lease of properties. These same sections also provide for a 0% rate on certain sales and transaction. Neither does the law make any distinction as to the type of industry or trade that will bear the 70% limitation on the creditable input tax, 5-year amortization of input tax paid on purchase of capital goods or the 5% final withholding tax by the government. It must be stressed that the rule of uniform taxation does not deprive Congress of the power to classify subjects of taxation, and only demands uniformity within the particular class.87 R.A. No. 9337 is also equitable. The law is equipped with a threshold margin. The VAT rate of 0% or 10% (or 12%) does not apply to sales of goods or services with gross annual sales or receipts not exceeding P1,500,000.00.88 Also, basic marine and agricultural food products in their original state are still not subject to the tax,89 thus ensuring that prices at the grassroots level will remain accessible. As was stated in Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. vs. Tan:90 The disputed sales tax is also equitable. It is imposed only on sales of goods or services by persons engaged in business with an aggregate gross annual sales exceeding P200,000.00. Small corner sari-sari stores are consequently exempt from its application. Likewise exempt from the tax are sales of farm and marine products, so that the costs of basic food and other necessities, spared as they are from the incidence of the VAT, are expected to be relatively lower and within the reach of the general public. It is admitted that R.A. No. 9337 puts a premium on businesses with low profit margins, and unduly favors those with high profit margins. Congress was not oblivious to this. Thus, to equalize the weighty burden the law entails, the law, under Section 116, imposed a 3% percentage tax on VAT-exempt persons under Section 109(v), i.e., transactions with gross annual sales and/or receipts not exceeding P1.5 Million. This acts as a equalizer because in effect, bigger businesses that qualify for VAT coverage and VAT-exempt taxpayers stand on equal-footing. Moreover, Congress provided mitigating measures to cushion the impact of the imposition of the tax on those previously exempt. Excise taxes on petroleum products91 and natural gas92 were reduced. Percentage tax on domestic carriers was removed.93 Power producers are now exempt from paying franchise tax.94 Aside from these, Congress also increased the income tax rates of corporations, in order to distribute the burden of taxation. Domestic, foreign, and non-resident corporations are now subject to a 35% income tax rate, from a previous 32%.95 Intercorporate dividends of non-resident foreign corporations are still subject to 15% final withholding tax but the tax credit allowed on the corporations domicile was increased to 20%.96 The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is not exempt from income taxes anymore.97 Even the sale by an artist of his works or services performed for the production of such works was not spared. All these were designed to ease, as well as spread out, the burden of taxation, which would otherwise rest largely on the consumers. It cannot therefore be gainsaid that R.A. No. 9337 is equitable. C. Progressivity of Taxation

Lastly, petitioners contend that the limitation on the creditable input tax is anything but regressive. It is the smaller business with higher input tax-output tax ratio that will suffer the consequences. Progressive taxation is built on the principle of the taxpayers ability to pay. This principle was also lifted from Adam Smiths Canons of Taxation, and it states: I. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. Taxation is progressive when its rate goes up depending on the resources of the person affected.98 The VAT is an antithesis of progressive taxation. By its very nature, it is regressive. The principle of progressive taxation has no relation with the VAT system inasmuch as the VAT paid by the consumer or business for every goods bought or services enjoyed is the same regardless of income. In other words, the VAT paid eats the same portion of an income, whether big or small. The disparity lies in the income earned by a person or profit margin marked by a business, such that the higher the income or profit margin, the smaller the portion of the income or profit that is eaten by VAT. A converso, the lower the income or profit margin, the bigger the part that the VAT eats away. At the end of the day, it is really the lower income group or businesses with low-profit margins that is always hardest hit. Nevertheless, the Constitution does not really prohibit the imposition of indirect taxes, like the VAT. What it simply provides is that Congress shall "evolve a progressive system of taxation." The Court stated in the Tolentino case, thus: The Constitution does not really prohibit the imposition of indirect taxes which, like the VAT, are regressive. What it simply provides is that Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation. The constitutional provision has been interpreted to mean simply that direct taxes are . . . to be preferred [and] as much as possible, indirect taxes should be minimized. (E. FERNANDO, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES 221 (Second ed. 1977)) Indeed, the mandate to Congress is not to prescribe, but to evolve, a progressive tax system. Otherwise, sales taxes, which perhaps are the oldest form of indirect taxes, would have been prohibited with the proclamation of Art. VIII, 17 (1) of the 1973 Constitution from which the present Art. VI, 28 (1) was taken. Sales taxes are also regressive. Resort to indirect taxes should be minimized but not avoided entirely because it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid them by imposing such taxes according to the taxpayers' ability to pay. In the case of the VAT, the law minimizes the regressive effects of this imposition by providing for zero rating of certain transactions (R.A. No. 7716, 3, amending 102 (b) of the NIRC), while granting exemptions to other transactions. (R.A. No. 7716, 4 amending 103 of the NIRC)99 CONCLUSION It has been said that taxes are the lifeblood of the government. In this case, it is just an enema, a first-aid measure to resuscitate an economy in distress. The Court is neither blind nor is it turning a deaf ear on the plight of the masses. But it does not have the panacea for the malady that the law seeks to remedy. As in other cases, the Court cannot strike down a law as unconstitutional simply because of its yokes. Let us not be overly influenced by the plea that for every wrong there is a remedy, and that the judiciary should stand ready to afford relief. There are undoubtedly many wrongs the judicature may not correct, for instance, those involving political questions. . . . Let us likewise disabuse our minds from the notion that the judiciary is the repository of remedies for all political or social ills; We should not forget that the Constitution has judiciously allocated the powers of government to three distinct and separate compartments; and that judicial interpretation has tended to the preservation of the independence of the three, and a zealous regard of the prerogatives of each, knowing

full well that one is not the guardian of the others and that, for official wrong-doing, each may be brought to account, either by impeachment, trial or by the ballot box.100 The words of the Court in Vera vs. Avelino101 holds true then, as it still holds true now. All things considered, there is no raison d'tre for the unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 9337. WHEREFORE, Republic Act No. 9337 not being unconstitutional, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 168056, 168207, 168461, 168463, and 168730, are hereby DISMISSED. There being no constitutional impediment to the full enforcement and implementation of R.A. No. 9337, the temporary restraining order issued by the Court on July 1, 2005 is LIFTED upon finality of herein decision. SO ORDERED. .R. No. 138810 September 29, 2004

BATANGAS CATV, INC., petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE BATANGAS CITY SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD and BATANGAS CITY MAYOR, respondents. DECISION SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: In the late 1940s, John Walson, an appliance dealer in Pennsylvania, suffered a decline in the sale of television (tv) sets because of poor reception of signals in his community. Troubled, he built an antenna on top of a nearby mountain. Using coaxial cable lines, he distributed the tv signals from the antenna to the homes of his customers. Walsons innovative idea improved his sales and at the same time gave birth to a new telecommunication system -- the Community Antenna Television (CATV) or Cable Television.1 This technological breakthrough found its way in our shores and, like in its country of origin, it spawned legal controversies, especially in the field of regulation. The case at bar is just another occasion to clarify a shady area. Here, we are tasked to resolve the inquiry -- may a local government unit (LGU) regulate the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators within its territorial jurisdiction? This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Batangas CATV, Inc. (petitioner herein) against the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Mayor of Batangas City (respondents herein) assailing the Court of Appeals (1) Decision2 dated February 12, 1999 and (2) Resolution3 dated May 26, 1999, in CA-G.R. CV No. 52361.4 The Appellate Court reversed and set aside the Judgment5 dated October 29, 1995 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 7, Batangas City in Civil Case No. 4254,6 holding that neither of the respondents has the power to fix the subscriber rates of CATV operators, such being outside the scope of the LGUs power. The antecedent facts are as follows: On July 28, 1986, respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod enacted Resolution No. 2107 granting petitioner a permit to construct, install, and operate a CATV system in Batangas City. Section 8 of the Resolution provides that petitioner is authorized to charge its subscribers the maximum rates specified therein, "provided, however, that any increase of rates shall be subject to the approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod."8 Sometime in November 1993, petitioner increased its subscriber rates from P88.00 to P180.00 per month. As a result, respondent Mayor wrote petitioner a letter9 threatening to cancel its permit unless it secures the approval of respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod, pursuant to Resolution No. 210.

Petitioner then filed with the RTC, Branch 7, Batangas City, a petition for injunction docketed as Civil Case No. 4254. It alleged that respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod has no authority to regulate the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators because under Executive Order No. 205, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has the sole authority to regulate the CATV operation in the Philippines. On October 29, 1995, the trial court decided in favor of petitioner, thus: "WHEREFORE, as prayed for, the defendants, their representatives, agents, deputies or other persons acting on their behalf or under their instructions, are hereby enjoined from canceling plaintiffs permit to operate a Cable Antenna Television (CATV) system in the City of Batangas or its environs or in any manner, from interfering with the authority and power of the National Telecommunications Commission to grant franchises to operate CATV systems to qualified applicants, and the right of plaintiff in fixing its service rates which needs no prior approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Batangas City. The counterclaim of the plaintiff is hereby dismissed. No pronouncement as to costs. IT IS SO ORDERED."10 The trial court held that the enactment of Resolution No. 210 by respondent violates the States deregulation policy as set forth by then NTC Commissioner Jose Luis A. Alcuaz in his Memorandum dated August 25, 1989. Also, it pointed out that the sole agency of the government which can regulate CATV operation is the NTC, and that the LGUs cannot exercise regulatory power over it without appropriate legislation. Unsatisfied, respondents elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 52361. On February 12, 1999, the Appellate Court reversed and set aside the trial courts Decision, ratiocinating as follows: "Although the Certificate of Authority to operate a Cable Antenna Television (CATV) System is granted by the National Telecommunications Commission pursuant to Executive Order No. 205, this does not preclude the Sangguniang Panlungsod from regulating the operation of the CATV in their locality under the powers vested upon it by Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1983. Section 177 (now Section 457 paragraph 3 (ii) of Republic Act 7160) provides: Section 177. Powers and Duties The Sangguniang Panlungsod shall: a) Enact such ordinances as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the responsibilities conferred upon it by law, and such as shall be necessary and proper to provide for health and safety, comfort and convenience, maintain peace and order, improve the morals, and promote the prosperity and general welfare of the community and the inhabitants thereof, and the protection of property therein; xxx d) Regulate, fix the license fee for, and tax any business or profession being carried on and exercised within the territorial jurisdiction of the city, except travel agencies, tourist guides, tourist transports, hotels, resorts, de luxe restaurants, and tourist inns of international standards which shall remain under the licensing and regulatory power of the Ministry of Tourism which shall exercise such authority without

infringement on the taxing and regulatory powers of the city government; Under cover of the General Welfare Clause as provided in this section, Local Government Units can perform just about any power that will benefit their constituencies. Thus, local government units can exercise powers that are: (1) expressly granted; (2) necessarily implied from the power that is expressly granted; (3) necessary, appropriate or incidental for its efficient and effective governance; and (4) essential to the promotion of the general welfare of their inhabitants. (Pimentel, The Local Government Code of 1991, p. 46) Verily, the regulation of businesses in the locality is expressly provided in the Local Government Code. The fixing of service rates is lawful under the General Welfare Clause. Resolution No. 210 granting appellee a permit to construct, install and operate a community antenna television (CATV) system in Batangas City as quoted earlier in this decision, authorized the grantee to impose charges which cannot be increased except upon approval of the Sangguniang Bayan. It further provided that in case of violation by the grantee of the terms and conditions/requirements specifically provided therein, the City shall have the right to withdraw the franchise. Appellee increased the service rates from EIGHTY EIGHT PESOS (P88.00) to ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY PESOS (P180.00) (Records, p. 25) without the approval of appellant. Such act breached Resolution No. 210 which gives appellant the right to withdraw the permit granted to appellee."11 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied.12 Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari anchored on the following assignments of error: "I THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE AUTHORIZES RESPONDENT SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD TO EXERCISE THE REGULATORY FUNCTION SOLELY LODGED WITH THE NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 205, INCLUDING THE AUTHORITY TO FIX AND/OR APPROVE THE SERVICE RATES OF CATV OPERATORS; AND II THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REVERSING THE DECISION APPEALED FROM AND DISMISSING PETITIONERS COMPLAINT."13 Petitioner contends that while Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, extends to the LGUs the general power to perform any act that will benefit their constituents, nonetheless, it does not authorize them to regulate the CATV operation. Pursuant to E.O. No. 205, only the NTC has the authority to regulate the CATV operation, including the fixing of subscriber rates. Respondents counter that the Appellate Court did not commit any reversible error in rendering the assailed Decision. First, Resolution No. 210 was enacted pursuant to Section 177(c) and (d) of Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, the Local Government Code of 1983, which authorizes LGUs to regulate businesses. The term "businesses" necessarily includes the CATV industry. And second, Resolution No. 210 is in the nature of a contract between petitioner and respondents, it being a grant to the former of a franchise to operate a

CATV system. To hold that E.O. No. 205 amended its terms would violate the constitutional prohibition against impairment of contracts.14 The petition is impressed with merit. Earlier, we posed the question -- may a local government unit (LGU) regulate the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators within its territorial jurisdiction? A review of pertinent laws and jurisprudence yields a negative answer. President Ferdinand E. Marcos was the first one to place the CATV industry under the regulatory power of the national government.15 On June 11, 1978, he issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1512 16 establishing a monopoly of the industry by granting Sining Makulay, Inc., an exclusive franchise to operate CATV system in any place within the Philippines. Accordingly, it terminated all franchises, permits or certificates for the operation of CATV system previously granted by local governments or by any instrumentality or agency of the national government.17 Likewise, it prescribed the subscriber rates to be charged by Sining Makulay, Inc. to its customers.18 On July 21, 1979, President Marcos issued Letter of Instruction (LOI) No. 894 vesting upon the Chairman of the Board of Communications direct supervision over the operations of Sining Makulay, Inc. Three days after, he issued E.O. No. 54619 integrating the Board of Communications20 and the Telecommunications Control Bureau21 to form a single entity to be known as the "National Telecommunications Commission." Two of its assigned functions are: "a. Issue Certificate of Public Convenience for the operation of communications utilities and services, radio communications systems, wire or wireless telephone or telegraph systems, radio and television broadcasting system and other similar public utilities; b. Establish, prescribe and regulate areas of operation of particular operators of public service communications; and determine and prescribe charges or rates pertinent to the operation of such public utility facilities and services except in cases where charges or rates are established by international bodies or associations of which the Philippines is a participating member or by bodies recognized by the Philippine Government as the proper arbiter of such charges or rates;" Although Sining Makulay Inc.s exclusive franchise had a life term of 25 years, it was cut short by the advent of the 1986 Revolution. Upon President Corazon C. Aquinos assumption of power, she issued E.O. No. 205 22 opening the CATV industry to all citizens of the Philippines. It mandated the NTC to grant Certificates of Authority to CATV operators and to issue the necessary implementing rules and regulations. On September 9, 1997, President Fidel V. Ramos issued E.O. No. 436 23 prescribing policy guidelines to govern CATV operation in the Philippines. Cast in more definitive terms, it restated the NTCs regulatory powers over CATV operations, thus: "SECTION 2. The regulation and supervision of the cable television industry in the Philippines shall remain vested solely with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). SECTION 3. Only persons, associations, partnerships, corporations or cooperatives, granted a Provisional Authority or Certificate of Authority by the Commission may install, operate and maintain a cable television system or render cable television service within a service area." Clearly, it has been more than two decades now since our national government, through the NTC, assumed regulatory power over the CATV industry. Changes in the political arena did not alter the trend. Instead, subsequent presidential issuances further reinforced the NTCs power. Significantly, President Marcos and

President Aquino, in the exercise of their legislative power, issued P.D. No. 1512, E.O. No. 546 and E.O. No. 205. Hence, they have the force and effect of statutes or laws passed by Congress.24 That the regulatory power stays with the NTC is also clear from President Ramos E.O. No. 436 mandating that the regulation and supervision of the CATV industry shall remain vested "solely" in the NTC. Blacks Law Dictionary defines "sole" as "without another or others."25 The logical conclusion, therefore, is that in light of the above laws and E.O. No. 436, the NTC exercises regulatory power over CATV operators to the exclusion of other bodies. But, lest we be misunderstood, nothing herein should be interpreted as to strip LGUs of their general power to prescribe regulations under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code. It must be emphasized that when E.O. No. 436 decrees that the "regulatory power" shall be vested "solely" in the NTC, it pertains to the "regulatory power" over those matters which are peculiarly within the NTCs competence, such as, the: (1) determination of rates, (2) issuance of "certificates of authority, (3) establishment of areas of operation, (4) examination and assessment of the legal, technical and financial qualifications of applicant operators, (5) granting of permits for the use of frequencies, (6) regulation of ownership and operation, (7) adjudication of issues arising from its functions, and (8) other similar matters.26 Within these areas, the NTC reigns supreme as it possesses the exclusive power to regulate -- a power comprising varied acts, such as "to fix, establish, or control; to adjust by rule, method or established mode; to direct by rule or restriction; or to subject to governing principles or laws."27 Coincidentally, respondents justify their exercise of regulatory power over petitioners CATV operation under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code of 1983. The Court of Appeals sustained their stance. There is no dispute that respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod, like other local legislative bodies, has been empowered to enact ordinances and approve resolutions under the general welfare clause of B.P. Blg. 337, the Local Government Code of 1983. That it continues to posses such power is clear under the new law, R.A. No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991). Section 16 thereof provides: "SECTION 16. General Welfare. Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among others, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant, scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants." In addition, Section 458 of the same Code specifically mandates: "SECTION 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a) The Sangguniang Panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22 of this Code, x x x:" The general welfare clause is the delegation in statutory form of the police power of the State to LGUs.28 Through this, LGUs may prescribe regulations to protect the lives, health, and property of their constituents and maintain peace and order within their respective territorial jurisdictions. Accordingly, we have upheld enactments providing, for instance, the regulation of gambling,29 the occupation of rig drivers,30 the installation and operation of pinball machines,31 the maintenance and operation of cockpits,32 the exhumation and transfer of corpses from public burial grounds,33 and the operation of hotels, motels, and lodging houses34 as valid exercises by local legislatures of the police power under the general welfare clause.

Like any other enterprise, CATV operation maybe regulated by LGUs under the general welfare clause. This is primarily because the CATV system commits the indiscretion of crossing public properties. (It uses public properties in order to reach subscribers.) The physical realities of constructing CATV system the use of public streets, rights of ways, the founding of structures, and the parceling of large regions allow an LGU a certain degree of regulation over CATV operators.35 This is the same regulation that it exercises over all private enterprises within its territory. But, while we recognize the LGUs power under the general welfare clause, we cannot sustain Resolution No. 210. We are convinced that respondents strayed from the well recognized limits of its power. The flaws in Resolution No. 210 are: (1) it violates the mandate of existing laws and (2) it violates the States deregulation policy over the CATV industry. I. Resolution No. 210 is an enactment of an LGU acting only as agent of the national legislature. Necessarily, its act must reflect and conform to the will of its principal. To test its validity, we must apply the particular requisites of a valid ordinance as laid down by the accepted principles governing municipal corporations.36 Speaking for the Court in the leading case of United States vs. Abendan,37 Justice Moreland said: "An ordinance enacted by virtue of the general welfare clause is valid, unless it contravenes the fundamental law of the Philippine Islands, or an Act of the Philippine Legislature, or unless it is against public policy, or is unreasonable, oppressive, partial, discriminating, or in derogation of common right." In De la Cruz vs. Paraz,38 we laid the general rule "that ordinances passed by virtue of the implied power found in the general welfare clause must be reasonable, consonant with the general powers and purposes of the corporation, and not inconsistent with the laws or policy of the State." The apparent defect in Resolution No. 210 is that it contravenes E.O. No. 205 and E.O. No. 436 insofar as it permits respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod to usurp a power exclusively vested in the NTC, i.e., the power to fix the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators. As earlier discussed, the fixing of subscriber rates is definitely one of the matters within the NTCs exclusive domain. In this regard, it is appropriate to stress that where the state legislature has made provision for the regulation of conduct, it has manifested its intention that the subject matter shall be fully covered by the statute, and that a municipality, under its general powers, cannot regulate the same conduct.39 In Keller vs. State,40 it was held that: "Where there is no express power in the charter of a municipality authorizing it to adopt ordinances regulating certain matters which are specifically covered by a general statute, a municipal ordinance, insofar as it attempts to regulate the subject which is completely covered by a general statute of the legislature, may be rendered invalid. x x x Where the subject is of statewide concern, and the legislature has appropriated the field and declared the rule, its declaration is binding throughout the State." A reason advanced for this view is that such ordinances are in excess of the powers granted to the municipal corporation.41 Since E.O. No. 205, a general law, mandates that the regulation of CATV operations shall be exercised by the NTC, an LGU cannot enact an ordinance or approve a resolution in violation of the said law. It is a fundamental principle that municipal ordinances are inferior in status and subordinate to the laws of the state. An ordinance in conflict with a state law of general character and statewide application is universally held to be invalid.42 The principle is frequently expressed in the declaration that municipal authorities, under a general grant of power, cannot adopt ordinances which infringe the spirit of a state law or repugnant to the general policy of the state.43 In every power to pass ordinances given to a municipality, there is an implied restriction that the ordinances shall be consistent with the general law.44 In the language of Justice Isagani Cruz (ret.), this Court, in Magtajas vs. Pryce Properties Corp., Inc.,45 ruled that: "The rationale of the requirement that the ordinances should not contravene a statute is obvious. Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise

powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute. Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy. As it may destroy, it may abridge and control. Unless there is some constitutional limitation on the right, the legislature might, by a single act, and if we can suppose it capable of so great a folly and so great a wrong, sweep from existence all of the municipal corporations in the State, and the corporation could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the right so far as to the corporation themselves are concerned. They are, so to phrase it, the mere tenants at will of the legislature. This basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without meaning to detract from that policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units although in significantly reduced degree now than under our previous Constitutions. The power to create still includes the power to destroy. The power to grant still includes the power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the Constitution, like the direct conferment on the local government units of the power to tax, which cannot now be withdrawn by mere statute. By and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal of the local government units, which cannot defy its will or modify or violate it." Respondents have an ingenious retort against the above disquisition. Their theory is that the regulatory power of the LGUs is granted by R.A. No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991), a handiwork of the national lawmaking authority. They contend that R.A. No. 7160 repealed E.O. No. 205 (issued by President Aquino). Respondents argument espouses a bad precedent. To say that LGUs exercise the same regulatory power over matters which are peculiarly within the NTCs competence is to promote a scenario of LGUs and the NTC locked in constant clash over the appropriate regulatory measure on the same subject matter. LGUs must recognize that technical matters concerning CATV operation are within the exclusive regulatory power of the NTC. At any rate, we find no basis to conclude that R.A. No. 7160 repealed E.O. No. 205, either expressly or impliedly. It is noteworthy that R.A. No. 7160 repealing clause, which painstakingly mentions the specific laws or the parts thereof which are repealed, does not include E.O. No. 205, thus: "SECTION 534. Repealing Clause. (a) Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, otherwise known as the Local Government Code." Executive Order No. 112 (1987), and Executive Order No. 319 (1988) are hereby repealed. (b) Presidential Decree Nos. 684, 1191, 1508 and such other decrees, orders, instructions, memoranda and issuances related to or concerning the barangay are hereby repealed. (c) The provisions of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of Republic Act No. 1939 regarding hospital fund; Section 3, a (3) and b (2) of Republic Act. No. 5447 regarding the Special Education Fund; Presidential Decree No. 144 as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 559 and 1741; Presidential Decree No. 231 as amended; Presidential Decree No. 436 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 558; and Presidential Decree Nos. 381, 436, 464, 477, 526, 632, 752, and 1136 are hereby repealed and rendered of no force and effect. (d) Presidential Decree No. 1594 is hereby repealed insofar as it governs locally-funded projects.

(e) The following provisions are hereby repealed or amended insofar as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Code: Sections 2, 16, and 29 of Presidential Decree No. 704; Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 87, as amended; Sections 52, 53, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, and 74 of Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended; and Section 16 of Presidential Decree No. 972, as amended, and (f) All general and special laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders, proclamations and administrative regulations, or part or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed or modified accordingly." Neither is there an indication that E.O. No. 205 was impliedly repealed by R.A. No. 7160. It is a settled rule that implied repeals are not lightly presumed in the absence of a clear and unmistakable showing of such intentions. In Mecano vs. Commission on Audit,46 we ruled: "Repeal by implication proceeds on the premise that where a statute of later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate a prior act on the subject, that intention must be given effect. Hence, before there can be a repeal, there must be a clear showing on the part of the lawmaker that the intent in enacting the new law was to abrogate the old one. The intention to repeal must be clear and manifest; otherwise, at least, as a general rule, the later act is to be construed as a continuation of, and not a substitute for, the first act and will continue so far as the two acts are the same from the time of the first enactment." As previously stated, E.O. No. 436 (issued by President Ramos) vests upon the NTC the power to regulate the CATV operation in this country. So also Memorandum Circular No. 8-9-95, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 7925 (the "Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines"). This shows that the NTCs regulatory power over CATV operation is continuously recognized. It is a canon of legal hermeneutics that instead of pitting one statute against another in an inevitably destructive confrontation, courts must exert every effort to reconcile them, remembering that both laws deserve a becoming respect as the handiwork of coordinate branches of the government.47 On the assumption of a conflict between E.O. No. 205 and R.A. No. 7160, the proper action is not to uphold one and annul the other but to give effect to both by harmonizing them if possible. This recourse finds application here. Thus, we hold that the NTC, under E.O. No. 205, has exclusive jurisdiction over matters affecting CATV operation, including specifically the fixing of subscriber rates, but nothing herein precludes LGUs from exercising its general power, under R.A. No. 7160, to prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety and general welfare of their constituents. In effect, both laws become equally effective and mutually complementary. The grant of regulatory power to the NTC is easily understandable. CATV system is not a mere local concern. The complexities that characterize this new technology demand that it be regulated by a specialized agency. This is particularly true in the area of rate-fixing. Rate fixing involves a series of technical operations.48 Consequently, on the hands of the regulatory body lies the ample discretion in the choice of such rational processes as might be appropriate to the solution of its highly complicated and technical problems. Considering that the CATV industry is so technical a field, we believe that the NTC, a specialized agency, is in a better position than the LGU, to regulate it. Notably, in United States vs. Southwestern Cable Co.,49 the US Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Communications Commissions (FCCs) jurisdiction over CATV operation. The Court held that the FCCs authority over cable systems assures the preservation of the local broadcast service and an equitable distribution of broadcast services among the various regions of the country. II. Resolution No. 210 violated the States deregulation policy.

Deregulation is the reduction of government regulation of business to permit freer markets and competition.50 Oftentimes, the State, through its regulatory agencies, carries out a policy of deregulation to attain certain objectives or to address certain problems. In the field of telecommunications, it is recognized that many areas in the Philippines are still "unserved" or "underserved." Thus, to encourage private sectors to venture in this field and be partners of the government in stimulating the growth and development of telecommunications, the State promoted the policy of deregulation. In the United States, the country where CATV originated, the Congress observed, when it adopted the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that there was a need to provide a pro-competitive, deregulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition. The FCC has adopted regulations to implement the requirements of the 1996 Act and the intent of the Congress. Our country follows the same policy. The fifth Whereas Clause of E.O. No. 436 states: "WHEREAS, professionalism and self-regulation among existing operators, through a nationally recognized cable television operators association, have enhanced the growth of the cable television industry and must therefore be maintained along with minimal reasonable government regulations;" This policy reaffirms the NTCs mandate set forth in the Memorandum dated August 25, 1989 of Commissioner Jose Luis A. Alcuaz, to wit: "In line with the purpose and objective of MC 4-08-88, Cable Television System or Community Antenna Television (CATV) is made part of the broadcast media to promote the orderly growth of the Cable Television Industry it being in its developing stage. Being part of the Broadcast Media, the service rates of CATV are likewise considered deregulated in accordance with MC 06-2-81 dated 25 February 1981, the implementing guidelines for the authorization and operation of Radio and Television Broadcasting stations/systems. Further, the Commission will issue Provisional Authority to existing CATV operators to authorize their operations for a period of ninety (90) days until such time that the Commission can issue the regular Certificate of Authority." When the State declared a policy of deregulation, the LGUs are bound to follow. To rule otherwise is to render the States policy ineffective. Being mere creatures of the State, LGUs cannot defeat national policies through enactments of contrary measures. Verily, in the case at bar, petitioner may increase its subscriber rates without respondents approval. At this juncture, it bears emphasizing that municipal corporations are bodies politic and corporate, created not only as local units of local self-government, but as governmental agencies of the state.51 The legislature, by establishing a municipal corporation, does not divest the State of any of its sovereignty; absolve itself from its right and duty to administer the public affairs of the entire state; or divest itself of any power over the inhabitants of the district which it possesses before the charter was granted.52 Respondents likewise argue that E.O. No. 205 violates the constitutional prohibition against impairment of contracts, Resolution No. 210 of Batangas City Sangguniang Panlungsod being a grant of franchise to petitioner. We are not convinced. There is no law specifically authorizing the LGUs to grant franchises to operate CATV system. Whatever authority the LGUs had before, the same had been withdrawn when President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1512 "terminating all franchises, permits or certificates for the operation of CATV system previously granted by

local governments." Today, pursuant to Section 3 of E.O. No. 436, "only persons, associations, partnerships, corporations or cooperatives granted a Provisional Authority or Certificate of Authority by the NTC may install, operate and maintain a cable television system or render cable television service within a service area." It is clear that in the absence of constitutional or legislative authorization, municipalities have no power to grant franchises.53 Consequently, the protection of the constitutional provision as to impairment of the obligation of a contract does not extend to privileges, franchises and grants given by a municipality in excess of its powers, or ultra vires.54 One last word. The devolution of powers to the LGUs, pursuant to the Constitutional mandate of ensuring their autonomy, has bred jurisdictional tension between said LGUs and the State. LGUs must be reminded that they merely form part of the whole. Thus, when the Drafters of the 1987 Constitution enunciated the policy of ensuring the autonomy of local governments,55 it was never their intention to create an imperium in imperio and install an intra-sovereign political subdivision independent of a single sovereign state. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 12, 1999 as well as its Resolution dated May 26, 1999 in CA-G.R. CV No. 52461, are hereby REVERSED. The RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 4254 is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 131082 June 19, 2000

ROMULO, MABANTA, BUENAVENTURA, SAYOC & DE LOS ANGELES, petitioner, vs. HOME DEVELOPMENT MUTUAL FUND, respondent. DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: Once again, this Court is confronted with the issue of the validity of the Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7742, which require the existence of a plan providing for both provident/retirement and housing benefits for exemption from the Pag-IBIG Fund coverage under Presidential Decree No. 1752, as amended. Pursuant to Section 19 1 of P.D. No. 1752, as amended by R.A. No. 7742, petitioner Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc and De Los Angeles (hereafter PETITIONER), a law firm, was exempted for the period 1 January to 31 December 1995 from the Pag-IBIG Fund coverage by respondent Home Development Mutual Fund (hereafter HDMF) because of a superior retirement plan. 2 On 1 September 1995, the HDMF Board of Trustees, pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7742, issued Board Resolution No. 1011, Series of 1995, amending and modifying the Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. No. 7742. As amended, Section 1 of Rule VII provides that for a company to be entitled to a waiver or suspension of Fund coverage, 3 it must have a plan providing for both provident/retirement and housing benefits superior to those provided under the Pag-IBIG Fund. On 16 November 1995, PETITIONER filed with the respondent an application for Waiver or Suspension of Fund Coverage because of its superior retirement plan. 4 In support of said application, PETITIONER submitted to the HDMF a letter explaining that the 1995 Amendments to the Rules are invalid. 5 In a letter dated 18 March 1996, the President and Chief Executive Officer of HDMF disapproved PETITIONER's application on the ground that the requirement that there should be both a provident retirement fund and a housing plan is clear in the use of the phrase "and/or," and that the Rules Implementing R.A. No. 7742 did not amend nor repeal Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752 but merely implement the law. 6

PETITIONER's appeal 7 with the HDMF Board of Trustees was denied for having been rendered moot and academic by Board Resolution No. 1208, Series of 1996, removing the availment of waiver of the mandatory coverage of the Pag-IBIG Fund, except for distressed employers. 8 On 31 March 1997, PETITIONER filed a petition for review 9 before the Court of Appeals. On motion by HDMF, the Court of Appeals dismissed 10 the petition on the ground that the coverage of employers and employees under the Home Development Mutual Fund is mandatory in character as clearly worded in Section 4 of P.D. No. 1752, as amended by R.A. No. 7742. There is no allegation that petitioner is a distressed employer to warrant its exemption from the Fund coverage. As to the amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. No. 7742, the same are valid. Under P.D. No. 1752 and R.A. No. 7742 the Board of Trustees of the HDMF is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations, as well as amendments thereto, concerning the extension, waiver or suspension of coverage under the Pag-IBIG Fund. And the publication requirement was amply met, since the questioned amendments were published in the 21 October 1995 issue of the Philippine Star, which is a newspaper of general circulation. PETITIONER's motion for reconsideration 11 was denied. 12 Hence, on 6 November 1997, PETITIONER filed a petition before this Court assailing the 1995 and the 1996 Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7742 for being contrary to law. In support thereof, PETITIONER contends that the subject 1995 Amendments issued by HDMF are inconsistent with the enabling law, P.D. No. 1752, as amended by R.A. No. 7742, which merely requires as a pre-condition for exemption from coverage the existence of either a superior provident/retirement plan or a superior housing plan, and not the concurrence of both plans. Hence, considering that PETITIONER has a provident plan superior to that offered by the HDMF, it is entitled to exemption from the coverage in accordance with Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752. The 1996 Amendment are also void insofar as they abolished the exemption granted by Section 19 of P.D. 1752, as amended. The repeal of such exemption involves the exercise of legislative power, which cannot be delegated to HMDF. PETITIONER also cites Section 9 (1), Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987, which provides: Sec. 9. Public Participation (1) If not otherwise required by law, an agency shall, as far as practicable, publish or circulate notices of proposed rules and afford interested parties the opportunity to submit their views prior to the adoption of any rule. Since the Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 7742 involve an imposition of an additional burden, a public hearing should have first been conducted to give chance to the employers, like PETITIONER, to be heard before the HDMF adopted the said Amendments. Absent such public hearing, the amendments should be voided. Finally, PETITIONER contends that HDMF did not comply with Section 3, Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987, which provides that "[e]very agency shall file with the University of the Philippines Law Center three (3) certified copies of every rule adopted by it." On the other hand, the HDMF contends that in promulgating the amendments to the rules and regulations which require the existence of a plan providing for both provident and housing benefits for exemption from the Fund Coverage, the respondent Board was merely exercising its rule-making power under Section 13 of P.D. No. 1752. It had the option to use "and" only instead of "or" in the rules on waiver in order to effectively implement the Pag-IBIG Fund Law. By choosing "and," the Board has clarified the confusion brought about by the use of "and/or" in Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752, as amended. As to the public hearing, HDMF maintains that as can be clearly deduced from Section 9(1), Chapter 2, Book VII of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, public hearing is required only when the law so provides, and if not, only if the same is practicable. It follows that public hearing is only optional or discretionary on the part of the agency concerned, except when the same is required by law. P.D. No. 1752 does not require that pubic hearing be first conducted before the rules and regulations implementing it would become valid and effective. What it requires is the publication of said rules and regulations at least once in a newspaper of general circulation. Having published said 1995 and 1996 Amendments through the Philippine Star on 21

October 1995 1 and 15 November 1996, requirement.

14

respectively, HDMF has complied with the publication

Finally, HDMF claims that as early as 18 October 1996, it had already filed certified true copies of the Amendments to the Rules and Regulations with the University of the Philippines Law Center. This fact is evidenced by certified true copies of the Certification from the Office of the National Administrative Register of the U.P. Law Center. 15 We find for the PETITIONER. The issue of the validity of the 1995 Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. No. 7742, specifically Section I, Rule VII on Waiver and Suspension, has been squarely resolved in the relatively recent case of China Banking Corp. v. The Members of the Board of Trustees of the HDMF. 16 We held in that case that Section 1 of Rule VII of the Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. No. 7742, and HDMF Circular No. 124-B prescribing the Revised Guidelines and Procedure for Filing Application for Waiver or Suspension of Fund Coverage under P.D. No. 1752, as amended by R.A. No. 7742, are null and void insofar as they require that an employer should have both a provident/retirement plan and a housing plan superior to the benefits offered by the Fund in order to qualify for waiver or suspension of the Fund coverage. In arriving at said conclusion, we ruled: The controversy lies in the legal signification of the words "and/or." In the instant case, the legal meaning of the words "and/or" should be taken in its ordinary signification, i.e., "either and or; e.g. butter and/or eggs means butter and eggs or butter or eggs. The term "and/or" means that the effect shall be given to both the conjunctive "and" and the disjunctive "or"; or that one word or the other may be taken accordingly as one or the other will best effectuate the purpose intended by the legislature as gathered from the whole statute. The term is used to avoid a construction which by the use of the disjunctive "or" alone will exclude the combination of several of the alternatives or by the use of the conjunctive "and" will exclude the efficacy of any one of the alternatives standing alone.1avvphi1 It is accordingly ordinarily held that the intention of the legislature in using the term "and/or" is that the word "and" and the word "or" are to be used interchangeably. It . . . seems to us clear from the language of the enabling law that Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752 intended that an employer with a provident plan or an employee housing plan superior to that of the fund may obtain exemption from coverage. If the law had intended that the employee [sic] should have both a superior provident plan and a housing plan in order to qualify for exemption, it would have used the words "and" instead of "and/or." Notably, paragraph (a) of Section 19 requires for annual certification of waiver or suspension, that the features of the plan or plans are superior to the fund or continue to be so. The law obviously contemplates that the existence of either plan is considered as sufficient basis for the grant of an exemption; needless to state, the concurrence of both plans is more than sufficient. To require the existence of both plans would radically impose a more stringent condition for waiver which was not clearly envisioned by the basic law. By removing the disjunctive word "or" in the implementing rules the respondent Board has exceeded its authority. It is without doubt that the HDMF Board has rule-making power as provided in Section 51 17 of R.A. No. 7742 and Section 13 18 of P.D. No. 1752. However, it is well-settled that rules and regulations, which are the product of a delegated power to create new and additional legal provisions that have the effect of law, should be within the scope of the statutory authority granted by the legislature to the administrative agency. 19 It is required that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law, and be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by law. 20

In the present case, when the Board of Trustees of the HDMF required in Section 1, Rule VII of the 1995 Amendments to the Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. No. 7742 that employers should have both provident/retirement and housing benefits for all its employees in order to qualify for exemption from the Fund, it effectively amended Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752. And when the Board subsequently abolished that exemption through the 1996 Amendments, it repealed Section 19 of P.D. No. 1752. Such amendment and subsequent repeal of Section 19 are both invalid, as they are not within the delegated power of the Board. The HDMF cannot, in the exercise of its rule-making power, issue a regulation not consistent with the law it seeks to apply. Indeed, administrative issuances must not override, supplant or modify the law, but must remain consistent with the law they intend to carry out. 21 Only Congress can repeal or amend the law. While it may be conceded that the requirement of having both plans to qualify for an exemption, as well as the abolition of the exemption, would enhance the interest of the working group and further strengthen the Home Development Mutual Fund in its pursuit of promoting public welfare through ample social services as mandated by the Constitution, we are of the opinion that the basic law should prevail. A department zeal may not be permitted to outrun the authority conferred by the statute. 22 Considering the foregoing conclusions, it is unnecessary to dwell on the other issues raised. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of 31 July 1997 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. No. SP-43668 and its Resolution of 15 October 1997 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The disapproval by the Home Development Mutual Fund of the application of the petitioner for waiver or suspension of Fund coverage is SET ASIDE, and the Home Development Mutual Fund is hereby directed to refund to petitioner all sums of money it collected from the latter. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. 94571 April 22, 1991 TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. and AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., petitioners, vs. HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary, Budget & Management, HON. ROZALINA S. CAJUCOM in her capacity as National Treasurer and COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondents.

Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioners.

GANCAYCO, J.:p This is a case of first impression whereby petitioners question the constitutionality of the automatic appropriation for debt service in the 1990 budget. As alleged in the petition, the facts are as follows: The 1990 budget consists of P98.4 Billion in automatic appropriation (with P86.8 Billion for debt service) and P155.3 Billion appropriated under Republic Act No. 6831, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act, or a total of P233.5 Billion, 1 while the appropriations for the Department of Education, Culture and Sports amount to P27,017,813,000.00. 2 The said automatic appropriation for debt service is authorized by P.D. No. 81, entitled "Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act Numbered Four Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty, as Amended (Re: Foreign Borrowing Act)," by P.D. No. 1177, entitled "Revising the Budget Process in Order to Institutionalize the Budgetary Innovations of the New Society," and by P.D. No. 1967, entitled "An Act Strenghthening the Guarantee and Payment Positions of the Republic of the Philippines on Its Contingent Liabilities Arising out of Relent and Guaranteed Loan by Appropriating Funds For The Purpose.

There can be no question that petitioners as Senators of the Republic of the Philippines may bring this suit where a constitutional issue is raised. 3 Indeed, even a taxpayer has personality to restrain unlawful expenditure of public funds. The petitioner seek the declaration of the unconstitutionality of P.D. No. 81, Sections 31 of P.D. 1177, and P.D. No. 1967. The petition also seeks to restrain the disbursement for debt service under the 1990 budget pursuant to said decrees. Respondents contend that the petition involves a pure political question which is the repeal or amendment of said laws addressed to the judgment, wisdom and patriotism of the legislative body and not this Court. In Gonzales, 5 the main issue was the unconstitutionality of the presidential veto of certain provision particularly Section 16 of the General Appropriations Act of 1990, R.A. No. 6831. This Court, in disposing of the issue, stated The political question doctrine neither interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of the rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit constitutional boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate that obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although said provision by no means does away with the applicability of the principle in appropriate cases. Sec. 1. The judicial power shad be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. With the Senate maintaining that the President's veto is unconstitutional and that charge being controverted, there is an actual case or justiciable controversy between the Upper House of Congress and the executive department that may be taken cognizance of by this Court. The questions raised in the instant petition are I. IS THE APPROPRIATION OF P86 BILLION IN THE P233 BILLION 1990 BUDGET VIOLATIVE OF SECTION 5, ARTICLE XIV OF THE CONSTITUTION? II. ARE PD No. 81, PD No. 1177 AND PD No. 1967 STILL OPERATIVE UNDER THE CONSTITUTION? III. ARE THEY VIOLATIVE OF SECTION 29(l), ARTICLE VI OF THE CONSTITUTION? 6 There is thus a justiciable controversy raised in the petition which this Court may properly take cognizance of On the first issue, the petitioners aver According to Sec. 5, Art. XIV of the Constitution: (5) The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate

remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment. The reason behind the said provision is stated, thus: In explaining his proposed amendment, Mr. Ople stated that all the great and sincere piety professed by every President and every Congress of the Philippines since the end of World War II for the economic welfare of the public schoolteachers always ended up in failure and this failure, he stated, had caused mass defection of the best and brightest teachers to other careers, including menial jobs in overseas employment and concerted actions by them to project their grievances, mainly over low pay and abject working conditions. He pointed to the high expectations generated by the February Revolution, especially keen among public schoolteachers, which at present exacerbate these long frustrated hopes. Mr. Ople stated that despite the sincerity of all administrations that tried vainly to respond to the needs of the teachers, the central problem that always defeated their pious intentions was really the one budgetary priority in the sense that any proposed increase for public schoolteachers had to be multiplied many times by the number of government employees in general and their equitable claims to any pay standardization such that the pay rate of teachers is hopelessly pegged to the rate of government workers in general. This, he stated, foredoomed the prospect of a significant pay increase for teachers. Mr. Ople pointed out that the recognition by the Constitution of the highest priority for public schoolteachers, and by implication, for all teachers, would ensure that the President and Congress would be strongly urged by a constitutional mandate to grant to them such a level of remuneration and other incentives that would make teaching competitive again and attractive to the best available talents in the nation. Finally, Mr. Ople recalled that before World War II, teaching competed most successfully against all other career choices for the best and the brightest of the younger generation. It is for this reason, he stated, that his proposed amendment if approved, would ensure that teaching would be restored to its lost glory as the career of choice for the most talented and most public-spirited of the younger generation in the sense that it would become the countervailing measure against the continued decline of teaching and the wholesale desertion of this noble profession presently taking place. He further stated that this would ensure that the future and the quality of the population would be asserted as a top priority against many clamorous and importunate but less important claims of the present. (Journal of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II, p. 1172) However, as against this constitutional intention, P86 Billion is appropriated for debt service while only P27 Billion is appropriated for the Department of

Education in the 1990 budget. It plain, therefore, that the said appropriation for debt services is inconsistent with the Constitution, hence, viod (Art. 7, New Civil Code). 7 While it is true that under Section 5(5), Article XIV of the Constitution Congress is mandated to "assign the highest budgetary priority to education" in order to "insure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment," it does not thereby follow that the hands of Congress are so hamstrung as to deprive it the power to respond to the imperatives of the national interest and for the attainment of other state policies or objectives. As aptly observed by respondents, since 1985, the budget for education has tripled to upgrade and improve the facility of the public school system. The compensation of teachers has been doubled. The amount of P29,740,611,000.00 8 set aside for the Department of Education, Culture and Sports under the General Appropriations Act (R.A. No. 6831), is the highest budgetary allocation among all department budgets. This is a clear compliance with the aforesaid constitutional mandate according highest priority to education. Having faithfully complied therewith, Congress is certainly not without any power, guided only by its good judgment, to provide an appropriation, that can reasonably service our enormous debt, the greater portion of which was inherited from the previous administration. It is not only a matter of honor and to protect the credit standing of the country. More especially, the very survival of our economy is at stake. Thus, if in the process Congress appropriated an amount for debt service bigger than the share allocated to education, the Court finds and so holds that said appropriation cannot be thereby assailed as unconstitutional. Now to the second issue. The petitioners made the following observations: To begin with, Rep. Act 4860 entitled "AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES TO OBTAIN SUCH FOREIGN LOANS AND CREDITS, OR TO INCUR SUCH FOREIGN INDEBTEDNESS, AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO FINANCE APPROVED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PURPOSES OR PROJECTS, AND TO GUARANTEE, IN BEHALF OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, FOREIGN LOANS OBTAINED OR BONDS ISSUED BY CORPORATIONS OWNED OR CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PURPOSES INCLUDING THOSE INCURRED FOR PURPOSES OF RELENDING TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR, APPROPRIATING THE NECESSARY FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, provides: Sec. 2. The total amount of loans, credits and indebtedness, excluding interests, which the President of the Philippines is authorized to incur under this Act shall not exceed one billion United States dollars or its equivalent in other foreign currencies at the exchange rate prevailing at the time the loans, credits and indebtedness are incurred: Provided, however, That the total loans, credits and indebtedness incurred under this Act shall not exceed two hundred fifty million in the fiscal year of the approval of this Act, and two hundred fifty million every fiscal year thereafter, all in United States dollars or its equivalent in other currencies. Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the President, within thirty days after the opening of every regular session, to report to the Congress the amount of loans, credits and indebtedness contracted, as well as the guarantees extended, and the purposes and projects for which the loans, credits and indebtedness were incurred, and the guarantees extended, as well as such loans which may be reloaned to Filipino owned or controlled corporations and similar purposes.

Sec. 6. The Congress shall appropriate the necessary amount out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to cover the payment of the principal and interest on such loans, credits or indebtedness as and when they shall become due. However, after the declaration of martial law, President Marcos issued PD 81 amending Section 6, thus: Sec. 7. Section six of the same Act is hereby further amended to read as follows: Sec. 6. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, and in order to enable the Republic of the Philippines to pay the principal, interest, taxes and other normal banking charges on the loans, credits or indebtedness, or on the bonds, debentures, securities or other evidences of indebtedness sold in international markets incurred under the authority of this Act, the proceeds of which are deemed appropriated for the projects, all the revenue realized from the projects financed by such loans, credits or indebtedness, or on the bonds, debentures, securities or other evidences of indebtedness, shall be turned over in full, after deducting actual and necessary expenses for the operation and maintenance of said projects, to the National Treasury by the government office, agency or instrumentality, or government-owned or controlled corporation concerned, which is hereby appropriated for the purpose as and when they shall become due. In case the revenue realized is insufficient to cover the principal, interest and other charges, such portion of the budgetary savings as may be necessary to cover the balance or deficiency shall be set aside exclusively for the purpose by the government office, agency or instrumentality, or government-owned or controlled corporation concerned: Provided, That, if there still remains a deficiency, such amount necessary to cover the payment of the principal and interest on such loans, credit or indebtedness as and when they shall become due is hereby appropriated out of any funds in the national treasury not otherwise appropriated: . . . President Marcos also issued PD 1177, which provides: Sec. 31. Automatic appropriations. All expenditures for (a) personnel retirement premiums, government service insurance, and other similar fixed expenditures, (b) principal and interest on public debt, (c) national government guarantees of obligations which are drawn upon, are automatically

appropriated; Provided, that no obligations shall be incurred or payments made from funds thus automatically appropriated except as issued in the form of regular budgetary allotments. and PD 1967, which provides: Sec. 1. There is hereby appropriated, out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such amounts as may be necessary to effect payments on foreign or domestic loans, or foreign or domestic loans whereon creditors make a call on the direct and indirect guarantee of the Republic of the Philippines, obtained by: a. The Republic of the Philippines the proceeds of which were relent to government-owned or controlled corporations and/or government financial institutions; b. government-owned or controlled corporations and/or government financial institutions the proceeds of which were relent to public or private institutions; c. government-owned or controlled corporations and/or financial institutions and guaranteed by the Republic of the Philippines; d. other public or private institutions and guaranteed by government-owned or controlled corporations and/or government financial institutions. Sec. 2. All repayments made by borrower institutions on the loans for whose account advances were made by the National Treasury will revert to the General Fund. Sec. 3. In the event that any borrower institution is unable to settle the advances made out of the appropriation provided therein, the Treasurer of the Philippines shall make the proper recommendation to the Minister of Finance on whether such advances shall be treated as equity or subsidy of the National Government to the institution concerned, which shall be considered in the budgetary program of the Government. In the "Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing Fiscal Year 1990," which accompanied her budget message to Congress, the President of the Philippines, Corazon C. Aquino, stated: Sources Appropriation The P233.5 billion budget proposed for fiscal year 1990 will require P132.1 billion of new programmed appropriations out of a total P155.3 billion in new legislative authorization from Congress. The rest of the budget, totalling P101.4 billion, will be sourced from existing appropriations: P98.4 billion from Automatic Appropriations and P3.0 billion from Continuing Appropriations (Fig. 4). And according to Figure 4, . . ., P86.8 billion out of the P98.4 Billion are programmed for debt service. In other words, the President had, on her own, determined and set aside the said amount of P98.4 Billion with the rest of the

appropriations of P155.3 Billion to be determined and fixed by Congress, which is now Rep. Act 6831. 9 Petitioners argue that the said automatic appropriations under the aforesaid decrees of then President Marcos became functus oficio when he was ousted in February, 1986; that upon the expiration of the oneman legislature in the person of President Marcos, the legislative power was restored to Congress on February 2, 1987 when the Constitution was ratified by the people; that there is a need for a new legislation by Congress providing for automatic appropriation, but Congress, up to the present, has not approved any such law; and thus the said P86.8 Billion automatic appropriation in the 1990 budget is an administrative act that rests on no law, and thus, it cannot be enforced. Moreover, petitioners contend that assuming arguendo that P.D. No. 81, P.D. No. 1177 and P.D. No. 1967 did not expire with the ouster of President Marcos, after the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, the said decrees are inoperative under Section 3, Article XVIII which provides Sec. 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked." (Emphasis supplied.) They then point out that since the said decrees are inconsistent with Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution, i.e., Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. (Emphasis supplied.) whereby bills have to be approved by the President, 10 then a law must be passed by Congress to authorize said automatic appropriation. Further, petitioners state said decrees violate Section 29(l) of Article VI of the Constitution which provides as follows Sec. 29(l). No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. They assert that there must be definiteness, certainty and exactness in an appropriation, 11 otherwise it is an undue delegation of legislative power to the President who determines in advance the amount appropriated for the debt service. 12 The Court is not persuaded. Section 3, Article XVIII of the Constitution recognizes that "All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions and other executive issuances not inconsistent with the Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked." This transitory provision of the Constitution has precisely been adopted by its framers to preserve the social order so that legislation by the then President Marcos may be recognized. Such laws are to remain in force and effect unless they are inconsistent with the Constitution or, are otherwise amended, repealed or revoked. An examination of the aforecited presidential decrees show the clear intent that the amounts needed to cover the payment of the principal and interest on all foreign loans, including those guaranteed by the national government, should be made available when they shall become due precisely without the necessity of periodic enactments of separate laws appropriating funds therefor, since both the periods and necessities are incapable of determination in advance.

The automatic appropriation provides the flexibility for the effective execution of debt management policies. Its political wisdom has been convincingly discussed by the Solicitor General as he argues . . . First, for example, it enables the Government to take advantage of a favorable turn of market conditions by redeeming high-interest securities and borrowing at lower rates, or to shift from short-term to long-term instruments, or to enter into arrangements that could lighten our outstanding debt burden debtto-equity, debt to asset, debt-to-debt or other such schemes. Second, the automatic appropriation obviates the serious difficulties in debt servicing arising from any deviation from what has been previously programmed. The annual debt service estimates, which are usually made one year in advance, are based on a mathematical set or matrix or, in layman's parlance, "basket" of foreign exchange and interest rate assumptions which may significantly differ from actual rates not even in proportion to changes on the basis of the assumptions. Absent an automatic appropriation clause, the Philippine Government has to await and depend upon Congressional action, which by the time this comes, may no longer be responsive to the intended conditions which in the meantime may have already drastically changed. In the meantime, also, delayed payments and arrearages may have supervened, only to worsen our debt service-to-total expenditure ratio in the budget due to penalties and/or demand for immediate payment even before due dates. Clearly, the claim that payment of the loans and indebtedness is conditioned upon the continuance of the person of President Marcos and his legislative power goes against the intent and purpose of the law. The purpose is foreseen to subsist with or without the person of Marcos. 13 The argument of petitioners that the said presidential decrees did not meet the requirement and are therefore inconsistent with Sections 24 and 27 of Article VI of the Constitution which requires, among others, that "all appropriations, . . . bills authorizing increase of public debt" must be passed by Congress and approved by the President is untenable. Certainly, the framers of the Constitution did not contemplate that existing laws in the statute books including existing presidential decrees appropriating public money are reduced to mere "bills" that must again go through the legislative million The only reasonable interpretation of said provisions of the Constitution which refer to "bills" is that they mean appropriation measures still to be passed by Congress. If the intention of the framers thereof were otherwise they should have expressed their decision in a more direct or express manner. Well-known is the rule that repeal or amendment by implication is frowned upon. Equally fundamental is the principle that construction of the Constitution and law is generally applied prospectively and not retrospectively unless it is so clearly stated. On the third issue that there is undue delegation of legislative power, in Edu vs. Ericta, to say
14

this Court had this

What cannot be delegated is the authority under the Constitution to make laws and to alter and repeal them; the test is the completeness of the statute in all its terms and provisions when it leaves the hands of the legislature. To determine whether or not there is an undue delegation of legislative power, the inequity must be directed to the scope and definiteness of the measure enacted. The legislature does not abdicate its function when it describes what job must be done, who is to do it, and what is the scope of his authority. For a complex economy, that may indeed be the only way in which legislative process can go forward . . . To avoid the taint of unlawful delegation there must be a standard, which implies at the very least that the legislature itself determines matters of principle and lays down fundamental policy . . .

The standard may be either express or implied . . . from the policy and purpose of the act considered as whole . . .
In People vs. Vera, 15 this Court said "the true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves discretion as to what the law shall be, and conferring authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made." Ideally, the law must be complete in all its essential terms and conditions when it leaves the legislature so that there will be nothing left for the delegate to do when it reaches him except enforce it. If there are gaps in the law that will prevent its enforcement unless they are first filled, the delegate will then have been given the opportunity to step in the shoes of the legislature and exercise a discretion essentially legislative in order to repair the omissions. This is invalid delegation. 16 The Court finds that in this case the questioned laws are complete in all their essential terms and conditions and sufficient standards are indicated therein. The legislative intention in R.A. No. 4860, as amended, Section 31 of P.D. No. 1177 and P.D. No. 1967 is that the amount needed should be automatically set aside in order to enable the Republic of the Philippines to pay the principal, interest, taxes and other normal banking charges on the loans, credits or indebtedness incurred as guaranteed by it when they shall become due without the need to enact a separate law appropriating funds therefor as the need arises. The purpose of these laws is to enable the government to make prompt payment and/or advances for all loans to protect and maintain the credit standing of the country. Although the subject presidential decrees do not state specific amounts to be paid, necessitated by the very nature of the problem being addressed, the amounts nevertheless are made certain by the legislative parameters provided in the decrees. The Executive is not of unlimited discretion as to the amounts to be disbursed for debt servicing. The mandate is to pay only the principal, interest, taxes and other normal banking charges on the loans, credits or indebtedness, or on the bonds, debentures or security or other evidences of indebtedness sold in international markets incurred by virtue of the law, as and when they shall become due. No uncertainty arises in executive implementation as the limit will be the exact amounts as shown by the books of the Treasury. The Government budgetary process has been graphically described to consist of four major phases as aptly discussed by the Solicitor General: The Government budgeting process consists of four major phases: 1. Budget preparation. The first step is essentially tasked upon the Executive Branch and covers the estimation of government revenues, the determination of budgetary priorities and activities within the constraints imposed by available revenues and by borrowing limits, and the translation of desired priorities and activities into expenditure levels. Budget preparation starts with the budget call issued by the Department of Budget and Management. Each agency is required to submit agency budget estimates in line with the requirements consistent with the general ceilings set by the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC). With regard to debt servicing, the DBCC staff, based on the macro-economic projections of interest rates (e.g. LIBOR rate) and estimated sources of domestic and foreign financing, estimates debt service levels. Upon issuance of budget call, the Bureau of Treasury computes for the interest and principal payments for the year for all direct national government borrowings and other liabilities assumed by the same.

2. Legislative authorization. At this stage, Congress enters the picture and deliberates or acts on the budget proposals of the President, and Congress in the exercise of its own judgment and wisdom formulates an appropriation act precisely following the process established by the Constitution, which specifies that no money may be paid from the Treasury except in accordance with an appropriation made by law. Debt service is not included in the General Appropriation Act, since authorization therefor already exists under RA No. 4860 and 245, as amended and PD 1967. Precisely in the fight of this subsisting authorization as embodied in said Republic Acts and PD for debt service, Congress does not concern itself with details for implementation by the Executive, but largely with annual levels and approval thereof upon due deliberations as part of the whole obligation program for the year. Upon such approval, Congress has spoken and cannot be said to have delegated its wisdom to the Executive, on whose part lies the implementation or execution of the legislative wisdom. 3. Budget Execution. Tasked on the Executive, the third phase of the budget process covers the various operational aspects of budgeting. The establishment of obligation authority ceilings, the evaluation of work and financial plans for individual activities, the continuing review of government fiscal position, the regulation of funds releases, the implementation of cash payment schedules, and other related activities comprise this phase of the budget cycle. Release from the debt service fired is triggered by a request of the Bureau of the Treasury for allotments from the Department of Budget and Management, one quarter in advance of payment schedule, to ensure prompt payments. The Bureau of Treasury, upon receiving official billings from the creditors, remits payments to creditors through the Central Bank or to the Sinking Fund established for government security issues (Annex F). 4. Budget accountability. The fourth phase refers to the evaluation of actual performance and initially approved work targets, obligations incurred, personnel hired and work accomplished are compared with the targets set at the time the agency budgets were approved. There being no undue delegation of legislative power as clearly above shown, petitioners insist nevertheless that subject presidential decrees constitute undue delegation of legislative power to the executive on the alleged ground that the appropriations therein are not exact, certain or definite, invoking in support therefor the Constitution of Nebraska, the constitution under which the case of State v. Moore, 69 NW 974, cited by petitioners, was decided. Unlike the Constitution of Nebraska, however, our Constitution does not require a definite, certain, exact or "specific appropriation made by law." Section 29, Article VI of our 1987 Constitution omits any of these words and simply states: Section 29(l). No money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. More significantly, there is no provision in our Constitution that provides or prescribes any particular form of words or religious recitals in which an authorization or appropriation by Congress shall be made, except that it be "made by law," such as precisely the authorization or appropriation under the questioned presidential decrees. In other words, in terms of time horizons, an appropriation may be made impliedly (as by past but subsisting legislations) as well as expressly for the current fiscal year (as by enactment of laws by the present Congress), just as said appropriation may be made in general as well as

in specific terms. The Congressional authorization may be embodied in annual laws, such as a general appropriations act or in special provisions of laws of general or special application which appropriate public funds for specific public purposes, such as the questioned decrees. An appropriation measure is sufficient if the legislative intention clearly and certainly appears from the language employed (In re Continuing Appropriations, 32 P. 272), whether in the past or in the present. 17 Thus, in accordance with Section 22, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, President Corazon C. Aquino submitted to Congress the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing for the Fiscal Year 1990. The proposed 1990 expenditure program covering the estimated obligation that will be incurred by the national government during the fiscal year amounts to P233.5 Billion. Of the proposed budget, P86.8 is set aside for debt servicing as follows: National Government Debt Service Expenditures, 1990 (in million pesos)

Domestic Foreign Total RA 245, as RA 4860 amended as amended, PD 1967


Interest Payments P36,861 P18,570 P55,431 Principal Amortization 16,310 15,077 31,387 Total P53,171 P33,647 P86,818
18

as authorized under P.D. 1967 and R.A. 4860 and 245, as amended. The Court, therefor, finds that R.A. No. 4860, as amended by P.D. No. 81, Section 31 of P.D. 1177 and P.D. No. 1967 constitute lawful authorizations or appropriations, unless they are repealed or otherwise amended by Congress. The Executive was thus merely complying with the duty to implement the same. There can be no question as to the patriotism and good motive of petitioners in filing this petition. Unfortunately, the petition must fail on the constitutional and legal issues raised. As to whether or not the country should honor its international debt, more especially the enormous amount that had been incurred by the past administration, which appears to be the ultimate objective of the petition, is not an issue that is presented or proposed to be addressed by the Court. Indeed, it is more of a political decision for Congress and the Executive to determine in the exercise of their wisdom and sound discretion. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 124360 November 5, 1997 FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioner, vs. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE, respondents. G.R. No. 127867 November 5, 1997 EDCEL C. LAGMAN, JOKER P. ARROYO, ENRIQUE GARCIA, WIGBERTO TANADA, FLAG HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION, INC., FREEDOM FROM DEBT COALITION (FDC), SANLAKAS, petitioners, vs. HON. RUBEN TORRES in his capacity as the Executive Secretary, HON. FRANCISCO VIRAY, in his capacity as the Secretary of Energy, CALTEX Philippines, Inc., PETRON Corporation and PILIPINAS SHELL Corporation, respondents.

PUNO, J.: The petitions at bar challenge the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8180 entitled "An Act Deregulating the Downstream Oil Industry and For Other Purposes". 1 R.A. No. 8180 ends twenty six (26) years of government regulation of the downstream oil industry. Few cases carry a surpassing importance on the life of every Filipino as these petitions for the upswing and downswing of our economy materially depend on the oscillation of oil. First, the facts without the fat. Prior to 1971, there was no government agency regulating the oil industry other than those dealing with ordinary commodities. Oil companies were free to enter and exit the market without any government interference. There were four (4) refining companies (Shell, Caltex, Bataan Refining Company and Filoil Refining) and six (6) petroleum marketing companies (Esso, Filoil, Caltex, Getty, Mobil and Shell), then operating in the country. 2

In 1971, the country was driven to its knees by a crippling oil crisis. The government, realizing that petroleum and its products are vital to national security and that their continued supply at reasonable prices is essential to the general welfare, enacted the Oil Industry Commission Act. 3 It created the Oil Industry Commission (OIC) to regulate the business of importing, exporting, re-exporting, shipping, transporting, processing, refining, storing, distributing, marketing and selling crude oil, gasoline, kerosene, gas and other refined petroleum products. The OIC was vested with the power to fix the market prices of petroleum products, to regulate the capacities of refineries, to license new refineries and to regulate the operations and trade practices of the industry. 4
In addition to the creation of the OIC, the government saw the imperious need for a more active role of Filipinos in the oil industry. Until the early seventies, the downstream oil industry was controlled by multinational companies. All the oil refineries and marketing companies were owned by foreigners whose economic interests did not always coincide with the interest of the Filipino. Crude oil was transported to the country by foreign-controlled tankers. Crude processing was done locally by foreign-owned refineries and petroleum products were marketed through foreign-owned retail outlets. On November 9, 1973, President Ferdinand E. Marcos boldly created the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) to break the control by foreigners of our oil industry. 5 PNOC engaged in the business of refining, marketing, shipping, transporting, and storing petroleum. It acquired ownership of ESSO Philippines and Filoil to serve as its marketing arm. It bought the controlling shares of Bataan Refining Corporation, the largest refinery in the country. 6 PNOC later put up its own marketing subsidiary Petrophil. PNOC operated under the business name PETRON Corporation. For the first time, there was a Filipino presence in the Philippine oil market. In 1984, President Marcos through Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 1956, created the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF) to cushion the effects of frequent changes in the price of oil caused by exchange

rate adjustments or increase in the world market prices of crude oil and imported petroleum products. The fund is used (1) to reimburse the oil companies for cost increases in crude oil and imported petroleum products resulting from exchange rate adjustment and/or increase in world market prices of crude oil, and (2) to reimburse oil companies for cost underrecovery incurred as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products. Under the law, the OPSF may be sourced from: 1. any increase in the tax collection from ad valorem tax or customs duty imposed on petroleum products subject to tax under P.D. No. 1956 arising from exchange rate adjustment, 2. any increase in the tax collection as a result of the lifting of tax exemptions of government corporations, as may be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Board of Energy, 3. any additional amount to be imposed on petroleum products to augment the resources of the fund through an appropriate order that may be issued by the Board of Energy requiring payment of persons or companies engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing and/or marketing petroleum products, or 4. any resulting peso costs differentials in case the actual peso costs paid by oil companies in the importation of crude oil and petroleum products is less than the peso costs computed using the reference foreign exchange rate as fixed by the Board of Energy. 7

By 1985, only three (3) oil companies were operating in the country Caltex, Shell and the governmentowned PNOC.
In May, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino signed Executive Order No. 172 creating the Energy Regulatory Board to regulate the business of importing, exporting, re-exporting, shipping, transporting, processing, refining, marketing and distributing energy resources "when warranted and only when public necessity requires." The Board had the following powers and functions: 1. Fix and regulate the prices of petroleum products; 2. Fix and regulate the rate schedule or prices of piped gas to be charged by duly franchised gas companies which distribute gas by means of underground pipe system; 3. Fix and regulate the rates of pipeline concessionaries under the provisions of R.A. No. 387, as amended . . . ; 4. Regulate the capacities of new refineries or additional capacities of existing refineries and license refineries that may be organized after the issuance of (E.O. No. 172) under such terms and conditions as are consistent with the national interest; and 5. Whenever the Board has determined that there is a shortage of any petroleum product, or when public interest so requires, it may take such steps as it may consider necessary, including the temporary adjustment of the levels of prices of petroleum products and the payment to the Oil Price Stabilization Fund . . . by persons or entities engaged

in the petroleum industry of such amounts as may be determined by the Board, which may enable the importer to recover its cost of importation. 8 On December 9, 1992, Congress enacted R.A. No. 7638 which created the Department of Energy to prepare, integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects, and activities of the government in relation to energy exploration, development, utilization, distribution and conservation. 9 The thrust of the Philippine energy program under the law was toward privatization of government agencies related to energy, deregulation of the power and energy industry and reduction of dependency on oil-fired plants. 10 The law also aimed to encourage free and active participation and investment by the private sector in all energy activities. Section 5(e) of the law states that "at the end of four (4) years from the effectivity of this Act, the Department shall, upon approval of the President, institute the programs and timetable of deregulation of appropriate energy projects and activities of the energy industry." Pursuant to the policies enunciated in R.A. No. 7638, the government approved the privatization of Petron Corporation in 1993. On December 16, 1993, PNOC sold 40% of its equity in Petron Corporation to the Aramco Overseas Company. In March 1996, Congress took the audacious step of deregulating the downstream oil industry. It enacted R.A. No. 8180, entitled the "Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996." Under the deregulated environment, "any person or entity may import or purchase any quantity of crude oil and petroleum products from a foreign or domestic source, lease or own and operate refineries and other downstream oil facilities and market such crude oil or use the same for his own requirement," subject only to monitoring by the Department of Energy. 11

The deregulation process has two phases: the transition phase and the full deregulation phase. During the transition phase, controls of the non-pricing aspects of the oil industry were to be lifted. The following were to be accomplished: (1) liberalization of oil importation, exportation, manufacturing, marketing and distribution, (2) implementation of an automatic pricing mechanism, (3) implementation of an automatic formula to set margins of dealers and rates of haulers, water transport operators and pipeline concessionaires, and (4) restructuring of oil taxes. Upon full deregulation, controls on the price of oil and the foreign exchange cover were to be lifted and the OPSF was to be abolished.
The first phase of deregulation commenced on August 12, 1996.

On February 8, 1997, the President implemented the full deregulation of the Downstream Oil Industry through E.O. No. 372.
The petitions at bar assail the constitutionality of various provisions of R.A No. 8180 and E.O. No. 372.

In G.R. No. 124360, petitioner Francisco S. Tatad seeks the annulment of section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180. Section 5(b) provides:
b) Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%) and imported refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPG, the rate for which shall be the same as that for imported crude oil: Provided, That beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the same: Provided, further, That this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress. The petition is anchored on three arguments: First, that the imposition of different tariff rates on imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum products violates the equal protection clause. Petitioner contends that the 3%-7% tariff differential unduly

favors the three existing oil refineries and discriminates against prospective investors in the downstream oil industry who do not have their own refineries and will have to source refined petroleum products from abroad. Second, that the imposition of different tariff rates does not deregulate the downstream oil industry but instead controls the oil industry, contrary to the avowed policy of the law. Petitioner avers that the tariff differential between imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum products bars the entry of other players in the oil industry because it effectively protects the interest of oil companies with existing refineries. Thus, it runs counter to the objective of the law "to foster a truly competitive market." Third, that the inclusion of the tariff provision in section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180 violates Section 26(1) Article VI of the Constitution requiring every law to have only one subject which shall be expressed in its title. Petitioner contends that the imposition of tariff rates in section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180 is foreign to the subject of the law which is the deregulation of the downstream oil industry.

In G.R. No. 127867, petitioners Edcel C. Lagman, Joker P. Arroyo, Enrique Garcia, Wigberto Tanada, Flag Human Rights Foundation, Inc., Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Sanlakas contest the constitutionality of section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392. Section 15 provides:
Sec. 15. Implementation of Full Deregulation. Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7638, the DOE shall, upon approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not later than March 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Upon the implementation of the full deregulation as provided herein, the transition phase is deemed terminated and the following laws are deemed repealed: xxx xxx xxx E.O. No. 372 states in full, viz.: WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 7638, otherwise known as the "Department of Energy Act of 1992," provides that, at the end of four years from its effectivity last December 1992, "the Department (of Energy) shall, upon approval of the President, institute the programs and time table of deregulation of appropriate energy projects and activities of the energy sector;" WHEREAS, Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180, otherwise known as the "Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996," provides that "the DOE shall, upon approval of the President, implement full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not later than March, 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable;" WHEREAS, pursuant to the recommendation of the Department of Energy, there is an imperative need to implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry because of the following recent developments: (i) depletion of the buffer fund on or about 7 February 1997 pursuant to the Energy Regulatory Board's Order dated 16 January 1997; (ii) the prices of crude oil had been stable at $21-$23 per barrel since October 1996 while prices of petroleum products in the world market had been stable since mid-December of last year. Moreover, crude oil prices are beginning to soften for the last few days while prices of some petroleum products had already declined; and (iii) the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar has been stable for the past twelve (12) months, averaging at around P26.20 to one US dollar;

WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 377 dated 31 October 1996 provides for an institutional framework for the administration of the deregulated industry by defining the functions and responsibilities of various government agencies; WHEREAS, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8180, the deregulation of the industry will foster a truly competitive market which can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and adequate, continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products; NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by the powers vested in me by law, do hereby declare the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry. In assailing section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392, petitioners offer the following submissions: First, section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power to the President and the Secretary of Energy because it does not provide a determinate or determinable standard to guide the Executive Branch in determining when to implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry. Petitioners contend that the law does not define when it is practicable for the Secretary of Energy to recommend to the President the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry or when the President may consider it practicable to declare full deregulation. Also, the law does not provide any specific standard to determine when the prices of crude oil in the world market are considered to be declining nor when the exchange rate of the peso to the US dollar is considered stable. Second, petitioners aver that E.O. No. 392 implementing the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry is arbitrary and unreasonable because it was enacted due to the alleged depletion of the OPSF fund a condition not found in R.A. No. 8180. Third, section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392 allow the formation of a de facto cartel among the three existing oil companies Petron, Caltex and Shell in violation of the constitutional prohibition against monopolies, combinations in restraint of trade and unfair competition. Respondents, on the other hand, fervently defend the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392. In addition, respondents contend that the issues raised by the petitions are not justiciable as they pertain to the wisdom of the law. Respondents further aver that petitioners have no locus standi as they did not sustain nor will they sustain direct injury as a result of the implementation of R.A. No. 8180. The petitions were heard by the Court on September 30, 1997. On October 7, 1997, the Court ordered the private respondents oil companies "to maintain the status quo and to cease and desist from increasing the prices of gasoline and other petroleum fuel products for a period of thirty (30) days . . . subject to further orders as conditions may warrant." We shall now resolve the petitions on the merit. The petitions raise procedural and substantive issues bearing on the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392. The procedural issues are: (1) whether or not the petitions raise a justiciable controversy, and (2) whether or not the petitioners have the standing to assail the validity of the subject law and executive order. The substantive issues are: (1) whether or not section 5 (b) violates the one title one subject requirement of the Constitution; (2) whether or not the same section violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution; (3) whether or not section 15 violates the constitutional prohibition on undue delegation of power; (4) whether or not E.O. No. 392 is arbitrary and unreasonable; and (5) whether or not R.A. No. 8180 violates the constitutional prohibition against monopolies, combinations in restraint of trade and unfair competition. We shall first tackle the procedural issues. Respondents claim that the avalanche of arguments of the petitioners assail the wisdom of R.A. No. 8180. They aver that deregulation of the downstream oil industry is a policy decision made by Congress and it cannot be reviewed, much less be reversed by this Court. In constitutional parlance, respondents contend that the petitions failed to raise a justiciable controversy.

Respondents' joint stance is unnoteworthy. Judicial power includes not only the duty of the courts to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but also the duty to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government. 12 The courts, as guardians of the Constitution, have the inherent authority to determine whether a statute enacted by the legislature transcends the limit imposed by the fundamental law. Where a statute violates the Constitution, it is not only the right but the duty of the judiciary to declare such act as unconstitutional and void. 13 We held in the recent case of Tanada v. Angara: 14 xxx xxx xxx In seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravenes the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. Where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. The question thus posed is judicial rather than political. The duty to adjudicate remains to assure that the supremacy of the Constitution is upheld. Once a controversy as to the application or interpretation of a constitutional provision is raised before this Court, it becomes a legal issue which the Court is bound by constitutional mandate to decide. Even a sideglance at the petitions will reveal that petitioners have raised constitutional issues which deserve the resolution of this Court in view of their seriousness and their value as precedents. Our statement of facts and definition of issues clearly show that petitioners are assailing R.A. No. 8180 because its provisions infringe the Constitution and not because the law lacks wisdom. The principle of separation of power mandates that challenges on the constitutionality of a law should be resolved in our courts of justice while doubts on the wisdom of a law should be debated in the halls of Congress. Every now and then, a law may be denounced in court both as bereft of wisdom and constitutionally infirmed. Such denunciation will not deny this Court of its jurisdiction to resolve the constitutionality of the said law while prudentially refusing to pass on its wisdom. The effort of respondents to question the locus standi of petitioners must also fall on barren ground. In language too lucid to be misunderstood, this Court has brightlined its liberal stance on a petitioner's locus standi where the petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental significance to the people. 15 In Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. v. Tan, 16 we stressed: xxx xxx xxx Objections to taxpayers' suit for lack of sufficient personality, standing or interest are, however, in the main procedural matters. Considering the importance to the public of the cases at bar, and in keeping with the Court's duty, under the 1987 Constitution, to determine whether or not the other branches of government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and that they have not abused the discretion given to them, the Court has brushed aside technicalities of procedure and has taken cognizance of these petitions. There is not a dot of disagreement between the petitioners and the respondents on the far reaching importance of the validity of RA No. 8180 deregulating our downstream oil industry. Thus, there is no good sense in being hypertechnical on the standing of petitioners for they pose issues which are significant to our people and which deserve our forthright resolution. We shall now track down the substantive issues. In G.R. No. 124360 where petitioner is Senator Tatad, it is contended that section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180 on tariff differential violates the provision 17 of the Constitution requiring every law to have only one subject which should be expressed in its title. We do not concur with this contention. As a policy, this Court has adopted a liberal construction of the one title one subject rule. We have consistently ruled 18 that the title need not mirror, fully index or catalogue all contents and minute details of a law. A law having a single general subject indicated in the title may contain any number of provisions, no matter how diverse they may be, so long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the

general subject, and may be considered in furtherance of such subject by providing for the method and means of carrying out the general subject. 19 We hold that section 5(b) providing for tariff differential is germane to the subject of R.A. No. 8180 which is the deregulation of the downstream oil industry. The section is supposed to sway prospective investors to put up refineries in our country and make them rely less on imported petroleum. 20 We shall, however, return to the validity of this provision when we examine its blocking effect on new entrants to the oil market. We shall now slide to the substantive issues in G.R. No. 127867. Petitioners assail section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 which fixes the time frame for the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry. We restate its pertinent portion for emphasis, viz.: Sec. 15. Implementation of Full Deregulation Pursuant to section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7638, the DOE shall, upon approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not later than March 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable . . . Petitioners urge that the phrases "as far as practicable," "decline of crude oil prices in the world market" and "stability of the peso exchange rate to the US dollar" are ambivalent, unclear and inconcrete in meaning. They submit that they do not provide the "determinate or determinable standards" which can guide the President in his decision to fully deregulate the downstream oil industry. In addition, they contend that E.O. No. 392 which advanced the date of full deregulation is void for it illegally considered the depletion of the OPSF fund as a factor. The power of Congress to delegate the execution of laws has long been settled by this Court. As early as 1916 in Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas vs. The Board of Public Utility Commissioners, 21 this Court thru, Mr. Justice Moreland, held that "the true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made." Over the years, as the legal engineering of men's relationship became more difficult, Congress has to rely more on the practice of delegating the execution of laws to the executive and other administrative agencies. Two tests have been developed to determine whether the delegation of the power to execute laws does not involve the abdication of the power to make law itself. We delineated the metes and bounds of these tests in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. VS. POEA, 22 thus: There are two accepted tests to determine whether or not there is a valid delegation of legislative power, viz: the completeness test and the sufficient standard test. Under the first test, the law must be complete in all its terms and conditions when it leaves the legislative such that when it reaches the delegate the only thing he will have to do is to enforce it. Under the sufficient standard test, there must be adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate's authority and prevent the delegation from running riot. Both tests are intended to prevent a total transference of legislative authority to the delegate, who is not allowed to step into the shoes of the legislature and exercise a power essentially legislative. The validity of delegating legislative power is now a quiet area in our constitutional landscape. As sagely observed, delegation of legislative power has become an inevitability in light of the increasing complexity of the task of government. Thus, courts bend as far back as possible to sustain the constitutionality of laws which are assailed as unduly delegating legislative powers. Citing Hirabayashi v. United States 23 as authority, Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz states "that even if the law does not expressly pinpoint the standard, the courts will bend over backward to locate the same elsewhere in order to spare the statute, if it can, from constitutional infirmity." 24 Given the groove of the Court's rulings, the attempt of petitioners to strike down section 15 on the ground of undue delegation of legislative power cannot prosper. Section 15 can hurdle both the completeness test and the sufficient standard test. It will be noted that Congress expressly provided in R.A. No. 8180 that full

deregulation will start at the end of March 1997, regardless of the occurrence of any event. Full deregulation at the end of March 1997 is mandatory and the Executive has no discretion to postpone it for any purported reason. Thus, the law is complete on the question of the final date of full deregulation. The discretion given to the President is to advance the date of full deregulation before the end of March 1997. Section 15 lays down the standard to guide the judgment of the President he is to time it as far as practicable when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Petitioners contend that the words "as far as practicable," "declining" and "stable" should have been defined in R.A. No. 8180 as they do not set determinate or determinable standards. The stubborn submission deserves scant consideration. The dictionary meanings of these words are well settled and cannot confuse men of reasonable intelligence. Webster defines "practicable" as meaning possible to practice or perform, "decline" as meaning to take a downward direction, and "stable" as meaning firmly established. 25 The fear of petitioners that these words will result in the exercise of executive discretion that will run riot is thus groundless. To be sure, the Court has sustained the validity of similar, if not more general standards in other cases. 26 It ought to follow that the argument that E.O. No. 392 is null and void as it was based on indeterminate standards set by R.A. 8180 must likewise fail. If that were all to the attack against the validity of E.O. No. 392, the issue need not further detain our discourse. But petitioners further posit the thesis that the Executive misapplied R.A. No. 8180 when it considered the depletion of the OPSF fund as a factor in fully deregulating the downstream oil industry in February 1997. A perusal of section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 will readily reveal that it only enumerated two factors to be considered by the Department of Energy and the Office of the President, viz.: (1) the time when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining, and (2) the time when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Section 15 did not mention the depletion of the OPSF fund as a factor to be given weight by the Executive before ordering full deregulation. On the contrary, the debates in Congress will show that some of our legislators wanted to impose as a pre-condition to deregulation a showing that the OPSF fund must not be in deficit. 27 We therefore hold that the Executive department failed to follow faithfully the standards set by R.A. No. 8180 when it considered the extraneous factor of depletion of the OPSF fund. The misappreciation of this extra factor cannot be justified on the ground that the Executive department considered anyway the stability of the prices of crude oil in the world market and the stability of the exchange rate of the peso to the dollar. By considering another factor to hasten full deregulation, the Executive department rewrote the standards set forth in R.A. 8180. The Executive is bereft of any right to alter either by subtraction or addition the standards set in R.A. No. 8180 for it has no power to make laws. To cede to the Executive the power to make law is to invite tyranny, indeed, to transgress the principle of separation of powers. The exercise of delegated power is given a strict scrutiny by courts for the delegate is a mere agent whose action cannot infringe the terms of agency. In the cases at bar, the Executive comingled the factor of depletion of the OPSF fund with the factors of decline of the price of crude oil in the world market and the stability of the peso to the US dollar. On the basis of the text of E.O. No. 392, it is impossible to determine the weight given by the Executive department to the depletion of the OPSF fund. It could well be the principal consideration for the early deregulation. It could have been accorded an equal significance. Or its importance could be nil. In light of this uncertainty, we rule that the early deregulation under E.O. No. 392 constitutes a misapplication of R.A. No. 8180. We now come to grips with the contention that some provisions of R.A. No. 8180 violate section 19 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. These provisions are: (1) Section 5 (b) which states "Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%) and imported refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%) except fuel oil and LPG, the rate for which shall be the same as that for imported crude oil. Provided, that beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the same. Provided, further, that this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress." (2) Section 6 which states "To ensure the security and continuity of petroleum crude and products supply, the DOE shall require the refiners and importers to maintain a

minimum inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their respective annual sales volume or forty (40) days of supply, whichever is lower," and (3) Section 9 (b) which states "To ensure fair competition and prevent cartels and monopolies in the downstream oil industry, the following acts shall be prohibited: xxx xxx xxx (b) Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell any product at a price unreasonably below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of competitors. On the other hand, section 19 of Article XII of the Constitution allegedly violated by the aforestated provisions of R.A. No. 8180 mandates: "The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed." A monopoly is a privilege or peculiar advantage vested in one or more persons or companies, consisting in the exclusive right or power to carry on a particular business or trade, manufacture a particular article, or control the sale or the whole supply of a particular commodity. It is a form of market structure in which one or only a few firms dominate the total sales of a product or service. 28 On the other hand, a combination in restraint of trade is an agreement or understanding between two or more persons, in the form of a contract, trust, pool, holding company, or other form of association, for the purpose of unduly restricting competition, monopolizing trade and commerce in a certain commodity, controlling its, production, distribution and price, or otherwise interfering with freedom of trade without statutory authority. 29 Combination in restraint of trade refers to the means while monopoly refers to the end. 30 Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code and Article 28 of the New Civil Code breathe life to this constitutional policy. Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes monopolization and creation of combinations in restraint of trade, 31 while Article 28 of the New Civil Code makes any person who shall engage in unfair competition liable for damages. 32 Respondents aver that sections 5(b), 6 and 9(b) implement the policies and objectives of R.A. No. 8180. They explain that the 4% tariff differential is designed to encourage new entrants to invest in refineries. They stress that the inventory requirement is meant to guaranty continuous domestic supply of petroleum and to discourage fly-by-night operators. They also submit that the prohibition against predatory pricing is intended to protect prospective entrants. Respondents manifested to the Court that new players have entered the Philippines after deregulation and have now captured 3% 5% of the oil market. The validity of the assailed provisions of R.A. No. 8180 has to be decided in light of the letter and spirit of our Constitution, especially section 19, Article XII. Beyond doubt, the Constitution committed us to the free enterprise system but it is a system impressed with its own distinctness. Thus, while the Constitution embraced free enterprise as an economic creed, it did not prohibit per se the operation of monopolies which can, however, be regulated in the public interest. 33 Thus too, our free enterprise system is not based on a market of pure and unadulterated competition where the State pursues a strict hands-off policy and follows the let-the-devil devour the hindmost rule. Combinations in restraint of trade and unfair competitions are absolutely proscribed and the proscription is directed both against the State as well as the private sector. 34 This distinct free enterprise system is dictated by the need to achieve the goals of our national economy as defined by section 1, Article XII of the Constitution which are: more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged. It also calls for the State to protect Filipino enterprises against unfair competition and trade practices. Section 19, Article XII of our Constitution is anti-trust in history and in spirit. It espouses competition. The desirability of competition is the reason for the prohibition against restraint of trade, the reason for the interdiction of unfair competition, and the reason for regulation of unmitigated monopolies. Competition is

thus the underlying principle of section 19, Article XII of our Constitution which cannot be violated by R.A. No. 8180. We subscribe to the observation of Prof. Gellhorn that the objective of anti-trust law is "to assure a competitive economy, based upon the belief that through competition producers will strive to satisfy consumer wants at the lowest price with the sacrifice of the fewest resources. Competition among producers allows consumers to bid for goods and services, and thus matches their desires with society's opportunity costs." 35 He adds with appropriateness that there is a reliance upon "the operation of the 'market' system (free enterprise) to decide what shall be produced, how resources shall be allocated in the production process, and to whom the various products will be distributed. The market system relies on the consumer to decide what and how much shall be produced, and on competition, among producers to determine who will manufacture it." Again, we underline in scarlet that the fundamental principle espoused by section 19, Article XII of the Constitution is competition for it alone can release the creative forces of the market. But the competition that can unleash these creative forces is competition that is fighting yet is fair. Ideally, this kind of competition requires the presence of not one, not just a few but several players. A market controlled by one player (monopoly) or dominated by a handful of players (oligopoly) is hardly the market where honest-togoodness competition will prevail. Monopolistic or oligopolistic markets deserve our careful scrutiny and laws which barricade the entry points of new players in the market should be viewed with suspicion. Prescinding from these baseline propositions, we shall proceed to examine whether the provisions of R.A. No. 8180 on tariff differential, inventory reserves, and predatory prices imposed substantial barriers to the entry and exit of new players in our downstream oil industry. If they do, they have to be struck down for they will necessarily inhibit the formation of a truly competitive market. Contrariwise, if they are insignificant impediments, they need not be stricken down. In the cases at bar, it cannot be denied that our downstream oil industry is operated and controlled by an oligopoly, a foreign oligopoly at that. Petron, Shell and Caltex stand as the only major league players in the oil market. All other players belong to the lilliputian league. As the dominant players, Petron, Shell and Caltex boast of existing refineries of various capacities. The tariff differential of 4% therefore works to their immense benefit. Yet, this is only one edge of the tariff differential. The other edge cuts and cuts deep in the heart of their competitors. It erects a high barrier to the entry of new players. New players that intend to equalize the market power of Petron, Shell and Caltex by building refineries of their own will have to spend billions of pesos. Those who will not build refineries but compete with them will suffer the huge disadvantage of increasing their product cost by 4%. They will be competing on an uneven field. The argument that the 4% tariff differential is desirable because it will induce prospective players to invest in refineries puts the cart before the horse. The first need is to attract new players and they cannot be attracted by burdening them with heavy disincentives. Without new players belonging to the league of Petron, Shell and Caltex, competition in our downstream oil industry is an idle dream. The provision on inventory widens the balance of advantage of Petron, Shell and Caltex against prospective new players. Petron, Shell and Caltex can easily comply with the inventory requirement of R.A. No. 8180 in view of their existing storage facilities. Prospective competitors again will find compliance with this requirement difficult as it will entail a prohibitive cost. The construction cost of storage facilities and the cost of inventory can thus scare prospective players. Their net effect is to further occlude the entry points of new players, dampen competition and enhance the control of the market by the three (3) existing oil companies. Finally, we come to the provision on predatory pricing which is defined as ". . . selling or offering to sell any product at a price unreasonably below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of competitors." Respondents contend that this provision works against Petron, Shell and Caltex and protects new entrants. The ban on predatory pricing cannot be analyzed in isolation. Its validity is interlocked with the barriers imposed by R.A. No. 8180 on the entry of new players. The inquiry should be to determine whether predatory pricing on the part of the dominant oil companies is encouraged by the provisions in the law blocking the entry of new players. Text-writer Hovenkamp, 36 gives the authoritative answer and we quote: xxx xxx xxx

The rationale for predatory pricing is the sustaining of losses today that will give a firm monopoly profits in the future. The monopoly profits will never materialize, however, if the market is flooded with new entrants as soon as the successful predator attempts to raise its price. Predatory pricing will be profitable only if the market contains significant barriers to new entry. As aforediscsussed, the 4% tariff differential and the inventory requirement are significant barriers which discourage new players to enter the market. Considering these significant barriers established by R.A. No. 8180 and the lack of players with the comparable clout of PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX, the temptation for a dominant player to engage in predatory pricing and succeed is a chilling reality. Petitioners' charge that this provision on predatory pricing is anti-competitive is not without reason. Respondents belittle these barriers with the allegation that new players have entered the market since deregulation. A scrutiny of the list of the alleged new players will, however, reveal that not one belongs to the class and category of PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX. Indeed, there is no showing that any of these new players intends to install any refinery and effectively compete with these dominant oil companies. In any event, it cannot be gainsaid that the new players could have been more in number and more impressive in might if the illegal entry barriers in R.A. No. 8180 were not erected. We come to the final point. We now resolve the total effect of the untimely deregulation, the imposition of 4% tariff differential on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products, the requirement of inventory and the prohibition on predatory pricing on the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8180. The question is whether these offending provisions can be individually struck down without invalidating the entire R.A. No. 8180. The ruling case law is well stated by author Agpalo, 37 viz.: xxx xxx xxx The general rule is that where part of a statute is void as repugnant to the Constitution, while another part is valid, the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may stand and be enforced. The presence of a separability clause in a statute creates the presumption that the legislature intended separability, rather than complete nullity of the statute. To justify this result, the valid portion must be so far independent of the invalid portion that it is fair to presume that the legislature would have enacted it by itself if it had supposed that it could not constitutionally enact the other. Enough must remain to make a complete, intelligible and valid statute, which carries out the legislative intent. . . . The exception to the general rule is that when the parts of a statute are so mutually dependent and connected, as conditions, considerations, inducements, or compensations for each other, as to warrant a belief that the legislature intended them as a whole, the nullity of one part will vitiate the rest. In making the parts of the statute dependent, conditional, or connected with one another, the legislature intended the statute to be carried out as a whole and would not have enacted it if one part is void, in which case if some parts are unconstitutional, all the other provisions thus dependent, conditional, or connected must fall with them. R.A. No. 8180 contains a separability clause. Section 23 provides that "if for any reason, any section or provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, such parts not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect." This separability clause notwithstanding, we hold that the offending provisions of R.A. No. 8180 so permeate its essence that the entire law has to be struck down. The provisions on tariff differential, inventory and predatory pricing are among the principal props of R.A. No. 8180. Congress could not have deregulated the downstream oil industry without these provisions. Unfortunately, contrary to their intent, these provisions on tariff differential, inventory and predatory pricing inhibit fair competition, encourage monopolistic power and interfere with the free interaction of market forces. R.A. No. 8180 needs provisions to vouchsafe free and fair competition. The need for these vouchsafing provisions cannot be overstated. Before deregulation, PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX had no real competitors but did not have a free run of the market because government controls both the pricing and non-pricing aspects of the oil industry. After deregulation, PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX remain unthreatened by real competition yet are

no longer subject to control by government with respect to their pricing and non-pricing decisions. The aftermath of R.A. No. 8180 is a deregulated market where competition can be corrupted and where market forces can be manipulated by oligopolies. The fall out effects of the defects of R.A. No. 8180 on our people have not escaped Congress. A lot of our leading legislators have come out openly with bills seeking the repeal of these odious and offensive provisions in R.A. No. 8180. In the Senate, Senator Freddie Webb has filed S.B. No. 2133 which is the result of the hearings conducted by the Senate Committee on Energy. The hearings revealed that (1) there was a need to level the playing field for the new entrants in the downstream oil industry, and (2) there was no law punishing a person for selling petroleum products at unreasonable prices. Senator Alberto G. Romulo also filed S.B. No. 2209 abolishing the tariff differential beginning January 1, 1998. He declared that the amendment ". . . would mean that instead of just three (3) big oil companies there will be other major oil companies to provide more competitive prices for the market and the consuming public." Senator Heherson T . Alvarez, one of the principal proponents of R.A. No. 8180, also filed S.B. No. 2290 increasing the penalty for violation of its section 9. It is his opinion as expressed in the explanatory note of the bill that the present oil companies are engaged in cartelization despite R.A. No. 8180, viz,: xxx xxx xxx Since the downstream oil industry was fully deregulated in February 1997, there have been eight (8) fuel price adjustments made by the three oil majors, namely: Caltex Philippines, Inc.; Petron Corporation; and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation. Very noticeable in the price adjustments made, however, is the uniformity in the pump prices of practically all petroleum products of the three oil companies. This, despite the fact, that their selling rates should be determined by a combination of any of the following factors: the prevailing peso-dollar exchange rate at the time payment is made for crude purchases, sources of crude, and inventory levels of both crude and refined petroleum products. The abovestated factors should have resulted in different, rather than identical prices.

The fact that the three (3) oil companies' petroleum products are uniformly priced suggests collusion, amounting to cartelization, among Caltex Philippines, Inc., Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation to fix the prices of petroleum products in violation of paragraph (a), Section 9 of R.A. No. 8180.
To deter this pernicious practice and to assure that present and prospective players in the downstream oil industry conduct their business with conscience and propriety, cartel-like activities ought to be severely penalized.

Senator Francisco S. Tatad also filed S.B. No. 2307 providing for a uniform tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products. In the explanatory note of the bill, he declared in no uncertain terms that ". . . the present set-up has raised serious public concern over the way the three oil companies have uniformly adjusted the prices of oil in the country, an indication of a possible existence of a cartel or a cartel-like situation within the downstream oil industry. This situation is mostly attributed to the foregoing provision on tariff differential, which has effectively discouraged the entry of new players in the downstream oil industry." In the House of Representatives, the moves to rehabilitate R.A. No. 8180 are equally feverish. Representative Leopoldo E. San Buenaventura has filed H.B. No. 9826 removing the tariff differential for imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum products. In the explanatory note of the bill, Rep. Buenaventura explained:
xxx xxx xxx As we now experience, this difference in tariff rates between imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum products, unwittingly provided a built-in-advantage for the three existing oil refineries in the country and eliminating competition which is a must in a

free enterprise economy. Moreover, it created a disincentive for other players to engage even initially in the importation and distribution of refined petroleum products and ultimately in the putting up of refineries. This tariff differential virtually created a monopoly of the downstream oil industry by the existing three oil companies as shown by their uniform and capricious pricing of their products since this law took effect, to the great disadvantage of the consuming public.
Thus, instead of achieving the desired effects of deregulation, that of free enterprise and a level playing field in the downstream oil industry, R.A. 8180 has created an environment conducive to cartelization, unfavorable, increased, unrealistic prices of petroleum products in the country by the three existing refineries.

Representative Marcial C. Punzalan, Jr., filed H.B. No. 9981 to prevent collusion among the present oil companies by strengthening the oversight function of the government, particularly its ability to subject to a review any adjustment in the prices of gasoline and other petroleum products. In the explanatory note of the bill, Rep. Punzalan, Jr., said:
xxx xxx xxx To avoid this, the proposed bill seeks to strengthen the oversight function of government, particularly its ability to review the prices set for gasoline and other petroleum products. It grants the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) the authority to review prices of oil and other petroleum products, as may be petitioned by a person, group or any entity, and to subsequently compel any entity in the industry to submit any and all documents relevant to the imposition of new prices. In cases where the Board determines that there exist collusion, economic conspiracy, unfair trade practice, profiteering and/or overpricing, it may take any step necessary to protect the public, including the readjustment of the prices of petroleum products. Further, the Board may also impose the fine and penalty of imprisonment, as prescribed in Section 9 of R.A. 8180, on any person or entity from the oil industry who is found guilty of such prohibited acts. By doing all of the above, the measure will effectively provide Filipino consumers with a venue where their grievances can be heard and immediately acted upon by government. Thus, this bill stands to benefit the Filipino consumer by making the price-setting process more transparent and making it easier to prosecute those who perpetrate such prohibited acts as collusion, overpricing, economic conspiracy and unfair trade.

Representative Sergio A.F . Apostol filed H.B. No. 10039 to remedy an omission in R.A. No. 8180 where there is no agency in government that determines what is "reasonable" increase in the prices of oil products. Representative Dente O. Tinga, one of the principal sponsors of R.A. No. 8180, filed H.B. No. 10057 to strengthen its anti-trust provisions. He elucidated in its explanatory note:
xxx xxx xxx The definition of predatory pricing, however, needs to be tightened up particularly with respect to the definitive benchmark price and the specific anti-competitive intent. The definition in the bill at hand which was taken from the Areeda-Turner test in the United States on predatory pricing resolves the questions. The definition reads, "Predatory pricing means selling or offering to sell any oil product at a price below the average variable cost for the purpose of destroying competition, eliminating a competitor or discouraging a competitor from entering the market." The appropriate actions which may be resorted to under the Rules of Court in conjunction with the oil deregulation law are adequate. But to stress their availability and dynamism, it is a good move to incorporate all the remedies in the law itself. Thus, the present bill

formalizes the concept of government intervention and private suits to address the problem of antitrust violations. Specifically, the government may file an action to prevent or restrain any act of cartelization or predatory pricing, and if it has suffered any loss or damage by reason of the antitrust violation it may recover damages. Likewise, a private person or entity may sue to prevent or restrain any such violation which will result in damage to his business or property, and if he has already suffered damage he shall recover treble damages. A class suit may also be allowed. To make the DOE Secretary more effective in the enforcement of the law, he shall be given additional powers to gather information and to require reports.

Representative Erasmo B. Damasing filed H.B. No. 7885 and has a more unforgiving view of R.A. No. 8180. He wants it completely repealed. He explained:
xxx xxx xxx Contrary to the projections at the time the bill on the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation was discussed and debated upon in the plenary session prior to its approval into law, there aren't any new players or investors in the oil industry. Thus, resulting in practically a cartel or monopoly in the oil industry by the three (3) big oil companies, Caltex, Shell and Petron. So much so, that with the deregulation now being partially implemented, the said oil companies have succeeded in increasing the prices of most of their petroleum products with little or no interference at all from the government. In the month of August, there was an increase of Fifty centavos (50) per liter by subsidizing the same with the OPSF, this is only temporary as in March 1997, or a few months from now, there will be full deregulation (Phase II) whereby the increase in the prices of petroleum products will be fully absorbed by the consumers since OPSF will already be abolished by then. Certainly, this would make the lives of our people, especially the unemployed ones, doubly difficult and unbearable. The much ballyhooed coming in of new players in the oil industry is quite remote considering that these prospective investors cannot fight the existing and well established oil companies in the country today, namely, Caltex, Shell and Petron. Even if these new players will come in, they will still have no chance to compete with the said three (3) existing big oil companies considering that there is an imposition of oil tariff differential of 4% between importation of crude oil by the said oil refineries paying only 3% tariff rate for the said importation and 7% tariff rate to be paid by businessmen who have no oil refineries in the Philippines but will import finished petroleum/oil products which is being taxed with 7% tariff rates.

So, if only to help the many who are poor from further suffering as a result of unmitigated increase in oil products due to deregulation, it is a must that the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996, or R.A. 8180 be repealed completely.
Various resolutions have also been filed in the Senate calling for an immediate and comprehensive review of R.A. No. 8180 to prevent the downpour of its ill effects on the people. Thus, S. Res. No. 574 was filed by Senator Gloria M. Macapagal entitled Resolution "Directing the Committee on Energy to Inquire Into The Proper Implementation of the Deregulation of the Downstream Oil Industry and Oil Tax Restructuring As Mandated Under R.A. Nos. 8180 and 8184, In Order to Make The Necessary Corrections In the Apparent Misinterpretation Of The Intent And Provision Of The Laws And Curb The Rising Tide Of Disenchantment Among The Filipino Consumers And Bring About The Real Intentions And Benefits Of The Said Law." Senator Blas P. Ople filed S. Res. No. 664 entitled resolution "Directing the Committee on Energy To Conduct An Inquiry In Aid Of Legislation To Review The Government's Oil Deregulation Policy In Light Of The Successive Increases In Transportation, Electricity And Power Rates, As well As Of Food And Other Prime Commodities And Recommend Appropriate Amendments To Protect The Consuming Public." Senator Ople observed:

xxx xxx xxx WHEREAS, since the passage of R.A. No. 8180, the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) has imposed successive increases in oil prices which has triggered increases in electricity and power rates, transportation fares, as well as in prices of food and other prime commodities to the detriment of our people, particularly the poor; WHEREAS, the new players that were expected to compete with the oil cartel-Shell, Caltex and Petron-have not come in; WHEREAS, it is imperative that a review of the oil deregulation policy be made to consider appropriate amendments to the existing law such as an extension of the transition phase before full deregulation in order to give the competitive market enough time to develop; WHEREAS, the review can include the advisability of providing some incentives in order to attract the entry of new oil companies to effect a dynamic competitive market; WHEREAS, it may also be necessary to defer the setting up of the institutional framework for full deregulation of the oil industry as mandated under Executive Order No. 377 issued by President Ramos last October 31, 1996 . . .

Senator Alberto G. Romulo filed S. Res. No. 769 entitled resolution "Directing the Committees on Energy and Public Services In Aid Of Legislation To Assess The Immediate Medium And Long Term Impact of Oil Deregulation On Oil Prices And The Economy." Among the reasons for the resolution is the finding that "the requirement of a 40-day stock inventory effectively limits the entry of other oil firms in the market with the consequence that instead of going down oil prices will rise." Parallel resolutions have been filed in the House of Representatives. Representative Dante O. Tinga filed H. Res. No. 1311 "Directing The Committee on Energy To Conduct An Inquiry, In Aid of Legislation, Into The Pricing Policies And Decisions Of The Oil Companies Since The Implementation of Full Deregulation Under the Oil Deregulation Act (R.A. No. 8180) For the Purpose of Determining In the Context Of The Oversight Functions Of Congress Whether The Conduct Of The Oil Companies, Whether Singly Or Collectively, Constitutes Cartelization Which Is A Prohibited Act Under R.A. No. 8180, And What Measures Should Be Taken To Help Ensure The Successful Implementation Of The Law In Accordance With Its Letter And Spirit, Including Recommending Criminal Prosecution Of the Officers Concerned Of the Oil Companies If Warranted By The Evidence, And For Other Purposes." Representatives Marcial C. Punzalan, Jr. Dante O. Tinga and Antonio E. Bengzon III filed H.R. No. 894 directing the House Committee on Energy to inquire into the proper implementation of the deregulation of the downstream oil industry. House Resolution No. 1013 was also filed by Representatives Edcel C. Lagman, Enrique T . Garcia, Jr. and Joker P. Arroyo urging the President to immediately suspend the implementation of E.O. No. 392.
In recent memory there is no law enacted by the legislature afflicted with so much constitutional deformities as R.A. No. 8180. Yet, R.A. No. 8180 deals with oil, a commodity whose supply and price affect the ebb and flow of the lifeblood of the nation. Its shortage of supply or a slight, upward spiral in its price shakes our economic foundation. Studies show that the areas most impacted by the movement of oil are food manufacture, land transport, trade, electricity and water. 38 At a time when our economy is in a dangerous downspin, the perpetuation of R.A. No. 8180 threatens to multiply the number of our people with bent backs and begging bowls. R.A. No. 8180 with its anti-competition provisions cannot be allowed by this Court to stand even while Congress is working to remedy its defects. The Court, however, takes note of the plea of PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX to lift our restraining order to enable them to adjust upward the price of petroleum and petroleum products in view of the plummeting value of the peso. Their plea, however, will now have to be addressed to the Energy Regulatory Board as the effect of the declaration of unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 8180 is to revive the former laws it repealed. 39 The length of our return to the regime of regulation depends on Congress which can fasttrack the writing of a new law on oil deregulation in accord with the Constitution.

With this Decision, some circles will chide the Court for interfering with an economic decision of Congress. Such criticism is charmless for the Court is annulling R.A. No. 8180 not because it disagrees with deregulation as an economic policy but because as cobbled by Congress in its present form, the law violates the Constitution. The right call therefor should be for Congress to write a new oil deregulation law that conforms with the Constitution and not for this Court to shirk its duty of striking down a law that offends the Constitution. Striking down R.A. No. 8180 may cost losses in quantifiable terms to the oil oligopolists. But the loss in tolerating the tampering of our Constitution is not quantifiable in pesos and centavos. More worthy of protection than the supra-normal profits of private corporations is the sanctity of the fundamental principles of the Constitution. Indeed when confronted by a law violating the Constitution, the Court has no option but to strike it down dead. Lest it is missed, the Constitution is a covenant that grants and guarantees both the political and economic rights of the people. The Constitution mandates this Court to be the guardian not only of the people's political rights but their economic rights as well. The protection of the economic rights of the poor and the powerless is of greater importance to them for they are concerned more with the exoterics of living and less with the esoterics of liberty. Hence, for as long as the Constitution reigns supreme so long will this Court be vigilant in upholding the economic rights of our people especially from the onslaught of the powerful. Our defense of the people's economic rights may appear heartless because it cannot be half-hearted. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions are granted. R.A. No. 8180 is declared unconstitutional and E.O. No. 372 void. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-34674 October 26, 1931

MAURICIO CRUZ, petitioner-appellant, vs. STANTON YOUNGBERG, Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, respondent-appellee.

Jose Yulo for appellant. Office of the Solicitor-General Reyes for appellee.

OSTRAND, J.: This is a petition brought originally before the Court of First Instance of Manila for the issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction against the respondent, Stanton Youngberg, as Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, requiring him to issue a permit for the landing of ten large cattle imported by the petitioner and for the slaughter thereof. The petitioner attacked the constitutionality of Act No. 3155, which at present prohibits the importation of cattle from foreign countries into the Philippine Islands. Among other things in the allegation of the petition, it is asserted that "Act No. 3155 of the Philippine Legislature was enacted for the sole purpose of preventing the introduction of cattle diseases into the Philippine Islands from foreign countries, as shown by an explanatory note and text of Senate Bill No. 328 as introduced in the Philippine Legislature, ... ." The Act in question reads as follows: SECTION 1. After March thirty-first, nineteen hundred and twenty-five existing contracts for the importation of cattle into this country to the contrary notwithstanding, it shall be strictly prohibited to import, bring or introduce into the Philippine Islands any cattle from foreign countries: Provided, however, That at any time after said date, the Governor-General, with the concurrence of the presiding officers of both Houses, may raise such prohibition entirely or in part if the conditions of the country make this advisable or if decease among foreign cattle has ceased to be a menace to the agriculture and live stock of the lands.

SEC. 2. All acts or parts of acts inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed. SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect on its approval. Approved, March 8, 1924. The respondent demurred to the petition on the ground that it did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The demurrer was based on two reasons, namely, (1) that if Act No. 3155 were declared unconstitutional and void, the petitioner would not be entitled to the relief demanded because Act No. 3052 would automatically become effective and would prohibit the respondent from giving the permit prayed for; and (2) that Act No. 3155 was constitutional and, therefore, valid. The court sustained the demurrer and the complaint was dismissed by reason of the failure of the petitioner to file another complaint. From that order of dismissal, the petitioner appealed to this court. The appellee contends that even if Act No. 3155 be declared unconstitutional by the fact alleged by the petitioner in his complaint, still the petitioner can not be allowed to import cattle from Australia for the reason that, while Act No. 3155 were declared unconstitutional, Act No. 3052 would automatically become effective. Act No. 3052 reads as follows: SECTION 1. Section seventeen hundred and sixty-two of Act Numbered Twentyseven hundred and eleven, known as the Administrative Code, is hereby amended to read as follows: "SEC. 1762. Bringing of animals imported from foreign countries into the Philippine Islands. It shall be unlawful for any person or corporation to import, bring or introduce live cattle into the Philippine Islands from any foreign country. The Director of Agriculture may, with the approval of the head of the department first had, authorize the importation, bringing or introduction of various classes of thoroughbred cattle from foreign countries for breeding the same to the native cattle of these Islands, and such as may be necessary for the improvement of the breed, not to exceed five hundred head per annum: Provided, however, That the Director of Agriculture shall in all cases permit the importation, bringing or introduction of draft cattle and bovine cattle for the manufacture of serum: Provided, further, That all live cattle from foreign countries the importation, bringing or introduction of which into the Islands is authorized by this Act, shall be submitted to regulations issued by the Director of Agriculture, with the approval of the head of the department, prior to authorizing its transfer to other provinces. "At the time of the approval of this Act, the Governor-General shall issue regulations and others to provide against a raising of the price of both fresh and refrigerated meat. The Governor-General also may, by executive order, suspend, this prohibition for a fixed period in case local conditions require it." SEC. 2. This Act shall take effect six months after approval. Approved, March 14, 1922. The petitioner does not present any allegations in regard to Act No. 3052 to show its nullity or unconstitutionality though it appears clearly that in the absence of Act No. 3155 the former act would make it impossible for the Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry to grant the petitioner a permit for the importation of the cattle without the approval of the head of the corresponding department. An unconstitutional statute can have no effect to repeal former laws or parts of laws by implication, since, being void, it is not inconsistent with such former laws. (I Lewis

Sutherland, Statutory Construction 2nd ed., p. 458, citing McAllister vs. Hamlin, 83 Cal., 361; 23 Pac., 357; Orange Country vs. Harris, 97 Cal., 600; 32 Pac., 594; Carr vs. State, 127 Ind., 204; 11 L.R.A., 370, etc.) This court has several times declared that it will not pass upon the constitutionality of statutes unless it is necessary to do so (McGirr vs. Hamilton and Abreu, 30 Phil., 563, 568; Walter E. Olsen & Co. vs. Aldanese and Trinidad, 43 Phil., 259) but in this case it is not necessary to pass upon the validity of the statute attacked by the petitioner because even if it were declared unconstitutional, the petitioner would not be entitled to relief inasmuch as Act No. 3052 is not in issue. But aside from the provisions of Act No. 3052, we are of the opinion that Act No. 3155 is entirely valid. As shown in paragraph 8 of the amended petition, the Legislature passed Act No. 3155 to protect the cattle industry of the country and to prevent the introduction of cattle diseases through importation of foreign cattle. It is now generally recognized that the promotion of industries affecting the public welfare and the development of the resources of the country are objects within the scope of the police power (12 C.J., 927; 6 R.C.L., 203-206 and decisions cited therein; Reid vs. Colorado, 187 U.S., 137, 147, 152; Yeazel vs. Alexander, 58 Ill., 254). In this connection it is said in the case of Punzalan vs. Ferriols and Provincial Board of Batangas (19 Phil., 214), that the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, did not have the effect of denying to the Government of the Philippine Islands the right to the exercise of the sovereign police power in the promotion of the general welfare and the public interest. The facts recited in paragraph 8 of the amended petition shows that at the time the Act No. 3155 was promulgated there was reasonable necessity therefor and it cannot be said that the Legislature exceeded its power in passing the Act. That being so, it is not for this court to avoid or vacate the Act upon constitutional grounds nor will it assume to determine whether the measures are wise or the best that might have been adopted. (6 R.C.L., 243 and decisions cited therein.)1awphil.net In his third assignment of error the petitioner claims that "The lower court erred in not holding that the power given by Act No. 3155 to the Governor-General to suspend or not, at his discretion, the prohibition provided in the act constitutes an unlawful delegation of the legislative powers." We do not think that such is the case; as Judge Ranney of the Ohio Supreme Court in Cincinnati, Wilmington and Zanesville Railroad Co. vs. Commissioners of Clinton County (1 Ohio St., 77, 88) said in such case: The true distinction, therefore, is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made. Under his fourth assignment of error the appellant argues that Act No. 3155 amends section 3 of the Tariff Law, but it will be noted that Act No. 3155 is not an absolute prohibition of the importation of cattle and it does not add any provision to section 3 of the Tariff Law. As stated in the brief of the AttorneyGeneral: "It is a complete statute in itself. It does not make any reference to the Tariff Law. It does not permit the importation of articles, whose importation is prohibited by the Tariff Law. It is not a tariff measure but a quarantine measure, a statute adopted under the police power of the Philippine Government. It is at most a `supplement' or an `addition' to the Tariff Law. (See MacLeary vs. Babcock, 82 N.E., 453, 455; 169 Ind., 228 for distinction between `supplemental' and `amendatory' and O'Pry vs. U.S., 249 U.S., 323; 63 Law. ed., 626, for distinction between `addition' and `amendment.')" The decision appealed from is affirmed with the costs against the appellant. So ordered. G.R. No. 116356 June 29, 1998 EASTERN SHIPPING LINES, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and DAVAO PILOTS ASSOCIATION, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.: In Philippine Interisland Shipping Association of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, 1 the Court, en banc, ruled that Executive Order 1088 2 was not unconstitutional. We adhere to said ruling in this case.

The Case
This is a petition or certiorari under Rule 45, assailing the Decision 3 of the Court of Appeals 4 in CA-GR CV No. 34487 promulgated on July 18, 1994, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, the same is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. With costs against defendant-appellant. The Decision affirmed by Respondent Court disposed as follows: WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered directing the defendant: 1. To pay plaintiff the sum of P602,710.04 with legal rate of interest commencing from the filing of the complaint representing unpaid pilotage fees; 2. To pay attorney's fees in the sum of P50,000.00; 3. And costs. SO ORDERED. Hence, this appeal.
5

The Facts
As found by the trial court, these are the undisputed facts: On September 25, 1989, plaintiff [herein private respondent] elevated a complaint against defendant [herein petitioner] for sum of money and attorney's fees alleging that plaintiff had rendered pilotage services to defendant between January 14, 1987 to July 22, 1989 with total unpaid fees of P703,290.18. Despite repeated demands, defendant failed to pay and prays that the latter be directed to pay P703,290.18 with legal rate of interest from the filing of the complaint; attorney's fees equivalent to 25% of the principal obligation and such other relief. On November 18, 1989 defendant answered vigorously disputing the claims of plaintiff. It assailed the constitutionality of the Executive Order 1088 upon which plaintiff bases its claims; alleged that there is a pending case before the Court of Appeals elevated by the United Harbor Pilots Association of the Philippines of which plaintiff is a member[;] whereas defendant is a member of the Chamber of Maritime Industries of the Philippine[s] which is an Intervenor in CA-G.R. SP No. 18072; that there therefore is lis pendens by Section 1 (e), Rule 16 of the Rules; that the subject of the complaint falls within the scope and authority of the Philippine Ports Authority by virtue of PD No. 857 dated December 23, 1975; that Executive Order No. 1088 is an unwarranted repeal or modification of the Philippine Ports Authority Charter; that the fees charged by plaintiff are arbitrary

and confiscatory; and the basis of the Executive Order 1088 is offensive, sourced from Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution and rendered inoperative by the Freedom Constitution of March 25, 1986 and the present Constitution; and that the only agency vested by law to prescribe such rates, charges or fees for services rendered by any private organization like the plaintiff within a Port District is governed by Section 20 of PD 857. As regular patron of plaintiff, defendant has never been remiss in paying plaintiff's claim for pilotage fees and the present complaint under the foregoing circumstances is without legal foundation. Defendant prays that plaintiff be advised to await the final outcome of the identical issues already elevated to and pending before the Court of Appeals as CA-G.R. SP No. 18072. Defendant prays for an award of damages, attorney's fees, litigation expense and costs. At the Pre-Trial Conference, the only issue raised by plaintiff is whether the defendant is liable to the plaintiff for the money claims alleged in the complaint. The defendant on the other hand raised the following issues: 1. Whether or not Executive Order 1088 is constitutional; 2. Whether or not Executive Order 1088 is illegal; 3. Whether or not the plaintiff may motu proprio and independently of the Public Estates Authority enforce Executive Order 1088 and collect the pilotage fees prescribed thereunder; 4. Assuming Executive Order 1088 is constitutional, valid and self-executory, whether or not the defendant is liable; and if so, to what extent and for what particular items; and 5. Whether or not the plaintiff is liable under the counterclaims (p. 102, Expediente). On September 5, 1990, plaintiff presented witness Capt. Felix N. Galope, in the course of which testimony identified among others EXHIBITS "B" to "E-2" and "J" to "1-2" consisting of documents related to the collection of the unpaid pilotage fees; basis for such computations; Statement of Accounts; demand letter and official recipients of payment made. On September 6, 1990, Simplicio Barao, plaintiff's Billing Clerk testified among others on the records of plaintiff's Captain's Certificate/Pilotage Chits and Bills/Statements of Accounts on the claims against defendant (EXHIBITS "G" to "H-48-A") and the details of the outstanding accounts in favor of plaintiff. The records show defendant raised no objection thereto and by virtue of which all of plaintiff's documentary exhibits were admitted. (Order dated January 14, 1991, p. 277 Expediente). On March 14, 1991, defendant presented Celso Occidental, employee of defendant shipping company, in the course of which testimony submitted EXHIBITS "1" to "1-D" which is plaintiff's Billing Rate, both old and new with a

payment of P79,585.64; and "2" to "2-G" representing plane ticket paid for by defendant for transportation expenses of its counsel and cost of stenographic transcripts. Defendant's last witness, Capt. Jose Dubouzet, Jr. and a Harbor Pilot was briefly presented. 6 After due trial, the trial court rendered its ruling, viz.: Plaintiff's evidence as to the unpaid pilotage services due from defendant duly supported by voluminous documentary exhibits has not been refuted nor rebutted by defendant. On the contrary, when plaintiff's documentary exhibits were formally offered, defendant did not raise any objection thereby leaving the documents unchallenged and undisputed. Upon the other hand, while the records show that defendant raised no less than five (5) issues the evidence fails to show any proof to sustain defendant's posture. On the contrary, neither of defendant's two witnesses appear to have even grazed the outer peripheries of what could have been interesting issues with far-reaching consequences if resolved. 7 The factual antecedents of the controversy are simple. Petitioner insists on paying pilotage fees prescribed under PPA circulars. Because EO 1088 sets a higher rate, petitioner now assails its constitutionality.

Public Respondent's Ruling


As stated earlier, Respondent Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. Respondent Court pointed out that petitioner, during the pre-trial, limited the issues to whether: (1) EO C88 is unconstitutional; (2) EO 1088 is illegal; (3) private respondent itself may enforce and collect fees under EO 1088; and (4) petitioner is liable and, if EO 1088 is legal, to what extent. It then affirmed the factual findings and conclusion of the trial court that petitioner "fail[ed] to show any proof" to support its position. Parenthetically, Respondent Court also noted two other cases decided by the Court of Appeals, upholding the constitutionality of EO 1088. 8

The Issue
In sum, petitioner raises this main issue: whether Executive Order 1088 is unconstitutional.
9

The Court's Ruling


The petition is unmeritorious.

EO 1088 Is Valid
Petitioner contends that EO 1088 10 is unconstitutional, because (1) its interpretation and application are left to private respondent, a private person, 11 and (2) it constitutes an undue delegation of powers. Petitioner insists that it should pay pilotage fees in accordance with and on the basis of the memorandum circulars issued by the PPA, the administrative body vested under PD 857 12 with the power to regulate and prescribe pilotage fees. In assailing the constitutionality of EO 1088, the petitioner repeatedly asks: "Is the private respondent vested with power to interpret Executive Order No. 1088?" 13 The Court is not persuaded. The pertinent provisions of EO 1088 read: Sec. 1. The following shall be the rate of pilotage fees or charges based on tonnage for services rendered to both foreign and coastwise vessels:

For Foreign Vessels Rate in US$ &/or its Peso Equivalent Less than 500GT $ 30.00 500GT to 2,500GT 43.33 2,500GT to 5,000GT 71.33 5,000GT to 10,000GT 133.67 10,000GT to 15,000GT 181.67 15,000GT to 20,000GT 247.00 20,000GT to 30,000GT 300.00 30,000GT to 40,000GT 416.67 40,000GT to 60,000GT 483.33 60,000GT to 80,000GT 550.00 80,000GT to 100,000GT 616.67 100,000GT to 120,000GT 666.67 120,000GT to 130,000GT 716.67 130,000GT to 140,000GT 766.67 Over 140,000 gross tonnage $0.05 or its peso equivalent every excess tonnage. Rate for docking and undocking anchorage, conduction and shifting other related special services is equal to 100%. Pilotage services shall be compulsory in government and private wharves or piers. For Coastwise Vessels Regular 100 and under 500 gross tons P 41.70 500 and under 600 gross tons 55.60 600 and under 1,000 gross tons 69.60 1,000 and under 3,000 gross tons 139.20 3,000 and under 5,000 gross tons 300.00 5,000 and over gross tons

Sec. 2. With respect to foreign vessels, payment of pilotage services shall be made in dollars or in pesos at the prevailing exchange rate. Sec. 3. All orders, letters of instructions, rules, regulations and other issuances inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby repealed or amended accordingly. Sec. 4. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately. In Philippine Interisland Shipping Association of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, 14 the Supreme Court, through Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, upheld the validity and constitutionality of Executive Order 1088 in no uncertain terms. We aptly iterate our pronouncement in said case, viz.: It is not an answer to say that E.O. No. 1088 should not be considered a statute because that would imply the withdrawal of power from the PPA. What determines whether an act is a law or an administrative issuance is not its form but its nature. Here as we have already said, the power to fix the rates of charges for services, including pilotage service, has always been regarded as legislative in character. xxx xxx xxx It is worthy to note that E.O. NO. 1088 provides for adjusted pilotage service rates without withdrawing the power of the PPA to impose, prescribe, increase or decrease rates, charges or fees. The reason is because E.O. No. 1088 is not meant simply to fix new pilotage rates. Its legislative purpose is the "rationalization of pilotage service charges, through the imposition of uniform and adjusted rates for foreign and coastwise vessels in all Philippine ports. xxx xxx xxx We conclude that E.O. No. 1088 is a valid statute and that the PPA is duty bound to comply with its provisions. The PPA may increase the rates but it may not decrease them below those mandated by E.O. No. 1088. . . . . 15 We see no reason to depart from this ruling. The Court's holding clearly debunks petitioner's insistence on paying its pilotage fees based on memorandum circulars issued by the PPA. 16 Because the PPA circulars are inconsistent with EO 1088, they are void and ineffective. "Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution." 17 As stated by this Court in Land Bank of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, 18 "[t]he conclusive effect of administrative construction is not absolute. Action of an administrative agency may be disturbed or set aside by the judicial department if there is an error of law, a grave abuse of power or lack of jurisdiction, or grave abuse of discretion clearly conflicting with either the letter or spirit of the law." 19 It is axiomatic that an administrative agency, like the PPA, has no discretion whether to implement the law or not. Its duty is to enforce it. Unarguably, therefore, if there is any conflict between the PPA circular and a law, such as EO 1088, the latter prevails. 20 Based on the foregoing, petitioner has no legal basis to refuse payment of pilotage fees to private respondent, as computed according to the rates set by EO 1088. Private respondent cannot be faulted for relying on the clear and unmistakable provisions of EO 1088. In fact, EO 1088 leaves no room for interpretation, thereby unmistakably showing the duplicity of petitioner's query: "Is the private respondent vested with power to interpret Executive Order No. 10882?" WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED. BLAS F. OPLE, petitioner, vs. RUBEN D. TORRES, ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, HECTOR VILLANUEVA, CIELITO HABITO, ROBERT BARBERS, CARMENCITA REODICA, CESAR SARINO, RENATO VALENCIA, TOMAS P. AFRICA, HEAD OF THE NATIONAL COMPUTER CENTER and CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondents.

PUNO, J.: The petition at bar is a commendable effort on the part of Senator Blas F. Ople to prevent the shrinking of the right to privacy, which the revered Mr. Justice Brandeis considered as "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." 1 Petitioner Ople prays that we invalidate Administrative Order No. 308 entitled "Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System" on two important constitutional grounds, viz: one, it is a usurpation of the power of Congress to legislate, and two, it impermissibly intrudes on our citizenry's protected zone of privacy. We grant the petition for the rights sought to be vindicated by the petitioner need stronger barriers against further erosion. A.O. No. 308 was issued by President Fidel V. Ramos On December 12, 1996 and reads as follows: ADOPTION OF A NATIONAL COMPUTERIZED IDENTIFICATION REFERENCE SYSTEM WHEREAS, there is a need to provide Filipino citizens and foreign residents with the facility to conveniently transact business with basic service and social security providers and other government instrumentalities; WHEREAS, this will require a computerized system to properly and efficiently identify persons seeking basic services on social security and reduce, if not totally eradicate fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations; WHEREAS, a concerted and collaborative effort among the various basic services and social security providing agencies and other government intrumentalities is required to achieve such a system; NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby direct the following: Sec. 1. Establishment of a National Compoterized Identification Reference System. A decentralized Identification Reference System among the key basic services and social security providers is hereby established. Sec. 2. Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee. An Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee (IACC) to draw-up the implementing guidelines and oversee the implementation of the System is hereby created, chaired by the Executive Secretary, with the following as members: Head, Presidential Management Staff

Secretary, National Economic Development Authority Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary, Department of Health Administrator, Government Service Insurance System, Administrator, Social Security System, Administrator, National Statistics Office Managing Director, National Computer Center. Sec. 3. Secretariat. The National Computer Center (NCC) is hereby designated as secretariat to the IACC and as such shall provide administrative and technical support to the IACC. Sec. 4. Linkage Among Agencies. The Population Reference Number (PRN) generated by the NSO shall serve as the common reference number to establish a linkage among concerned agencies. The IACC Secretariat shall coordinate with the different Social Security and Services Agencies to establish the standards in the use of Biometrics Technology and in computer application designs of their respective systems. Sec. 5. Conduct of Information Dissemination Campaign. The Office of the Press Secretary, in coordination with the National Statistics Office, the GSIS and SSS as lead agencies and other concerned agencies shall undertake a massive tri-media information dissemination campaign to educate and raise public awareness on the importance and use of the PRN and the Social Security Identification Reference. Sec. 6. Funding. The funds necessary for the implementation of the system shall be sourced from the respective budgets of the concerned agencies. Sec. 7. Submission of Regular Reports. The NSO, GSIS and SSS shall submit regular reports to the Office of the President through the IACC, on the status of implementation of this undertaking. Sec. 8. Effectivity. This Administrative Order shall take effect immediately. DONE in the City of Manila, this 12th day of December in the year of Our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Six. (SGD.) FIDEL V. RAMOS A.O. No. 308 was published in four newspapers of general circulation on January 22, 1997 and January 23, 1997. On January 24, 1997, petitioner filed the instant petition against respondents, then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres and the heads of the government agencies, who as members of the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee, are charged with the implementation of A.O. No. 308. On April 8, 1997, we issued a temporary restraining order enjoining its implementation. Petitioner contends:

A. THE ESTABLISNMENT OF A NATIONAL COMPUTERIZED IDENTIFICATION REFERENCE SYSTEM REQUIRES A LEGISLATIVE ACT. THE ISSUANCE OF A.O. NO. 308 BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES IS, THEREFORE, AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL USURPATION OF THE LEGISLATIVE POWERS OF THE CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. B. THE APPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE PRESIDENT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A.O. NO. 308 IS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL USURPATION OF THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT OF CONGRESS TO APPROPRIATE PUBLIC FUNDS FOR EXPENDITURE. C. THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A.O. NO. 308 INSIDIOUSLY LAYS THE GROUNDWORK FOR A SYSTEM WHICH WILL VIOLATE THE BILL OF RIGHTS ENSHRINED IN THE CONSTITUTION. 2 Respondents counter-argue: A. THE INSTANT PETITION IS NOT A JUSTICIABLE CASE AS WOULD WARRANT A JUDICIAL REVIEW; B. A.O. NO. 308 [1996] WAS ISSUED WITHIN THE EXECUTIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT WITHOUT ENCROACHING ON THE LEGISLATIVE POWERS OF CONGRESS; C. THE FUNDS NECESSARY FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE IDENTIFICATION REFERENCE SYSTEM MAY BE SOURCED FROM THE BUDGETS OF THE CONCERNED AGENCIES; D. A.O. NO. 308 [1996] PROTECTS AN INDIVIDUAL'S INTEREST IN PRIVACY. We now resolve. I As is usual in constitutional litigation, respondents raise the threshold issues relating to the standing to sue of the petitioner and the justiciability of the case at bar. More specifically, respondents aver that petitioner has no legal interest to uphold and that the implementing rules of A.O. No. 308 have yet to be promulgated. These submissions do not deserve our sympathetic ear. Petitioner Ople is a distinguished member of our Senate. As a Senator, petitioner is possessed of the requisite standing to bring suit raising the issue that the issuance of A.O. No. 308 is a usurpation of legislative power. 4 As taxpayer and member of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), petitioner can also impugn the legality of the misalignment of public funds and the misuse of GSIS funds to implement A.O. No. 308. 5 The ripeness for adjudication of the Petition at bar is not affected by the fact that the implementing rules of A.O. No. 308 have yet to be promulgated. Petitioner Ople assails A.O. No. 308 as invalid per se and as infirmed on its face. His action is not premature for the rules yet to be promulgated cannot cure its fatal defects. Moreover, the respondents themselves have started the implementation of A.O. No. 308 without waiting for the rules. As early as January 19, 1997, respondent Social Security System (SSS) caused the publication of a notice to bid for the manufacture of the National Identification (ID) card. 6 Respondent Executive Secretary Torres has publicly announced that representatives from the GSIS and the SSS have completed the guidelines for the national identification system. 7 All signals from the respondents show their unswerving will to implement A.O. No. 308 and we need not wait for the formality of the rules to pass judgment on its constitutionality. In this light, the dissenters insistence that we tighten the rule on standing is not a commendable stance as its result would be to throttle an important constitutional principle and a fundamental right.
3

II We now come to the core issues. Petitioner claims that A.O. No. 308 is not a mere administrative order but a law and hence, beyond the power of the President to issue. He alleges that A.O. No. 308 establishes a system of identification that is all-encompassing in scope, affects the life and liberty of every Filipino citizen and foreign resident, and more particularly, violates their right to privacy. Petitioner's sedulous concern for the Executive not to trespass on the lawmaking domain of Congress is understandable. The blurring of the demarcation line between the power of the Legislature to make laws and the power of the Executive to execute laws will disturb their delicate balance of power and cannot be allowed. Hence, the exercise by one branch of government of power belonging to another will be given a stricter scrutiny by this Court. The line that delineates Legislative and Executive power is not indistinct. Legislative power is "the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them." 8 The Constitution, as the will of the people in their original, sovereign and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines. 9 The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad, general and comprehensive. 10 The legislative body possesses plenary power for all purposes of civil government. 11 Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere. 12 In fine, except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all subjects and extends to matters of general concern or common interest. 13 While Congress is vested with the power to enact laws, the President executes the laws. 14 The executive power is vested in the Presidents. 15 It is generally defined as the power to enforce and administer the laws. 16 It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance. 17 As head of the Executive Department, the President is the Chief Executive. He represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. 18 He has control over the executive department, bureaus and offices. This means that he has the authority to assume directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office or interfere with the discretion of its officials. 19 Corollary to the power of control, the President also has the duty of supervising the enforcement of laws for the maintenance of general peace and public order. Thus, he is granted administrative power over bureaus and offices under his control to enable him to discharge his duties effectively. 20 Administrative power is concerned with the work of applying policies and enforcing orders as determined by proper governmental organs. 21 It enables the President to fix a uniform standard of administrative efficiency and check the official conduct of his agents. 22 To this end, he can issue administrative orders, rules and regulations. Prescinding from these precepts, we hold that A.O. No. 308 involves a subject that is not appropriate to be covered by an administrative order. An administrative order is: Sec. 3. Administrative Orders. Acts of the President which relate to particular aspects of governmental operation in pursuance of his duties as administrative head shall be promulgated in administrative orders. 23 An administrative order is an ordinance issued by the President which relates to specific aspects in the administrative operation of government. It must be in harmony with the law and should be for the sole purpose of implementing the law and carrying out the legislative policy. 24 We reject the argument that A.O. No. 308 implements the legislative policy of the Administrative Code of 1987. The Code is a general law and "incorporates in a unified document the major structural, functional and procedural principles of governance." 25 and "embodies changes in administrative structure and procedures designed to serve the people." 26 The Code is divided into seven (7) Books: Book I deals with Sovereignty and General Administration, Book II with the Distribution of Powers of the three branches of

Government, Book III on the Office of the President, Book IV on the Executive Branch, Book V on Constitutional Commissions, Book VI on National Government Budgeting, and Book VII on Administrative Procedure. These Books contain provisions on the organization, powers and general administration of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, the organization and administration of departments, bureaus and offices under the executive branch, the organization and functions of the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional bodies, the rules on the national government budget, as well as guideline for the exercise by administrative agencies of quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers. The Code covers both the internal administration of government, i.e, internal organization, personnel and recruitment, supervision and discipline, and the effects of the functions performed by administrative officials on private individuals or parties outside government. 27 It cannot be simplistically argued that A.O. No. 308 merely implements the Administrative Code of 1987. It establishes for the first time a National Computerized Identification Reference System. Such a System requires a delicate adjustment of various contending state policies the primacy of national security, the extent of privacy interest against dossier-gathering by government, the choice of policies, etc. Indeed, the dissent of Mr. Justice Mendoza states that the A.O. No. 308 involves the all-important freedom of thought. As said administrative order redefines the parameters of some basic rights of our citizenry vis-a-vis the State as well as the line that separates the administrative power of the President to make rules and the legislative power of Congress, it ought to be evident that it deals with a subject that should be covered by law. Nor is it correct to argue as the dissenters do that A.D. No. 308 is not a law because it confers no right, imposes no duty, affords no proctection, and creates no office. Under A.O. No. 308, a citizen cannot transact business with government agencies delivering basic services to the people without the contemplated identification card. No citizen will refuse to get this identification card for no one can avoid dealing with government. It is thus clear as daylight that without the ID, a citizen will have difficulty exercising his rights and enjoying his privileges. Given this reality, the contention that A.O. No. 308 gives no right and imposes no duty cannot stand. Again, with due respect, the dissenting opinions unduly expand the limits of administrative legislation and consequently erodes the plenary power of Congress to make laws. This is contrary to the established approach defining the traditional limits of administrative legislation. As well stated by Fisher: ". . . Many regulations however, bear directly on the public. It is here that administrative legislation must he restricted in its scope and application. Regulations are not supposed to be a substitute for the general policy-making that Congress enacts in the form of a public law. Although administrative regulations are entitled to respect, the authority to prescribe rules and regulations is not an independent source of power to make laws." 28 III Assuming, arguendo, that A.O. No. 308 need not be the subject of a law, still it cannot pass constitutional muster as an administrative legislation because facially it violates the right to privacy. The essence of privacy is the "right to be let alone." 29 In the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, 30 the United States Supreme Court gave more substance to the right of privacy when it ruled that the right has a constitutional foundation. It held that there is a right of privacy which can be found within the penumbras of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments, 31 viz: Specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras formed by emanations from these guarantees that help give them life and substance . . . various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the ''right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." The Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his

detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In the 1968 case of Morfe v. Mutuc, 32 we adopted the Griswold ruling that there is a constitutional right to privacy. Speaking thru Mr. Justice, later Chief Justice, Enrique Fernando, we held: xxx xxx xxx The Griswold case invalidated a Connecticut statute which made the use of contraceptives a criminal offence on the ground of its amounting to an unconstitutional invasion of the right of privacy of married persons; rightfully it stressed "a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees." It has wider implications though. The constitutional right to privacy has come into its own. So it is likewise in our jurisdiction. The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. The language of Prof. Emerson is particularly apt: "The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection of this private sector protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual has become increasingly important as modern society has developed. All the forces of a technological age industrialization, urbanization, and organization operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society." Indeed, if we extend our judicial gaze we will find that the right of privacy is recognized and enshrined in several provisions of our Constitution. 33 It is expressly recognized in section 3 (1) of the Bill of Rights: Sec. 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law. Other facets of the right to privacy are protectad in various provisions of the Bill of Rights, viz: 34 Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

xxx xxx xxx Sec. 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health as may be provided by law. xxx xxx xxx Sec. 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged. Sec. 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Zones of privacy are likewise recognized and protected in our laws. The Civil Code provides that "[e]very person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons" and punishes as actionable torts several acts by a person of meddling and prying into the privacy of another. 35 It also holds a public officer or employee or any private individual liable for damages for any violation of the rights and liberties of another person, 36 and recognizes the privacy of letters and other private communications. 37 The Revised Penal Code makes a crime the violation of secrets by an officer, 38 the revelation of trade and industrial secrets, 39 and trespass to dwelling. 40 Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law, 41 the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act 42 and the Intellectual Property Code. 43 The Rules of Court on privileged communication likewise recognize the privacy of certain information. 44 Unlike the dissenters, we prescind from the premise that the right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, hence, it is the burden of government to show that A.O. No. 308 is justified by some compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn. A.O. No. 308 is predicated on two considerations: (1) the need to provides our citizens and foreigners with the facility to conveniently transact business with basic service and social security providers and other government instrumentalities and (2) the need to reduce, if not totally eradicate, fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations by persons seeking basic services. It is debatable whether these interests are compelling enough to warrant the issuance of A.O. No. 308. But what is not arguable is the broadness, the vagueness, the overbreadth of A.O. No. 308 which if implemented will put our people's right to privacy in clear and present danger. The heart of A.O. No. 308 lies in its Section 4 which provides for a Population Reference Number (PRN) as a "common reference number to establish a linkage among concerned agencies" through the use of "Biometrics Technology" and "computer application designs." Biometry or biometrics is "the science of the applicatin of statistical methods to biological facts; a mathematical analysis of biological data." 45 The term "biometrics" has evolved into a broad category of technologies which provide precise confirmation of an individual's identity through the use of the individual's own physiological and behavioral characteristics. 46 A physiological characteristic is a relatively stable physical characteristic such as a fingerprint, retinal scan, hand geometry or facial features. A behavioral characteristic is influenced by the individual's personality and includes voice print, signature and keystroke. 47 Most biometric idenfication systems use a card or personal identificatin number (PIN) for initial identification. The biometric measurement is used to verify that the individual holding the card or entering the PIN is the legitimate owner of the card or PIN. 48 A most common form of biological encoding is finger-scanning where technology scans a fingertip and turns the unique pattern therein into an individual number which is called a biocrypt. The biocrypt is stored in computer data banks 49 and becomes a means of identifying an individual using a service. This technology requires one's fingertip to be scanned every time service or access is provided. 50 Another method is the retinal scan. Retinal scan technology employs optical technology to map the capillary pattern of the retina of the eye. This technology produces a unique print similar to a finger print. 51 Another biometric method is known as the "artificial nose." This device chemically analyzes the unique combination of substances

excreted from the skin of people. 52 The latest on the list of biometric achievements is the thermogram. Scientists have found that by taking pictures of a face using infra-red cameras, a unique heat distribution pattern is seen. The different densities of bone, skin, fat and blood vessels all contribute to the individual's personal "heat signature." 53 In the last few decades, technology has progressed at a galloping rate. Some science fictions are now science facts. Today, biometrics is no longer limited to the use of fingerprint to identify an individual. It is a new science that uses various technologies in encoding any and all biological characteristics of an individual for identification. It is noteworthy that A.O. No. 308 does not state what specific biological characteristics and what particular biometrics technology shall be used to identify people who will seek its coverage. Considering the banquest of options available to the implementors of A.O. No. 308, the fear that it threatens the right to privacy of our people is not groundless. A.O. No. 308 should also raise our antennas for a further look will show that it does not state whether encoding of data is limited to biological information alone for identification purposes. In fact, the Solicitor General claims that the adoption of the Identification Reference System will contribute to the "generation of population data for development planning." 54 This is an admission that the PRN will not be used solely for identification but the generation of other data with remote relation to the avowed purposes of A.O. No. 308. Clearly, the indefiniteness of A.O. No. 308 can give the government the roving authority to store and retrieve information for a purpose other than the identification of the individual through his PRN. The potential for misuse of the data to be gathered under A.O. No. 308 cannot be undarplayed as the dissenters do. Pursuant to said administrative order, an individual must present his PRN everytime he deals with a government agency to avail of basic services and security. His transactions with the government agency will necessarily be recorded whether it be in the computer or in the documentary file of the agency. The individual's file may include his transactions for loan availments, income tax returns, statement of assets and liabilities, reimbursements for medication, hospitalization, etc. The more frequent the use of the PRN, the better the chance of building a huge formidable informatin base through the electronic linkage of the files. 55 The data may be gathered for gainful and useful government purposes; but the existence of this vast reservoir of personal information constitutes a covert invitation to misuse, a temptation that may be too great for some of our authorities to resist. 56 We can even grant, arguendo, that the computer data file will be limited to the name, address and other basic personal infomation about the individual. 57 Even that hospitable assumption will not save A.O. No. 308 from constitutional infirmity for again said order does not tell us in clear and categorical terms how these information gathered shall he handled. It does not provide who shall control and access the data, under what circumstances and for what purpose. These factors are essential to safeguard the privacy and guaranty the integrity of the information. 58 Well to note, the computer linkage gives other government agencies access to the information. Yet, there are no controls to guard against leakage of information. When the access code of the control programs of the particular computer system is broken, an intruder, without fear of sanction or penalty, can make use of the data for whatever purpose, or worse, manipulate the data stored within the system. 59 It is plain and we hold that A.O. No. 308 falls short of assuring that personal information which will be gathered about our people will only be processed for unequivocally specified purposes. 60 The lack of proper safeguards in this regard of A.O. No. 308 may interfere with the individual's liberty of abode and travel by enabling authorities to track down his movement; it may also enable unscrupulous persons to access confidential information and circumvent the right against self-incrimination; it may pave the way for "fishing expeditions" by government authorities and evade the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. 61 The possibilities of abuse and misuse of the PRN, biometrics and computer technology are accentuated when we consider that the individual lacks control over what can be read or placed on his ID, much less verify the correctness of the data encoded. 62 They threaten the very abuses that the Bill of Rights seeks to prevent. 63 The ability of sophisticated data center to generate a comprehensive cradle-to-grave dossier on an individual and transmit it over a national network is one of the most graphic threats of the computer revolution. 64 The computer is capable of producing a comprehensive dossier on individuals out of

information given at different times and for varied purposes. 65 It can continue adding to the stored data and keeping the information up to date. Retrieval of stored date is simple. When information of a privileged character finds its way into the computer, it can be extracted together with other data on the subject. 66 Once extracted, the information is putty in the hands of any person. The end of privacy begins. Though A.O. No. 308 is undoubtedly not narrowly drawn, the dissenting opinions would dismiss its danger to the right to privacy as speculative and hypothetical. Again, we cannot countenance such a laidback posture. The Court will not be true to its role as the ultimate guardian of the people's liberty if it would not immediately smother the sparks that endanger their rights but would rather wait for the fire that could consume them. We reject the argument of the Solicitor General that an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to the Natioal ID and the use of biometrics technology as it stands on quicksand. The reasonableness of a person's expectation of privacy depends on a two-part test: (1) whether by his conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and (2) whether this expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable. 67 The factual circumstances of the case determines the reasonableness of the expectation. 68 However, other factors, such as customs, physical surroundings and practices of a particular activity, may serve to create or diminish this expectation. 69 The use of biometrics and computer technology in A.O. No. 308 does not assure the individual of a reasonable expectation of privacy. 70 As technology advances, the level of reasonably expected privacy decreases. 71 The measure of protection granted by the reasonable expectation diminishes as relevant technology becomes more widely accepted. 72 The security of the computer data file depends not only on the physical inaccessibility of the file but also on the advances in hardware and software computer technology. A.O. No. 308 is so widely drawn that a minimum standard for a reasonable expectation of privacy, regardless of technology used, cannot be inferred from its provisions. The rules and regulations to be by the IACC cannot remedy this fatal defect. Rules and regulations merely implement the policy of the law or order. On its face, A.O. No. gives the IACC virtually infettered discretion to determine the metes and bounds of the ID System. Nor do your present laws prvide adequate safeguards for a reasonable expectation of privacy. Commonwealth Act. No. 591 penalizes the disclosure by any person of data furnished by the individual to the NSO with imprisonment and fine. 73 Republic Act. No. 1161 prohibits public disclosure of SSS employment records and reports. 74 These laws, however, apply to records and data with the NSO and the SSS. It is not clear whether they may be applied to data with the other government agencies forming part of the National ID System. The need to clarify the penal aspect of A.O. No. 308 is another reason why its enactment should be given to Congress. Next, the Solicitor General urges us to validate A.O. No. 308's abridgment of the right of privacy by using the rational relationship test. 75 He stressed that the purposes of A.O. No. 308 are: (1) to streamline and speed up the implementation of basic government services, (2) eradicate fraud by avoiding duplication of services, and (3) generate population data for development planning. He cocludes that these purposes justify the incursions into the right to privacy for the means are rationally related to the end. 76 We are not impressed by the argument. In Morfe v. Mutuc, 77 we upheld the constitutionality of R.A. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as a valid police power measure. We declared that the law, in compelling a public officer to make an annual report disclosing his assets and liabilities, his sources of income and expenses, did not infringe on the individual's right to privacy. The law was enacted to promote morality in public administration by curtailing and minimizing the opportunities for official corruption and maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service. 78 The same circumstances do not obtain in the case at bar. For one, R.A. 3019 is a statute, not an administrative order. Secondly, R.A. 3019 itself is sufficiently detailed. The law is clear on what practices were prohibited and penalized, and it was narrowly drawn to avoid abuses. IN the case at bar, A.O. No. 308 may have been impelled by a worthy purpose, but, it cannot pass constitutional scrutiny for it is not narrowly drawn. And we now hod that when the integrity of a fundamental right is at stake, this court will give the challenged law, administrative order, rule or regulation a stricter scrutiny. It will not do for the authorities to invoke the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. Nor is it enough for

the authorities to prove that their act is not irrational for a basic right can be diminished, if not defeated, even when the government does not act irrationally. They must satisfactorily show the presence of compelling state interests and that the law, rule or regulation is narrowly drawn to preclude abuses. This approach is demanded by the 1987 Constitution whose entire matrix is designed to protect human rights and to prevent authoritarianism. In case of doubt, the least we can do is to lean towards the stance that will not put in danger the rights protected by the Constitutions. The case of Whalen v. Roe 79 cited by the Solicitor General is also off-line. In Whalen, the United States Supreme Court was presented with the question of whether the State of New York could keep a centralized computer record of the names and addresses of all persons who obtained certain drugs pursuant to a doctor's prescription. The New York State Controlled Substance Act of 1972 required physicians to identify parties obtaining prescription drugs enumerated in the statute, i.e., drugs with a recognized medical use but with a potential for abuse, so that the names and addresses of the patients can be recorded in a centralized computer file of the State Department of Health. The plaintiffs, who were patients and doctors, claimed that some people might decline necessary medication because of their fear that the computerized data may be readily available and open to public disclosure; and that once disclosed, it may stigmatize them as drug addicts. 80 The plaintiffs alleged that the statute invaded a constitutionally protected zone of privacy, i.e., the individual interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters, and the interest in independence in making certain kinds of important decisions. The U.S. Supreme Court held that while an individual's interest in avoiding disclosuer of personal matter is an aspect of the right to privacy, the statute did not pose a grievous threat to establish a constitutional violation. The Court found that the statute was necessary to aid in the enforcement of laws designed to minimize the misuse of dangerous drugs. The patient-identification requirement was a product of an orderly and rational legislative decision made upon recommmendation by a specially appointed commission which held extensive hearings on the matter. Moreover, the statute was narrowly drawn and contained numerous safeguards against indiscriminate disclosure. The statute laid down the procedure and requirements for the gathering, storage and retrieval of the informatin. It ebumerated who were authorized to access the data. It also prohibited public disclosure of the data by imposing penalties for its violation. In view of these safeguards, the infringement of the patients' right to privacy was justified by a valid exercise of police power. As we discussed above, A.O. No. 308 lacks these vital safeguards. Even while we strike down A.O. No. 308, we spell out in neon that the Court is not per se agains the use of computers to accumulate, store, process, retvieve and transmit data to improve our bureaucracy. Computers work wonders to achieve the efficiency which both government and private industry seek. Many information system in different countries make use of the computer to facilitate important social objective, such as better law enforcement, faster delivery of public services, more efficient management of credit and insurance programs, improvement of telecommunications and streamlining of financial activities. 81 Used wisely, data stored in the computer could help good administration by making accurate and comprehensive information for those who have to frame policy and make key decisions. 82 The benefits of the computer has revolutionized information technology. It developed the internet, 83 introduced the concept of cyberspace 84 and the information superhighway where the individual, armed only with his personal computer, may surf and search all kinds and classes of information from libraries and databases connected to the net. In no uncertain terms, we also underscore that the right to privacy does not bar all incursions into individual privacy. The right is not intended to stifle scientific and technological advancements that enhance public service and the common good. It merely requires that the law be narrowly focused 85 and a compelling interest justify such intrusions. 86 Intrusions into the right must be accompanied by proper safeguards and well-defined standards to prevent unconstitutional invasions. We reiterate that any law or order that invades individual privacy will be subjected by this Court to strict scrutiny. The reason for this stance was laid down in Morfe v. Mutuc, to wit: The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic disctinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection of

this private sector protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual has become increasingly important as modern society has developed. All the forces of a technological age industrialization, urbanization, and organization operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society.
87

IV The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a mass society. The threats emanate from various sources governments, journalists, employers, social scientists, etc. 88 In th case at bar, the threat comes from the executive branch of government which by issuing A.O. No. 308 pressures the people to surrender their privacy by giving information about themselves on the pretext that it will facilitate delivery of basic services. Given the record-keeping power of the computer, only the indifferent fail to perceive the danger that A.O. No. 308 gives the government the power to compile a devastating dossier against unsuspecting citizens. It is timely to take note of the well-worded warning of Kalvin, Jr., "the disturbing result could be that everyone will live burdened by an unerasable record of his past and his limitations. In a way, the threat is that because of its record-keeping, the society will have lost its benign capacity to forget." 89 Oblivious to this counsel, the dissents still say we should not be too quick in labelling the right to privacy as a fundamental right. We close with the statement that the right to privacy was not engraved in our Constitution for flattery. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is granted and Adminisrative Order No. 308 entitled "Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System" declared null and void for being unconstitutional. SO ORDERED. G.R. Nos. L-32370 & 32767 April 20, 1983 SIERRA MADRE TRUST, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES, DIRECTOR OF MINES, JUSAN TRUST MINING COMPANY, and J & S PARTNERSHIP, respondents.

Lobruga Rondoz & Cardenas Law Offices for petitioner. Fortunato de Leon for respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.: This is a petition to review a decision of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources dated July 8, 1970, in DANR Cases Numbered 3502 and 3502-A. The decision affirmed a decision of the Director of Mines dated November 6, 1969. The appeal was made pursuant to Sec. 61 of the Mining Law (C.A. No. 137, as amended) which provides: "... Findings of facts in the decision or order of the Director of Mines when affirmed by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources shall be final and conclusive, and the aggrieved party or parties desiring to appeal from such decision or order shall file in the Supreme Court a petition for review wherein only questions of law may be raised." The factual background is given in the brief of the petitioner-appellant which has not been contradicted by the respondents-appellees and is as follows:

On July 26, 1962, the Sierra Madre Trust filed with the Bureau of Mines an Adverse Claim against LLA No. V-7872 (Amd) of the Jusan Trust Mining Company over six (6) lode mineral claims, viz.: (1) Finland 2, (2) Finland 3, (3) Finland 5, (4) Finland 6, (5) Finland 8 and (6) Finland 9, all registered on December 11, 1964 with the office of the Mining Recorder of Nueva Vizcaya, and all situated in Sitio Maghanay, Barrio Abaca Municipality of Dupax, Province of Nueva Vizcaya. The adverse claim alleged that the aforementioned six (6) lode minerals claims covered by LLA No. V-7872 (Amd) encroached and overlapped the eleven (11) lode mineral claims of the herein petitioner Sierra Madre Trust, viz., (1) A-12, (2) H-12, (3) JC-11, (4) W-11, (5) JN-11, (6)WM-11, (7) F-10, (8) A-9, (9) N-9, (10) W-8, and (11) JN-8, all situated in Sitio Taduan Barrio of Abaca, Municipality of Dupax, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, and duly registered with the office of the Mining Recorder at Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya on May 14, 1965. The adverse claim prayed for an order or decision declaring the abovementioned six (6) lode mineral claims of respondent Jusan Trust Mining Company, null, void, and illegal; and denying lode lease application LLA No. V7872 over said claims. Further, the adverse claimant prayed for such other reliefs and remedies available in the premises. This adverse claim was docketed in the Bureau of Mines as Mines Administrative Case No. V-404, and on appeal to the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources as DANR Case No. 3502. Likewise, on the same date July 26, 1966, the same Sierra Madre Trust filed with the Bureau of Mines an Adverse Claim against LLA No. V-9028 of the J & S Partnership over six (6) lode mineral claims viz.: (1) A-19, (2) A-20, (3) A-24, (4) A-25, (5) A-29, and (6) A-30, all registered on March 30, 1965 and amended August 5, 1965, with the office of the Mining Recorder of Nueva Vizcaya, and situated in Sitio Gatid, Barrio of Abaca Municipality of Dupax, Province of Nueva Vizcaya. The adverse claim alleged that the aforementioned six (6) lode mineral claim covered by LLA No. V-9028, encroached and overlapped the thirteen (13) lode mineral claims of herein petitioner Sierra Madre Trust, viz.: (1) Wm-14, (2) F-14, (3) A-13, (4) H-12 (5) Jc-12, (6) W-12, (7) Jn-11, (8) Wm-11, (9) F-11, (10) Wm-11, (11) F-11; (12) H-9 and (13) Jc-9, all situated in Sitio Taduan, Barrio of Abaca Municipality of Dupax, Province of Nueva Vizcaya and duly registered with the office of the Mining Recorder at Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, on May 14,1965. The adverse claim prayed for an order or decision declaring the abovementioned six (6) claims of respondent J & S Partnership, null void, and illegal; and denying lode lease application LLA No. V-9028 over the said claims. Further, the adverse claimant prayed for such other reliefs and remedies available in the premises. This adverse claim was docketed in the Bureau of Mines as Mines Administrative Case No. V-404, and on appeal to the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources as DANR Case No. 3502A. These two (2) adverse claims, MAC Nos. V-403 and V-404 were jointly heard in the Bureau of Mines, and also jointly considered in the appeal in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The dispositive portion of the decision rendered by the Director of Mines reads:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, this Office believes and so holds that the respondents have the preferential right over their "Finland-2", "Finland- 3", "Finland-5", "Finland-6", "Finland-8", "Finland-9", "A-19", "A-20", "A-24", "A-25", "A-29" and "A-30" mining claims. Accordingly, the protests (adverse claims) filed by protestant Sierra Madre Trust should be, as hereby they are, DISMISSED. And that of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources reads: IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appeal interposed by the appellant, Sierra Madre Trust is hereby dismissed and the decision of the Director of Mines dated November 6, 1969, affirmed. " The adverse claims of Sierra Madre Trust against Jusan Trust Mining Company and J and S Partnership were based on the allegation that the lode lease applications (LLA) of the latter "encroached and overlapped" the former's mineral claims, However, acting on the adverse claims, the Director of Mines found that, "By sheer force of evidence, this Office is constrained to believe that there exists no conflict or overlapping between the protestant's and respondents' mining claims. " And this finding was affirmed by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources thus: "Anent the first allegation, this Office finds that the Director of Mines did not err when he found that the twelve (12) claims of respondents Jusan Trust Mining Company and J & S Partnership did not encroach and overlap the eighteen (18) lode mineral claims of the appellant Sierra Madre Trust. For this fact has been incotrovertibly proven by the records appertaining to the case." It should be noted that according to the Director of Mines in his decision, "during the intervening period from the 31st day after the discovery [by the respondents] to the date of location nobody else located the area covered thereby. ... the protestant [petitioner herein] did not establish any intervening right as it is our findings that their mining claims do not overlap respondents' mining claims." After the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources had affirmed the factual findings of the Director of Mines to the effect that there was no overlapping of claims and which findings were final and conclusive, Sierra Madre Trust should have kept its peace for obviously it suffered no material injury and had no pecuniary interest to protect. But it was obstinate and raised this legal question before Us: "May there be a valid location of mining claims after the lapse of thirty (30) days from date of discovery, in contravention to the mandatory provision of Section 33 of the New Mining Law (Com. Act No. 137, as amended)?" It also raised ancillary questions. We see no reason why We have to answer the questions in this petition considering that there is no justiciable issue between the parties. The officers of the Executive Department tasked with administering the Mining Law have found that there is neither encroachment nor overlapping in respect of the claims involved. Accordingly, whatever may be the answers to the questions will not materially serve the interests of the petitioner. In closing it is useful to remind litigation prone individuals that the interpretation by officers of laws which are entrusted to their administration is entitled to great respect.' In his decision, the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources said: "This Office is in conformity with the findings of the Director of Mines that the mining claims of the appellees were validly located, surveyed and registered." Finally, the petitioner also asks: "May an association and/or partnership registered with the Mining Recorder of a province, but not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, be vested with juridical personality to enable it to locate and then lease mining claims from the government?" Suffice it to state that this question was not raised before the Director of Mines and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. There is also nothing in the record to indicate whether or not the appellees are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For these reasons, even assuming that there is a justiciable issue between the parties, this question cannot be passed upon. WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby dismissed for lack of merit. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 95832 August 10, 1992 MAYNARD R. PERALTA, petitioner, vs. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, respondent.

Tranquilino F. Meris Law Office for petitioner.

PADILLA, J.: Petitioner was appointed Trade-Specialist II on 25 September 1989 in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). His appointment was classified as "Reinstatement/Permanent". Before said appointment, he was working at the Philippine Cotton Corporation, a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Department of Agriculture. On 8 December 1989, petitioner received his initial salary, covering the period from 25 September to 31 October 1989. Since he had no accumulated leave credits, DTI deducted from his salary the amount corresponding to his absences during the covered period, namely, 29 September 1989 and 20 October 1989, inclusive of Saturdays and Sundays. More specifically, the dates of said absences for which salary deductions were made, are as follows: 1. 29 September 1989 Friday 2. 30 September 1989 Saturday 3. 01 October 1989 Sunday 4. 20 October 1989 Friday 5. 21 October 1989 Saturday 6. 22 October 1989 Sunday Petitioner sent a memorandum to Amando T. Alvis (Chief, General Administrative Service) on 15 December 1989 inquiring as to the law on salary deductions, if the employee has no leave credits. Amando T. Alvis answered petitioner's query in a memorandum dated 30 January 1990 citing Chapter 5.49 of the Handbook of Information on the Philippine Civil Service which states that "when an employee is on leave without pay on a day before or on a day immediately preceding a Saturday, Sunday or Holiday, such Saturday, Sunday, or Holiday shall also be without pay (CSC, 2nd Ind., February 12, 1965)." Petitioner then sent a latter dated 20 February 1990 addressed to Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Patricia A. Sto. Tomas raising the following question: Is an employee who was on leave of absence without pay on a day before or on a day time immediately preceding a Saturday, Sunday or Holiday, also considered on leave of absence without pay on such Saturday, Sunday or Holiday? 1 Petitioner in his said letter to the CSC Chairman argued that a reading of the General Leave Law as contained in the Revised Administrative Code, as well as the old Civil Service Law (Republic Act No. 2260), the Civil Service Decree (Presidential Decree No. 807), and the Civil Service Rules and Regulation fails to

disclose a specific provision which supports the CSC rule at issue. That being the case, the petitioner contented that he cannot be deprived of his pay or salary corresponding to the intervening Saturdays, Sundays or Holidays (in the factual situation posed), and that the withholding (or deduction) of the same is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law. On 25 May 1990, respondent Commission promulgated Resolution No. 90-497, ruling that the action of the DTI in deducting from the salary of petitioner, a part thereof corresponding to six (6) days (September 29, 30, October 1, 20, 21, 22, 1989) is in order. 2 The CSC stated that: In a 2nd Indorsement dated February 12, 1965 of this Commission, which embodies the policy on leave of absence without pay incurred on a Friday and Monday, reads: Mrs. Rosalinda Gonzales is not entitled to payment of salary corresponding to January 23 and 24, 1965, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, it appearing that she was present on Friday, January 22, 1965 but was on leave without pay beginning January 25, the succeeding Monday. It is the view of this Office that an employee who has no more leave credit in his favor is not entitled to the payment of salary on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays unless such non-working days occur within the period of service actually rendered. (Emphasis supplied) The rationale for the above ruling which applies only to those employees who are being paid on monthly basis, rests on the assumption that having been absent on either Monday or Friday, one who has no leave credits, could not be favorably credited with intervening days had the same been working days. Hence, the above policy that for an employee on leave without pay to be entitled to salary on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays, the same must occur between the dates where the said employee actually renders service. To rule otherwise would allow an employee who is on leave of absent (sic) without pay for a long period of time to be entitled to payment of his salary corresponding to Saturdays, Sundays or holidays. It also discourages the employees who have exhausted their leave credits from absenting themselves on a Friday or Monday in order to have a prolonged weekend, resulting in the prejudice of the government and the public in general. 3 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and in Resolution No. 90-797, the respondent Commission denied said motion for lack of merit. The respondent Commission in explaining its action held:

The Primer on the Civil Service dated February 21, 1978, embodies the Civil Service Commission rulings to be observed whenever an employee of the government who has no more leave credits, is absent on a Friday and/or a Monday is enough basis for the deduction of his salaries corresponding to the intervening Saturdays and Sundays. What the Commission perceived to be without basis is the demand of Peralta for the payment of his salaries corresponding to Saturdays and Sundays when he was in fact on leave of absence without pay on a Friday prior to the said days. A reading of Republic Act No. 2260 (sic) does not show that a government employee who is on leave of absence without pay on a day before or immediately preceding Saturdays, Sunday or legal holiday is entitled to payment of his salary for said days. Further, a reading of Senate Journal No. 67 dated May 4, 1960 of House Bill No. 41 (Republic Act No. 2625) reveals that while the law excludes Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in the computation of leave credits, it does not, however, include a case where the leave of absence is without pay. Hence, applying the principle of inclusio unius est exclusio alterius, the claim of Peralta has no merit. Moreover,

to take a different posture would be in effect giving more premium to employees who are frequently on leave of absence without pay, instead of discouraging them from incurring further absence without pay. 4 Petitioner's motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed the present petition. What is primarily questioned by the petitioner is the validity of the respondent Commission's policy mandating salary deductions corresponding to the intervening Saturdays, Sundays or Holidays where an employee without leave credits was absent on the immediately preceding working day. During the pendency of this petition, the respondent Commission promulgated Resolution No. 91-540 dated 23 April 1991 amending the questioned policy, considering that employees paid on a monthly basis are not required to work on Saturdays, Sunday or Holidays. In said amendatory Resolution, the respondent Commission resolved "to adopt the policy that when an employee, regardless of whether he has leave credits or not, is absent without pay on day immediately preceding or succeeding Saturday, Sunday or holiday, he shall not be considered absent on those days." Memorandum Circular No. 16 Series of 1991 dated 26 April 1991, was also issued by CSC Chairman Sto. Tomas adopting and promulgating the new policy and directing the Heads of Departments, Bureaus and Agencies in the national and local governments, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, to oversee the strict implementation of the circular. Because of these developments, it would seem at first blush that this petition has become moot and academic since the very CSC policy being questioned has already been amended and, in effect, Resolutions No. 90-497 and 90-797, subject of this petition for certiorari, have already been set aside and superseded. But the issue of whether or not the policy that had been adopted and in force since 1965 is valid or not, remains unresolved. Thus, for reasons of public interest and public policy, it is the duty of the Court to make a formal ruling on the validity or invalidity of such questioned policy. The Civil Service Act of 1959 (R.A. No. 2260) conferred upon the Commissioner of Civil Service the following powers and duties: Sec. 16 (e) with the approval by the President to prescribe, amend and enforce suitable rules and regulations for carrying into effect the provisions of this Civil Service Law, and the rules prescribed pursuant to the provisions of this law shall become effective thirty days after publication in the Official Gazette; xxx xxx xxx (k) To perform other functions that properly belong to a central personnel agency. 5 Pursuant to the foregoing provisions, the Commission promulgated the herein challenged policy. Said policy was embodied in a 2nd Indorsement dated 12 February 1965 of the respondent Commission involving the case of a Mrs. Rosalinda Gonzales. The respondent Commission ruled that an employee who has no leave credits in his favor is not entitled to the payment of salary on Saturdays, Sundays or Holidays unless such non-working days occur within the period of service actually rendered. The same policy is reiterated in the Handbook of Information on the Philippine Civil Service. 6 Chapter Five on leave of absence provides that: 5.51. When intervening Saturday, Sunday or holiday considered as leave without pay when an employee is on leave without pay on a day before or on a day immediately preceding a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, such Saturday, Sunday or holiday shall also be without pay. (CSC, 2nd Ind., Feb. 12, 1965). It is likewise illustrated in the Primer on the Civil Service 7 in the section referring to Questions and Answers on Leave of Absences, which states the following:

27. How is leave of an employee who has no more leave credits computed if: (1) he is absent on a Friday and the following Monday? (2) if he is absent on Friday but reports to work the following Monday? (3) if he is absent on a Monday but present the preceding Friday? - (1) He is considered on leave without pay for 4 days covering Friday to Monday; - (2) He is considered on leave without pay for 3 days from Friday to Sunday; - (3) He is considered on leave without pay for 3 days from Saturday to Monday. When an administrative or executive agency renders an opinion or issues a statement of policy, it merely interprets a pre-existing law; and the administrative interpretation of the law is at best advisory, for it is the courts that finally determine what the law means. 8 It has also been held that interpretative regulations need not be published. 9 In promulgating as early as 12 February 1965 the questioned policy, the Civil Service Commission interpreted the provisions of Republic Act No. 2625 (which took effect on 17 June 1960) amending the Revised Administrative Code, and which stated as follows: Sec. 1. Sections two hundred eighty-four and two hundred eighty-five-A of the Administrative Code, as amended, are further amended to read as follows: Sec. 284. After at least six months' continues (sic) faithful, and satisfactory service, the President or proper head of department, or the chief of office in the case of municipal employees may, in his discretion, grant to an employee or laborer, whether permanent or temporary, of the national government, the provincial government, the government of a chartered city, of a municipality, of a municipal district or of government-owned or controlled corporations other than those mentioned in Section two hundred sixty-eight, two hundred seventy-one and two hundred seventy-four hereof, fifteen days vacation leave of absence with full pay, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, for each calendar year of service. Sec. 285-A. In addition to the vacation leave provided in the two preceding sections each employee or laborer, whether

permanent or temporary, of the national government, the provincial government, the government of a chartered city, of a municipality or municipal district in any regularly and specially organized province, other than those mentioned in Section two hundred sixty-eight, two hundred seventy-one and two hundred seventy-four hereof, shall be entitled to fifteen days of sick leave for each year of service with full pay, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: Provided, That such sick leave will be granted by the President, Head of Department or independent office concerned, or the chief of office in case of municipal employees, only on account of sickness on the part of the employee or laborer concerned or of any member of his immediate family. The Civil Service Commission in its here questioned Resolution No. 90-797 construed R.A. 2625 as referring only to government employees who have earned leave credits against which their absences may be charged with pay, as its letters speak only of leaves of absence with full pay. The respondent Commission ruled that a reading of R.A. 2625 does not show that a government employee who is on leave of absence without pay on a day before or immediately preceding a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday is entitled to payment of his salary for said days. Administrative construction, if we may repeat, is not necessarily binding upon the courts. Action of an administrative agency may be disturbed or set aside by the judicial department if there is an error of law, or abuse of power or lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion clearly conflicting with either the letter or the spirit of a legislative enactment. 10 We find this petition to be impressed with merit. As held in Hidalgo vs. Hidalgo:
11

. . . . where the true intent of the law is clear that calls for the application of the cardinal rule of statutory construction that such intent or spirit must prevail over the letter thereof, for whatever is within the spirit of a statute is within the statute, since adherence to the letter would result in absurdity, injustice and contradictions and would defeat the plain and vital purpose of the statute. The intention of the legislature in the enactment of R.A. 2625 may be gleaned from, among others, the sponsorship speech of Senator Arturo M. Tolentino during the second reading of House Bill No. 41 (which became R.A. 2625). He said: The law actually provides for sick leave and vacation leave of 15 days each year of service to be with full pay. But under the present law, in computing these periods of leaves, Saturday, Sunday and holidays are included in the computation so that if an employee should become sick and absent himself on a Friday and then he reports for work on a Tuesday, in the computation of the leave the Saturday and Sunday will be included, so that he will be considered as having had a leave of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, or four days. The purpose of the present bill is to exclude from the computation of the leave those days, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as holidays, because actually the employee is entitled not to go to office during those days. And it is unfair and unjust to him that those days should be counted in the computation of leaves. 12 With this in mind, the construction by the respondent Commission of R.A. 2625 is not in accordance with the legislative intent. R.A. 2625 specifically provides that government employees are entitled to fifteen (15) days vacation leave of absence with full pay and fifteen (15) days sick leave with full pay, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays in both cases. Thus, the law speaks of the granting of a right and the law

does not provide for a distinction between those who have accumulated leave credits and those who have exhausted their leave credits in order to enjoy such right. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemus. The fact remains that government employees, whether or not they have accumulated leave credits, are not required by law to work on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays and thus they can not be declared absent on such non-working days. They cannot be or are not considered absent on non-working days; they cannot and should not be deprived of their salary corresponding to said non-working days just because they were absent without pay on the day immediately prior to, or after said non-working days. A different rule would constitute a deprivation of property without due process. Furthermore, before their amendment by R.A. 2625, Sections 284 and 285-A of the Revised Administrative Code applied to all government employee without any distinction. It follows that the effect of the amendment similarly applies to all employees enumerated in Sections 284 and 285-A, whether or not they have accumulated leave credits. As the questioned CSC policy is here declared invalid, we are next confronted with the question of what effect such invalidity will have. Will all government employees on a monthly salary basis, deprived of their salaries corresponding to Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays (as herein petitioner was so deprived) since 12 February 1965, be entitled to recover the amounts corresponding to such non-working days? The general rule vis-a-vis legislation is that an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed. 13 But, as held in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter State Bank: 14 . . . . It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to such determination is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects with respect to particular relations, individual and corporate; and particular conduct, private and official. To allow all the affected government employees, similarly situated as petitioner herein, to claim their deducted salaries resulting from the past enforcement of the herein invalidated CSC policy, would cause quite a heavy financial burden on the national and local governments considering the length of time that such policy has been effective. Also, administrative and practical considerations must be taken into account if this ruling will have a strict restrospective application. The Court, in this connection, calls upon the respondent Commission and the Congress of the Philippines, if necessary, to handle this problem with justice and equity to all affected government employees. It must be pointed out, however, that after CSC Memorandum Circular No. 16 Series of 1991 amending the herein invalidated policy was promulgated on 26 April 1991, deductions from salaries made after said date in contravention of the new CSC policy must be restored to the government employees concerned. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, CSC Resolutions No. 90-497 and 90-797 are declared NULL and VOID. The respondent Commission is directed to take the appropriate action so that petitioner shall be paid the amounts previously but unlawfully deducted from his monthly salary as above indicated. No costs. SO ORDERED. G.R. No. L-51353 June 27, 1988

SHELL PHILIPPINES, INC., plaintiff-appellee, vs. CENTRAL BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, defendant-appellant.

Picazo, Agcaoile, Santayana, Reyes and Tayao for plaintiff-appellee. F.E. Evangelista, A.L. Bautista & Juan P. Adcaura and Albamento Bisquera for defendant- appellant.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This case comes to us on a Court of Appeals resolution certifying the controversy as one which involves a pure question of law. The resolution states the factual background of the case. On May 1, 1970, Congress approved the Act imposing a stabilization tax on consignments abroad (RA 6125). Section 1 of the statute, in part, provided as follows: Section 1. There shall be imposed, assessed and collected a stabilization tax on the gross F.O.B. peso proceeds, based on the rate of exchange prevailing at the time of receipt of such proceeds, whether partial or total, of any exportation of the following schedule: a. In the case of logs, copra, centrifugal sugar, and copper ore and concentrates; Ten per centum of the F.O.B. peso proceeds of exports received on or after the date of effectivity of this Act to June thirty, nineteen hundred seventy-one; Eight per centum of the F.O.B. peso proceeds of exports received from July first, nineteen hundred seventy-one to June thirty, nineteen hundred seventy-two. xxx xxx xxx "Any export products the aggregate annual F.O.B. value of which shall exceed five million United States dollars in any one calendar year during the effectivity of this Act shall likewise be subject to the rates of tax in force during the fiscal years following its reaching the said aggregate value." In August, 1970, the Central Bank, through its Circular No. 309 provided that: The stabilization tax shall begin to apply on January 1st following the calendar year during which such export products shall have reached the aggregate F.O.B. value of more than US $5 million, and the applicable tax rates shall be the rates prescribed in Schedule (b) of Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6125 for the fiscal year following the reaching of the said aggregate value. During 1971, appellee Shell, Philippines, Inc. exported seria residues, a byproduct of petroleum refining, to an extent reaching $5 million. On January 7, 1972, the Monetary Board issued its Resolution No. 47 "subjecting petroleum

pitch and other petroleum residues" to the stabilization tax effective January 1, 1972. Under the Central Bank Circular No. 309, implemented by Resolution No. 47, appellee had to pay the stabilization tax beginning January 1, 1972, which it did under protest. On September 14, 1972, appellee filed suit against the Central Bank before the Court of First Instance of Manila, praying that Monetary Board Resolution No. 47 be declared null and void, and that Central Bank be ordered to refund the stabilization tax it paid during the first semester of 1972. Its position was that, pursuant to the provisions of RA 6125, it had to pay the stabilization tax only from July 1, 1972. The lower court sustained appellee, and it declared Monetary Board Resolution No. 47 as void and it ordered refund of the stabilization tax paid by appellee during the period January 1 to June 30, 1972. Central Bank has appealed from the judgment. (Rollo, pp. 47-49) The trial court opined: Note that the law mentions both calendar year and fiscal year. Calendar year refers to one year starting from January to December. Fiscal year, as it is usually and commonly used, refers to the period covered between July 1 of a year to June 30 of the following year. In using these two terms, it is the considered opinion of this Court that they should be taken in the meaning where they are commonly and usually understood. So that when an export product reaches an aggregate F.O.B. value of more than $5,000,000.00 in a calendar year it becomes subject to the rates of tax in force during the fiscal year following its reaching the said aggregate value. The statute is clear and free from ambiguity so that an interpretation even becomes unnecessary ... . (Brief for Defendant-Appellant, pp. 34-35) The Central Bank appeals from the above cited decision alleging that the trial court erred in regarding the deliberations of the Senate on the stabilization tax in favor of Shell Philippines, Inc. and in failing to consider the authority granted to the appellant to promulgate rules and regulations in the implementation of the stabilization tax law. It should be mentioned, however, that on July 1, 1973, Presidential Decree No. 230 took effect. This law entitled Amending the Tariff and Customs Code, creating Title III in Book I Export Tariff," expressly repealed Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6125 and transferred the assessment and collection of the export duty from the Central Bank to the Bureau of Customs by ordering the Commissioner of Customs to promulgate rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of the decree, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Finance (Section 2 of the Decree). Notwithstanding this fact, the issue raised must be resolved on the merits as an affirmative relief was granted to the appellee. First, the petitioner's allegation that the trial court gave undue weight to the deliberations of the Senate on the stabilization tax law is not supported by either the records or the decision itself. It is clear in the decision that the trial court found no ambiguity in the provision of law governing the dispute and accordingly applied it in its ordinary sense. The cited Senate deliberations merely corroborated the fact that the tax commences on the following fiscal year after the aggregate value is reached. However, even if the lower court was influenced by the Senate deliberations, we see nothing wrong in courts' examining and following the intent of the legislature when an act of Congress has to be interpreted.

Second, while it is true that under the same law the Central Bank was given the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the statutory provision in question, we reiterate the principle that this authority is limited only to carrying into effect what the law being implemented provides. In People v. Maceren (79 SCRA 450, 458 and 460), this Court ruled that: Administrative regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in harmony with the provisions of the law, and should be for the sole purpose of carrying into effect its general provisions. By such regulations, of course, the law itself cannot be extended. (U.S. v. Tupasi Molina, supra). An administrative agency cannot amend an act of Congress (Santos v. Estenzo, 109 Phil. 419, 422; Teoxon v. Members of the Board of Administrators, L-25619, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 585; Manuel v. General Auditing Office, L28952, December 29, 1971,42 SCRA 660; Deluao v. Casteel, L-21906, August 29, 1969, 29 SCRA 350). The rule-making power must be confined to details for regulating the mode or proceeding to carry into effect the law as it has been enacted. The power cannot be extended to amending or expanding the statutory requirements or to embrace matters not covered by the statute. Rules that subvert the statute cannot be sanctioned. (University of Santo Tomas v. Board of Tax Appeals, 93 Phil. 376, 382, citing 12 C.J. 845-46. As to invalid regulations, see Collector of Internal Revenue v. Villamor, 69 Phil. 319; Wise & Co. v. Meer, 78 Phil. 665, 676; Del Mar v. Phil. Veterans Administration, L-27299, June 27, 1973, 51 SCRA 340, 349). xxx xxx xxx ... The rule or regulation should be within the scope of the statutory authority granted by the legislature to the administrative agency. (Davis, Administrative Law, p. 194, 197, cited in Victorias Milling Co., Inc. v. Social Security Commission, 114 Phil. 555, 558). In case of discrepancy between the basic law and a rule or regulation issued to implement said law, the basic law prevails because said rule or regulation cannot go beyond the terms and provisions of the basic law (People v. Lim, 108 Phil. 1091) Considering the foregoing, we rule that the trial court was correct in declaring that "Monetary Board Resolution No. 47 is void insofar as it imposes the tax mentioned in Republic Act No. 6125 on the export seria residue of (plaintiff) the aggregate annual F.O.B., value of which reached five million United States dollars in 1971 effective on January 1, 1972." The said resolution runs counter to the provisions of R.A. 6125 which provides that "(A)ny export product the aggregate annual F.O.B. value of which shall exceed five million United States dollars in any one calendar year during the effectivity of this Act shall likewise be subject to the rates of tax in force during the fiscal year following its reaching the said aggregate value." We note that under the same provision of law the tax accrues when the aggregate annual F.O.B. value of the export product has exceeded five million United States dollars during any calendar year. The imposition of the tax is only deferred until the "fiscal year following its reaching the said aggregate value." It is only then that the rates in force are ascertained. In this case, there is no question that in 1971, the appellee exported seria residue with an F.O.B. value of more than five million US dollars. The appellee's objection lies in the collection of the tax thereon as of January 1972 rather than in July 1972. It is, therefore, undeniable that the respondent was liable to pay the tax and that the Central Bank merely collected the said tax prematurely. There is likewise no controversy over the rate of tax in force when

payment became due. Thus, the tax refund granted by the trial court was not proper because the tax paid was in fact, and in law due to the government at the correct time. We decline to grant to the respondent an amount equivalent to the interest on the prematurely collected tax because of the well entrenched rule that in the absence of a statutory provision clearly or expressly directing or authorizing payment of interest on the amount to be refunded to the taxpayer, the Government cannot be required to pay interest. Likewise, it is the rule that interest may be awarded only when the collection of tax sought to be refunded was attended with arbitrariness (Atlas Fertilizer Corp. v. Commission on Internal Revenue, 100 SCRA 556). There is no indication of arbitrariness in the questioned act of the appellant. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed decision is hereby AFFIRMED but MODIFIED to the effect that the tax refund granted by the trial court is ordered retained by or reverted to, as the case may be, the Central Bank. SO ORDERED. WILMER GREGO, petitioner, vs . COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and HUMBERTO BASCO, respondents. D ECISIO N ROMERO, J .: The instant special civil action for certiorari and prohibition impugns the resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc in SPA No. 95-212 dated July 31, 1996, dismissing petitioners motion for reconsideration of an earlier resolution rendered by the COMELECs First Division on October 6, 1995, which also dismissed the petition for disqualificationi[1] filed by petitioner Wilmer Grego against private respondent Humberto Basco. The essential and undisputed factual antecedents of the case are as follows: On October 31, 1981, Basco was removed from his position as Deputy Sheriff by no less than this Court upon a finding of serious misconduct in an administrative complaint lodged by a certain Nena Tordesillas. The Court held: WHEREFORE, FINDING THE RESPONDENT DEPUTY SHERIFF HUMBERTO BASCO OF THE CITY COURT OF MANILA GUILTY OF SERIOUS MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE FOR THE SECOND TIME, HE IS HEREBY DISMISSED FROM THE SERVICE WITH FORFEITURE OF ALL RETIREMENT BENEFITS AND WITH PREJUDICE TO REINSTATEMENT TO ANY POSITION IN THE NATIONAL OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING ITS AGENCIES AND INSTRUMENTALITIES, OR GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS. xxx xxx x x xii[2]

Subsequently, Basco ran as a candidate for Councilor in the Second District of the City of Manila during the January 18, 1988, local elections. He won and, accordingly, assumed office. After his term, Basco sought re-election in the May 11, 1992 synchronized national elections. Again, he succeeded in his bid and he was elected as one of the six (6) City Councilors. However, his victory this time did not remain unchallenged. In the midst of his successful re-election, he found himself besieged by lawsuits of his opponents in the polls who wanted to dislodge him from his position. One such case was a petition for quo warrantoiii[3] filed before the COMELEC by Cenon Ronquillo, another candidate for councilor in the same district, who alleged Bascos ineligibility to be elected councilor on the basis of the Tordesillas ruling. At about the same time, two more cases were also commenced by Honorio Lopez II in the Office of the Ombudsman and in the Department of Interior and Local Government.iv [4] All these challenges were, however, dismissed, thus, paving the way for Bascos continued stay in office. Despite the odds previously encountered, Basco remained undaunted and ran again for councilor in

the May 8, 1995, local elections seeking a third and final term. Once again, he beat the odds by emerging sixth in a battle for six councilor seats. As in the past, however, his right to office was again contested. On May 13, 1995, petitioner Grego, claiming to be a registered voter of Precinct No. 966, District II, City of Manila, filed with the COMELEC a petition for disqualification, praying for Bascos disqualification, for the suspension of his proclamation, and for the declaration of Romualdo S. Maranan as the sixth duly elected Councilor of Manilas Second District. On the same day, the Chairman of the Manila City Board of Canvassers (BOC) was duly furnished with a copy of the petition. The other members of the BOC learned about this petition only two days later. The COMELEC conducted a hearing of the case on May 14, 1995, where it ordered the parties to submit simultaneously their respective memoranda. Before the parties could comply with this directive, however, the Manila City BOC proclaimed Basco on May 17, 1995, as a duly elected councilor for the Second District of Manila, placing sixth among several candidates who vied for the seats.v[5] Basco immediately took his oath of office before the Honorable Ma. Ruby Bithao-Camarista, Presiding Judge, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch I, Manila. In view of such proclamation, petitioner lost no time in filing an Urgent Motion seeking to annul what he considered to be an illegal and hasty proclamation made on May 17, 1995, by the Manila City BOC. He reiterated Bascos disqualification and prayed anew that candidate Romualdo S. Maranan be declared the winner. As expected, Basco countered said motion by filing his Urgent Opposition to: Urgent Motion (with Reservation to Submit Answer and/or Motion to Dismiss Against Instant Petition for Disqualification with Temporary Restraining Order). On June 5, 1995, Basco filed his Motion to Dismiss Serving As Answer pursuant to the reservation he made earlier, summarizing his contentions and praying as follows: Respondent thus now submits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief for the following reasons: 1. The respondent cannot be disqualified on the ground of Section 40 paragraph b of the Local Government Code because the Tordesillas decision is barred by laches, prescription, res judicata, lis pendens, bar by prior judgment, law of the case and stare decisis; 2. Section 4[0] par. B of the Local Government Code may not be validly applied to persons who were dismissed prior to its effectivity. To do so would make it ex post facto, bill of attainder, and retroactive legislation which impairs vested rights. It is also a class legislation and unconstitutional on the account. 3. Respondent had already been proclaimed. And the petition being a preproclamation contest under the Marquez v. Comelec Ruling, supra, it should be dismissed by virtue of said pronouncement. 4. Respondents three-time election as candidate for councilor constitutes implied pardon by the people of previous misconduct (Aguinaldo v. Comelec G.R. 105128; Rice v. State 161 SCRA 401; Montgomery v. Newell 40 SW 2d 4181; People v. Bashaw 130 P. 2nd 237, etc.). 5. As petition to nullify certificate of candidacy, the instant case has prescribed; it was premature as an election protest and it was not brought by a proper party in interest as such protest.: PRAYER WHEREFORE it is respectfully prayed that the instant case be dismissed on instant motion to dismiss the prayer for restraining order denied (sic). If this Honorable Office is not minded to dismiss, it is respectfully prayed that instant motion be considered as respondents answer. All other reliefs and remedies just and proper in the premises are likewise hereby prayed for. After the parties respective memoranda had been filed, the COMELECs First Division resolved to dismiss the petition for disqualification on October 6, 1995, ruling that the administrative penalty imposed by the Supreme Court on respondent Basco on October 31, 1981 was wiped away and condoned by the electorate which elected him and that on account of Bascos proclamation on May 17, 1965, as the sixth duly elected councilor of the Second District of Manila, the petition would no longer be viable.vi[6]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration of said resolution was later denied by the COMELEC en banc in its assailed resolution promulgated on July 31, 1996.vii[7] Hence, this petition. Petitioner argues that Basco should be disqualified from running for any elective position since he had been removed from office as a result of an administrative case pursuant to Section 40 (b) of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code (the Code), which took effect on January 1, 1992.viii[8] Petitioner wants the Court to likewise resolve the following issues, namely: 1. Whether or not Section 40 (b) of Republic Act No. 7160 applies retroactively to those removed from office before it took effect on January 1, 1992; 2. Whether or not private respondents election in 1988, 1992 and in 1995 as City Councilor of Manila wiped away and condoned the administrative penalty against him; 3. Whether or not private respondents proclamation as sixth winning candidate on May 17, 1995, while the disqualification case was still pending consideration by COMELEC, is void ab initio; and 4. Whether or not Romualdo S. Maranan, who placed seventh among the candidates for City Councilor of Manila, may be declared a winner pursuant to Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6646. While we do not necessarily agree with the conclusions and reasons of the COMELEC in the assailed resolution, nonetheless, we find no grave abuse of discretion on its part in dismissing the petition for disqualification. The instant petition must, therefore, fail. We shall discuss the issues raised by petitioner in seriatim. I. Does Section 40 (b) of Republic Act No. 7160 apply retroactively to those removed from office before it took effect on January 1, 1992? Section 40 (b) of the Local Government Code under which petitioner anchors Bascos alleged disqualification to run as City Councilor states: SEC. 40. Disqualifications. - The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local position: xxx (b) xxx xxx xxx Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case; xxx x x x.

In this regard, petitioner submits that although the Code took effect only on January 1, 1992, Section 40 (b) must nonetheless be given retroactive effect and applied to Bascos dismissal from office which took place in 1981. It is stressed that the provision of the law as worded does not mention or even qualify the date of removal from office of the candidate in order for disqualification thereunder to attach. Hence, petitioner impresses upon the Court that as long as a candidate was once removed from office due to an administrative case, regardless of whether it took place during or prior to the effectivity of the Code, the disqualification applies.ix[9] To him, this interpretation is made more evident by the manner in which the provisions of Section 40 are couched. Since the past tense is used in enumerating the grounds for disqualification, petitioner strongly contends that the provision must have also referred to removal from office occurring prior to the effectivity of the Code.x[10] We do not, however, subscribe to petitioners view. Our refusal to give retroactive application to the provision of Section 40 (b) is already a settled issue and there exist no compelling reasons for us to depart therefrom. Thus, in Aguinaldo vs. COMELEC,xi[11] reiterated in the more recent cases of Reyes vs. COMELECxii[12] and Salalima vs. Guingona, Jr.,xiii[13] we ruled, thus: The COMELEC applied Section 40 (b) of the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) which provides: Sec. 40. The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective

local positions: xxx (b) xxx xxx Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case.

Republic Act 7160 took effect only on January 1, 1992. The rule is: xxx xxx xxx

x x x Well-settled is the principle that while the Legislature has the power to pass retroactive laws which do not impair the obligation of contracts, or affect injuriously vested rights, it is equally true that statutes are not to be construed as intended to have a retroactive effect so as to affect pending proceedings, unless such intent is expressly declared or clearly and necessarily implied from the language of the enactment. x x x (Jones vs. Summers, 105 Cal. App. 51, 286 Pac. 1093; U.S. vs. Whyel 28 (2d) 30; Espiritu v. Cipriano, 55 SCRA 533 [1974], cited in Nilo vs. Court of Appeals, 128 SCRA 519 [1974]. See also Puzon v. Abellera, 169 SCRA 789 [1989]; Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines v. Civil Service Commission, et al., G.R. No. 100599, April 8, 1992). There is no provision in the statute which would clearly indicate that the same operates retroactively. It, therefore, follows that [Section] 40 (b) of the Local Government Code is not applicable to the present case. (Underscoring supplied). That the provision of the Code in question does not qualify the date of a candidates removal from office and that it is couched in the past tense should not deter us from the applying the law prospectively. The basic tenet in legal hermeneutics that laws operate only prospectively and not retroactively provides the qualification sought by petitioner. A statute, despite the generality in its language, must not be so construed as to overreach acts, events or matters which transpired before its passage. Lex prospicit, non respicit. The law looks forward, not backward.xiv[14] II. Did private respondents election to office as City Councilor of Manila in the 1988, 1992 and 1995 elections wipe away and condone the administrative penalty against him, thus restoring his eligibility for public office? Petitioner maintains the negative. He quotes the earlier ruling of the Court in Frivaldo v. COMELECxv[15] to the effect that a candidates disqualification cannot be erased by the electorate alone through the instrumentality of the ballot. Thus: x x x (T)he qualifications prescribed for elective office cannot be erased by the electorate alone. The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility, especially if they mistakenly believed, as in this case, that the candidate was qualified. x x x At first glance, there seems to be a prima facie semblance of merit to petitioners argument. However, the issue of whether or not Bascos triple election to office cured his alleged ineligibility is actually beside the point because the argument proceeds on the assumption that he was in the first place disqualified when he ran in the three previous elections. This assumption, of course, is untenable considering that Basco was NOT subject to any disqualification at all under Section 40 (b) of the Local Government Code which, as we said earlier, applies only to those removed from office on or after January 1, 1992. In view of the irrelevance of the issue posed by petitioner, there is no more reason for the Court to still dwell on the matter at length. Anent Bascos alleged circumvention of the prohibition in Tordesillas against reinstatement to any position in the national or local government, including its agencies and instrumentalities, as well as government-owned or controlled corporations, we are of the view that petitioners contention is baseless. Neither does petitioners argument that the term any position is broad enough to cover without distinction both appointive and local positions merit any consideration.

Contrary to petitioners assertion, the Tordesillas decision did not bar Basco from running for any elective position. As can be gleaned from the decretal portion of the said decision, the Court couched the prohibition in this wise: x x x AND WITH PREJUDICE TO REINSTATEMENT TO ANY POSITION IN THE NATIONAL OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING ITS AGENCIES AND INSTRUMENTALITIES, OR GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS. In this regard, particular attention is directed to the use of the term reinstatement. Under the former Civil Service Decree,xvi[16] the law applicable at the time Basco, a public officer, was administratively dismissed from office, the term reinstatement had a technical meaning, referring only to an appointive position. Thus: ARTICLE VIII. PERSONNEL POLICIES AND STANDARDS. SEC. 24. Personnel Actions. xxx xxx xxx

(d) Reinstatement. - Any person who has been permanently APPOINTED to a position in the career service and who has, through no delinquency or misconduct, been separated therefrom, may be reinstated to a position in the same level for which he is qualified. xxx (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). The Rules on Personnel Actions and Policies issued by the Civil Service Commission on November 10, 1975,xvii[17] provides a clearer definition. It reads: RULE VI. OTHER PERSONNEL ACTIONS. SEC. 7. Reinstatement is the REAPPOINMENT of a person who was previously separated from the service through no delinquency or misconduct on his part from a position in the career service to which he was permanently appointed, to a position for which he is qualified. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). In light of these definitions, there is, therefore, no basis for holding that Basco is likewise barred from running for an elective position inasmuch as what is contemplated by the prohibition in Tordesillas is reinstatement to an appointive position. III. Is private respondents proclamation as sixth winning candidate on May 17, 1995, while the disqualification case was still pending consideration by COMELEC, void ab initio? To support its position, petitioner argues that Basco violated the provisions of Section 20, paragraph (i) of Republic Act No. 7166, Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6646, as well as our ruling in the cases of Duremdes v. COMELEC,xviii[18] Benito v. COMELECxix[19] and Aguam v. COMELEC.xx[20] We are not convinced. The provisions and cases cited are all misplaced and quoted out of context. For the sake of clarity, let us tackle each one by one. Section 20, paragraph (i) of Rep. Act 7166 reads: SEC. 20. Procedure in Disposition of Contested Election Returns.xxx xxx xxx xxx x x x.

(i) The board of canvassers shall not proclaim any candidate as winner unless authorized by the Commission after the latter has ruled on the objections brought to it on appeal by the losing party. Any proclamation made in violation hereof shall be void ab initio, unless the contested returns will not adversely affect the results of the election. xxx xxx

x x x. The inapplicability of the abovementioned provision to the present case is very much patent on its face considering that the same refers only to a void proclamation in relation to contested returns and NOT to contested qualifications of a candidate. Next, petitioner cites Section 6 of Rep. Act 6646 which states: SEC. 6. Effect of Disqualification Case. - Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. If for any reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong. (Underscoring supplied). This provision, however, does not support petitioners contention that the COMELEC, or more properly speaking, the Manila City BOC, should have suspended the proclamation. The use of the word may indicates that the suspension of a proclamation is merely directory and permissive in nature and operates to confer discretion.xxi[21] What is merely made mandatory, according to the provision itself, is the continuation of the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry or protest. Thus, in view of this discretion granted to the COMELEC, the question of whether or not evidence of guilt is so strong as to warrant suspension of proclamation must be left for its own determination and the Court cannot interfere therewith and substitute its own judgment unless such discretion has been exercised whimsically and capriciously.xxii[22] The COMELEC, as an administrative agency and a specialized constitutional body charged with the enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall,xxiii[23] has more than enough expertise in its field that its findings or conclusions are generally respected and even given finality.xxiv[24] The COMELEC has not found any ground to suspend the proclamation and the records likewise fail to show any so as to warrant a different conclusion from this Court. Hence, there is no ample justification to hold that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion. It is to be noted that Section 5, Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedurexxv[25] states that: SEC. 5. Effect of petition if unresolved before completion of canvass. - x x x (H)is proclamation shall be suspended notwithstanding the fact that he received the winning number of votes in such election. However, being merely an implementing rule, the same must not override, but instead remain consistent with and in harmony with the law it seeks to apply and implement. Administrative rules and regulations are intended to carry out, neither to supplant nor to modify, the law.xxvi[26] Thus, in Miners Association of the Philippines, Inc. v. Factoran, Jr.,xxvii[27] the Court ruled that: We reiterate the principle that the power of administrative officials to promulgate rules and regulations in the implementation of a statute is necessarily limited only to carrying into effect what is provided in the legislative enactment. The principle was enunciated as early as 1908 in the case of United States v. Barrias. The scope of the exercise of such rule-making power was clearly expressed in the case of United States v. Tupasi Molina, decided in 1914, thus: Of course, the regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in harmony with the provisions of the law, and for the sole purpose of carrying into effect its general provisions. By such regulations, of course, the law itself can not be extended. So long, however, as the regulations relate solely to carrying into effect the provision of the law, they are valid. Recently, the case of People v. Maceren gave a brief delineation of the scope of said power of administrative officials: Administrative regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in harmony with the provisions of the law, and should be for the sole purpose of carrying into effect its general provisions. By such regulations, of course, the law itself cannot be extended (U.S. v. Tupasi Molina, supra). An administrative agency cannot amend an act of Congress (Santos v. Estenzo, 109 Phil. 419, 422; Teoxon vs. Members of the Board of Administrators, L-25619, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 585; Manuel vs. General Auditing Office, L-

28952, December 29, 1971, 42 SCRA 660; Deluao vs. Casteel, L-21906, August 29, 1969, 29 SCRA 350). The rule-making power must be confined to details for regulating the mode or proceeding to carry into effect the law as it has been enacted. The power cannot be extended to amending or expanding the statutory requirements or to embrace matters not covered by the statute. Rules that subvert the statute cannot be sanctioned (University of Santo Tomas v. Board of Tax Appeals, 93 Phil. 376, 382, citing 12 C.J. 845-46. As to invalid regulations, see Collector of Internal Revenue v. Villaflor, 69 Phil. 319; Wise & Co. v. Meer, 78 Phil. 655, 676; Del Mar v. Phil. Veterans Administration, L-27299, June 27, 1973, 51 SCRA 340, 349). xxx xxx xxx

x x x The rule or regulations should be within the scope of the statutory authority granted by the legislature to the administrative agency (Davis, Administrative Law, p. 194, 197, cited in Victorias Milling Co., Inc. v. Social Security Commission, 114 Phil. 555, 558). In case of discrepancy between the basic law and a rule or regulation issued to implement said law, the basic law prevails because said rule or regulations cannot go beyond the terms and provisions of the basic law (People v. Lim, 108 Phil. 1091). Since Section 6 of Rep. Act 6646, the law which Section 5 of Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure seeks to implement, employed the word may, it is, therefore, improper and highly irregular for the COMELEC to have used instead the word shall in its rules. Moreover, there is no reason why the Manila City BOC should not have proclaimed Basco as the sixth winning City Councilor. Absent any determination of irregularity in the election returns, as well as an order enjoining the canvassing and proclamation of the winner, it is a mandatory and ministerial duty of the Board of Canvassers concerned to count the votes based on such returns and declare the result. This has been the rule as early as in the case of Dizon v. Provincial Board of Canvassers of Lagunaxxviii[28] where we clarified the nature of the functions of the Board of Canvassers, viz.: The simple purpose and duty of the canvassing board is to ascertain and declare the apparent result of the voting. All other questions are to be tried before the court or other tribunal for contesting elections or in quo warranto proceedings. (9 R.C.L., p. 1110) To the same effect is the following quotation: x x x Where there is no question as to the genuineness of the returns or that all the returns are before them, the powers and duties of canvassers are limited to the mechanical or mathematical function of ascertaining and declaring the apparent result of the election by adding or compiling the votes cast for each candidate as shown on the face of the returns before them, and then declaring or certifying the result so ascertained. (20 C.J., 200-201) [Underscoring supplied] Finally, the cases of Duremdes, Benito and Aguam, supra, cited by petitioner are all irrelevant and inapplicable to the factual circumstances at bar and serve no other purpose than to muddle the real issue. These three cases do not in any manner refer to void proclamations resulting from the mere pendency of a disqualification case. In Duremdes, the proclamation was deemed void ab initio because the same was made contrary to the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code regarding the suspension of proclamation in cases of contested election returns. In Benito, the proclamation of petitioner Benito was rendered ineffective due to the Board of Canvassers violation of its ministerial duty to proclaim the candidate receiving the highest number of votes and pave the way to succession in office. In said case, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes for the mayoralty position died but the Board of Canvassers, instead of proclaiming the deceased candidate winner, declared Benito, a mere second-placer, the mayor. Lastly, in Aguam, the nullification of the proclamation proceeded from the fact that it was based only on advanced copies of election returns which, under the law then prevailing, could not have been a proper and legal basis for proclamation.

With no precedent clearly in point, petitioners arguments must, therefore, be rejected. IV.

May Romualdo S. Maranan, a seventh placer, be legally declared a winning candidate?

Obviously, he may not be declared a winner. In the first place, Basco was a duly qualified candidate pursuant to our disquisition above. Furthermore, he clearly received the winning number of votes which put him in sixth place. Thus, petitioners emphatic reference to Labo v. COMELEC,xxix[29] where we laid down a possible exception to the rule that a second placer may be declared the winning candidate, finds no application in this case. The exception is predicated on the concurrence of two assumptions, namely: (1) the one who obtained the highest number of votes is disqualified; and (2) the electorate is fully aware in fact and in law of a candidates disqualification so as to bring such awareness within the realm of notoriety but would nonetheless cast their votes in favor of the ineligible candidate. Both assumptions, however, are absent in this case. Petitioners allegation that Basco was well-known to have been disqualified in the small community where he ran as a candidate is purely speculative and conjectural, unsupported as it is by any convincing facts of record to show notoriety of his alleged disqualification.xxx[30] In sum, we see the dismissal of the petition for disqualification as not having been attended by grave abuse of discretion. There is then no more legal impediment for private respondents continuance in office as City Councilor for the Second District of Manila. WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The assailed resolution of respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is SPA 95-212 dated July 31, 1996 is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.

i ii iii iv v vi vii viii ix x xi xii xiii xiv xv xvi xvii xviii xix xx xxi xxii xxiii xxiv xxv xxvi xxvii xxviii xxix xxx