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G.R. No. 109404. January 22, 1996.

* the complaint where the supporting documents submitted substantiating the claim of non-
FLORENCIO EUGENIO, doing business under the name E & S Delta Village, development justified such order inasmuch as such claim was also the basis for non-payment
petitioner, vs. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY FRANKLIN M. DRILON, HOUSING AND LAND USE of amortizations on Lot 12.—Likewise, there is no merit in petitioner’s contention that
REGULATORY BOARD (HLURB) AND PROSPERO PALMIANO, respondents. respondent Secretary exceeded his jurisdiction in ordering the refund of private respondent’s
payments on Lot 12 although (according to petitioner) only Lot 13 was the subject of the
Actions; Appeals; Jurisdiction; Administrative Law; Pleadings and Practice; Under complaint. Respondent Secretary duly noted that the supporting documents submitted
Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95, appeals from judgments or final orders of the Office substantiating the claim of non-development justified such order inasmuch as such claim was
of the President may be taken to the Court of Appeals.—Under Revised Administrative Circular also the basis for non-payment of amortizations on said Lot 12.
No. 1-95, “appeals from judgments or final orders of the x x x Office of the President x x x may Administrative Law; Decisions, resolutions and orders of the Office of the President shall,
be taken to the Court of Appeals x x x.” However, in order to hasten the resolution of this case, except as otherwise provided for by special laws, become final after the lapse of fifteen (15)
which was deemed submitted for decision one and a half years ago, the Court resolved to make days from receipt of a copy thereof, unless a motion for reconsideration thereof is filed within
an exception to the said Circular in the interest of speedy justice. such period.—Finally, since petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the (Executive
Statutes; P.D. 957; Subdivisions; Contracts; Statutory Construction; P.D. 957 is to be Secretary’s) Decision dated March 10, 1992 was filed only on the 21st day from receipt thereof,
given retroactive effect so as to cover even those contracts executed prior to its enactment in said decision had become final and executory, pursuant to Section 7 of Administrative Order
1976.—In his Petition before this Court, petitioner avers that the Executive Secretary erred in No. 18 dated February 12, 1987, which provides that “(d)ecisions/resolutions/orders of the
applying P.D. 957 and in concluding that the nondevelopment of the E & S Delta Village justified Office of the President shall, except as otherwise provided for by special laws, become final
private respondent’s non-payment of his amortizations. Petitioner avers that inasmuch as the after the lapse of fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy thereof x x x, unless a motion for
land purchase agreements were entered into in 1972, prior to the effectivity of P.D. 957 in reconsideration thereof is filed within such period.”
1976, said law cannot govern the transaction. We hold otherwise, and herewith rule that
respondent Executive Secretary did not abuse his discretion, and that P.D. 957 is to be given PETITION for review of a decision of the Executive Secretary.
retroactive effect so as to cover even those contracts executed prior to its enactment in 1976.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The intent of the law, as culled from its preamble and The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.
from the situation, circumstances and conditions it sought to remedy, must be enforced.—P.D. Edwin Y. Chua for petitioner.
957 did not expressly provide for retroactivity in its entirety, but such can be plainly inferred RESOLUTION
from the unmistakable intent of the law. The intent of the law, as culled from its preamble and
from the situation, circumstances and conditions it sought to remedy, must be enforced. PANGANIBAN, J.:
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Social Justice; P.D. 957 was enacted with no other end
in view than to provide a protective mantle over helpless citizens who may fall prey to the Did the failure to develop a subdivision constitute legal justification for the non-payment of
manipulations and machinations of unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers.—It amortizations by a buyer on installment under land purchase agreements entered into prior
goes without saying that, as an instrument of social justice, the law must favor the weak and to the enactment of P.D. 957, “The Subdivision and Condominium Buyers’ Protective Decree”?
the disadvantaged, including, in this instance, small lot buyers and aspiring homeowners. P.D. This is the major question raised in the instant Petition seeking to set aside the Decision of the
957 was enacted with no other end in view than to provide a protective mantle over helpless respondent Executive Secretary dated March 10, 1992 in O.P. Case No. 3761, which affirmed
citizens who may fall prey to the manipulations and machinations of ‘unscrupulous subdivision the order of the respondent HLURB dated September 1, 1987.
and condominium sellers,’ and such intent is nowhere expressed more clearly than in its On May 10, 1972, private respondent purchased on installment basis from petitioner and
preamble. his co-owner/developer Fermin Salazar, two lots in the E & S Delta Village in Quezon City.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Section 23 of P.D. 957 correctly invoked to justify non- Acting on complaints for non-development docketed as NHA Cases Nos. 2619 and 2620
payment of amortizations for failure of the subdivision owner to develop the subdivision project filed by the Delta Village Homeowners’ Association, Inc., the National Housing Authority
according to the approved plans and within the time limit for complying with the same.— rendered a resolution on January 17, 1979 inter aliaordering petitioner to cease and desist
Moreover, as P.D. 957 is undeniably applicable to the contracts in question, it follows that from making further sales of lots in said village or in any project owned by him.
Section 23 thereof had been properly invoked by private respondent when he desisted from While NHA Cases Nos. 2619 and 2620 were still pending, private respondent filed with the
making further payment to petitioner due to petitioner’s failure to develop the subdivision Office of Appeals, Adjudication and Legal Affairs (OAALA) of the Human Settlements
project according to the approved plans and within the time limit for complying with the same. Regulatory Commission (HSRC), a complaint (Case No. 80-589) against petitioner and spouses
(Such incomplete development of the subdivision and non-performance of specific contractual Rodolfo and Adelina Relevo alleging that, in view of the above NHA resolution, he suspended
and statutory obligations on the part of the subdivision-owner had been established in the payment of his amortizations, but that petitioner resold one of the two lots to the said spouses
findings of the HLURB which in turn were confirmed by the respondent Executive Secretary in Relevo, in whose favor title to the said property was registered. Private respondent further
his assailed Decision.) alleged that he suspended his payments because of petitioner’s failure to develop the village.
Pleadings and Practice; The Executive Secretary did not exceed his jurisdiction in ordering Private respondent prayed for the annulment of the sale to the Relevo spouses and for
the refund of private respondent’s payments on Lot 12 although only Lot 13 was the subject of reconveyance of the lot to him.
On October 11, 1983, the OAALA rendered a decision upholding the right of petitioner to “WHEREAS, numerous reports reveal that many real estate subdivision owners,
cancel the contract with private respondent and dismissed private respondent’s complaint. developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on their representations and obligations to
On appeal, the Commission Proper of the HSRC reversed the OAALA and, applying P.D. provide and maintain properly subdivision roads, drainage, sewerage, water systems, lighting
957, ordered petitioner to complete the subdivision development and to reinstate private systems, and other similar basic requirements, thus endangering the health and safety of home
respondent’s purchase contract over one lot, and as to the other, “it appearing that Transfer and lot buyers;
Certificate of Title No. 269546 has been issued to x x x spouses Rodolfo and Ad(e)lina Relevo x “WHEREAS, reports of alarming magnitude also show cases of swindling and fraudulent
x x, the management of E & S Delta Village is hereby ordered to immediately refund to the manipulations perpetrated by unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers and
complainant-appellant (herein private respondent) all payments made thereon, plus interests operators, such as failure to deliver titles to the buyers or titles free from liens and
computed at legal rates from date of receipt hereof until fully paid.” encumbrances, and to pay real estate taxes, and fraudulent sales of the same subdivision lots
The respondent Executive Secretary, on appeal, affirmed the decision of the HSRC and to different innocent purchasers for value”2; (italics supplied.)
denied the subsequent Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit and for having been filed From a dedicated reading of the preamble, it is manifest and unarguable that the legislative
out of time. Petitioner has now filed this Petition for review before the Supreme Court. intent must have been to remedy the alarming situation by having P.D. 957 operate
Under Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95, “appeals from judgments or final orders retrospectively even upon contracts already in existence at the time of its enactment. Indeed,
of the x x x Office of the President x x x may be taken to the Court of Appeals x x x.” However, a strictly prospective application of the statute will effectively emasculate it, for then the State
in order to hasten the resolution of this case, which was deemed submitted for decision one will not be able to exercise its regulatory functions and curb fraudulent schemes and practices
and a half years ago, the Court resolved to make an exception to the said Circular in the interest perpetrated under or in connection with those contracts and transactions which happen to
of speedy justice. have been entered into prior to P.D. 957, despite obvious prejudice to the very subdivision lot
In his Petition before this Court, petitioner avers that the Executive Secretary erred in buyers sought to be protected by said law. It is hardly conceivable that the legislative authority
applying P.D. 957 and in concluding that the non-development of the E & S Delta Village intended to permit such a loophole to remain and continue to be a source of misery for
justified private respondent’s non-payment of his amortizations. Petitioner avers that subdivision lot buyers well into the future.
inasmuch as the land purchase agreements were entered into in 1972, prior to the effectivity Adding force to the arguments for the retroactivity of P.D. 957 as a whole are certain of its
of P.D. 957 in 1976, said law cannot govern the transaction. provisions, viz., Sections 20, 21 and 23 thereof, which by their very terms have retroactive
We hold otherwise, and herewith rule that respondent Executive Secretary did not abuse effect and will impact upon even those contracts and transactions entered into prior to P.D.
his discretion, and that P.D. 957 is to be given retroactive effect so as to cover even those 957’s enactment:
contracts executed prior to its enactment in 1976. “SEC. 20. Time of Completion.—Every owner or developer shall construct and provide the
P.D. 957 did not expressly provide for retroactivity in its entirety, but such can be plainly facilities, improvements, infrastructures and other forms of development, including water
inferred from the unmistakable intent of the law. supply and lighting facilities, which are offered and indicated in the approved subdivision or
The intent of the law, as culled from its preamble and from the situation, circumstances condominium plans, brochures, prospectus, printed matters, letters or in any form of
and conditions it sought to remedy, must be enforced. On this point, a leading authority on advertisement, within one year from the date of the issuance of the license for the subdivision
statutory construction stressed: or condominium project or such other period of time as may be fixed by the Authority.
“SEC. 21. Sales Prior to Decree.—In cases of subdivision lots or condominium units sold or
‘The intent of a statute is the law. x x x. The intent is the vital part, the essence of the law, and disposed of prior to the effectivity of this Decree, it shall be incumbent upon the owner or
the primary rule of construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intent. The intention of developer of the subdivision or condominium project to complete compliance with his or its
the legislature in enacting a law is the law itself, and must be enforced when ascertained, obligations as provided in the preceding section within two years from the date of this
although it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the statute. Courts will not follow the Decree unless otherwise extended by the
letter of a statute when it leads away from the true intent and purpose of the legislature and Authority or unless an adequate performance bond is filed in accordance with Section 6
to conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of the act. x x x. In construing statutes the hereof.
proper course is to start out and follow the true intent of the legislature and to adopt that “Failure of the owner or developer to comply with the obligations under this and the
sense which harmonizes best with the context and promotes in the fullest manner the preceding provisions shall constitute a violation punishable under Sections 38 and 39 of this
apparent policy and objects of the legislature.’1 (italics supplied.) Decree.
It goes without saying that, as an instrument of social justice, the law must favor the weak and “SEC. 23. Non-Forfeiture of Payments.—No installment payment made by a buyer in a
the disadvantaged, including, in this instance, small lot buyers and aspiring homeowners. P.D. subdivision or condominium project for the lot or unit he contracted to buy shall be forfeited
957 was enacted with no other end in view than to provide a protective mantle over helpless in favor of the owner or developer when the buyer, after due notice to the owner or developer,
citizens who may fall prey to the manipulations and machinations of ‘unscrupulous subdivision desists from further payment due to the failure of the owner or developer to develop the
and condominium sellers,’ and such intent is nowhere expressed more clearly than in its subdivision or condominium project according to the approved plans and within the time limit
preamble, pertinent portions of which read as follows: for complying with the same. Such buyer may, at his option, be reimbursed the total amount
“WHEREAS, it is the policy of the State to afford its inhabitants the requirements of decent paid including amortization interests but excluding delinquency interests, with interest
human settlement and to provide them with ample opportunities for improving their quality thereon at the legal rate.” (italics supplied)
of life;
On the other hand, as argued by the respondent Executive Secretary, the application of P.D.
957 to the contracts in question will be consistent with paragraph 4 of the contracts
themselves, which expressly provides:
“(4) The party of the First Part hereby binds himself to subdivide, develop and improve the
entire area covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 168119 of which the parcels of lands
subject of this contract is a part in accordance with the provisions of Quezon City Ordinance
No. 6561, S-66 and the Party of the First Part further binds himself to comply with and abide
by all laws, rules and regulations respecting the subdivision and development of lots for
residential purposes as may be presently in force or may hereafter be required by laws passed
by the Congress of the Philippines or required by regulations of the Bureau of Lands, the General
Registration Office and other government agencies.” (italics supplied)
Moreover, as P.D. 957 is undeniably applicable to the contracts in question, it follows that
Section 23 thereof had been properly invoked by private respondent when he desisted from
making further payment to petitioner due to petitioner’s failure to develop the subdivision
project according to the approved plans and within the time limit for complying with the same.
(Such incomplete development of the subdivision and non-performance of specific contractual
and statutory obligations on the part of the subdivision-owner had been established in the
findings of the HLURB which in turn were confirmed by the respondent Executive Secretary in
his assailed Decision.) Furthermore, respondent Executive Secretary also gave due weight to
the following matters: although private respondent started to default on amortization
payments beginning May 1975, so that by the end of July 1975 he had already incurred three
consecutive arrearages in payments, nevertheless, the petitioner, who had the cancellation
option available to him under the contract, did not exercise or utilize the same in timely fashion
but delayed until May 1979 when he finally made up his mind to cancel the contracts. But by
that time the land purchase agreements had already been overtaken by the provisions of P.D.
957, promulgated on July 12, 1976. (In any event, as pointed out by respondent HLURB and
seconded by the Solicitor General, the defaults in amortization payments incurred by private
respondent had been effectively condoned by the petitioner, by reason of the latter’s
tolerance of the defaults for a long period of time.)
Likewise, there is no merit in petitioner’s contention that respondent Secretary exceeded
his jurisdiction in ordering the refund of private respondent’s payments on Lot 12 although
(according to petitioner) only Lot 13 was the subject of the complaint. Respondent Secretary
duly noted that the supporting documents submitted substantiating the claim of
nondevelopment justified such order inasmuch as such claim was also the basis for non-
payment of amortizations on said Lot 12.
Finally, since petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the (Executive Secretary’s)
Decision dated March 10, 1992 was filed only on the 21st day from receipt thereof, said
decision had become final and executory, pursuant to Section 7 of Administrative Order No.
18 dated February 12, 1987, which provides that “(d)ecisions/resolutions/orders of the Office
of the President shall, except as otherwise provided for by special laws, become final after the
lapse of fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy thereof x x x, unless a motion for
reconsideration thereof is filed within such period.”
WHEREFORE, there being no showing of grave abuse of discretion, the petition is DENIED
due course and is hereby DISMISSED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-47757-61 January 28, 1980 Five of the informations, wherein Ano Dacullo, Geronimo Oroyan, Mario Aparici, Ruperto Cajes
and Modesto Suello were the accused, were raffled to Judge Vicente B. Echaves, Jr. of Branch
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ABUNDIO R. ELLO, As 4th Assistant of Provincial Bohol II (Criminal Cases Nos. 1824, 1828, 1832, 1833 and 1839, respectively).
VICENTE DE LA SERNA. JR., as complainant all private prosecutor, petitioners,
vs. Before the accused could be arraigned, Judge Echaves motu proprio issued an omnibus order
HON. VICENTE B. ECHAVES, JR., as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bohol Branch II, dated December 9, 1977 dismissing the five informations on the grounds (1) that it was alleged
ANO DACULLO, GERONIMO OROYAN, MARIO APARICI, RUPERTO CAJES and MODESTO S that the accused entered the land through "stealth and strategy", whereas under the decree
SUELLO, respondents. the entry should be effected "with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage
of the absence or tolerance of the landowner", and (2) that under the rule of ejusdem
generis the decree does not apply to the cultivation of a grazing land.

AQUINO, J.:p Because of that order, the fiscal amended the informations by using in lieu of "stealth and
strategy" the expression "with threat, and taking advantage of the absence of the ranchowner
and/or tolerance of the said ranchowner". The fiscal asked that the dismissal order be
The legal issue in this case is whether Presidential Decree No. 772, which penalizes squatting
reconsidered and that the amended informations be admitted.
and similar acts, applies to agricultural lands. The decree (which took effect on August 20,
1975) provides:
The lower court denied the motion. It insisted that the phrase "and for other purposes" in the
decree does not include agricultural purposes because its preamble does not mention the
SECTION 1. Any person who, with the use of force, intimidation or threat,
Secretary of Agriculture and makes reference to the affluent class.
or taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner,
succeeds in occupying or possessing the property of the latter against his
will for residential, commercial or any other purposes, shall be punished From the order of dismissal, the fiscal appealed to this Court under Republic Act No. 5440. The
by an imprisonment ranging from six months to one year or a fine of not appeal is devoid of merit.
less than one thousand nor more than five thousand pesos at the
discretion of the court, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. We hold that the lower court correctly ruled that the decree does not apply to pasture lands
(2nd paragraph is omitted.) because its preamble shows that it was intended to apply to squatting in urban communities or
more particularly to illegal constructions in squatter areas made by well-to-do individuals. The
The record shows that on October 25, 1977 Fiscal Abundio R. Ello filed with the lower court squating complained of involves pasture lands in rural areas.
separate informations against sixteen persons charging them with squatting as penalized by
Presidential Decree No. 772. The information against Mario Aparici which is similar to the other The preamble of the decree is quoted below:
fifteen informations, reads:
WHEREAS, it came to my knowledge that despite the issuance of Letter of
That sometime in the year 1974 continuously up to the present at Instruction No. 19 dated October 2, 1972, directing the Secretaries of
barangay Magsaysay, municipality of Talibon, province of Bohol, National Defense, Public Work. 9 and communications, Social Welfare and
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- the Director of Public Works, the PHHC General Manager, the Presidential
named accused, with stealth and strategy, enter into, occupy and cultivate Assistant on Housing and Rehabilitation Agency, Governors, City and
a portion of a grazing land physically occupied, possessed and claimed by Municipal Mayors, and City and District Engineers, "to remove an illegal
Atty. Vicente de la Serna, Jr. as successor to the pasture applicant Celestino constructions including buildings on and along esteros and river banks,
de la Serna of Pasture Lease Application No. 8919, accused's entrance into those along railroad tracks and those built without permits on public and
the area has been and is still against the win of the offended party; did then private property." squatting is still a major problem in urban
and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously squat and cultivate a communities all over the country;
portion of the said grazing land; said cultivating has rendered a nuisance
to and has deprived the pasture applicant from the full use thereof for WHEREAS, many persons or entities found to have been unlawfully
which the land applied for has been intended, that is preventing applicant's occupying public and private lands belong to the affluent class;
cattle from grazing the whole area, thereby causing damage and prejudice
to the said applicant-possessor-occupant, Atty. Vicente de la Serna, Jr. (sic)
WHEREAS, there is a need to further intensify the government's drive
against this illegal and nefarious practice.
It should be stressed that Letter of Instruction No. 19 refers to illegal constructions on public
and private property. It is complemented by Letter of Instruction No. 19-A which provides for
the relocation of squatters in the interest of public health, safety and peace and order.

On the other hand, it should be noted that squatting on public agricultural lands, like the
grazing lands involved in this case, is punished by Republic Act No. 947 which makes it unlawful
for any person, corporation or association to forcibly enter or occupy public agricultural lands.
That law provides:

SECTION 1. It shall be unlawful for any person corporation or association


to enter or occupy, through force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth,
any public agriculture land including such public lands as are granted to
private individuals under the provision of the Public Land Act or any other
laws providing for the of public agriculture lands in the Philippines and are
duly covered by the corresponding applications for the notwithstanding
standing the fact that title thereto still remains in the Government or for
any person, natural or judicial to investigate induce or force another to
commit such acts.

Violations of the law are punished by a fine of not exceeding one thousand or imprisonment
for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court,
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. (See People vs. Lapasaran 100 Phil. 40.)

The rule of ejusdem generis (of the same kind or species) invoked by the trial court does not
apply to this case. Here, the intent of the decree is unmistakable. It is intended to apply only
to urban communities, particularly to illegal constructions. The rule of ejusdem generis is
merely a tool of statutory construction which is resorted to when the legislative intent is
uncertain (Genato Commercial Corp. vs. Court of Tax Appeals, 104 Phil. 615,618; 28 C.J.S. 1049-
50).

WHEREFORE, the trial court's order of dismissal is affirmed. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
No. L-28329. August 7, 1975.* Same; Special Import Tax Law; Special Import Tax Law repealed six prior statutes.—
COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, petitioner, vs. ESSO STANDARD EASTERN, INC., (Formerly: Republic Act No. 1394 repealed and revoked six earlier statutes which had something to do
Standard-Vacuum Refining Corp. (Phil.), respondent. with the imposition of special levies and/or exemption of certain importations from the burden
of the special import taxes or levies. On the other hand, it is apparent that R.A. No. 387, the
Taxation; Special import tax; Exemption from payment of customs duties under Republic Petroleum Act, had been spared from the pruning knife of Congress, although this latter law
Act No. 387 includes exemption from payment of special import tax; Reasons.—Considering had granted more concessions and tax-exemption privileges than any of the statutes that were
the manner in which extrinsic aids, the history of the enactment of the statute and purpose of amended, repealed or revoked by R.A. No. 1394. The answer must be that the Congress of the
the legislature in employing a clause or provision in the law had been applied in determining Philippines saw fit to preserve the privileges granted under the Petroleum Law of 1949 in order
the true intent of the lawmaking body, R.A. No. 387, The Petroleum Act of 1949, was intended to keep the door open to the exploitation and such development of the petroleum resources
to encourage the exploitation, exploration and development of the petroleum resources of the of the country with such incentives as are given under that law.
country by giving it the necessary incentive in the form of tax exemptions. This is the raison d
etre for the generous grant of tax exemptions to those who would invest their financial APPEAL from a decision of the Court of Appeals.
resources towards the achievement of this national economic goal.
Statutes; Interpretation of; Use of aids in interpretation of ambiguous statute.—It is a The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
well accepted principle that where a statute is ambiguous, courts may examine both the Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo, Assistant Solicitor General Antonio A.
printed pages of the published Act as well as those extrinsic matters that may aid in construing Torres and Solicitor Antonio M. Martinez for petitioner.
the meaning of the statute, such as the history of its enactment, the reasons for the passage Carlos J. Valdez & Associates for respondent.
of the bill and purposes to be accomplished by the measure.
Same; Same; Determination of legislative intent; Examination of origin and history of ESGUERRA, J.:
statute.—Courts may take judicial notice of the origin and history of the statutes which they
are called upon to construe and administer, and of facts which affect their derivation, validity Appeal from the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals reversing the Commissioner of Customs’
and operation. decision holding respondent ESSO Standard Eastern, Inc., (formerly the Standard-Vacuum
Same; Same; Same; Consideration of whole and every part of the law.—In order to Refining Corporation (Phil.) and hereinafter referred to as ESSO) liable in the total sum of
determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses and phrases of the statute P775.62 as special import tax on certain articles imported by the latter under Republic Act No.
should not be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part 387, otherwise known as the Petroleum Act of 1949.
thereof must be considered in fixing the maning of any of its parts. Respondent ESSO is the holder of Refining Concession No. 2, issued by the Secretary of
Same; Same; Same; Adoption of construction that will harmonize law in question with Agriculture and Natural Resources on December 9, 1957, and operates a petroleum refining
other laws.—In fact every statute should receive such construction as will make it harmonize plant in Limay, Bataan. Under Article 103 of Republic Act No. 387 which provides: “During the
with the pre-existing body of laws. Antagonism between the Act to be interpreted and existing five years following the granting of any concession, the concessionaire may import free of
or previous laws is to be avoided, unless it was clearly the intention of the legislature that such customs duty, all equipment, machinery, material, instruments, supplies and accessories,”
antagonism should arise and one amends or repeals the other, either expressly or by respondent imported and was assessed the special import tax (which it paid under protest) on
implication. the following separate importations:
Same; Same; Repeal by implication not favored.—Repeal by implication is not favored
unless it is manifested that the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to be passed 1)One carton, scientific instruments with C & F value of $163.59; assessed a special
with deliberation and with full knowledge of all existing ones on the subject, it is logical to import tax in the amount of P31.98 (Airport Protest No. 10);
conclude that in passing a statute it was not intended to interfere with or abrogate any former
law relating to the same matter, unless the repugnancy between the two is not only
irreconcilable but also clear and convincing as a result of the language used, or unless the latter 2)One carton of recorder parts with C & F value of $221.56; assessed special import tax
actfully embraces the subject matter of the earlier. in the amount of P43.82 (Airport Protest No. 11);
Same; Petroleum Act of 1949; Intent of legislature.—The title of Republic Act No. 387
and the provisions of its three articles give a clue to the intent of the Philippine Legislature, 3)One carton of valves with C & F value of $310.58; assessed special import tax in the
which is to encourage the exploitation and development of the petroleum resources of the amount of P60.72 (Airport Protest No. 12);
country. Through the instrumentality of said law, it declared in no uncertain terms that the
intensification of the exploration for petroleum must be carried on unflinchingly even if, for 4)One box of parts for Conversion boilers and Auxiliary Equipment with C & F value of
the time being, no taxes, both national and local, may be collected from the industry. This is $2,389.69; assessed special import tax in the amount of P467.00 (Airport Protest No.
the unequivocal intention of the Philippine Congress when the language of the Petroleum Act 15);
is examined. Until this law or any substantial portion thereof is clearly amended or repealed
by subsequent statutes, the intention of the legislature must be upheld.
5)One carton of X-ray films with C & F value of $132.80; assessed special import tax in THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF
the amount of P26.00 (Airport ProtestNo. 16); and CUSTOMS DUTIES UNDER REPUBLIC ACT NO. 387 INCLUDES EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF
THE SPECIAL IMPORT TAX.
6)One carton of recorder parts with C & F value of $750.39; assessed special import tax On the other hand, the Court of Tax Appeals retionalized the ground for its ruling thus:
in the amount of P147.00 (Airport Protest No. 17).1 “If we are to adhere, as we should, to the plain and obvious meaning of words in consonance
with settled rules of interpretation, it seems clear that the special import tax is an impost or a
charge on the importation or bringing into the Philippines of all goods, articles or products
The Collector of Customs on February 16, 1962, held that respondent ESSO was subject to the
subject thereto, for the phrase “import tax on all goods, articles or products imported or
payment of the special import tax provided in Republic Act No. 1394, as amended by R.A. No.
brought into the Philippines” in explicit and unambiguous terms simply means customs duties.
2352, and dismissed the protests.2
It is hardly necessary to add that “customs duties” are simply taxes assessed on merchandise
On March 1, 1962, respondent appealed the ruling of the Collector of Customs to the
imported from, or exported to a foreign country.
Commissioner of Customs who, on March 19, 1965, affirmed the decision of said Collector of
“And being a charge upon importation, the special import tax is essentially a customs duty,
Customs.3
or at least partakes of the character thereof.”
On July 2, 1965, respondent ESSO filed a petition with the Court of Tax Appeals for review
Citing numerous American decisions and definitions of terms “customs duties,” “duties,”
of the decision of the Commissioner of Customs.
“imposts,” “levies,” “tax,” and “tolls,” and their distinctions, including some pronouncements
The Court of Tax Appeals, on September 30, 1967, reversed the decision of herein
of this Court on the subject, the Court of Tax Appeals in its decision, went to great lengths to
petitioner Commissioner of Customs and ordered refund of the amount of P775.62 to
show that the term “special import tax” as used in R.A. No. 1394 includes customs duties. It
respondent ESSO which the latter had paid under protest. 4
sees the special import tax as nothing but an impost or a charge on the importation or bringing
This decision of the Court of Tax Appeals is now before this Court for review.
into the Philippines of goods, articles or products. 7
Petitioner contends that the special import tax under Republic Act No. 1394 is separate
To clinch its theory the Court of Tax Appeals cited the similarity in the basis of computation
and distinct from the customs duty prescribed by the Tariff and Customs Code, and that the
of the customs duty as well as the similarity in the phraseology of Section 3 of Republic Act No.
exemption enjoyed by respondent ESSO from the payment of customs duties under the
1394 (which establishes the special import tax) and Section 201 of the Tariff & Customs Code
Petroleum Act of 1949 does not include exemption from the payment of the special import tax
(the basic law providing for and regulating the imposition of customs duties and imposts on
provided in R.A. No. 1394.5
importations).8
For its stand petitioner puts forward this rationale:
For its part, private respondent, ESSO, in its answer to the petition, leaned heavily on the
“A perusal of the provisions of R.A. No. 1394 will show that the legislature considered the
same arguments as those given by the Tax Court, the burden of which is that the special import
special import tax as a tax distinct from customs duties as witness the fact that Section 2(a) of
tax law is a customs law.9
the said law made separate mention of customs duties and special import tax when it provided
It is clear that the only issue involved in this case is whether or not the exemption enjoyed
that x x x if as a result of the application of the schedule therein, the total revenue derived
by herein private respondent ESSO Standard Eastern, Inc. from customs duties granted by
from the customs duties and from the special import tax on goods, x x x imported from the
Republic Act No. 387, or the Petroleum Act of 1949, should embrace or include the special
United States is less in any calendar year than the proceeds from the exchange tax imposed
import tax imposed by R.A. No. 1394, or the Special Import Tax Law.
under Repbulic Act Numbered Six Hundred and One, as amended, on such goods, articles or
We have examined the records of this case thoroughly and carefully considered the
products during the calendar year 1955, the President may, by proclamation, suspend the
arguments presented by both parties and We are convinced that the only thing left to this
reduction of the special import tax for the next succeeding calendar year x x x x.
Court to do is to determine the intention of the legislature through interpretation of the two
“If it were the intention of Congress to exempt the holders of petroleum refinery
statutes involved, i.e., Republic Act No. 1394 and Republic Act No. 387.
concessions like the protestant (respondent herein), such exemption should have been clearly
It is a well accepted principle that where a statute is ambiguous, as Republic Act No. 1394
stated in the statute. Exemptions are never presumed. They must be expressed in the clearest
appears to be, courts may examine both the printed pages of the published Act as well as those
and most unambiguous language and not left to mere implication.”6
extrinsic matters that may aid in construing the meaning of the statute, such as the history of
Specifically, petitioner in his brief submitted two assignments of errors allegedly committed by
its enactment, the reasons for the passage of the bill and purposes to be accomplished by the
the Court of Tax Appeals in the controverted decision, to wit:
measure.10
1st assignment of error:
Petitioner in the first assignment of error took exception to the finding of the Court of Tax
Appeals that “The language of Republic Act No. 1394 seems to leave no room for doubt that
THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE TERM “CUSTOMS DUTY” IN the law intends that the phrase ‘Special import tax’ is taken to include customs duties” and
ARTICLE 103 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 387 INCLUDES THE SPECIAL IMPORT TAX IMPOSED BY countered with the argument that “An examination of the provisions of Republic Act No. 1394
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 1394; will indubitably reveal that Congress considered the special import tax as a tax different from
customs duties, as may be seen from the fact that Section 2(a) of said law made separate
2nd assignment of error: mention of customs duties and special import tax . . .” Thus:
“x x x if as a result of the application of the schedule therein the total revenue derived from
the customs duties and from the special import tax on goods, x x x imported from the United
States is less in any calendar year than the proceeds from the exchange tax imposed under “ART. 104. No export tax to be imposed.—No export tax shall be levied upon petroleum
Republic Act Numbered Six Hundred and One, as amended, on such goods, articles or products produced from concessions granted under this Act.”
during the calendar year 1955, the President may, by proclamation, suspend the reduction of The title of Republic Act No. 387 and the provisions of its three articles just cited give a clue to
the special import tax for the next succeeding calendar year x x x” the intent of the Philippine legislature, which is to encourage the exploitation and
Petitioner further argues: development of the petroleum resources of the country. Through the instrumentality of said
“Customs duties are prescribed by the Tariff and Customs Code, while the special import tax is law, it declared in no uncertain terms that the intensification of the exploration for petroleum
provided for by Republic Act No. 1394. If our legislature had intended to classify the special must be carried on unflinchingly even if, for the time being, no taxes, both national and local,
import tax as customs duty, the said Act would not have expressly exempted from payment of may be collected from the industry. This is the unequivocal intention of the Philippine Congress
the special import tax importations of machinery, equipment, accessories, and spare parts for when the language of the Petroleum Act is examined. Until this law or any substantial portion
use of industries, without distinguishing whether the industries referred to are the industries thereof is clearly amended or repealed by subsequent statutes, the intention of the legislature
exempt from the payment of customs duties or the non-exempt ones (Sec. 6). It is sufficient must be upheld.
that the imported machinery, etc., is for the use of any industry.”11 Against this unambiguous language of R.A. No. 387, there is the subsequent legislation,
A study of petitioner’s two assignments of errors shows that one is anchored on practically the R.A. No. 1394, the Special Import Tax Law, which, according to the herein petitioner, shows
same ground as the other: both involve the interpretation of R.A. No. 387 (The Petroleum Act that the legislature considered the special import tax as a tax distinct from customs duties.
of 1949) in relation with R.A. No. 1394 (The Special Import Tax Law). Republic Act No. 1394, otherwise known as the Special Import Tax Law, is entitled as
While the petitioner harps on particular clauses and phrases found in the two cited laws, follows:
which in a way was likewise resorted to by the respondent ESSO, it would do Us well to restate AN ACT TO IMPOSE A SPECIAL IMPORT TAX ON ALL GOODS, ARTICLES OR PRODUCTS
the fundamental rule in the construction of a statute. IMPORTED OR BROUGHT INTO THE PHILIPPINES, AND TO REPEAL REPUBLIC ACTS NUMBERED
In order to determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses and phrases SIX HUNDRED AND ONE, EIGHT HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN, EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-
of the statute should not be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and ONE, ELEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE, ELEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-SEVEN AND
every part thereof must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts. In fact every THIRTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE.
statute should receive such construction as will make it harmonize with the pre-existing body The title indicates unmistakably that it is repealing six prior statutes. As will be seen later,
of laws. Antagonism between the Act to be interpreted and existing or previous laws is to be all these laws dealt with the imposition of a special excise tax on foreign exchange or other
avoided, unless it was clearly the intention of the legislature that such antagonism should arise form of levy on importation of goods into the country.
and one amends or repeals the other, either expressly or by implication. Section 1 of Republic Act No. 1394 reads as follows:
Another rule applied by this Court is that the courts may take judicial notice of the origin “SECTION 1. Except as herein otherwise provided, there shall be levied, collected and paid as
and history of the statutes which they are called upon to construe and administer, and of facts special import tax on all goods, articles or products imported or brought into the Philippines,
which affect their derivation, validity and operation.12 irrespective of source, during the period and in accordance with the rates provided for in the
Applying the above stated rules and principles, let us consider the history, the purpose and following schedule:
objectives of Republic Act No. 387 as it relates to Republic Act No. 1394 and other laws passed x x x x x x x x x x”
by the Congress of the Philippines insofar as they relate to each other. It would appear that by the provision of Section 1 of this Act, the pertinent provision of the
Republic Act No. 387, the Petroleum Act of 1949, has this for its title, to wit: Petroleum Law, for which there appears to be no proviso to the contrary, has been modified
AN ACT TO PROMOTE THE EXPLORATION, DEVELOPMENT, EXPLOITATION, AND UTILIZATION or altered.
OF THE PETROLEUM RESOURCES OF THE PHILIPPINES; TO ENCOURAGE THE CONSERVATION Section 6 of Republic Act No. 1394 declares that the tax provided for in its Section 1 shall
OF SUCH PETROLEUM RESOURCES; TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND not be imposed against importation into the Philippines of machinery and/or raw materials to
NATURAL RESOURCES TO CREATE AN ADMINISTRATION UNIT AND A TECHNICAL BOARD IN THE be used by new and necessary industries as determined in accordance with R.A. No. 901 and a
BUREAU OF MINES; TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS THEREFOR; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. long list of other goods, articles, machinery, equipment, accessories and others.
Art. 103 of said Act reads: We shall now examine the six statutes repealed by R. A. No 1394, namely:
“ART. 103. Customs duties.—During the five years following the granting of any concessions, R.A. No. 601 is an Act imposing a special excise tax of 17% on foreign exchange sold by the
the concessionaire may import free of customs duty, all equipment, machinery, material, Central Bank or its agents. This is known as the Exchange Tax Law;
instruments, supplies and accessories. R.A. No. 814 amended Sections one, two and five and repealed Sections three and four of
“x x x x” R.A. No. 601;
Art. 102 of the Same law insofar as pertinent, provides: R.A. No. 871 amended Sections one and two of R.A. No. 601, as amended earlier by R.A.
“ART. 102. Work obligations, taxes, royalties not to be charged.—x x x; nor shall any other No. 814;
special taxes or levies be applied to such concessions, nor shall concessionaires under this Act R.A. No. 1175 amended further Sections one and two of R.A. No. 601, as amended;
be subjected to any provincial, municipal, or other local taxes or levies; nor shall any sales tax R.A. No. 1197 amended furthermore R.A. No. 601 as amended previously by R.A. No. 1175;
be charged on any petroleum produced from the concession or portion thereof, manufactured R.A. No. 1375 amended Sections one and two of R.A. No. 601 as amended by R.A. Nos.
by the concessionaire and used in the working of his concession. x x x.” 1175 and 1197.
Art. 104, still of the same Act, reads:
As can be seen from the foregoing, in one fell swoop, Republic Act No. 1394 repealed and It is not amiss to mention herein passing that contrary to the theory of the herein
revoked six earlier statutes which had something to do with the impostion of special levies petitioner, R.A. No. 387 had not been repealed by R.A. No. 2352 which expressly abrogated
and/or exemption of certain importations from the burden of the special import taxes or Section 6 of R.A. No. 1394 but did not repeal any part of R.A. No. 387. Therefore, the exemption
levies. On the other hand, it is apparent that R.A. No. 387, the Petroleum Act, had been spared granted by Republic Act No. 387 still stands.
from the pruning knife of Congress, although this latter law had granted more concessions and WHEREFORE, taking into consideration the weight given by this Court to the findings and
tax-exemption privileges than any of the statutes that were amended, repealed or revoked by conclusions of the Court of Tax Appeals on a matter it is well-equipped to handle, which
R.A. No. 1394. The answer must be that the Congress of the Philippine saw fit to preserve the findings and conclusions We find no reason to overturn, the petition of the Commissioner of
privileges granted under the Petroleum Law of 1949 in order to keep the door open to the Customs to reverse the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals should be, as it is hereby, denied.
exploitation and development of the petroleum resources of the country with such incentives No costs.
as are given under that law. SO ORDERED.
This ascertained will and intention of the legislature finds a parallelism in a case brought
earlier before this Court.
A fishpond owner was slapped with taxes as a “merchant” by the Collector of Internal
Revenue. He paid under protest and filed an action to recover the taxes paid, claiming that he
was an agriculturist and not a merchant. When this Court was called upon to interpret the
provisions of the Internal Revenue Law on whether fish is an agricultural product which falls
under the exemption provisions of said law, it inquired into the purpose of the legislature in
establishing the exemption for agricultural products. We held:
“The first inquiry, therefore, must relate to the purpose the legislature had in mind in
establishing the exemption contained in the clause now under consideration. It seems
reasonable to assume that it was due to the belief on the part of the law-making body that by
exempting agricultural products from this tax the farming industry
124
124 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Commissioner of Customs vs. Esso Standard Eastern, Inc.
would be favored and the development of the resources of the country encouraged. . . . .”13
Having this in mind, particularly the manner in which extrinsic aids, the history of the
enactment of the statute and purpose of the legislature in employing a clause or provision in
the law had been applied in determining the true intent of the lawmaking body, We are
convinced that R.A. No. 387, The Petroleum Act of 1949, was intended to encourage the
exploitation, exploration and development of the petroleum resources of the country by giving
it the necessary incentive in the form of tax exemptions. This is the raison d etre for the
generous grant of tax exemptions to those who would invest their financial resources towards
the achievement of this national economic goal.
On the contention of herein petitioner that the exemptions enjoyed by respondent ESSO
under R.A. No. 387 have been abrogated by R.A. No. 1394, We hold that repeal by implication
is not favored unless it is manifest that the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to
be passed with deliberation and with full knowledge of all existing ones on the subject, it is
logical to conclude that in passing a statute it was not intended to interfere with or abrogate
any former law relating to the same matter, unless the repugnancy between the two is not
only irreconcilable but also clear and convincing as a result of the language used, or unless the
latter act fully embraces the subject matter of the earlier.14
As observed earlier, Congress lined up for revocation by Republic Act No. 1394 six statutes
dealing with the imposition of special imposts or levies or the granting of exemptions from
special import taxes. Yet, considering the tremendous amount of revenues it was losing under
the Petroleum Law of 1949, it failed to include the latter statute among those it chose to bury
by the Special Import Taw Law. The reason for this is very clear: The legislature wanted to
continue the incentives for the continuing development of the petroleum industry.
G.R. No. L-33693-94 May 31, 1979 the labels of their rifled milk products the words, "This milk is not suitable for nourishment for
infants less than one year of age or words of similar import, " as directed by the above quoted
MISAEL P. VERA, as Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and THE FAIR TRADE provision of Law, and from taking any action to enforce the above legal provision against the
BOARD, petitioner, plaintiffs' private respondents in connection with their rifled milk products, pending the final
vs. determination of the case, Civil Case No. 52276, on the merits.
HON. SERAFIN R. CUEVAS, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch IV,
INSTITUTE OF EVAPORATED FILLED MILK MANUFACTURERS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., On July 25, 1969, however, the Office of the Solicitor General brought an appeal from the said
CONSOLIDATED MILK COMPANY (PHIL.) INC., and MILK INDUSTRIES, INC., respondents. order by way of certiorari to the Supreme Court. 1 In view thereof, the respondent court in the
meantime suspended disposition of these cases but in view of the absence of any injunction
DE CASTRO, J.: or restraining order from the Supreme Court, it resumed action on them until their final
disposition therein.
This is a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction to review the decision rendered by
respondent judge, in Civil Case No. 52276 and in Special Civil Action No. 52383 both of the Special Civil Action No. 52383, on the other hand, is an action for prohibition and injunction
Court of First Instance of Manila. with a petition for preliminary injunction. Petitioners therein pray that the respondent Fair
Trade Board desist from further proceeding with FTB I.S. No. I . entitled "Antonio R. de Joya vs.
Institute of Evaporated Milk Manufacturers of the Philippines, etc." pending final
Plaintiffs, in Civil Case No. 52276 private respondents herein, are engaged in the manufacture,
determination of Civil Case No. 52276. The facts of this special civil action show that on
sale and distribution of filled milk products throughout the Philippines. The products of private
December 7, 1962, Antonio R. de Joya and Sufronio Carrasco, both in their individual capacities
respondent, Consolidated Philippines Inc. are marketed and sold under the brand Darigold
and in their capacities as Public Relations Counsel and President of the Philippine Association
whereas those of private respondent, General Milk Company (Phil.), Inc., under the brand
of Nutrition, respectively, filed FTB I.S. No. 1 with Fair Trade Board for misleading
"Liberty;" and those of private respondent, Milk Industries Inc., under the brand "Dutch Baby."
advertisement, mislabeling and/or misbranding. Among other things, the complaint filed
Private respondent, Institute of Evaporated Filled Milk Manufacturers of the Philippines, is a
include the charge of omitting to state in their labels any statement sufficient to Identify their
corporation organized for the principal purpose of upholding and maintaining at its highest the
filled milk products as "imitation milk" or as an imitation of genuine cows milk. and omitting
standards of local filled milk industry, of which all the other private respondents are members.
to mark the immediate containers of their filled milk products with the words: "This milk is not
suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age or with other equivalent words
Civil Case No. 52276 is an action for declaratory relief with ex-parte petition for preliminary as required under Section 169 of the Tax Code. The Board proceeded to hear the complaint
injunction wherein plaintiffs pray for an adjudication of their respective rights and obligations until it received the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Court of First Instance on
in relation to the enforcement of Section 169 of the Tax Code against their filled milk products. March 19, 1963.

The controversy arose from the order of defendant, Commissioner of Internal Revenue now Upon agreement of the parties, Civil Case No. 52276 and Special Civil Action No. 52383 were
petitioner herein, requiring plaintiffs- private respondents to withdraw from the market all of heard jointly being intimately related with each other, with common facts and issues being
their filled milk products which do not bear the inscription required by Section 169 of the Tax also involved therein. On April 16, 1971, the respondent court issued its decision, the
Code within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the order with the explicit warning that failure of dispositive part of which reads as follows:
plaintiffs' private respondents to comply with said order will result in the institution of the
necessary action against any violation of the aforesaid order. Section 169 of the Tax Code reads
Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered:
as follows:

In Civil Case No. 52276:


Section 169. Inscription to be placed on skimmed milk. — All condensed
skimmed milk and all milk in whatever form, from which the fatty part has
been removed totally or in part, sold or put on sale in the Philippines shall (a) Perpetually restraining the defendant, Commissioner of Internal
be clearly and legibly marked on its immediate containers, and in all the Revenue, his agents, or employees from requiring plaintiffs to print on the
language in which such containers are marked, with the words, "This milk labels of their filled milk products the words: "This milk is not suitable for
is not suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age," or nourishment for infants less than one year of age" or words with
with other equivalent words. equivalent import and declaring as nun and void and without authority in
law, the order of said defendant dated September 28, 1961, Annex A of
the complaint, and the Ruling of the Secretary of Finance, dated November
The Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction dated February 16, 1963 restraining the
12, 1962, Annex G of the complaint; and
Commissioner of Internal Revenue from requiring plaintiffs' private respondents to print on
In Special Civil Action No. 52383: familiar rule of ejusdem generis that general and unlimited terms are restrained and limited by
the particular terms they follow in the statute.
(b) Restraining perpetually the respondent Fair Trade Board, its agents or
employees from continuing in the investigation of the complaints against Skimmed milk is different from filled milk. According to the "Definitions, Standards of Purity,
petitioners docketed as FTB I.S. No. 2, or any charges related to the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Food Inspection," skimmed milk is milk in whatever form
manufacture or sale by the petitioners of their filled milk products and from which the fatty part has been removed. Filled milk, on the other hand, is any milk,
declaring as null the proceedings so far undertaken by the respondent whether or not condensed, evaporated concentrated, powdered, dried, dessicated, to which
Board on said complaints. (pp. 20- 21, Rollo). has been added or which has been blended or compounded with any fat or oil other than milk
fat so that the resulting product is an imitation or semblance of milk cream or skim milk." The
From the above decision of the respondent court, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and difference, therefore, between skimmed milk and filled milk is that in the former, the fatty part
the Fair Trade Board joined together to file the present petition for certiorari with preliminary has been removed while in the latter, the fatty part is likewise removed but is substituted with
injunction, assigning the following errors: refined coconut oil or corn oil or both. It cannot then be readily or safely assumed that Section
169 applies both to skimmed milk and filled milk.
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT SEC. TION 169 OF THE TAX
CODE HAS BEEN REPEALED BY IMPLICATION. The Board of Food Inspection way back in 1961 rendered an opinion that filled milk does not
come within the purview of Section 169, it being a product distinct from those specified in the
said Section since the removed fat portion of the milk has been replaced with coconut oil and
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT SECTION 169 OF THE TAX
Vitamins A and D as fortifying substances (p. 58, Rollo). This opinion bolsters the Court's stand
CODE HAS LOST ITS TAX PURPOSE, AND THAT COMMISSIONER
as to its interpretation of the scope of Section 169. Opinions and rulings of officials of the
NECESSARILY LOST HIS AUTHORITY TO ENFORCE THE SAME AND THAT THE
government called upon to execute or implement administrative laws command much respect
PROPER AUTHORITY TO PROMOTE THE HEALTH OF INFANTS IS THE FOOD
and weight. (Asturias Sugar Central Inc. vs. Commissioner of Customs, G. R. No. L-19337,
AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND THE
September 30, 1969, 29 SCRA 617; Tan, et. al. vs. The Municipality of Pagbilao et. al., L-14264,
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, AS PROVIDED FOR IN RA 3720, NOT THE
April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 887; Grapilon vs. Municipal Council of Carigara L-12347, May 30, 1961,
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE.
2 SCRA 103).

III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE POWER TO


This Court is, likewise, induced to the belief that filled milk is suitable for nourishment for
INVESTIGATE AND TO PROSECUTE VIOLATIONS OF FOOD LAWS IS
infants of all ages. The Petitioners themselves admitted that: "the filled milk products of the
ENTRUSTED TO THE FOOD AND DRUG INSPECTION, THE FOOD AND DRUG
petitioners (now private respondents) are safe, nutritious, wholesome and suitable for feeding
ADMINISTRATION, THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND THE SECRETARY OF
infants of all ages" (p. 44, Rollo) and that "up to the present, Filipino infants fed since birth with
JUSTICE, AND THAT THE FAIR TRADE BOARD IS WITHOUT JURISDICTION TO
filled milk have not suffered any defects, illness or disease attributable to their having been
INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE ALLEGED MISBRANDING, MISLABELLING
fed with filled milk." (p. 45, Rollo).
AND/OR MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENT OF FILLED MILK PRODUCTS. (pp, 4-
5, Rollo).
There would seem, therefore, to be no dispute that filled milk is suitable for feeding infants of
all ages. Being so, the declaration required by Section 169 of the Tax Code that filled milk is not
The lower court did not err in ruling that Section 169 of the Tax Code has been repealed by
suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age would, in effect, constitute a
implication. Section 169 was enacted in 1939, together with Section 141 (which imposed a
deprivation of property without due. process of law.
Specific tax on skimmed milk) and Section 177 (which penalized the sale of skimmed milk
without payment of the specific tax and without the legend required by Section 169). However,
Section 141 was expressly repealed by Section 1 of Republic Act No. 344, and Section 177, by Section 169 is being enforced only against respondent manufacturers of filled milk product and
Section 1 of Republic Act No. 463. By the express repeal of Sections 141 and 177, Section 169 not as against manufacturers, distributors or sellers of condensed skimmed milk such as
became a merely declaratory provision, without a tax purpose, or a penal sanction. SIMILAC, SMA, BREMIL, ENFAMIL, OLAC, in which, as admitted by the petitioner, the fatty part
has been removed and substituted with vegetable or corn oil. The enforcement of Section 169
against the private respondents only but not against other persons similarly situated as the
Moreover, it seems apparent that Section 169 of the Tax Code does not apply to filled milk.
private respondents amounts to an unconstitutional denial of the equal pro petition of the
The use of the specific and qualifying terms "skimmed milk" in the headnote and "condensed
laws, for the law, equally enforced, would similarly offend against the Constitution. Yick Wo
skimmed milk" in the text of the cited section, would restrict the scope of the general clause
vs. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356,30 L. ed. 220).
"all milk, in whatever form, from which the fatty pat has been removed totally or in part." In
other words, the general clause is restricted by the specific term "skimmed milk" under the
As stated in the early part of this decision, with the repeal of Sections 141 and 177 of the Tax branded he shall cause notice thereof to be given to the person or persons
Code, Section 169 has lost its tax purpose. Since Section 169 is devoid of any tax purpose, concerned and such person or persons shall be given an opportunity to
petitioner Commissioner necessarily lost his authority to enforce the same. This was so held subject evidence impeaching the correctness of the finding or charge in
by his predecessor immediately after Sections 141 and 177 were repealed in General Circular question.
No. V-85 as stated in paragraph IX of the Partial Stipulation of facts entered into by the parties,
to wit: (e) When a violation of any provisions of this Act comes to the knowledge
of the Food and Drug Administrator of such character that a criminal
... As the act of sewing skimmed milk without first paying the specific tax prosecution ought to be instituted against the offender, he shall certify the
thereon is no longer unlawful and the enforcement of the requirement in facts to the Secretary of Justice through the Secretary of Health, together
regard to the placing of the proper legend on its immediate containers is a with the chemists' report, the findings of the Board of Food and Drug
subject which does not come within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Inspection, or other documentary evidence on which the charge is based.
Internal Revenue, the penal provisions of Section 177 of the said Code
having been repealed by Republic Act No. 463. (p. 102, Rollo). (f) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as requiring the Food and Drug
Administrator to certify for prosecution pursuant to subparagraph (e)
Petitioner's contention that he still has jurisdiction to enforce Section 169 by virtue of Section hereof, minor violations of this Act whenever he believes that public
3 of the Tax Code which provides that the Bureau of Internal Revenue shall also "give effect to interest will be adequately served by a suitable written notice or warning.
and administer the supervisory and police power conferred to it by this Code or other laws" is
untenable. The Bureau of Internal Revenue may claim police power only when necessary in The aforequoted provisions of law clearly show that petitioners, Commissioner of Internal
the enforcement of its principal powers and duties consisting of the "collection of all national Revenue and the Fair Trade Board, are without jurisdiction to investigate and to prosecute
internal revenue taxes, fees and charges, and the enforcement of all forfeitures, penalties and alleged misbranding, mislabeling and/or misleading advertisements of filled milk. The
fines connected therewith." The enforcement of Section 169 entails the promotion of the jurisdiction on the matters cited is vested upon the Board of Food and Drug inspection and the
health of the nation and is thus unconnected with any tax purpose. This is the exclusive Food and Drug Administrator, with the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Justice, also
function of the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health as provided for in intervening in case criminal prosecution has to be instituted. To hold that the petitioners have
Republic Act No. 3720. In particular, Republic Act No. 3720 provides: also jurisdiction as would be the result were their instant petition granted, would only cause
overlapping of powers and functions likely to produce confusion and conflict of official action
Section 9. ... It shall be the duty of the Board (Food and Drug Inspection), which is neither practical nor desirable.
conformably with the rules and regulations, to hold hearings and conduct
investigations relative to matters touching the Administration of this Act, WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed en toto. No costs.
to investigate processes of food, drug and cosmetic manufacture and to
subject reports to the Food and Drug Administrator, recommending food
SO ORDERED.
and drug standards for adoption. Said Board shall also perform such
additional functions, properly within the scope of the administration
thereof, as maybe assigned to it by the Food and Drug Administrator. The
decisions of the Board shall be advisory to the Food and Drug
Administrator.

Section 26. ...

xxx xxx xxx

(c) Hearing authorized or required by this Act shall be conducted by the


Board of Food and Drug Inspection which shall submit recommendation to
the Food and Drug Administrator.

(d) When it appears to the Food and Drug Administrator from the reports
of the Food and Drug Laboratory that any article of food or any drug or
cosmetic secured pursuant to Section 28 of this Act is adulterated or
G.R. No. L-43760 August 21, 1976 Prescribes. It is equally the case in the United States as this excerpt from the work of Cox and
Bok makes clear: "It is a well-settled rule that a representative will he certified even though
PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF FREE LABOR UNIONS (PAFLU), petitioner less than a majority of all the employees in the unit cast ballots in favor of the union. It is
vs. enough that the union be designated by a majority of the valid ballots, and this is so even
BUREAU OF LABOR RELATIONS, HONORABLE CARMELO C. NORIEL, NATIONAL FEDERATION though only a small proportion of the eligible voters participates. Following the analogy of
OF FREE LABOR UNIONS (NAFLU), and PHILIPPINE BLOOMING MILLS CO., INC., respondents. political elections, the courts have approved this practice of the Board."9

FERNANDO, Acting C.J.: 2. There is this policy consideration. The country is at present embarked on a wide-scale
industrialization project. As a matter of fact, respondent firm is engaged in such activity.
A certification by respondent Director of Labor Relations, Carmelo C. Noriel, that respondent Industrialization, as noted by Professor Smith, Merrifield and Rothschild, "can thrive only as
National Federation of Free Labor Unions (NAFLU) as the exclusive bargaining agent of all the there is developed a. stable structure of law and order in the productive sector."10That
employees in the Philippine Blooming Mills, Company, Inc. disregarding the objection raised objective is best attained in a collective bargaining regime, which is a manifestation of
by petitioner, the Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions (PAFLU), is assailed in this industrial democracy at work, if there be no undue obstacles placed in the way of the choice
certiorari proceeding. Admittedly, in the certification election held on February 27, 1976, of a bargaining representative. To insist on the absolute majority where there are various
respondent Union obtained 429 votes as against 414 of petitioner Union. Again, admittedly, unions and where the possibility of invalid ballots may not be ruled out, would be to frustrate
under the Rules and Regulations implementing the present Labor Code, a majority of the valid that goal. For the probability of a long drawn-out, protracted process is not easy to dismiss.
votes cast suffices for certification of the victorious labor union as the sole and exclusive That is not unlikely given the intensity of rivalry among unions capable of enlisting the
bargaining agent.1 There were four votes cast by employees who did not want any union. 2 On allegiance of a group of workers. It is to avoid such a contingency that there is this explicit
its face therefore, respondent Union ought to have been certified in accordance with the above pronouncement in the implementing rule. It speaks categorically. It must be obeyed. That was
applicable rule. Petitioner, undeterred, would seize upon the doctrine announced in the case what respondent Director did.
of Allied Workers Association of the Philippines v. Court of Industrial Relations3 that spoiled
ballots should be counted in determining the valid votes cast. Considering there were 3. Nor can fault of a grave and serious character be imputed to respondent Director
seventeen spoiled ballots, it is the submission that there was a grave abuse of discretion on presumably because of failure to abide by the doctrine or pronouncement of this Court in the
the part of respondent Director. Implicit in the comment of respondent Director of Labor aforesaid Allied Workers Association case. The reliance is on this excerpt from the opinion:
Relations, 4 considered as an answer, is the controlling weight to be accorded the "However, spoiled ballots, i.e., those which are defaced, torn or marked (Rules for Certification
implementing rule above-cited, no inconsistency being shown between such rule and the Elections, Rule II, sec. 2[j]) should be counted in determining the majority since they are
present Labor Code. Under such a view, the ruling in the Allied Workers Association case that nevertheless votes cast by those who are qualified to do so." 11 Nothing can be clearer than
arose during the period when it was the Industrial Peace Act 5, that was in effect and not the that its basis is a paragraph in a section of the then applicable rules for certification
present law, no longer possesses relevance. It cannot and should not be applied. It is not elections. 12 They were promulgated under the authority of the then prevailing Industrial
controlling. There was no abuse of discretion then, much less a grave one. Peace Act. 13 That Legislation is no longer in force, having been superseded by the present
Labor Code which took effect on November 1, 1974. This certification election is governed
This Court is in agreement. The law is on the side of respondent Director, not to mention the therefore, as was made clear, by the present Labor Code and the Rules issued thereunder.
decisive fact appearing in the Petition itself that at most, only ten of the spoiled ballots "were Absent a showing that such rules and regulations -are violative of the Code, this Court cannot
intended for the petitioner Union,"6 thus rendering clear that it would on its own showing ignore their existence. When, as should be the case, a public official acts in accordance with a
obtain only 424 votes as against 429 for respondent Union. certiorari does not lie. norm therein contained, no infraction of the law is committed. Respondent Director did, as he
ought to, comply with its terms. He took into consideration only the "valid votes" as was
1. What is of the essence of the certification process, as noted in Lakas Ng Manggagawang required by the Rules. He had no choice as long as they remain in force. In a proper showing,
Pilipino v. Benguet Consolidated, Inc.7 "is that every labor organization be given the the judiciary can nullify any rule it found in conflict with the governing statute. 14 That was not
opportunity in a free and honest election to make good its claim that it should be the exclusive even attempted here. All that petitioner did was to set forth in two separate paragraphs the
collective bargaining representative."8 Petitioner cannot complain. It was given that applicable rule followed by respondent Director 15and the governing article. 16 It did not even
opportunity. It lost in a fair election. It came out second best. The implementing rule favors, as bother to discuss why such rule was in conflict with the present Labor Code. It failed to point
it should, respondent Union, It obtained a majority of the valid votes cast. So our law out any repugnancy. Such being the case, respondent Director must be upheld.
4. The conclusion reached by us derives further support from the deservedly high repute
attached to the construction placed by the executive officials entrusted with the responsibility
of applying a statute. The Rules and Regulations implementing the present Labor Code were
issued by Secretary Blas Ople of the Department of Labor and took effect on February 3, 1975,
the present Labor Code having been made known to the public as far back as May 1, 1974,
although its date of effectivity was postponed to November 1, 1974, although its date of
effectivity was postponed to November 1, 1974. It would appear then that there was more
than enough time for a really serious and careful study of such suppletory rules and regulations
to avoid any inconsistency with the Code. This Court certainly cannot ignore the interpretation
thereafter embodied in the Rules. As far back as In re Allen," 17 a 1903 decision, Justice
McDonough, as ponente, cited this excerpt from the leading American case of Pennoyer v.
McConnaughy, decided in 1891: "The principle that the contemporaneous construction of a
statute by the executive officers of the government, whose duty it is to execute it, is entitled
to great respect, and should ordinarily control the construction of the statute by the courts, is
so firmly embedded in our jurisprudence that no authorities need be cited to support
it." 18 There was a paraphrase by Justice Malcolm of such a pronouncement in Molina v.
Rafferty," 19 a 1918 decision: "Courts will and should respect the contemporaneous
construction placed upon a statute by the executive officers whose duty it is to enforce it, and
unless such interpretation is clearly erroneous will ordinarily be controlled thereby." 20 Since
then, such a doctrine has been reiterated in numerous decisions . 21 As was emphasized by
Chief Justice Castro, "the construction placed by the office charged with implementing and
enforcing the provisions of a Code should he given controlling weight. " 22

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. Costs against petitioner Philippine
Association of Free Labor Unions (PAFLU).
G.R. No. 135992. January 31, 2006.* applications filed under Executive Order No. 109 (E.O. No. 109) and not to applications
EASTERN TELECOMMUNICATIONS PHILIPPINES, INC. and TELECOMMUNICATIONS voluntarily filed. In its Manifestation in support of the motion for partial reconsideration,
TECHNOLOGIES, INC., petitioners, vs. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION CORPORATION, respondent attached a letter from Deputy Commissioner and Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Kathleen
respondent. G. Heceta, of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), stating thus:
xxx
Administrative Law; National Telecommunications Commission; Statutory Please be informed that the escrow deposit and performance bond were required to
Construction; The National Telecommunications Commission, being the government agency public telecommunications entities to ensure that the mandated installation of local exchange
entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under its special and technical forte, and lines are installed within three (3) years pursuant to EO 109 and RA 7925. Since your company
possessing the necessary rule-making power to implement is objectives, is in the best position has already complied with its obligation by the installation of more than 300,000 lines in
to interpret its own rules, regulations and guidelines.—The NTC, being the government agency Quezon City, Malabon City and Valenzuela City in the National Capital Region and Region V in
entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under its special and technical forte, and early 1997, the escrow deposit and performance bond were not required in your subsequent
possessing the necessary rule-making power to implement its objectives, is in the best position authorizations.2
to interpret its own rules, regu-lations and guidelines. The Court has consistently yielded and In a Resolution dated October 4, 2004, the Court required petitioners and the NTC to file their
accorded great respect to the interpretation by administrative agencies of their own rules respective comments on the motion.3
unless there is an error of law, abuse of power, lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion Subsequently, in its Manifestation/Comment filed on January 11, 2005, the Office of the
clearly conflicting with the letter and spirit of the law. Solicitor General (OSG), in behalf of the NTC, likewise referred to the same letter of OIC Heceta
and declared that it fully agrees with respondent that the escrow deposit and performance
MOTION FOR PARTIAL RECONSIDERATION of a decision of the Supreme Court. bond are not required in subsequent authorizations for additional/new areas outside its
original roll-out obligation under the Service Area Scheme of E.O. No. 109.
Petitioners did not file any comment and it was only after the Court issued a show cause
The facts are stated in the amended opinion of the Court.
and compliance Resolution on October 19, 2005 that petitioners manifested in their Entry of
Fetalvero, Dalmacio & Alinsunurin Law Office for petitioners.
Special Appearance, Manifestation and Compliance dated November 25, 2005 that they have
Maria Pia Altea-Urgello for petitioners Eastern Telecom, Phil., Inc., et al.
no further comments on respondent’s motion for partial reconsideration.4
Quiason, Makalintal, Barot, Torres and Ibarra for private respondent.
The Court has observed in its Decision that Section 27 of NTC MC No. 11-9-93 is silent as
AMENDED DECISION to whether the posting of an escrow deposit and performance bond is a condition sine qua
non for the grant of a provisional authority. The NTC, through the OSG, explicitly clarified,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: which was not disputed by petitioners, that the escrow deposit and performance bond are not
required in subsequent authorizations for additional/new areas outside its original roll-out
On July 23, 2004, the Court promulgated its Decision in the above-captioned case with the obligation under E.O. No. 109. The OSG agreed with respondent’s stance that since the
following dispositive portion: provisional authority in this case involves a voluntary application not covered by the original
“WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Order of the service areas created by the NTC under E.O. No. 109, then it is not subject to the posting of an
National Telecommunications Commissions dated November 10, 1997 in NTC Case No. 96-195 escrow deposit and performance bond as required by E.O. No. 109, but only to the conditions
is AFFIRMED with the following modifications: provided in the provisional authority. Further, the OSG adapted the ratiocination of the Court
Respondent International Communication Corporation, in accordance with Section 27 of of Appeals on this matter, i.e., respondent was not subjected to the foregoing escrow deposit
NTC MC No. 11-9-93, is required to: and performance bond requirement because the landline obligation is already outside its
original roll-out commitment under E.O. No. 109.5
(1)Deposit in escrow in a reputable bank 20% of the investment required for the first The NTC, being the government agency entrusted with the regulation of activities coming
two years of the implementation of the proposed project; and under its special and technical forte, and possessing the necessary rule-making power to
implement its objectives,6 is in the best position to interpret its own rules, regulations and
guidelines. The Court has consistently yielded and accorded great respect to the interpretation
(2)Post a performance bond equivalent to 10% of the investment required for the first
by administrative agencies of their own rules unless there is an error of law, abuse of power,
two years of the approved project but not to exceed P500 Million.
lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion clearly conflicting with the letter and spirit of
the law.7
within such period to be determined by the National Telecommunications Commission. In City Government of Makati vs. Civil Service Commission,8 the Court cited cases where
No pronouncement as to costs. the interpretation of a particular administrative agency of a certain rule was adhered to, viz.:
SO ORDERED.”1 As properly noted, CSC was only interpreting its own rules on leave of absence and not a
Respondent now seeks a partial reconsideration of the portion of the Court’s decision requiring statutory provision in coming up with this uniform rule. Undoubtedly, the CSC like any other
it to make a 20% escrow deposit and to post a 10% performance bond. Respondent claims that agency has the power to interpret its own rules and any phrase contained in them with its
Section 27 of NTC MC No. 11-9-93, which required the foregoing amounts, pertains only to
interpretation significantly becoming part of the rules themselves. As observed in West Texas
Compress & Warehouse Co. v. Panhandle & S.F. Railing Co.—
xxx
This principle is not new to us. In Geukeko v. Araneta this Court upheld the interpretation
of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce of its own rules of procedure in suspending
the period of appeal even if such action was nowhere stated therein. We said—
xxx
x x x It must be remembered that Lands Administrative Order No. 6 is in the nature of
procedural rules promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources pursuant
to the power bestowed on said administrative agency to promulgate rules and regulations
necessary for the proper discharge and management of the functions imposed by law upon
said office. x x x x Recognizing the existence of such rule-making authority, what is the weight
of an interpretation given by an administrative agency to its own rules or
regulations? Authorities sustain the doctrine that the interpretation given to a rule or
regulation by those charged with itsexecution is entitled to the greatest weight by the
Court construing such rule or regulation, and such interpretation will be followed unless it
appears to be clearly unreasonable or arbitrary (42 Am. Jur. 431). It has also been said that:
xxx
The same precept was enunciated in Bagatsing v. Committee on Privatization where we
upheld the action of the Commission on Audit (COA) in validating the sale of Petron
Corporation to Aramco Overseas Corporation on the basis of COA’s interpretation of its own
circular that set bidding and audit guidelines on the disposal of government assets—
The COA itself, the agency that adopted the rules on bidding procedure to be followed by
government offices and corporations, had upheld the validity and legality of the questioned
bidding. The interpretation of an agency of its own rules should be given more weight than
the interpretation by that agency of the law it is merely tasked to administer (italics
supplied).
Given the greater weight accorded to an agency’s interpretation of its own rules than to
its understanding of the statute it seeks to implement, we simply cannot set aside the former
on the same grounds as we would overturn the latter. More specifically, in cases where the
dispute concerns the interpretation by an agency of its own rules, we should apply only these
standards: “Whether the delegation of power was valid; whether the regulation was within
that delegation; and if so, whether it was a reasonable regulation under a due process test.”
An affirmative answer in each of these questions should caution us from discarding the
agency’s interpretation of its own rules. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, the Court holds that the interpretation of the NTC that Section 27 of NTC MC No. 11-9-
93 regarding the escrow deposit and performance bond shall pertain only to a local exchange
operator’s original roll-out obligation under E.O. No. 109, and not to roll-out obligations made
under subsequent or voluntary applications outside E.O. No. 109, should be sustained.
IN VIEW THEREOF, respondent’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration is GRANTED. The
Court’s Decision dated July 23, 2004 is AMENDED, the dispositive portion of which should read
as follows:
“WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Order of the National
Telecommunications Commission dated November 10, 1997 in NTC Case No. 96-195 is
AFFIRMED.
thereby deleting the order requiring respondent to make a 20% escrow deposit and to post a
10% performance bond.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 106724. February 9, 1994.* “SEC. 39. Compulsory Retirement.—Compulsory retirement, for officer and non-officer, shall
THE NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION (NAPOLCOM), represented by its Acting Chairman, Cesar be upon the attainment of age fifty-six (56); Provided, That, in case of any officer with the rank
Sarino, Teodolo C. Natividad, Vice-Chairman and Executive Officer, Brig. Gen. Virgilio H. David, of chief superintendent, director or deputy director general, the Commission may allow his
Edgar Dula Torre, Guillermo P. Enriquez, Commissioners, and Chief Supt. Levy D. Macasiano, retention in the service for an unextendible period of one (1) year.
Director for Personnel, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE JUDGE SALVADOR DE GUZMAN, JR., CHIEF Based on the above provision, petitioners sent notices of retirement to private respondents
SUPT. NORBERTO M. LINA, CHIEF SUPT. RICARDO TRINIDAD, JR., SR. SUPT. MANUEL SUAREZ, who are all members of the defunct Philippine Constabulary and have reached the age of fifty-
SUPT. JUSTITO B. TAGUM, SR. SUPT. TRANQUILINO ASPIRAS, SR., SUPT. RAMON I. NAVARRO, six (56).
SR. SUPT. JOSE P. SURIA, SR. SUPT. AGATON ABIERA, CHIEF INSP. BIENVENIDO TORRES, AND In response, private respondents filed a complaint on December 19, 1991 for declaratory
THE NATIONAL (ROTC) ALUMNI ASSOCIATION INC. (NARRA), REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT relief with prayer for the issuance of an ex parte restraining order and/or injunction (docketed
COL. BENJAMIN GUNDRAN, AND DIRECTOR HERMO-GENES PERALTA, JR., respondents. as Civil Case No. 91-3498) before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 142. In their
complaint, respondents aver that the age of retirement set at fifty-six (56) by Section 39 of RA
Police Officers; Statutory Construction; RA. No. 6975 itself distinguishes INP from the PC 6975 cannot be applied to them since they are also covered by Sec. 89 thereof which provides:
and it cannot be construed that “INP” as used in Sec. 89 includes the members of the PC.—From
a careful perusal of the above provisions, it appears therefore that the use of the term INP is “Any provision hereof to the contrary notwithstanding, and within the transition period of
not synonymous with the PC. Had it been otherwise, the statute could have just made a four (4) years following the effectivity of this Act, the following members of the INP shall be
uniform reference to the members of the whole Philippine National Police (PNP) for retirement considered compulsorily retired:
purposes and not just the INP. The law itself distinguishes INP from the PC and it cannot be
construed that “INP” as used in Sec. 89 includes the members of the PC. “a)Those who shall attain the age of sixty (60) on the first year of the effectivity of this
Same; Same; In case of doubt as to what a provision of a statute means, the meaning Act.
put to the provision during the legislative deliberations may be adopted.—Having defined the
meaning of INP, the trial court need not have belabored on the supposed dubious meaning of “b)Those who shall attain the age of fifty-nine (59) on the second year of the effectivity
the term. Nonetheless, if confronted with such a situation, courts are not without recourse in of this Act.
determining the construction of the statute with doubtful meaning for they may avail
themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative body. In case of doubt as to what a
“c)Those who shall attain the age of fifty-eight (58) on the third year of the effectivity of
provision of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision during the legislative
this Act.
deliberations may be adopted.
_______________
“d)Those who shall attain the age of fifty-seven (57) on the fourth year of the effectivity
Same; Same; Same; Courts should not give a literal interpretation to the letter of the of this Act.”
law if it runs counter to the legislative intent.—Courts should not give a literal interpretation
to the letter of the law if it runs counter to the legislative intent. It is the submission of respondents that the term “INP” includes both the former members of
the Philippine Constabulary and the local police force who were earlier constituted as the
PETITION for certiorari to reverse a judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Br. 142. Integrated National Police (INP) by virtue of PD 765 in 1975.
De Guzman, J. On the other hand, it is the belief of petitioners that the 4-year transition period provided
in Section 89 applies only to the local police forces who previously retire, compulsorily, at age
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. sixty (60) for those in the ranks of Police/Fire Lieutenant or higher (Sec. 33, PD 1184); while the
The Solicitor General for petitioners. retirement age for the PC had already been set at fifty-six (56) under the AFP law.
Renecio R. Espiritu for private respondents. On December 23, 1991, respondent judge issued a restraining order followed by a writ of
Diosdado P. Peralta for respondent-intervenor. injunction on January 8, 1992 upon posting of a P100,000.00 bond by private respondents.
After the parties have submitted their respective pleadings, the case was submitted for
BIDIN, J.: resolution and on August 14, 1992, the respondent judge rendered the assailed decision, the
decretal portion of which reads:
The case at bar had its origin in the implementation of the compulsory retirement of PNP “WHEREFORE, the court hereby declares that the term “INP” in Section 89 of the PNP Law
officers as mandated in Sec. 39, RA 6975, otherwise known as “An Act Establishing the includes all members of the present Philippine National Police, irrespective of the original
Philippine National Police Under a Reorganized Department of the Interior and Local status of the present members of the Philippine National Police before its creation and
Government”, which took effect on January 2, 1991. Among others, RA 6975 provides for a establishment, and that Section 39 thereof shall become operative after the lapse of the four-
uniform retirement system for PNP members. Section 39 thereof reads: year transition period.
“The preliminary injunction issued is made permanent.
“SO ORDERED.” (Rollo, pp. 29-30) Does the law, RA 6975, distinguish INP from the PC? Petitioners submit that it does and
Petitioners filed the instant petition on October 8, 1992 seeking the reversal of the above cite Sections 23 and 85 to stress the point, viz.:
judgment. On January 12, 1993, the Court resolved to treat the respondents’ Comment as “SEC. 23. Composition.—Subject to the limitations provided for in this Act, the Philippine
Answer and gave due course to the petition. National Police, hereinafter referred to as the PNP, is hereby established, initially consisting of
In ruling in favor of private respondents, respondent judge observed, among others, that: the members of the police forces who were integrated into the Integrated National Police (INP)
“It may have been the intention of Congress to refer to the local police forces as the “INP”, but pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 765, and the officers and enlisted personnel of the
the PNP Law failed to define who or what constituted the INP. The natural recourse of the court Philippine Constabulary (PC). x x x
is to trace the source of the “INP” as courts are permitted to look to prior laws on the same xxx
subject and to investigate the antecedents involved. There is nothing extant in the statute “The permanent civilian employees of the present PC, INP, Narcotics Command, CIS and
books except that which was created and established under PD 765 pursuant to the mandate the technical command of the AFP assigned with the PC, including NAPOLCOM hearing officers
of Article XV of the 1973 Constitution providing that the ‘State shall establish and maintain an holding regular items as such, shall be absorbed by the Department as employees thereof,
integrated national police force whose organization, administration and operation shall be subject to existing laws and regulations.
provided by law.’ Heretofore, INP was unknown. And the said law categorically declared the xxx
PC ‘as the principal component of the Integrated National Police’ (Sec. 5, PD 765).” “SEC. 85. Phases of Implementation.—The implementation of this Act shall be undertaken
“The court was supplied by respondents (petitioners herein) with excerpts taken from the in three (3) phases, to wit:
discussion amongst the members of Congress concerning the particular provision of Section 89. Phase I—Exercise of option by the uniformed members of the Philippine Constabulary, the
The court is not persuaded by said discussion; it was a simple matter for the members of the PC elements assigned with the Narcotics Command, CIS, and the personnel of the technical
legislature to state precisely in clear and unequivocal terms their meaning, such as ‘integrated services of the AFP assigned with the PC to include the regular CIS investigating agents and the
police forces’ as used in PD 765. Instead, they employed ‘INP’, a generic term that includes the operatives and agents of the NAPOLCOM Inspection, Investigation and Intelligence Branch,
PC as the principal component of the INP, supra. In failing to categorically restrict the and the personnel of the absorbed National Action Committee on Anti-Hijacking (NACAH) of
application of Section 89 as the members of legislature are said to have intended, it gave rise the Department of National Defense, to be completed within six (6) months from the date of
to the presumption that it has not limited nor intended to limit the meaning of the word when the effectivity of this Act. At the end of this phase, all personnel from the INP, PC, Technical
the bill was finally passed into law. It is not difficult for the court to also presume that in Services, NACAH, and NAPOLCOM Inspection, Investigation and Intelligence Branch shall have
drafting the wording of the PNP Law, the legislators were aware of the historical legislative been covered by official orders assigning them to the PNP x x x.
origin of the ‘INP’. xxx
xxx “x x x. Any PC-INP officer or enlisted personnel may, within the twelve-month period from
“The court takes particular note of the fact that Section 89 is found in the Transitory the effectivity of this Act, retire x x x.
Provisions of the law which do not provide for any distinction between the former PC officers “Phase III.—x x x. To accomplish the tasks of Phase III, the Commission shall create a Board
and those belonging to the civilian police forces. These provisions are specifically enacted to of Officers composed of the following: NAPOLCOM Commissioner as Chairman and one (1)
regulate the period covering the dissolution of the PC and the creation of the PNP, a period representative each from the PC, INP, Civil Service Commission and the Department of Budget
that necessarily would be attended by imbalances and or confusion occasioned by the and Management.”
wholesale and mass integration. In fact, the retirement payment scheme of the INP is still to Section 86 of the same law further provides:
be formulated, leaving the impression that nothing is really settled until after the transition of “SEC. 86. Assumption by the PNP of Police Functions.—The PNP shall absorb the functions of
four years has lapsed. Section 89 therefore prevails over Section 39 up to the year 1995 when the PC, the INP and the Narcotics Command upon the effectivity of this Act.”
the retirement age for members of the PNP shall then be age 56; after the year 1995, Section From a careful perusal of the above provisions, it appears therefore that the use of the term
39 shall be the applicable law on retirement of PNP members.” (Rollo, pp. 27-28; italics INP is not synonymous with the PC. Had it been otherwise, the statute could have just made a
supplied) uniform reference to the members of the whole Philippine National Police (PNP) for retirement
Petitioners disagree and claim that the use of the term INP in Sec. 89 does not imply the same purposes and not just the INP. The law itself distinguishes INP from the PC and it cannot be
meaning contemplated under PD 765 wherein it is provided: construed that “INP” as used in Sec. 89 includes the members of the PC.
“Section 1. Constitution of the Integrated National Police.—There is hereby established and And contrary to the pronouncement of respondent judge that the law failed to define who
constituted the Integrated National Police (INP) which shall be composed of the Philippine constitutes the INP, Sec. 90 of RA 6975 has in fact defined the same. Thus,
Constabulary as the nucleus, and the integrated police forces as established by Presidential “SEC. 90. Status of Present NAPOLCOM, PC-INP.—Upon the effectivity of this Act, the present
Decrees Nos. 421, 482, 531, 585 and 641, as components, under the Department of National National Police Commission and the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police shall
Defense. cease to exist. The Philippine Constabulary, which is the nuclues of the Philippine
On the other hand, private respondents assert that being the nucleus of the Integrated Constabulary-Integrated National Police shall cease to be a major
National Police (INP) under PD 765, former members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) 807
should not be discriminated against from the coverage of the term “INP” in Sec. 89, RA 6975. VOL. 229, FEBRUARY 9, 1994 807
Clearly, it is argued, the term “INP” found in Section 89 of RA 6975 refers to the INP in PD 765.
Thus, where the law does not distinguish, the courts should not distinguish. National Police Commission vs. De Guzman, Jr.
service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Integrated National Police, which is the “SEN. SAGUISAG. So kung 55, when the law becomes effective
civilian component of the Philippine ConstabularyIntegrated National Police, shall cease to be ...
the national police force and lieu thereof, a new police force shall be established and “THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). He will retire at 58, doon siya aabot.
constituted pursuant to this Act.” (italics supplied) “REP. UNICO. Pwede.
It is not altogether correct to state, therefore, that the legislature failed to define who the “SEN. SAGUISAG. Dahil ‘yon, may time to . . .
members of the INP are. In this regard, it is of no moment that the legislature failed to “THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Walang problema dito sa transition ng pulis, acceptable
categorically restrict the application of the transition period in Sec. 89 specifically in favor of ito, eh.
the local police forces for it would be a mere superfluity as the PC component of the INP was “THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. COJUANGCO). Sa PC?
already retirable at age fifty-six (56). “THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). PC, walang mawawala sa kanila, 56 ang retirement age
Having defined the meaning of INP, the trial court need not have belabored on the nilang talaga, eh. Kaya ayaw ko ngang dagdagan ‘yung 56 nila at ‘yon din ang Armed Forces,
supposed dubious meaning of the term. Nonetheless, if confronted with such a situation, 56. (Ibid., May 22, 1990)
courts are not without recourse in determining the construction of the statute with doubtful In applying the provisions of Sec. 89 in favor of the local police force as established in PD 765,
meaning for they may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative body. In the Court does not, in any manner, give any undue preferential treatment in favor of the other
case of doubt as to what a provision of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision group. On the contrary, the Court is merely giving life to the real intent of the legislators based
during the legislative deliberations may be adopted (De Villa v. Court of Appeals, 195 SCRA on the deliberations of the Bicameral Conference Committee that preceded the enactment of
722 [1991] citing Palanca v. City of Manila, 41 Phil. 125 [1920]; Arenas v. City of San Carlos, 82 RA 6975.
SCRA 318 [1978]). The legislative intent to classify the INP in such manner that Section 89 of R.A. 6975 is
Courts should not give a literal interpretation to the letter of the law if it runs counter to applicable only to the local police force is clear. The question now is whether the classification
the legislative intent (Yellow Taxi and Pasay Transportation Workers’ Assn. v. Manila Yellow is valid. The test for this is reasonableness such that it must conform to the following
Taxi Cab Co., 80 Phil. 83 [1948]). requirements: (1) it must be based upon substantial distinctions; (2) It must be germane to the
Examining the records of the Bicameral Conference Committee, we find that the purpose of the law; (3) It must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) It must apply
legislature did intend to exclude the members of the PC from the coverage of Sec. 89 insofar equally to all members of the same class (People vs. Cayat, 68 Phil. 12 [1939]).
as the retirement age is concerned, thus: The classification is based upon substantial distinctions. The PC, before the effectivity of
“THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. MACEDA). Well, it seems what people really want is one common rule, the law (RA 6975), were already retirable at age 56 while the local police force were retirable
so if it is fifty-six, fifty-six; of course, the PC wants sixty for everybody. Of course, it is not at 60, and governed by different laws (P.D. 1184, Sec. 33 and Sec. 50). The distinction is
acceptable to us in the sense that we tied this up really to the question of: If you are lax in relevant for the purpose of the statute, which is to enable the local police force to plan for
allowing their (the PC) entry into the PNP, then tighten up the retirement. If we will be strict their retirement which would be earlier than usual because of the new law. Section 89 is
in, like requiring examinations and other conditions for their original entry, then since we have merely transitory, remedial in nature, and loses its force and effect once the four-year
sifted out a certain amount of undesirables, then we can allow a longer retirement age. That transitory period has elapsed. Finally, it applies not only to some but to all local police officers.
was the rationale, that was the tie-up. Since we are relaxing the entry, we should speed up . . It may be appropriate to state at this point that it seems absurb that a law will grant an
. extension to PC officers’ retirable age from 56 to 60 and then gradually lower it back to 56
“THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GUTANG), Exit. without any cogent reason at all. Why should the retirement age of PC officers be increased
“THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. MACEDA) . . . . the retirement, the exit. during the transitory period to the exclusion of other PC officers who would retire at age 56
“THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GUTANG). So let me get it very clear, Mr. Chairman. Fifty-six, let’s after such period? Such absurdity was never contemplated by the law and would defeat its
say, that will not make any adjustment in the PC because there (they) are (retirable at age) purpose of providing a uniform retirement age for PNP members.
fifty-six. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The writ of injunction issued on January 8, 1992 is
“THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Kaya nga, wala na silang masasabi. hereby LIFTED and the assailed decision of respondent judge is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
“THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. GUTANG). In the case of the Police, since they are retireable now SO ORDERED.
at sixty, for the officers, it will be applicable to them on a one-year every year basis for a total
period of four years transition.” (Bicameral Conference Committee on National Defense,
March 12, 1990)
“REP. GUTANG. On the first year of effectivity, the police will retire at 60 years.
“THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Sixty.
“REP. GUTANG. On the second year, 59.
“THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Oo.
“REP. GUTANG. On the third year. 58.
“THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Fifty-eight. So ‘yung 55, on the third year, 58, doon siya
re-retire.
“REP. GUTANG. Oo.
G.R. No. 87416. April 8, 1991.* compelling reasons exist to justify it (Phil. British Assurance Co., Inc. v. IAC, 150 SCRA 520
CECILIO S. DE VILLA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE [1987]).
PHILIPPINES, HONORABLE JOB B. MADAYAG, and ROBERTO Z. LORAYES, respondents. Same; Courts may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative body to
assist in determining the construction of a statute of doubtful meaning.—More importantly, it
Courts; Jurisdiction; Criminal Procedure; Information; Since the information alleges that is well established that courts may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative
the offense was committed in Makati, the same is controlling, and it sufficiently vests body to assist in determining the construction of a statute of doubtful meaning (Palanca v. City
jurisdiction upon the RTC of Makati.—In the case of People v. Hon. Manzanilla (156 SCRA 279 of Manila, 41 Phil. 125 [1920]). Thus, where there is doubts as to what a provision of a statute
[1987] cited in the case of Lim v. Rodrigo, 167 SCRA 487 [1988]), the Supreme Court ruled “that means, the meaning put to the provision during the legislative deliberation or discussion on
jurisdiction or venue is determined by the allegations in the information.” The information the bill may be adopted (Arenas v. City of San Carlos, 82 SCRA 318 [1978]).
under consideration specifically alleged that the offense was committed in Makati, Metro
Manila and therefore, the same is controlling and sufficient to vest jurisdiction upon the PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. Melo, J.
Regional Trial Court of Makati. The Court acquires jurisdiction over the case and over the
person of the accused upon the filing of a complaint or information in court which initiates a The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
criminal action (Republic v. Sunga, 162 SCRA 191 [1988]). San Jose, Enriquez, Lacas, Santos & Borje for petitioner.
Same; Same; Criminal Law; Batas Pambansa Blg. 22; Bouncing Checks; Venue; In Eduardo R. Robles for private respondent.
offenses involving violations of the Bouncing Checks Law (BP 22), the determinative factor in
determining venue, is the place of the issuance of the check.—Moreover, it has been held in PARAS, J.:
the case of Que v. People of the Philippines (154 SCRA 160 [1987] cited in the case of People
v. Grospe, 157 SCRA 154 [1988]) that “the determinative factor (in determining venue) is the This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the decision** of the Court
place of the issuance of the check.” On the matter of venue for violation of Batas Pambansa of Appeals promulgated on February 1, 1989 in CA-G.R. SP No. 16071 entitled “Cecilio S. de
Bilang 22, the Ministry of Justice, citing the case of People v. Yabut (76 SCRA 624 [1977], laid Villa vs. Judge Job B. Madayag, etc. and Roberto Z. Lorayes”, dismissing the petition for
down the following guidelines in Memorandum Circular No. 4 dated December 15, 1981, the certiorari filed therein.
pertinent portion of which reads: “(1) Venue of the offense lies at the place where the check The factual backdrop of this case, as found by the Court of Appeals, is as follows:
was executed and delivered; (2) the place where the check was written, signed or dated does “On October 5, 1987, petitioner Cecilio S. de Villa was charged before the Regional Trial Court
not necessarily fix the place where it was executed, as what is of decisive importance is the of the National Capital Judicial Region (Makati, Branch 145) with violation of Batas Pambansa
delivery thereof which is the final act essential to its consummation as an obligation; x x x (Res. Bilang 22, allegedly committed as follows:
No. 377, s. 1980, Filtex Mfg. Corp. vs. Manuel Chua, October 28, 1980).” (See The Law on ‘That on or about the 3rd day of April 1987, in the municipality of Makati, Metro Manila,
Bouncing Checks Analyzed by Judge Jesus F. Guerrero, Philippine Law Gazette, Vol. 7. Nos. 11 Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did,
& 12, October-December, 1983, p. 14). It is undisputed that the check in question was executed then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make or draw and issue to ROBERTO Z.
and delivered by the petitioner to herein private respondent at Makati, Metro Manila. LORAYEZ, to apply on account or for value a Depositors Trust Company Check No. 3371
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Foreign checks, provided they are either drawn and antedated March 31, 1987, payable to herein complainant in the total amount of U.S.
issued in the Philippines though payable outside thereof, are within the coverage of the $2,500.00 equivalent to P50,000.00, said accused well knowing that at the time of issue he had
Bouncing Checks Law.—However, petitioner argues that the check in question was drawn no sufficient funds in or credit with drawee bank for payment of such check in full upon its
against the dollar account of petitioner with a foreign bank, and is therefore, not covered by presentment which check when presented to the drawee bank within ninety (90) days from
the Bouncing Checks Law (B.P. Blg. 22). But it will be noted that the law does not distinguish the date thereof was subsequently dishonored for the reason ‘INSUFFICIENT FUNDS’ and
the currency involved in the case. As the trial court correctly ruled in its order dated July 5, despite receipt of notice of such dishonor said accused failed to pay said ROBERTO Z. LORAYEZ
1988: “Under the Bouncing Checks Law (B.P. Blg. 22), foreign checks, provided they are either the amount of P50,000.00 of said check or to make arrangement for full payment of the same
drawn and issued in the Philippines though payable outside thereof x x x are within the within five (5) banking days after receiving said notice.’
coverage of said law.” “After arraignment and after private respondent had testified on direct examination,
Statutes; Where the law does not make any exception, courts may not except something petitioner moved to dismiss the Information on the following grounds: (a) Respondent court
unless compelling reasons exist to justify it.—It is a cardinal principle in statutory construction has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; and (b) That no offense was committed since the
that where the law does not distinguish courts should not distinguish. Parenthetically, the rule check involved was payable in dollars, hence, the obligation created is null and void pursuant
is that where the law does not make any exception, courts may not except something unless to Republic Act No. 529 (An Act to Assure Uniform Value of Philippine Coin and Currency).
“On July 19, 1988, respondent court issued its first questioned orders stating: In its resolution dated November 13, 1989, the Second Division of this Court gave due
‘Accused’s motion to dismiss dated July 5, 1988, is denied for lack of merit. course to the petition and required the parties to submit simultaneously their respective
‘Under the Bouncing Checks Law (B.P. Blg. 22), foreign checks, provided they are either memoranda (Rollo, Resolution, p. 81).
drawn and issued in the Philippines though payable outside thereof, or made payable and The sole issue in this case is whether or not the Regional Trial Court of Makati has
dishonored in the Philippines though drawn and issued outside thereof, are within the jurisdiction over the case in question.
coverage of said law. The law likewise applied to checks drawn against current accounts in The petition is without merit.
foreign currency.’ Jurisdiction is the power with which courts are invested for administering justice, that is,
“Petitioner moved for reconsideration but his motion was subsequently denied by for hearing and deciding cases (Velunta v. Philippine Constabulary, 157 SCRA 147 [1988]).
respondent court in its order dated September 6, 1988, and which reads: Jurisdiction in general, is either over the nature of the action, over the subject matter, over
‘Accused’s motion for reconsideration, dated August 9, 1988, which was opposed by the the person of the defendant, or over the issues framed in the pleadings (Balais, v. Balais, 159
prosecution, is denied for lack of merit. SCRA 37 [1988]).
‘The Bouncing Checks Law is applicable to checks drawn against current accounts in Jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the statute in force at the time of
foreign currency (Proceedings of the Batasang Pambansa, February 7, 1979, p. 1376, cited in commencement of the action (De la Cruz v. Moya, 160 SCRA 538 [1988]).
Makati RTC Judge (now Manila City Fiscal) Jesus F. Guerrero’s The Ramifications of the Law on The trial court’s jurisdiction over the case, subject of this review, can not be questioned.
Bouncing Checks, p. 5).’ ” (Rollo, Annex “A”, Decision, pp. 20-22). Sections 10 and 15(a), Rule 110 of the Rules of Court specifically provide that:
A petition for certiorari seeking to declare the nullity of the aforequoted orders dated July 19, “Sec. 10. Place of the commission of the offense. The complaint or information is sufficient if it
1988 and September 6, 1988 was filed by the petitioner in the Court of Appeals wherein he can be understood therefrom that the offense was committed or some of the essential
contended: ingredients thereof occured at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the
particular place wherein it was committed constitutes an essential element of the offense or
“(a)That since the questioned check was drawn against the dollar account of petitioner is necessary for identifying the offense charged.
with a foreign bank, respondent court has no jurisdiction over the same or with accounts “Sec. 15. Place where action is to be instituted. (a) Subject to existing laws, in all criminal
outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and that Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory
could have not contemplated extending its coverage over dollar accounts; where the offense was committed or any of the essential ingredients thereof took place.”
In the case of People v. Hon. Manzanilla (156 SCRA 279[1987] cited in the case of Lim v.
“(b)That assuming that the subject check was issued in connection with a private Rodrigo, 167 SCRA 487[1988]), the Supreme Court ruled “that jurisdiction or venue is
transaction between petitioner and private respondent, the payment could not be determined by the allegations in the information.”
legally paid in dollars as it would violate Republic Act No. 529; and The information under consideration specifically alleged that the offense was committed
in Makati, Metro Manila and therefore, the same is controlling and sufficient to vest
“(c)That the obligation arising from the issuance of the questioned check is null and void jurisdiction upon the Regional Trial Court of Makati. The Court acquires jurisdiction over the
and is not enforceable within the Philippines either in a civil or criminal suit. Upon such case and over the person of the accused upon the filing of a complaint or information in court
premises, petitioner concludes that the dishonor of the questioned check cannot be said which initiates a criminal action (Republic v. Sunga, 162 SCRA 191 [1988]).
to have violated the provisions of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.” (Rollo, Annex “A”, Moreover, it has been held in the case of Que v. People of the Philippines (154 SCRA
Decision, p. 22). 160 [1987] cited in the case of People v. Grospe, 157 SCRA 154 [1988]) that “the determinative
factor (in determining venue) is the place of the issuance of the check.”
On the matter of venue for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, the Ministry of Justice,
On February 1, 1989, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision, the decretal portion of
citing the case of People v. Yabut (76 SCRA 624 [1977], laid down the following guidelines in
which reads:
Memorandum Circular No. 4 dated December 15, 1981, the pertinent portion of which reads:
“WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby dismissed. Costs against petitioner.
“(1) Venue of the offense lies at the place where the check was executed and delivered; (2) the
“SO ORDERED.” (Rollo, Annex “A”, Decision, p. 5)
place where the check was written, signed or dated does not necessarily fix the place where it
A motion for reconsideration of the said decision was filed by the petitioner on February 7,
was executed, as what is of decisive importance is the delivery thereof which is the final act
1989 (Rollo, Petition, p. 6) but the same was denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution
essential to its consummation as an obligation; x x x (Res. No. 377, s. 1980, Filtex Mfg. Corp.
dated March 3, 1989 (Rollo, Annex “B”, p. 26).
vs. Manuel Chua, October 28, 1980).” (See The Law on Bouncing Checks Analyzed by Judge
Hence, this petition.
Jesus F. Guerrero, Philippine Law Gazette, Vol. 7. Nos. 11 & 12, October-December, 1983, p.
14).
It is undisputed that the check in question was executed and delivered by the petitioner
to herein private respondent at Makati, Metro Manila.
However, petitioner argues that the check in question was drawn against the dollar
account of petitioner with a foreign bank, and is therefore, not covered by the Bouncing Checks
Law (B.P. Blg. 22).
But it will be noted that the law does not distinguish the currency involved in the case. As
the trial court correctly ruled in its order dated July 5, 1988:
“Under the Bouncing Checks Law (B.P. Blg. 22), foreign checks, provided they are either drawn
and issued in the Philippines though payable outside thereof x x x are within the coverage of
said law.”
It is a cardinal principle in statutory construction that where the law does not distinguish courts
should not distinguish. Parenthetically, the rule is that where the law does not make any
exception, courts may not except something unless compelling reasons exist to justify it (Phil.
British Assurance Co., Inc. v. IAC, 150 SCRA 520 [1987]).
More importantly, it is well established that courts may avail themselves of the actual
proceedings of the legislative body to assist in determining the construction of a statute of
doubtful meaning (Palanca v. City of Manila, 41 Phil. 125[1920]). Thus, where there is doubts
as to what a provision of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision during the
legislative deliberation or discussion on the bill may be adopted (Arenas v. City of San
Carlos, 82 SCRA 318 [1978]).
The records of the Batasan, Vol. III, unmistakably show that the intention of the lawmakers
is to apply the law to whatever currency may be the subject thereof. The discussion on the
floor of the then Batasang Pambansa fully sustains this view, as follows:
“x x x x x x x x x.
“THE SPEAKER. The Gentleman from Basilan is recognized.
“MR.TUPAY. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker.
“THE SPEAKER. The Gentleman may proceed.
“MR. TUPAY. Mr. Speaker, it has been mentioned by one of the Gentlemen who interpellated
that any check may be involved, like U.S. dollar checks, etc. We are talking about checks in
our country. There are U.S. dollar checks, checks in our currency, and many others.
“THE SPEAKER. The Sponsor may answer that inquiry.
“MR. MENDOZA. The bill refers to any check, Mr. Speaker, and this check may be a check in
whatever currency. This would not even be limited to U.S. dollar checks. The check may be
in French francs or Japanese yen or deutschunorhs. (sic.) If drawn, then this bill will apply.
“MR. TUPAY. So, it include U.S. dollar checks.
“MR. MENDOZA. Yes, Mr. Speaker.”
xxx xxx
(p. 1376, Records of the Batasan, Volume III; Italics supplied, for emphasis).
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-17931 February 28, 1963 XVIII. Urea formaldehyde for the manufacture of plywood and hardboard when
imported by and for the exclusive use of end-users.
CASCO PHILIPPINE CHEMICAL CO., INC., petitioner,
vs. Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be
HON. PEDRO GIMENEZ, in his capacity as Auditor General of the Philippines, admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties
and HON. ISMAEL MATHAY, in his capacity as Auditor of the Central Bank, respondents. adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of
facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
CONCEPCION, J.:
Petitioner maintains that the term "urea formaldehyde" appearing in this provision should be
This is a petition for review of a decision of the Auditor General denying a claim for refund of construed as "urea andformaldehyde" (emphasis supplied) and that respondents herein, the
petitioner Casco Philippine Chemical Co., Inc. Auditor General and the Auditor of the Central Bank, have erred in holding otherwise. In this
connection, it should be noted that, whereas "urea" and "formaldehyde" are the principal raw
materials in the manufacture of synthetic resin glues, the National Institute of Science and
The main facts are not disputed. Pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 2609, otherwise
Technology has expressed, through its Commissioner, the view that:
known as the Foreign Exchange Margin Fee Law, the Central Bank of the Philippines issued on
July 1, 1959, its Circular No. 95. fixing a uniform margin fee of 25% on foreign exchange
transactions. To supplement the circular, the Bank later promulgated a memorandum Urea formaldehyde is not a chemical solution. It is the synthetic resin formed as a
establishing the procedure for applications for exemption from the payment of said fee, as condensation product from definite proportions of urea and formaldehyde under
provided in said Republic Act No. 2609. Several times in November and December 1959, certain conditions relating to temperature, acidity, and time of reaction. This
petitioner Casco Philippine Chemical Co., Inc. — which is engaged in the manufacture of produce when applied in water solution and extended with inexpensive fillers
synthetic resin glues, used in bonding lumber and veneer by plywood and hardwood producers constitutes a fairly low cost adhesive for use in the manufacture of plywood.
— bought foreign exchange for the importation of urea and formaldehyde — which are the
main raw materials in the production of said glues — and paid therefor the aforementioned Hence, "urea formaldehyde" is clearly a finished product, which is patently distinct and
margin fee aggregating P33,765.42. In May, 1960, petitioner made another purchase of foreign different from urea" and "formaldehyde", as separate articles used in the manufacture of the
exchange and paid the sum of P6,345.72 as margin fee therefor. synthetic resin known as "urea formaldehyde". Petitioner contends, however, that the bill
approved in Congress contained the copulative conjunction "and" between the terms "urea"
Prior thereto, petitioner had sought the refund of the first sum of P33,765.42, relying upon and "formaldehyde", and that the members of Congress intended to exempt "urea" and
Resolution No. 1529 of the Monetary Board of said Bank, dated November 3, 1959, declaring "formaldehyde" separately as essential elements in the manufacture of the synthetic resin glue
that the separate importation of urea and formaldehyde is exempt from said fee. Soon after called "urea" formaldehyde", not the latter as a finished product, citing in support of this view
the last importation of these products, petitioner made a similar request for refund of the sum the statements made on the floor of the Senate, during the consideration of the bill before
of P6,345.72 paid as margin fee therefor. Although the Central Bank issued the corresponding said House, by members thereof. But, said individual statements do not necessarily reflect the
margin fee vouchers for the refund of said amounts, the Auditor of the Bank refused to pass in view of the Senate. Much less do they indicate the intent of the House of Representatives (see
audit and approve said vouchers, upon the ground that the exemption granted by the Song Kiat Chocolate Factory vs. Central Bank, 54 Off. Gaz., 615; Mayon Motors Inc. vs. Acting
Monetary Board for petitioner's separate importations of urea and formaldehyde is not in Commissioner of Internal Revenue, L-15000 [March 29, 1961]; Manila Jockey Club, Inc. vs.
accord with the provisions of section 2, paragraph XVIII of Republic Act No. 2609. On appeal Games & Amusement Board, L-12727 [February 29, 1960]). Furthermore, it is well settled that
taken by petitioner, the Auditor General subsequently affirmed said action of the Auditor of the enrolled bill — which uses the term "urea formaldehyde" instead of "urea and
the Bank. Hence, this petition for review. formaldehyde" — is conclusive upon the courts as regards the tenor of the measure passed by
Congress and approved by the President (Primicias vs. Paredes, 61 Phil. 118, 120; Mabanag vs.
Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1; Macias vs. Comm. on Elections, L-18684, September 14, 1961). If there
The only question for determination in this case is whether or not "urea" and "formaldehyde"
has been any mistake in the printing ofthe bill before it was certified by the officers of Congress
are exempt by law from the payment of the aforesaid margin fee. The pertinent portion of
and approved by the Executive — on which we cannot speculate, without jeopardizing the
Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2609 reads:
principle of separation of powers and undermining one of the cornerstones of our democratic
system — the remedy is by amendment or curative legislation, not by judicial decree.
The margin established by the Monetary Board pursuant to the provision of section
one hereof shall not be imposed upon the sale of foreign exchange for the
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the petitioner.
importation of the following:.
It is so ordered.

xxx xxx xxx


G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997 Delfin alleged in his petition that he is a founding member of the Movement for People's
Initiative,6 a group of citizens desirous to avail of the system intended to institutionalize
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ALEXANDER PADILLA, and MARIA ISABEL people power; that he and the members of the Movement and other volunteers intend
to exercise the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution granted under
ONGPIN, petitioners,
Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution; that the exercise of that power shall be
vs.
conducted in proceedings under the control and supervision of the COMELEC; that, as
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JESUS DELFIN, ALBERTO PEDROSA & CARMEN PEDROSA, in required in COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, signature stations shall be established all
their capacities as founding members of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization over the country, with the assistance of municipal election registrars, who shall verify
and Action (PIRMA), respondents. the signatures affixed by individual signatories; that before the Movement and other
volunteers can gather signatures, it is necessary that the time and dates to be
SENATOR RAUL S. ROCO, DEMOKRASYA-IPAGTANGGOL ANG KONSTITUSYON (DIK), designated for the purpose be first fixed in an order to be issued by the COMELEC;
MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. and that to adequately inform the people of the electoral process involved, it is likewise
(MABINI), INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP), and LABAN NG DEMOKRATIKONG necessary that the said order, as well as the Petition on which the signatures shall be
PILIPINO (LABAN), petitioners-intervenors. affixed, be published in newspapers of general and local circulation, under the control
and supervision of the COMELEC.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
The Delfin Petition further alleged that the provisions sought to be amended are
Sections 4 and 7 of Article VI,7Section 4 of Article VII,8 and Section 8 of Article X9 of
The heart of this controversy brought to us by way of a petition for prohibition under the Constitution. Attached to the petition is a copy of a "Petition for Initiative on the 1987
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is the right of the people to directly propose amendments Constitution" 10 embodying the proposed amendments which consist in the deletion
to the Constitution through the system of initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the from the aforecited sections of the provisions concerning term limits, and with the
1987 Constitution. Undoubtedly, this demands special attention, as this system of following proposition:
initiative was unknown to the people of this country, except perhaps to a few scholars,
before the drafting of the 1987 Constitution. The 1986 Constitutional Commission itself,
through the original proponent1 and the main sponsor2 of the proposed Article on DO YOU APPROVE OF LIFTING THE TERM LIMITS OF ALL
Amendments or Revision of the Constitution, characterized this system as ELECTIVE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, AMENDING FOR THE
"innovative".3 Indeed it is, for both under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, only two PURPOSE SECTIONS 4 AND 7 OF ARTICLE VI, SECTION 4 OF
methods of proposing amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution were ARTICLE VII, AND SECTION 8 OF ARTICLE X OF THE 1987
recognized, viz., (1) by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members and PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION?
(2) by a constitutional convention.4 For this and the other reasons hereafter discussed,
we resolved to give due course to this petition. According to Delfin, the said Petition for Initiative will first be submitted to the people,
and after it is signed by at least twelve per cent of the total number of registered voters
On 6 December 1996, private respondent Atty. Jesus S. Delfin filed with public in the country it will be formally filed with the COMELEC.
respondent Commission on Elections (hereafter, COMELEC) a "Petition to Amend the
Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials, by People's Initiative" (hereafter, Upon the filing of the Delfin Petition, which was forthwith given the number UND 96-
Delfin Petition)5 wherein Delfin asked the COMELEC for an order 037 (INITIATIVE), the COMELEC, through its Chairman, issued an Order 11 (a)
directing Delfin "to cause the publication of the petition, together with the attached
1. Fixing the time and dates for signature gathering all over the Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution (including the proposal, proposed
country; constitutional amendment, and the signature form), and the notice of hearing in three
(3) daily newspapers of general circulation at his own expense" not later than 9
December 1996; and (b) setting the case for hearing on 12 December 1996 at 10:00
2. Causing the necessary publications of said Order and the attached a.m.
"Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution, in newspapers of
general and local circulation;
At the hearing of the Delfin Petition on 12 December 1996, the following appeared:
Delfin and Atty. Pete Q. Quadra; representatives of the People's Initiative for Reforms,
3. Instructing Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Modernization and Action (PIRMA); intervenor-oppositor Senator Raul S. Roco,
Philippines, to assist Petitioners and volunteers, in establishing together with his two other lawyers, and representatives of, or counsel for, the
signing stations at the time and on the dates designated for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon
purpose. (DIK), Public Interest Law Center, and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino
(LABAN). 12 Senator Roco, on that same day, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Delfin
Petition on the ground that it is not the initiatory petition properly cognizable by the (6) Finally, Congress has not yet appropriated funds for people's
COMELEC. initiative; neither the COMELEC nor any other government
department, agency, or office has realigned funds for the purpose.
After hearing their arguments, the COMELEC directed Delfin and the oppositors to file
their "memoranda and/or oppositions/memoranda" within five days. 13 To justify their recourse to us via the special civil action for prohibition, the petitioners
allege that in the event the COMELEC grants the Delfin Petition, the people's initiative
On 18 December 1996, the petitioners herein — Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, spearheaded by PIRMA would entail expenses to the national treasury for general re-
Alexander Padilla, and Maria Isabel Ongpin — filed this special civil action for registration of voters amounting to at least P180 million, not to mention the millions of
prohibition raising the following arguments: additional pesos in expenses which would be incurred in the conduct of the initiative
itself. Hence, the transcendental importance to the public and the nation of the issues
raised demands that this petition for prohibition be settled promptly and definitely,
(1) The constitutional provision on people's initiative to amend the brushing aside technicalities of procedure and calling for the admission of a taxpayer's
Constitution can only be implemented by law to be passed by and legislator's suit. 14 Besides, there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy
Congress. No such law has been passed; in fact, Senate Bill No. in the ordinary course of law.
1290 entitled An Act Prescribing and Regulating Constitution
Amendments by People's Initiative, which petitioner Senator
Santiago filed on 24 November 1995, is still pending before the On 19 December 1996, this Court (a) required the respondents to comment on the
Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments. petition within a non-extendible period of ten days from notice; and (b) issued a
temporary restraining order, effective immediately and continuing until further orders,
enjoining public respondent COMELEC from proceeding with the Delfin Petition, and
(2) It is true that R.A. No. 6735 provides for three systems of initiative, private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa from conducting a signature drive for
namely, initiative on the Constitution, on statutes, and on local people's initiative to amend the Constitution.
legislation. However, it failed to provide any subtitle on initiative on
the Constitution, unlike in the other modes of initiative, which are
specifically provided for in Subtitle II and Subtitle III. This deliberate On 2 January 1997, private respondents, through Atty Quadra, filed their
omission indicates that the matter of people's initiative to amend the Comment 15 on the petition. They argue therein that:
Constitution was left to some future law. Former Senator Arturo
Tolentino stressed this deficiency in the law in his privilege speech 1. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT "IT WOULD ENTAIL EXPENSES TO THE
delivered before the Senate in 1994: "There is not a single word in NATIONAL TREASURY FOR GENERAL REGISTRATION OF
that law which can be considered as implementing [the provision on VOTERS AMOUNTING TO AT LEAST PESOS: ONE HUNDRED
constitutional initiative]. Such implementing provisions have been EIGHTY MILLION (P180,000,000.00)" IF THE "COMELEC GRANTS
obviously left to a separate law. THE PETITION FILED BY RESPONDENT DELFIN BEFORE THE
COMELEC.
(3) Republic Act No. 6735 provides for the effectivity of the law after
publication in print media. This indicates that the Act covers only laws 2. NOT A SINGLE CENTAVO WOULD BE SPENT BY THE
and not constitutional amendments because the latter take effect NATIONAL GOVERNMENT IF THE COMELEC GRANTS THE
only upon ratification and not after publication. PETITION OF RESPONDENT DELFIN. ALL EXPENSES IN THE
SIGNATURE GATHERING ARE ALL FOR THE ACCOUNT OF
(4) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, adopted on 16 January 1991 to RESPONDENT DELFIN AND HIS VOLUNTEERS PER THEIR
govern "the conduct of initiative on the Constitution and initiative and PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES AND EXPENDITURES SUBMITTED
referendum on national and local laws, is ultra vires insofar TO THE COMELEC. THE ESTIMATED COST OF THE DAILY PER
as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned, since DIEM OF THE SUPERVISING SCHOOL TEACHERS IN THE
the COMELEC has no power to provide rules and regulations for the SIGNATURE GATHERING TO BE DEPOSITED and TO BE PAID
exercise of the right of initiative to amend the Constitution. Only BY DELFIN AND HIS VOLUNTEERS IS P2,571,200.00;
Congress is authorized by the Constitution to pass the implementing
law. 3. THE PENDING PETITION BEFORE THE COMELEC IS ONLY
ON THE SIGNATURE GATHERING WHICH BY LAW COMELEC IS
(5) The people's initiative is limited to amendments to the DUTY BOUND "TO SUPERVISE CLOSELY" PURSUANT TO ITS
Constitution, not to revision thereof. Extending or lifting of term limits "INITIATORY JURISDICTION" UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE
constitutes a revision and is, therefore, outside the power of the COURT IN ITS RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 DECISION IN THE
people's initiative. CASE OF SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY
VS. COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416;
4. REP. ACT NO. 6735 APPROVED ON AUGUST 4, 1989 IS THE (2) Section 9(b) of R.A. No. 6735 specifically provides that the
ENABLING LAW IMPLEMENTING THE POWER OF PEOPLE proposition in an initiative to amend the Constitution approved by the
INITIATIVE TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as
CONSTITUTION. SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE of the day of the plebiscite.
BILL NO. 1290 IS A DUPLICATION OF WHAT ARE ALREADY
PROVIDED FOR IN REP. ACT NO. 6735; (3) The claim that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is ultra vires is
contradicted by (a) Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution, which
5. COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300 PROMULGATED ON grants the COMELEC the power to enforce and administer all laws
JANUARY 16, 1991 PURSUANT TO REP. ACT 6735 WAS UPHELD and regulations relative to the conduct of an election,
BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN THE RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall; and (b) Section 20 of
1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN R.A. 6735, which empowers the COMELEC to promulgate such rules
AUTHORITY VS. COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416 WHERE and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of
THE HONORABLE COURT SAID: "THE COMMISSION ON the Act.
ELECTIONS CAN DO NO LESS BY SEASONABLY AND
JUDICIOUSLY PROMULGATING GUIDELINES AND RULES FOR (4) The proposed initiative does not involve a revision of, but
BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL USE, IN IMPLEMENTING OF mere amendment to, the Constitution because it seeks to alter only
THESE LAWS." a few specific provisions of the Constitution, or more specifically, only
those which lay term limits. It does not seek to reexamine or overhaul
6. EVEN SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. the entire document.
1290 CONTAINS A PROVISION DELEGATING TO THE COMELEC
THE POWER TO "PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND As to the public expenditures for registration of voters, Delfin considers petitioners'
REGULATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE estimate of P180 million as unreliable, for only the COMELEC can give the exact figure.
PURPOSES OF THIS ACT." (SEC. 12, S.B. NO. 1290, ENCLOSED Besides, if there will be a plebiscite it will be simultaneous with the 1997 Barangay
AS ANNEX E, PETITION); Elections. In any event, fund requirements for initiative will be a priority government
expense because it will be for the exercise of the sovereign power of the people.
7. THE LIFTING OF THE LIMITATION ON THE TERM OF OFFICE
OF ELECTIVE OFFICIALS PROVIDED UNDER THE 1987 In the Comment 17 for the public respondent COMELEC, filed also on 2 January 1997,
CONSTITUTION IS NOT A "REVISION" OF THE CONSTITUTION. the Office of the Solicitor General contends that:
IT IS ONLY AN AMENDMENT. "AMENDMENT ENVISAGES AN
ALTERATION OF ONE OR A FEW SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF
THE CONSTITUTION. REVISION CONTEMPLATES A RE- (1) R.A. No. 6735 deals with, inter alia, people's initiative to amend
EXAMINATION OF THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT TO DETERMINE the Constitution. Its Section 2 on Statement of Policy explicitly
HOW AND TO WHAT EXTENT IT SHOULD BE ALTERED." (PP. affirms, recognizes, and guarantees that power; and its Section 3,
412-413, 2ND. ED. 1992, 1097 PHIL. CONSTITUTION, BY which enumerates the three systems of initiative, includes initiative
JOAQUIN G. BERNAS, S.J.). on the Constitution and defines the same as the power to propose
amendments to the Constitution. Likewise, its Section 5 repeatedly
mentions initiative on the Constitution.
Also on 2 January 1997, private respondent Delfin filed in his own behalf a
Comment 16 which starts off with an assertion that the instant petition is a "knee-jerk
reaction to a draft 'Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution'. . . which is not formally (2) A separate subtitle on initiative on the Constitution is not
filed yet." What he filed on 6 December 1996 was an "Initiatory Pleading" or "Initiatory necessary in R.A. No. 6735 because, being national in scope, that
Petition," which was legally necessary to start the signature campaign to amend the system of initiative is deemed included in the subtitle on National
Constitution or to put the movement to gather signatures under COMELEC power and Initiative and Referendum; and Senator Tolentino simply overlooked
function. On the substantive allegations of the petitioners, Delfin maintains as follows: pertinent provisions of the law when he claimed that nothing therein
was provided for initiative on the Constitution.
(1) Contrary to the claim of the petitioners, there is a law, R.A. No.
6735, which governs the conduct of initiative to amend the (3) Senate Bill No. 1290 is neither a competent nor a material proof
Constitution. The absence therein of a subtitle for such initiative is that R.A. No. 6735 does not deal with initiative on the Constitution.
not fatal, since subtitles are not requirements for the validity or
sufficiency of laws. (4) Extension of term limits of elected officials constitutes a mere
amendment to the Constitution, not a revision thereof.
(5) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 was validly issued under Section the petition, (b) the appropriate agency before whom the petition is
20 of R.A. No. 6735 and under the Omnibus Election Code. The rule- to be filed, (c) the contents of the petition, (d) the publication of the
making power of the COMELEC to implement the provisions of R.A. same, (e) the ways and means of gathering the signatures of the
No. 6735 was in fact upheld by this Court in Subic Bay Metropolitan voters nationwide and 3% per legislative district, (f) the proper parties
Authority vs. COMELEC. who may oppose or question the veracity of the signatures, (g) the
role of the COMELEC in the verification of the signatures and the
On 14 January 1997, this Court (a) confirmed nunc pro tunc the temporary restraining sufficiency of the petition, (h) the appeal from any decision of the
order; (b) noted the aforementioned Comments and the Motion to Lift Temporary COMELEC, (I) the holding of a plebiscite, and (g) the appropriation
Restraining Order filed by private respondents through Atty. Quadra, as well as the of funds for such people's initiative. Accordingly, there being no
latter's Manifestation stating that he is the counsel for private respondents Alberto and enabling law, the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to hear Delfin's
Carmen Pedrosa only and the Comment he filed was for the Pedrosas; and (c) granted petition.
the Motion for Intervention filed on 6 January 1997 by Senator Raul Roco and allowed
him to file his Petition in Intervention not later than 20 January 1997; and (d) set the (5) The deficiency of R.A. No. 6735 cannot be rectified or remedied
case for hearing on 23 January 1997 at 9:30 a.m. by COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, since the COMELEC is without
authority to legislate the procedure for a people's initiative under
On 17 January 1997, the Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK) and the Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. That function exclusively
Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI), filed pertains to Congress. Section 20 of R.A. No. 6735 does not
a Motion for Intervention. Attached to the motion was their Petition in Intervention, which constitute a legal basis for the Resolution, as the former does not set
was later replaced by an Amended Petition in Intervention wherein they contend that: a sufficient standard for a valid delegation of power.

(1) The Delfin proposal does not involve a mere amendment to, but On 20 January 1997, Senator Raul Roco filed his Petition in
a revision of, the Constitution because, in the words of Fr. Joaquin Intervention. 21 He avers that R.A. No. 6735 is the enabling law that implements the
Bernas, S.J., 18 it would involve a change from a political philosophy people's right to initiate constitutional amendments. This law is a consolidation of
that rejects unlimited tenure to one that accepts unlimited tenure; and Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505; he co-authored the House Bill and even
although the change might appear to be an isolated one, it can affect delivered a sponsorship speech thereon. He likewise submits that the COMELEC was
other provisions, such as, on synchronization of elections and on the empowered under Section 20 of that law to promulgate COMELEC Resolution No.
State policy of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for public 2300. Nevertheless, he contends that the respondent Commission is without
service and prohibiting political dynasties. 19 A revision cannot be jurisdiction to take cognizance of the Delfin Petition and to order its publication because
done by initiative which, by express provision of Section 2 of Article the said petition is not the initiatory pleading contemplated under the Constitution,
XVII of the Constitution, is limited to amendments. Republic Act No. 6735, and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300. What vests jurisdiction
upon the COMELEC in an initiative on the Constitution is the filing of a petition for
initiative which is signed by the required number of registered voters. He also submits
(2) The prohibition against reelection of the President and the limits that the proponents of a constitutional amendment cannot avail of the authority and
provided for all other national and local elective officials are based resources of the COMELEC to assist them is securing the required number of
on the philosophy of governance, "to open up the political arena to signatures, as the COMELEC's role in an initiative on the Constitution is limited to the
as many as there are Filipinos qualified to handle the demands of determination of the sufficiency of the initiative petition and the call and supervision of
leadership, to break the concentration of political and economic a plebiscite, if warranted.
powers in the hands of a few, and to promote effective proper
empowerment for participation in policy and decision-making for the
common good"; hence, to remove the term limits is to negate and On 20 January 1997, LABAN filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene.
nullify the noble vision of the 1987 Constitution.
The following day, the IBP filed a Motion for Intervention to which it attached a Petition
(3) The Delfin proposal runs counter to the purpose of initiative, in Intervention raising the following arguments:
particularly in a conflict-of-interest situation. Initiative is intended as
a fallback position that may be availed of by the people only if they (1) Congress has failed to enact an enabling law mandated under
are dissatisfied with the performance of their elective officials, but not Section 2, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution.
as a premium for good performance. 20
(2) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 cannot substitute for the
(4) R.A. No. 6735 is deficient and inadequate in itself to be called the required implementing law on the initiative to amend the Constitution.
enabling law that implements the people's initiative on amendments
to the Constitution. It fails to state (a) the proper parties who may file
(3) The Petition for Initiative suffers from a fatal defect in that it does After hearing them on the issues, we required the parties to submit simultaneously their
not have the required number of signatures. respective memoranda within twenty days and requested intervenor Senator Roco to
submit copies of the deliberations on House Bill No. 21505.
(4) The petition seeks, in effect a revision of the Constitution, which
can be proposed only by Congress or a constitutional convention. 22 On 27 January 1997, LABAN filed its Petition in Intervention wherein it adopts the
allegations and arguments in the main Petition. It further submits that the COMELEC
On 21 January 1997, we promulgated a Resolution (a) granting the Motions for should have dismissed the Delfin Petition for failure to state a sufficient cause of action
Intervention filed by the DIK and MABINI and by the IBP, as well as the Motion for and that the Commission's failure or refusal to do so constituted grave abuse of
Leave to Intervene filed by LABAN; (b) admitting the Amended Petition in Intervention discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
of DIK and MABINI, and the Petitions in Intervention of Senator Roco and of the IBP;
(c) requiring the respondents to file within a nonextendible period of five days their On 28 January 1997, Senator Roco submitted copies of portions of both the Journal
Consolidated Comments on the aforesaid Petitions in Intervention; and (d) requiring and the Record of the House of Representatives relating to the deliberations of House
LABAN to file its Petition in Intervention within a nonextendible period of three days Bill No. 21505, as well as the transcripts of stenographic notes on the proceedings of
from notice, and the respondents to comment thereon within a nonextendible period of the Bicameral Conference Committee, Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms,
five days from receipt of the said Petition in Intervention. of 6 June 1989 on House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill No. 17.

At the hearing of the case on 23 January 1997, the parties argued on the following Private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa filed their Consolidated Comments
pivotal issues, which the Court formulated in light of the allegations and arguments on the Petitions in Intervention of Senator Roco, DIK and MABINI, and IBP. 23 The
raised in the pleadings so far filed: parties thereafter filed, in due time, their separate memoranda. 24

1. Whether R.A. No. 6735, entitled An Act Providing for a System of As we stated in the beginning, we resolved to give due course to this special civil action.
Initiative and Referendum and Appropriating Funds Therefor, was
intended to include or cover initiative on amendments to the For a more logical discussion of the formulated issues, we shall first take up the fifth
Constitution; and if so, whether the Act, as worded, adequately issue which appears to pose a prejudicial procedural question.
covers such initiative.
I
2. Whether that portion of COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 (In re:
Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct of Initiative on the
Constitution, and Initiative and Referendum on National and Local THE INSTANT PETITION IS VIABLE DESPITE THE PENDENCY IN THE
Laws) regarding the conduct of initiative on amendments to the COMELEC OF THE DELFIN PETITION.
Constitution is valid, considering the absence in the law of specific
provisions on the conduct of such initiative. Except for the petitioners and intervenor Roco, the parties paid no serious attention to
the fifth issue, i.e., whether it is proper for this Court to take cognizance of this special
3. Whether the lifting of term limits of elective national and local civil action when there is a pending case before the COMELEC. The petitioners provide
officials, as proposed in the draft "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 an affirmative answer. Thus:
Constitution," would constitute a revision of, or an amendment to, the
Constitution. 28. The Comelec has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition
filed by private respondent Delfin. This being so, it becomes
4. Whether the COMELEC can take cognizance of, or has jurisdiction imperative to stop the Comelec from proceeding any further, and
over, a petition solely intended to obtain an order (a) fixing the time under the Rules of Court, Rule 65, Section 2, a petition for prohibition
and dates for signature gathering; (b) instructing municipal election is the proper remedy.
officers to assist Delfin's movement and volunteers in establishing
signature stations; and (c) directing or causing the publication 29. The writ of prohibition is an extraordinary judicial writ issuing out
of, inter alia, the unsigned proposed Petition for Initiative on the 1987 of a court of superior jurisdiction and directed to an inferior court, for
Constitution. the purpose of preventing the inferior tribunal from usurping a
jurisdiction with which it is not legally vested. (People v. Vera, supra.,
5. Whether it is proper for the Supreme Court to take cognizance of p. 84). In this case the writ is an urgent necessity, in view of the highly
the petition when there is a pending case before the COMELEC. divisive and adverse environmental consequences on the body
politic of the questioned Comelec order. The consequent climate of
legal confusion and political instability begs for judicial they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must,
statesmanship. technicalities of procedure.

30. In the final analysis, when the system of constitutional law is II


threatened by the political ambitions of man, only the Supreme Court
can save a nation in peril and uphold the paramount majesty of the R.A. NO. 6735 INTENDED TO INCLUDE THE SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE ON
Constitution. 25 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, BUT IS, UNFORTUNATELY,
INADEQUATE TO COVER THAT SYSTEM.
It must be recalled that intervenor Roco filed with the COMELEC a motion to dismiss
the Delfin Petition on the ground that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction or authority to Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution provides:
entertain the petition. 26 The COMELEC made no ruling thereon evidently because after
having heard the arguments of Delfin and the oppositors at the hearing on 12 December
1996, it required them to submit within five days their memoranda or Sec. 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly
oppositions/memoranda. 27 Earlier, or specifically on 6 December 1996, it practically proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least
gave due course to the Delfin Petition by ordering Delfin to cause the publication of the twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which
petition, together with the attached Petition for Initiative, the signature form, and the every legislative district must be represented by at least three per
notice of hearing; and by setting the case for hearing. The COMELEC's failure to act centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this
on Roco's motion to dismiss and its insistence to hold on to the petition rendered ripe section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification
and viable the instant petition under Section 2 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.
provides:
The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
Sec. 2. Petition for prohibition. — Where the proceedings of any
tribunal, corporation, board, or person, whether exercising functions This provision is not self-executory. In his book, 29 Joaquin Bernas, a member of the
judicial or ministerial, are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, 1986 Constitutional Commission, stated:
or with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no appeal or any other
plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a Without implementing legislation Section 2 cannot operate. Thus,
person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper although this mode of amending the Constitution is a mode of
court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be amendment which bypasses congressional action, in the last
rendered commanding the defendant to desist from further analysis it still is dependent on congressional action.
proceedings in the action or matter specified therein.

Bluntly stated, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the
It must also be noted that intervenor Roco claims that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction Constitution through the system of initiative would remain entombed in the
over the Delfin Petition because the said petition is not supported by the required cold niche of the Constitution until Congress provides for its implementation.
minimum number of signatures of registered voters. LABAN also asserts that the Stated otherwise, while the Constitution has recognized or granted that right,
COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in refusing to dismiss the Delfin Petition, which the people cannot exercise it if Congress, for whatever reason, does not
does not contain the required number of signatures. In light of these claims, the instant provide for its implementation.
case may likewise be treated as a special civil action for certiorari under Section I of
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
This system of initiative was originally included in Section 1 of the draft Article on
Amendment or Revision proposed by the Committee on Amendments and Transitory
In any event, as correctly pointed out by intervenor Roco in his Memorandum, this Court Provisions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission in its Committee Report No. 7
may brush aside technicalities of procedure in (Proposed Resolution No. 332). 30 That section reads as follows:
cases of transcendental importance. As we stated in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Guingona,
Jr. 28
Sec. 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed:
A party's standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which
it may, in the exercise of its discretion, set aside in view of the (a) by the National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its
importance of issues raised. In the landmark Emergency Powers members; or
Cases, this Court brushed aside this technicality because the
transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that (b) by a constitutional convention; or
(c) directly by the people themselves thru initiative as provided for in be called. We deemed it best that this matter be
Article___ Section ___of the Constitution. 31 left to the legislature. The Gentleman is right. In
any event, as envisioned, no amendment through
After several interpellations, but before the period of amendments, the the power of initiative can be called until after five
Committee submitted a new formulation of the concept of initiative which it years from the date of the ratification of this
denominated as Section 2; thus: Constitution. Therefore, the first amendment that
could be proposed through the exercise of this
initiative power would be after five years. It is
MR. SUAREZ. Thank you, Madam President. May reasonably expected that within that five-year
we respectfully call attention of the Members of the period, the National Assembly can come up with
Commission that pursuant to the mandate given to the appropriate rules governing the exercise of this
us last night, we submitted this afternoon a power.
complete Committee Report No. 7 which
embodies the proposed provision governing the
matter of initiative. This is now covered by Section FR. BERNAS. Since the matter is left to the
2 of the complete committee report. With the legislature — the details on how this is to be
permission of the Members, may I quote Section carried out — is it possible that, in effect, what will
2: be presented to the people for ratification is the
work of the legislature rather than of the people?
Does this provision exclude that possibility?
The people may, after five years from the date of the last plebiscite
held, directly propose amendments to this Constitution thru initiative
upon petition of at least ten percent of the registered voters. MR. SUAREZ. No, it does not exclude that
possibility because even the legislature itself as a
body could propose that amendment, maybe
This completes the blanks appearing in the original Committee individually or collectively, if it fails to muster the
Report No. 7. 32 three-fourths vote in order to constitute itself as a
constituent assembly and submit that proposal to
The interpellations on Section 2 showed that the details for carrying out Section 2 are the people for ratification through the process of
left to the legislature. Thus: an initiative.

FR. BERNAS. Madam President, just two simple, xxx xxx xxx
clarificatory questions.
MS. AQUINO. Do I understand from the sponsor
First, on Section 1 on the matter of initiative upon that the intention in the proposal is to vest
petition of at least 10 percent, there are no details constituent power in the people to amend the
in the provision on how to carry this out. Do we Constitution?
understand, therefore, that we are leaving this
matter to the legislature? MR. SUAREZ. That is absolutely correct, Madam
President.
MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.
MS. AQUINO. I fully concur with the underlying
FR. BERNAS. And do we also understand, precept of the proposal in terms of institutionalizing
therefore, that for as long as the legislature does popular participation in the drafting of the
not pass the necessary implementing law on this, Constitution or in the amendment thereof, but I
this will not operate? would have a lot of difficulties in terms of accepting
the draft of Section 2, as written. Would the
MR. SUAREZ. That matter was also taken up sponsor agree with me that in the hierarchy of
during the committee hearing, especially with legal mandate, constituent power has primacy
respect to the budget appropriations which would over all other legal mandates?
have to be legislated so that the plebiscite could
MR. SUAREZ. The Commissioner is right, Madam MS. AQUINO. In which case, I am seriously
President. bothered by providing this process of initiative as
a separate section in the Article on Amendment.
MS. AQUINO. And would the sponsor agree with Would the sponsor be amenable to accepting an
me that in the hierarchy of legal values, the amendment in terms of realigning Section 2 as
Constitution is source of all legal mandates and another subparagraph (c) of Section 1, instead of
that therefore we require a great deal of setting it up as another separate section as if it
circumspection in the drafting and in the were a self-executing provision?
amendments of the Constitution?
MR. SUAREZ. We would be amenable except
MR. SUAREZ. That proposition is nondebatable. that, as we clarified a while ago, this process of
initiative is limited to the matter of amendment and
should not expand into a revision which
MS. AQUINO. Such that in order to underscore the contemplates a total overhaul of the Constitution.
primacy of constituent power we have a separate That was the sense that was conveyed by the
article in the constitution that would specifically Committee.
cover the process and the modes of amending the
Constitution?
MS. AQUINO. In other words, the Committee was
attempting to distinguish the coverage of modes
MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President. (a) and (b) in Section 1 to include the process of
revision; whereas the process of initiation to
MS. AQUINO. Therefore, is the sponsor inclined, amend, which is given to the public, would only
as the provisions are drafted now, to again apply to amendments?
concede to the legislature the process or the
requirement of determining the mechanics of MR. SUAREZ. That is right. Those were the terms
amending the Constitution by people's initiative? envisioned in the Committee. 35

MR. SUAREZ. The matter of implementing this Amendments to the proposed Section 2 were thereafter introduced by then
could very well be placed in the hands of the Commissioner Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which the Committee accepted. Thus:
National Assembly, not unless we can incorporate
into this provision the mechanics that would
adequately cover all the conceivable situations. 33 MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. I
propose to substitute the entire Section 2 with the
following:
It was made clear during the interpellations that the aforementioned Section 2 is limited
to proposals to AMEND — not to REVISE — the Constitution; thus:
MR. DAVIDE. Madam President, I have modified
the proposed amendment after taking into account
MR. SUAREZ. . . . This proposal was suggested the modifications submitted by the sponsor himself
on the theory that this matter of initiative, which and the honorable Commissioners Guingona,
came about because of the extraordinary Monsod, Rama, Ople, de los Reyes and Romulo.
developments this year, has to be separated from The modified amendment in substitution of the
the traditional modes of amending the Constitution proposed Section 2 will now read as follows:
as embodied in Section 1. The committee "SECTION 2. — AMENDMENTS TO THIS
members felt that this system of initiative should CONSTITUTION MAY LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY
not extend to the revision of the entire Constitution, PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH
so we removed it from the operation of Section 1 INITIATIVE UPON A PETITION OF AT LEAST
of the proposed Article on Amendment or TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER
Revision. 34 Of REGISTERED VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST BE
xxx xxx xxx REPRESENTED BY AT LEAST THREE
PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS
THEREOF. NO AMENDMENT UNDER THIS body must diminish or impair the right conceded
SECTION SHALL BE AUTHORIZED WITHIN here.
FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION
OF THIS CONSTITUTION NOR OFTENER THAN MR. ROMULO. In that provision of the
ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS THEREAFTER. Constitution can the procedures which I have
discussed be legislated?
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW
PROVIDE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MR. DAVIDE. Yes. 37
EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT.
Commissioner Davide also reaffirmed that his modified amendment strictly
MR. SUAREZ. Madam President, considering that confines initiative to AMENDMENTS to — NOT REVISION of — the Constitution. Thus:
the proposed amendment is reflective of the sense
contained in Section 2 of our completed
Committee Report No. 7, we accept the proposed MR. DAVIDE. With pleasure, Madam President.
amendment. 36
MR. MAAMBONG. My first question:
The interpellations which ensued on the proposed modified amendment to Section 2 Commissioner Davide's proposed amendment on
clearly showed that it was a legislative act which must implement the exercise of the line 1 refers to "amendment." Does it not cover the
right. Thus: word "revision" as defined by Commissioner
Padilla when he made the distinction between the
words "amendments" and "revision"?
MR. ROMULO. Under Commissioner Davide's
amendment, is it possible for the legislature to set
forth certain procedures to carry out the initiative. . MR. DAVIDE. No, it does not, because
.? "amendments" and "revision" should be covered
by Section 1. So insofar as initiative is concerned,
it can only relate to "amendments" not
MR. DAVIDE. It can. "revision." 38

xxx xxx xxx Commissioner Davide further emphasized that the process of proposing amendments
through initiative must be more rigorous and difficult than the initiative on legislation.
MR. ROMULO. But the Commissioner's Thus:
amendment does not prevent the legislature from
asking another body to set the proposition in MR. DAVIDE. A distinction has to be made that
proper form. under this proposal, what is involved is an
amendment to the Constitution. To amend a
MR. DAVIDE. The Commissioner is correct. In Constitution would ordinarily require a proposal by
other words, the implementation of this particular the National Assembly by a vote of three-fourths;
right would be subject to legislation, provided the and to call a constitutional convention would
legislature cannot determine anymore the require a higher number. Moreover, just to submit
percentage of the requirement. the issue of calling a constitutional convention, a
majority of the National Assembly is required, the
MR. ROMULO. But the procedures, including the import being that the process of amendment must
determination of the proper form for submission to be made more rigorous and difficult than probably
the people, may be subject to legislation. initiating an ordinary legislation or putting an end
to a law proposed by the National Assembly by
way of a referendum. I cannot agree to reducing
MR. DAVIDE. As long as it will not destroy the the requirement approved by the Committee on
substantive right to initiate. In other words, none of the Legislative because it would require another
the procedures to be proposed by the legislative voting by the Committee, and the voting as
precisely based on a requirement of 10 percent.
Perhaps, I might present such a proposal, by way Has Congress "provided" for the implementation of the exercise of this right? Those
of an amendment, when the Commission shall who answer the question in the affirmative, like the private respondents and intervenor
take up the Article on the Legislative or on the Senator Roco, point to us R.A. No. 6735.
National Assembly on plenary sessions. 39
There is, of course, no other better way for Congress to implement the exercise of the
The Davide modified amendments to Section 2 were subjected to amendments, and right than through the passage of a statute or legislative act. This is the essence or
the final version, which the Commission approved by a vote of 31 in favor and 3 against, rationale of the last minute amendment by the Constitutional Commission to substitute
reads as follows: the last paragraph of Section 2 of Article XVII then reading:

MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. The Congress 45 shall by law provide for the implementation of the
Section 2, as amended, reads as follows: exercise of this right.
"AMENDMENT TO THIS CONSTITUTION MAY
LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE with
PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A
PETITION OF AT LEAST TWELVE PERCENT OF
THE TOTAL NUMBER OF REGISTERED The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of
VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY LEGISLATIVE this right.
DISTRICT MUST BE REPRESENTED BY AT
LEAST THREE PERCENT OF THE This substitute amendment was an investiture on Congress of a power to
REGISTERED VOTERS THEREOF. NO provide for the rules implementing the exercise of the right. The "rules" means
AMENDMENT UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL "the details on how [the right] is to be carried out." 46
BE AUTHORIZED WITHIN FIVE YEARS
FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS We agree that R.A. No. 6735 was, as its history reveals, intended to cover initiative to
CONSTITUTION NOR OFTENER THAN ONCE propose amendments to the Constitution. The Act is a consolidation of House Bill No.
EVERY FIVE YEARS THEREAFTER. 21505 and Senate Bill No. 17. The former was prepared by the Committee on Suffrage
and Electoral Reforms of the House of Representatives on the basis of two House Bills
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW referred to it, viz., (a) House Bill No. 497, 47 which dealt with the initiative and
PROVIDE referendum mentioned
FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE in Sections 1 and 32 of Article VI of the Constitution; and (b) House Bill No.
EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT. 40 988, 48 which dealt with the subject matter of House Bill No. 497, as well as with
initiative and referendum under Section 3 of Article X (Local Government) and initiative
The entire proposed Article on Amendments or Revisions was approved on provided for in Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. Senate Bill No. 17 49 solely
second reading on 9 July 1986. 41Thereafter, upon his motion for dealt with initiative and referendum concerning ordinances or resolutions of local
reconsideration, Commissioner Gascon was allowed to introduce an government units. The Bicameral Conference Committee consolidated Senate Bill No.
amendment to Section 2 which, nevertheless, was withdrawn. In view thereof, 17 and House Bill No. 21505 into a draft bill, which was subsequently approved on 8
the Article was again approved on Second and Third Readings on 1 August June 1989 by the Senate 50 and by the House of Representatives. 51 This approved bill
1986. 42 is now R.A. No. 6735.

However, the Committee on Style recommended that the approved Section 2 be But is R.A. No. 6735 a full compliance with the power and duty of Congress to "provide
amended by changing "percent" to "per centum" and "thereof" to "therein" and deleting for the implementation of the exercise of the right?"
the phrase "by law" in the second paragraph so that said paragraph reads: The
Congress 43 shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right. 44 This A careful scrutiny of the Act yields a negative answer.
amendment was approved and is the text of the present second paragraph of Section
2. First. Contrary to the assertion of public respondent COMELEC, Section 2 of the Act
does not suggest an initiative on amendments to the Constitution. The said section
The conclusion then is inevitable that, indeed, the system of initiative on the reads:
Constitution under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution is not self-executory.
Sec. 2. Statement and Policy. — The power of the people under a
system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact,
approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, The use of the clause "proposed laws sought to be enacted, approved or
ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon rejected, amended or repealed" only strengthens the conclusion that Section
compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, 2, quoted earlier, excludes initiative on amendments to the Constitution.
recognized and guaranteed. (Emphasis supplied).
Third. While the Act provides subtitles for National Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle
The inclusion of the word "Constitution" therein was a delayed afterthought. II) and for Local Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle III), no subtitle is provided
That word is neither germane nor relevant to said section, which exclusively for initiative on the Constitution. This conspicuous silence as to the latter simply means
relates to initiative and referendum on national laws and local laws, that the main thrust of the Act is initiative and referendum on national and local laws. If
ordinances, and resolutions. That section is silent as to amendments on the Congress intended R.A. No. 6735 to fully provide for the implementation of
Constitution. As pointed out earlier, initiative on the Constitution is confined the initiative on amendments to the Constitution, it could have provided for a subtitle
only to proposals to AMEND. The people are not accorded the power to therefor, considering that in the order of things, the primacy of interest, or hierarchy of
"directly propose, enact, approve, or reject, in whole or in part, the values, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution is far
Constitution" through the system of initiative. They can only do so with respect more important than the initiative on national and local laws.
to "laws, ordinances, or resolutions."
We cannot accept the argument that the initiative on amendments to the Constitution
The foregoing conclusion is further buttressed by the fact that this section was lifted is subsumed under the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum because it is
from Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 17, which solely referred to a statement of policy on national in scope. Our reading of Subtitle II (National Initiative and Referendum) and
local initiative and referendum and appropriately used the phrases "propose and enact," Subtitle III (Local Initiative and Referendum) leaves no room for doubt that the
"approve or reject" and "in whole or in part." 52 classification is not based on the scope of the initiative involved, but on
its nature and character. It is "national initiative," if what is proposed to be adopted or
Second. It is true that Section 3 (Definition of Terms) of the Act defines initiative on enacted is a national law, or a law which only Congress can pass. It is "local initiative"
amendments to the Constitution and mentions it as one of the three systems if what is proposed to be adopted or enacted is a law, ordinance, or resolution which
of initiative, and that Section 5 (Requirements) restates the constitutional requirements only the legislative bodies of the governments of the autonomous regions, provinces,
as to the percentage of the registered voters who must submit the proposal. But unlike cities, municipalities, and barangays can pass. This classification of initiative
in the case of the other systems of initiative, the Act does not provide for the contents into national and local is actually based on Section 3 of the Act, which we quote for
of a petition for initiative on the Constitution. Section 5, paragraph (c) requires, among emphasis and clearer understanding:
other things, statement of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected,
amended or repealed, as the case may be. It does not include, as among the contents Sec. 3. Definition of terms —
of the petition, the provisions of the Constitution sought to be amended, in the case of
initiative on the Constitution. Said paragraph (c) reads in full as follows: xxx xxx xxx

(c) The petition shall state the following: There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:

c.1 contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, a.1 Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing
approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be; amendments to the Constitution;

c.2 the proposition; a.2 Initiative on Statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact
a national legislation; and
c.3 the reason or reasons therefor;
a.3 Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing
c.4 that it is not one of the exceptions provided therein; to enact a regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay law,
resolution or ordinance. (Emphasis supplied).
c.5 signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and
Hence, to complete the classification under subtitles there should have been a subtitle
c.6 an abstract or summary proposition is not more than one hundred on initiative on amendments to the Constitution. 53
(100) words which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of
every page of the petition. (Emphasis supplied).
A further examination of the Act even reveals that the subtitling is not accurate. (c) The submission to the electorate of the proposition and the required number of votes
Provisions not germane to the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum are placed for its approval;
therein, like (1) paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 9, which reads:
(d) The certification by the COMELEC of the approval of the proposition;
(b) The proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by
the majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective (e) The publication of the approved proposition in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper
as to the day of the plebiscite. of general circulation in the Philippines; and

(c) A national or local initiative proposition approved by majority of (f) The effects of the approval or rejection of the proposition. 55
the votes cast in an election called for the purpose shall become
effective fifteen (15) days after certification and proclamation of the
Commission. (Emphasis supplied). As regards local initiative, the Act provides for the following:

(2) that portion of Section 11 (Indirect Initiative) referring to indirect initiative with the (a) The preliminary requirement as to the number of signatures of registered voters for
legislative bodies of local governments; thus: the petition;

Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. — Any duly accredited people's (b) The submission of the petition to the local legislative body concerned;
organization, as defined by law, may file a petition for indirect
initiative with the House of Representatives, and other legislative (c) The effect of the legislative body's failure to favorably act thereon, and the invocation
bodies. . . . of the power of initiative as a consequence thereof;

and (3) Section 12 on Appeal, since it applies to decisions of the COMELEC (d) The formulation of the proposition;
on the findings of sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition for initiative or
referendum, which could be petitions for both national and local initiative and (e) The period within which to gather the signatures;
referendum.

(f) The persons before whom the petition shall be signed;


Upon the other hand, Section 18 on "Authority of Courts" under subtitle III on Local
Initiative and Referendum is misplaced, 54 since the provision therein applies to both
national and local initiative and referendum. It reads: (g) The issuance of a certification by the COMELEC through its official in the local
government unit concerned as to whether the required number of signatures have been
obtained;
Sec. 18. Authority of Courts. — Nothing in this Act shall prevent or
preclude the proper courts from declaring null and void any
proposition approved pursuant to this Act for violation of the (h) The setting of a date by the COMELEC for the submission of the proposition to the
Constitution or want of capacity of the local legislative body to enact registered voters for their approval, which must be within the period specified therein;
the said measure.
(i) The issuance of a certification of the result;
Curiously, too, while R.A. No. 6735 exerted utmost diligence and care in providing for
the details in the implementation of initiative and referendum on national and local (j) The date of effectivity of the approved proposition;
legislation thereby giving them special attention, it failed, rather intentionally, to do so
on the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. Anent the initiative on
(k) The limitations on local initiative; and
national legislation, the Act provides for the following:

(l) The limitations upon local legislative bodies. 56


(a) The required percentage of registered voters to sign the petition and the contents
of the petition;
Upon the other hand, as to initiative on amendments to the Constitution, R.A. No. 6735,
in all of its twenty-three sections, merely (a) mentions, the word "Constitution" in Section
(b) The conduct and date of the initiative;
2; (b) defines "initiative on the Constitution" and includes it in the enumeration of the
three systems of initiative in Section 3; (c) speaks of "plebiscite" as the process by
which the proposition in an initiative on the Constitution may be approved or rejected
by the people; (d) reiterates the constitutional requirements as to the number of voters COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300, INSOFAR AS IT PRESCRIBES RULES
who should sign the petition; and (e) provides for the date of effectivity of the approved AND REGULATIONS ON THE CONDUCT OF INITIATIVE ON
proposition. AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, IS VOID.

There was, therefore, an obvious downgrading of the more important or the paramount It logically follows that the COMELEC cannot validly promulgate rules and regulations
system of initiative. RA. No. 6735 thus delivered a humiliating blow to the system of to implement the exercise of the right of the people to directly propose amendments to
initiative on amendments to the Constitution by merely paying it a reluctant lip the Constitution through the system of initiative. It does not have that power under R.A.
service. 57 No. 6735. Reliance on the COMELEC's power under Section 2(1) of Article IX-C of the
Constitution is misplaced, for the laws and regulations referred to therein are those
The foregoing brings us to the conclusion that R.A. No. 6735 is incomplete, inadequate, promulgated by the COMELEC under (a) Section 3 of Article IX-C of the Constitution,
or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the or (b) a law where subordinate legislation is authorized and which satisfies the
Constitution is concerned. Its lacunae on this substantive matter are fatal and cannot "completeness" and the "sufficient standard" tests.
be cured by "empowering" the COMELEC "to promulgate such rules and regulations
as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of [the] Act. 58 IV

The rule is that what has been delegated, cannot be delegated or as expressed in a COMELEC ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
Latin maxim: potestas delegata non delegari potest. 59 The recognized exceptions to DISCRETION IN ENTERTAINING THE DELFIN PETITION.
the rule are as follows:
Even if it be conceded ex gratia that R.A. No. 6735 is a full compliance with the power
(1) Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28(2) of Article VI of the of Congress to implement the right to initiate constitutional amendments, or that it has
Constitution; validly vested upon the COMELEC the power of subordinate legislation and that
COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or
(2) Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23(2) of Article VI with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining the Delfin Petition.
of the Constitution;
Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a
(3) Delegation to the people at large; petition for initiative on the Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total
number of registered voters of which every legislative district is represented by at least
3% of the registered voters therein. The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of
(4) Delegation to local governments; and the required number of voters. Delfin himself admits that he has not yet gathered
signatures and that the purpose of his petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his
60 drive to gather signatures. Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be
(5) Delegation to administrative bodies.
deemed validly initiated.
Empowering the COMELEC, an administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions,
to promulgate rules and regulations is a form of delegation of legislative authority under The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing. The
no. 5 above. However, in every case of permissible delegation, there must be a showing petition then is the initiatory pleading. Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the
that the delegation itself is valid. It is valid only if the law (a) is complete in itself, setting COMELEC, sitting en banc. The only participation of the COMELEC or its personnel
forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate; before the filing of such petition are (1) to prescribe the form of the petition; 63 (2) to
and (b) fixes a standard — the limits of which are sufficiently determinate and issue through its Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the total number
determinable — to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his of registered voters in each legislative district; 64 (3) to assist, through its election
functions. 61 A sufficient standard is one which defines legislative policy, marks its registrars, in the establishment of signature stations; 65 and (4) to verify, through its
limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates election registrars, the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters'
the circumstances under which the legislative command is to be effected. 62 affidavits, and voters' identification cards used in the immediately preceding election. 66

Insofar as initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution is concerned, R.A. No. Since the Delfin Petition is not the initiatory petition under R.A. No. 6735 and
6735 miserably failed to satisfy both requirements in subordinate legislation. The COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, it cannot be entertained or given cognizance of by the
delegation of the power to the COMELEC is then invalid. COMELEC. The respondent Commission must have known that the petition does not
fall under any of the actions or proceedings under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure
III or under Resolution No. 2300, for which reason it did not assign to the petition a docket
number. Hence, the said petition was merely entered as UND, meaning, undocketed.
That petition was nothing more than a mere scrap of paper, which should not have
been dignified by the Order of 6 December 1996, the hearing on 12 December 1996,
and the order directing Delfin and the oppositors to file their memoranda or oppositions.
In so dignifying it, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion and merely wasted its time, energy, and resources.

The foregoing considered, further discussion on the issue of whether the proposal to
lift the term limits of elective national and local officials is an amendment to, and not
a revision of, the Constitution is rendered unnecessary, if not academic.

CONCLUSION

This petition must then be granted, and the COMELEC should be permanently enjoined
from entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments to
the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been validly enacted to provide for the
implementation of the system.

We feel, however, that the system of initiative to propose amendments to the


Constitution should no longer be kept in the cold; it should be given flesh and blood,
energy and strength. Congress should not tarry any longer in complying with the
constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the right of the people under
that system.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered

a) GRANTING the instant petition;

b) DECLARING R.A. No. 6735 inadequate to cover the system of initiative on


amendments to the Constitution, and to have failed to provide sufficient standard for
subordinate legislation;

c) DECLARING void those parts of Resolution No. 2300 of the Commission on


Elections prescribing rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments
to the Constitution; and

d) ORDERING the Commission on Elections to forthwith DISMISS the DELFIN petition


(UND-96-037).

The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 December 1996 is made permanent


as against the Commission on Elections, but is LIFTED as against private respondents.

Resolution on the matter of contempt is hereby reserved.

SO ORDERED.