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EN BANC [G.R. No. 103982. December 11, 1992.] ANTONIOA. MECANO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondent.

SYLLABUS 1.STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; STATUTES; KINDS OF REPEALS. The question of whether a particular law has been repealed or not by a subsequent law is a matter of legislative intent. The lawmakers may expressly repeal a law by incorporating therein a repealing provision which expressly and specifically cites the particular law or laws, and portions thereof, that are intended to be repealed. A declaration in a statute, usually in its repealing clause, that a particular and specific law, identified by its number or title, is repealed is an express repeal; all others are implied repeals. 2.ID.; ID.; REPEALS BY IMPLICATION; NECESSITY OF A CLEAR INDICATION OF LEGISLATIVE PURPOSE TO REPEAL. The fact that a later enactment may relate to the same subject matter as that of an earlier statute is not of itself sufficient to cause an implied repeal of the prior act, since the new statute may merely be cumulative or a continuation of the old one. What is necessary is a manifest indication of legislative purpose to repeal. Repeal by implication proceeds on the premise that where a statute of later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate a prior act on the subject, that intention must be given effect. Hence, before there can be a repeal, there must be a clear showing on the part of the lawmaker that the intent in enacting the new law was to abrogate the old one. The intention to repeal must be clear and manifest; otherwise, at least, as a general rule, the later act is to be construed as a continuation of, and not a substitute for, the first act and will continue so far as the two acts are the same from the time of the first enactment. 3.ID.; ID.; ID.; CATEGORIES THEREOF. There are two categories of repeal by implication. The first is where provisions in the two acts on the same subject matter are in an irreconcilable conflict, The later act to the extent of the conflict constitutes an implied repeal of the earlier one. The second is if the later act covers the whole subject of the earlier one and is clearly intended as a substitute, it will operate to repeal the earlier law. Implied repeal by irreconcilable inconsistency takes place when the two statutes cover the same subject matter; they are so clearly inconsistent and incompatible with each other that they cannot be reconciled or harmonized; and both cannot be given effect, that is, that one law cannot be enforced without nullifying the other. The second category of repeal the enactment of a statute revising or codifying the former laws on the whole subject matter. This is only possible if this revised statute or code was intended to cover the whole subject to be a complete and perfect system in itself. It is the rule that a subsequent statute is deemed to repeal a prior law if the former revises the whole subject matter of the former statute. When both intent and scope clearly evince the idea of a repeal, then all parts and provisions of the prior act that are omitted from the revised act are deemed repealed. Furthermore, before there can be an implied repeal under this

category, it must be the clear intent of the legislature that the later act be the substitute to the prior act. 4.ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT IMPLIED REPEAL OF SECTION 699 OF THE REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE BY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1987; CASE AT BAR. Comparing the two Codes, it is apparent that the new Code does not cover nor attempt to cover the entire subject matter of the old Code. There are several matters treated in the old Code which are not found in the new Code, such as the provisions on notaries public, the leave law, the public bonding law, military reservations, claims for sickness benefits under Section 699, and still others. Moreover, the COA failed to demonstrate that the provisions of the two Codes on the matter of the subject claim are in an irreconcilable conflict. In fact, there can be no such conflict because the provision on sickness benefits of the nature being claimed by petitioner has not been restated in the Administrative Code of 1987. 5.ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; ADMINISTRATIVE CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION OF LAWS; WEIGHT OF OPINIONS OF THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE ON STATUTES IN PARI MATERIA; CASE AT BAR. According to Opinion No. 73, S. 1991 of the Secretary of Justice, what appears clear is the intent to cover only those aspects of government that pertain to administration, organization and procedure, understandably because of the many changes that transpired in the government structure since the enactment of the RAC decades of years ago. The COA challenges the weight that this opinion carries in the determination of this controversy inasmuch as the body which had been entrusted with the implementation of this particular provision has already rendered its decision. The COA relied on the rule in administrative law enunciated in the case of Sison vs. Pangramuyen that in the absence of palpable error or grave abuse of discretion, the Court would be loathe to substitute its own judgment for that of the administrative agency entrusted with the enforcement and implementation of the law. This will not hold water. This principle is subject to limitations. Administrative decisions may be reviewed by the courts upon a showing that the decision is vitiated by fraud, imposition or mistake. It has been held that Opinions of the Secretary and Undersecretary of Justice are material in the construction of statutes in pari materia. 6.STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; REPEALS BY IMPLICATION NOT FAVORED. Lastly, it is a well-settled rule of statutory construction that repeals of statutes by implication are not favored. The presumption is against inconsistency and repugnancy for the legislature is presumed to know the existing laws on the subject and not to have enacted inconsistent or conflicting statutes. This Court, in a case, explains the principle in detail as follows: "Repeals by implication are not favored, and will not be decreed unless it is manifest that the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to be passed with deliberation with full knowledge of all existing ones on the subject, it is but reasonable to conclude that in passing a statute it was not intended to interfere with or abrogate any former law relating to some matter, unless the repugnancy between the two is not only irreconcilable, but also clear and convincing, and flowing necessarily from the language used, unless the

later act fully embraces the subject matter of the earlier, or unless the reason for the earlier act is beyond peradventure renewed. Hence, every effort must be used to make all acts stand and if, by any reasonable construction, they can be reconciled, the later act will not operate as a repeal of the earlier." 7.LABOR CODE; ARTICLE 173 THEREOF; EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION; PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION THEREUNDER NOT A BAR TO RECOVERY OF BENEFITS UNDER SEC. 699 OF THE REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE. Regarding respondent's contention that recovery under this subject section shall bar the recovery of benefits under the Employees' Compensation Program, the same cannot be upheld. The second sentence of Article 173, Chapter II, Title II (dealing on Employees' Compensation and State Insurance Fund), Book IV of the Labor Code, as amended by P.D. 1921, expressly provides that "the payment of compensation under this Title shall not bar the recovery of benefits as provided for in Section 669 of the Revised Administrative Code . . . whose benefits are administered by the system (meaning SSS or GSIS) or by other agencies of the government."

more than six months, and in such case he may in his discretion also authorize the payment of the medical attendance, necessary transportation, subsistence and hospital fees of the injured person. Absence in the case contemplated shall be charged first against vacation leave, if any there be. xxx xxx xxx "In case of sickness caused by or connected directly with the performance of some act in the line of duty, the Department head may in his discretion authorize the payment of the necessary hospital fees." LLjur Director Lim then forwarded petitioner's claim, in a 1st Indorsement dated June 22, 1990, to the Secretary of Justice, along with the comment, bearing the same date, of Gerarda Galang, Chief, LED of the NBI, "recommending favorable action thereof". Finding petitioner's illness to be service -connected, the Committee on Physical Examination of the Department of Justice favorably recommended the payment of petitioner's claim.

DECISION CAMPOS, JR., J p: Antonio A. Mecano, through a petition for certiorari, seeks to nullify the decision of the Commission on Audit (COA, for brevity) embodied in its 7th Indorsement, dated January 16, 1992, denying his claim for reimbursement under Section 699 of the Revised Administrative Code (RAC), as amended, in the total amount of P40,831.00. Petitioner is a Director II of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). He was hospitalized for cholecystitis from March 26, 1990 to April 7, 1990, on account of which he incurred medical and hospitalization expenses, the total amount of which he is claiming from the COA. On May 11, 1990, in a memorandum to the NBI Director, Alfredo S. Lim (Director Lim, for brevity), he requested reimbursement for his expenses on the ground that he is entitled to the benefits under Section 699 1 of the RAC, the pertinent provisions of which read: "SECTION 699.Allowances in case of injury, death, or sickness incurred in performance of duty. When a person in the service of the national government or in the service of the government of a province, city, municipality or municipal district is so injured in the performance of duty as thereby to receive some actual physical hurt or wound, the proper Head of Department may direct that absence during any period of disability thereby occasioned shall be on full pay, though not

However, then Undersecretary of Justice Silvestre H. Bello III, in a 4th Indorsement dated November 21, 1990, returned petitioner's claim to Director Lim, having considered the statements of the Chairman of the COA in its 5th Indorsement dated 19 September 1990, to the effect that the RAC being relied upon was repealed by the Administrative Code of 1987. Petitioner then re-submitted his claim to Director Lim, with a copy of Opinion No. 73, S. 1991 2 dated April 26, 1991 of then Secretary of Justice Franklin M. Drilon (Secretary Drilon, for brevity) stating that "the issuance of the Administrative Code did not operate to repeal or abrogate in its entirety the Revised Administrative Code, including the particular Section 699 of the latter." On May 10, 1991, Director Lim, under a 5th Indorsement transmitted anew Mecano's claim to then Undersecretary Bello for favorable consideration. Under a 6th Indorsement, dated July 2, 1991, Secretary Drilon forwarded petitioner's claim to the COA Chairman, recommending payment of the same. COA Chairman Eufemio C. Domingo, in his 7th Indorsement of January 16, 1992, however denied petitioner's claim on the ground that Section 699 of the RAC has been repealed by the Administrative Code of 1987, solely for the reason that the same section was not restated nor re-enacted in the Administrative Code of 1987. He commented, however, that the claim may be filed with the Employees' Compensation Commission, considering that the illness of Director Mecano occurred after the effectivity of the Administrative Code of 1987.

Eventually, petitioner's claim was returned by Undersecretary of Justice Eduardo Montenegro to Director Lim under a 9th Indorsement dated February 7, 1992, with the advice that petitioner "elevate the matter to the Supreme Court if he so desires." On the sole issue of whether or not the Administrative Code of 1987 repealed or abrogated Section 699 of the RAC, this petition was brought for the consideration of this Court. cdphil Petitioner anchors his claim on Section 699 of the RAC, as amended, and on the aforementioned Opinion No. 73, S. 1991 of Secretary Drilon. He further maintains that in the event that a claim is filed with the Employees' Compensation Commission, as suggested by respondent, he would still not be barred from filing a claim under the subject section. Thus, the resolution of whether or not there was a repeal of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 would decide the fate of petitioner's claim for reimbursement. The COA, on the other hand, strongly maintains that the enactment of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Exec. Order No. 292) operated to revoke or supplant in its entirety the Revised Administrative Code of 1917. The COA claims that from the "whereas" clauses of the new Administrative Code, it can be gleaned that it was the intent of the legislature to repeal the old Code. Moreover, the COA questions the applicability of the aforesaid opinion of the Secretary of Justice in deciding the matter. Lastly, the COA contends that employment-related sickness, injury or death is adequately covered by the Employees' Compensation Program under P.D. 626, such that to allow simultaneous recovery of benefits under both laws on account of the same contingency would be unfair and unjust to the government. The question of whether a particular law has been repealed or not by a subsequent law is a matter of legislative intent. The lawmakers may expressly repeal a law by incorporating therein a repealing provision which expressly and specifically cites the particular law or laws, and portions thereof, that are intended to be repealed. 3 A declaration in a statute, usually in its repealing clause, that a particular and specific law, identified by its number or title, is repealed is an express repeal; all others are implied repeals. 4 In the case of the two Administrative Codes in question, the ascertainment of whether or not it was the intent of the legislature to supplant the old Code with the new Code partly depends on the scrutiny of the repealing clause of the new Code. This provision is found in Section 27, Book VII (Final Provisions) of the Administrative Code of 1987 which reads: "SECTION 27.Repealing Clause. All laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations, or portions thereof, inconsistent with this Code are hereby repealed or modified accordingly."

The question that should be asked is: What is the nature of this repealing clause? It is certainly not an express repealing clause because it fails to identify or designate the act or acts that are intended to be repealed. 5 Rather, it is an example of a general repealing provision, as stated in Opinion No. 73, S. 1991. It is a clause which predicates the intended repeal under the condition that a substantial conflict must be found in existing and prior acts. The failure to add a specific repealing clause indicates that the intent was not to repeal any existing law, unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exist in the terms of the new and old laws. 6 This latter situation falls under the category of an implied repeal. Repeal by implication proceeds on the premise that where a statute of later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate a prior act on the subject, that intention must be given effect. 7 Hence, before there can be a repeal, there must be a clear showing on the part of the lawmaker that the intent in enacting the new law was to abrogate the old one. The intention to repeal must be clear and manifest; 8 otherwise, at least, as a general rule, the later act is to be construed as a continuation of, and not a substitute for, the first act and will continue so far as the two acts are the same from the time of the first enactment. 9 There are two categories of repeal by implication. The first is where provisions in the two acts on the same subject matter are in an irreconcilable conflict, The later act to the extent of the conflict constitutes an implied repeal of the earlier one. The second is if the later act covers the whole subject of the earlier one and is clearly intended as a substitute, it will operate to repeal the earlier law. 10 Implied repeal by irreconcilable inconsistency takes place when the two statutes cover the same subject matter; they are so clearly inconsistent and incompatible with each other that they cannot be reconciled or harmonized; and both cannot be given effect, that is, that one law cannot he enforced without nullifying the other. 11 LexLib Comparing the two Codes, it is apparent that the new Code does not cover nor attempt to cover the entire subject matter of the old Code. There are several matters treated in the old Code which are not found in the new Code, such as the provisions on notaries public, the leave law, the public bonding law, military reservations, claims for sickness benefits under Section 699, and still others. Moreover, the COA failed to demonstrate that the provisions of the two Codes on the matter of the subject claim are in an irreconcilable conflict. In fact, there can be no such conflict because the provision on sickness benefits of the nature being claimed by petitioner has not been restated in the Administrative Code of 1987. However, the COA would have Us consider that the fact that Section 699 was not restated in the Administrative Code of 1987 meant that the same section had been repealed. It further maintained that to allow the particular provisions not restated in the new Code to continue in force argues against the Code itself. The COA anchored this argument on the whereas clause of the 1987 Code, which states:

"WHEREAS, the effectiveness of the Government will be enhanced by a new Administrative Code which incorporates in a unified document the major structural, functional and procedural principles and rules of governance; and xxx xxx xxx" It argues, in effect, that what is contemplated is only one Code the Administrative Code of 1987. This contention is untenable. The fact that a later enactment may relate to the same subject matter as that of an earlier statute is not of itself sufficient to cause an implied repeal of the prior act, since the new statute may merely be cumulative or a continuation of the old one. 12 What is necessary is a manifest indication of legislative purpose to repeal. 13 We come now to the second category of repeal the enactment of a statute revising or codifying the former laws on the whole subject matter. This is only possible if this revised statute or code was intended to cover the whole subject to be a complete and perfect system in itself. It is the rule that a subsequent statute is deemed to repeal a prior law if the former revises the whole subject matter of the former statute. 14 When both intent and scope clearly evince the idea of a repeal, then all parts and provisions of the prior act that are omitted from the revised act are deemed repealed. 15 Furthermore, before there can be an implied repeal under this category, it must be the clear intent of the legislature that the later act be the substitute to the prior act. 16 According to Opinion No. 73, S. 1991 of the Secretary of Justice, what appears clear is the intent to cover only those aspects of government that pertain to administration, organization and procedure, understandably because of the many changes that transpired in the government structure since the enactment of the RAC decades of years ago. The COA challenges the weight that this opinion carries in the determination of this controversy inasmuch as the body which had been entrusted with the implementation of this particular provision has already rendered its decision. The COA relied on the rule in administrative law enunciated in the case of Sison vs. Pangramuyen 17 that in the absence of palpable error or grave abuse of discretion, the Court would be loathe to substitute its own judgment for that of the administrative agency entrusted with the enforcement and implementation of the law. This will not hold water. This principle is subject to limitations. Administrative decisions may be reviewed by the courts upon a showing that the decision is vitiated by fraud, imposition or mistake. 18 It has been held that Opinions of the Secretary and Undersecretary of Justice are material in the construction of statutes in pari materia. 19

Lastly, it is a well-settled rule of statutory construction that repeals of statutes by implication are not favored. 20 The presumption is against inconsistency and repugnancy for the legislature is presumed to know the existing laws on the subject and not to have enacted inconsistent or conflicting statutes. 21 This Court, in a case, explains the principle in detail as follows: "Repeals by implication are not favored, and will not be decreed unless it is manifest that the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to be passed with deliberation with full knowledge of all existing ones on the subject, it is but reasonable to conclude that in passing a statute it was not intended to interfere with or abrogate any former law relating to some matter, unless the repugnancy between the two is not only irreconcilable, but also clear and convincing, and flowing necessarily from the language used, unless the later act fully embraces the subject matter of the earlier, or unless the reason for the earlier act is beyond peradventure renewed. Hence, every effort must be used to make all acts stand and if, by any reasonable construction, they can be reconciled, the later act will not operate as a repeal of the earlier. 22 Regarding respondent's contention that recovery under this subject section shall bar the recovery of benefits under the Employees' Compensation Program, the same cannot be upheld. The second sentence of Article 173, of the Labor Code, as amended by P.D. 1921, expressly provides that "the payment of compensation under this Title shall not bar the recovery of benefits as provided for in Section 669 of the Revised Administrative Code xxx whose benefits are administered by the system (meaning SSS or GSIS) or by other agencies of the government." WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to GRANT the petition; respondent is hereby ordered to give due course to petitioner's claim for benefits. No costs. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C .J ., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo and Melo, JJ ., concur. Gutierrez, Jr., J ., concurs in the result.

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 127383. August 18, 2005.]

THE CITY OF DAVAO, CITY TREASURER AND THE CITY ASSESSOR OF DAVAO CITY, petitioners, vs. THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH XII, DAVAO CITY AND THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS), respondents. The City Legal Office for petitioners. Legal Department (GSIS) for respondents.

promotes an unhealthy stasis in the legislative front and dissuades dynamic democratic impetus that may be responsive to the times. As Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno once observed, "[t]o be sure, there are no irrepealable laws just as there are no irrepealable Constitutions. Change is the predicate of progress and we should not fear change." Moreover, it would be noxious anathema to democratic principles for a legislative body to have the ability to bind the actions of future legislative body, considering that both assemblies are regarded with equal footing, exercising as they do the same plenary powers. Perpetual infallibility is not one of the attributes desired in a legislative body, and a legislature which attempts to forestall future amendments or repeals of its enactments labors under delusions of omniscience. 4.ID.; ID.; RATIONALE FOR PROHIBITING IRREPARABLE LAWS APPLIES IN PROHIBITING RESTRAINTS ON FUTURE AMENDATORY LAWS. It might be argued that Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, does not preclude the repeal of the tax-exempt status of GSIS, but merely imposes conditions for such to validly occur. Yet these conditions, if honored, have the precise effect of limiting the powers of Congress. Thus, the same rationale for prohibiting irrepealable laws applies in prohibiting restraints on future amendatory laws. President Marcos, who exercised his legislative powers in amending P.D. No. 1146, could not have demanded obeisance from future legislators by imposing restrictions on their ability to legislate amendments or repeals. The concerns that may have militated his enactment of these restrictions need not necessarily be shared by subsequent Congresses. 5.ID.; ID.; IF CONGRESS HAS THE INHERENT POWER TO ABROGATE THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS) ITSELF, THEN IT NECESSARILY HAS THE ABILITY TO INFLICT LESS DETRIMENTAL BURDENS. We do not mean to trivialize the need to ensure the solvency of the GSIS fund, a concern that has seen legislative expression, even with the most recently enacted Government Service Insurance System Act of 1997. Yet at the same time, we recognize that Congress has the putative authority, through valid legislation, to diminish such fund, or even abolish the GSIS itself if it so desires. The GSIS may provide vital services and security to employees of the civil service, yet it is not a sacred cow that is beyond abolition by Congress if, for example, more innovative methods are devised to ensure stable pension funds for government employees. If Congress has the inherent power to abrogate the GSIS itself, then it necessarily has the ability to inflict less detrimental burdens, such as abolishing its tax-exempt status. If there could be legal authority proscribing the Congress from enacting such legislation, such should be sourced from the Constitution itself, and not from antecedent statutes which were themselves enacted by legislative power. 6.ID.; ID.; LEGISLATURE CANNOT BIND A FUTURE LEGISLATURE TO A PARTICULAR MODE OF REPEAL. The Court's position is aligned with entrenched norms of statutory construction. In Duarte v. Dade, the Court cited with approval Lewis' Southerland on Statutory Construction, which states: A state

SYLLABUS 1.POLITICAL LAW; ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1981; EXPRESSLY STATING THAT THE TAX-EXEMPT STATUS OF GSIS REMAINED IN PLACE. Notably, P.D. No. 1931 was also an exercise of legislative powers then accorded to President Marcos by virtue of Amendment No. 6 to the 1973 Constitution. Whether he was aware of the effect of P.D. No. 1931 on the GSIS's tax-exempt status or the ramifications of the decree thereon is unknown; but apparently, he immediately reconsidered the withdrawal of the exemptions on the GSIS. Thus, P.D. No. 1981 was enacted, expressly stating that the tax-exempt status of the GSIS under Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146 remained in place, notwithstanding the passage of P.D. No. 1931. However, P.D. No. 1981 did not stop there, serving merely as it should to restore the previous exemptions on the GSIS. It also attempted to proscribe future attempts to alter the tax-exempt status of the GSIS by imposing unorthodox conditions for its future repeal. Thus, as intimated earlier, a second paragraph was added to Section 33, containing the restrictions relied upon by the RTC and presently invoked by the GSIS before this Court. 2.ID.; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; ONLY THE CONSTITUTION MAY OPERATE TO PRECLUDE OR PLACE RESTRICTIONS ON THE AMENDMENT OR REPEAL OF LAWS. The second paragraph of Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, effectively imposes restrictions on the competency of the Congress to enact future legislation on the taxability of the GSIS. This places an undue restraint on the plenary power of the legislature to amend or repeal laws, especially considering that it is a lawmaker's act that imposes such burden. Only the Constitution may operate to preclude or place restrictions on the amendment or repeal of laws. Constitutional dicta is of higher order than legislative statutes, and the latter should always yield to the former in cases of irreconcilable conflict. 3.ID.; ID.; IMPLIED SUBSTANTIVE LIMITATIONS ON THE LEGISLATIVE POWERS IS THE PROHIBITION AGAINST THE PASSAGE OF IRREPARABLE LAWS. It is a basic precept that among the implied substantive limitations on the legislative powers is the prohibition against the passage of irrepealable laws. Irrepealable laws deprive succeeding legislatures of the fundamental best senses carte blanche in crafting laws appropriate to the operative milieu. Their allowance

legislature has a plenary law-making power over all subjects, whether pertaining to persons or things, within its territorial jurisdiction, either to introduce new laws or repeal the old, unless prohibited expressly or by implication by the federal constitution or limited or restrained by its own. It cannot bind itself or its successors by enacting irrepealable laws except when so restrained. Every legislative body may modify or abolish the acts passed by itself or its predecessors. This power of repeal may be exercised at the same session at which the original act was passed; and even while a bill is in its progress and before it becomes a law. This legislature cannot bind a future legislature to a particular mode of repeal. It cannot declare in advance the intent of subsequent legislatures or the effect of subsequent legislation upon existing statutes. 7.ID.; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES; THE STATE IS MANDATED TO ENSURE THE AUTONOMY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. Also worthy of note is that the Constitution itself promotes the principles of local autonomy as embodied in the Local Government Code. The State is mandated to ensure the autonomy of local governments, and local governments are empowered to levy taxes, fees and charges that accrue exclusively to them, subject to congressional guidelines and limitations. The principle of local autonomy is no mere passing dalliance but a constitutionally enshrined precept that deserves respect and appropriate enforcement by this Court. 8.ID.; STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; STATUTORY INTERPRETATIONS OF EXECUTIVE BODIES DO NOT HOLD DECISIVE SWAY UPON THE JUDICIARY. We are aware that this stance runs contrary to that which was adopted by the Secretary of Justice in his Opinion dated 22 July 1993, as well as the memorandum from the Office of the President dated 14 February 1995, expressing the same opinion. However, statutory interpretations of these executive bodies do not hold decisive sway upon the judiciary but are merely persuasive. These issuances cannot derogate from the binding precept that one legislature cannot enact irrepealable legislation or limit or restrict its own power or the power of its successors as to the repeal of statutes. The act of one legislature is not binding upon and does not tie the hands of future legislatures.

The matter was elevated to this Court directly from the trial court on a pure question of law. 4 The facts are uncontroverted. On 8 April 1994, the GSIS Davao City branch office received a Notice of Public Auction scheduling the public bidding of GSIS properties located in Matina and Ulas, Davao City for non-payment of realty taxes for the years 1992 to 1994 totaling Two Hundred Ninety Five Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty One Pesos and Sixty One Centavos (P295,721.61). 5 The auction was subsequently reset by virtue of a deadline extension allowed by Davao City for the payment of delinquent real property taxes. 6 On 28 July 1994, the GSIS received Warrants of Levy and Notices of Levy on three parcels of land owned by the GSIS. Another Notice of Public Auction was received by the GSIS on 29 August 1994, setting the date of auction sale for 20 September 1994. On 13 September 1994, the GSIS filed a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, Mandamus And/Or Declaratory Relief with the RTC of Davao City. It also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order. The case was raffled to Branch 12, presided by Judge Maximo Magno Libre. On 13 September 1994, the RTC issued a temporary restraining order for a period of twenty (20) days, 7 effectively enjoining the auction sale scheduled seven days later. Following exchange of arguments, the RTC issued an Order dated 3 April 1995 issuing a writ of preliminary injunction effective for the duration of the suit. 8 At the pre-trial, it was agreed that the sole issue for resolution was purely a question of law, that is, whether Sections 234 and 534 of the Local Government Code, which have withdrawn real property tax exemptions of government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), have also withdrawn from the GSIS its right to be exempted from payment of the realty taxes sought to be levied by Davao City. 9 The parties submitted their respective memoranda. On 28 May 1996, the RTC rendered the Decision 10 now assailed before this Court. It concluded that notwithstanding the enactment of the local Government Code, the GSIS retained its exemption from all taxes, including real estate taxes. The RTC cited Section 33 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1146, the Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977, as amended by P.D. No. 1981, which mandated such exemption. The RTC conceded that the tax exempting statute, P.D. No. 1146, was enacted prior to the Local Government Code. However, it noted that the earlier law had prescribed two conditions in order that the tax exemption provided therein could be withdrawn by future enactments, namely: (1) that Section 33 be expressly and categorically repealed by law; and (2) that a provision be enacted to substitute the declared policy of exemption from any and all taxes as an essential factor for the solvency of the GSIS fund. 11 The RTC concluded that both conditions had not been satisfied by the

DECISION TINGA, J p: A Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) upheld the tax-exempt status of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for the years 1992 to 1994 in contravention of the mandate under the Local Government Code of 1992, 1 the precedent set by this Court in Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority v. Hon. Marcos, 2 and the public policy on local autonomy enshrined in the Constitution. 3

Local Government Code. The RTC likewise accorded weight to Legal Opinion No. 165 of the Secretary of Justice, dated 16 December 1996 concluding that Section 33 was not repealed by the Local Government Code, and a memorandum emanating from the Office of the President dated 14 February 1995 expressing the same opinion. 12 The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads: Now then, in light of the foregoing observation, the court perceives, that the cause of action asseverated by petitioner in its petition has been well established by law and jurisprudence, and therefore the following relief should be granted: a)The tax exemption privilege of petitioner should be upheld and continued and that the warrants of levy and notices of levy issued by the respondent Treasurer is hereby voided and declared of no effect; b)Let a writ of prohibition be issued restraining the City Treasurer from proceeding with the auction sale of the subject properties, as well as the respondents Register of Deeds from annotating the warrants/notices of levy on the certificate of titles of petitioners real properties subject of this suit; and c)Compelling the City Assessor of Davao City to include the properties of petitioner in the list of properties exempt from payment of realty tax and if the warrants and levies issued by the City Treasurer had been annotated in the memorandum of encumbrance on the certificates of title of petitioner's properties, to cancel such annotation so that the certificates of titles of petitioners will be free from such liens and encumbrances. SO ORDERED. 13 Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the RTC in an Order dated 30 October 1996, hence the present petition. Petitioners argue that the exemption granted in Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, was effectively withdrawn upon the enactment of the Local Government

Code, particularly Sections 193 and 294 thereof. These provisions made the GSIS, along with all other GOCCs, subject to realty taxes. Petitioners point out that under Section 534 (f) of the Local Government Code, even special laws, such as PD No. 1146, which are inconsistent with the Local Government Code, are repealed or modified accordingly. On the other hand, GSIS contends, as the RTC held, that the requisites for repeal are laid down in Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, namely that it be done expressly and categorically by law, and that a provision be enacted to substitute the declared policy of exemption from taxes as an essential factor for the solvency of the GSIS fund. It stresses that it had been exempt from taxation as far back as 1936, when its original charter was enacted through Commonwealth Act No. 186. 14 It asserts further that this Court had previously recognized the "extraordinary exemption" of GSIS in Testate Estate of Concordia T. Lim v. City of Manila, 15 and such exemption has similarly been affirmed by the Secretary of Justice and the Office of the President in the aforementioned issuances also cited by the RTC. 16 GSIS likewise notes that had it been the intention of the legislature to repeal Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146 through the Local Government Code, said law would have included the appropriate retraction in its repealing clause found in Section 534(f). However, said section, according to the GSIS, partakes the nature of a general repealing provision which is accorded less weight in light of the rule that implied repeals are not favored. Consequently with its position that it remains exempt from realty taxation, the GSIS argues that the Notices of Assessment, Warrants and Notices of Levy, Notices of Public Auction Sale and the Annotations of the Notice of Levy are void ab initio. TEAaDC A review of the relevant statutory provisions is in order. Presidential Decree No. 1146 was enacted in 1977 by President Marcos in the exercise of his legislative powers. Section 33, as originally enacted, read: Sec. 33.Exemption from tax, Legal Process and Lien. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State that the actuarial solvency of the funds of the System shall be preserved and maintained at all times and that the contribution rates necessary to sustain the benefits under this Act shall be kept as low as possible in order not to burden the members of the system and/or their employees. . . . Accordingly, notwithstanding any laws to the contrary, the System, its assets, revenues including the accruals thereto, and benefits paid, shall be exempt from all taxes. These exemptions shall continue unless expressly and specifically revoked and any assessment against the System as of the approval of this Act are hereby considered paid.

As it stood then, Section 33 merely provided a general rule exempting the GSIS from all taxes. However, Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146 was amended in 1985 by President Marcos, again in the exercise of his legislative powers, through P.D. No. 1981. It was through this latter decree that a second paragraph was added to Section 33 delineating the requisites for repeal of the tax exemption enjoyed by the GSIS by incorporating the following: xxx xxx xxx Moreover, these exemptions shall not be affected by subsequent laws to the contrary, such as the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1931 and other similar laws that have been or will be enacted, unless this section is expressly and categorically repealed by law and a provision is enacted to substitute the declared policy of exemption from any and all taxes as an essential factor for the solvency of the fund. 17 It bears noting though, and it is perhaps key to understanding the necessity of the addendum provided under P.D. No. 1981, that a presidential decree enacted a year earlier, P.D. No. 1931, effectively withdrew all tax exemption privileges granted to GOCCs. 18 In fact, P.D. No. 1931 was specifically named in the afore-quoted addendum as among those laws which, despite passage, would not affect the tax exempt status of GSIS. Section 1 of P.D. No. 1931 states: Sec. 1.The provisions of special or general law to the contrary notwithstanding, all exemptions from the payment of duties, taxes, fees, imposts and other charges heretofore granted in favor of government-owned or controlled corporations including their subsidiaries, are hereby withdrawn.

was enacted, expressly stating that the tax-exempt status of the GSIS under Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146 remained in place, notwithstanding the passage of P.D. No. 1931. aSCHcA However, P.D. No. 1981 did not stop there, serving merely as it should to restore the previous exemptions on the GSIS. It also attempted to proscribe future attempts to alter the tax-exempt status of the GSIS by imposing unorthodox conditions for its future repeal. Thus, as intimated earlier, a second paragraph was added to Section 33, containing the restrictions relied upon by the RTC and presently invoked by the GSIS before this Court. These laws have to be weighed against the Local Government Code of 1992, a landmark law which implemented the constitutional aspirations for a more extensive breadth of local autonomy. The Court, in Mactan, was asked to consider the effect of the Local Government Code on the taxability by local governments of GOCCs such as the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA). Particularly, MCIAA invoked Section 133(o) of the Local Government Code as the basis for its claimed exemption, the provision reading: SECTION 133.Common Limitations on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units. Unless otherwise provided herein, the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays shall not extend to the levy of the following: xxx xxx xxx (o)Taxes, fees or charges of any kind on the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities and local government units. However, the Court, in ruling MCIAA non-exempt from realty taxes, considered that Section 133 qualified the exemption of the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities from local taxation with the phrase "unless otherwise provided herein." The Court then considered the other relevant provisions of the Local Government Code, particularly the following: SECTION 193.Withdrawal of Tax Exemption Privileges. Unless otherwise provided in this Code, tax exemption or incentives granted to, or enjoyed by all persons, whether natural or juridical, including government-owned and controlled corporations, except local water districts, cooperatives duly registered under R.A. No. 6938, non-stock and non-profit hospitals and educational institutions, are hereby withdrawn upon the effectivity of this Code.

There is no doubt that the GSIS which was established way back in 1937 is a GOCC, a fact that GSIS itself admits in its petition for certiorari before the RTC. 19 It thus clear that Section 1 of P.D. No. 1931 expressly withdrew those exemptions granted to the GSIS. Presidential Decree No. 1931 did allow the exemption to be restored in special cases through an application for restoration with the Secretary of Finance, but otherwise, the exemptions granted to the GSIS prior to the enactment of P.D. No. 1931 were withdrawn. Notably, P.D. No. 1931 was also an exercise of legislative powers then accorded to President Marcos by virtue of Amendment No. 6 to the 1973 Constitution. Whether he was aware of the effect of P.D. No. 1931 on the GSIS's tax-exempt status or the ramifications of the decree thereon is unknown; but apparently, he immediately reconsidered the withdrawal of the exemptions on the GSIS. Thus, P.D. No. 1981

SECTION 232.Power to Levy Real Property Tax. A province or city or a municipality within the Metropolitan Manila area may levy an annual ad valoremtax on real property such as land, building, machinery, and other improvements not hereafter specifically exempted. SECTION 234.Exemptions from Real Property Tax. The following are exempted from payment of the real property tax: (a)Real property owned by the Republic of the Philippines or any of its political subdivisions except when the beneficial use thereof has been granted, for consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person; (b)Charitable institutions, churches, parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit or religious cemeteries and all lands, buildings, and improvements actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious charitable or educational purposes; (c)All machineries and equipment that are actually, directly and exclusively used by local water districts and government-owned and controlled corporations engaged in the distribution of water and/or generation and transmission of electric power; (d)All real property owned by duly registered cooperatives as provided for under R.A. No. 6938; and (e)Machinery and equipment used for pollution control and environmental protection. Except as provided herein, any exemption from payment of real property tax previously granted to, or presently enjoyed by, all persons, whether natural or juridical, including all government-owned or controlled corporations are hereby withdrawn upon the effectivity of this Code. (Emphasis supplied.) Evidently, Section 133 was not intended to be so absolute a prohibition on the power of LGUs to tax the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, as evidenced by these cited provisions which "otherwise provided." But what was the extent of the limitation under Section 133? This is how the Court, in a discussion of far-reaching consequence, defined the parameters in Mactan:

The foregoing sections of the LGC speak of: (a) the limitations on the taxing powers of local government units and the exceptions to such limitations; and (b) the rule on tax exemptions and the exceptions thereto. The use of exceptions or provisos in these sections, as shown by the following clauses: (1)"unless otherwise provided herein" in the opening paragraph of Section 133; (2)"Unless otherwise provided in this Code" in Section 193; (3)"not hereafter specifically exempted" in Section 232; and (4)"Except as provided herein" in the last paragraph of Section 234 initially hampers a ready understanding of the sections. Note, too, that the aforementioned clause in Section 133 seems to be inaccurately worded. Instead of the clause "unless otherwise provided herein," with the "herein" to mean, of course, the section, it should have used the clause "unless otherwise provided in this Code." The former results in absurdity since the section itself enumerates what are beyond the taxing powers of local government units and, where exceptions were intended, the exceptions are explicitly indicated in the next. For instance, in item (a) which excepts income taxes "when levied on banks and other financial institutions;" item (d) which excepts "wharfage on wharves constructed and maintained by the local government unit concerned"; and item (1) which excepts taxes, fees and charges for the registration and issuance of licenses or permits for the driving of "tricycles." It may also be observed that within the body itself of the section, there are exceptions which can be found only in other parts of the LGC, but the section interchangeably uses therein the clause, "except as otherwise provided herein" as in items (c) and (i), or the clause "except as provided in this Code" in item (j). These clauses would be obviously unnecessary or mere surplusages if the opening clause of the section were "Unless otherwise provided herein." In any event, even if the latter is used, since under Section 232 local government units have the power to levy real property tax, except those exempted therefrom under Section 234, then Section 232 must be deemed to qualify Section 133.

Thus, reading together Section 133, 232, and 234 of the LGC, we conclude that as a general rule, as laid down in Section 133, the taxing powers of local government units cannot extend to the levy of, inter alia, "taxes, fees and charges of any kind on the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and local government units"; however, pursuant to Section 232, provinces, cities, and municipalities in the Metropolitan Manila Area may impose the real property tax except on, inter alia, "real property owned by the Republic of the Philippines or any of its political subdivisions except when the beneficial use thereof has been granted, for consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person," as provided in item (a) of the first paragraph of Section 234. As to tax exemption or incentives granted to or presently enjoyed by natural or juridical persons, including governmentowned and controlled corporations, Section 193 of the LGC prescribes the general rule, viz., they are withdrawn upon the effectivity of the LGC, except those granted to local water districts, cooperatives duly registered under R.A. No. 6938, nonstock and non-profit hospitals and educational institutions, and unless otherwise provided in the LGC. The latter proviso could refer to Section 234 which enumerates the properties exempt from real property tax. But the last paragraph of Section 234 further qualifies the retention of the exemption insofar as real property taxes are concerned by limiting the retention only to those enumerated therein; all others not included in the enumeration lost the privilege upon the effectivity of the LGC. Moreover, even as to real property owned by the Republic of the Philippines or any of its political subdivisions covered by item (a) of the first paragraph of Section 234, the exemption is withdrawn if the beneficial use of such property has been granted to a taxable person for consideration or otherwise. Since the last paragraph of Section 234 unequivocally withdrew, upon the effectivity of the LGC, exemptions from payment of real property taxes granted to natural or juridical persons, including government-owned or controlled corporations, except as provided in the said section, and the petitioner is, undoubtedly, a government-owned corporation, it necessarily follows that its exemption from such tax granted it in Section 14 of its Charter, R.A. No. 6958, has been withdrawn. Any claim to the contrary can only be justified if the petitioner can seek refuge under any of the exceptions provided in Section 234, but not under Section 133, as it now asserts, since, as shown above, the

said section is qualified by Sections 232 and 234. 20 (Emphasis supplied.)

This Court, in Mactan, acknowledged that under Section 133, instrumentalities were generally exempt from all forms of local government taxation, unless otherwise provided in the Code. On the other hand, Section 232 "otherwise provides" insofar as it allowed local government units to levy an ad valorem real property tax, irrespective of who owned the property. At the same time, the imposition of real property taxes under Section 232 is in turn qualified by the phrase "not hereinafter specifically exempted." The exemptions from real property taxes are enumerated in Section 234, which specifically states that only real properties owned "by the Republic of the Philippines or any of its political subdivisions" are exempted from the payment of the tax. Clearly, instrumentalities or GOCCs do not fall within the exceptions under Section 234. Worth reckoning, however, is an essential difference between the situation of the MCIAA (and most other GOCCs, for that matter) and that of the GSIS. Unlike most other GOCCs, there is a statutory provision Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended which imposes conditions on the subsequent withdrawal of the GSIS's tax exemptions. The RTC justified the affirmance of the tax exemptions based on the non-compliance by the Local Government Code with these conditionalities, and not by reason of a general proposition that GOCCs or instrumentalities remain exempt from local government taxation. Absent Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, there would be no impediment in squarely applying the express provisions of Sections 193, 232 and 234 of the Local Government Code, as the Court did in Mactan and recently in Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. et al. v. Secretary of Interior And Local Government, et al. 21 and in ruling that the tax exemptions of GSIS were withdrawn by the Code. Thus, the crucial proposition is whether the GSIS tax exemptions can be deemed as withdrawn by the Local Government Code notwithstanding Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146 as amended. Concededly, it does not appear that at the very least, the second conditionality of Section 33 has been met. No provision has been enacted "to substitute the declared policy of exemption from any and all taxes as an essential factor for the solvency of the fund." 22 Yet the Court is averse to employing this framework, in the first place as utilized by the RTC, for we recognize a fundamental flaw in Section 33, particularly the amendatory second paragraph introduced by P.D. No. 1981. IcaHTA The second paragraph of Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, effectively imposes restrictions on the competency of the Congress to enact future legislation on the taxability of the GSIS. This places an undue restraint on the plenary power of the legislature to amend or repeal laws, especially considering that it is a lawmaker's act

that imposes such burden. Only the Constitution may operate to preclude or place restrictions on the amendment or repeal of laws. Constitutional dicta is of higher order than legislative statutes, and the latter should always yield to the former in cases of irreconcilable conflict. It is a basic precept that among the implied substantive limitations on the legislative powers is the prohibition against the passage of irrepealable laws. 23Irrepealable laws deprive succeeding legislatures of the fundamental best senses carte blanche in crafting laws appropriate to the operative milieu. Their allowance promotes an unhealthy stasis in the legislative front and dissuades dynamic democratic impetus that may be responsive to the times. As Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno once observed, "[t]o be sure, there are no irrepealable laws just as there are no irrepealable Constitutions. Change is the predicate of progress and we should not fear change." 24 Moreover, it would be noxious anathema to democratic principles for a legislative body to have the ability to bind the actions of future legislative body, considering that both assemblies are regarded with equal footing, exercising as they do the same plenary powers. Perpetual infallibility is not one of the attributes desired in a legislative body, and a legislature which attempts to forestall future amendments or repeals of its enactments labors under delusions of omniscience. It might be argued that Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146, as amended, does not preclude the repeal of the tax-exempt status of GSIS, but merely imposes conditions for such to validly occur. Yet these conditions, if honored, have the precise effect of limiting the powers of Congress. Thus, the same rationale for prohibiting irrepealable laws applies in prohibiting restraints on future amendatory laws. President Marcos, who exercised his legislative powers in amending P.D. No. 1146, could not have demanded obeisance from future legislators by imposing restrictions on their ability to legislate amendments or repeals. The concerns that may have militated his enactment of these restrictions need not necessarily be shared by subsequent Congresses. We do not mean to trivialize the need to ensure the solvency of the GSIS fund, a concern that has seen legislative expression, even with the most recently enactedGovernment Service Insurance System Act of 1997. 25 Yet at the same time, we recognize that Congress has the putative authority, through valid legislation, to diminish such fund, or even abolish the GSIS itself if it so desires. The GSIS may provide vital services and security to employees of the civil service, yet it is not a sacred cow that is beyond abolition by Congress if, for example, more innovative methods are devised to ensure stable pension funds for government employees. If Congress has the inherent power to abrogate the GSIS itself, then it necessarily has the ability to inflict less detrimental burdens, such as abolishing its tax-exempt status. If there could be legal authority proscribing the Congress from enacting such legislation, such should be sourced from the Constitution itself, and not from antecedent statutes which were themselves enacted by legislative power.

The Court's position is aligned with entrenched norms of statutory construction. In Duarte v. Dade, 26 the Court cited with approval Lewis' Southerland on Statutory Construction, which states: A state legislature has a plenary law-making power over all subjects, whether pertaining to persons or things, within its territorial jurisdiction, either to introduce new laws or repeal the old, unless prohibited expressly or by implication by the federal constitution or limited or restrained by its own. It cannot bind itself or its successors by enacting irrepealable laws except when so restrained. Every legislative body may modify or abolish the acts passed by itself or its predecessors. This power of repeal may be exercised at the same session at which the original act was passed; and even while a bill is in its progress and before it becomes a law. This legislature cannot bind a future legislature to a particular mode of repeal. It cannot declare in advance the intent of subsequent legislatures or the effect of subsequent legislation upon existing statutes. (Emphasis supplied. ) 27 The citation is particularly apropos to our present task, since the question for resolution is primarily one of statutory construction, i.e., whether or not Section 33 of P.D. No. 1146 has been repealed by the Local Government Code. It is evident that we cannot render effective the amendatory second paragraph of Section 33 as the RTC did, for by doing so, we would be giving sanction to a disingenuous means employed through legislative power to bind subsequent legislators to a particular mode of repeal. Thus, the two conditionalities of Section 33 cannot bear relevance on whether the Local Government Code removed the tax-exempt status of the GSIS. The express withdrawal of all tax exemptions accorded to all persons, natural or juridical, as stated in Section 193 of the Local Government Code, applies without impediment to the present case. Such position is bolstered by the other cited provisions of the Local Government Code, and by the Mactan ruling. There are other reasons that guide us to construe the Local Government Code in favor of the City of Davao's position. Section 5 of the Local Government Code provides the guidelines on how to construe the Code's provisions in cases of doubt, and they are self-explanatory, thus: Section 5.Rules of Interpretation. In the interpretation of the provisions of this Code, the following rules shall apply: (a)Any provision on a power of a local government unit shall be liberally interpreted in its favor, and in case of doubt, any question thereon shall be resolved in favor of devolution of

powers and of the lower local government unit. Any fair and reasonable doubt as to the existence of the power shall be interpreted in favor of the local government unit concerned; (b)In case of doubt, any tax ordinance or revenue measure shall be construed strictly against the local government unit enacting it, and liberally in favor of the taxpayer. Any tax exemption, incentive or relief granted by any local government unit pursuant to the provisions of this Code shall be construed strictly against the person claiming it; (Emphasis supplied.) Also worthy of note is that the Constitution itself promotes the principles of local autonomy as embodied in the Local Government Code. The State is mandated to ensure the autonomy of local governments, 28 and local governments are empowered to levy taxes, fees and charges that accrue exclusively to them, subject to congressional guidelines and limitations. 29 The principle of local autonomy is no mere passing dalliance but a constitutionally enshrined precept that deserves respect and appropriate enforcement by this Court. aASEcH We are aware that this stance runs contrary to that which was adopted by the Secretary of Justice in his Opinion dated 22 July 1993, as well as the memorandum from the Office of the President dated 14 February 1995, expressing the same opinion. However, statutory interpretations of these executive bodies do not hold decisive sway upon the judiciary but are merely persuasive. These issuances cannot derogate from the binding precept that one legislature cannot enact irrepealable legislation or limit or restrict its own power or the power of its successors as to the repeal of statutes. 30 The act of one legislature is not binding upon and does not tie the hands of future legislatures. 31

Puno, Austria-Martinez Callejo, Sr. and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

The GSIS's tax-exempt status, in sum, was withdrawn in 1992 by the Local Government Code but restored by the Government Service Insurance System Act of 1997, the operative provision of which is Section 39. 32 The subject real property taxes for the years 1992 to 1994 were assessed against GSIS while the Local Government Code provisions prevailed and, thus, may be collected by the City of Davao. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review is hereby GRANTED. The appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 12 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Costs de oficio. SO ORDERED.

EN BANC [G.R. No. 127116. April 8, 1997.] ALEX L. DAVID, in his own behalf as Barangay Chairman of Barangay 77, Zone 7, Kalookan City and as President of the LIGA NG MGA BARANGAY SA PILIPINAS, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE HONORABLE SECRETARY,

Department of Interior and Local Government, and THE HONORABLE SECRETARY, Department of Budget and Management, respondents. [G.R. No. 128039. April 8, 1997.] LIGA NG MGA BARANGAY QUEZON CITY CHAPTER, Represented by BONIFACIO M. RILLON, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, respondents.

May 1994." This provision is clearly inconsistent with and repugnant to Sec. 1 of RA 6679 which states that such "term shall be for five years." Note that both laws refer to the same officials who were elected "on the second Monday of May 1994." RA 7160 is a special law insofar as it governs the term of office of barangay officials. In its repealing clause, RA 7160 states that "all general and special laws . . . which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed or modified accordingly." There being a clear repugnance and incompatibility between the two specific provisions, they cannot stand together. The later law, RA 7160, should thus prevail in accordance with its repealing clause. When a subsequent law encompasses entirely the subject matter of the former enactments, the latter is deemed repealed. 3.POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONALITY OF LAWS; TO STRIKE DOWN A LAW AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL THERE MUST BE CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL SHOWING THAT WHAT THE CONSTITUTION PROHIBITS, THE STATUTE PERMITS. Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. For a law to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal (not just implied) breach of the Constitution. To strike down a law as unconstitutional, there must be a clear and unequivocal showing that what the fundamental law prohibits, the statute permits. The petitioners have miserably failed to discharge this burden and to show clearly the unconstitutionality they aver. 4.ID.; ID.; RA 7160; SECTION 43-C THERETO, CONSTITUTIONAL. There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that Sec. 43-c of RA 7160 is constitutional. Sec. 8, Article X of the Constitution limiting the term of all elective local officials to three years, except that of barangay officials which "shall be determined by law" was an amendment proposed by Constitutional Commissioner (now Supreme Court Justice) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. According to Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., the amendment was "readily accepted without much discussion and formally approved." To the question at issue here on how long the term of barangay officials is, the answer of the Commission was simple, clear and quick: "As may be determined by law"; more precisely, "(a)s provided for in the Local Autonomy Code." And the Local Autonomy Code, in its Sec. 43-c, limits their term to three years. 5.REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; ESTOPPEL; BARANGAY OFFICIALS ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING CONSTITUTIONALITY OF RA 7160 WHERE THEY RAN FOR AND WERE ELECTED TO THEIR OFFICES UNDER SAID LAW; CASE AT BAR. As pointed out by Amicus Curiae Pimentel, petitioners are barred by estoppel from pursuing their petitions. Respondent Commission on Elections submitted as Annex "A" of its memorandum, a machine copy of the certificate of candidacy of Petitioner Alex L. David in the May 9, 1994 barangay elections, the authenticity of which was not denied by said petitioner. In said certificate of candidacy, be expressly stated under oath that he was announcing his "candidacy for the office of punong barangay for barangay 77, Zone 7" of Kalookan City and that he was "eligible for said office." If, as claimed by petitioners, the applicable law is RA 6679, then (1) Petitioner David should not have run and could not have been elected chairman of his barangay because under RA 6679, there

SYLLABUS 1.ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE (RA 7160); TERM OF OFFICE OF BARANGAY OFFICIAL LIMITED TO THREE (3) YEARS. For some time, the laws governing barrio governments were found in the Revised Administrative Code of 1916 and later in the Revised Administrative Code of 1917. Pursuant to Sec. 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 222, "a Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain) and six Kagawads ng Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Councilmen) had a term of six years which begun on June 7, 1982. The Local Government Code of 1983 also fixed the term of office of local elective officials at six years. B.P. Blg. 881, the Omnibus Election Code, reiterated that Barangay officials "shall hold office for six years." Under RA 6653, the term of office of the barangay officials was cut to five years and the punong barangay was to be chosen from among themselves by seven kagawads, who in turn were to be elected at large by the barangay electorate. But the election date set by RA 6653 was again postponed and reset and their term was fixed to five years. Under the Local Government Code of 1991, RA 7160, several provisions concerning barangay officials were introduced: The term of office was reduced to three years. In light of the foregoing brief historical background, the intent and design of the legislature to limit the term of barangay officials to only three (3) years as provided under the Local Government Code emerges as bright as the sunlight. The cardinal rule in the interpretation of all laws is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the law. 2.STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; A LATER LAW REPEALS AN EARLIER ONE; RA 6679 REPEALED BY RA 7160. RA 7160, the Local Government Code, was enacted later than RA 6679. It is basic that in case of an irreconcilable conflict between two laws of different vintages, the later enactment prevails. Legis posteriores priores contraries abrogant. The rationale is simple: a later law repeals an earlier one because it is the later legislative will. It is to be presumed that the lawmakers knew the older law and intended to change it. In enacting the older law, the legislators could not have known the newer one and hence could not have intended to change what they did not know. Under the Civil Code, laws are repealed only by subsequent ones and not the other way around. Under Sec. 43-c of RA 7160, the term of office of barangay officials was fixed at "three (3) years which shall begin after the regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of

was to be no direct election for the punong barangay; the kagawad candidate who obtained the highest number of votes was to be automatically elected barangay chairman; (2) thus, applying said law, the punong barangay should have been Ruben Magalona, who obtained the highest number of votes among the kagawads 150, which was much more than David's 112; (3) the electorate should have elected only seven kagawads and not one punong barangay plus seven kagawads. In other words, following petitioners' own theory, the election of Petitioner David as well as all the barangay chairmen of the two Liga petitioners was illegal. The sum total of these absurdities in petitioners theory is that barangay officials are estopped from asking for any term other than that which they ran for and were elected to, under the law governing their very claim to such offices: namely, RA 7160 the Local Government Code. Petitioners' belated claim of ignorance as to what law governed their election to office in 1994 is unacceptable because under Art. 3 of the Civil Code, "(i)gnorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith."

It also requested former Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. 1 to act as amicus curiae and to file a memorandum also within a non-extendible period of twenty days. It noted but did not grant petitioner's Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction dated January 31, 1997 (as well as his Urgent Ex-Parte Second Motion to the same effect, dated March 6, 1997). Accordingly, the parties filed their respective memoranda. The Petition for Leave to Intervene filed on March 17, 1997 by Punong Barangay Rodson F. Mayor was denied as it would just unduly delay the resolution of the case, his interest like those of all other barangay officials being already adequately represented by Petitioner David who filed this petition as "president of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas."

G.R. No. 128039 On February 20, 1997, Petitioner Liga ng mga Barangay Quezon City Chapter represented by its president Bonifacio M. Rillon filed a petition, docketed as G.R. No. 128039, "to seek a judicial review by certiorari to declare as unconstitutional: "1.Section 43(c) of R.A. 7160 which reads as follows:

DECISION PANGANIBAN, J p: The two petitions before us raise a common question: How long is the term of office of barangay chairmen and other barangay officials who were elected to their respective offices on the second Monday of May 1994? Is it three years, as provided by RA 7160 (the Local Government Code) or five years, as contained in RA 6679? Contending that their term is five years, petitioners ask this Court to order the cancellation of the scheduled barangay election this coming May 12, 1997 and to reset it to the second Monday of May, 1999. cda The Antecedents G.R. No. 127116 In his capacity as barangay chairman of Barangay 77, Zone 7, Kalookan City and as president of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, Petitioner Alex L. David filed on December 2, 1996 a petition for prohibition docketed in this Court as G.R. No. 127116, under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, to prohibit the holding of the barangay election scheduled on the second Monday of May 1997. On January 14, 1997, the Court resolved to require the respondents to comment on the petition within a nonextendible period of fifteen days ending on January 29, 1997. On January 29, 1997, the Solicitor General filed his four-page Comment siding with petitioner and praying that "the election scheduled on May 12, 1997 be held in abeyance." Respondent Commission on Elections filed a separate Comment, dated February 1, 1997 opposing the petition. On February 11, 1997, the Court issued a Resolution giving due course to the petition and requiring the parties to file simultaneous memoranda within a non-extendible period of twenty days from notice.

'(c)The term of office of barangay officials and members of the sangguniang kabataan shall be for three (3) years, which shall begin after the regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of May 1994.' 2.COMELEC Resolution Nos. 2880 and 2887 fixing the date of the holding of the barangay elections on May 12, 1997 and other activities related thereto; 3.The budgetary appropriation of P400 million contained in Republic Act No. 8250 otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act of 1997 intended to defray the costs and expenses, in holding the 1997 barangay elections;" 2 Comelec Resolution 2880, 3 promulgated on December 27, 1996 and referred to above, adopted a "Calendar of Activities and List and Periods of Certain Prohibited Acts for the May 12, 1997 Barangay Elections." On the other hand, Comelec Resolution 2887 promulgated on February 5, 1997 moved certain dates fixed in Resolution 2880. 4 Acting on the petition, the Court on February 25, 1997 required respondents to submit their comment thereon within a non-extendible period of ten days ending on March 7, 1997. The Court further resolved to consolidate the two cases inasmuch as

they raised basically the same issue. Respondent Commission filed its Comment on March 6, 1997 5 and the Solicitor General, in representation of the other respondent, filed his on March 6, 1997. Petitioner's Urgent Omnibus Motion for oral argument and temporary restraining order was noted but not granted. The petition was deemed submitted for resolution by the Court without need of memoranda. The Issues Both petitions though worded differently raise the same ultimate issue: How long is the term of office of barangay officials? Petitioners 6 contend that under Sec. 2 of Republic Act No. 6653, approved on May 6, 1988, "(t)he term of office of barangay officials shall be for five (5) years . . ." This is reiterated in Republic Act No. 6679, approved on November 4, 1988, which reset the barangay elections from "the second Monday of November 1988" to March 28, 1989 and provided in Sec. 1 thereof that such five-year term shall begin on the "first day of May 1989 and ending on the thirty-first day of May 1994." Petitioners further aver 7 that although Sec. 43 of RA 7160 reduced the term of office of all local elective officials to three years, such reduction does not apply to barangay officials because (1) RA 6679 is a special law applicable only to barangays while RA 7160 is a general law which applies to all other local government units; (2) RA 7160 does not expressly or impliedly repeal RA 6679 insofar as the term of barangay officials is concerned; (3) while Sec. 8 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution fixes the term of elective local officials at three years, the same provision states that the term of barangay officials "shall be determined by law"; and (4) thus, it follows that the constitutional intention is to grant barangay officials any term, except three years; otherwise, "there would be no rhyme or reason for the framers of the Constitution to except barangay officials from the three year term found in Sec. 8 (of) Article X of the Constitution." Petitioners conclude (1) that the Commission on Elections committed grave abuse of discretion when it promulgated Resolution Nos. 2880 and 2887 because it "substituted its own will for that of the legislative and usurped the judicial function . . . by interpreting the conflicting provisions of Sec. 1 of RA 6679 and Sec. 43 (c) of RA 7160; and (2) that the appropriation of P400 million in the General Appropriation Act of 1997 (RA 8250) to be used in the conduct of the barangay elections on May 12, 1997 is itself unconstitutional and a waste of public funds. cdta The Solicitor General agrees with petitioners, arguing that RA 6679 was not repealed by RA 7160 and thus "he believes that the holding of the barangay elections (o)n the second Monday of May 1997 is without sufficient legal basis." Respondent Commission on Elections, through Chairman Bernardo P. Pardo, defends its assailed Resolutions and maintains that the repealing clause of RA 7160 includes "all laws, whether general or special, inconsistent with the provisions of the Local Government Code," citing this Court's dictum in Paras vs. Comelec 8 that "the next regular election involving the barangay office is barely seven (7) months away, the same having been scheduled in May 1997." Furthermore, RA 8250 (the General

Appropriations Act for 1997) and RA 8189 (providing for a general registration of voters) both "indicate that Congress considered that the barangay elections shall take place in May, 1997, as provided for in RA 7160, Sec. 43 (c)." 9 Besides, petitioners cannot claim a term of more than three years since they were elected under the aegis of the Local Government Code of 1991 which prescribes a term of only three years. Finally, Respondent Comelec denies the charge of grave abuse of discretion stating that the "question presented . . . is a purely legal one involving no exercise of an act without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion." 10 As amicus curiae, former Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. urges the Court to deny the petitions because (1) the Local Autonomy Code repealed both RA 6679 and 6653 "not only by implication but by design as well"; (2) the legislative intent is to shorten the term of barangay officials to three years; (3) the barangay officials should not have a term longer than that of their administrative superiors, the city and municipal mayors; and (4) barangay officials are estopped from contesting the applicability of the three-year term provided by the Local Government Code as they were elected under the provisions of said Code. From the foregoing discussions of the parties, the Court believes that the issues can be condensed into three, as follows: 1.Which law governs the term of office of barangay officials: RA 7160 or RA 6679? 2.Is RA 7160 insofar as it shortened such term to only three years constitutional? 3.Are petitioners estopped from claiming a term other than that provided under RA 7160? The Court's Ruling The petitions are devoid of merit. Brief Historical Background of Barangay Elections For a clear understanding of the issues, it is necessary to delve briefly into the history of barangay elections. As a unit of government, the barangay antedated the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. The word "barangay" is derived from the Malay "balangay," a boat which transported them (the Malays) to these shores. 11 Quoting from Juan de Plasencia, a Franciscan missionary in 1577, Historian Conrado Benitez 12 wrote that the barangay was ruled by a dato who exercised absolute powers of government. While the Spaniards kept the barangay as the basic structure of government, they stripped the dato or rajah of his powers. 13 Instead, power was centralized nationally

in the governor general and locally in the encomiendero and later, in the alcalde mayor and the gobernadorcillo. The dato or rajah was much later renamed cabeza de barangay, who was elected by the local citizens possessing property. The position degenerated from a title of honor to that of a "mere government employee. Only the poor who needed a salary, no matter how low, accepted the post." 14 After the Americans colonized the Philippines, the barangays became known as "barrios." 15 For some time, the laws governing barrio governments were found in the Revised Administrative Code of 1916 and later in the Revised Administrative Code of 1917. 16 Barrios were granted autonomy by the original Barrio Charter, RA 2370, and formally recognized as quasi-municipal corporations 17 by the Revised Barrio Charter, RA 3590. During the martial law regime, barrios were "declared" or renamed "barangays" a reversion really to their pre-Spanish names by PD. No. 86 and PD No. 557. Their basic organization and functions under RA 3590, which was expressly "adopted as the Barangay Charter," were retained. However, the titles of the officials were changed to "barangay captain," "barangay councilman," "barangay secretary" and "barangay treasurer." Pursuant to Sec. 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 222, 18 "a Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain) and six Kagawads ng Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Councilmen), who shall constitute the presiding officer and members of the Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council) respectively" were first elected on May 17, 1982. They had a term of six years which began on June 7, 1982. cdti The Local Government Code of 1983 19 also fixed the term of office of local elective officials at six years. 20 Under this Code, the chief officials of the barangay were the punong barangay, six elective sangguniang barangay members, the kabataang barangay chairman, a barangay secretary and a barangay treasurer. 21 B.P. Blg. 881, the Omnibus Election Code, 22 reiterated that barangay officials "shall hold office for six years," and stated that their election was to be held "on the second Monday of May nineteen hundred and eighty eight and on the same day every six years thereafter." 23 This election scheduled by B.P. Blg. 881 on the second Monday of May 1988 was reset to "the second Monday of November 1988 and every five years thereafter" 24by RA 6653. Under this law, the term of office of the barangay officials was cut to five years 25 and the punong barangay was to be chosen from among themselves by seven kagawads, who in turn were to be elected at large by the barangay electorate. 26

office of barangay officials was to begin on May 1, 1989 and to end on May 31, 1994. RA 6679 further provided that "there shall be held a regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of May 1994 and on the same day every five (5) years thereafter. Their term shall be for five years . . ." 28 Significantly, the manner of election of the punong barangay was changed . Sec. 5 of said law ordained that while the seven kagawads were to be elected by the registered voters of the barangay, "(t)he candidate who obtains the highest number of votes shall be the punong barangay and in the event of a tie, there shall be a drawing of lots under the supervision of the Commission on Elections." Under the Local Government Code of 1991, RA 7160, 29 several provisions concerning barangay officials were introduced. (1)The term of office was reduced to three years, as follows: "SEC. 43.Term of Office. xxx xxx xxx (c)The term of office of barangay officials and members of the sangguniang kabataan shall be for three (3) years, which shall begin after the regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of May, 1994" (Emphasis supplied.) (2)The composition of the Sangguniang Barangay and the manner of electing its officials were altered, inter alia, the barangay chairman was to be elected directly by the electorate, as follows: SEC. 387.Chief Officials and Offices. (a) There shall be in each barangay a punong barangay, seven (7) sangguniang barangay members, the sangguniang kabataan chairman, a barangay secretary and a barangay treasurer. xxx xxx xxx SEC. 390.Composition. The Sangguniang barangay, the legislative body of the barangay, shall be composed of the punong barangay as presiding officer, and the seven (7) regular sangguniang barangay members elected at large and the sangguniang kabataan chairman as members." SEC. 41.Manner of Election. (a) The . . . punong barangay shall be elected at large . . .by the qualified voters" in the barangay." (Emphasis supplied.)

But the election date set by RA 6653 on the second Monday of November 1988 was again "postponed and reset to March 28, 1989" by RA 6679, 27 and the term of

Pursuant to the foregoing mandates of the Local Autonomy Code, the qualified barangay voters actually voted for one punong barangay and seven (7) kagawads during the barangay elections held on May 9, 1994. In other words, the punong barangay was elected directly and separately by the electorate, and not by the seven (7) kagawads from among themselves. The First Issue: Clear Legislative Intent and Design to Limit Term to Three Years In light of the foregoing brief historical background, the intent and design of the legislature to limit the term of barangay officials to only three (3) years as provided under the Local Government Code emerges as bright as the sunlight. The cardinal rule in the interpretation of all laws is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the law. 30 And three years is the obvious intent. First. RA 7160, the Local Government Code, was enacted later than RA 6679. It is basic that in case of an irreconcilable conflict between two laws of different vintages, the later enactment prevails. 31 Legis posteriores priores contrarias abrogant. The rationale is simple: a later law repeals an earlier one because it is the later legislative will. It is to be presumed that the lawmakers knew the older law and intended to change it. In enacting the older law, the legislators could not have known the newer one and hence could not have intended to change what they did not know. Under the Civil Code, laws are repealed only by subsequent ones 32 and not the other way around. Under Sec. 43-c of RA 7160, the term of office of barangay officials was fixed at "three (3) years which shall begin after the regular election of barangay officials on the second Monday of May 1994." This provision is clearly inconsistent with and repugnant to Sec. 1 of RA 6679 which states that such "term shall be for five years." Note that both laws refer to the same officials who were elected "on the second Monday of May 1994". cdpr Second. RA 6679 requires the barangay voters to elect seven kagawads and the candidate obtaining the highest number of votes shall automatically be the punong barangay. RA 6653 empowers the seven elected barangay kagawads to select the punong barangay from among themselves. On the other hand, the Local Autonomy Code mandates a direct vote on the barangay chairman by the entire barangay electorate, separately from the seven kagawads. Hence, under the Code, voters elect eight barangay officials, namely, the punong barangay plus the seven kagawads. Under both RA 6679 and 6653, they vote for only seven kagawads, and not for the barangay chairman. Third. During the barangay elections held on May 9, 1994 (second Monday), the voters actually and directly elected one punong barangay and seven kagawads. If we agree with the thesis of petitioners, it follows that all the punong barangays were

elected illegally and thus, Petitioner Alex David cannot claim to be a validly elected barangay chairman, much less president of the national league of barangays which he purports to represent in this petition. It then necessarily follows also that he is not the real party-in-interest and on that ground, his petition should be summarily dismissed. Fourth. In enacting the general appropriations act of 1997, 33 Congress appropriated the amount of P400 million to cover expenses for the holding of barangay elections this year. Likewise, under Sec. 7 of RA 8189, Congress ordained that a general registration of voters shall be held" immediately after the barangay elections in 1997." These are clear and express contemporaneous statements of Congress that barangay officials shall be elected this May, in accordance with Sec. 43-c of RA 7160. Fifth. In Paras vs. Comelec, 34 this Court said that "the next regular election involving the barangay office concerned is barely seven (7) months away, the same having been scheduled in May, 1997." This judicial decision, per Article 8 of the Civil Code, is now a "part of the legal system of the Philippines." Sixth. Petitioners pompously claim that RA 6679, being a special law, should prevail over RA 7160, an alleged general law pursuant to the doctrine of generalia specialibus non derogant. Petitioners are wrong. RA 7160 is a codified set of laws that specifically applies to local government units. It specifically and definitively provides in its Sec. 43-c that "the term of office of barangay officials . . . shall be for three years." It is a special provision that applies only to the term of barangay officials who were elected on the second Monday of May 1994. With such particularity, the provision cannot be deemed a general law. Petitioner may be correct in alleging that RA 6679 is a special law, but they are incorrect in stating (without however giving the reasons therefor) that RA 7160 is necessarily a general law. 35 It is a special law insofar as it governs the term of office of barangay officials. In its repealing clause, 36 RA 7160 states that "all general and special laws . . . which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed or modified accordingly." There being a clear repugnance and incompatibility between the two specific provisions, they cannot stand together. The later law, RA 7160, should thus prevail in accordance with its repealing clause. When a subsequent law encompasses entirely the subject matter of the former enactments, the latter is deemed repealed. 37 The Second Issue: Three-Year Term Not Repugnant to Constitution Sec. 8, Article X of the Constitution states: "SEC. 8.The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years, and no such official shall serve for more than three

consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected." Petitioner Liga ng mga Barangay Quezon City Chapter posits that by excepting barangay officials whose "term shall be determined by law" from the general provision fixing the term of "elective local officials" at three years, the Constitution thereby impliedly prohibits Congress from legislating a three-year term for such officers. We find this theory rather novel but nonetheless logically and legally flawed. Undoubtedly, the Constitution did not expressly prohibit Congress from fixing any term of office for barangay officials. It merely left the determination of such term to the lawmaking body, without any specific limitation or prohibition, thereby leaving to the lawmakers full discretion to fix such term in accordance with the exigencies of public service. It must be remembered that every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. 38 For a law to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal (not just implied) breach of the Constitution. 39 To strike down a law as unconstitutional, there must be a clear and unequivocal showing that what the fundamental law prohibits, the statute permits. 40 The petitioners have miserably failed to discharge this burden and to show clearly the unconstitutionality they aver. There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that Sec. 43-c of RA 7160 is constitutional. Sec. 8, Article X of the Constitution limiting the term of all elective local officials to three years, except that of barangay officials which "shall be determined by law" was an amendment proposed by Constitutional Commissioner (now Supreme Court Justice) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. According to Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., the amendment was "readily accepted without much discussion and formally approved." Indeed, a search into the Record of the Constitutional Commission yielded only a few pages 41 of actual deliberations, the portions pertinent to the Constitutional Commission's intent being the following: prcd

xxx xxx xxx THE PRESIDENT. Is there any other comment? Is there any objection to this proposed new section as submitted by Commissioner Davide and accepted by the Committee? MR. RODRIGO. Madam President, does this prohibition to serve for more than three consecutive terms apply to barangay officials? MR. DAVIDE. Madam President, the voting that we had on the terms of office did not include the barangay officials because it was then the stand of the Chairman of the Committee on Local Governments that the term of barangay officials must be determined by law. So it is now for the law to determine whether the restriction on the number of reelections will be included in the Local Government Code. MR. RODRIGO. So that is up to Congress to decide. MR. DAVIDE. Yes. MR. RODRIGO. I just wanted that clear in the record." Although the discussions in the Constitutional Commission were very brief, they nonetheless provide the exact answer to the main issue. To the question at issue here on how long the term of barangay officials is, the answer of the Commission was simple, clear and quick: "As may be determined by law"; more precisely, "(a)s provided for in the Local Autonomy Code." And the Local Autonomy Code, in its Sec. 43-c, limits their term to three years. The Third Issue: Petitioners Estopped From Challenging Their Three-Year Terms

"MR. NOLLEDO. One clarificatory question, Madam President. What will be the term of the office of barangay officials as provided for? MR. DAVIDE. As may be determined by law. MR. NOLLEDO. As provided for in the Local Government Code? MR. DAVIDE. Yes.

We have already shown that constitutionally, statutorily, logically, historically and commonsensically, the petitions are completely devoid of merit. And we could have ended our Decision right here. But there is one last point why petitioners have no moral ascendancy for their dubious claim to a longer term of office: the equities of their own petition militate against them. As pointed out by Amicus Curiae Pimentel, 42 petitioners are barred by estoppel from pursuing their petitions. Respondent Commission on Elections submitted as Annex "A" of its memorandum, 43 a machine copy of the certificate of candidacy of Petitioner Alex L. David in the May 9, 1994 barangay elections, the authenticity of which was not denied by said petitioner. In said certificate of candidacy, he expressly stated under

oath that he was announcing his "candidacy for the office of punong barangay for Barangay 77, Zone 7" of Kalookan City and that he was "eligible for said office." The Comelec also submitted as Annex "B" 44 to its said memorandum, a certified statement of the votes obtained by the candidates in said elections, thus: "BARANGAY 77 CERTIFIED LIST OF CANDIDATES VOTES OBTAINED May 9, 1994 BARANGAY ELECTIONS PUNONG BARANGAY VOTES OBTAINED 1.DAVID, ALEX L.112 KAGAWAD 1.Magalona, Ruben150 2.Quinto, Nelson L.130 3.Ramon, Dolores Z.120 4.Dela Pea, Roberto T.115 5.Castillo, Luciana114 6.Lorico, Amy A.107 7.Valencia, Arnold102 8.Ang, Jose97 9.Dequilla, Teresita D.58 10.Primavera, Marcelina52" If, as claimed by petitioners, the applicable law is RA 6679, then (1) Petitioner David should not have run and could not have been elected chairman of his barangay because under RA 6679, there was to be no direct election for the punong barangay; the kagawad candidate who obtained the highest number of votes was to be automatically elected barangay chairman; (2) thus, applying said law, the punong barangay should have been Ruben Magalona, who obtained the highest number of votes among the kagawads 150, which was much more than David's 112; (3) the electorate should have elected only seven kagawads and not one punong barangay plus seven kagawads. cdta In other words, following petitioners' own theory, the election of Petitioner David as well as all the barangay chairmen of the two Liga petitioners was illegal. The sum total of these absurdities in petitioners' theory is that barangay officials are estopped from asking for any term other than that which they ran for and were elected to, under the law governing their very claim to such offices: namely, RA 7160, the Local Government Code. Petitioners' belated claim of ignorance as to what

law governed their election to office in 1994 is unacceptable because under Art. 3 of the Civil Code, "(i)gnorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith." Epilogue It is obvious that these two petitions must fail. The Constitution and the laws do not support them. Extant jurisprudence militates against them. Reason and common sense reject them. Equity and morality abhor them. They are subtle but nonetheless self-serving propositions to lengthen governance without a mandate from the governed. In a democracy, elected leaders can legally and morally justify their reign only by obtaining the voluntary consent of the electorate. In this case however, petitioners propose to extend their terms not by seeking the people's vote but by faulty legal argumentation. This Court cannot and will not grant its imprimatur to such untenable proposition. If they want to continue serving, they must get a new mandate in the elections scheduled on May 12, 1997. WHEREFORE, the petitions are DENIED for being completely devoid of merit SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C .J ., Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco and Torres, Jr., JJ ., concur. Vitug, J ., reserves his vote on the matter of estoppel. Hermosisima, Jr., J ., is on leave.

EN BANC [G.R. No. L-3859. March 25, 1952.]

PHILIPPINE RAILWAY CO., plaintiff-appellant, vs. COLLECTOR OF INTERNAL REVENUE, defendantappellee.

DECISION TUASON, J p: This case was submitted for decision in the court below upon an agreed statement of facts as follows: "1.The plaintiff is engaged in business as operator of a railway line on Panay Island by virtue of the franchise granted by the Philippine Government under Act 1497 (enacted on May 28, 1906); and defendant is the duly appointed, qualified and incumbent Collector of Internal Revenue; "2.'During the fourth quarter of 1946 plaintiff realized from the business covered by its franchise a total gross receipts of P364,845.67, on which plaintiff paid a franchise tax of 1 1/2 per cent amounting to P5,532.69, in accordance with Sec. 13 of Act No. 1497; "3.On September 5, 1947, defendant notified the plaintiff that the tax due on its gross receipts from the business covered by the franchise is 5 per cent and not only 1 1/2 per cent of such gross receipts, and demanded as a consequence a deficiency tax of P12,714.61 plus a 25 per cent surcharge of P3,178.65 incident to delinquency, or a total of P15,893.26, which plaintiff paid to defendant on January 20, 1948; "4.During the year 1947 plaintiff realized from the business covered by the same franchise a total gross receipts of P976,712. Plaintiff, in order to avoid the imposition of the surcharge, paid franchise tax of P48,835.60 computed at the rate of 5 per cent of the total gross receipts; "5.On April 26, 1948, plaintiff, thru counsel presented to the defendant a claim for the refund of the amounts of P15,893.26 and P34,184.92, representing the difference between the franchise taxes for the years 1946 (one quarter) and 1947 at the rate of 5 per cent and the same taxes at the rate of 1 1/2 per cent. "6.On July 1, 1948, plaintiff received a letter from the Collector of Internal Revenue dated June 10, 1948, demanding from plaintiff a deficiency franchise tax of P2,108.18, plus surcharge of 25 per cent or a total of P2,635.22. This deficiency assessment was based on the finding of an Auditor of the General Auditing Office as a result of the annual audit of the business covered by the franchise of plaintiff corporation, that the total gross income of plaintiff for the year 1947 was P1,019,301.89 instead of P976,712, or a difference of P42,589.89. On July 12, 1948, the plaintiff paid to the City Treasurer of Iloilo the sum of P2,108.18, representing the

SYLLABUS 1.STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; AMENDMENT OR REPEAL BY IMPLICATION. A statute is not to be deemed repealed, by implication, by subsequent act upon the same subject unless the two are manifestly inconsistent with, and repugnant to, each other, or unless a clear intention is disclosed on the face of the later statute to repeal the former one. 2.ID.; ID.; AMENDMENT OF SPECIAL LAW BY A GENERAL LAW. A general law can not amend, alter or repeal, by implication, a special law or charter. A special and local statute, providing for a particular case or class of cases is not repealed by a subsequent statute, general in its terms, provisions and application, unless the intent to repeal or alter is manifest, although the terms of the general act are broad enough to include the cases embraced in the special law. 3.ID.; ID.; ID. A charter is in the nature of a private contract. It is not a law constituting a part of the machinery of the general government. It was adopted after careful consideration of the private rights of the plaintiff in relation with the resultant benefits to the State. It stands upon a different footing from the general law. When a charter is granted, it constitutes a certain property right. Charter or special laws stand upon a different footing from general laws. Once granted, a charter becomes a private contract and cannot be altered nor amended except by consent of all concerned, unless that right is reserved. The reason for the rule is clear. The Legislature, in passing a special charter, have their attention directed to the special facts and circumstances which the Act or charter is intended to meet. The Legislature consider and make provision for the circumstances of the particular case. The Legislature, having specially considered all of the facts and circumstances in the particular case in granting a special charter, will not be considered - in adopting a general law containing provisions repugnant to the provisions of the charter and without making any mention of its intention to amend or modify the charter - to have intended to amend, repeal or modify the special act. 4.ID.; ID.; ID.; TAXATION; TAX ON FRANCHISES. The National Internal Revenue Code respects tax rates. There is no intention in the said Code to levy a higher percentage tax on existing franchises; on the contrary, this Code evinces the propose of respecting the tax rates incorporated in the charters. Sec. 259 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 39, does not apply to plaintiff's franchise granted by the Philippine Government under Act 1497.

franchise tax excluding the surcharge at the rate of 5 per cent of the gross receipts or income. However, plaintiff has not yet paid the sum of P527.04 demanded by defendant as 25 per cent surcharge on the deficiency franchise tax; "7.On June 12, 1948 the defendant denied the claim of the plaintiff for the refund of the aforesaid sum of P15,893.26 and P34,184.92;"8. The parties reserve the right to present additional evidence at the trial of this case." Plaintiff's contentions are that it is subject to 1 1/2 tax only under Section 13 of Act No. 1497 of the Philippine Commission, which provides: "SEC. 13.In consideration of the premises and of the granting of this concession or franchise, there shall be paid by the grantee to the Philippine Government, annually, for the period of thirty years from the date hereof, an amount equal to one-half of one per centum of the gross earnings of the grantee in respect of the lines covered hereby for each preceding year; after said period of thirty years and for fifty years thereafter, the amount so to be paid annually shall be an amount equal to one and one-half per centum of such gross earnings for each preceding year, and after such period of eighty years the percentage and amount so to be paid annually to the grantee shall be fixed by the Philippine Government. "Such annual payments, when promptly and fully made by the grantee, shall be in lieu of all taxes of every name and nature municipal, provincial, or central upon its capital stock, franchises, right of way, earnings, and all other property owned or operated by the grantee under this concession or franchise." On the other hand, the Collector of Internal Revenue, sustained by the trial court, relied upon Section 259 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 39, which reads as follows: "SEC. 259.Tax on corporate franchises. There shall be collected in respect to all existing and future franchises, upon the gross earnings or receipts from the business covered by the law granting the franchise a tax of five per centum or such taxes, charges, and percentages as are specified in the special charters of the corporation upon whom such franchises are conferred, whichever is higher, unless the provisions thereof preclude the imposition of a higher tax. For the purpose of facilitating the assessment of this tax, reports shall be made by the respective holders of the franchises in such form and at such times as shall be required by the regulations of the Department of Finance. "The taxes, charges, and percentages on corporate franchises, shall be due and payable as specified in the particular

franchise, or, in case no time limit is specified therein, the provisions of Section one hundred eighty-three shall apply; and if such taxes, charges, and percentages remain unpaid for fifteen days from and after the date on which they must be paid, twentyfive per centum shall be added to the amount of such taxes, charges, and percentages, which increase shall form part of the tax." From our view of the case the decisive question is whether the National Internal Revenue Code amended the plaintiffs franchise. Four- square with the case at bar on this point, by reason of the exact or close similarity between the franchises and the laws involved and the issues litigated, is Manila Railroad Company vs. Rafferty, 40 Phil., 224,. In that case, the defendant as Collector of Internal Revenue had assessed a tax on certain oil and coal which the Manila Railroad Company had imported into the Philippines for its use, in virtue of an act of Congress which authorized the imposition by the Philippine Government of internal revenue tax upon like articles consumed in the Philippines. Against that enactment, the Manila Railroad Company pointed to its charter, which (like the Philippine Railway's charter) fixed certain percentage tax on its earnings and declared that "such payments, when promptly and fully made, by the grantee, shall be in lieu of all taxes of every name and nature." As formulated by the Court the question then was: "May a special law or charter be amended altered, or repealed, by general law, by implication?" The Court answered this query in the negative. Because of its controlling effects on the present case we will quote at length from the decision. "It will be noted that Act No. 1510 is a private charter granted to the plaintiff; that said Acts of Congress are general laws. A careful reading of said Acts of Congress fails to disclose any reference to, or any attempt to amend, alter, or repeal, said special charter (Act No. 1510); and no other Act of Congress has been called to our attention, which in any way attempts to amend, alter, or repeal said Act (No. 1510). And it must be borne in mind that said charter (Act No. 1510) is subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal only by an Act of the Congress of the United States. xxx xxx xxx "Repeals of laws by implication are not favored; and the mere repugnance between two statutes should be very clear in order to warrant the court in holding that the later in time repeals the other, when it does not in terms purport to do so. (Cooley's Constitutional Limitations (6th Ed.), p. 182, and cases cited; Sutherland Stat. Construction, Vol. 1, p. 465 (2d Ed.); Kinney vs. Mallory, 3 Ala., 626; Banks vs. Yolo County, 104

Cal., 258; People vs. Pacific Import Co., 130 Cal., 442; Reese vs. Western Union etc. Co., 123 Ind., 294; 7 L. R. A., 583; Cope vs. Cope, 137 U.S., 682.). "In the case of McKenna vs. Eduardstone (91 N.Y. 231) the court said: 'It is well settled that a special and local statute, providing for a particular case or class of cases, is not repealed by a subsequent statute, general in its terms, provisions and application, unless the intent to repeal or alter is manifest, although the terms of the general act are broad enough to include the cases embraced in the special law.' That rule is but the application of the larger rule that a statute is not to be deemed repealed, by implication, by a subsequent act upon the same subject unless the two are manifestly inconsistent with, and repugnant to, each other, or unless a clear intention is disclosed on the face of the later statute to repeal the former one. "It is a canon of statutory construction that a later statute, general in its terms and not expressly repealing a prior special statute, will ordinarily not affect the special provisions of such earlier statute. (Steamboat Company vs. Collector, 18 Wall. (U.S.) 478; Cass County vs. Gillet, 100 U.S. 585; Minnesota vs. Hitchcock, 185 U.S. 373, 396.). "Where there are two statutes, the earlier special and the later general the terms of the general broad enough to include the matter provided for in the special the fact that one is special and the other is general creates a presumption that the special is to be considered as remaining an exception to the general, one as a general law of the land, the other as the law of a particular case. (State vs. Stoll, 17 Wall. (U.S.), 425.). "Said Act No. 1510 is a charter granted to the plaintiff company by the Government of the Philippine Islands. It is in the nature of a private contract. It is not a law constituting a part of the machinery of the general government. It was adopted after careful consideration of the private rights of the plaintiff in relation with the resultant benefits to the State. It stands upon a different footing from the general law. When a charter is granted, it constitutes a certain property right. Charters or special laws, such as Act No. 1510, stand upon a different footing from general laws. Once granted, a charter becomes a private contract and cannot be altered nor amended except by consent of all concerned, unless the right is expressly reserved. (Darmouth College vs. Woodword, 4 Wheat., 578.) The reason for the rule is clear. The legislature, in passing a special charter, have their attention directed to the special facts and circumstances which the Act or charter is intended to meet. The Legislature consider and make provision for all the circumstances of the particular

case. The Legislature having specially considered all of the facts and circumstances in the particular case in granting a special charter, it will not be considered that the Legislature, by adopting a general law containing provisions repugnant to the provisions of the charter, and without making any mention of its intention to amend or modify the charter, intended to amend, repeal, or modify the special act. (Lewis vs. Cook County, 74 Ill. App., p. 151, Philippine Railway Co. vs. Nolting, 34 Phil., 401.)". We can press further the reasons why a statute will not be construed as in exercise of the power of amendment or revocation unless the intention to amend or revoke the charter clearly appears, by citing two other American decisions. In Union Pacific Railroad Co. vs. Laramie Stock Yards Co., 231 U. S. 179, 190, 58 L. Ed. 179, the United States Supreme Court held that Congress could not be deemed to have exercised its right to alter, amend, or repeal reserved in the railroad company's charter, by the enactment of a posterior law of general character. The Court said: "The exercise of such power would naturally only find an impulse in some large national purpose, and would hardly be provoked by a desire to legalize the encroachments here and there on the right of way of a transcontinental railroad. "We are constrained to believe that when Congress intends to forfeit or limit any of the rights conveyed to aid that great enterprise, it will do so explicity and directly by a measure proportionate to the purpose, and not leave it to be accomplished in a piecemeal and precaricus way." And in Wilmington & R. R. Co. vs. Downward et al., 32 Atl. 133, the Court of Errors and Appeals of Delaware had this to say: "It is only reasonable to suppose that when such a course is intended in any case it will be marked by legislative language of purpose, direct, and not inferential. While the constitution makes no requirement of form or method for the act, yet, in view of the nature of such a stupendous power, and the consequences to flow or ensue from its exercise, a legislature (it is fair to presume) would not leave its purpose so uncertain as to require the aid of one of its own courts to ascertain and declare it. There would be some expression, in some form or other, that the act relied upon to create revocation was intended for that purpose. I do not mean to be understood as saying that the legislature may not adopt its own method of revoking a charter, but I do believe the act would seem to the body to require expression of purpose to revoke, and would have such purpose distinctly put forth therein. And, looking at the subject in this light, I do not think any court of this state should yield to a mere inference of design to revoke, when language importing purpose of revocation is wanting. The proper view, I think, is that the legislature, by the act of February 22, 1877, did not intend to revoke the charter aforesaid, but only that which is plainly expressed, as quoted above.". We not only do not discover in the National Internal Revenue Code any intention to levy a higher percentage tax on existing franchises, but, on the

contrary, this Code evinces the purpose of respecting the tax rates incorporated in the charters. Section 259 thereof, as has been seen, specifically exempts franchises "whose provisions .. preclude the imposition of a higher tax." To what provisions does this exception refer? As applied to the plaintiff's franchise, we can think of no provisions which the Congress could have in mind other than those which are embodied in the last paragraph of Section 13 of Act No. 1497, namely, "such annual payments, when promptly and fully made by the grantee, shall be in lieu of all taxes of every name and nature - municipal, provincial, or central upon its capital stock, franchises, right of way, earnings, and all other property owned or operated by the grantee under this concession or franchise." We are therefore of the opinion that Section 259 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 39, does not apply to plaintiff's franchise. With this conclusion, it is unnecessary to go into the controversy concerning the power of the Government to change the tax fixed in the plaintiff's charter or to impose a new tax thereon or its other property. Nevertheless it may be of interest to note, by way of statement only, that in Philippine Railway Co. vs. Nolting, 34 Phil. 401, the Court went so far as to say that "The plaintiff had a right to believe, when it accepted said contract, that it would be relieved of all the burdens imposed by the Government, when it promptly and fully paid the amount imposed by section 13 (No. 13 of Section 1)." Upon the foregoing considerations, the appealed judgment will be reversed and the appellee ordered to refund to the appellant the sums of P15,893.26 and P34,184.92 with legal interest thereon from the date of collection and to pay costs. Pars, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes and Jugo, JJ., concur.