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Akbayan Youth v. COMELEC

The right

of

suffrage

invoked by

 

petitioners

is

not

at

all

absolute.

The

Facts:

Petitioners in this case represent the youth sector and they seek to seek to direct COMELEC to conduct a special registration before the May 14,

exercise of the right of suffrage, as in the enjoyment of all other rights is subject to existing substantive and procedural requirements embodied in our Constitution,

2001 General Elections

   

statute books and other repositories of law. As

According to them, around four million youth failed to register on or before the December 27, 2000 deadline set by the respondent COMELEC.

to the procedural limitation, the right of a citizen to vote is necessarily conditioned upon certain procedural requirements he must undergo: among others, the process of

 

registration. Specifically, a citizen in order to be qualified to exercise his right to vote, in addition to the minimum requirements set by

the fundamental charter,

is obliged by

law to

register, at present, under the provisions of Republic Act No. 8189, otherwise known as the

and that the Commission has no more time

Section 8, of

left to accomplish all pre-election activities.

the R.A. 8189, explicitly provides that

No

Aggrieved by the denial, petitioners filed before the SC the instant case which seeks to set aside and nullify respondent COMELEC’s Resolution

registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special

and/or to declare Section 8 of R. A. 8189

 

election.” The 100-day prohibitive period

unconstitutional

insofar

as

said

provision

serves

a

vital

role in protecting the

effectively

causes

the

disenfranchisement

of

integrity

of

the

registration

process.

petitioners and others similarly situated

.

Without the

prohibitive periods, the

Likewise, petitioners pray for the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing respondent COMELEC to conduct a special registration of new voters and to admit for registration petitioners and other similarly situated young Filipinos to qualify them

to vote in the May 14, 2001 General Elections. Issues:

  • 1. Whether or not respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing COMELEC Resolution

  • 2. Whether or not the SC can compel respondent COMELEC to conduct a special registration of new voters during the period between the COMELEC’s imposed December 27, 2000 deadline and the May 14, 2001 general elections.

Held:

  • 1. No

COMELEC would be deprived of any time to evaluate the evidence on the application. If we

compromise on these safety nets, we may very

well end

up

with a voter’s

list

full of flying

voters, overflowing with unqualified

registrants, populated

with

shadows

and

ghosts Likewise, petitioners invoke the so called

“standby”

powers or “residual” powers of the COMELEC

, as

provided under the relevant provisions of Sec. 28 of RA 8436 “Designation of Other Dates for

Certain Pre-election Acts”.

The act of registration is concededly, by its very nature, a pre-election act. Under Section 3(a) of

“(a) Registration refers to the act

of

accomplishing

and

filing

of

a

sworn

application for

registration

by

a qualified

voter

before the election officer of the city or

municipality wherein

he

resides and

including the same in the book of registered

voters

upon

approval

by

the

Election

Registration Board.

 

It bears emphasis that the provisions of Section 29 of R.A. 8436 invoked by herein petitioners and Section 8 of R.A. 8189 volunteered by respondent COMELEC, far from contradicting each other.

SC hold that Section 8 of R.A. 8189 applies in the present case, for the purpose of upholding the assailed COMELEC Resolution and denying the instant petitions, considering that the aforesaid law explicitly provides that no registration shall be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election.

The provisions of Section 28, R.A. 8436 would come into play in cases where the pre-election acts are susceptible of performance within

the available period prior to election day. The “stand-by power” of the respondent COMELEC under Section 28 of R.A. 8436, presupposes the possibility of its being exercised or availed of, and not otherwise.

Moreover, the petitioners in the instant case are not

without fault or blame. They admit in their petition that they failed to register, for whatever reason, within the period of registration and came to this

Court and

invoked

its

protective

mantle

not

realizing, so to speak, the speck in their eyes

.

 

Doctrine:

 

Impuris

minibus

nemo

accedat

curiam

.

Let

no

one

come to

court

with unclean

hands. Well-entrenched

is

the

 

rule

in

our

jurisdiction that the law aids the vigilant and not

those who slumber on their rights

.

 

Vigilantis sed

non dormientibus jura in re subveniunt.

 

2.

NO

 

SC believes that petitioners failed to establish, to the satisfaction of this Court, that they are entitled to the issuance of this extraordinary writ so as to effectively compel respondent COMELEC to conduct a special registration of voters.

Bañares v. Balising

 

DOCTRINE: The maxim

interpretare et

 

concordare legibus est optimus interpretandi

 

means that every statute must be so construed and

 

harmonized with other statutes as to form a

 

uniform system of jurisprudence

.

CASE SUMMARY:

P were filed estafa cases

, but they said case should be dismissed because the cases have to be referred first to the Lupon of the barangay. MTC dismissed the cases, but R later filed motion to revive case. MTC granted motion to revive. P filed petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with RTC but RTC denied petition.

Petitioner Contends:

P contend that an order dismissing a case

 

without prejudice may attain finality if not

 

appealed within the reglementary period

.

Hence, if

no motion to revive the case is filed within the reglementary 15-d period, the order of dismissal becomes final, and may only be revived by the filing

of a new complaint or information.

 

Respondent Contends:

Petitioner)

with the requirement of conciliation before the

dismissed without prejudice for non-compliance

R submit that cases covered by the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure such as the criminal

Lupon concerned may

be revived summarily by the

 

filing of a motion to revive regardless of the number

 

of days which has lapsed after the dismissal of the

 

case.

 
 

SC construed the law by harmonizing with

 

other statutes. It granted P’s petition, ordered

estafa cases dismissed.

(Ruled in favor of

cases against P

are not covered by the rule

 

regarding finality of decisions and orders under the

Revised Rules of Court.

They insist that cases

FACTS:

P Fidel M. Bañares II, Lilia C. Valeriano, Edgar M. Bañares, Emilia Gatchialian and

 

Fidel Besarino

were the accused in sixteen

criminal cases for estafa

filed by the private

   

respondents. The cases were assigned to the

   

MTC Antipolo

.

They filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that case was premature due to failure of the parties to undergo conciliation proceedings before the Lupong Tagapamayapa. P averred that since they lived in the same barangay as private respondents, and the amount involved in each of the cases did not exceed P200.00, the said cases were required under Sec. 412, Sec. 408 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and Sec 18, 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure to

be referred to the Lupong Tagapamayapa or

 

Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo in the barangay

.

The MTC denied MTD on the ground that they failed to seasonably invoke the non-referral of the cases to the Lupong Tagapamayapa or Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo. P filed MFR. MTC then dismissed the 16 criminal cases pursuant to Sec. 18 of the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure.

After 2 mos, R filed motion to revive the criminal cases, stating that the requirement of referral to the Lupon had already been complied with, but they failed to reach an amicable settlement with respect thereto.

P contend that

an order dismissing a case

 

without prejudice may attain finality if not

 

appealed within the reglementary period.

 

Hence, if no motion to revive the case is filed within the reglementary 15-d period, the order of dismissal becomes final, and may only be revived by the filing of a new complaint or information. P further argue that after the order of dismissal of a case attains finality, the court which issued the same loses jurisdiction thereon and, thus, does not have the authority to act on any motion of the parties with respect to said case.

On the other hand, R submit that cases covered by the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure such as the criminal cases against

P

are not covered by the rule regarding

 

finality of decisions and orders under the Revised Rules of Court. They insist that cases dismissed without prejudice for non-compliance with the requirement of conciliation before the Lupon concerned may be revived summarily by the filing of a motion to revive regardless of the number of days which has lapsed after the dismissal of the case.

MTC granted R’s motion to revive. P filed with the RTC petition for certiorari, injunction and prohibition assailing the MTC Order claiming the criminal cases had long become final and executory since R did not file any MFR of said order. R argued that motion to revive was in accordance with law – Sec. 18 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. 20

RTC denied P’s petition for certiorari, injunction and prohibition. It said the Order has not attained finality. P filed petition with SC.

ISSUE:

WON an order dismissing a case without prejudice may attain finality if not appealed within the

reglementary period. YES

RULING:

This Court has previously held that an order

dismissing a case without prejudice

is a final

 

order if no motion for reconsideration or appeal

therefrom is timely filed.

In Olympia

International vs. Court of Appeals - The dismissal without prejudice of a complaint does not mean dismissal order was any less final. It is a final disposition of the complaint.

After the lapse of the fifteen-day period, an order becomes final and executory and is beyond the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further amend or revoke. After the order of dismissal of a case without prejudice has become final, and therefore becomes outside the court's power to amend and modify, a party who wishes to reinstate the case has no other remedy but to file a new complaint. ---- Contrary to R’s claim, the rule applies not only to civil cases but to criminal cases as well.

  • Moreover, the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary

Procedure expressly provides

that the Rules of

Court applies suppletorily to cases covered by

the former:

 

Sec. 22. Applicability of the regular rules. — The regular procedure prescribed in the Rules of Court shall apply to the special cases herein provided for in a suppletory capacity insofar as they are not inconsistent therewith.

  • A careful examination of Sec. 18 in relation to Sec. 22 of the 1991 Revised Rule of Summary Procedure and Rule 40, Section 2 in relation to Rule 13, Sections 9 and 10, and Rule 36, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as

amended,

leads to no other conclusion than

that the rules regarding finality of

 

judgments also apply to cases covered by

the rules on summary procedure.

 

R claim that Sec. 18 of the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure allows the revival of cases which were dismissed for failure to submit the same to conciliation at the barangay level. There is no declaration to the effect that said case may be revived by mere motion even after the fifteen- day period within which to appeal or to file a motion for reconsideration has lapsed.

Referral to Lupon. — Cases requiring referral to the Lupon for conciliation under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1508 where there is no showing of compliance with such requirement, shall be dismissed without prejudice, and may be revived only after such requirement shall have been complied with. This provision shall not apply to criminal cases where the accused was arrested without a warrant.

Doctrine: Hence, the principle expressed in the

maxim

interpretare et concordare legibus

 

est optimus interpretandi

,

or that every

 

statute must be so construed and harmonized

 

with other statutes as to form a uniform system

of jurisprudence applies in interpreting both

 

sets of Rules.

 

The doctrine of finality of judgments is grounded on public policy and sound practice that judgments must become final at some definite date set by law. It is but logical to infer that this principle also applies to cases subject to summary procedure since the objective of the Rule governing the same is precisely to settle these cases expeditiously. To construe Sec. 18 thereof as allowing the revival of dismissed cases even after the lapse of the period for appealing the same would prevent the courts from settling

justiciable controversies with finality, thereby undermining the stability of our judicial system.

DISPOSITION:

Petition is GRANTED. Decision of the RTC is set aside. Criminal Cases are DISMISSED, pursuant to Sec. 18 of the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure.

VDA. De Urbano v. GSIS

Facts

In 1971, petitioners mortgaged their 200 sqm property in Q.C. to Gsis to secure a housing loan.

Since they were unable to pay the loan, GSIS foreclosed the mortgage in 1988. GSIS bid 154k on the property and emerged as the highest bidder.

In 1984, the petitioners tried to reclaim their property. They wrote to the GSIS Acquired Assets Department signifying their intent to reclaim. On October 16, GSIS told them to pay the redemption price of 154k in full before Nov 18, 1984.

The petitioners asked for more time to recover the property while the Acquired Assets Department

subsequently told them to

pay 174k in cash with an

extension of 30 days to the November date

. Failure

to do so forfeited the reclamation of the

property and sold in a public bidding.

The petitioners wrote again requesting for remortgage through repurchase of the property. The Gsis AAD declined.

The petitioners wrote to the Board for an approval to file a loan worth 240,000 with the GSIS real estate department to repurchase their foreclosed property.

Despite attempts from Vice Governor Mathay to adjust to a more liberal arrangement for the petitioners, the the petitioners were unable to pay.

GSIS then issued a TCT in its favor.

The respondent De La Cruz entered the picture and

offered to purchase the property for 250,000 spot

 

cash

. Without knowledge of the rival offer, the

petitioners then offered a 50,000 downpayment with the 124k balance to be paid in 5 years.

He also enclosed 10k in check as earnest money. The Board informed them that it had adopted resolution 881 that declined their offer to repurchase. At the same time, GSIS negotiated with Dela Cruz for the purchase of the property. They accepted her offer of purchase.

A new TCT was issued to her.

The petitioners, on the other hand, had their loan request rescinded because a certificate of award or sale was not issued in favor of the applicant.

Moreover, the applicant, Urbano the petitioner, was 81 years old and no longer a member of the GSIS. It wasn’t given due consideration.

Having learned about the transaction with dela

Cruz, the petitioners

requested the formal

 

investigation with the GSIS regarding the sale

. Not

satisfied, they filed a case with the RTC of QC branch 102. The petition was dismissed. The same view was upheld by the court of appeals. Hence this petition.

 

Issues:

1.

Do petitioners have a right to repurchase the

subject property?

2.

Does GSIS have a duty to dispose of the subject

property through public bidding?

3.

Was Gsis in bad faith in dealing with petitioners?

Ruling: Petition Dismissed

Ratio:

1. No Charter of the GSIS was PD 1146 which stipulated the power of the GSIS to acquire, utilize, and dispose of real or personal properties in the Philippines or elsewhere. It was amended by PD 1981 which gave the GSIS the power to compromise or release any claim or settled liability to the system.

SC- The laws granted the GSIS Board the power to exercise discretion in determining the terms and condition of financial accommodations to its members with the dual purpose of making the GSIS more responsive to the needs of GSIS members. The laws also stipulated that the Board could exercise discretion on whether to accept or reject petitioner’s offer to repurchase the subject property taking into account the dual purpose enunciated in the whereas clause of PD 1981 which made the GSIS more responsive to the needs of its members.

With regard to the Board’s exercise of discretion, in

Natino v IAC,

the Court also held that repurchase

of foreclosed property after redemption period

 

imposes no such obligation on the purchaser

 

(the

 

board in this case) to

re-sell the property since the

property belongs to hi

m (the board as well)

The board’s denial of petitioner’s request to purchase the subject property was not based on whim but on a factual assessment of the financial capacity of the petitioners to make good their repeated offers to purchase the subject property.

Based on the circumstances, the petitioners were repeatedly unable to fulfill their obligations to pay.

In the comments of the AAD manager,

the

 

observation was that the petitioners lacked the

capacity to pay up.

 

The petitioners are not entitled to a request

for repurchase as a matter of right. The Board exercised its discretion in accordance with law in denying their requests and the GSIS can’t be faulted for their failure to repurchase as it acted under the petitioner’s application under Operation

Pabahay. The sale to respondent can’t be annulled on such invoked “right”.

2. No. The agreement with de la Cruz was valid. Pets.- aver that Sec. 79 of PD 1445 and the COA Circular 86-264 mandated the GSIS to dispose of the assets through public bidding and only upon its failure, through a public sale. GSIS contended that SEC 79 of PD 1445 did not apply because it covered unserviceable govt property and not acquired assets. SC- Gsis was right. Why? The provision (SEC 79) applies only to unserviceable govt property or those no longer needed. The house was obviously not unserviceable. And it was still used by petitioners. With regard to COA Circular 86-264 or the “General guidelines on the divestment or disposal of assets of government owned corporations” the law stipulated that it availed of an exception to the requirement of disposition through public bidding and such exception applied to sales of merchandise held for sale in the regular course of

business.

The Court read it in relation to Coa

 

circular 89-296 which provided for

“Audit

 

Guidelines on the Disposal of Property and other

 

Assets of Government Agencies”, which also did not

apply the public bidding disposal requirement to

 

merchandise or inventory held for sale in the

 

regular course of business nor to the disposal by

 

gov’t financial institutions of foreclosed assets or

collaterals

acquired

in the regular course of

 

business and not transferred to the Govt under

 

proclamation no 50.

 

The modes of disposal included Public auction and sale thru negotiation.

Doctrine:
Doctrine:

With regard to these 2 laws, the

Court held the question whether the subject property was covered by the said Circular or falls under its exception. It held that 89-296 was to be interpreted with 86-264 in

adherence with stat con

wherein statutes that

relate to the same thing ought to be taken in

 

consideration in construing any one of them,

 

and it is an established rule of law that all

 

acts in pari material are to be taken together

 

as if they were one law

.

Moreover, the court looked into the intent of both laws and held that these were used to generate more revenue for GOCC’S through the disposition of its non-preforming assets. (Look into PD 50 or the asset privatization trust in the case) According to the court, the policy intent on the disposition of acquired assets then governed the case at bar. Was the property covered by the public bidding exceptions in these laws? The court said yes, which meant that their sale negotiation fell under the regular course of business, and thus did not offend the requirements of the said coa circulars. 3. No. GSIS denial of petitioners’ further requests for repurchase of subject property was based on a factual determination of the petitioners’ financial capacity and the GSIS charter, PD 1146. Also, GSIS sold the property to dela Cruz only after giving them one year to repurchase. The petitioners, on the strength of the Valmonte case, can’t also impute bad faith on GSIS when it was secretly negotiating with Dela Cruz. In the Valmonte case, the court held that the constitutional right to information was limited to matters of public concern to transactions involving public interest.The sale of the property was not imbued by public interests as it was a purely private transaction. Pets. Can’t demand to be informed of such public negotiation since they had no interest on the subject property since they failed to comply with the GSIS terms of repurchase and the denial to repurchase under the GSIS terms.

Calingin v. CA
Calingin v. CA

Before us is

a petition for review seeking to

annul the Resolution [1] dated May 11, 2001 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 64583, which denied petitioner Governor Antonio Calingins petition for prohibition with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or the issuance of an order

of status quo ante, as well as its Resolution [2] dated

July 1, 2002, denying reconsideration.

the

motion

for

The antecedent facts, as summarized by the Court of Appeals and borne by the records, are as follows:

The

Office

of the President issued a

Resolution [3] dated March 22, 2001 in OP Case No.

00-1-9220 (DILG ADM. Case No. P-16-99) entitled Vice Governor Danilo P. Lagbas, et al. versus Governor Antonio P. Calingin (Misamis Oriental) suspending Gov. Calingin for 90 days. On April 30, 2001, Undersecretary Eduardo R. Soliman of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), by authority of Secretary Jose D. Lina, Jr., issued a Memorandum [4] implementing

the

said

Resolution

of

the

Office

of the

President. On May 3, 2001,

Gov.

Calingin filed

before the

Office

of the

President a Motion for

Reconsideration. [5]

 

The DILG Memorandum bore the authority of

the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)

which

granted an exemption to the election ban in the movement of any public officer in its Resolution No.

3992

[6]

promulgated on April 24, 2001.

This was in

pursuance

to

COMELEC

Resolution

No.

3401

which provides in part that

 

Section 1. Prohibited Acts (a) During the election period from January 2, 2001 until July 13, 2001, no public official shall make or cause any transfer/detail whatsoever of any officer or employee in the civil service, including public school teachers, or suspend elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay official, except upon prior written approval of the Commission.

On May 7, 2001, Gov. Calingin filed a petition for prohibition before the Court of Appeals to prevent the DILG from executing the assailed suspension order. However, on May 11, 2001, the

Petitioner further contends that Section 67, [10] Chapter 4 of the Local Government Code (Rep. Act 7160), which provides that decisions of the Office of the President shall be final and executory,

Court of Appeals dismissed the said petition and by

applies only to decisions

of

the

Office

of the

resolution issued on July 1, 2002, denied petitioners

President on administrative cases appealed from

motion for reconsideration.

the

sangguniang

panlalawigan

,

sangguniang

panlungsod

of

highly-urbanized

cities

and

Hence,

this

appeal

by

certiorari where

independent

component

cities,

and

sangguniang

petitioner asserts that the Court of Appeals erred

bayan

of municipalities within the Metro Manila

in

Area.

It does not cover decisions on cases where the

FINDING THAT THE EXECUTION OF THE SUSPENSION ORDER OF THE DEPARTMENT

 

Office of the President has original jurisdiction such as those involving a Provincial Governor. [11]

OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

 

Doctrine: In Lapid v. Court of Appeals, [12]

we

 

DURING THE ELECTION PERIOD IS WITH AUTHORITY FROM THE COMMISSION ON

 

held that it is a principle of statutory construction that where there are two statutes that apply to a

 

ELECTIONS.

particular

case,

 

that

which

was

specially

 
 

intended for the said case must prevail

.

FINDING THAT THE DECISION OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT IS FINAL AND

 

The

case

on

hand

involves

a

disciplinary

EXECUTORY AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 67,

 

action against an elective local official.

Thus, the

 

CHAPTER 4, OF REPUBLIC ACT 7160, THE

Local Government Code is the applicable law

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991. [7]

and

must

prevail

over

the

Administrative

 
 

Code

which

is

of

general

application

.

In

dispute

is

the

validity of

the DILG

[13] Further, the Local Government Code of 1991 was

Memorandum implementing the suspension order

enacted much later than the Administrative Code of

issued by the Office of the President. We are asked

1987.

In statutory construction, all laws or parts

 

to resolve in this connection two issues:

thereof which are inconsistent with the later law

 

are repealed or modified accordingly. [14]

 

(1)

Was

the

decision

of

the

Office

of

the

President already final and executory? and

(2) Was the exemption from the election ban in the movement of any public officer granted by COMELEC valid?

Petitioner’s Contention:

Petitioner contends that decisions of the Office

of the President on cases where it has original

jurisdiction

become final and executory only after

the lapse of 15 days from the receipt thereof and that the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration shall

suspend

the

running

of

the

said

period

[8] in

accordance with Section 15, [9] Chapter 3, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987.

Besides, even though appeal to the Court of

Appeals is granted under Sec. 1, [15] Rule 43 of the

Revised Rules of Court, Sec. 12, [16] Rule

43

of the

Revised Rules of Court in relation to Sec. 68 [17] of the Local Government Code provides for the immediate execution pending appeal. Under the same case of Lapid v. Court of Appeals, [18] we enunciated that the decisions of the Office of the President under the Local Government Code are immediately executory even pending appeal because the pertinent laws under which the decisions were rendered mandated them to be so.

 

In sum,

the decisions

of the

Office

of

the

President are final and executory

. No motion for

reconsideration is allowed by law but the parties may appeal the decision to the Court

of Appeals.

The appeal, however, does not stay the

1,

2002

in

CA-G.R.

SP

No.

64583

are

hereby

execution of the decision.

Thus, the DILG Secretary

AFFIRMED.

 

may validly move for its immediate execution.

 

As to the validity of the exemption granted by COMELEC in its Resolution No. 3992, petitioner claims that the exemption was invalid for being based on a mere draft resolution. According to him, a draft resolution does not operate as a final resolution of a case until the proper resolution is duly signed and promulgated. Petitioner maintains that a draft cannot produce any legal effect.

A perusal of the records, however, reveals that the Resolution in O.P. Case No. 00-1-9220 was approved and signed on March 22, 2001 by Executive Secretary Renato de Villa by the authority of the President. Hence, the approval was before the promulgation of COMELEC Resolution No. 3992 on April 24, 2001. The record also shows that the request to implement the said suspension order was filed on March 22, 2001 by the Senior Deputy Executive Secretary of the Office of the President pursuant to the requirements stated in the Resolution.

Moreover,

COMELEC

Resolution

No.

3529 [19] which may be applied by analogy and in relation to Sec. 2 [20] of COMELEC Resolution No. 3401 merely requires the request to be in writing indicating the office and place from which the officer is removed, and the reason for said movement, and submitted together with the formal complaint executed under oath and containing the specific charges and the answer to said complaint. The request for the exemption was accompanied with the Affidavit of Complaint, Affidavit of Controversion, Reply and Draft Resolution. The pertinent documents required by the COMELEC to substantiate the request were submitted. There being a proper basis for its grant of exemption, COMELEC Resolution No. 3992 is valid.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals resolutions dated May 11, 2002 and July

City of Naga v. Agna

Petition for review on certiorari, which We treat as special civil action, of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur in Civil Case No. 7084, entitled Agna, et al. versus City of Naga, et al., declaring Ordinance No. 360 of the City of Naga enforceable in 1971 the year following its approval and requiring petitioners to pay to private respondents the amounts sought for in their complaint plus attorney's fees and costs. Included in the present controversy as proper parties are Vicente P. Sibulo and Joaquin C. Cleope, the City Mayor and City Treasurer of the City of Naga, respectively.

On June 15, 1970, the City of Naga enacted Ordinance No. 360 changing and amending the graduated tax on quarterly gross sales of merchants prescribed in Section 3 of Ordinance No. 4 of the City of Naga to percentage tax on gross sales provided for in Section 2 thereof. Pursuant to

said ordinance, private respondents paid to the City

of Naga the following taxes on their gross sales for the quarter from July 1, 1970 to September 30, 1970, as follows:

Catalino Agna paid P1,805.17 as per Official Receipt No. 1826591;

Felipe Agna paid P625.00 as per Official Receipt No. 1826594; and

Salud Velasco paid P129.81 as per Official Receipt No. 1820339.

On February 13, 1971, private respondents filed with the City Treasurer of the City of Naga a claim for refund of the following amounts, together with interests thereon from the date of payments: To Catalino Agna, P1,555.17; to Felipe Agna, P560.00; and to Salud Velasco, P127.81, representing the difference between the amounts they paid under

Section 3, Ordinance No. 4 of the City of Naga, i.e., P250.00; P65.00 and P12.00 respectively. They alleged that under existing law, Ordinance No. 360, which amended Section 3, Ordinance No. 4 of the City of Naga, did not take effect in 1970, the year it was approved but in the next succeeding year after the year of its approval, or in 1971, and that therefore, the taxes they paid in 1970 on their gross sales for the quarter from July 1, 1970 to September 30, 1970 were illegal and should be refunded to them by the petitioners.

The City Treasurer denied the claim for refund of the amounts in question. So private respondents filed a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Naga (Civil Case No. 7084), seeking to have Ordinance No. 360 declared effective only in the year following the year of its approval, that is, in 1971; to have Sections 4, 6 and 8 of Ordinance No. 360 declared unjust, oppressive and arbitrary, and therefore, null and void; and to require petitioners to refund the sums being claimed with interests thereon from the date the taxes complained of were paid and to pay all legal costs and attorney's fees in the sum of P1,000.00. Private respondents further prayed that the petitioners be enjoined from enforcing Ordinance No. 360.

In their answer, the petitioners among other things, claimed that private respondents were not "compelled" but voluntarily made the payments of their taxes under Ordinance No. 360; that the said ordinance was published in accordance with law; that in accordance with Republic Act No. 305 (Charter of the City of Naga) an ordinance takes effect after the tenth day following its passage unless otherwise stated in said ordinance; that under existing law the City of Naga is authorized to impose certain conditions to secure and accomplish the collection of sales taxes in the most effective manner. As special and affirmative defenses, the petitioners allege that the private respondents have no cause of action against them; that granting that the collection of taxes can be enjoined. the complaint does not allege facts sufficient to justify the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction; that the refund prayed for by the private respondents is untenable; that petitioners Vicente

P. Sibulo and Joaquin C. Cleope, the City Mayor and Treasurer of the City of Naga, respectively are not proper parties in interest; that the private respondents are estopped from questioning the validity and/or constitutionality of the provisions of Ordinance No. 360. Petitioners counterclaimed for P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, for the alleged unlawful and malicious filing of the claim against them, in such amount as the court may determine.

During the hearing of the petition for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and at the pre- trial conference as well as at the trial on the merits of the case, the parties agreed on the following stipulation of facts: That on June 15, 1970, the City Board of the City of Naga enacted Ordinance No. 360 entitled "An ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 4, as amended, imposing a sales tax on the quarterly sales or receipts on all businesses in the City of Naga," which ordinance was transmitted to the City Mayor for approval or veto on June 25, 1970; that the ordinance was duly posted in the designated places by the Secretary of the Municipal Board; that private respondents voluntarily paid the gross sales tax, pursuant to Ordinance No. 360, but that on February 15, 1971, they filed a claim for refund with the City Treasurer who denied the same.

On October 9, 1971, the respondent Judge rendered judgment holding that Ordinance No. 360, series of 1970 of the City of Naga was enforceable in the year following the date of its approval, that is, in 1971 and required the petitioners to reimburse the following sums, from the date they paid their taxes to the City of Naga: to Catalino Agna, the sum of P1,555.17; to Felipe Agna, P560.00; and to Salud Velasco, P127.81 and the corresponding interests from the filing of the complaint up to the reimbursement of the amounts plus the sum of P500.00 as attorney's fees and the costs of the proceedings.

Petitioners' submit that Ordinance No. 360, series of 1970 of the City of Naga, took effect in the quarter of the year of its approval, that is in July 1970, invoking Section 14 of Republic Act No.

305,

1
1

as amended, otherwise known as the Charter

of the City of Naga, which, among others, provides

that "Each approved ordinance

shall take effect

... and be enforced on and after the 10th day following

its passage unless otherwise stated in said

ordinance

...

". They contend that Ordinance No.

360 was enacted by the Municipal Board of the City

of Naga on June 15, 1970

2
2

and was transmitted to

the City Mayor for his approval or veto on June 25,

3
3
  • 1970 but it was not acted upon by the City Mayor

until August 4, 1970. Ordinarily, pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act No. 305, said ordinance should have taken effect after the 10th day following its passage on June 15, 1970, or on June 25, 1970. But because the ordinance itself provides that it shall take effect upon its approval, it becomes necessary to determine when Ordinance No. 360 was deemed approved. According to the same Section 14 of Republic Act No. 305, "if within 10 days after receipt of the ordinance the Mayor

does not return it with his veto or approval

4
4

the

ordinance is deemed approved." Since the ordinance in question was not returned by the City Mayor with his veto or approval within 10 days after he received it on June 25, 1970, the same was deemed approved after the lapse of ten (10) days from June 25, 1970 or on July 6, 1970. On this date, the petitioners claim that Ordinance No. 360 became effective. They further contend that even under Section 2, of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local

Autonomy Acts)

5
5

which expressly provides: "A tax

ordinance shall go into effect on the fifteenth day after its passage unless the ordinance shall provide otherwise', Ordinance No. 360 could have taken effect on June 30, 1970, which is the fifteenth day after its passage by the Municipal Board of the City

of Naga on June 15, 1970, or as earlier explained, it could have taken effect on July 6, 1970, the date the ordinance was deemed approved because the ordinance itself provides that it shall take effect upon its approval. Of the two provisions invoked by petitioners to support their stand that the ordinance in question took effect in the year of its approval, it is Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act) that is more relevant because it is the provision that specifically refers to

effectivity of a tax ordinance

and being a provision

of much later law it is deemed to have superseded Section 14 of Republic Act No. 305 (Charter of the

City of Naga) in so far as effectivity of a tax ordinance is concerned.

On the other hand, private respondents contend that Ordinance No. 360 became effective and enforceable in 1971, the year following the year of

its approval, invoking Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code which provides:

Section 2309. Imposition of tax and duration of license.—A municipal license tax already in existence shall be subject to change only by ordinance enacted prior to the 15th day of December of any year after the next succeeding year, but an entirely new tax may be created by any ordinance enacted during the

quarter year effective at the beginning of any subsequent quarter.

They submit that since Ordinance No. 360, series of 1970 of the City of Naga, is one which changes the existing graduated sales tax on gross sales or receipts of dealers of merchandise and sari-sari merchants provided for in Ordinance No. 4 of the City of Naga to a percentage tax on their gross

sales prescribed in the questioned ordinance, the same should take effect in the next succeeding year after the year of its approval or in 1971.

Evidently, the divergence of opinion as to when Ordinance No. 360 took effect and became enforceable is mainly due to the seemingly apparent conflict between Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code and Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act). Is there really such a conflict in the above-mentioned provisions? It will be easily noted that Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code contemplates of two types of municipal ordinances, namely: (1) a municipal ordinance which changes a municipal license tax already in existence and (2) an

ordinance which creates an entirely new tax. Under the first type, a municipal license tax already in existence shall be subject to change only by an

ordinance enacted prior to the 15th day of December of any year after the next succeeding year. This means that the ordinance enacted prior to the 15th day of December changing or repealing a municipal license tax already in existence will have to take effect in next succeeding year. The evident purpose of the provision is to enable the taxpayers to adjust themselves to the new charge or burden brought about by the new ordinance. This is different from the second type of a municipal ordinance where an entirely new tax may be created by any ordinance enacted during the quarter year to be effective at the beginning of any subsequent quarter. We do not find any such distinction between an ordinance which changes a municipal license tax already in existence and an ordinance creating an entirely new tax in Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act) which merely refers to a "tax ordinance" without any qualification whatsoever.

Now to the meat of the problem in this petition. Is not Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code deemed repealed or abrogated by Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act) in so far as effectivity of a tax ordinance is concerned? An examination of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act) fails to show any provision expressly repealing Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code. All that is mentioned therein is Section 9 which reads:

Section 9 — All acts, executive orders, administrative orders, proclamations or parts thereof, inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed and modified accordingly.

The foregoing provision does not amount to an express repeal of Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code. It is a well established principle in statutory construction that a statute will not be construed as repealing prior acts on the same subject in the absence of words to that effect unless there is an irreconcilable repugnancy between them, or unless the new law is evidently intended to supersede all prior acts on the matter

in hand and to comprise itself the sole and complete system of legislation on that subject. Every new statute should be construed in connection with those already existing in relation to the same subject matter and all should be made to harmonize and stand together, if they can be done

by any fair and reasonable interpretation

...

6 .
6
.

It

will also be noted that Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code and Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act) refer to the same subject matter-enactment and effectivity of a tax ordinance. In this respect they can be considered

in pari materia. Statutes are said to be in pari materia when they relate to the same person or

thing, or to the same class of persons or things, or

have the same purpose or object.

are in

7
7

When statutes

pari materia, the rule of statutory

construction dictates that they should be construed together. This is because enactments of the same legislature on the same subject matter are supposed to form part of one uniform system; that later statutes are supplementary or complimentary to the earlier enactments and in the passage of its acts the legislature is supposed to have in mind the existing legislation on the same subject and to have

enacted its new act with reference thereto.

8
8

Having

thus in mind the previous statutes relating to the same subject matter, whenever the legislature enacts a new law, it is deemed to have enacted the new provision in accordance with the legislative policy embodied in those prior statutes unless there is an express repeal of the old and they all should

be construed together.

9
9

In construing them the old

statutes relating to the same subject matter should be compared with the new provisions and if possible by reasonable construction, both should be so construed that effect may be given to every provision of each. However, when the new provision and the old relating to the same subject cannot be reconciled the former shall prevail as it is the latter

expression of the legislative will.

  • 10 Actually we do

not see any conflict between Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code and Section 2 of the Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act). The conflict, if any, is more apparent than real. It is one that is not incapable of reconciliation. And the two provisions can be reconciled by applying the first clause of Section 2309 of the Revised

Administrative Code when the problem refers to the effectivity of an ordinance changing or repealing a municipal license tax already in existence. But where the problem refers to effectivity of an ordinance creating an entirely new tax, let Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 (Local Autonomy Act) govern.

In the case before Us, the ordinance in question is one which changes the graduated sales tax on gross sales or receipts of dealers of merchandise and sari- sari merchants prescribed in Section 3 of Ordinance No. 4 of the City of Naga to percentage tax on their gross sale-an ordinance which definitely falls within the clause of Section 2309 of the Revised Administrative Code. Accordingly it should be effective and enforceable in the next succeeding year after the year of its approval or in 1971 and private respondents should be refunded of the taxes they have paid to the petitioners on their gross sales for the quarter from July 1, 1970 to September 30, 1970 plus the corresponding interests from the filing of the complaint until reimbursement of the amount.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Esguerra and Muñoz Palma, JJ., concur.

J.M. Tuason & Co. v. Land Tenure Admin

Doctrine: Constitutional ConstructionNature:

Special Civil Action in the Supreme Court for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction Date:

February 18, 1970Ponente: Justice Fernando

Short version: RA 2616--the expropriation of the

Tatalon Estate authorized by Congress

(the first

statute to be specifically tailored to expropriate

land),

was decided unconstitutional by the lower

court, in favor of the petitioner JM Tuason & Co.

The Supreme Court then reversed this decision,

 

reviewing the scope of power given to Congress

under the Constitution to authorize expropriation

of lands.

 

With the ff opinions:Zaldivar, Sanchez and Villamor, JJ., concur.Makalintal, J., concurs in the result.Barredo, J. concurs in a separate opinion. Tehankee, J., concurs and dissents in a separate opinion.Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L. Dizon and Castro, JJ., concur in the opinion of Justice Tehankee

Facts:

I. Congress: RA 2616 August 3, 1959

RA 2616 took effect without executive approval—

expropriation of the Tatalon Estate in Quezon

City owned by petitioner JM Tuason & Co. (to be

 

subdivided into small lots and sold to their

 
 

occupants) was authorized by Congress in view

of social and economic problems.

November 15, 1960

Respondent Land Tenure Administration instituted the proceeding for the expropriation of the Tatalon Estate RA 2616, as directed by the Executive Secretary.

II. Lower Court: RA 2616 is unconstitutional November 17, 1960Petitioner JM Tuason & Co. filed special action for prohibition of RA 2616 with preliminary injunction against the respondents to restrain expropriation proceedings.

January 10, 1963

RA 2616 was decided unconstitutional, granting the writ of prohibition.

III. SC: Reversing the decision and further proceedings

February 18, 1970

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision that RA 2616 is unconstitutional—denying the writ of prohibition, and setting aside the preliminary injunction filed by petitioner JM Tuason & Co.

March 30, 1970

Motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner invoking his rights to due process & equal protection of laws.

SG Felix Antonio filed detailed opposition to the reconsideration.

June 15, 1970

Petitioner filed for a rejoinder. The expropriation of Tatalon Estate in Quezon City is unconstitutional pursuant to RA 2616 sec 4. (as amended by RA 3453)-- prohibiting the enforceability of ejectment proceedings or the continuance of a proceeding that has already been commenced.

Issue: Is RA 2616 (rightfully amended) unconstitutional because it violates the petitioner’s rights to due process and equal protection of law?

1.

Held: No.

May 27, 1970

Marcelino v. Cruz

FACTS:

Petitioner was charged with rape

before the

Court of First Instance (CFI) of Rizal, Branch XII, and his case was conducted and concluded on August 04, 1975.

On the same date, counsels for the accused (petitioner) and complainant People of the

Philippines in the rape case filed before the CFI of

Rizal,

moved for time within which to submit their

respective memoranda

.

Trial court granted both counsels’ motion and gave them thirty (30) days to submit their memoranda. (30 days from August 04, 1975 concludes on September 03, 1975)

Petitioner, through counsel, filed his memorandum in due time, but no memorandum was filed by the People.

On November 28, 1975, respondent judge filed with the Deputy Clerk of Court his decision in said for promulgation. The decision was also dated November 28, 1975.

On the date set for promulgation of the decision, counsel for the accused moved for postponement, citing the loss of jurisdiction of the trial court for failure to decide the case within 90 days from submission thereof of decision, respondent judge granted the counsel’s request and reset the promulgation to January 19, 1976.

On January 19, 1976, counsel for the accused moved anew for the resetting of the promulgation of the decision, and respondent judge granted the same and moved anew the promulgation on January 26, 1976.

On January 12, 1976, counsel for the accused filed before the Supreme Court this petition (Petition for prohibition and writ of habeas corpus to enjoin respondent judge from promulgating his decision

above mentioned). Supreme Court issued an Order temporarily restraining respondent judge from promulgating said decision.

9. Petitioner avers that the three-month period prescribed by Section 11 of Article x of the 1973 Constitution, being a constitutional directive, is mandatory in character and that non- observance thereof results in the loss of jurisdiction of the court over the unresolved case.

*Section 11, Article X of the 1973 Constitution states that:

“Upon the effectivity of this Constitution, the maximum period within which a case or matter shall be decided or resolved from the date of its submission, shall be eighteen months for the Supreme court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, twelve months for all inferior collegiate courts, and three months for all other inferior courts.”

ISSUES:

  • 1. WHETHER OR NOT respondent judge failed to comply with the provisions of Section II, Article X of the 1973 Constitution, in filing the decision within the given period of three (3) months, equivalent to ninety (90) days.

  • 2. WHETHER OR NOT Section II, Article X of the 1973 Constitution is mandatory in character or merely directory.

  • 3. WHETHER OR NOT jurisdiction of the court over the unresolved criminal case was lost due to non- compliance by respondent judge with the above

mentioned provision.

RULING:

On November 28, 1973, or eighty five (85) days from September 4, 1975, the date the case was deemed submitted for decision, respondent judge filed with the deputy clerk of court the decision in the above mentioned criminal case. Thus, respondent judge was able to render his decision within the three- month period prescribed by the Constitution.

Doctrine: The established rule is that “

constitutional provisions are to be construed

  • as mandatory

,

UNLESS by

express provision

or

by necessary implication, a

different intention is

 
  • . Supreme Court believed that the above

mentioned provision falls within the exception rather than the general rule, citing the case of Albemarel Oil & Gase Co. v. Morris, which declares that constitutional provisions are directory, and not mandatory, where they refer to matters merely PROCEDURAL.

Exceeded or not, a decision rendered by an inferior court outside of the 90-day period is not void for loss of jurisdiction. To hold that non-compliance by the courts with the aforesaid provision would result in loss of jurisdiction, would make the courts, through

which conflicts are resolved, the very instruments to foster unresolved cases by reason merely of having failed to render a decision within the allotted term.

4. The petition was DISMISSED and the Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court is lifted however, since respondent judge is already

deceased, his successor is ordered to decide the Criminal Case on the basis of the record thereof within 90 days from the time the case is raffled to him.

Hagonoy Water District v. NLRC

FACTS:

Private Respondent Dante Villanueva was employed as service foreman by petitioner

Hagonoy

when he was indefinitely suspended

and thereafter dismissed for abandonment of

 

work and conflict of interest

;

Villanueva

filed

a

complaint

for illegal
for
illegal

dismissal,

illegal

suspension

and

underpayment of wages and emergency cost of

living

allowance

against

 

Hagonoy

with

the

Ministry of Labor and Employment in San

Fernando, Pampanga; Petitioner Hagonoy moved for dismissal on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Being

government entity, its personnel are governed by the provisions of the Civil

Service Law and not by the Labor Code.

And the protests concerning the lawlessness of dismissal from service fall within the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission and not the Ministry of Labor and Employment. The Labor Arbiter rendered a decision on favor of Villanueva

NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter. A “Writ of Execution” was issued by

the

Labor

Arbiter

to

garnish

petitioner

Hagonoy’s deposits with the planters

Development Bank. Hagonoy filed a “Motion to Quash the Writ

of

Execution

with

Application

for

Writ

of

Preliminary

Injunction”.

NLRC

denied

the

application.

Issue: Whether local water districts are GOCC whose employees are subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Law

HELD: YES

The Labor Arbiter, in asserting that it has

jurisdiction over the employees of Hagonoy,

relied
relied
on P.D. No. 198, known as “Provincial Water
on
P.D.
No.
198,
known
as
“Provincial
Water

Utilities Act of 1973”

which exempts employees of

water districts from the application of the Civil

Service Law.

However, the Labor Arbiter failed

to take

into

account that P.D. 1479 wiped

away the said exemption

Moreover, the NLRC relied upon Article 9, Section

2, of the 1987 Constitution which provides that:

“[T]he Civil Service embraces

government owned

... or controlled corporations with original charters.”

At the time the dispute in the CAB arose, and at the time the Labor Arbiter rendered its decision (which is on March 17, 1986), the applicable law is that the Labor Arbiter has no jurisdiction to render a decision that he in fact rendered. By the time the NLRC rendered its decision (August 20, 1987), the 1987 Constitution has already come into effect. The SC believes that the 1987 Constitution does not operate retroactively as to confer jurisdiction upon the Labor Arbiter to render a decision, which was before outside the scope of its competence.

Therefore, a decision rendered by the Labor Arbiter without jurisdiction over the case is a complete nullity, vesting no rights and imposing no liabilities. Villanueva, if he so wishes, may refile this complaint in an appropriate

WHEREFORE, PETITION IS GRANTED

Full Text

The present petition for certiorari seeks to annul and set aside: a) the decision of the Labor Arbiter dated 17 March 1987 in NLRC Case No. RAB-III-8- 2354-85, entitled "Dante Villanueva versus LWA- Hagonoy Waterworks District/Miguel Santos;" and b) the Resolution of the National Labor Relations Commission dated 20 August 1987 affirming the mentioned decision.

Private respondent Dante Villanueva was employed as service foreman by petitioner Hagonoy Water District ("Hagonoy") from 3 January 1977 until 16 May 1985, when he was indefinitely suspended and thereafter dismissed on 12 July 1985 for abandonment of work and conflict of interest.

On 14 August 1985, private respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, illegal suspension and underpayment of wages and emergency cost of living allowance against petitioner Hagonoy with the then Ministry of Labor and Employment, Regional Arbitration Branch III, San Fernando, Pampanga.

Petitioner immediately moved for outright dismissal of the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Being a government entity, petitioner claimed, its personnel are governed by the provisions of the Civil Service Law, not by the Labor Code, and protests concerning the lawfulness of dismissals from the service fall within the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission, not the Ministry of Labor and Employment. Petitioner cited Resolution No. 1540 of the Social Security Commission cancelling petitioner's compulsory coverage from the system effective 16 May 1979 "considering the rulings that local water districts are instrumentalities owned and controlled by the government and that their officers and employees are government employees." In opposing the motion, private respondent Villanueva contended that local water districts, like petitioner Hagonoy, though quasi-public corporations, are in the nature

of private corporations since they perform proprietary functions for the government.

The Labor Arbiter proceeded to hear and try the case and, on 17 March 1986, rendered a Decision in favor of the private respondent and against petitioner Hagonoy. The dispositive part of the decision read:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondents are hereby ordered to reinstate petitioner immediately to his former position as Service Foreman, without loss of seniority rights and privileges, with full backwages, including all benefits provided by law, from the date he was terminated up to his actual date of reinstatement.

In addition, respondents are hereby ordered to pay the petitioner the amount of P4,927.50 representing the underpayments of wages from July 1983 to May 16, 1985.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter in a Resolution dated 20 August 1987.

The petitioner moved for reconsideration, insisting that public respondents had no jurisdiction over the case. Meanwhile, a Writ of Execution was issued by the Labor Arbiter on 16 November 1987. The writ was enforced by garnishing petitioner Hagonoy's deposits with the Planters Development Bank of Hagonoy.

Petitioner then filed a Motion to Quash the Writ of Execution with Application for Writ of Preliminary Injunction arguing that the writ was prematurely issued as its motion for reconsideration had not yet been resolved. By Resolution dated 10 December 1987, public respondent Commission denied the

application for a preliminary injunction. The motion to quash was similarly denied by the Commission which directed petitioner to reinstate immediately private respondent and to pay him the amount of P63,577.75 out of petitioner's garnished deposits.

Hence, the instant petition.

The only question here in whether or not local water districts are government owned or controlled corporations whose employees are subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Law. The Labor Arbiter asserted jurisdiction over the alleged illegal dismissal of private respondent Villanueva by relying on Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 198, known as the "Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973" which went into effect on 25 May 1973, and which provides as follows:

Exemption from Civil Service. — The district and its employees, being engaged in a proprietary function, are hereby exempt from the provisions of the Civil Service Law. Collective Bargaining shall be available only to personnel below supervisory levels:

Provided, however, That the total of all salaries, wages, emoluments, benefits or other compensation paid to all employees in any month shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of average net monthly revenue, said net revenue representing income from water sales and sewerage service charges, lease pro-rata share of debt service and expenses for fuel or energy for pumping during the preceding fiscal year.

The Labor Arbiter however failed to take into account the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1479, which went into effect on 11 June 1978. P.D. No. 1479 wiped away Section 25 of P.D. 198 quoted above, and Section 26 of P.D. 198 was renumbered as Section 25 in the following manner:

Section 26 of the same decree [P.D. 198] is hereby amended to read as Section 25 as follows:

Section 25. Authorization. — The district may exercise all the powers which are expressly granted by this Title or which are necessarily implied from or incidental to the powers and purposes herein stated. For the purpose of carrying out the objectives of this Act, a district is hereby granted the power of eminent domain, the exercise thereof shall, however, be subject to review by the Administration.

Thus, Section 25 of P.D. 198 exempting the employees of water districts from the application of the Civil Service Law was removed from the statute books.

This is not the first time that officials of the Department of Labor and Employment have taken the position that the Labor Arbiter here adopted. In

Baguio Water District vs. Cresenciano B. Trajano,

etc. et al., 1 the petitioner Water District sought review of a decision of the Bureau of Labor Relations which affirmed that of a Med-Arbiter calling for a certification election among the regular rank-and-file employees of the Baguio Water District (BWD). In granting the petition, the Court said:

The Baguio Water District was formed pursuant to Title II-Local Water District Law of P.D. No. 198, as amended, The BWD is by Sec. 6 of that decree 'a quasi- public corporation performing public service and supplying public wants.

A part of the public respondent's decision rendered in September, 1983, reads in part:

We find the appeal [of the BWD] to be devoid of merit. The records show that the operation and administration of BWD is governed and regulated by special laws, that is, Presidential Decrees Nos. 198 and 1479 which created local water districts throughout the country. Section 25 of Presidential Decree (PD) 198 clearly provides that the district and its employees shall be exempt from the provisions of the Civil Service Law and that its personnel below supervisory level shall have the right to collectively bargain. Contrary to appellant's claim, said provision has not been amended much more abrogated expressly or impliedly by PD 1479 which does not make mention of any matter on Civil Service Law or collective bargaining. (Rollo, p.

590.)

We grant the petition for the following reasons:

  • 1. Section 25 of P.D. No. 198 was

repealed by Sec. 3 of P.D. No. 1479; Sec. 26 of P.D. No. 198 was amended to read as Sec. 25 by Sec. 4 of P.D. No. 1479. The amendatory decree took effect on June 11, 1978.

xxx xxx xxx

  • 3. The BWD is a corporation

created pursuant to a special law — P.D. No. 198, as amended. As such its officers and employees are part of the Civil Service. (Sec. 1, Art. XII-B, [1973] Constitution; P.D. No. 686.)

The broader question of whether employees of government owned or controlled corporations are governed by the Civil Service Law and Civil Service

Rules and Regulations was addressed by this Court in 1985 in National Housing Corporation vs. Juco. 2 After a review of constitutional, statutory and case law on the matter, the Court, through Mr. Justice Gutierrez, held:

There should no longer be any question at this time that employees of government-owned or controlled corporations are governed by the civil service law and civil service rules and regulations.

Section 1. Article XII-B of the [1973] Constitution specifically provides:

The Civil Service embraces every branch, agency, subdivision, and instrumentality of the Government, including every government-owned or controlled

corporation.

...

The 1935 Constitution had a similar provision in its Section 1, Article XII which stated:

A Civil Service embracing all branches and subdivisions of the Government shall be provided by law.

The inclusion of "government- owned or controlled corporations" within the embrace of the civil service shows a deliberate effort of the framers to plug an earlier loophole which allowed government-owned or controlled corporations to avoid the full consequences of the all encompassing coverage of the, civil service system. The same explicit intent is shown by the addition of "agency" and "instrumentality" to branches and

subdivisions of the Government. All offices and firms of the government are covered.

The amendments introduced in 1973 are not Idle exercises or meaningless gestures. They carry the strong message that civil service coverage is broad and all- embracing insofar as employment in the government in any of its governmental. or corporate arms is concerned.

xxx xxx xxx

Section I of Article XII-B, [1973] Constitution uses the word "every" to modify the phrase "government- owned or controlled corporation."

"Every" means each one of a group, without exception. It means all possible and all, taken one by one. Of course, our decision in this case refers to a corporation created as a government-owned or controlled entity. It does not cover cases involving private firms taken over by the government in foreclosure or similar proceedings. We reserve judgment on these latter cases when the appropriate controversy is brought to this Court. 3

In Juco, the Court spelled out the law on the issue at bar as such law existed under the 1973 Constitution and the Provisional Constitution of 1984, 4 until just before the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution. Public respondent Commission, in confirming the Labor Arbiter's assumption of jurisdiction over this case, apparently relied upon Article IX (B), Section 2 (1) of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that:

[T]he Civil Service embraces ... government owned or controlled

corporations with original charters. (Emphasis supplied)

The NLRC took the position that although petitioner Hagonoy is a government owned or controlled corporation, it had no original charter having been created simply by resolution of a local legislative council. The NLRC concluded that therefore petitioner Hagonoy fell outside the scope of the civil service.

At the time the dispute in the case at bar arose, and at the time the Labor Arbiter rendered his decision (i.e., 17 March 1986), there is no question that the applicable law was that spelled out in National Housing Corporation vs. Juco (supra) and Baguio Water District vs. Cresenciano B. Trajano (supra)

and that under such applicable law, the Labor Arbiter had no jurisdiction to render the decision that he in fact rendered. By the time the public respondent Commission rendered its decision of 20 August 1987 which is here assailed, the 1987 Constitution had already come into effect. 5 There is, nonetheless, no necessity for this Court at the present time and in the present case to pass upon the question of the effect of the provisions of Article DC (B), Section 2 (1) of the 1987 Constitution upon the pre-existing statutory and case law. For whatever that effect might be, — and we will deal with that when an appropriate case comes before the Court — we believe and so hold that the 1987 Constitution did not operate retrospectively so as to confer jurisdiction upon the Labor Arbiter to render a decision which, under the law applicable at the time of the rendition of such decision, was clearly outside the scope of competence of the Labor Arbiter. Thus, the respondent Commission had nothing before it which it could pass upon in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. For it is self- evident that a decision rendered by the Labor Arbiter without jurisdiction over the case is a complete nullity, vesting no rights and imposing no liabilities.

ACCORDINGLY, the Petition for certiorari is GRANTED. The decision of the Labor Arbiter dated 17 March 1986, and public respondent Commission's Resolution dated 20 August 1987 and

all other Resolutions and Orders issued by the Commission in this case subsequent thereto, are hereby SET ASIDE. This decision is, however, without prejudice to the right of private respondent Villanueva to refile, if he so wishes, this complaint in an appropriate forum. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.