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G.R. No. 109005 January 10, 1994 JUAN D. VICTORIA, petitioner, vs.

THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and JESUS JAMES CALISIN, respondents. Juan D. Victoria for himself and in his own behalf. The Solicitor General for public respondent.

QUIASON, J.: This is a petition for certiorari, under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court in relation to section 2, Article IX of the Constitution, to set aside (a) the Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dated January 22, 1993, which certified respondent James Calisin as the highest ranking member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Albay and (b) its Resolution dated February 22, 1993, which denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner. The issue in the case at bench is the ranking of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Albay for purposes of succession. In the May 11, 1992 Elections, the following candidates from the first, second and third districts of the Province of Albay were elected and proclaimed as members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, to wit:

FIRST DISTRICT Name No. of Votes Garnered 1. Jesus James Calisin 28,335 votes 2. Vicente Go, Sr. 17,937 votes 3. Clenio Cabredo 16,705 votes SECOND DISTRICT 1. Juan D. Victoria 32,918 votes 2. Jesus Marcellana 26,030 votes 3. Lorenzo Reyeg 23,887 votes

THIRD DISTRICT 1. Ramon Fernandez, Jr. 19,315 votes 2. Masikap Fontanilla 19,241 votes 3. Arturo Osia 17,778 votes 4. Nemesio Baclao 17,545 votes (Rollo, pp. 27-28) Due to the suspension of Governor Romeo Salalima of the Province of Albay, Vice-Governor Danilo Azana automatically assumed the powers and functions of the governor, leaving vacant his post as vice-governor. Under the law, Azana's position as vice-governor should be occupied by the highest ranking Sangguniang member, a post being contested by petitioner and private respondent. In answer to private respondent's petition for his declaration as senior Sanggunian member for the Province of Albay, the COMELEC issued a resolution dated January 22, 1993, certifying him as first in the order of ranking with petitioner herein as second ranking member. The COMELEC based its certification on the number of votes obtained by the Sanggunian members in relation to the number of registered voters in the district. Thus, on February 15, 1993, Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III of the Department of Interior and Local Government designated private respondent as acting ViceGovernor of the province. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the COMELEC resolution which was denied on February 22, 1993. Hence, this petition. Petitioner claims that the ranking of the Sanggunian members should not only be based on the number of votes obtained in relation to the total number of registered voters, but also on the number of voters in the district who actually voted therein. He further argues that a district may have a large number of registered voters but only a few actually voted, in which case the winning candidate would register a low percentage of the number of votes obtained. Conversely, a district may have a smaller number of registered voters but may have a big voters' turn-out, in which case the winning candidate would get a higher percentage of the votes. Applying his formula, petitioner would come out to be the highest ranking Sanggunian member.

Petitioner gives the following illustration: 1. for private respondent. 107,216 (actually voted) x 28,335 (votes obtained) = 23.40% 129,793 (registered voters) (Rollo, pp. 24, 25 and 30) 2. for petitioner 121,423 (actually voted) x 32,918 (votes obtained) = 25.84% 154,665 (registered voters) (Rollo, p. 9). We are not persuaded. The Local Government provides: Sec. 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Office of the Governor, ViceGovernor, Mayor, and Vice-Mayor. (a) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor, the vice-governor or vice-mayor concerned shall become governor or mayor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor, vicegovernor, mayor, or vice-mayor, the highest ranking Sanggunian member or, in case of his permanent inability, the second highest ranking Sanggunian member, shall become the governor, vicegovernor, mayor or vice-mayor, as the case may be. Subsequent vacancies in the said office shall be filled automatically by the other Sanggunian members according to their ranking as defined herein. xxx xxx xxx For purposes of succession as provided in this Chapter, ranking in the Sanggunian shall be determined on the basis of the proportion of votes obtained by each winning candidate to the total number of registered voters in each district in the immediately preceding local election. (Emphasis ours) The COMELEC came up with the following ranking of the top three Sanggunian members:

NAME District Registered Votes Percent Rank of Elected Voters Obtained Dist'n Candidates ALBAY CALISIN, JESUS JAMES B. 1st 130,085 28,335 21.78 1st VICTORIA, JUAN D. 2nd 155.318 32,918 21.19 2nd MARCELLANA JESUS, M. 2nd 155.318 26,030 16.76 3rd (Rollo, p. 14) The law is clear that the ranking in the Sanggunian shall be determined on the basis of the proportion of the votes obtained by each winning candidate of the total number of registered voters who actually voted. In such a case, the Court has no recourse but to merely apply the law. The courts may not speculate as to the probable intent of the legislature apart from the words (Pascual v. PascualBautista, 207 SCRA 561 [1992]). In the case of Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 206 SCRA 710 (1992), we held that: . . . Under the principles of statutory construction, if a statue is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given it literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation. This plain-meaning rule or verba legis derived from the maxim, index animi sermo est (speech is the index of intention) rests on the valid presumption that the words employed by the legislature in a statute correctly express its intent or will and preclude the court from construing it differently. The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the words, to have used words advisely, and to have expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in the statute. Verba legis non est recedendum, or from the words of a statute there should be no departure. . . Petitioner's contention is therefore untenable considering the clear mandate of the law, which leaves no room for other interpretation but it must very well be

addressed to the legislative branch and not to this Court which has no power to change the law. Considering the foregoing, we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC in issuing the Resolution dated January 22, 1993. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno and Vitug, JJ., concur. G.R. No. 83736 January 15, 1992 COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, petitioner, vs. TMX SALES, INC. and THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS, respondents. F.R. Quiogue for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: In a case involving corporate quarterly income tax, does the two-year prescriptive period to claim a refund of erroneously collected tax provided for in Section 292 (now Section 230) of the National Internal Revenue Code commence to run from the date the quarterly income tax was paid, as contended by the petitioner, or from the date of filing of the Final Adjustment Return (final payment), as claimed by the private respondent? Section 292 (now Section 230) of the National Internal Revenue Code provides: Sec. 292. Recovery of tax erroneously or illegally collected. No suit or proceeding shall be maintained in any court for the recovery of any national internal revenue tax hereafter alleged to have been erroneously or illegally assessed or collected, or of any penalty claimed to have been collected without authority, or of any sum alleged to have been excessive or in any manner wrongfully collected, until a claim for refund or credit has been duly filed with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; but such suit or proceeding

may be maintained, whether or not such tax, penalty, or sum has been paid under protest or duress. In any case no such suit or proceeding shall be begun after the expiration of two years from the date of payment of that tax or penalty regardless of any supervening cause that may arise after payment: . . . (Emphasis supplied) The facts of this case are uncontroverted. Private respondent TMX Sales, Inc., a domestic corporation, filed its quarterly income tax return for the first quarter of 1981, declaring an income of P571,174.31, and consequently paying an income tax thereon of P247,010.00 on May 15, 1981. During the subsequent quarters, however, TMX Sales, Inc. suffered losses so that when it filed on April 15, 1982 its Annual Income Tax Return for the year ended December 31, 1981, it declared a gross income of P904,122.00 and total deductions of P7,060,647.00, or a net loss of P6,156,525.00 (CTA Decision, pp. 1-2; Rollo, pp. 45-46). Thereafter, on July 9, 1982, TMX Sales, Inc. thru its external auditor, SGV & Co. filed with the Appellate Division of the Bureau of Internal Revenue a claim for refund in the amount of P247,010.00 representing overpaid income tax. (Rollo, p. 30) This claim was not acted upon by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. On March 14, 1984, TMX Sales, Inc. filed a petition for review before the Court of Tax Appeals against the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, praying that the petitioner, as private respondent therein, be ordered to refund to TMX Sales, Inc. the amount of P247,010.00, representing overpaid income tax for the taxable year ended December 31, 1981. In his answer, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue averred that "granting, without admitting, the amount in question is refundable, the petitioner (TMX Sales, Inc.) is already barred from claiming the same considering that more than two (2) years had already elapsed between the payment (May 15, 1981) and the filing of the claim in Court (March 14, 1984). (Sections 292 and 295 of the Tax Code of 1977, as amended)." On April 29, 1988, the Court of Tax Appeals rendered a decision granting the petition of TMX Sales, Inc. and ordering the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to refund the amount claimed.

The Tax Court, in granting the petition, viewed the quarterly income tax paid as a portion or installment of the total annual income tax due. Said the Tax Court in its assailed decision: xxx xxx xxx When a tax is paid in installments, the prescriptive period of two years provided in Section 306 (now Section 292) of the Revenue Code should be counted from the date of the final payment or last installment. . . . This rule proceeds from the theory that in contemplation of tax laws, there is no payment until the whole or entire tax liability is completely paid. Thus, a payment of a part or portion thereof, cannot operate to start the commencement of the statute of limitations. In this regard the word "tax" or words "the tax" in statutory provisions comparable to section 306 of our Revenue Code have been uniformly held to refer to the entire tax and not a portion thereof (Clark v. U.S., 69 F. 2d 748; A.S. Kriedner Co. v. U.S., 30 F Supp. 274; Hills v. U.S., 50 F 2d 302, 55 F 2d 1001), and the vocable "payment of tax" within statutes requiring refund claim, refer to the date when all the tax was paid, not when a portion was paid (Braun v. U.S., 8 F supp. 860, 863; Collector of Internal Revenue v. Prieto, 2 SCRA 1007; Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Palanca, 18 SCRA 496). Petitioner Commissioner of Internal Revenue is now before this Court seeking a reversal of the above decision. Thru the Solicitor General, he contends that the basis in computing the two-year period of prescription provided for in Section 292 (now Section 230) of the Tax Code, should be May 15, 1981, the date when the quarterly income tax was paid and not April 15, 1982, when the Final Adjustment Return for the year ended December 31, 1981 was filed. He cites the case of Pacific Procon Limited v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (G.R. No. 68013, November 12, 1984) involving a similar set of facts, wherein this Court in a minute resolution affirmed the Court of Appeals' decision denying the claim for refund of the petitioner therein for being barred by prescription. A re-examination of the aforesaid minute resolution of the Court in the Pacific Procon case is warranted under the circumstances to lay down a categorical pronouncement on the question as to when the two-year prescriptive period in cases of quarterly corporate income tax commences to run. A full-blown decision in this regard is rendered more imperative in the light of the reversal by the Court

of Tax Appeals in the instant case of its previous ruling in the Pacific Procon case. Section 292 (now Section 230) of the National Internal Revenue Code should be interpreted in relation to the other provisions of the Tax Code in order to give effect to legislative intent and to avoid an application of the law which may lead to inconvenience and absurdity. In the case of People vs. Rivera (59 Phil 236 [1933]), this Court stated that statutes should receive a sensible construction, such as will give effect to the legislative intention and so as to avoid an unjust or an absurd conclusion. INTERPRETATIO TALIS IN AMBIGUIS SEMPER FRIENDA EST, UT EVITATUR INCONVENIENS ET ABSURDUM. Where there is ambiguity, such interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and absurdity is to be adopted. Furthermore, courts must give effect to the general legislative intent that can be discovered from or is unraveled by the four corners of the statute, and in order to discover said intent, the whole statute, and not only a particular provision thereof, should be considered. (Manila Lodge No. 761, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., 73 SCRA 162 [1976]) Every section, provision or clause of the statute must be expounded by reference to each other in order to arrive at the effect contemplated by the legislature. The intention of the legislator must be ascertained from the whole text of the law and every part of the act is to be taken into view. (Chartered Bank v. Imperial, 48 Phil. 931 [1921]; Lopez v. El Hogar Filipino, 47 Phil. 249, cited in Aboitiz Shipping Corporation v. City of Cebu, 13 SCRA 449 [1965]). Thus, in resolving the instant case, it is necessary that we consider not only Section 292 (now Section 230) of the National Internal Revenue Code but also the other provisions of the Tax Code, particularly Sections 84, 85 (now both incorporated as Section 68), Section 86 (now Section 70) and Section 87 (now Section 69) on Quarterly Corporate Income Tax Payment and Section 321 (now Section 232) on keeping of books of accounts. All these provisions of the Tax Code should be harmonized with each other. Section 292 (now Section 230) provides a two-year prescriptive period to file a suit for a refund of a tax erroneously or illegally paid, counted from the tile the tax was paid. But a literal application of this provision in the case at bar which involves quarterly income tax payments may lead to absurdity and inconvenience. Section 85 (now Section 68) provides for the method of computing corporate quarterly income tax which is on a cumulative basis, to wit: Sec. 85. Method of computing corporate quarterly income tax. Every corporation shall file in duplicate a quarterly summary

declaration of its gross income and deductions on a cumulative basisfor the preceding quarter or quarters upon which the income tax, as provided in Title II of this Code shall be levied, collected and paid. The tax so computed shall be decreased by the amount of tax previously paid or assessed during the preceding quarters and shall be paid not later than sixty (60) days from the close of each of the first three (3) quarters of the taxable year, whether calendar or fiscal year. (Emphasis supplied) while Section 87 (now Section 69) requires the filing of an adjustment returns and final payment of income tax, thus: Sec. 87. Filing of adjustment returns final payment of income tax. On or before the fifteenth day of April or on or before the fifteenth day of the fourth month following the close of the fiscal year, every taxpayer covered by this Chapter shall file an Adjustment Return covering the total net taxable income of the preceding calendar or fiscal year and if the sum of the quarterly tax payments made during that year is not equal to the tax due on the entire net taxable income of that year the corporation shall either (a) pay the excess tax still due or (b) be refunded the excess amount paid as the case may be. . . . (Emphasis supplied) In the case at bar, the amount of P247,010.00 claimed by private respondent TMX Sales, Inc. based on its Adjustment Return required in Section 87 (now Section 69), is equivalent to the tax paid during the first quarter. A literal application of Section 292 (now Section 230) would thus pose no problem as the two-year prescriptive period reckoned from the time the quarterly income tax was paid can be easily determined. However, if the quarter in which the overpayment is made, cannot be ascertained, then a literal application of Section 292 (Section 230) would lead to absurdity and inconvenience. The following application of Section 85 (now Section 68) clearly illustrates this point: FIRST QUARTER: Gross Income 100,000.00 Less: Deductions 50,000.00

Net Taxable Income 50,000.00 ========= Tax Due & Paid [Sec. 24 NIRC (25%)] 12,500.00 ========= SECOND QUARTER: Gross Income 1st Quarter 100,000.00 2nd Quarter 50,000.00 150,000.00 Less: Deductions 1st Quarter 50,000.00 2nd Quarter 75,000.00 125,000.00 Net Taxable Income 25,000.00 ========= Tax Due Thereon 6,250.00 Less: Tax Paid 1st Quarter 12,500.00 Creditable Income Tax (6,250.00) THIRD QUARTER: Gross Income 1st Quarter 100,000.00 2nd Quarter 50,000.00 3rd Quarter 100,000.00 250,000.00

Less: Deductions 1st Quarter 50,000.00 2nd Quarter 75,000.00 3rd Quarter 25,000.00 150,000.00 100,000.00 ========= Tax Due Thereon 25,000.00 Less: Tax Paid 1st Quarter 12,500.00 2nd Quarter 12,500.00 ========= FOURTH QUARTER: (Adjustment Return required in Sec. 87) Gross Income 1st Quarter 100,000.00 2nd Quarter 50,000.00 3rd Quarter 100,000.00 4th Quarter 75,000.00 325,000.00 Less: Deductions 1st Quarter 50,000.00 2nd Quarter 75,000.00 3rd Quarter 25,000.00 4th Quarter 100,000.00 250,000.00

Net Taxable Income 75,000.00 ========= Tax Due Thereon 18,750.00 Less: Tax Paid 1st Quarter 12,500.00 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 12,500.00 25,000.00 Creditable Income Tax (to be REFUNDED) (6,250.00) ========= Based on the above hypothetical data appearing in the Final Adjustment Return, the taxpayer is entitled under Section 87 (now Section 69) of the Tax Code to a refund of P6,250.00. If Section 292 (now Section 230) is literally applied, what then is the reckoning date in computing the two-year prescriptive period? Will it be the 1st quarter when the taxpayer paid P12,500.00 or the 3rd quarter when the taxpayer also paid P12,500.00? Obviously, the most reasonable and logical application of the law would be to compute the two-year prescriptive period at the time of filing the Final Adjustment Return or the Annual Income Tax Return, when it can be finally ascertained if the taxpayer has still to pay additional income tax or if he is entitled to a refund of overpaid income tax. Furthermore, Section 321 (now Section 232) of the National Internal Revenue Code requires that the books of accounts of companies or persons with gross quarterly sales or earnings exceeding Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) be audited and examined yearly by an independent Certified Public Accountant and their income tax returns be accompanied by certified balance sheets, profit and loss statements, schedules listing income producing properties and the corresponding incomes therefrom and other related statements. It is generally recognized that before an accountant can make a certification on the financial statements or render an auditor's opinion, an audit of the books of accounts has to be conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Since the audit, as required by Section 321 (now Section 232) of the Tax Code is to be conducted yearly, then it is the Final Adjustment Return, where the figures

of the gross receipts and deductions have been audited and adjusted, that is truly reflective of the results of the operations of a business enterprise. Thus, it is only when the Adjustment Return covering the whole year is filed that the taxpayer would know whether a tax is still due or a refund can be claimed based on the adjusted and audited figures. Therefore, the filing of quarterly income tax returns required in Section 85 (now Section 68) and implemented per BIR Form 1702-Q and payment of quarterly income tax should only be considered mere installments of the annual tax due. These quarterly tax payments which are computed based on the cumulative figures of gross receipts and deductions in order to arrive at a net taxable income, should be treated as advances or portions of the annual income tax due, to be adjusted at the end of the calendar or fiscal year. This is reinforced by Section 87 (now Section 69) which provides for the filing of adjustment returns and final payment of income tax. Consequently, the two-year prescriptive period provided in Section 292 (now Section 230) of the Tax Code should be computed from the time of filing the Adjustment Return or Annual Income Tax Return and final payment of income tax. In the case of Collector of Internal Revenue v. Antonio Prieto (2 SCRA 1007 [1961]), this Court held that when a tax is paid in installments, the prescriptive period of two years provided in Section 306 (Section 292) of the National internal Revenue Code should be counted from the date of the final payment. This ruling is reiterated inCommission of Internal Revenue v. Carlos Palanca (18 SCRA 496 [1966]), wherein this Court stated that where the tax account was paid on installment, the computation of the two-year prescriptive period under Section 306 (Section 292) of the Tax Code, should be from the date of the last installment. In the instant case, TMX Sales, Inc. filed a suit for a refund on March 14, 1984. Since the two-year prescriptive period should be counted from the filing of the Adjustment Return on April 15, 1982, TMX Sales, Inc. is not yet barred by prescription. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the Court of Tax Appeals dated April 29, 1988 is AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr. and Romero, JJ., concur.

Feliciano and Nocon, JJ., took no part.