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G.R. No.

L-32717 November 26, 1970

AMELITO R. MUTUC, petitioner, vs.

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

FERNANDO, J.:

The invocation of his right to free speech by petitioner Amelito Mutuc, then a candidate for delegate to the Constitutional Convention, in this special civil
action for prohibition to assail the validity of a ruling of respondent Commission on Elections enjoining the use of a taped jingle for campaign purposes,
was not in vain. Nor could it be considering the conceded absence of any express power granted to respondent by the Constitutional Convention Act to
so require and the bar to any such implication arising from any provision found therein, if deference be paid to the principle that a statute is to be
construed consistently with the fundamental law, which accords the utmost priority to freedom of expression, much more so when utilized for electoral
purposes. On November 3, 1970, the very same day the case was orally argued, five days after its filing, with the election barely a week away, we
issued a minute resolution granting the writ of prohibition prayed for. This opinion is intended to explain more fully our decision.

In this special civil action for prohibition filed on October 29, 1970, petitioner, after setting forth his being a resident of Arayat, Pampanga, and his
candidacy for the position of delegate to the Constitutional Convention, alleged that respondent Commission on Elections, by a telegram sent to him five
days previously, informed him that his certificate of candidacy was given due course but prohibited him from using jingles in his mobile units equipped
with sound systems and loud speakers, an order which, according to him, is "violative of [his] constitutional right ... to freedom of speech."1 There being
no plain, speedy and adequate remedy, according to petitioner, he would seek a writ of prohibition, at the same time praying for a preliminary injunction.
On the very next day, this Court adopted a resolution requiring respondent Commission on Elections to file an answer not later than November 2, 1970,
at the same time setting the case for hearing for Tuesday November 3, 1970. No preliminary injunction was issued. There was no denial in the answer
filed by respondent on November 2, 1970, of the factual allegations set forth in the petition, but the justification for the prohibition was premised on a
provision of the Constitutional Convention Act,2which made it unlawful for candidates "to purchase, produce, request or distribute sample ballots, or
electoral propaganda gadgets such as pens, lighters, fans (of whatever nature), flashlights, athletic goods or materials, wallets, bandanas, shirts, hats,
matches, cigarettes, and the like, whether of domestic or foreign origin." 3 It was its contention that the jingle proposed to be used by petitioner is the
recorded or taped voice of a singer and therefore a tangible propaganda material, under the above statute subject to confiscation. It prayed that the
petition be denied for lack of merit. The case was argued, on November 3, 1970, with petitioner appearing in his behalf and Attorney Romulo C.
Felizmena arguing in behalf of respondent.

This Court, after deliberation and taking into account the need for urgency, the election being barely a week away, issued on the afternoon of the same
day, a minute resolution granting the writ of prohibition, setting forth the absence of statutory authority on the part of respondent to impose such a ban in
the light of the doctrine of ejusdem generis as well as the principle that the construction placed on the statute by respondent Commission on Elections
would raise serious doubts about its validity, considering the infringement of the right of free speech of petitioner. Its concluding portion was worded
thus: "Accordingly, as prayed for, respondent Commission on Elections is permanently restrained and prohibited from enforcing or implementing or
demanding compliance with its aforesaid order banning the use of political jingles by candidates. This resolution is immediately executory."4

1. As made clear in our resolution of November 3, 1970, the question before us was one of power. Respondent Commission on Elections was called
upon to justify such a prohibition imposed on petitioner. To repeat, no such authority was granted by the Constitutional Convention Act. It did contend,
however, that one of its provisions referred to above makes unlawful the distribution of electoral propaganda gadgets, mention being made of pens,
lighters, fans, flashlights, athletic goods or materials, wallets, bandanas, shirts, hats, matches, and cigarettes, and concluding with the words "and the
like."5 For respondent Commission, the last three words sufficed to justify such an order. We view the matter differently. What was done cannot merit
our approval under the well-known principle of ejusdem generis, the general words following any enumeration being applicable only to things of the
same kind or class as those specifically referred to. 6 It is quite apparent that what was contemplated in the Act was the distribution of gadgets of the kind
referred to as a means of inducement to obtain a favorable vote for the candidate responsible for its distribution.

The more serious objection, however, to the ruling of respondent Commission was its failure to manifest fealty to a cardinal principle of construction that
a statute should be interpreted to assure its being in consonance with, rather than repugnant to, any constitutional command or prescription.7 Thus,
certain Administrative Code provisions were given a "construction which should be more in harmony with the tenets of the fundamental law."8 The
desirability of removing in that fashion the taint of constitutional infirmity from legislative enactments has always commended itself. The judiciary may
even strain the ordinary meaning of words to avert any collision between what a statute provides and what the Constitution requires. The objective is to
reach an interpretation rendering it free from constitutional defects. To paraphrase Justice Cardozo, if at all possible, the conclusion reached must avoid
not only that it is unconstitutional, but also grave doubts upon that score. 9

2. Petitioner's submission of his side of the controversy, then, has in its favor obeisance to such a cardinal precept. The view advanced by him that if the
above provision of the Constitutional Convention Act were to lend itself to the view that the use of the taped jingle could be prohibited, then the
challenge of unconstitutionality would be difficult to meet. For, in unequivocal language, the Constitution prohibits an abridgment of free speech or a free
press. It has been our constant holding that this preferred freedom calls all the more for the utmost respect when what may be curtailed is the
dissemination of information to make more meaningful the equally vital right of suffrage. What respondent Commission did, in effect, was to impose
censorship on petitioner, an evil against which this constitutional right is directed. Nor could respondent Commission justify its action by the assertion
that petitioner, if he would not resort to taped jingle, would be free, either by himself or through others, to use his mobile loudspeakers. Precisely, the
constitutional guarantee is not to be emasculated by confining it to a speaker having his say, but not perpetuating what is uttered by him through tape or
other mechanical contrivances. If this Court were to sustain respondent Commission, then the effect would hardly be distinguishable from a previous
restraint. That cannot be validly done. It would negate indirectly what the Constitution in express terms assures. 10

3. Nor is this all. The concept of the Constitution as the fundamental law, setting forth the criterion for the validity of any public act whether proceeding
from the highest official or the lowest functionary, is a postulate of our system of government. That is to manifest fealty to the rule of law, with priority
accorded to that which occupies the topmost rung in the legal hierarchy. The three departments of government in the discharge of the functions with
which it is entrusted have no choice but to yield obedience to its commands. Whatever limits it imposes must be observed. Congress in the enactment
of statutes must ever be on guard lest the restrictions on its authority, whether substantive or formal, be transcended. The Presidency in the execution of
the laws cannot ignore or disregard what it ordains. In its task of applying the law to the facts as found in deciding cases, the judiciary is called upon to
maintain inviolate what is decreed by the fundamental law. Even its power of judicial review to pass upon the validity of the acts of the coordinate
branches in the course of adjudication is a logical corollary of this basic principle that the Constitution is paramount. It overrides any governmental
measure that fails to live up to its mandates. Thereby there is a recognition of its being the supreme law.

To be more specific, the competence entrusted to respondent Commission was aptly summed up by the present Chief Justice thus: "Lastly, as the
branch of the executive department — although independent of the President — to which the Constitution has given the 'exclusive charge' of the
'enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections,' the power of decision of the Commission is limited to purely
'administrative questions.'" 11 It has been the constant holding of this Court, as it could not have been otherwise, that respondent Commission cannot
exercise any authority in conflict with or outside of the law, and there is no higher law than the Constitution. 12Our decisions which liberally construe its
powers are precisely inspired by the thought that only thus may its responsibility under the Constitution to insure free, orderly and honest elections be
adequately fulfilled. 13 There could be no justification then for lending approval to any ruling or order issuing from respondent Commission, the effect of
which would be to nullify so vital a constitutional right as free speech. Petitioner's case, as was obvious from the time of its filing, stood on solid footing.

WHEREFORE, as set forth in our resolution of November 3, 1970, respondent Commission is permanently restrained and prohibited from enforcing or
implementing or demanding compliance with its aforesaid order banning the use of political taped jingles. Without pronouncement as to costs.

G.R. No. L-19650 September 29, 1966

CALTEX (PHILIPPINES), INC., petitioner-appellee,


vs.
ENRICO PALOMAR, in his capacity as THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, respondent-appellant.

CASTRO, J.:

In the year 1960 the Caltex (Philippines) Inc. (hereinafter referred to as Caltex) conceived and laid the groundwork for a promotional scheme calculated
to drum up patronage for its oil products. Denominated "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest", it calls for participants therein to estimate the actual number of
liters a hooded gas pump at each Caltex station will dispense during a specified period. Employees of the Caltex (Philippines) Inc., its dealers and its
advertising agency, and their immediate families excepted, participation is to be open indiscriminately to all "motor vehicle owners and/or licensed
drivers". For the privilege to participate, no fee or consideration is required to be paid, no purchase of Caltex products required to be made. Entry forms
are to be made available upon request at each Caltex station where a sealed can will be provided for the deposit of accomplished entry stubs.

A three-staged winner selection system is envisioned. At the station level, called "Dealer Contest", the contestant whose estimate is closest to the actual
number of liters dispensed by the hooded pump thereat is to be awarded the first prize; the next closest, the second; and the next, the third. Prizes at
this level consist of a 3-burner kerosene stove for first; a thermos bottle and a Ray-O-Vac hunter lantern for second; and an Everready Magnet-lite
flashlight with batteries and a screwdriver set for third. The first-prize winner in each station will then be qualified to join in the "Regional Contest" in
seven different regions. The winning stubs of the qualified contestants in each region will be deposited in a sealed can from which the first-prize,
second-prize and third-prize winners of that region will be drawn. The regional first-prize winners will be entitled to make a three-day all-expenses-paid
round trip to Manila, accompanied by their respective Caltex dealers, in order to take part in the "National Contest". The regional second-prize and third-
prize winners will receive cash prizes of P500 and P300, respectively. At the national level, the stubs of the seven regional first-prize winners will be
placed inside a sealed can from which the drawing for the final first-prize, second-prize and third-prize winners will be made. Cash prizes in store for
winners at this final stage are: P3,000 for first; P2,000 for second; Pl,500 for third; and P650 as consolation prize for each of the remaining four
participants.

Foreseeing the extensive use of the mails not only as amongst the media for publicizing the contest but also for the transmission of communications
relative thereto, representations were made by Caltex with the postal authorities for the contest to be cleared in advance for mailing, having in view
sections 1954(a), 1982 and 1983 of the Revised Administrative Code, the pertinent provisions of which read as follows:

SECTION 1954. Absolutely non-mailable matter. — No matter belonging to any of the following classes, whether sealed as first-class matter or not,
shall be imported into the Philippines through the mails, or to be deposited in or carried by the mails of the Philippines, or be delivered to its
addressee by any officer or employee of the Bureau of Posts:

Written or printed matter in any form advertising, describing, or in any manner pertaining to, or conveying or purporting to convey any information
concerning any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme depending in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any scheme, device, or enterprise for
obtaining any money or property of any kind by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.

"SECTION 1982. Fraud orders.—Upon satisfactory evidence that any person or company is engaged in conducting any lottery, gift enterprise, or
scheme for the distribution of money, or of any real or personal property by lot, chance, or drawing of any kind, or that any person or company is
conducting any scheme, device, or enterprise for obtaining money or property of any kind through the mails by means of false or fraudulent
pretenses, representations, or promises, the Director of Posts may instruct any postmaster or other officer or employee of the Bureau to return to
the person, depositing the same in the mails, with the word "fraudulent" plainly written or stamped upon the outside cover thereof, any mail matter of
whatever class mailed by or addressed to such person or company or the representative or agent of such person or company.

SECTION 1983. Deprivation of use of money order system and telegraphic transfer service.—The Director of Posts may, upon evidence satisfactory
to him that any person or company is engaged in conducting any lottery, gift enterprise or scheme for the distribution of money, or of any real or
personal property by lot, chance, or drawing of any kind, or that any person or company is conducting any scheme, device, or enterprise for
obtaining money or property of any kind through the mails by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promise, forbid the issue or
payment by any postmaster of any postal money order or telegraphic transfer to said person or company or to the agent of any such person or
company, whether such agent is acting as an individual or as a firm, bank, corporation, or association of any kind, and may provide by regulation for
the return to the remitters of the sums named in money orders or telegraphic transfers drawn in favor of such person or company or its agent.

The overtures were later formalized in a letter to the Postmaster General, dated October 31, 1960, in which the Caltex, thru counsel, enclosed a copy of
the contest rules and endeavored to justify its position that the contest does not violate the anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law. Unimpressed, the
then Acting Postmaster General opined that the scheme falls within the purview of the provisions aforesaid and declined to grant the requested
clearance. In its counsel's letter of December 7, 1960, Caltex sought a reconsideration of the foregoing stand, stressing that there being involved no
consideration in the part of any contestant, the contest was not, under controlling authorities, condemnable as a lottery. Relying, however, on an opinion
rendered by the Secretary of Justice on an unrelated case seven years before (Opinion 217, Series of 1953), the Postmaster General maintained his
view that the contest involves consideration, or that, if it does not, it is nevertheless a "gift enterprise" which is equally banned by the Postal Law, and in
his letter of December 10, 1960 not only denied the use of the mails for purposes of the proposed contest but as well threatened that if the contest was
conducted, "a fraud order will have to be issued against it (Caltex) and all its representatives".

Caltex thereupon invoked judicial intervention by filing the present petition for declaratory relief against Postmaster General Enrico Palomar, praying
"that judgment be rendered declaring its 'Caltex Hooded Pump Contest' not to be violative of the Postal Law, and ordering respondent to allow petitioner
the use of the mails to bring the contest to the attention of the public". After issues were joined and upon the respective memoranda of the parties, the
trial court rendered judgment as follows:

In view of the foregoing considerations, the Court holds that the proposed 'Caltex Hooded Pump Contest' announced to be conducted by the
petitioner under the rules marked as Annex B of the petitioner does not violate the Postal Law and the respondent has no right to bar the
public distribution of said rules by the mails.

The respondent appealed.

The parties are now before us, arrayed against each other upon two basic issues: first, whether the petition states a sufficient cause of action for
declaratory relief; and second, whether the proposed "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest" violates the Postal Law. We shall take these up in seriatim.

1. By express mandate of section 1 of Rule 66 of the old Rules of Court, which was the applicable legal basis for the remedy at the time it was invoked,
declaratory relief is available to any person "whose rights are affected by a statute . . . to determine any question of construction or validity arising under
the . . . statute and for a declaration of his rights thereunder" (now section 1, Rule 64, Revised Rules of Court). In amplification, this Court, conformably
to established jurisprudence on the matter, laid down certain conditions sine qua non therefor, to wit: (1) there must be a justiciable controversy; (2) the
controversy must be between persons whose interests are adverse; (3) the party seeking declaratory relief must have a legal interest in the controversy;
and (4) the issue involved must be ripe for judicial determination (Tolentino vs. The Board of Accountancy, et al., G.R. No. L-3062, September 28, 1951;
Delumen, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, 50 O.G., No. 2, pp. 576, 578-579; Edades vs. Edades, et al., G.R. No. L-8964, July 31, 1956). The
gravamen of the appellant's stand being that the petition herein states no sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief, our duty is to assay the factual
bases thereof upon the foregoing crucible.

As we look in retrospect at the incidents that generated the present controversy, a number of significant points stand out in bold relief. The appellee
(Caltex), as a business enterprise of some consequence, concededly has the unquestioned right to exploit every legitimate means, and to avail of all
appropriate media to advertise and stimulate increased patronage for its products. In contrast, the appellant, as the authority charged with the
enforcement of the Postal Law, admittedly has the power and the duty to suppress transgressions thereof — particularly thru the issuance of fraud
orders, under Sections 1982 and 1983 of the Revised Administrative Code, against legally non-mailable schemes. Obviously pursuing its right aforesaid,
the appellee laid out plans for the sales promotion scheme hereinbefore detailed. To forestall possible difficulties in the dissemination of information
thereon thru the mails, amongst other media, it was found expedient to request the appellant for an advance clearance therefor. However, likewise by
virtue of his jurisdiction in the premises and construing the pertinent provisions of the Postal Law, the appellant saw a violation thereof in the proposed
scheme and accordingly declined the request. A point of difference as to the correct construction to be given to the applicable statute was thus reached.
Communications in which the parties expounded on their respective theories were exchanged. The confidence with which the appellee insisted upon its
position was matched only by the obstinacy with which the appellant stood his ground. And this impasse was climaxed by the appellant's open warning
to the appellee that if the proposed contest was "conducted, a fraud order will have to be issued against it and all its representatives."

Against this backdrop, the stage was indeed set for the remedy prayed for. The appellee's insistent assertion of its claim to the use of the mails for its
proposed contest, and the challenge thereto and consequent denial by the appellant of the privilege demanded, undoubtedly spawned a live
controversy. The justiciability of the dispute cannot be gainsaid. There is an active antagonistic assertion of a legal right on one side and a denial thereof
on the other, concerning a real — not a mere theoretical — question or issue. The contenders are as real as their interests are substantial. To the
appellee, the uncertainty occasioned by the divergence of views on the issue of construction hampers or disturbs its freedom to enhance its business.
To the appellant, the suppression of the appellee's proposed contest believed to transgress a law he has sworn to uphold and enforce is an unavoidable
duty. With the appellee's bent to hold the contest and the appellant's threat to issue a fraud order therefor if carried out, the contenders are confronted
by the ominous shadow of an imminent and inevitable litigation unless their differences are settled and stabilized by a tranquilizing declaration (Pablo y
Sen, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. L-6868, April 30, 1955). And, contrary to the insinuation of the appellant, the time is long past when
it can rightly be said that merely the appellee's "desires are thwarted by its own doubts, or by the fears of others" — which admittedly does not confer a
cause of action. Doubt, if any there was, has ripened into a justiciable controversy when, as in the case at bar, it was translated into a positive claim of
right which is actually contested (III Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., pp. 132-133, citing: Woodward vs. Fox West Coast Theaters, 36
Ariz., 251, 284 Pac. 350).

We cannot hospitably entertain the appellant's pretense that there is here no question of construction because the said appellant "simply applied the
clear provisions of the law to a given set of facts as embodied in the rules of the contest", hence, there is no room for declaratory relief. The infirmity of
this pose lies in the fact that it proceeds from the assumption that, if the circumstances here presented, the construction of the legal provisions can be
divorced from the matter of their application to the appellee's contest. This is not feasible. Construction, verily, is the art or process of discovering and
expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law with respect to its application to a given case, where that intention is rendered doubtful,
amongst others, by reason of the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law (Black, Interpretation of Laws, p. 1). This is precisely the
case here. Whether or not the scheme proposed by the appellee is within the coverage of the prohibitive provisions of the Postal Law inescapably
requires an inquiry into the intended meaning of the words used therein. To our mind, this is as much a question of construction or interpretation as any
other.

Nor is it accurate to say, as the appellant intimates, that a pronouncement on the matter at hand can amount to nothing more than an advisory opinion
the handing down of which is anathema to a declaratory relief action. Of course, no breach of the Postal Law has as yet been committed. Yet, the
disagreement over the construction thereof is no longer nebulous or contingent. It has taken a fixed and final shape, presenting clearly defined legal
issues susceptible of immediate resolution. With the battle lines drawn, in a manner of speaking, the propriety — nay, the necessity — of setting the
dispute at rest before it accumulates the asperity distemper, animosity, passion and violence of a full-blown battle which looms ahead (III Moran,
Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., p. 132 and cases cited), cannot but be conceded. Paraphrasing the language in Zeitlin vs. Arnebergh 59
Cal., 2d., 901, 31 Cal. Rptr., 800, 383 P. 2d., 152, cited in 22 Am. Jur., 2d., p. 869, to deny declaratory relief to the appellee in the situation into which it
has been cast, would be to force it to choose between undesirable alternatives. If it cannot obtain a final and definitive pronouncement as to whether the
anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law apply to its proposed contest, it would be faced with these choices: If it launches the contest and uses the mails
for purposes thereof, it not only incurs the risk, but is also actually threatened with the certain imposition, of a fraud order with its concomitant stigma
which may attach even if the appellee will eventually be vindicated; if it abandons the contest, it becomes a self-appointed censor, or permits the
appellant to put into effect a virtual fiat of previous censorship which is constitutionally unwarranted. As we weigh these considerations in one equation
and in the spirit of liberality with which the Rules of Court are to be interpreted in order to promote their object (section 1, Rule 1, Revised Rules of
Court) — which, in the instant case, is to settle, and afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to, rights and duties under a law — we can
see in the present case any imposition upon our jurisdiction or any futility or prematurity in our intervention.

The appellant, we apprehend, underrates the force and binding effect of the ruling we hand down in this case if he believes that it will not have the final
and pacifying function that a declaratory judgment is calculated to subserve. At the very least, the appellant will be bound. But more than this, he
obviously overlooks that in this jurisdiction, "Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the law shall form a part of the legal system" (Article 8, Civil Code
of the Philippines). In effect, judicial decisions assume the same authority as the statute itself and, until authoritatively abandoned, necessarily become,
to the extent that they are applicable, the criteria which must control the actuations not only of those called upon to abide thereby but also of those in
duty bound to enforce obedience thereto. Accordingly, we entertain no misgivings that our resolution of this case will terminate the controversy at hand.
It is not amiss to point out at this juncture that the conclusion we have herein just reached is not without precedent. In Liberty Calendar Co. vs. Cohen,
19 N.J., 399, 117 A. 2d., 487, where a corporation engaged in promotional advertising was advised by the county prosecutor that its proposed sales
promotion plan had the characteristics of a lottery, and that if such sales promotion were conducted, the corporation would be subject to criminal
prosecution, it was held that the corporation was entitled to maintain a declaratory relief action against the county prosecutor to determine the legality of
its sales promotion plan. In pari materia, see also: Bunis vs. Conway, 17 App. Div. 2d., 207, 234 N.Y.S. 2d., 435; Zeitlin vs. Arnebergh, supra; Thrillo,
Inc. vs. Scott, 15 N.J. Super. 124, 82 A. 2d., 903.

In fine, we hold that the appellee has made out a case for declaratory relief.

2. The Postal Law, chapter 52 of the Revised Administrative Code, using almost identical terminology in sections 1954(a), 1982 and 1983
thereof, supra, condemns as absolutely non-mailable, and empowers the Postmaster General to issue fraud orders against, or otherwise deny the use
of the facilities of the postal service to, any information concerning "any lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money, or of any real or
personal property by lot, chance, or drawing of any kind". Upon these words hinges the resolution of the second issue posed in this appeal.

Happily, this is not an altogether untrodden judicial path. As early as in 1922, in "El Debate", Inc. vs. Topacio, 44 Phil., 278, 283-284, which significantly
dwelt on the power of the postal authorities under the abovementioned provisions of the Postal Law, this Court declared that —

While countless definitions of lottery have been attempted, the authoritative one for this jurisdiction is that of the United States Supreme Court,
in analogous cases having to do with the power of the United States Postmaster General, viz.: The term "lottery" extends to all schemes for
the distribution of prizes by chance, such as policy playing, gift exhibitions, prize concerts, raffles at fairs, etc., and various forms of gambling.
The three essential elements of a lottery are: First, consideration; second, prize; and third, chance. (Horner vs. States [1892], 147 U.S. 449;
Public Clearing House vs. Coyne [1903], 194 U.S., 497; U.S. vs. Filart and Singson [1915], 30 Phil., 80; U.S. vs. Olsen and Marker [1917], 36
Phil., 395; U.S. vs. Baguio [1919], 39 Phil., 962; Valhalla Hotel Construction Company vs. Carmona, p. 233, ante.)

Unanimity there is in all quarters, and we agree, that the elements of prize and chance are too obvious in the disputed scheme to be the subject of
contention. Consequently as the appellant himself concedes, the field of inquiry is narrowed down to the existence of the element of consideration
therein. Respecting this matter, our task is considerably lightened inasmuch as in the same case just cited, this Court has laid down a definitive yard-
stick in the following terms —

In respect to the last element of consideration, the law does not condemn the gratuitous distribution of property by chance, if no consideration
is derived directly or indirectly from the party receiving the chance, but does condemn as criminal schemes in which a valuable consideration
of some kind is paid directly or indirectly for the chance to draw a prize.

Reverting to the rules of the proposed contest, we are struck by the clarity of the language in which the invitation to participate therein is couched. Thus

No puzzles, no rhymes? You don't need wrappers, labels or boxtops? You don't have to buy anything? Simply estimate the actual number of
liter the Caltex gas pump with the hood at your favorite Caltex dealer will dispense from — to —, and win valuable prizes . . . ." .

Nowhere in the said rules is any requirement that any fee be paid, any merchandise be bought, any service be rendered, or any value whatsoever be
given for the privilege to participate. A prospective contestant has but to go to a Caltex station, request for the entry form which is available on demand,
and accomplish and submit the same for the drawing of the winner. Viewed from all angles or turned inside out, the contest fails to exhibit any
discernible consideration which would brand it as a lottery. Indeed, even as we head the stern injunction, "look beyond the fair exterior, to the
substance, in order to unmask the real element and pernicious tendencies which the law is seeking to prevent" ("El Debate", Inc. vs. Topacio, supra, p.
291), we find none. In our appraisal, the scheme does not only appear to be, but actually is, a gratuitous distribution of property by chance.

There is no point to the appellant's insistence that non-Caltex customers who may buy Caltex products simply to win a prize would actually be indirectly
paying a consideration for the privilege to join the contest. Perhaps this would be tenable if the purchase of any Caltex product or the use of any Caltex
service were a pre-requisite to participation. But it is not. A contestant, it hardly needs reiterating, does not have to buy anything or to give anything of
value.1awphîl.nèt

Off-tangent, too, is the suggestion that the scheme, being admittedly for sales promotion, would naturally benefit the sponsor in the way of increased
patronage by those who will be encouraged to prefer Caltex products "if only to get the chance to draw a prize by securing entry blanks". The required
element of consideration does not consist of the benefit derived by the proponent of the contest. The true test, as laid down in People vs. Cardas, 28 P.
2d., 99, 137 Cal. App. (Supp.) 788, is whether the participant pays a valuable consideration for the chance, and not whether those conducting the
enterprise receive something of value in return for the distribution of the prize. Perspective properly oriented, the standpoint of the contestant is all that
matters, not that of the sponsor. The following, culled from Corpus Juris Secundum, should set the matter at rest:

The fact that the holder of the drawing expects thereby to receive, or in fact does receive, some benefit in the way of patronage or otherwise,
as a result of the drawing; does not supply the element of consideration. Griffith Amusement Co. vs. Morgan, Tex. Civ. App., 98 S.W., 2d.,
844" (54 C.J.S., p. 849).

Thus enlightened, we join the trial court in declaring that the "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest" proposed by the appellee is not a lottery that may be
administratively and adversely dealt with under the Postal Law.

But it may be asked: Is it not at least a "gift enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money, or of any real or personal property by lot, chance, or
drawing of any kind", which is equally prescribed? Incidentally, while the appellant's brief appears to have concentrated on the issue of consideration,
this aspect of the case cannot be avoided if the remedy here invoked is to achieve its tranquilizing effect as an instrument of both curative and
preventive justice. Recalling that the appellant's action was predicated, amongst other bases, upon Opinion 217, Series 1953, of the Secretary of
Justice, which opined in effect that a scheme, though not a lottery for want of consideration, may nevertheless be a gift enterprise in which that element
is not essential, the determination of whether or not the proposed contest — wanting in consideration as we have found it to be — is a prohibited gift
enterprise, cannot be passed over sub silencio.

While an all-embracing concept of the term "gift enterprise" is yet to be spelled out in explicit words, there appears to be a consensus among
lexicographers and standard authorities that the term is commonly applied to a sporting artifice of under which goods are sold for their market value but
by way of inducement each purchaser is given a chance to win a prize (54 C.J.S., 850; 34 Am. Jur., 654; Black, Law Dictionary, 4th ed., p. 817;
Ballantine, Law Dictionary with Pronunciations, 2nd ed., p. 55; Retail Section of Chamber of Commerce of Plattsmouth vs. Kieck, 257 N.W., 493, 128
Neb. 13; Barker vs. State, 193 S.E., 605, 56 Ga. App., 705; Bell vs. State, 37 Tenn. 507, 509, 5 Sneed, 507, 509). As thus conceived, the term clearly
cannot embrace the scheme at bar. As already noted, there is no sale of anything to which the chance offered is attached as an inducement to the
purchaser. The contest is open to all qualified contestants irrespective of whether or not they buy the appellee's products.

Going a step farther, however, and assuming that the appellee's contest can be encompassed within the broadest sweep that the term "gift enterprise"
is capable of being extended, we think that the appellant's pose will gain no added comfort. As stated in the opinion relied upon, rulings there are indeed
holding that a gift enterprise involving an award by chance, even in default of the element of consideration necessary to constitute a lottery, is prohibited
(E.g.: Crimes vs. States, 235 Ala 192, 178 So. 73; Russell vs. Equitable Loan & Sec. Co., 129 Ga. 154, 58 S.E., 88; State ex rel. Stafford vs. Fox-Great
Falls Theater Corporation, 132 P. 2d., 689, 694, 698, 114 Mont. 52). But this is only one side of the coin. Equally impressive authorities declare that, like
a lottery, a gift enterprise comes within the prohibitive statutes only if it exhibits the tripartite elements of prize, chance and consideration (E.g.: Bills vs.
People, 157 P. 2d., 139, 142, 113 Colo., 326; D'Orio vs. Jacobs, 275 P. 563, 565, 151 Wash., 297; People vs. Psallis, 12 N.Y.S., 2d., 796; City and
County of Denver vs. Frueauff, 88 P., 389, 394, 39 Colo., 20, 7 L.R.A., N.S., 1131, 12 Ann. Cas., 521; 54 C.J.S., 851, citing: Barker vs. State, 193 S.E.,
605, 607, 56 Ga. App., 705; 18 Words and Phrases, perm. ed., pp. 590-594). The apparent conflict of opinions is explained by the fact that the specific
statutory provisions relied upon are not identical. In some cases, as pointed out in 54 C.J.S., 851, the terms "lottery" and "gift enterprise" are used
interchangeably (Bills vs. People, supra); in others, the necessity for the element of consideration or chance has been specifically eliminated by statute.
(54 C.J.S., 351-352, citing Barker vs. State, supra; State ex rel. Stafford vs. Fox-Great Falls Theater Corporation, supra). The lesson that we derive from
this state of the pertinent jurisprudence is, therefore, that every case must be resolved upon the particular phraseology of the applicable statutory
provision.

Taking this cue, we note that in the Postal Law, the term in question is used in association with the word "lottery". With the meaning of lottery settled,
and consonant to the well-known principle of legal hermeneutics noscitur a sociis — which Opinion 217 aforesaid also relied upon although only insofar
as the element of chance is concerned — it is only logical that the term under a construction should be accorded no other meaning than that which is
consistent with the nature of the word associated therewith. Hence, if lottery is prohibited only if it involves a consideration, so also must the term "gift
enterprise" be so construed. Significantly, there is not in the law the slightest indicium of any intent to eliminate that element of consideration from the
"gift enterprise" therein included.

This conclusion firms up in the light of the mischief sought to be remedied by the law, resort to the determination thereof being an accepted extrinsic aid
in statutory construction. Mail fraud orders, it is axiomatic, are designed to prevent the use of the mails as a medium for disseminating printed matters
which on grounds of public policy are declared non-mailable. As applied to lotteries, gift enterprises and similar schemes, justification lies in the
recognized necessity to suppress their tendency to inflame the gambling spirit and to corrupt public morals (Com. vs. Lund, 15 A. 2d., 839, 143 Pa.
Super. 208). Since in gambling it is inherent that something of value be hazarded for a chance to gain a larger amount, it follows ineluctably that where
no consideration is paid by the contestant to participate, the reason behind the law can hardly be said to obtain. If, as it has been held —

Gratuitous distribution of property by lot or chance does not constitute "lottery", if it is not resorted to as a device to evade the law and no
consideration is derived, directly or indirectly, from the party receiving the chance, gambling spirit not being cultivated or stimulated thereby.
City of Roswell vs. Jones, 67 P. 2d., 286, 41 N.M., 258." (25 Words and Phrases, perm. ed., p. 695, emphasis supplied).

we find no obstacle in saying the same respecting a gift enterprise. In the end, we are persuaded to hold that, under the prohibitive provisions of the
Postal Law which we have heretofore examined, gift enterprises and similar schemes therein contemplated are condemnable only if, like lotteries, they
involve the element of consideration. Finding none in the contest here in question, we rule that the appellee may not be denied the use of the mails for
purposes thereof.

Recapitulating, we hold that the petition herein states a sufficient cause of action for declaratory relief, and that the "Caltex Hooded Pump Contest" as
described in the rules submitted by the appellee does not transgress the provisions of the Postal Law.

ACCORDINGLY, the judgment appealed from is affirmed. No costs.


G.R. No. L-6355-56 August 31, 1953

PASTOR M. ENDENCIA and FERNANDO JUGO, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. SATURNINO DAVID, defendant-appellant.

MONTEMAYOR, J.:

This is a joint appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila declaring section 13 of Republic Act No. 590 unconstitutional, and
ordering the appellant Saturnino David as Collector of Internal Revenue to re-fund to Justice Pastor M. Endencia the sum of P1,744.45, representing the
income tax collected on his salary as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals in 1951, and to Justice Fernando Jugo the amount of P2,345.46,
representing the income tax collected on his salary from January 1,1950 to October 19, 1950, as Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, and from
October 20, 1950 to December 31,1950, as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, without special pronouncement as to costs.

Because of the similarity of the two cases, involving as they do the same question of law, they were jointly submitted for determination in the lower court.
Judge Higinio B. Macadaeg presiding, in a rather exhaustive and well considered decision found and held that under the doctrine laid down by this Court
in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, the collection of income taxes from the salaries of Justice Jugo and Justice Endencia was a diminution of
their compensation and therefore was in violation of the Constitution of the Philippines, and so ordered the refund of said taxes.

We see no profit and necessity in again discussing and considering the proposition and the arguments pro and cons involved in the case of Perfecto vs.
Meer, supra, which are raised, brought up and presented here. In that case, we have held despite the ruling enunciated by the United States Federal
Supreme Court in the case of O 'Malley vs. Woodrought 307 U. S., 277, that taxing the salary of a judicial officer in the Philippines is a diminution of
such salary and so violates the Constitution. We shall now confine our-selves to a discussion and determination of the remaining question of whether or
not Republic Act No. 590, particularly section 13, can justify and legalize the collection of income tax on the salary of judicial officers.

According to the brief of the Solicitor General on behalf of appellant Collector of Internal Revenue, our decision in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra,
was not received favorably by Congress, because immediately after its promulgation, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 590. To bring home his point,
the Solicitor General reproduced what he considers the pertinent discussion in the Lower House of House Bill No. 1127 which became Republic Act No.
590.

For purposes of reference, we are reproducing section 9, Article VIII of our Constitution:.

SEC. 9. The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior courts shall hold office during good behavior, until they reach the age of
seventy years, or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. They shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by
law, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. Until the Congress shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court shall receive an annual compensation of sixteen thousand pesos, and each Associate Justice, fifteen thousand pesos.

As already stated construing and applying the above constitutional provision, we held in the Perfecto case that judicial officers are exempt from the
payment of income tax on their salaries, because the collection thereof by the Government was a decrease or diminution of their salaries during their
continuance in office, a thing which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution. Thereafter, according to the Solicitor General, because Congress did not
favorably receive the decision in the Perfecto case, Congress promulgated Republic Act No. 590, if not to counteract the ruling in that decision, at least
now to authorize and legalize the collection of income tax on the salaries of judicial officers. We quote section 13 of Republic Act No. 590:

SEC 13. No salary wherever received by any public officer of the Republic of the Philippines shall be considered as exempt from the income
tax, payment of which is hereby declared not to be dimunition of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or by law.

So we have this situation. The Supreme Court in a decision interpreting the Constitution, particularly section 9, Article VIII, has held that judicial officers
are exempt from payment of income tax on their salaries, because the collection thereof was a diminution of such salaries, specifically prohibited by the
Constitution. Now comes the Legislature and in section 13, Republic Act No. 590, says that "no salary wherever received by any public officer of the
Republic (naturally including a judicial officer) shall be considered as exempt from the income tax," and proceeds to declare that payment of said income
tax is not a diminution of his compensation. Can the Legislature validly do this? May the Legislature lawfully declare the collection of income tax on the
salary of a public official, specially a judicial officer, not a decrease of his salary, after the Supreme Court has found and decided otherwise? To
determine this question, we shall have to go back to the fundamental principles regarding separation of powers.

Under our system of constitutional government, the Legislative department is assigned the power to make and enact laws. The Executive department is
charged with the execution of carrying out of the provisions of said laws. But the interpretation and application of said laws belong exclusively to the
Judicial department. And this authority to interpret and apply the laws extends to the Constitution. Before the courts can determine whether a law is
constitutional or not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning not only of said law, but also of the pertinent portion of the Constitution in order to
decide whether there is a conflict between the two, because if there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid and
unconstitutional.

Defining and interpreting the law is a judicial function and the legislative branch may not limit or restrict the power granted to the courts by the
Constitution. (Bandy vs. Mickelson et al., 44N. W., 2nd 341, 342.)

When it is clear that a statute transgresses the authority vested in the legislature by the Constitution, it is the duty of the courts to declare the
act unconstitutional because they cannot shrink from it without violating their oaths of office. This duty of the courts to maintain the
Constitution as the fundamental law of the state is imperative and unceasing; and, as Chief Justice Marshall said, whenever a statute is in
violation of the fundamental law, the courts must so adjudge and thereby give effect to the Constitution. Any other course would lead to the
destruction of the Constitution. Since the question as to the constitutionality of a statute is a judicial matter, the courts will not decline the
exercise of jurisdiction upon the suggestion that action might be taken by political agencies in disregard of the judgment of the judicial
tribunals. (11 Am. Jur., 714-715.)

Under the American system of constitutional government, among the most important functions in trusted to the judiciary are the interpreting of
Constitutions and, as a closely connected power, the determination of whether laws and acts of the legislature are or are not contrary to the
provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions. (11 Am. Jur., 905.).

By legislative fiat as enunciated in section 13, Republic Act NO. 590, Congress says that taxing the salary of a judicial officer is not a decrease of
compensation. This is a clear example of interpretation or ascertainment of the meaning of the phrase "which shall not be diminished during their
continuance in office," found in section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution, referring to the salaries of judicial officers. This act of interpreting the
Constitution or any part thereof by the Legislature is an invasion of the well-defined and established province and jurisdiction of the Judiciary.

The rule is recognized elsewhere that the legislature cannot pass any declaratory act, or act declaratory of what the law was before its
passage, so as to give it any binding weight with the courts. A legislative definition of a word as used in a statute is not conclusive of its
meaning as used elsewhere; otherwise, the legislature would be usurping a judicial function in defining a term. (11 Am. Jur., 914, emphasis
supplied)

The legislature cannot, upon passing a law which violates a constitutional provision, validate it so as to prevent an attack thereon in the
courts, by a declaration that it shall be so construed as not to violate the constitutional inhibition. (11 Am. Jur., 919, emphasis supplied)

We have already said that the Legislature under our form of government is assigned the task and the power to make and enact laws, but not to interpret
them. This is more true with regard to the interpretation of the basic law, the Constitution, which is not within the sphere of the Legislative department. If
the Legislature may declare what a law means, or what a specific portion of the Constitution means, especially after the courts have in actual case
ascertain its meaning by interpretation and applied it in a decision, this would surely cause confusion and instability in judicial processes and court
decisions. Under such a system, a final court determination of a case based on a judicial interpretation of the law of the Constitution may be undermined
or even annulled by a subsequent and different interpretation of the law or of the Constitution by the Legislative department. That would be neither wise
nor desirable, besides being clearly violative of the fundamental, principles of our constitutional system of government, particularly those governing the
separation of powers.

So much for the constitutional aspect of the case. Considering the practical side thereof, we believe that the collection of income tax on a salary is an
actual and evident diminution thereof. Under the old system where the in-come tax was paid at the end of the year or sometime thereafter, the decrease
may not be so apparent and clear. All that the official who had previously received his full salary was called upon to do, was to fulfill his obligation and to
exercise his privilege of paying his income tax on his salary. His salary fixed by law was received by him in the amount of said tax comes from his other
sources of income, he may not fully realize the fact that his salary had been decreased in the amount of said income tax. But under the present system
of withholding the income tax at the source, where the full amount of the income tax corresponding to his salary is computed in advance and divided into
equal portions corresponding to the number of pay-days during the year and actually deducted from his salary corresponding to each payday, said
official actually does not receive his salary in full, because the income tax is deducted therefrom every payday, that is to say, twice a month. Let us take
the case of Justice Endencia. As Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, his salary is fixed at p12,000 a year, that is to say, he should receive P1,000
a month or P500 every payday, — fifteenth and end of month. In the present case, the amount collected by the Collector of Internal Revenue on said
salary is P1,744.45 for one year. Divided by twelve (months) we shall have P145.37 a month. And further dividing it by two paydays will bring it down to
P72.685, which is the income tax deducted form the collected on his salary each half month. So, if Justice Endencia's salary as a judicial officer were
not exempt from payment of the income tax, instead of receiving P500 every payday, he would be actually receiving P427.31 only, and instead of
receiving P12,000 a year, he would be receiving but P10,255.55. Is it not therefor clear that every payday, his salary is actually decreased by P72.685
and every year is decreased by P1,744.45?

Reading the discussion in the lower House in connection with House Bill No. 1127, which became Republic Act No. 590, it would seem that one of the
main reasons behind the enactment of the law was the feeling among certain legislators that members of the Supreme Court should not enjoy any
exemption and that as citizens, out of patriotism and love for their country, they should pay income tax on their salaries. It might be stated in this
connection that the exemption is not enjoyed by the members of the Supreme Court alone but also by all judicial officers including Justices of the Court
of Appeals and judges of inferior courts. The exemption also extends to other constitutional officers, like the President of the Republic, the Auditor
General, the members of the Commission on Elections, and possibly members of the Board of Tax Appeals, commissioners of the Public Service
Commission, and judges of the Court of Industrial Relations. Compares to the number of all these officials, that of the Supreme Court Justices is
relatively insignificant. There are more than 990 other judicial officers enjoying the exemption, including 15 Justices of the Court of Appeals, about 107
Judges of First Instance, 38 Municipal Judges and about 830 Justices of the Peace. The reason behind the exemption in the Constitution, as interpreted
by the United States Federal Supreme Court and this Court, is to preserve the independence of the Judiciary, not only of this High Tribunal but of the
other courts, whose present membership number more than 990 judicial officials.

The exemption was not primarily intended to benefit judicial officers, but was grounded on public policy. As said by Justice Van Devanter of the United
States Supreme Court in the case of Evans vs. Gore (253 U. S., 245):

The primary purpose of the prohibition against diminution was not to benefit the judges, but, like the clause in respect of tenure, to attract
good and competent men to the bench and to promote that independence of action and judgment which is essential to the maintenance of the
guaranties, limitations and pervading principles of the Constitution and to the administration of justice without respect to person and with equal
concern for the poor and the rich. Such being its purpose, it is to be construed, not as a private grant, but as a limitation imposed in the public
interest; in other words, not restrictively, but in accord with its spirit and the principle on which it proceeds.

Having in mind the limited number of judicial officers in the Philippines enjoying this exemption, especially when the great bulk thereof are justices of the
peace, many of them receiving as low as P200 a month, and considering further the other exemptions allowed by the income tax law, such as P3,000
for a married person and P600 for each dependent, the amount of national revenue to be derived from income tax on the salaries of judicial officers,
were if not for the constitutional exemption, could not be large or substantial. But even if it were otherwise, it should not affect, much less outweigh the
purpose and the considerations that prompted the establishment of the constitutional exemption. In the same case of Evans vs. Gore, supra, the
Federal Supreme Court declared "that they (fathers of the Constitution) regarded the independence of the judges as far as greater importance than any
revenue that could come from taxing their salaries.

When a judicial officer assumed office, he does not exactly ask for exemption from payment of income tax on his salary, as a privilege . It is already
attached to his office, provided and secured by the fundamental law, not primarily for his benefit, but based on public interest, to secure and preserve his
independence of judicial thought and action. When we come to the members of the Supreme Court, this excemption to them is relatively of short
duration. Because of the limited membership in this High Tribunal, eleven, and due to the high standards of experience, practice and training required,
one generally enters its portals and comes to join its membership quite late in life, on the aver-age, around his sixtieth year, and being required to retire
at seventy, assuming that he does not die or become incapacitated earlier, naturally he is not in a position to receive the benefit of exemption for long. It
is rather to the justices of the peace that the exemption can give more benefit. They are relatively more numerous, and because of the meager salary
they receive, they can less afford to pay the income tax on it and its diminution by the amount of the income tax if paid would be real, substantial and
onerous.

Considering exemption in the abstract, there is nothing unusual or abhorrent in it, as long as it is based on public policy or public interest. While all other
citizens are subject to arrest when charged with the commission of a crime, members of the Senate and House of Representatives except in cases of
treason, felony and breach of the peace are exempt from arrest, during their attendance in the session of the Legislature; and while all other citizens are
generally liable for any speech, remark or statement, oral or written, tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person
or to blacken the memory of one who is dead, Senators and Congressmen in making such statements during their sessions are extended immunity and
exemption.

And as to tax exemption, there are not a few citizens who enjoy this exemption. Persons, natural and juridical, are exempt from taxes on their lands,
buildings and improvements thereon when used exclusively for educational purposes, even if they derive income therefrom. (Art. VI, Sec. 22 [3].)
Holders of government bonds are exempted from the payment of taxes on the income or interest they receive therefrom (sec. 29 (b) [4], National
Internal Revenue Code as amended by Republic Act No. 566). Payments or income received by any person residing in the Philippines under the laws of
the United States administered by the United States Veterans Administration are exempt from taxation. (Republic Act No. 360). Funds received by
officers and enlisted men of the Philippine Army who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, allowances earned by virtue of such services
corresponding to the taxable years 1942 to 1945, inclusive, are exempted from income tax. (Republic Act No. 210). The payment of wages and
allowances of officers and enlisted men of the Army Forces of the Philippines sent to Korea are also exempted from taxation. (Republic Act No. 35). In
other words, for reasons of public policy and public interest, a citizen may justifiably by constitutional provision or statute be exempted from his ordinary
obligation of paying taxes on his income. Under the same public policy and perhaps for the same it not higher considerations, the framers of the
Constitution deemed it wise and necessary to exempt judicial officers from paying taxes on their salaries so as not to decrease their compensation,
thereby insuring the independence of the Judiciary.

In conclusion we reiterate the doctrine laid down in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, to the effect that the collection of income tax on the salary of a
judicial officer is a diminution thereof and so violates the Constitution. We further hold that the interpretation and application of the Constitution and of
statutes is within the exclusive province and jurisdiction of the Judicial department, and that in enacting a law, the Legislature may not legally provide
therein that it be interpreted in such a way that it may not violate a Constitutional prohibition, thereby tying the hands of the courts in their task of later
interpreting said statute, specially when the interpretation sought and provided in said statute runs counter to a previous interpretation already given in a
case by the highest court of the land.

In the views of the foregoing considerations, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with no pronouncement as to costs.

Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Reyes, and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J., concurring:

Without expressing any opinion on the doctrine laid down by this Court in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, G. R. No. L-2314, in view of the part I had in
that case as former Solicitor General, I wish however to state that I concur in the opinion of the majority to the effect that section 13, Republic Act No.
590, in so far as it provides that taxing of the salary of a judicial officer shall be considered "not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by the
Constitution or by law", constitutes an invasion of the province and jurisdiction of the judiciary. In this sense, I am of the opinion that said section is null
and void, it being a transgression of the fundamental principle underlying the separation of powers.

PARAS, C.J., concurring and dissenting:

I dissent for the same reasons stated in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Ozaeta in Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, in which I concurred. But I
disagree with the majority in ruling that no legislation may provide that it be held valid although against a provision of the Constitution.

G.R. No. 78780 July 23, 1987


DAVID G. NITAFAN, WENCESLAO M. POLO, and MAXIMO A. SAVELLANO, JR., petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and THE FINANCIAL OFFICER, SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

RESOLUTION

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

Petitioners, the duly appointed and qualified Judges presiding over Branches 52, 19 and 53, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital
Judicial Region, all with stations in Manila, seek to prohibit and/or perpetually enjoin respondents, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the
Financial Officer of the Supreme Court, from making any deduction of withholding taxes from their salaries.

In a nutshell, they submit that "any tax withheld from their emoluments or compensation as judicial officers constitutes a decrease or diminution of their
salaries, contrary to the provision of Section 10, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution mandating that "(d)uring their continuance in office, their salary shall
not be decreased," even as it is anathema to the Ideal of an independent judiciary envisioned in and by said Constitution."

It may be pointed out that, early on, the Court had dealt with the matter administratively in response to representations that the Court direct its Finance
Officer to discontinue the withholding of taxes from salaries of members of the Bench. Thus, on June 4, 1987, the Court en banc had reaffirmed the
Chief Justice's directive as follows:

RE: Question of exemption from income taxation. — The Court REAFFIRMED the Chief Justice's previous and standing directive to the Fiscal
Management and Budget Office of this Court to continue with the deduction of the withholding taxes from the salaries of the Justices of the
Supreme Court as well as from the salaries of all other members of the judiciary.

That should have resolved the question. However, with the filing of this petition, the Court has deemed it best to settle the legal issue raised through this
judicial pronouncement. As will be shown hereinafter, the clear intent of the Constitutional Commission was to delete the proposed express grant of
exemption from payment of income tax to members of the Judiciary, so as to "give substance to equality among the three branches of Government" in
the words of Commissioner Rigos. In the course of the deliberations, it was further expressly made clear, specially with regard to Commissioner Joaquin
F. Bernas' accepted amendment to the amendment of Commissioner Rigos, that the salaries of members of the Judiciary would be subject to the
general income tax applied to all taxpayers.

This intent was somehow and inadvertently not clearly set forth in the final text of the Constitution as approved and ratified in February, 1987 (infra, pp.
7-8). Although the intent may have been obscured by the failure to include in the General Provisions a proscription against exemption of any public
officer or employee, including constitutional officers, from payment of income tax, the Court since then has authorized the continuation of the deduction
of the withholding tax from the salaries of the members of the Supreme Court, as well as from the salaries of all other members of the Judiciary. The
Court hereby makes of record that it had then discarded the ruling in Perfecto vs. Meer and Endencia vs. David, infra, that declared the salaries of
members of the Judiciary exempt from payment of the income tax and considered such payment as a diminution of their salaries during their
continuance in office. The Court hereby reiterates that the salaries of Justices and Judges are properly subject to a general income tax law applicable to
all income earners and that the payment of such income tax by Justices and Judges does not fall within the constitutional protection against decrease of
their salaries during their continuance in office.

A comparison of the Constitutional provisions involved is called for. The 1935 Constitution provided:

... (The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior courts) shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall
not be diminished during their continuance in office ... 1 (Emphasis supplied).

Under the 1973 Constitution, the same provision read:

The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme court, and of judges of inferior courts shall be fixed by law, which
shall not be decreased during their continuance in office. ... 2 (Emphasis ours).

And in respect of income tax exemption, another provision in the same 1973 Constitution specifically stipulated:

No salary or any form of emolument of any public officer or employee, including constitutional officers, shall be exempt from payment of
income tax. 3

The provision in the 1987 Constitution, which petitioners rely on, reads:

The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During
their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased. 4(Emphasis supplied).

The 1987 Constitution does not contain a provision similar to Section 6, Article XV of the 1973 Constitution, for which reason, petitioners claim that the
intent of the framers is to revert to the original concept of "non-diminution "of salaries of judicial officers.

The deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission relevant to Section 10, Article VIII, negate such contention.

The draft proposal of Section 10, Article VIII, of the 1987 Constitution read:

Section 13. The salary of the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and of judges of the lower courts shall be fixed
by law. During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be diminished nor subjected to income tax. Until the National Assembly shall
provide otherwise, the Chief Justice shall receive an annual salary of _____________ and each Associate Justice ______________
pesos. 5(Emphasis ours)

During the debates on the draft Article (Committee Report No. 18), two Commissioners presented their objections to the provision on tax exemption,
thus:
MS. AQUINO. Finally, on the matter of exemption from tax of the salary of justices, does this not violate the principle of the uniformity of
taxation and the principle of equal protection of the law? After all, tax is levied not on the salary but on the combined income, such that when
the judge receives a salary and it is comingled with the other income, we tax the income, not the salary. Why do we have to give special
privileges to the salary of justices?

MR. CONCEPCION. It is the independence of the judiciary. We prohibit the increase or decrease of their salary during their term. This is an
indirect way of decreasing their salary and affecting the independence of the judges.

MS. AQUINO. I appreciate that to be in the nature of a clause to respect tenure, but the special privilege on taxation might, in effect, be a
violation of the principle of uniformity in taxation and the equal protection clause. 6

xxx xxx xxx

MR. OPLE. x x x

Of course, we share deeply the concern expressed by the sponsor, Commissioner Roberto Concepcion, for whom we have the highest
respect, to surround the Supreme Court and the judicial system as a whole with the whole armor of defense against the executive and
legislative invasion of their independence. But in so doing, some of the citizens outside, especially the humble government employees, might
say that in trying to erect a bastion of justice, we might end up with the fortress of privileges, an island of extra territoriality under the Republic
of the Philippines, because a good number of powers and rights accorded to the Judiciary here may not be enjoyed in the remotest degree by
other employees of the government.

An example is the exception from income tax, which is a kind of economic immunity, which is, of course, denied to the entire executive
department and the legislative. 7

And during the period of amendments on the draft Article, on July 14, 1986, Commissioner Cirilo A. Rigos proposed that the term "diminished" be
changed to "decreased" and that the words "nor subjected to income tax" be deleted so as to "give substance to equality among the three branches in
the government.

Commissioner Florenz D. Regalado, on behalf of the Committee on the Judiciary, defended the original draft and referred to the ruling of this Court
in Perfecto vs. Meer 8 that "the independence of the judges is of far greater importance than any revenue that could come from taxing their salaries."
Commissioner Rigos then moved that the matter be put to a vote. Commissioner Joaquin G. Bernas stood up "in support of an amendment to the
amendment with the request for a modification of the amendment," as follows:

FR. BERNAS. Yes. I am going to propose an amendment to the amendment saying that it is not enough to drop the phrase "shall not be
subjected to income tax," because if that is all that the Gentleman will do, then he will just fall back on the decision in Perfecto vs. Meer and
in Dencia vs. David [should be Endencia and Jugo vs. David, etc., 93 Phil. 696[ which excludes them from income tax, but rather I would
propose that the statement will read: "During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be diminished BUT MAY BE SUBJECT TO
GENERAL INCOME TAX."IN support of this position, I would say that the argument seems to be that the justice and judges should not be
subjected to income tax because they already gave up the income from their practice. That is true also of Cabinet members and all other
employees. And I know right now, for instance, there are many people who have accepted employment in the government involving a
reduction of income and yet are still subject to income tax. So, they are not the only citizens whose income is reduced by accepting service in
government.

Commissioner Rigos accepted the proposed amendment to the amendment. Commissioner Rustico F. de los Reyes, Jr. then moved for a suspension of
the session. Upon resumption, Commissioner Bernas announced:

During the suspension, we came to an understanding with the original proponent, Commissioner Rigos, that his amendment on page 6,. line 4
would read: "During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be DECREASED."But this is on the understanding that there will be a
provision in the Constitution similar to Section 6 of Article XV, the General Provisions of the 1973 Constitution, which says:

No salary or any form of emolument of any public officer or employee, including constitutional officers, shall be exempt from
payment of income tax.

So, we put a period (.) after "DECREASED" on the understanding that the salary of justices is subject to tax.

When queried about the specific Article in the General Provisions on non-exemption from tax of salaries of public officers, Commissioner Bernas replied:

FR BERNAS. Yes, I do not know if such an article will be found in the General Provisions. But at any rate, when we put a period (.) after
"DECREASED," it is on the understanding that the doctrine in Perfecto vs. Meer and Dencia vs. David will not apply anymore.

The amendment to the original draft, as discussed and understood, was finally approved without objection.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bengzon). The understanding, therefore, is that there will be a provision under the Article on General
Provisions. Could Commissioner Rosario Braid kindly take note that the salaries of officials of the government including constitutional officers
shall not be exempt from income tax? The amendment proposed herein and accepted by the Committee now reads as follows: "During their
continuance in office, their salary shall not be DECREASED"; and the phrase "nor subjected to income tax" is deleted.9

The debates, interpellations and opinions expressed regarding the constitutional provision in question until it was finally approved by the Commission
disclosed that the true intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, in adopting it, was to make the salaries of members of the Judiciary taxable. The
ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law
and of the people adopting it should be given effect.10 The primary task in constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter assure the realization
of the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution. 11it may also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the
Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers. 12 1avvphi1

Besides, construing Section 10, Articles VIII, of the 1987 Constitution, which, for clarity, is again reproduced hereunder:
The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During
their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased. (Emphasis supplied).

it is plain that the Constitution authorizes Congress to pass a law fixing another rate of compensation of Justices and Judges but such rate must be
higher than that which they are receiving at the time of enactment, or if lower, it would be applicable only to those appointed after its approval. It would
be a strained construction to read into the provision an exemption from taxation in the light of the discussion in the Constitutional Commission.

With the foregoing interpretation, and as stated heretofore, the ruling that "the imposition of income tax upon the salary of judges is a dimunition thereof,
and so violates the Constitution" in Perfecto vs. Meer,13 as affirmed in Endencia vs. David 14 must be declared discarded. The framers of the
fundamental law, as the alter ego of the people, have expressed in clear and unmistakable terms the meaning and import of Section 10, Article VIII, of
the 1987 Constitution that they have adopted

Stated otherwise, we accord due respect to the intent of the people, through the discussions and deliberations of their representatives, in the spirit that
all citizens should bear their aliquot part of the cost of maintaining the government and should share the burden of general income taxation equitably.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for Prohibition is hereby dismissed.

G.R. No. L-34568 March 28, 1988

RODERICK DAOANG, petitioners, vs. THE MUNICIPAL JUDGE, SAN NICOLAS, ILOCOS NORTE, respondents.
PADILLA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision, dated 30 June 1971, rendered by the respondent judge * in Spec. Proc. No. 37 of Municipal
Court of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, entitled: "In re Adoption of the Minors Quirino Bonilla and Wilson Marcos; Antero Agonoy and Amanda R. Agonoy,
petitioners", the dispositive part of which reads, as follows:

Wherefore, Court renders judgment declaring that henceforth Quirino Bonilla and Wilson Marcos be, to all legitimate intents and purposes, the
children by adoption of the joint petitioners Antero Agonoy and Amanda R. Agonoy and that the former be freed from legal obedience and
maintenance by their respective parents, Miguel Bonilla and Laureana Agonoy for Quirino Bonilla and Modesto Marcos and Benjamina
Gonzales for Wilson Marcos and their family names 'Bonilla' and 'Marcos' be changed with "Agonoy", which is the family name of the petitioners.

Successional rights of the children and that of their adopting parents shall be governed by the pertinent provisions of the New Civil Code.

Let copy of this decision be furnished and entered into the records of the Local Civil Registry of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, for its legal effects at
the expense of the petitioners. 1

The undisputed facts of the case are as follows:

On 23 March 1971, the respondent spouses Antero and Amanda Agonoy filed a petition with the Municipal Court of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, seeking
the adoption of the minors Quirino Bonilla and Wilson Marcos. The case, entitled: "In re Adoption of the Minors Quirino Bonilla and Wilson Marcos,
Antero Agonoy and Amanda Ramos-Agonoy, petitioners", was docketed therein as Spec. Proc. No. 37. 2

The petition was set for hearing on 24 April 1971 and notices thereof were caused to be served upon the office of the Solicitor General and ordered
published in the ILOCOS TIMES, a weekly newspaper of general circulation in the province of Ilocos Norte, with editorial offices in Laoag City. 3

On 22 April 1971, the minors Roderick and Rommel Daoang, assisted by their father and guardian ad litem, the petitioners herein, filed an opposition to
the aforementioned petition for adoption, claiming that the spouses Antero and Amanda Agonoy had a legitimate daughter named Estrella Agonoy,
oppositors' mother, who died on 1 March 1971, and therefore, said spouses were disqualified to adopt under Art. 335 of the Civil Code. 4

After the required publication of notice had been accomplished, evidence was presented. Thereafter, the Municipal Court of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte
rendred its decision, granting the petition for adoption. 5

Hence, the present recourse by the petitioners (oppositors in the lower court).

The sole issue for consideration is one of law and it is whether or not the respondent spouses Antero Agonoy and Amanda Ramos-Agonoy are
disqualified to adopt under paragraph (1), Art. 335 of the Civil Code.

The pertinent provision of law reads, as follows:


Art. 335. The following cannot adopt:
(1) Those who have legitimate, legitimated, acknowledged natural children, or children by legal fiction;
xxx xxx xxx

In overruling the opposition of the herein petitioners, the respondents judge held that "to add grandchildren in this article where no grandchil is included
would violate to (sic) the legal maxim that what is expressly included would naturally exclude what is not included".

But, it is contended by the petitioners, citing the case of In re Adoption of Millendez,6 that the adoption of Quirino Bonilla and Wilson Marcos would not
only introduce a foreign element into the family unit, but would result in the reduction of their legititimes. It would also produce an indirect, permanent
and irrevocable disinheritance which is contrary to the policy of the law that a subsequent reconciliation between the offender and the offended person
deprives the latter of the right to disinherit and renders ineffectual any disinheritance that may have been made.

We find, however, that the words used in paragraph (1) of Art. 335 of the Civil Code, in enumerating the persons who cannot adopt, are clear and
unambiguous. The children mentioned therein have a clearly defined meaning in law and, as pointed out by the respondent judge, do not include
grandchildren.

Well known is the rule of statutory construction to the effect that a statute clear and unambiguous on its face need not be interpreted; stated otherwise,
the rule is that only statutes with an ambiguous or doubtful meaning may be the subject of statutory construction. 7

Besides, it appears that the legislator, in enacting the Civil Code of the Philippines, obviously intended that only those persons who have certain classes
of children, are disqualified to adopt. The Civil Code of Spain, which was once in force in the Philippines, and which served as the pattern for the Civil
Code of the Philippines, in its Article 174, disqualified persons who have legitimate or legitimated descendants from adopting. Under this article, the
spouses Antero and Amanda Agonoy would have been disqualified to adopt as they have legitimate grandchildren, the petitioners herein. But, when the
Civil Code of the Philippines was adopted, the word "descendants" was changed to "children", in paragraph (1) of Article 335.

Adoption used to be for the benefit of the adoptor. It was intended to afford to persons who have no child of their own the consolation of having one, by
creating through legal fiction, the relation of paternity and filiation where none exists by blood relationship. 8 The present tendency, however, is geared
more towards the promotion of the welfare of the child and the enhancement of his opportunities for a useful and happy life, and every intendment is
sustained to promote that objective.9 Under the law now in force, having legitimate, legitimated, acknowledged natural children, or children by legal
fiction, is no longer a ground for disqualification to adopt. 10

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The judgment of the Municipal Court of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte in Spec. Proc. No. 37 is AFFIRMED. Without
pronouncement as to costs in this instance. SO ORDERED.