MELANIE P. MONTUERTO, petitioner, vs. HON. MAYOR ROLANDO E. TY and THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN, represented by HON.
VICE-MAYOR RICHARD D. JAGUROS, all of the Municipality of Almeria, Biliran, respondents. (G.R. No. 177736 / October 6, 2009)
This case is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals Decision dated October 31, 2006 and Resolution dated March 29, 2007, which affirmed in toto the Resolution of the Civil Service Commission dated June 7, 2005. FACTS: On March 17, 1992, petitioner was issued an appointment as Municipal Budget Officer by the then Mayor Supremo T. Sabitsana of the Municipality of Almeria, Biliran. On March 24, 1992, her appointment was approved as permanent by Gerardo Corder, Acting Civil Service Commission Field Officer. On January 14, 2002, the Sangguniang Bayan of Almeria, Biliran passed Sangguniang Bayan (SB) Resolution No. 01-S-2002 entitled "A Resolution Requesting the Civil Service Commission Regional Office, to Revoke the Appointment of Mrs. Melanie P. Montuerto, Municipal Budget Officer of the Municipality of Almeria, Biliran for Failure to Secure the Required Concurrence from the Sangguniang Bayan." Consequently, the Municipality of Almeria, Biliran submitted the 201 file of petitioner to Civil Service Commission Regional Office No. VIII (CSCRO No. VIII) which showed that petitioner's appointment lacked the required concurrence of the local sanggunian. On the other hand, petitioner submitted to the same office a Joint-Affidavit executed on March 6, 2002, by the majority of the then members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Almeria, Biliran, that only verbal concurrence on the appointment and also there is no record to show that there is appointment of Mrs Melanie P. Montuerto as Municipal Bidget Officer of Almeria. On March 11, 2002, CSCRO No. VIII issued an Order of recalled on the grounds that it lacks the required concurrence of the majotiry of all the members of the Sanguninang Bayan and On July 11, 2005, the Municipal Mayor issued a Memorandum terminating the services of petitioner as Municipal Budget Officer pursuant to CSC Resolution No. 050756. Petitioner filed a Petition for Review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Civil Procedure before the CA, which denied it for lack of merit.
ISSUE: Whether the appointment of petitioner as Municipal Budget Officer, without the written concurrence of the Sanggunian, but duly approved by the CSC and after the appointee had served as such for almost ten years without interruption, can still be revoked by the Commission.
RULING: We resolve to deny the Petition. The law is clear. Under Section 443(a) and (d) of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code, the head of a department or office in the municipal government, such as the Municipal Budget Officer, shall be appointed by the mayor with the concurrence of the majority of all Sangguniang Bayan members subject to civil service law, rules and regulations. Per records, the appointment of petitioner was never submitted to the Sangguniang Bayan for its concurrence or, even if so submitted, no such concurrence was obtained. Such factual finding of quasi-judicial agencies, especially if adopted and affirmed by the CA, is deemed final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal by this Court. This Court is not a trier of facts and generally, does not weigh anew evidence already passed upon by 1
the CA. Absent a showing that this case falls under any of the exceptions to this general rule, this Court will refrain from disturbing the findings of fact of the tribunals below. Moreover, we agree with the ruling of the CA that the verbal concurrence allegedly given by the Sanggunian, as postulated by the petitioner, is not the concurrence required and envisioned under R.A. No. 7160. The Sanggunian, as a body, acts through a resolution or an ordinance. Absent such resolution of concurrence, the appointment of petitioner failed to comply with the mandatory requirement of Section 443(a) and (d) of R.A. No. 7160. Without a valid appointment, petitioner acquired no legal title to the Office of Municipal Budget Officer, even if she had served as such for ten years. Accordingly, the CSC has the authority to recall the appointment of the petitioner.
PETRON CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. MAYOR TOBIAS M. TIANGCO, AND MUNICIPAL TREASURER MANUEL T. ENRIQUEZ OF THE MUN. OF NAVOTAS, METRO MANILA, Respondents. [G.R. No. 158881, April 16, 2008]
FACTS: Court records showed that Petron, which maintains a depot or bulk plant at the Navotas Fishport Complex in Navotas, received a letter from respondent Navotas Mayor Tobias Tianco, wherein the firm was assessed taxes covering its sale if diesel from 1997 to 2001. The Navotas City Government demanded payment of P10.2 million representing petron’s deficiency taxes. Petron filed with the Navotas a letter protest to the notice of assessment pursuant to section 195 of the code. It argued that it was exempt from local business taxes in view of article 232 of the implementing rules of the LGC as well as the ruling of the bureau of local government finance of the department of finance. Owing to the denial of its protest, petron filed with the rtc in malabon a complaint for cancellation of assessment for deficiency taxes with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. On May 5, 2003, the RTC in Malabon rendered its decision dismissing Petron’s complaint and ordering the payment of the assessed amount. After 11 days, Petron received a closure order from Tianco, directing it to cease and desist from operating the bulk plant, prompting it to elevate the case to the SC. ISSUE: Whether the local government unit is empowered under the local government code to impose business taxes on persons or entities engaged in the sale of petroleum products. HELD: The power of a municipality to impose business taxes derives from Sec. 143 of the LGC that specifically enumerates several types of business on which it may impose taxes, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, dealers of any article of commerce of whatever nature; those engaged in the export or commerce of essential commodities; retailers; contractors and other independent contractors; banks and financial institutions; and peddlers engaged in the sale of any merchandise or article of commerce. This obviously broad power is further supplemented by Section 143 (h) which authorizes the sanggunian to impose taxes on any other businesses not otherwise specified under Section 143 which the sanggunian concerned may deem proper to tax but that power is not absolute because there is limitation provided under Sec. 133(h) Unless otherwise provided herein, the
exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and Barangays shall not extend to the levy 2
of the following 1. Excise taxes on articles enumerated under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and 2. Taxes, fees or charges on petroleum products” this does not generally bar the imposition
of business taxes on articles burdened by excise taxes under the NIRC, it specifically prohibits local government units from extending the levy of any kind of "taxes, fees or charges on petroleum products." Accordingly, the subject tax assessment is ultra vires and void. Evidently, Section 133 prescribes the limitations on the capacity of local government units to exercise their taxing powers granted by the LGC.
REBECCA A. BARBO, ELEONORA R. DE JESUS, and ANTONIO B. MAGTIBAY, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondent. (G.R. No.
157542 / October 10, 2008)
FACTS: Petitioners are officials of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and designated members of the Interim Board of Directors of the San Fernando Water District (SFWD). On December 4, 1995 and February 12 1996, the LWUA Board of Trustees issued Board Resolution No. 313, Series of 1995 and Board Resolution No. 39, Series of 1996 respectively. These Board Resolutions authorized the Board of Directors of SFWD to receive reimbursable allowances in the form of Representation and Transportation Allowance (RATA), Travel Allowance, and Extraordinary & Miscellaneous Expense (EME); Christmas Bonus; Uniform Allowance; Rice Allowance; Medical and Dental Benefits; and Productivity Incentive Bonus. Pursuant to the said Board Resolutions, petitioners received EME, Rice Allowance, Christmas Bonus, and Productivity Bonus from SFWD during the calendar years starting 1994 until 1996. On June 30, 1997, a Special Audit Team of COA Regional Office No. III at San Fernando, Pampanga audited the financial accounts of SFWD for the period covering January 1, 1994 to July 15, 1996. The COA Special Audit Team disallowed the payment of the above-mentioned benefits and allowances received by petitioners after the same were found to be excessive and contrary to Sections 228, 162 and 163 of the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual (GAAM) and to Civil Service Commission (CSC) Resolution No. 954073 in relation to Section 13 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 198 (Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973) as amended. Thus, petitioners were directed to refund the benefits and allowances subject of the disallowance. The Regional Director, affirmed the Special Audit Team's Notice of Disallowance No. 97-004 (94, 95, 96). COA denied the petition for review and affirmed the ruling of the COA Regional Director as contained in its First Indorsement. The COA stressed that the Directors of local water districts (LWDs) were prohibited from receiving compensation other than per diems and that LWUA Board Resolution Nos. 313 and 39 were contrary to the law which it intended to implement, specifically, Section 13 of PD No. 198, as amended. Citing the case Peralta v. Mathay, the COA declared that the subject bonuses and allowances received by petitioners constituted additional compensation or remuneration. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: ISSUES: 1. Whether or not respondent has jurisdiction to moto propio declare LWUA Board Resolution No. 313 as amended by Resolution 39 to be totally in conflict with Sec 13 of PD 198 as amended. 2. Whether or not Sec. 13 of PD 198 as amended, prohibit petitioners’ entitlement to RATA, EME, BONUSES and OTHER BENEFITS and ALLOWANCES. 3
3. Whether or not Petitioners are liable to settle / refund the disallowed allowances, Bonuses and Other Benefits received by petitioners. HELD: 1. Petitioners contend that the COA lacks jurisdiction to declare whether or not LWUA Board Resolution Nos. 313 and 39 are consistent with Section 13 of PD No. 198, as amended, on matters pertaining to the compensation and "other benefits" of the Directors of the LWD. This is allegedly the function of the courts. The Court has already settled this issue in a myriad of cases. Particularly, in Rodolfo S. de Jesus [Catbalogan Water District] v. COA, the Court upheld the authority and jurisdiction of the COA to rule on the legality of the disbursement of government funds by a water district and declared that such power does not conflict with the jurisdiction of the courts, the DBM, and the LWUA. Citing Section 2, Subdivision D, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution the Court declared that it is the mandate of the COA to audit all government agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations with original charters. Indeed, the Constitution specifically vests in the COA the authority to determine whether government entities comply with laws and regulations in disbursing government funds, and to disallow illegal or irregular disbursements of government funds. This independent constitutional body is tasked to be vigilant and conscientious in safeguarding the proper use of the government's, and ultimately the people's, property. 2. A water district is a government-owned and controlled corporation with a special charter since it is created pursuant to a special law, Presidential Decree 198. It is undeniable that PD 198 expressly prohibits the grant of RATA, EME, and bonuses to members of the board of Water Districts. Section 13 of PD 198, as amended, reads as follows: Compensation. - Each director shall receive a per diem, to be determined by the board, for each meeting of the board actually attended by him, but no director shall receive per diems in any given month in excess of the equivalent of the total per diems of four meetings in any given month. No director shall receive other compensation for services to the district. Any per diem in excess of P50 shall be subject to approval of the Administration. In Baybay Water District v. Commission on Audit, the members of the board of Baybay Water District also questioned the disallowance by the COA of payment of RATA, rice allowance and excessive per diems. The Court ruled that pursuant to PD 198, members of the board of water districts cannot receive allowances and benefits more than those allowed by PD 198. Construing Section 13 of PD 198, in Baybay, the Court declared: xxx Under §13 of this Decree, per diem is precisely intended to be the compensation of members of board of directors of water districts. Indeed, words and phrases in a statute must be given their natural, ordinary, and commonly-accepted meaning, due regard being given to the context in which the words and phrases are used. By specifying the compensation which a director is entitled to receive and by limiting the amount he/she is allowed to receive in a month, and, in the same paragraph, providing "No director shall receive other compensation" than the amount provided for per diems, the law quite clearly indicates that directors of water districts are authorized to receive only the per diem authorized by law and no other compensation or allowance in whatever form. Section 13 of PD 198 is clear enough that it needs no interpretation. It expressly prohibits the grant of compensation other than the payment of per diem, thus pre-empting the exercise of any discretion by water districts in paying other allowances and bonuses.
3. While we sustain the disallowance of the above benefits by respondent COA, however, we find that the SFWD affected personnel who received the above mentioned benefits and privileges acted in good faith under the honest belief that Board Resolution Nos. 313 and 39 authorized such payment. Petitioners here received the additional allowances and bonuses in good faith under the honest belief that LWUA Board Resolution No. 313 authorized such payment. At the time petitioners received the additional allowances and bonuses, the Court had not yet decided Baybay Water District. Petitioners had no knowledge that such payment was without legal basis. Thus, being in good faith, petitioners need not refund the allowances and bonuses they received but disallowed by the COA.
NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION Petitioner, versus PROVINCE OF QUEZON and MUN. OF PAGBILAO Respondent. (G.R. No. 171586 January 25, 2010)
The petitioner National Power Corporation (Napocor) filed the present motion for reconsideration of the Court’s Decision of July 15, 2009, in which we denied Napocor’s claimed real property tax exemptions. For the resolution of the motion, we deem it proper to provide first a background of the case. FACTS: The Province of Quezon assessed Mirant Pagbilao Corporation for unpaid real property taxes in the amount of P1.5 Billion for the machineries located in its power plant in Pagbilao, Quezon. Napocor, which entered into a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Agreement (entitled Energy Conversion Agreement) with Mirant, was furnished a copy of the tax assessment. Napocor (not Mirant) protested the assessment before the Local Board of Assessment Appeals (LBAA), claiming entitlement to the tax exemptions provided under Section 234 of the Local Government Code (LGC), which states: Section 234. Exemptions from Real Property Tax. – The following are exempted from payment of the real property tax: (c) All machineries and equipment that are actually, directly, and exclusively used by local water districts and government-owned or –controlled corporations engaged in the supply and distribution of water and/or generation and transmission of electric power; (e) Machinery and equipment used for pollution control and environmental protection. Assuming that it cannot claim the above tax exemptions, Napocor argued that it is entitled to certain tax privileges, 1. The lower assessment level of 10% under Section 218(d) of the LGC for government-owned and controlled corporations engaged in the generation and transmission of electric power, instead of the 80% assessment level for commercial properties imposed in the assessment letter; and 2. An allowance for depreciation of the subject machineries under Section 225 of the LGC. ISSUES: 1. Whether or not NAPOCOR is entitled to claimed tax exemptions and previleges. 5
2. Whether or not the stipulation in the BOT Agreement that authorized the transfer of ownership to Napocor after 25 years giving them sufficient legal interest to protest the tax assessment.. 3. Whether or not its authority to control and supervise the construction and operation of the power plant gives them sufficient legal interest to protest the tax assessment.; 4. Whether or not its obligation to pay for all taxes that may be incurred, as provided in the BOT Agreement gives them sufficient legal interest to protest the tax assessment. HELD: 1. Napocor is not entitled to any of these claimed tax exemptions and privileges on the basis primarily of the defective protest filed by the Napocor. We found that Napocor did not file a valid protest against the realty tax assessment because it did not possess the requisite legal standing. When a taxpayer fails to question the assessment before the LBAA, the assessment becomes final, executory, and demandable, precluding the taxpayer from questioning the correctness of the assessment or from invoking any defense that would reopen the question of its liability on the merits. Under Section 226 of the LGC, any owner or person having legal interest in the property may appeal an assessment for real property taxes to the LBAA. Since Section 250 adopts the same language in enumerating who may pay the tax, we equated those who are liable to pay the tax to the same entities who may protest the tax assessment. A person legally burdened with the obligation to pay for the tax imposed on the property has the legal interest in the property and the personality to protest the tax assessment. 2. The legal interest should be one that is actual and material, direct and immediate, not simply contingent or expectant. 3. We disproved Napocor’s claim of control and supervision under the second argument after reading the full terms of the BOT Agreement, which, contrary to Napocor’s claims, granted Mirant substantial power in the control and supervision of the power plant’s construction and operation. 4. We relied on the Court’s rulings in Baguio v. Busuego and Lim v. Manila. In these cases, the Court essentially declared that contractual assumption of tax liability alone is insufficient to make one liable for taxes. The contractual assumption of tax liability must be supplemented by an interest that the party assuming the liability had on the property; the person from whom payment is sought must have also acquired the beneficial use of the property taxed. In other words, he must have the use and possession of the property – an element that was missing in Napocor’s case. We further stated that the tax liability must be a liability that arises from law, which the local government unit can rightfully and successfully enforce, not the contractual liability that is enforceable only between the parties to the contract. In the present case, the Province of Quezon is a third party to the BOT Agreement and could thus not exact payment from Napocor without violating the principle of relativity of contracts. Corollarily, for reasons of fairness, the local government units cannot be compelled to recognize the protest of a tax assessment from Napocor, an entity against whom it cannot enforce the tax liability. At any rate, even if the Court were to brush aside the issue of legal interest to protest, Napocor could still not successfully claim exemption under Section 234 (c) of the LGC because to be entitled to the exemption under that provision, there must be actual, direct, and exclusive use of machineries. Napocor failed to satisfy these requirements.
GOV. ORLANDO A. FUA, JR., In Representation of the PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SIQUIJOR and all its OFFICIALS and EMPLOYEES,
Petitioners, - versus – The COMMISSION ON AUDIT and ELIZABETH S. ZOSA, Dir. IV, LEGAL and ADJUDICATION OFFICE-LOCAL COMMISSION OF AUDIT, QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES, Respondents. (G.R. No. 175803 December 4, 2009)
This resolves the Petition for Certiorari, under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, praying that the Decision of the Commission on Audit (COA) dated October 19, 2006, denying petitioner's appeal, be declared null and void. FACTS: On November 14, 2003, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Siquijor adopted Resolution No. 2003-247 segregating the sum of P8,600,000.00 as payment for the grant of extra Christmas bonus at P20,000.00 each to all its officials and employees. On the same date, corresponding Appropriation Ordinance No. 029 was passed. Thereafter, Resolution No. 2003-239 was adopted requesting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for an authority to the Provincial Government of Siquijor to grant such bonus. On even date, petitioner wrote a letter to the President reiterating said request. On said letter, the President then wrote a marginal note reading, NO OBJECTION. The provincial government, relying on the aforementioned resolutions and the President’s marginal note, then proceeded to release the extra Christmas bonus to its officials and employees. However, a postaudit was conducted by Ms. Eufemia C. Jaugan, Audit Team Leader (ATL), Province of Siquijor, and thereafter, she issued Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) Nos. 2004-011 and 2004-022, dated June 28, 2004 and October 27, 2004, respectively. In AOM Nos. 2004-011 and 2004-022, Ms. Jaugan questioned the legality of the payment of said bonuses, citing Section 4.1 of Budget Circular No. 2003-7 dated December 5, 2003, limiting the grant of Extra Christmas Bonus to P5,000.00, and Section 325 (a) of the Local Government Code imposing a 55% limitation on Personal Services expenditures. AOM Nos. 2004-011 and 2004-022 were then reviewed by Atty. Roy L. Ursal, Regional Cluster Director, Legal and Adjudication Sector, Commission on Audit Region VII. Atty. Ursal disallowed the payments and issued Notices of Disallowance Nos. 2004-001-100 (2003) L3-05-164-00-018-A and 2004-002100 (2003) L3-05-164-00-019-A, both dated October 28, 2005 in the total amount of P6,345,000.00 on the following grounds: 1. Violation of item 8.0 of Budget Circular No. 2002-A dated November 28, 2002 on the prohibition of any increase in compensation not in accordance with the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) and the grant of other additional incentives, bonuses, cash gifts and similar benefits outside of those authorized in said Circular and Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6686, without the prior approval of the President. The President’s marginal note of “No Objection” cannot be considered an approval; and2. Based on the computation submitted by the Provincial Budget Officer for the Province of Siquijor, Personal Services of the local government unit has exceeded the limitation for Budget Year 2003. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration dated October 28, 2005, but in the 1st Indorsement dated February 1, 2006, the same was denied by the Regional Cluster Director. From said denial, petitioner appealed to the Commission on Audit-Legal and Adjudication Office (COA-LAO-Local), headed by respondent Director IV, Elizabeth S. Zosa. Petitioner raised the issues of (1) whether the President’s marginal note of No Objection on the letter-request of Gov. Orlando B. Fua to grant extra Christmas bonus to the provincial government’s employees should be a ground to lift the disallowance, and (2) whether the Province, in granting the extra Christmas bonus, has complied with the 55% Personal Service limitation under Section 325 of the Local Government Code. 7
On October 19, 2006, the COA-LAO-Local issued a Decision affirming the Regional Cluster Director’s Notice of Disallowance, ISSUE: 1. Whether or not Resolution 2003-247 and Appropriation 029 which gives the Local Government of Siquijor’s employees an extra bonus with the consent of the President is valid. HELD: The petition is doomed to fail. The 1997 Revised Rules of Procedure of the COA states that, Rule VI, Section 1. Who May Appeal and Where to Appeal. – The party aggrieved by a final order or decision of the Director may appeal to the Commission Proper. Rule XI. Section 1. Petition for Certiorari. – Any decision, order or resolution of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty (30) days from receipt of a copy thereof in the manner provided by law, the Rules of Court and these Rules. Clearly, by immediately filing the present petition for certiorari, petitioner failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to him. The general rule is that before a party may seek the intervention of the court, he should first avail himself of all the means afforded him by administrative processes. The issues which administrative agencies are authorized to decide should not be summarily taken from them and submitted to the court without first giving such administrative agency the opportunity to dispose of the same after due deliberation. The non-observance of the doctrine results in the petition having no cause of action, thus, justifying its dismissal. In this case, the necessary consequence of the failure to exhaust administrative remedies is obvious: the disallowance as ruled by the LAO-C has now become final and executory. There is nothing in this case to convince us that it should be considered as an exception to the aforementioned general rule. The issue presented is not a purely legal one. The Commission Proper, which is the tribunal possessing special knowledge, experience and tools to determine technical and intricate matters of fact involved in the conduct of the audit, would still be the best body to determine whether the marginal note of No Objection on petitioner’s letter-request to the President is indeed authentic and tantamount to the required approval. Petitioner having failed to pursue an appeal with the Commission Proper, the Decision issued by the COA-LAO-Local has become final and executory. Consequently, the Decision of the COA-LAO-Local can no longer be altered or modified.
GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, Petitioner, - versus - CITY TREASURER and CITY ASSESSOR of the CITY OF MANILA, Respondents. G.R. No. 186242 December 23, 2009
For review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on pure question of law are the November 15, 2007 Decision and January 7, 2009 Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 49 in Manila, in Civil Case No. 02-104827, a suit to nullify the assessment of real property taxes on certain properties belonging to petitioner Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). FACTS: Petitioner GSIS owns or used to own two (2) parcels of land, one located at Katigbak 25 th St., Bonifacio Drive, Manila, and the other, at Concepcion cor. Arroceros Sts., also in Manila. Title to the Concepcion-Arroceros property was transferred to this Court in 2005 pursuant to Proclamation No. 835 dated April 27, 2005. Both the GSIS and the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila occupy the ConcepcionArroceros property, while the Katigbak property was under lease. 8
The controversy started when the City Treasurer of Manila addressed a letter dated September 13, 2002 to GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia informing him of the unpaid real property taxes due on the aforementioned properties for years 1992 to 2002, broken down as follows: (a) PhP 54,826,599.37 for the Katigbak property; and (b) PhP 48,498,917.01 for the Concepcion-Arroceros property. The letter warned of the inclusion of the subject properties in the scheduled October 30, 2002 public auction of all delinquent properties in Manila should the unpaid taxes remain unsettled before that date. On September 16, 2002, the City Treasurer of Manila issued separate Notices of Realty Tax Delinquency for the subject properties, with the usual warning of seizure and/or sale. On October 8, 2002, GSIS, through its legal counsel, wrote back emphasizing the GSIS’ exemption from all kinds of taxes, including realty taxes, under Republic Act No. (RA)8291. Two days after, GSIS filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a restraining and injunctive relief before the Manila RTC. In it, GSIS prayed for the nullification of the assessments thus made and that Respondents City of Manila officials are permanently enjoined from proceedings against GSIS’ property. GSIS would later amend its petition to include the fact that: (a) the Katigbak property, covered by TCT Nos. 117685 and 119465 in the name of GSIS, has, since November 1991, been leased to and occupied by the Manila Hotel Corporation (MHC), which has contractually bound itself to pay any realty taxes that may be imposed on the subject property; and (b) the Concepcion-Arroceros property is partly occupied by GSIS and partly occupied by the MeTC of Manila. the RTC dismissed GSIS’ petition
ISSUES: 1. Whether petitioner is exempt from the payment of real property taxes from 1992 to
2002; 2. Whether petitioner is exempt from the payment of real property taxes on the property it leased to a taxable entity; and 3. Whether petitioner’s real properties are exempt from warrants of levy and from tax sale for non-payment of real property taxes. HELD: 1. RA 7160 lifted GSIS tax exemption but under RA 8291 Full tax exemption is re-enacted. Under it, the full tax exemption privilege of GSIS was restored, the operative provision being Sec. 39 thereof, a virtual replication of the earlier quoted Sec. 33 of PD 1146. Sec. 39 of RA 8291 reads: SEC. 39. 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 GSIS shall be preserved and maintained at all times and that 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 GSIS and their employers. Taxes imposed on the GSIS tend to impair the actuarial solvency of its funds and increase the contribution rate necessary to sustain the benefits of this Act. Accordingly, notwithstanding, any laws to the contrary, the GSIS, its assets, revenues including all accruals thereto, and benefits paid, shall be exempt from all taxes, assessments, fees, charges or duties of all kinds. These exemptions shall continue unless expressly and specifically revoked and any assessment against the GSIS as of the approval of this Act are hereby considered paid. Consequently, all laws, ordinances, regulations, issuances, opinions or jurisprudence contrary to or in derogation of this provision are hereby deemed repealed, superseded and rendered ineffective and without legal force and effect. 2. The foregoing notwithstanding, the leased Katigbak property shall be taxable pursuant to the “beneficial use” principle under Sec. 234(a) of the LGC. It is true that said Sec. 234 (a), quoted below, 9
exempts from real estate taxes real property owned by the Republic, unless the beneficial use of the property is, for consideration, transferred to a taxable person. SEC. 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. The provisions allow the Republic to grant the beneficial use of its property to an agency or instrumentality of the national government. Such grant does not necessarily result in the loss of the tax exemption. The tax exemption the property of the Republic or its instrumentality carries ceases only if, as stated in Sec. 234(a) of the LGC of 1991, “beneficial use thereof has been granted, for a consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person.” GSIS, as a government instrumentality, is not a taxable juridical person under Sec. 133(o) of the LGC. GSIS, however, lost in a sense that status with respect to the Katigbak property when it contracted its beneficial use to MHC, doubtless a taxable person. Thus, the real estate tax assessment of PhP 54,826,599.37 covering 1992 to 2002 over the subject Katigbak property is valid insofar as said tax delinquency is concerned as assessed over said property. 3. In light of the foregoing disquisition, the issue of the propriety of the threatened levy of subject properties by the City of Manila to answer for the demanded realty tax deficiency is now moot and academic. A valid tax levy presupposes a corresponding tax liability. Nonetheless, it will not be remiss to note that it is without doubt that the subject GSIS properties are exempt from any attachment, garnishment, execution, levy, or other legal processes. This is the clear import of the third paragraph of Sec. 39, RA 8291. The Court would not be indulging in pure speculative exercise to say that the underlying legislative intent behind the above exempting proviso cannot be other than to isolate GSIS funds and properties from legal processes that will either impair the solvency of its fund or hamper its operation that would ultimately require an increase in the contribution rate necessary to sustain the benefits of the system. Throughout GSIS’ life under three different charters, the need to ensure the solvency of GSIS fund has always been a legislative concern, a concern expressed in the tax-exempting provisions. Thus, even granting arguendo that GSIS’ liability for realty taxes attached from 1992, when RA 7160 effectively lifted its tax exemption under PD 1146, to 1996, when RA 8291 restored the tax incentive, the levy on the subject properties to answer for the assessed realty tax delinquencies cannot still be sustained. The simple reason: The governing law, RA 8291, in force at the time of the levy prohibits it. And in the final analysis, the proscription against the levy extends to the leased Katigbak property, the beneficial use doctrine, notwithstanding.
LEYCANO vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT G.R. No. 154665 February 10, 2006 FACTS: Petitioner Manuel Leycano, Jr. was the Provincial Treasurer of Oriental Mindoro and at the same time a member of the Provincial School Board (PSB) of that province.1 During his tenure, he was appointed 10
by the PSB as a member of its Inspectorate Team which, according to him, had the function of "monitoring the progress of PSB projects." In the year 1995, several checks were issued to various private contractors in connection with the repair, rehabilitation, and construction projects covered by the Special Education Fund (SEF)2 of Oriental Mindoro to several public schools. The Special Audit Team, COA Regional Office No. IV, headed by State Auditor Joselyn Cirujano (the Auditor), subsequently audited selected transactions under the SEF of the Province of Oriental Mindoro, which included those projects covered by the checks issued.The Special Audit Team found deficiencies in the projects, hence, it issued the questioned Notices of Disallowance holding petitioner, liable for signing the Certificates of Inspection relative to the projects and thereby falsely attesting to their 100% completion. Petitioner appealed that he be excluded from those list held liable for the deficiency of the project. Thus the Commission on audit had re-inspected the project but still with the same findings. Therefore the petition was not granted. ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner is held accountable for the deficiency of the said project? HELD: In light of this function of the Inspectorate Team, its members may be held liable by the COA for any irregular expenditure of the SEF if their participation in such irregularity can be established. While petitioner, in his capacity as member of the Inspectorate Team, is not an accountable officer as contemplated in Section 101 of P.D. No. 1445, which states: SEC. 101. Accountable officers; bond requirement. — (1) Every officer of any government agency whose duties permit or require the possession or custody of government funds or property shall be accountable therefore and for the safekeeping thereof in conformity with law. (2) Every accountable officer shall be properly bonded in accordance with law, he may, nonetheless, be held liable by the COA under the broad jurisdiction vested on it by the Constitution "to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government." In addition, the authority of the COA to hold petitioner liable is also implied in its duty to "promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations, including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties." Furthermore, Section 340 of the Local Government Code (LGC) clearly provides: SECTION 340. Persons Accountable for Local Government Funds. — Any officer of the local government unit whose duty permits or requires the possession or custody of local government funds shall be accountable and responsible for the safekeeping thereof in conformity with the provisions of this Title. Other local officers who, though not accountable by the nature of their duties, may likewise be similarly held accountable and responsible for local government funds through their participation in the use or application thereof. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Payment should not be made to a contractor without the prior inspection of the project by the Inspectorate Team, the members thereof who sign the certificate of inspection participate in the use and application of local government funds (in this case, the Special Education Fund of the Province of Oriental Mindoro). Thus, if there is an irregularity in the performance of this duty, they may be held liable for any loss that is incurred by the government as a consequence thereof. In this case, there was such irregularity when petitioner and 11
other members of the Team attested to the 100% completion of the projects notwithstanding their undisputed deficiencies.
MASIKIP vs. CITY OF PASIG
G.R. No. 136349 January 23, 2006
FACTS: Petitioner Lourdes Dela Paz Masikip is the registered owner of a parcel of land with an area of 4,521 square meters located at Pag-Asa, Caniogan, Pasig City, Metro Manila. On January 6, 1994 the City of Pasig notified petitioner of its intention to expropriate a 1,500 square meter portion of her property to be used for the "sports development and recreational activities" of the residents of Barangay Caniogan. This was pursuant to Ordinance No. 42, Series of 1993 enacted by the then Sangguniang Bayan of Pasig. On March 23, 1994, respondent wrote another letter to petitioner, but this time the purpose was allegedly "in line with the program of the Municipal Government to provide land opportunities to deserving poor sectors of our community." Petitioner on her reply said that the intended expropriation of her property is unconstitutional, invalid, and oppressive, as the area of her lot is neither sufficient nor suitable to "provide land opportunities to deserving poor sectors of our community." On February 21, 1995, respondent filed with the trial court a complaint for expropriation. ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent has complied with all the requirement for the exercise of the Power of Eminent Domain. HELD: In the early case of US v. Toribio,7 this Court defined the power of eminent domain as "the right of a government to take and appropriate private property to public use, whenever the public exigency requires it, which can be done only on condition of providing a reasonable compensation therefor." It has also been described as the power of the State or its instrumentalities to take private property for public use and is inseparable from sovereignty and inherent in government.8 The power of eminent domain is lodged in the legislative branch of the government. It delegates the exercise thereof to local government units, other public entities and public utility corporations,9 subject only to Constitutional limitations. Local governments have no inherent power of eminent domain and may exercise it only when expressly authorized by statute.10 Section 19 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160) prescribes the delegation by Congress of the power of eminent domain to local government units and lays down the parameters for its exercise, thus: "SEC. 19. Eminent Domain. – A local government unit may, through its chief executive and acting pursuant to an ordinance, exercise the power of eminent domain for public use, purpose or welfare for the benefit of the poor and the landless, upon payment of just compensation, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws: Provided, however, That, the power of eminent domain may not be exercised unless a valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner and such offer was not accepted: Provided, further, That, the local government unit may immediately take possession of the property upon the filing of expropriation proceedings and upon making a deposit with the proper court of at least fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property based on the current tax declaration of the property to be expropriated: 12
Provided, finally, That, the amount to be paid for expropriated property shall be determined by the proper court, based on the fair market value at the time of the taking of the property." Where the taking by the State of private property is done for the benefit of a small community which seeks to have its own sports and recreational facility, notwithstanding that there is such a recreational facility only a short distance away, such taking cannot be considered to be for public use. Its expropriation is not valid. In this case, the Court defines what constitutes a genuine necessity for public use.
ONG vs. ALEGRE
G.R. No. 163295 January 23, 2006
FACTS: Private respondent Joseph Stanley Alegre (Alegre) and petitioner Francis Ong (Francis) were candidates who filed certificates of candidacy for mayor of San Vicente, Camarines Norte in the May 10, 2004 elections. Francis was then the incumbent mayor. On January 9, 2004, Alegre filed with the COMELEC Provincial Office a Petition to Disqualify, Deny Due Course and Cancel Certificate of Candidacy predicated on the three-consecutive term rule, Francis having, according to Alegre, ran in the May 1995, May 1998, and May 2001 mayoralty elections and have assumed office as mayor and discharged the duties thereof for three (3) consecutive full terms corresponding to those elections. In the May 1998 elections francis was proclaimed mayor of San Vicente by the commelec over allegre. Alegre subsequently filed an election protest where the RTC declared Alegre as the duly elected mayor in that 1998 mayoralty contest, the decision came out only on July 4, 2001, when Francis had fully served the 1998-2001 mayoralty term and was in fact already starting to serve the 2001-2004 term as mayor-elect of the municipality of San Vicente. May 8 after francis was removed from the list of candidates, Francis received a fax machine copy of a resolution sending him posthaste to seek the assistance of his political party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which immediately nominated his older brother, Rommel Ong (Rommel), as substitute candidate. At about 5:05 p.m. of the very same day - which is past the deadline for filing a certificate of candidacy, Rommel filed his own certificate of candidacy for the position of mayor, as substitute candidate for his brother Francis. ISSUE: In G.R. No. 163354, whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied due course to Rommel’s certificate of candidacy in the same mayoralty election as substitute for his brother Francis. whether or not petitioner Francis’s assumption of office as Mayor of San Vicente, Camarines Norte for the mayoralty term 1998 to 2001 should be considered as full service for the purpose of the three-term limit rule. HELD: The three-term limit rule for elective local officials is found in Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, which provides: 13
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. Section 43 Term of Office (b) of the Local Government Code restates the same rule as follows: (b) No local elective official shall serve for more than three consecutive years in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official concerned was elected. For the three-term limit for elective local government officials to apply, two conditions or requisites must concur, to wit: (1) that the official concerned has been elected for three (3) consecutive terms in the same local government post, and (2) that he has fully served three (3) consecutive terms. With the view we take of the case, the disqualifying requisites are present herein, thus effectively barring petitioner Francis from running for mayor of San Vicente. There can be no dispute about petitioner Francis Ong having been duly elected mayor of that municipality in the May 1995 and again in the May 2001 elections and serving the July 1, 1995- June 30, 1998 and the July 1, 2001-June 30, 2004 terms in full. We hold that such assumption of office constitutes, for Francis, "service for the full term", and should be counted as a full term served in contemplation of the three-term limit prescribed by the constitutional and statutory provisions, supra, barring local elective officials from being elected and serving for more than three consecutive term for the same position. In Miranda vs. Abaya that a candidate whose certificate of candidacy has been cancelled or not given due course cannot be substituted by another belonging to the same political party as that of the former, thus: While there is no dispute as to whether or not a nominee of a registered or accredited political party may substitute for a candidate of the same party who had been disqualified for any cause, this does not include those cases where the certificate of candidacy of the person to be substituted had been denied due course and cancelled under Section 78 of the Code. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. While the law enumerated the occasions where a candidate may be validly substituted, there is no mention of the case where a candidate is excluded not only by disqualification but also by denial and cancellation of his certificate of candidacy. Under the foregoing rule, there can be no valid substitution for the latter case, much in the same way that a nuisance candidate whose certificate of candidacy is denied due course and/or cancelled may not be substituted. If the intent of the lawmakers were otherwise, they could have so easily and conveniently included those persons whose certificates of candidacy have been denied due course and/or cancelled under the provisions of Section 78 of the Code. A person without a valid certificate of candidacy cannot be considered a candidate in much the same way as any person who has not filed any certificate of candidacy at all can not, by any stretch of the imagination, be a candidate at all. it can be readily understood why in Bautista [Bautista vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 133840, November 13, 1998] we ruled that a person with a cancelled certificate is no candidate at all. Applying this principle to the case at bar and considering that Section 77 of the Code is clear and unequivocal that only an official candidate of a registered or accredited party may be substituted, there demonstrably cannot be any possible substitution of a person whose certificate of candidacy has been cancelled and denied due course. 14
MALLARI vs. ALSOL
G.R. No. 150866 March 6, 2006
FACTS: Stalls No. 7 and 8 of the Supermarket Section of the Cabanatuan City Public Market were awarded to and occupied by Abelardo Mallari ("Abelardo"), father of Manuel Mallari ("Manuel") and Rebecca Alsol ("respondent"). Before Abelardo’s death on 16 July 1986, he gave the stalls to Manuel and respondent. Manuel and his wife Millie Mallari ("petitioners") occupied Stall No. 7 while respondent and her husband Zacarias Alsol occupied Stall No. 8. When respondent’s daughter became sick and the Alsol family had to stay in Manila for two months for the medical treatment. But when they returned to Cabanatuan City they found out that petitioners were already occupying Stall No. 8. The partition between Stalls No. 7 and 8 had been removed and respondent’s merchandise and things were already gone. Petitioners refused respondent’s demand to vacate Stall No. 8. Respondent sought the help of the City Market Committee ("Committee"). On 5 May 1989, the Committee passed Kapasiyahan Blg. 1, s-1989 granting Stall No. 7 to Manuel and Stall No. 8 to respondent. On 4 June 1990, respondent and the City Government of Cabanatuan ("City Government"), represented by City Mayor Honorato C. Perez ("Mayor Perez"), executed a Contract of Lease ("Lease Contract"). The Lease Contract granted respondent the right to occupy Stall No. 8 for a monthly rental of P316 subject to increase or decrease in accordance with the rules and ordinances of the City Government. However, petitioners still refused to vacate Stall No. 8. Instead, they filed an action for annulment of the Lease Contract before the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 ("Branch 29"). On 17 October 1990, respondent filed an action for recovery and possession before the trial court. On 8 November 1995, the trial court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads: ISSUE: Whether the Lease Contract executed between respondent and the City Government is valid. HELD: Section 171(2), Article One, Chapter 3 of BP 337, enumerates the powers and duties of the city mayor. On the other hand, the powers and duties of the city treasurer are enumerated under Section 181(4), Article Five, Chapter 3 of BP 337. Applying BP 337, there is nothing in the powers and functions of the city treasurer that gives the city treasurer authority to sign contracts for the city government. Instead, Paragraph (g), Section 171(2), Article One, Chapter 3 of BP 337 clearly provides that the city mayor shall represent the city in its business transactions and sign contracts of the city. Hence, Mayor Perez has the authority to sign the Lease Contract on behalf of the City Government. Even under the Revenue Code of Cabanatuan City of 1974, the authority of the city treasurer is limited to direct and immediate supervision, administration and control over the Cabanatuan public markets and its personnel. The city treasurer has the authority to designate spaces and stalls to vendors, but the authority does not include signing of contracts on behalf of the City Government. Notarization converts a private document into a public document. However, the non-appearance of the parties before the notary public who notarized the document does not necessarily nullify nor render the parties’ transaction void ab initio. Thus: 15
x x x Article 1358 of the New Civil Code on the necessity of a public document is only for convenience, not for validity or enforceability. Failure to follow the proper form does not invalidate a contract. Where a contract is not in the form prescribed by law, the parties can merely compel each other to observe that form, once the contract has been perfected. This is consistent with the basic principle that contracts are obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all essential requisites are present. Hence, the Lease Contract is valid despite Mayor Perez’s failure to appear before the notary public.
CITY GOVERNMENT OF QUEZON CITY vs. BAYAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
G.R. No. 162015 March 6, 2006
FACTS: Respondent Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. (Bayantel) is a legislative franchise holder under Republic Act (Rep. Act) No. 3259 to establish and operate radio stations for domestic telecommunications, radiophone, broadcasting and telecasting. A tax provision of Rep. Act No. 3259, embodied in Section 14 provides that: Sec. 14. (a) The grantee shall be liable to pay the same taxes on its real estate, buildings and personal property, exclusive of the franchise, as other persons or corporations are now or hereafter may be required by law to pay. (b) The grantee shall further pay to the Treasurer of the Philippines each year, within ten days after the audit and approval of the accounts as prescribed in this Act, one and one-half per centum of all gross receipts from the business transacted under this franchise by the said grantee (Emphasis supplied). On January 1, 1992, Rep. Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the "Local Government Code of 1991" (LGC), took effect. Section 232 of the Code grants local government units within the Metro Manila Area the power to levy tax on real properties, thus: SEC. 232. – Power to Levy Real Property Tax. – A province or city or a municipality within the Metropolitan Manila Area may levy an annual ad valorem tax on real property such as land, building, machinery and other improvements not hereinafter specifically exempted. On July 20, 1992, barely few months after the LGC took effect, Congress enacted Rep. Act No. 7633, amending Bayantel’s original franchise. The amendatory law (Rep. Act No. 7633) contained the following tax provision: SEC. 11. The grantee, its successors or assigns shall be liable to pay the same taxes on their real estate, buildings and personal property, exclusive of this franchise, as other persons or corporations are now or hereafter may be required by law to pay. In addition thereto, the grantee, its successors or assigns shall pay a franchise tax equivalent to three percent (3%) of all gross receipts of the telephone or other telecommunications businesses transacted under this franchise by the grantee, its successors or assigns and the said percentage shall be in lieu of all taxes on this franchise or earnings thereof. Provided, That the grantee, its successors or assigns shall continue to be liable for income taxes payable under Title II of the National Internal Revenue Code …. 16
It is undisputed that within the territorial boundary of Quezon City, Bayantel owned several real properties on which it maintained various telecommunications facilities. These real properties are covered by tax declarations. On January 7, 1999, Bayantel wrote the office of the City Assessor seeking the exclusion of its real properties in the city from the roll of taxable real properties. With its request having been denied, Bayantel interposed an appeal with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals (LBAA). And, evidently on its firm belief of its exempt status, Bayantel did not pay the real property taxes assessed against it by the Quezon City government. On account thereof, the Quezon City Treasurer sent out notices of delinquency for the total amount of P43,878,208.18, followed by the issuance of several warrants of levy against Bayantel’s properties preparatory to their sale at a public auction set on July 30, 2002. Threatened with the imminent loss of its properties, Bayantel immediately withdrew its appeal with the LBAA and instead filed with the RTC of Quezon City a petition for prohibition with an urgent application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction. ISSUE: Whether or not Bayantel’s real properties in Quezon City are exempt from real property taxes under its legislative franchise; HELD: Section 14 of Rep. Act No. 3259 effectively works to grant or delegate to local governments of Congress’ inherent power to tax the franchisee’s properties belonging to the second group of properties indicated above, that is, all properties which, "exclusive of this franchise," are not actually and directly used in the pursuit of its franchise. As may be recalled, the taxing power of local governments under both the 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions solely depended upon an enabling law. Absent such enabling law, local government units were without authority to impose and collect taxes on real properties within their respective territorial jurisdictions. While Section 14 of Rep. Act No. 3259 may be validly viewed as an implied delegation of power to tax, the delegation under that provision, as couched, is limited to impositions over properties of the franchisee which are not actually, directly and exclusively used in the pursuit of its franchise. Necessarily, other properties of Bayantel directly used in the pursuit of its business are beyond the pale of the delegated taxing power of local governments. In a very real sense, therefore, real properties of Bayantel, save those exclusive of its franchise, are subject to realty taxes. Ultimately, therefore, the inevitable result was that all realties which are actually, directly and exclusively used in the operation of its franchise are "exempted" from any property tax. Bayantel’s franchise being national in character, the "exemption" thus granted under Section 14 of Rep. Act No. 3259 applies to all its real or personal properties found anywhere within the Philippine archipelago. The power to tax is primarily vested in the Congress; however, in our jurisdiction, it may be exercised by local legislative bodies, no longer merely be virtue of a valid delegation as before, but pursuant to direct authority conferred by Section 5, Article X of the Constitution. Under the latter, the exercise of the power may be subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide which, however, must be consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy. In net effect, the controversy presently before the Court involves, at bottom, a clash between the inherent taxing power of the legislature, which necessarily includes the power to exempt, and the local government’s delegated power to tax under the aegis of the 1987 Constitution. Now to go back to the Quezon City Revenue Code which imposed real estate taxes on all real properties within the city’s territory and removed exemptions theretofore "previously granted to, or presently enjoyed by 17
all persons, whether natural or juridical ….,"12 there can really be no dispute that the power of the Quezon City Government to tax is limited by Section 232 of the LGC which expressly provides that "a province or city or municipality within the Metropolitan Manila Area may levy an annual ad valorem tax on real property such as land, building, machinery, and other improvement not hereinafter specifically exempted." Under this law, the Legislature highlighted its power to thereafter exempt certain realties from the taxing power of local government units. An interpretation denying Congress such power to exempt would reduce the phrase "not hereinafter specifically exempted" as a pure jargon, without meaning whatsoever. Needless to state, such absurd situation is unacceptable. Indeed, the grant of taxing powers to local government units under the Constitution and the LGC does not affect the power of Congress to grant exemptions to certain persons, pursuant to a declared national policy. The legal effect of the constitutional grant to local governments simply means that in interpreting statutory provisions on municipal taxing powers, doubts must be resolved in favor of municipal corporations.
AZUCENA B. DON vs. RAMON H. LACSA
G.R. No. 170810 August 07, 2007
FACTS: A complaint was filed in the Sangguniang Bayan of Juban, Sorsogon for grave threats, oppression, grave misconduct and abuse of authority against Ramon Lacsa, Punong Barangay of Bacolod, Juban, Sorsogon. A special investigation committee, created to investigate the case, found sufficient evidence for the preventive suspension of respondent. Accordingly, a resolution was passed recommending his preventive suspension. Acting on the recommendation, the Mayor slapped a two-month preventive suspension against respondent. On Mar. 07, 2005, the Sangguniang Bayan passed a resolution removing respondent from office. The Mayor issued an executive order implementing the resolution to remove respondent. Twenty one days after receiving the order, Ramon Lacsa filed a petition for certiorari with the RTC of Sorsogon. ISSUE: Whether or not the petition for certiorari is the proper recourse. HELD: No. Respondent should have filed an appeal with the proper body pursuant to Sec. 67 of the Local Government Code. The conditions that would afford respondent to file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court as he did file one before the RTC – that a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law – are not here present.
FIGURACION VS. LIBI
August 7, 2007
FACTS: Galileo Figuracion was the owner of the lot situated in Cebu City. Sometime in 1948, the Cebu City government expropriated Lot and turned the same into a portion of N. Escario Street, connecting the Capitol 18
Building to Gorordo Avenue and U.P. Junior College. Cebu City paid compensated Figuracion and was issued a certificate of title. In Resolution No. 330, dated March 20, 1989, the Cebu City Sangguniang Panlungsod approved the reconveyance to Isagani Figuracion, successor-in-interest of Galileo Figuracion, of an unused portion of the lot. On the basis thereof, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena (Mayor Osmena) executed in favor of Isagani Figuracion a deed of sale over the subject lot for the price of P40,000.00. The Certificate of Title was cancelled in the name of Cebu City then was issued in the name of Isagani Figuracion, and TCT No. 113747, in the name of Cebu City, over the remaining portion of the Upon resurvey over two years later, it was ascertained that the subject lot actually measures 130 sq. m. Accordingly, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cebu City amended Resolution No. 330 by issuing Resolution No. 2345, approving the reconveyance of 130 sq. m. of Lot No. 899-D-2, and Mayor Osmena executed in favor of Isagani Figuracion an amended deed of sale dated January 24, 1992 over said portion for P65,000.00. TCT No. 113746 and TCT No. 113747 were canceled, and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 122369 was issued on September 30, 1992 to Isagani Figuracion. It appearing that herein respondents had been using the subject lot, and refused to vacate it despite demand, petitioners, as successors-in-interest of Isagani Figuracion, filed against respondents a complaint for unlawful detainer. The MTC rendered a decision on June 26, 1995, declaring petitioners entitled to possession of the subject lot and ordering respondents to remove the fence they had constructed. Undaunted, respondents filed against petitioners a complaint for easement, docketed in the RTC as Civil Case No. CEB–21193, praying that they (respondents) be granted a right of way over the subject lot. However, respondents twice amended their complaint to implead Cebu City, and shifted to a different cause of action -- that is, from one for the establishment of an easement of right of way over the subject lot to one for the annulment of a) Resolutions No. 330 and No. 2345, b) the January 24, 1992 deed of sale in favor of Isagani Figuracion, and c) TCT No. 122309, and the payment of damages. ISSUE: Whether or not the respondents has the legal capacity to has the legal capacity to institute a civil action and challenge for reconveyance.
HELD: Respondents sought neither ownership nor possession of the subject lot but only cancellation of the private title of petitioners over the property on the ground that this is part of a public road. Clearly, respondents have no interest in the title or possession of Lot No. 899-D-2-A. Lot No. 899-D-2-A, being part of Lot No. 899-D, which was expropriated by Cebu City for the construction of N. Escario Street, is property of the public domain, the reconveyance of which is subject to strict legal requirements. As a general rule, local roads used for public service are considered public property under the absolute control of Congress; hence, local governments have no authority to control or regulate their use. However, under Section 10, Chapter II of the Local Government Code, Congress delegated to political subdivisions some control of local roads, viz.: Section 21. Closure and Opening of Roads. (a) A local government unit may, pursuant to an ordinance, permanently or temporarily close or open any local road, alley, park, or square falling within its jurisdiction: Provided, however, That in case of permanent closure, such ordinance must be approved by at least two-thirds (2/3) of all the members of the Sanggunian, 19
and when necessary, an adequate substitute for the public facility that is subject to closure is provided. (b) No such way or place or any part thereof shall be permanently closed without making provisions for the maintenance of public safety therein. A property thus permanently withdrawn from public use may be used or conveyed for any purpose for which other real property belonging to the local government unit concerned may be lawfully used or conveyed: Provided, however, That no freedom park shall be closed permanently without provision for its transfer or relocation to a new site. Moreover, through the Revised Charter of Cebu City (Republic Act No. 3857), Congress specifically delegated to said political subdivision the following authority to regulate its city streets. It should be emphasized that in all the foregoing four cases, the government contested the right of the former owners to repurchase the expropriated properties; and the former owners utterly failed to prove, by preponderant evidence, the existence of the right to repurchase said properties. In the present case, there exists no doubt that Cebu City repudiated its right to use the subject lot for other public purpose; and instead, recognized the right of the former owner or his successor-in-interest to repurchase the same. In exercise of its discretion to declare a city street or part thereof abandoned, the Cebu City council unanimously issued Resolutions No. 330 and No. 2345, declaring the subject lot vacant and available for conveyance. Respondents themselves acknowledge that the subject lot was not included in the construction of Escario Street. Through the Resolutions, Cebu City ineluctably recognized the right of petitioners, as successors-ininterest of the former owner, to repurchase the subject lot. The Resolutions, issued by the city government in exercise of its regular and official functions, constitute clear and positive evidence of the intention of Cebu City to return or reconvey to the former owner or his successor-in-interest, by way of sale, the portion of the expropriated property that is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was intended.
METROPOLITAN CEBU WATER DISTRICT vs. ADALA
July 4, 2007
FACTS: Respondent filed on October 24, 2002 an application with the NWRB for the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) to operate and maintain waterworks system in sitios San Vicente, Fatima, and Sambag in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City. At the initial hearing of December 16, 2002 during which respondent submitted proof of compliance with jurisdictional requirements of notice and publication, herein petitioner Metropolitan Cebu Water District, a government-owned and controlled corporation created pursuant to P.D. 198 which took effect upon its issuance by then President Marcos on May 25, 1973, as amended, appeared through its lawyers to oppose the application. While petitioner filed a formal opposition by mail, a copy thereof had not, on December 16, 2002, yet been received by the NWRB, the day of the hearing. Counsel for respondent, who received a copy of 20
petitioner’s Opposition dated December 12, 2002 earlier that morning, volunteered to give a copy thereof to the hearing officer. In its Opposition, petitioner prayed for the denial of respondent’s application on the following grounds: (1) petitioner’s Board of Directors had not consented to the issuance of the franchise applied for, such consent being a mandatory condition pursuant to P.D. 198, (2) the proposed waterworks would interfere with petitioner’s water supply which it has the right to protect, and (3) the water needs of the residents in the subject area was already being well served by petitioner. After hearing and an ocular inspection of the area, the NWRB, by Decision dated September 22, 2003, dismissed petitioner’s Opposition “for lack of merit and/or failure to state the cause of action” and ruled in favor of respondent ISSUE: Whether the term “Franchise” as used in Section 47 of P.D. 198, as amended means a franchise granted by Congress through legislation only or does it also include in its meaning a certificate of convenience issued by the National Water Resources Board for the maintenance of waterworks system or water supply service? HELD: That the legislative authority – in this instance, then President Marcos – intended to delegate its power to issue franchises in the case of water districts is clear from the fact that, pursuant to the procedure outlined in P.D. 198, it no longer plays a direct role in authorizing the formation and maintenance of water districts, it having vested the same to local legislative bodies and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). Nonetheless, while the prohibition in Section 47 of P.D. 198 applies to the issuance of CPCs for the reasons discussed above, the same provision must be deemed void ab initio for being irreconcilable with Article XIV Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution which was ratified on January 17, 1973 – the constitution in force when P.D. 198 was issued on May 25, 1973. Thus, Section 5 of Art. XIV of the 1973 Constitution reads: SECTION 5. No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years. Neither shall any such franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Batasang Pambansa when the public interest so requires. The State shall encourage equity participation in public utilities by the general public. The participation of foreign investors in the governing body of any public utility enterprise shall be limited to their proportionate share in the capital thereof. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) This provision has been substantially reproduced in Article XII Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution, including the prohibition against exclusive franchises. In view of the purposes for which they are established, water districts fall under the term “public utility” as defined in the case of National Power Corporation v. Court of Appeals:
A “public utility” is a business or service engaged in regularly supplying the public with some commodity or service of public consequence such as electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone or telegraph service. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Since Section 47 of P.D. 198, which vests an “exclusive franchise” upon public utilities, is clearly repugnant to Article XIV, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution, it is unconstitutional and may not, therefore, be relied upon by petitioner in support of its opposition against respondent’s application for CPC and the subsequent grant thereof by the NWRB.
MAGNO vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT
August 28, 2007
FACTS: Herein petitioners Gabriel A. Magno, Nieves P. Castro, Emidio S. Morales, Concepcion Y. Aquino and Rodolfo Y. Cervas were members of the Board of Directors of the Mangaldan Water District (MAWAD), Mangaldan, Pangasinan from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 1997, the period covered by the audit in question. The Local Water Utilities Administration, through its Board of Trustees, adopted and approved Resolution No. 313, Series of 1995, as amended by Board Resolution No. 39, Series of 1996 (Resolution No. 313, as amended), entitled Policy Guidelines on Compensation and Other Benefits for the Water District Board of Directors, under which the members of the Water District Board of Directors were granted bonuses, benefits, and allowances. By virtue of the said Resolution, various benefits consisting of rice, uniform, representation, transportation, special financial assistance, bonus, cash gift and productivity/incentive allowances amounting to P303,172.00 were granted by MAWAD to the petitioners. Meanwhile, the Director and Officer-in-Charge of Corporate Audit Office II, COA, sent a Memorandum to the COA General Counsel requesting an Authoritative Opinion regarding the abovementioned Policy Guidelines. In response to the said Memorandum, the COA General Counsel issued Opinion No. 97-015, dated 7 August 1997, stating therein that the payments of compensation and other benefits aside from the allowable per diems to Water District Board of Directors pursuant to Resolution No. 313, as amended, should be disallowed in audit for lack of legal basis, because the same was inconsistent with the provision of Section 13 of Presidential Decree No. 198, as amended, which is the law governing the Local Water Districts. Said Section 13, Presidential Decree No. 198, as amended, specifically provides that: Sec. 13. Compensation. - Each director shall receive a per diem, to be determined by the board, for each meeting of the Board actually attended by him, but no director shall receive per diems in any given month in excess of the equivalent of the total per diem of four meetings in any given month. No director shall receive other compensation for services to the district. Any per diem in excess of P50 shall be subject to approval of the Administration. (Emphasis supplied.) The Director, COA Regional Office No. 1, San Fernando, La Union, then issued a Memorandum, together with a copy of Opinion No. 97-015, addressed to all the General Managers of various Water Districts in Region I for their guidance and information. 22
The COA, through its Auditors -- namely: Elsa H. Ramos-Mapili and Concordia R. Decano from COA Regional Office No. 1, San Fernando, La Union, in their capacity as team leader and member, respectively -- conducted a special audit on the operations of MAWAD for the year 1997. On 19 May 1998, the aforesaid Auditors submitted a Financial Audit Report in the form of Certificate of Settlement and Balances; and appended thereto were Notices of Suspension and Summary of Suspensions, Disallowances and Charges. “Finding No. 9” of the said Financial Audit Report recommended the disallowance of different bonuses, benefits and allowances amounting to P303,172.00, which were granted to the petitioners in violation of aforecited Section 13, Presidential Decree No. 198, as amended. The said disallowance was stated under Notice of Disallowance No. 98-002-000 (97). The petitioners were likewise requested to refund the allowances, bonuses and benefits conferred upon them. Petitioners appealed the aforesaid disallowance to the Director, COA Regional Office No. 1, San Fernando, La Union, asking for the reconsideration of the same, but it was denied. ISSUES: 1. Whether the COA acted with grave abuse of discretion in affirming the Notice of Disallowance against the petitioners, allegedly based on the Opinion of the COA General Counsel. 2. Whether the COA gravely abused its discretion in finding that the petitioners were governed by Republic Act No. 6758, as implemented by DBM CCC No. 10, thus, they were not anymore entitled to the bonuses, allowances and benefits provided for in Resolution No 313, as amended.
HELD: Markworthy is the fact that the decision to impose the subject disallowance was rendered by Auditors Elsa H. Ramos-Mapili and Concordia R. Decano and was affirmed by Atty. Rafael C. Marquez, Director, COA Regional Office No. 1, San Fernando, La Union, obviously convinced that the legal opinion rendered by the then COA General Counsel, Director Raquel R. Habitan, was in order. It must be pointed out that the COA General Counsel is authorized to render opinion or interpret pertinent laws as well as auditing rules and regulations, as a guide to all COA officials/auditors especially on matters within the province of their auditing tasks, as mandated by the Constitution, purposely to see to it that public funds are disbursed pursuant to law. As can be gleaned from the afore-quoted COA Decision, it is crystal clear that its basis for affirming the Notice of Disallowance against the petitioners was Republic Act No. 6758, as implemented by DBM CCC No. 10 and not the Opinion of the COA General Counsel. Oversight Committee states in pertinent part: As the WD Board of Directors’ function is limited to policy-making under Sec. 18 of Presidential Decree 198, as amended, it is the position of the Oversight Committee that said WD Directors are not to be treated as organic personnel, and as such are deemed excluded from the coverage of RA 6758, and that their powers, rights and privileges are governed by the pertinent provisions of PD 198, as amended, not by R.A. 6758 x x x. (Emphasis supplied.) Applying the aforesaid pronouncement of the Court in the case at bar, this Court holds that the petitioners, being members of the MAWAD Board of Directors, are excluded from the coverage of Republic Act No. 6758; thus, it was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COA to affirm the Notice of Disallowance of petitioners’ bonuses, benefits and allowances on the basis of Republic Act No. 6758. 23
Although the Court finds that the COA committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the Notice of Disallowance of petitioners’ bonuses, benefits and allowances by applying Republic Act No. 6758, as implemented by DBM CCC No. 10, the said bonuses, benefits and allowances granted to the petitioners pursuant to LWUA’s Resolution No. 313, as amended, must still be disallowed. It is well-settled that Section 13, Presidential Decree No. 198, as amended, governs the compensation of the members of the Board of Directors of the Local Water Districts; hence, they cannot receive allowances and benefits more than those allowed by the aforesaid law. “No director shall receive other compensation” than the amount provided for per diem, the law quite clearly indicates that the directors of water districts are authorized to receive only the per diem authorized by law and no other compensation or allowance in whatever form.”
SAN JUAN vs. CITY TREASURER OF MARIKINA
FACTS: Romulo D. San Juan (petitioner), registered owner of real properties in Rancho Estate I, Concepcion II, Marikina City covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 160435, 236658, and 233877, with the consent of his wife, conveyed on August 24, 2004, by Deed of Assignment, the properties to the Saints and Angels Realty Corporation (SARC), then under the process of incorporation, in exchange for 258,434 shares of stock therein with a total par value of P2,584,340. On June 24, 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the Articles of Incorporation of SARC . Respondent’s representative thereafter went to the Office of the Marikina City Treasurer to pay the transfer tax based on the consideration stated in the Deed of Assignment. Ricardo L. Castro (respondent), the City Treasurer, informed him, however, that the tax due is based on the fair market value of the property. Petitioner in writing protested the basis of the tax due in reply to which respondent wrote: In reply, we wish to inform you that in cases of transfer of real property not involving monetary consideration, it is certain that the fair market value or zonal value of the property is the basis of the tax rate. As provided for under the Local Government Code, fair market value is defined as the price at which a property may be sold by a seller who is not compelled to sell and bought by the buyer who is not compelled to buy. Hence, the preliminary computation based on the fair market value of the property made by the revenue collector is correct. Petitioner thus filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marikina City a Petition for mandamus and damages against respondent in his capacity as Marikina City Treasurer praying that respondent be compelled to “perform a ministerial duty, that is, to accept the payment of transfer tax based on the actual consideration of the transfer/assignment.” ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner exhaust the available administrative remedies 24
HELD: The respondent did not refuse to accept payment, it is the petitioner that refuses to pay the correct amount of transfer tax. The petitioner did not exhaust the available administrative remedies. Under the Local Government Code, the petitioner should have filed an appeal on the tax assessment and made a payment under protest pending the resolution thereof. The issues raised in the case therein, being matters of facts and law, the petitioner should have availed of the aforesaid relief before resorting to a court action. The subject of this Petition is the performance of a duty which is not ministerial in character. Assessment of tax liabilities or obligations and the corresponding duty to collect the same involves a degree of discretion. It is erroneous to assume that the City Treasurer is powerless to ascertain if the payment of the tax obligation is proper or correct. Pursuant Section 195 of the Local Government Code, a taxpayer who disagrees with a tax assessment made by a local treasurer may file a written protest thereof, and from a denial of the same, either appeal the assessment before the court of competent jurisdiction or pay the tax and then seek a refund. Petitioner did not observe any of these remedies available to him, however. He instead opted to file a petition for mandamus to compel respondent to accept payment of transfer tax as computed by him. Mandamus lies only to compel an officer to perform a ministerial duty (one which is so clear and specific as to leave no room for the exercise of discretion in its performance) but not a discretionary function (one which by its nature requires the exercise of judgment). Respondent’s argument that “[m]andamus cannot lie to compel the City Treasurer to accept as full compliance a tax payment which in his reasoning and assessment is deficient and incorrect” is thus persuasive. Thus, the petition is denied.
PARAYNO vs. JOVELLANOS
495 SCRA 85, July 14, 06
FACTS: Petitioner was the owner of the gasoline station in Calasiao, Pangasinan. In 1989, some residents of Calasiao petitioned the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of said municipality for the closure or transfer of the station to another location. The matter was referred to the Municipal Engineer, Chief of Police, Municipal Health Officer and the Bureau of Fire Protection for investigation. Upon their advice, the SB through Resolution No. 50 recommended to the Mayor the closure or transfer of location of petitioner’s gasoline station. Petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the SB resolution but it was denied. Hence, she filed a special civil action for prohibition and mandamus with the RTC of Dagupan City, against respondents. Petitioner claimed that her gasoline station was not covered by Section 44 of the Civil Zoning Code since it was not a “gasoline service station” governed by Section 21 thereof. She added that the decision of the Housing and the Land Use Regulatory Board (HLRB), in a previous case filed by the same respondent Jovellanos against her predecessor (Denise Parayno), barred the grounds invoked by respondent municipality in Resolution No. 50. In the HLURB case, respondent Jovellanos opposed the establishment of the gas station on the grounds that: (1) it was within the 100-meter prohibited radius under Section 44 and (2) it posed a pernicious effect on the health and safety of the people in Calasiao. The Trial Court ruled that there was no basis for the issuance of writ of preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction. Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the decision but it was denied by the Trial Court. 25
Petitioner elevated the case to the CA via a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, with a prayer for injunctive relief. After the CA dismissed the petition, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. ISSUE: Whether or not respondent municipality validly used it police powers in ordering the closure/transfer of petitioner’s gasoline station? HELD: NO. The zoning ordinance and respondent municipality made a clear distinction between a “gasoline service station” and “gasoline filling station.” What is applied in this case is the legal maxim expressio unius est exclusion alterius which means that the express mention of the thing implies the exclusion of others. Hence, because of the distinct and definite meanings alluded to the two terms by the zoning ordinance, respondent could not insist that “gasoline service station” under Section 44 necessarily included “gasoline filling station” under Section 21. Indeed, the activities undertaken in a “gas service station” did not automatically embraced those in a “gas filling station”. Respondent municipality invalidly used its police powers in ordering the closure/transfer of petitioner’s gasoline station. A local government is considered to have properly exercised its police powers only when the following requisites are met: (1) the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require the interference of the State and (2) the means employed are reasonably necessary for the attainment of the object sought to be accomplished and not unduly oppressive. Respondent municipality failed to comply with the due process clause when it passed Resolution No. 50. While it maintained that the gasoline filling station of the petitioner was less than 100 meters from the nearest public school and church, the records do not show that it even attempted to measure the distance, notwithstanding that such distance was crucial in determining whether there was an actual violation of Section 44. Moreover, petitioner’s business could not be considered a nuisance which respondent municipality could summarily abate in the guise of exercising its police powers. The abatement of a nuisance without judicial proceedings is possible only if is a nuisance per se. A gas station is not a nuisance per se or one affecting the immediate safety of persons and property, hence, it cannot be closed down or transferred summarily to another location.
BELUSO vs. MUNICIPALITY OF PANAY (CAPIZ)
498 SCRA 113, August 7, 06
FACTS: Petitioners Miguel Beluso, et al. are owners of parcels of land in the municipality of Panay, Capiz, covered by Free patents in the name of the owners. On November 8, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of Panay issued a resolution authorizing the municipal government through the mayor to expropriate said parcels. Accordingly, the municipality filed a petition for expropriation in the RTC of Roxas City. 26
Petitioners moved to dismiss the petition alleging that the petition is politically motivated and the land sought to be expropriated will not be devoted to public use but only to benefit certain individuals. Petitioners also questioned the authenticity of the signatures of the supposed beneficiaries in support of the petition. The trial court denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss, ruling that the expropriation is for a public purpose and that the municipality has the right to take the property upon the payment of just compensation. Claiming denial of due process, petitioners’ filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals. They alleged that the trial court declared that the taking is for public purpose without receiving their evidence to show that the taking was politically motivated, and that the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion when it disregarded the affidavits of the persons denying that they signed a petition in support of the expropriation petition. In their memorandum, they added that the expropriation is not based on the municipal ordinance but on a mere resolution, contrary to Section 19 of RA 7160 (Local Government Code) and that there is no valid and definite offer to buy the property as the price offered by the municipality is very low. The Court of appeals found no merit in petitioners’ arguments and dismissed the petition for certiorari. Petitioners filed this review reiterating that the expropriation is invalid because Section 19 RA 7160 provides that a local government may exercise the power of eminent domain only by means of an ordinance. ISSUE: Whether or not the expropriation is invalid as provided under Section 19 of RA 7160 of the Local Government Code? HELD: Eminent domain, which is the power of a sovereign state to appropriate private property to particular uses to promote public welfare, is essentially lodged in the legislature. While such power may be validly delegated to local government units (LGU’s), other public entities and public utilities the exercise of such power by the delegated entities is not absolute. Indeed, LGU’s by themselves have no inherent power of eminent domain. Strictly speaking, the power of eminent domain delegated to an LGU is in reality not imminent but “inferior” since it must conform to the limits imposed by the delegation and thus partakes only of a share eminent domain. The national legislature is still the principal of the LGU’s and the latter cannot go against the principal’s will or modify the same. The Court in no uncertain terms has pronounced that a local government unit cannot authorize an expropriation of private property through a mere resolution of its law making body. R.A No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code expressly requires an ordinance for the purpose and a resolution that merely expresses the sentiment of the municipal counsel will not suffice. A resolution will not suffice for an LGU to be able to expropriate private property. As respondent’s expropriation in this case was based merely on a resolution, such expropriation is merely defective. While the Court is aware of the constitutional policy promoting local autonomy, the court cannot grant judicial sanction to an LGU’s exercise of its delegated power of eminent domain in contravention of the very law giving it such power.
NICART, JR. vs. SANDIGANBAYAN
495 SCRA 73, July 14, 06
FACTS: On November 6, 1966, Luz B. Ty, municipal treasurer of San Policarpo, Eastern Samar, charged municipal mayor with violation of Section 3 (a) and (e) of Republic Act (R.A) No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Petitioner tagged Ty’s accusatory but false allegations as a case of buck-passing, and then proceeded to file a counter charge against Ty for malversation and violation of R.A No. 3019. The Graft Investigating Officer Thaddeus Boiser submitted a resolution recommending the prosecution of petitioner and Ty for Malversation of public Funds. An information was accordingly filed with the Sandiganbayan against both petitioner and Ty. Petitioner moved for a reinvestigation and the Sandiganbayan allowed him to file the necessary motion. Petitioner moved for and obtained a reinvestigation, but the office of the Special Prosecutor denied the motion in an order of March 9, 1999. Petitioner interposed an Urgent Motion to Defer Proceedings with Motion for Leave to File Petition for Review with the OMB, which motion the Sandiganbayan denied in the first assailed Order of July 23, 1999. Pursuant to the assailed Resolution of January 30, 2001, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner’s motion and set a date for arraignment. A little over two weeks later, the Sandiganbayan, acting on the motion filed by the prosecution pursuant to Sec.13 of R.A 301, issued another Resolution dated February 15, 2001, suspending petitioner at that time holding the Vice Mayoralty position from office for ninety days from notice. ISSUE: Whether or not the 90-day preventive suspension imposed upon petitioner was valid? HELD: The Anti-graft court ordered the petitioner’s suspension on the basis of Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019, malversation of public funds being an offense involving fraud against government funds and is clearly included among the crimes contemplated under said section. Be that as it may and given the presumptive validity of the information in question, petitioner’s urging for the Court to strike down the suspension order cannot be granted. A 90-day preventive suspension imposed by the Sandiganbayan on a local elective official instead of the maximum 60 days prescribed by Section 63 of the Local Government Code is not flawed where the same was based on Section 13 of R.A No. 3019.
MORENO vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
498 SCRA 547, AUGUST 10, 06
FACTS: Norma L. Mejes filed a petition to disqualify Urbano M. Moreno from running for Punong Barangayon on the ground that the latter was convicted by final judgment of the crime of Arbitrary Detention and was sentenced to suffer imprisonment at Four (4) Months and One (1) Day to Two (2) Years and Four (4) Months by the Regional Trial Court. 28
Moreno alleged that following the case of Baclayon vs. Mutia, the imposition of the sentence of imprisonment, as well as the accessory penalties, was thereby suspended. Citing Sec. 16 of the Probation Law of 1976 (Probation Law), the order of the Trial Court dated December 18, 2000 allegedly terminated his probation and restored to him all the civil rights he lost as a result of the conviction, including the right to vote and be voted for on July 15, 2002 elections. The case was forwarded to the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Samar for preliminary hearing. After due proceedings, the Investigating Officer recommended that Moreno be disqualified from running for Punong Barangay. The Comelec First Division adopted this recommendation. The Comelec en banc held that Sec. 40(a) of the Local Government Code provides that those sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence, are disqualified from running for any elective local position. Further, the Comelec en banc held that the provisions of the Local Government Code take precedence over the case of Baclayon v. Mutia cited by Moreno and the Probation Law because it is a much later enactment and a special law setting forth the qualifications and disqualifications of elective officials. On behalf of Comelec, the Office of Solicitor General argues that this Court in Dela Torre v. Comelec definitely settled a similar controversy by ruling that conviction for an offense involving moral turpitude stands even if the candidate was granted probation. The disqualification under Sec. 40(a) of the Local Government Code subsists and remains totally unaffected notwithstanding the grants of probation. Moreno argued that Dela Torre v. Comelec involves a conviction for violation of Anti-Fencing Law, an offense involving moral turpitude covered by the first part of Sec. 40 (a) of the Local Government Code. Dela Torre applied for probation nearly four (4) years after his conviction and only after appealing his conviction, such that he could not have been eligible for probation under the law. In contrast Moreno alleges that he applied for and was granted probation within the period specified therefor. He never served a day of his sentence as a result. Hence, the disqualification under Sec. 40 (a) of the Local Government Code does not apply to him.
ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner Moreno’s sentence was in fact served in order that the phrase “within 2 years after serving sentence” found in Sec. 40 (a), Local Government Code applies? HELD: The resolution of the present controversy depends on the application of the phrase “within 2 years after serving sentence” found in Sec. 40 (a), Local Government Code, which reads: Sec. 40. Disqualifications. – The following person is disqualified from running for any elective local position: (a) Those sentenced with final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence But the question of whether Arbitrary Detention is a crime involving moral turpitude was never raised in the petition for disqualification because the ground relied upon by Norma Mejes, and which the Comelec used in its assailed resolutions, is his alleged disqualification from running for a local elective office within 29
two (2) years from his discharge from probation after having been convicted by final judgment for an offense punishable by four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (40 months. In this sense, Dela Torre v. Comelec is not applicable. The phrase “within two (2) years after serving sentence” should have been interpreted and understood to apply both to those who have been sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude and to those who have been sentenced by final judgment for the same offense punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment. The placing of the comma (,) in the provision means that the phrase modifies both parts of Sec. 40 (a) of the Local Government Code. Further, it should be mentioned that the present Local Government Code was enacted in 1991, some seven (7) years after Baclayon v. Mutia was decided. When the legislature approved the enumerated disqualifications under sec. 40 (a) of the Local Government Code, it is presumed to have knowledge of the ruling in Baclayon v. Mutia on the effect of probation on the disqualification from holding public office. While the Local Government Code is a later law which sets forth the disqualifications of local elective officials, the Probation Law is a special legislation which applies only to probationers. In construing Sec. 40(a) of the Local Government Code in a way the broadens the scope of the disqualification to include Moreno, the Comelec committed an error. The Court rule that Moreno was not disqualified to run for Punong Barangay.
ROBLE ARRASTRE vs. VILLAFLOR
499 SCRA 434, AUGUST 22, 06
FACTS: For the years 1992 and 1993, petitioner Roble Arrastre, Inc., a cargo handling service operator, was granted Business Permits No. 349 and 276 by respondent Altragracia Villaflor as Municipal Mayor of Hilongos, Leyteto provide and render arrastre and stevedoring services at the Municipal Port of Hilongos, Leyte. On December 1993, pending final consideration of petitioner’s final application for renewal with the PPA Office, Manila, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) through its Port Manager Salvador Reyna of the Tacloban Port Managers Office issued a 90- day hold-over authority to petitioner. Stated therein was the proviso that notwithstanding the 90-day period aforementioned, the authority shall be deemed ipso factor revoked if an earlier permit/contract for cargo handling services is granted or sooner withdrawn or cancelled for cause pursuant to PPA Administrative Order No. 10-81. On January 1994, while the 90-day hold-over authority was in effect, petitioner filed with respondent mayor an application for the renewal of its Business Permit no. 276. However, the same was denied. Petitioner filed with RTC, a petition for Mandamus with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction against respondent mayor. The petitioner argued that the source of power of the municipal mayor to issue licences is Section 444 (b) (3) (iv) of Republic Act. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which is merely for the purpose of the revenue generation and not regulation, hence, the municipal mayor has no discretion to refuse the issuance of a business license following the applicant’s payment or satisfaction of the proper license fees. Respondent mayor cited Municipal Resolution No. 93-27, passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Hilongos, Leyte on March 1993, which prohibits any party which likewise operates shipping lines plying the route of Cebu to Hilongos and vice versa, from engaging in arrastre and stevedoring services at the Port of 30
Hilongos. Respondent mayor asserted that the petitioner is owned and operated by Roble Shipping Lines, a shipping company that operates along the routes specified in the Resolution No. 93-27; hence, effectively rendering petitioner disqualified from operating an arrastre service therein. The RTC opined that the PPA has the sole authority to grant permits in the operation of cargo handling services in the Philippine ports, whether public or private. It ruled that the refusal of respondent mayor to approve petitioner’s application for renewal of the business permit was not based on law nor upon her discretion. The CA ruled that the pursuit of the duty of respondent mayor under Section 444 (b) (3) (iv) of the Local Government Code necessarily entails of the exercise of official discretion.
ISSUE: Whether or not the municipal mayor has the power to issue licences and permits and suspend or revoke the same under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code? HELD: Central to the resolution of the case at bar is a reading of section 444 (b) (3) (iv) of the Local Government Code of 1991, which provides, thus: Section 444. The Chief Executive: Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (b) For efficient, effective, and economical governance the purpose of which is the general welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code, the Municipal mayor shall: xxxx (3) Initiate and maximize the generation of resources and revenues, and apply the same to the implementation of development plans, program objective and priorities as provided for under Section 18 of this Code, particularly those resources and revenues programmed for agro-industrial development and country-wide growth and progress, and relative thereto, shall: xxxx (iv) Issue licences permits and suspend or revoke the same for any violation of the conditions upon which said licences or permits had been issued, pursuant to law or ordinance. As Section 444 (b) (3) (iv) so states, the municipal mayor to issue licences is pursuant to Section 16 of the Local Government Code of 1991. Section 16, known as the general welfare clause, encapsulates the delegated power to local governments. Local government units exercise police power through there respective legislative bodies. Evidently, the Local Government Code of 1991 is unequivocal that the municipal mayor has the power to issue licences and permits and to suspend or revoke the same for any violation of the conditions upon which said licences or permits has been issued, pursuant to law or ordinance. Section 444 (b) (3) (iv) of the Local Government Code of 1991, whereby the power of the respondent mayor to issue license and permits is circumscribed, is a manifestation of the delegated police power of a municipal corporation. Necessarily, the exercise thereof cannot be deemed ministerial. As to the question of whether the power is validly exercised, the matter is within the province of a writ of certiorari, but certainly, not of mandamus. The proper action is certiorari to determine whether grave abuse of discretion had been committed on the part of respondent mayor in the refusal to grant petitioner’s application. Petitioner’s petition for mandamus is incompetent against respondent mayor’s discretionary power. 31
The petition is denied. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals.
Sema vs. Commission on Elections and Dilangalen
G.R. No. 177597; July 16, 2008
FACTS: 1. On August 28, 2006, the ARMM Regional Assembly, exercising its power to create provinces under Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 9054, enacted Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 (MMA Act 201) which created the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Accordingly, this province was composed of nine municipalities and Cotabato City which were originally in the first district of the Province of Maguindanao. Later, three new municipalities were added to the composition of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, the Province of Maguindanao was composed of the municipalities constituting its second legislative district. 2. The voters of Maguindanao ratified the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan in a plebiscite. 3. On February 06, 2007, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City passed Resolution No. 3999 requesting the COMELEC to “clarify the status of Cotabato City in view of the conversion of the First District of Maguindanao into a regular province” under MMA Act 201. 4. To answer the city’s query, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7902 “maintaining the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao.” 5. Sema, who was a congressional candidate in the May 14, 2007 for “Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City,” prayed for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 and the exclusion from canvassing of the votes cast in Cotabato City for that office. She contended that Shariff Kabunsuan is entitled to one representative in Congress under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, Sema asserted that the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing Resolution No. 7902 which maintained the status quo in Maguindanao’s first legislative district despite the COMELEC’s earlier directive in Resolution No. 7845 designating Cotabato City as the lone component of Maguindanao’s reapportioned first legislative district. She further claimed that COMELEC usurped Congress’ power to create or reapportion legislative districts in issuing Resolution No. 7902. 6. Respondent Dilangalen countered that Sema was stopped from questioning Resolution No. 7902 because in her certificate of candidacy, Sema indicated that she was seeking election as representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan including Cotabato City.” He added that the said resolution was constitutional because it did not apportion a legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan or reapportion the legislative districts in Maguindanao but merely renamed Maguindanao’s first legislative district. 7. The Court heard the parties in oral arguments on whether Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 9054, was constitutional, and whether a province created under Section 19, Article VI of R.A.
No. 9054 was entitled to one Representative without the need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. 8. Sema contended that Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 9054 was constitutional because it was a valid delegation by Congress to the ARMM of the power to create provinces. 9. Dilangalen claimed that the same statutory provision was unconstitutional because the power to create provinces was not among those granted to the autonomous regions under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution and it contravened the equal protection clause. 10. The COMELEC joined causes with respondent Dilangalen.
ISSUES: 1. Whether Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 9054 delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays, was constitutional. 2. Whether a province created under MMA Act 201, pursuant to Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 9054, was entitled to one Representative without the need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. RULINGS: 1. There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the power to create local government units. However, under its plenary legislative powers, Congress can delegate to local legislative bodies the power to create local government units, subject to reasonable standards and provided no conflict arises with any provision of the Constitution. In fact, Congress has delegated to provincial boards, and city and municipal councils, the power to create barangays within their jurisdiction, subject to compliance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code, and the plebiscite requirement in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. However, under the Local Government Code, only an Act of Congress can create provinces, cities, or municipalities. There is no provision in the Constitution that conflicts with the delegation to regional legislative bodies of the power to create municipalities and barangays, provided Section 10, Article X of the Constitution is followed. However, the creation of provinces and cities is another matter. Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution provides, “Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative” in the House of Representatives. Similarly, Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides, “Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member.” Thus, Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 9054 which granted to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities, was void for being contrary to Section 5, Article VI and Section 20, Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. 2. Section 5 (1), Article VI of the Constitution vests in Congress the power to increase, through a law, the allowable membership in the House of Representatives. Section 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion legislative districts. The power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily includes the
power to create legislative districts out of existing ones. Congress exercises these powers through a law that Congress itself enacts. The allowable membership of the House of Representatives can be increased, and new legislative districts of Congress can be created only through a national law passed by Congress. Clearly, the power to create or reapportion legislative districts cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by Congress itself. Thus, MMA Act 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan was likewise declared void.
League of Cities of the Philippines, et al. vs. Commissions on Elections, et al.
G.R. No. 176951; November 18, 2008
FACTS: 1. During the 11th Congress, a total of 57 municipalities had cityhood bills pending in the legislature. Thirty-three of these bills became laws while the 24 other bills were not acted upon. 2. During the 12th Congress, the legislature enacted into law R.A. No. 9009. This law amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code by increasing the annual income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million. The rationale for the amendment was to restrain, in the words of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, “the mad rush” of municipalities to convert into cities solely to secure a larger share in the Internal Revenue Allotment despite the fact that they are incapable of fiscal independence. 3. After the effectivity of R.A. No. 9009, the House of Representatives adopted Joint Resolution No. 29 which sought to exempt from the P100 million income requirement in R.A. No. 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not approved in the 11th Congress. However, Congress ended without the Senate approving the same resolution. 4. During the 13th Congress, the House of Representatives readopted Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarded it to the Senate for approval. However, the Senate again failed to approve the said resolution. 5. Following the advice of Senator Pimentel, 16 of the 24 municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills. The 16 cityhood bills contained a common provision exempting all the 16 municipalities from the P100 million income requirement in R.A. No. 9009. 6. Congress approved the cityhood bills and the same lapsed into law on various dates from March to July 2007 without the President’s signature. The cityhood laws directed the COMELEC to hold plebiscite to determine whether the voters in each respondent municipality approve of the conversion of their municipality into a city. 7. Petitioners filed the petitions to declare the cityhood laws unconstitutional for violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, as well as for violation of the equal protection clause. Petitioners lamented that the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities will reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment because more cites will share the same amount of internal revenue set aside for all cities under Section 285 of the Local Government Code.
ISSUE: Whether the cityhood laws violate Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
RULING: The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code. The Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress cannot write such criteria in any other law, like the cityhood laws. The criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code govern exclusively the creation of a city. No other law, not even the charter of the city, can govern such creation. The clear intent of the Constitution is to insure that the creation of cities and other political units must follow the same uniform, non-discriminatory criteria found solely in the Local Government Code. Any derogation or deviation from the criteria prescribed in the Code violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. In enacting R.A. No. 9009, Congress did not grant any exemption to respondent municipalities, even though their cityhood bills were pending in Congress when the legislature passed R.A. No. 9009. The cityhood laws, all enacted after the effectivity of R.A. No. 9009, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased income requirement. Such exemption clearly violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and is thus patently unconstitutional. To be valid, such exemption must be written in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. On the other hand, even if the exemption provision in the cityhood laws were written in Section 450 of the Code, as amended by R.A. No. 9009, such exemption would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause. The one-sentence exemption provision contains no classification standards or guidelines differentiating the exempted municipalities from those that are not exempted. To be valid, the classification must be based on substantial distinctions, rationally related to a legitimate government objective which is the purpose of the law, not limited to existing conditions only, and applicable to all similarly situated. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood bill does not affect or determine the level of income of a municipality. Such criterion is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from converting into cities. True, members of Congress discussed exempting respondent municipalities from R.A. No. 9009, as shown by the various deliberations on the matter during the 11th Congress. But Congress did not write this intended exemption in R.A. No. 9009 which Congress could have easily included. Also, Congress is not a continuing body. The unapproved cityhood bills filed during the 11 th Congress became mere scraps of paper upon the adjournment of the 11th Congress. All the hearings and deliberations conducted also became worthless upon the adjournment of the 11th Congress. Hence, these hearings and deliberations cannot be used to interpret bills enacted into law in the 13th or subsequent Congresses.
Department of Agrarian Reform vs. Polo Coconut Plantation Co., Inc., et al.
G.R. No. 168787; September 03, 2008
FACTS: 1. Respondent Polo Coconut Plantation Co., Inc. (PCPCI) sought to convert 280 hectares of its estate into a special economic zone under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). 2. PEZA favorably recommended the conversion of the said estate into an ecozone subject to certain terms and conditions including the submission of “all government clearances, endorsements, and documents required under Rule IV. Section 3 of the Rules and Regulations to Implement R.A. No. 7916. 3. PCPCI applied for the reclassification of its agricultural lands into mixed residential, commercial and industrial lands with the municipal government of Tanjay. Thereafter, the Sangguniang Bayan of Tanjay granted PCPCI’s application through a resolution. 4. When Tanjay became a city, its Sangguniang Panlungsod approved the reclassification of the PCPCI estate as mixed residential, commercial and industrial lands through Resolution No. 16. 5. In 2003, petitioner DAR, through Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Leonidas notified PCPCI that 394.9020 hectares of the PCPCI estate had been placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and would be acquired by the government. Subsequently, a new certificate of title was issued in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. But the same title was later cancelled and another was issued in the name of the petitioners-beneficiaries. 6. On March 30, 2004, PCPCI moved for the reconsideration of the approved land valuation of its estate but such motion was denied. 7. Leonidas informed PCPCI that a relocation survey of the estate would be conducted. PCPCI moved for its suspension but it was denied. 8. PCPCI filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals asserting that the DAR acted with grave abuse of discretion in placing the PCPCI estate under the CARP. It argued that the PCPCI estate should not be subjected to the CARP because Resolution No. 16 had already designated it as mixed residential, commercial and industrial land. 9. The appellate court found that the PCPCI estate was no longer agricultural land when the DAR placed it under the CARP in view of Resolution No. 16. ISSUE: Whether the reclassification of the PCPCI estate under Resolution No. 16 placed it beyond the reach of the CARP. RULING: As held by the Court in Ros vs. DAR, reclassified agricultural lands must undergo the process of conversion in the DAR before they may be used for other purposes. Since the DAR never approved the conversion of the PCPCI estate from agricultural to another use, the land was never placed beyond the scope of the CARP. Although PEZA gave a favorable recommendation, such did not ipso facto change the agricultural nature of the PCPCI estate. PCPCI failed to submit to PEZA a land use conversion clearance from the DAR, thus the proposed ecozone cannot be considered for Presidential Proclamation. In fact, Resolution No. 16 did not exempt PCPCI’s agricultural lands from the CARP. Section 20 of the Local Government Code provides that a city or municipality can reclassify land only through the enactment of an ordinance. In this instance, reclassification was undertaken by mere resolution, thus it was invalid.
Catu vs. Rellosa
A.C. No. 5738; February 19, 2008
Facts: 1. Complainant Catu was a co-owner of a lot and building in Malate, Manila. His mother and brother contested the possession of Elizabeth Diaz-Catu and Antonio Pastor of one of the units in the building. The latter ignored the demands for them to vacate the premises. Thus, a complaint was initiated against them in the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay 723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of Manila where the parties reside. 2. Respondent Rellosa, as punong barangay summoned the parties to conciliation meetings. When the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement, respondent issued a certification for the filing of the appropriate action in court. 3. Thereafter, they filed a complaint for ejectment against Diaz-Catu and Pastor. But respondent Rellosa entered his appearance as counsel for defendants Diaz-Catu and Pastor. 4. Because of this, complainant Catu filed an administrative complaint against respondent Rellosa, claiming that respondent committed an act of impropriety as a lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as counsel for the defendants despite the fact that he presided over the conciliation proceedings between the litigants as punong barangay. 5. When the complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), the body found that the respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713. The IBP-CBD recommended the respondent’s suspension from the practice of law for one month with a stern warning that the commission of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. This was adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors. ISSUE: What law governs the practice of profession of elective local officials? Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 or Section 90 of R.A. No. 7160? RULING: Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 prohibits public officials and employees, during their incumbency, from engaging in the private practice of their profession “unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions.” This is the general law which applies to all public officials and employees. For elective local government officials, Section 90 of R.A. No. 7160 governs. This is a special provision that applies specifically to the practice of profession by elective local officials. As a special law with a definite scope, it constitutes an exception to Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713. Under R.A. No. 7160, while governors, mayors, provincial board members, and councilors are expressly subjected to a total or partial proscription to practice their profession or engage in any occupation, no such interdiction is made on the punong barangay and the members of the sangguniang barangay. Since they are excluded from any prohibition, the presumption is that they are allowed to
practice their profession. And this stands to reason because they are not mandated to serve full time. In fact, the sangguniang barangay is supposed to hold regular sessions only twice a month. Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent Rellosa was not forbidden to practice his profession. However, he should have procured prior permission or authorization from the head of his Department, who is the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, as required by Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules. The failure of respondent to comply with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws. Lawyers are servants of the law, vires legis, men of the law. Their paramount duty to society is to obey the law and promote respect for it. In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission, respondent not only engaged in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated civil service rules, which is a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Hence, he was guilty of professional misconduct and was suspended from the practice of law for six months.
Laceda, Sr. vs. Limena and Commission on Elections
G.R. No. 182867; November 25, 2008
FACTS: 1. Petitioner Laceda, Sr. and private respondent Limena were candidates for Punong Barangay of Barangay Panlayaan, West District, Sorsogon City during the October 2007 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. 2. Limena filed a petition for disqualification and/or declaration as an ineligible candidate against the petitioner before the COMELEC, contending that the petitioner had already served as Punong Barangay for three consecutive terms since 1994, and was thus prohibited from running for the fourth time under Section 2 of R.A. No. 9164 which amended R.A. No. 7160. Limena also attached a certification from the DILG confirming the fact that the petitioner was elected as Punong Barangay during the May 09, 1994, May 12, 1997 and July 15, 2002 Barangay Elections. 3. The petitioner admitted that he served as Punong Barangay of Panlayaan for three consecutive terms. However, he asserted that when he was elected for his first two terms, Sorsogon was still a municipality, and that when he served his third term, the municipality had already been merged with the Municipality of Bacon to form the City of Sorsogon pursuant to R.A. No. 8806. 4. The COMELEC declared the petitioner disqualified and cancelled his certificate of candidacy. The petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. 5. The petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court but the same was dismissed for failure to show grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC. 6. The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration.
ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner’s disqualification was proper. RULING: Section 2 of R.A. No. 9164, like Section 43 of the Local Government Code from which it was taken, is primarily intended to broaden the choices of the electorate of the candidates who will run for office, and to infuse new blood in the political arena by disqualifying officials from running for the same office after a term of nine years. The Court held that for the prohibition to apply, two requisites must concur: (1) that the official concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms in the same local government post, and (2) that he or she has fully served three consecutive terms. In this case, while it is true that under R.A. No. 8806 the Municipalities of Sorsogon and Bacon were merged in order to create the City of Sorsogon as a new political unit, it cannot be said that for the purpose of applying the prohibition in Section 2 of R.A. No. 9164, the office of the Punong Barangay of Panlayaan, Municipality of Sorsogon would now be construed as a different local government post as that of the office of the Punong Barangay of Panlayaan, City of Sorsogon. The territorial jurisdiction of Barangay Panlayaan, City of Sorsogon, is the same as before the conversion. The inhabitants of the barangay are the same. They are the same group of voters who elected the petitioner to be their Punong Barangay for three consecutive terms and over whom the petitioner held power and authority as their Punong Barangay. Moreover, R.A. No. 8806 did not interrupt the petitioner’s term. Hence, the prohibition in Section 2 of R.A. No. 9164 applies to the petitioner.
Manila International Airport Authority vs. City of Pasay, Sangguniang Panglungsod ng Pasay, City Mayor of Pasay, City Treasurer of Pasay, and City Assessor of Pasay
G.R. No. 163072 / April 2, 2009
FACTS: Petitioner Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) operates and administers the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Complex under Executive Order No. 903, otherwise known as the Revised Charter of the Manila International Airport Authority. Under Sections 3 and 22 of EO 903, approximately 600 hectares of land, including the runaways, the airport tower, and other airport buildings, were transferred to MIAA.
MIAA received Final Notices of Real Property Tax delinquency from the City of Pasay for the taxable years 1992 to 2001. The City of Pasay, through its City Treasurer, issued notices of levy and warrants of levy for the NAIA Pasay properties. MIAA received the notices and warrants of levy and thereafter, the City Mayor of Pasay threatened to sell at public auction the NAIA Pasay properties if the delinquent real property taxes remain unpaid. MIAA filed with the CA a petition for prohibition and injunction with prayer for preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order. The petition sought to enjoin the City of Pasay from imposing real property taxes on, levying against and auctioning for public sale the NAIA Pasay properties. The CA dismissed the petition and upheld the power of City of Pasay to impose and collect real property taxes on the NAIA Pasay properties. MIAA filed a motion for reconsideration, which the CA denied. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: Whether or not the NAIA Pasay properties of MIAA are exempt from real property tax? RULING: The Petition is meritorious. In ruling that MIAA is not exempt from paying real property tax, the CA cited Section 193 of the Local Government Code which read: Section 193. Withdrawal of Tax Exemption Privileges. – Unless otherwise provided in this Code, tax exemptions or incentives granted to, or presently enjoyed by all persons, whether natural or juridical, including government-owned or 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 effectivity of this Code. MIAA is not a government-owned or controlled corporation under Section 2(13) of the Introductory Provisions of the Administrative Code which provides: Section 2. General Terms Defined.(13) Government-owned or controlled corporation refers to any agency organized as a stock or nonstock corporation, vested with functions relating to public needs whether government or proprietary in nature, and owned by the Government directly or through its instrumentalities either wholly, or, where applicable as in the case of stock corporations, to the extent of at least 51 % of its capital stock: Provided, that government-owned or controlled corporations may further be categorized by the department of Budget, the Civil service Commission, and the Commission on Audit for the purpose of the exercise and discharge of their respective powers, functions and responsibilities with respect to such corporations A government-owned or controlled corporation must be “organized as a stock or non-stock corporation.” MIAA is not organized as a stock or non-stock corporation. MIAA is not a stock corporation because it has no capital stock divided into shares. MIIA has no stockholders or voting shares. It is also not a non-stock corporation because it has no members. MIAA is a government instrumentality vested with corporate powers to perform efficiently its government functions. MIAA is like any other government instrumentality, the only difference is that MIAA is vested with corporate powers. When the law vests in a government instrumentality corporate powers, the instrumentality does not become a corporation. Unless the government instrumentality is organized as a stock or non-stock corporation, it remains a government instrumentality exercising not only governmental but also corporate powers. Thus, MIAA exercises the governmental powers of eminent domain, police authority and the levying of fees and charges. Thus, MIAA is not a government-owned or controlled corporation but a government instrumentality which is exempt from any kind of tax from the local governments. Indeed, the exercise of the taxing
power of the local government units is subject to the limitations enumerated in Section 133 of the Local Government Code which provides that “Local Government Units have no power to tax instrumentalities of the National Government like MIAA.” Hence, MIAA is not liable to pay real property tax for the NAIA Pasay properties. Furthermore, the airport lands and buildings of MIAA are properties of public dominion intended for public use, and as such are exempt from real property tax under Section 234(a) of the Local Government Code. However, under the same provision, if MIAA leases its real property to a taxable person, the specific property leased becomes subject to real property tax. In this case, only those portions of the NAIA Pasay properties which are leased to taxable persons like private parties are subject to real property tax by the City of Pasay. Wherefore, the petition is granted
BARANGAY SANGALANG, represented by its Chairman DANTE C. MARCELLANA vs. BARANGAY MAGUIHAN, represented by its Chairman ARNULFO VILLAREZ
G.R. No. 159792 / December 23, 2009
FACTS: The controversy has its roots in a barangay jurisdiction dispute between petitioner Barangay Sangalang and respondent Barangay Maguihan, both situated in Lemery, Batangas. Specifically, the properties involved in the controversy are those covered by Tax Declaration Nos. 038-00315, 03800316, and 038-00317. Petitioner claims the lots to be within their territorial jurisdiction, whereas respondent maintains that they are within their territorial boundary. The case was lodged before the Sangguniang Bayan, which referred it to a hearing committee. In turn, the committee formed rendered a report to the effect that the properties in dispute belonged to petitioner. The recommendation was subsequently affirmed in Resolution No. 75-96 passed on November 14, 1996 by the Sangguniang Bayan of Lemery, Batangas. Respondent appealed the decision to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) pursuant to Section 1197 of the Local Government Code, and the same was docketed as Barangay Jurisdiction Dispute No. 1. The RTC rendered a decision ruling in favor of respondent. Upon filing of motion for reconsideration, same was denied by the RTC. Aggrieved, petitioner then filed a Notice of Appeal. Later, petitioner filed an Amended Notice of Appeal. The CA rendered a decision dismissing the appeal. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was, however, denied by the CA in its Resolution. ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT IS CORRECT IN SUBSTITUTING ITS OWN JUDGMENT OVER AND ABOVE THE JUDGMENT OF THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF LEMERY, BATANGAS, WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE LIKEWISE IN DISREGARD OF THE EXISTING AND WELL SETTLED DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT? RULING: As correctly observed by the CA, under Section 118 of the Local Government Code, the jurisdictional responsibility for settlement of boundary disputes between and among local government units is to be lodged before the proper Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan concerned, if it involves two or more barangays in the same city or municipality. Under Section 118(e) of the same
Code, if there is a failure of amicable settlement, the dispute shall be formally tried by the sanggunian concerned and shall decide the same within (60) days from the date of the certification referred to. Section 119 of the Local Government Code also provides that the decision of the sanggunian concerned may be appealed to the RTC having jurisdiction over the area in dispute, within the time and manner prescribed by the Rules of Court. In the case at bar, it is clear that when the case was appealed to the RTC, the latter took cognizance of the case in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, not its original jurisdiction. Hence, any further appeal from the RTC Decision must conform to the provisions of the Rules of Court dealing with said matter. On this score, Section 2, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides: Sec. 2. Modes of appeal. (a) Ordinary appeal. – The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner. (b) Petition for review. - The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review in accordance with Rule 42. Based on the foregoing, it is apparent that petitioner has availed itself of the wrong remedy. Since the RTC tried the case in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, petitioner should have filed a petition for review under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court, instead of an ordinary appeal under Rule 41. The law is clear in this respect. Thus, notwithstanding petitioner’s wrong mode of appeal, the CA should not have so easily dismissed the petition, considering that the parties involved are local government units and that what is involved is the determination of their respective territorial jurisdictions. In the same vein, the CA’s strict reliance on the requirements under Section 13 of Rule 44 of the 1997 Rules of Procedure relating to subject index and page references in an appellant’s brief is, to stress, putting a premium on technicalities. While the purpose of Section 13, Rule 44, is to present to the appellate court in the most helpful light, the factual and legal antecedents of a case on appeal, said rule should not be strictly applied considering that petitioner’s brief before the CA contained only 9 pages, the records of the case consisted only of a few documents and pleadings, and there was no testimonial evidence. This Court is mindful of the fact and takes judicial notice that the Land Management Bureau is manned by geodetic engineers with sufficient expertise and is the cognizant agency of government charged with the responsibility of matters respecting surveys of land. This Court likewise takes into consideration that the duty of the provincial and municipal assessors are primarily assessments of taxes. This Court shares the view of the RTC. It is undisputed that the Land Management Bureau is the principal government agency tasked with the survey of lands, and thus, more weight should be given to the documents relating to its official tasks which are presumed to be done in the ordinary course of business. Between a geodetic engineer and a tax assessor, the conclusion is inevitable that it is the former’s certification as to the location of properties in dispute that is controlling, absent any finding of abuse of discretion. As correctly observed by respondent and the RTC, the duty of provincial and municipal assessors is primarily the assessment of taxes and not the survey of lands.
Lastly, petitioner alludes to a petition/resolution allegedly of persons residing in the properties in dispute to the effect they are under the jurisdiction of petitioner. On this note, this Court agrees with the observation of the RTC that the determination as to whether the properties in dispute are within a certain jurisdiction is not a decision to be made by the populace, to wit: x x x In simple language, the population follows the territory and not vice versa. It is the determination of the ambit and sphere of the land area as culled in the approved barangay map that determines the jurisdiction of the barangay and not the decision of the populace. To allow the latter will open endless litigation concerning disputes of jurisdiction. Wherefore, petition is granted.
LEONORA P. CALANZA, EVA M. AMOREN, GENE P. ROÑO, SANNY C. CALANZA, GREGORIO C. YNCIERTO II & ANGEL M. PUYO vs. PAPER INDUSTRIES CORPORATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, GOOD EARTH MINERAL CORP., EVARISTO NARVAEZ, JR., RICARDO G. SANTIAGO, ROBERTO A. DORMENDO & REYDANDE D. AZUCENA
G.R. No. 146622 / April 24, 2009
FACTS: Petitioners Leonora P. Calanza, Eva M. Amoren, Gene P. Roño, Sanny C. Calanza, Gregorio C. Yncierto II, and Angel M. Puyo filed with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Development Service, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region XI, of Davao City, applications for small-scale mining permits for the purpose of extracting gold. In their applications, petitioners stated that the area where they will conduct mining operations was in the Municipality of Boston, Davao Oriental. The governor of Davao Oriental, Rosalind Y. Lopez, approved the applications and issued six small-scale mining permits in favor of the petitioners. Since the mining areas applied for by petitioners were within the respondent Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines’ (PICOP) logging concession area under Timber License Agreements (TLAs) that covered large tracts of forest lands of the Provinces of Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, petitioners negotiated with PICOP for their entry into the mining site at Barangay Catihan, Municipality of Boston, Davao Oriental. PICOP, through its officer Roberto A. Dormendo, refused petitioners’ entry into the mining area on the grounds that it has the exclusive right of occupation, possession and control over the area being a logging concessionaire thereof; that petitioners’ mining permits are defective since they were issued by the governor of Davao Oriental when in fact the mining area is situated in Barangay Pagtilaan, Municipality of Lingig, Surigao del Sur; and that mining permits cannot be issued over areas covered by forest rights such as TLAs or forest reservations unless their status as such is withdrawn by competent authority. Petitioners filed a Complaint for Injunction with Prayer for the Issuance of a Restraining Order, Damages and Attorney’s Fees against PICOP and its officers before the RTC of Banganga, Davao Oriental, praying that PICOP or its agent be enjoined from preventing and prohibiting them from entering into the mining site. PICOP countered that the RTC of Davao Oriental has no jurisdiction over the complaint of petitioners since the disputed area is situated in the Province of Surigao del Sur. PICOP also claimed
that the issuance of petitioners’ permits were void ab initio since the same violated Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7076, otherwise known as the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, which allegedly prohibits the issuance of mining permits over areas covered by forest rights such as TLAs or forest reservations unless their status as such is withdrawn by the competent authority. The RTC ruled in favor of the petitioners. Respondent PICOP appealed the RTC decision. The CA reversed the RTC decision and dismissed the complaint of the respondents. And upon motion for reconsideration by the petitioners, same was denied by the CA. ISSUE: Whether or not petitioners have no right to enter into and to conduct mining operations within the disputed lands under the infirmed small-scale mining permits? RULING: The petition is not meritorious. There is boundary dispute when a portion or the whole of the territorial area of a Local Government Unit (LGU) is claimed by two or more LGUs. In settling boundary disputes, Section 118 of the 1991 Local Government Code provides: Sec. 118. Jurisdictional Responsibility for Settlement of Boundary Dispute. – Boundary disputes between and among local government units shall, as much as possible, be settled amicably. To this end: (a) Boundary disputes involving two (2) or more barangays in the same city or municipality shall be referred for settlement to the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned. (b) Boundary disputes involving two (2) or more municipalities within the same province shall be referred for settlement to the sangguniang panlalawigan concerned. (c) Boundary disputes involving municipalities or component cities of different provinces shall be jointly referred for settlement to the sanggunians of the provinces concerned. (d) Boundary disputes involving a component city or municipality on the one hand and a highly urbanized city on the other, or two (2) or more highly urbanized cities, shall be jointly referred for settlement to the respective sanggunians of the parties. (e) In the event the sanggunian fails to effect an amicable settlement within sixty (60) days from the date the dispute was referred thereto, it shall issue a certification to that effect. Thereafter, the dispute shall be formally tried by the sanggunian concerned which shall decide the issue within sixty (60) days from the date of the certification referred to above. Under paragraph (c) of Section 118, the settlement of a boundary dispute involving municipalities or component cities of different provinces shall be jointly referred for settlement to the respective sanggunians or the provincial boards of the different provinces involved. Section 119 of the Local Government Code gives a dissatisfied party an avenue to question the decision of the sanggunian to the RTC having jurisdiction over the area, viz: Section 119. Appeal. - Within the time and manner prescribed by the Rules of Court, any party may elevate the decision of the sanggunian concerned to the proper Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the area in dispute x x x. The records of the case reveal that the instant case was initiated by petitioners against respondents predicated on the latter’s refusal to allow the former entry into the disputed mining areas. This is not a case where the sangguniang panlalawigans of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur jointly rendered a decision resolving the boundary dispute of the two provinces and the same decision was elevated to the RTC. Clearly, the RTC cannot exercise appellate jurisdiction over the case since there was no petition that was filed and decided by the sangguniang panlalawigans of Davao Oriental and Surigao
del Sur. Neither can the RTC assume original jurisdiction over the boundary dispute since the Local Government Code allocates such power to the sangguniang panlalawigans of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur. Since the RTC has no original jurisdiction on the boundary dispute between Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur, its decision is a total nullity. We have repeatedly ruled that a judgment rendered by a court without jurisdiction is null and void and may be attacked anytime. It creates no rights and produces no effect. In fact it remains a basic fact in law that the choice of the proper forum is crucial as the decision of a court or tribunal without jurisdiction is a total nullity. A void judgment for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right nor the creator of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. Moreover, petitioners’ small-scale mining permits are legally questionable. Under Presidential Decree No. 1899, applications of small-scale miners are processed with the Director of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau. Pursuant to Republic Act No. 7076, which took effect on 18 July 1991, approval of the applications for mining permits and for mining contracts are vested in the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board. Composed of the DENR representative, a representative from the small-scale mining sector, a representative from the big-scale mining industry and a representative from an environmental group, this body is tasked to approve small-scale mining permits and contracts. In the case under consideration, petitioners filed their small-scale mining permits on 23 August 1991, making them bound by the procedures provided for under the applicable and prevailing statute, Republic Act No. 7076. Instead of processing and obtaining their permits from the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board, petitioners were able to get the same from the governor of Davao del Norte. Considering that the governor is without legal authority to issue said mining permits, the same permits are null and void. Based on the discussions above, the Court of Appeals is correct in finding that petitioners have no right to enter into and to conduct mining operations within the disputed lands under the infirmed small-scale mining permits. Wherefore, the petition is denied.
LAURINIO GOMA & NATALIO UMALE vs. THE CA, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and SANGGUNIAN MEMBER MANUEL G. TORRALBA
G.R. No. 168437 / January 8, 2009
FACTS: On September 24, 1995 in Barangay Cabanban, Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused LAURINIO GOMA and NATALIO A. UMALI, both public officials, being the Barangay Chairman and Barangay Secretary, respectively, taking advantage of their official positions and committing the offense in relation to their office, in connivance and conspiracy with each other, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify a Resolution dated September 24, 1995, an official document, by indicating therein that aforesaid Resolution was passed on motion of Kagawad Renato Dizon, seconded by Kagawad Recaredo C. Dela Cruz and unanimously approved by those present in the meeting held on September 24, 1995 at 2:00 P.M., when in truth and in fact no meeting was held as no quorum was mustered, to the damage and prejudice of public interest. When arraigned, both Laurinio and Natalio, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the above charge. Pre-trial and trial then ensued. After trial, the RTC rendered judgment finding both Laurinio and Natalio guilty as charged. From the RTC decision, Laurinio and Natalio appealed to the CA which affirmed the decision of the Trial Court.
ISSUE: Whether or not Resolution T-95 may be characterized as a public document to bring the case, and render petitioners liable? RULING: The petition is bereft of merit. Under Sec. 19(a) of Rule 132, Revised Rules on Evidence, public documents include "the written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country." Verily, resolutions and ordinances of sanggunians, be they of the sanggunian panlalawigan, panlungsod, bayan, or barangay, come within the pale of the above provision, such issuances being their written official acts in the exercise of their legislative authority. As a matter of common practice, an action appropriating money for some public purpose or creating liability takes the form of an ordinance or resolution. There can be no denying that the public money-disbursing and seemingly genuine Res. T-95, in the preparation of which petitioners, in their official capacity, had a hand, is, in context, a public document in a criminal prosecution for falsification of public document. And it bears to stress that in falsification under Art. 171(2) of the RPC, it is not necessary that there be a genuine document; it is enough that the document fabricated or simulated has the appearance of a true and genuine document or of apparent legal efficacy. The case disposition of the CA and the factual and logical premises holding it together commend themselves for concurrence. Its inculpatory findings on the guilt of petitioners for falsification under Art. 171(2) of the RPC, confirmatory of those of the trial court, are amply supported by the evidence on record, consisting mainly of the testimony of the complaining witnesses and a copy of the subject resolution. Art. 171(2) of the RPC provides as follows: ART. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee; or notary or ecclesiastical minister.—The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: (2) Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. The elements of the crime of falsification of public documents, as above defined and penalized, are: 1. That the offender is a public officer, employee, or notary public. 2. That he takes advantage of his official position. 3. That he falsifies a document by causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding. 4. That such person or persons did not in fact so participate in the proceeding. The first two elements clearly obtain, petitioners, during the period material, being local government elected officials who, by reason of their position, certified, as Natalio did, as to the holding of a
barangay session and falsely attested, as Laurinio did, as to the veracity of a resolution supposedly taken up therein. The other two elements are likewise present. As correctly observed by the CA: x x x [Petitioners] made it appear in the Barangay resolution dated 24 September 1995 that all members of the Sangguniang Barangay deliberated upon and unanimously approved the questioned resolution, when in fact no such deliberation and approval occurred. The non-participation of the members of the Sangguniang Barangay in the passage of the resolution was established by the 15 October 1995 resolution issued by 7 of the 8 members of the Sangguniang Barangay denying that the challenged resolution was passed upon and approved by the council. Wherefore, the instant appeal is denied for lack of merit.
Robert Dizon vs. COMELEC and Marino Morales
G.R. No. 182088 / January 30, 2009
FACTS: Roberto Dizon , hereinafter referred to as petitioner, is a resident and taxpayer of Mabalacat, Pampanga. Marino Morales, hereinafter referred to as respondent, is the incumbent Mayor of the same Municipality. Petitioner alleges respondent was proclaimed as the municipal mayor of Mabalacat Pampanga during 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2004 elections and has fully served the same, hence, he is no longer eligible to run for the same position for the May 14, 2007 elections under Section 43 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which provides that “No local elective official is allowed to serve for more than 3 consecutive terms for the same position.” Respondent on the other hand asserts that he is still eligible and qualified to run because he was not elected for the said position in the 1998 elections. He avers that the Commission en banc in SPA Case No. A-04-058, entitled Atty. Rivera III and Normandick De Guzman vs. Mayor Marino Morales, affirmed the decision of the RTC of Angeles City declaring Anthony Dee as duly elected Mayor of Mabalacat in the 1998 elections. He alleges that his term should be reckoned from 2001 when he was proclaimed winner and that his election in 2004 is only his 2nd term, the 3 term rule is not applicable to him. The Comelec Second Division denied the instant petition to Cancel the Certificate of Candidacy and/or the Disqualification of Marino Morales for lack of merit. Upon Motion for Reconsideration, same was denied by the Comelec en banc and affirmed the Resolution of the Comelec Second Division. ISSUES: 1) Whether or not Respondent Morales did not violate the three-year term limit when he ran and won as Mayor of Mabalacat, Pampanga during the May 14, 2007 election? 2) Whether or not Morales’ fourth term is considered a gap in the latter’s service when he filed his certificate of candidacy for the 2007 elections? 3) Whether or not the fourth term of Morales was interrupted when he “relinquished” his position for one month and 14 days prior to the May 14, 2007 election?
RULINGS: The petition has no merit. Section 43(b) of the Local government Code restated Article X, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution as follows. “No local elective official shall serve for more than (3) consecutive terms in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of service shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official concerned was elected.” For purposes of determining the resulting disqualification brought about by the three-term limit, it is not enough that an individual has served three consecutive terms in an elective office, he must also have been elected to the same position for the same number of times. There should be concurrence of two conditions for the application of the disqualification: (1) that the official concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms in the same local government post and (2) that he has fully served consecutive terms. In the Rivera case, Morales was elected as mayor of Mabalacat for four consecutive terms: 1 July 1995 to 30 June 1998, 1 July 1998 to 30 June 2001, 1 July 2001 to June 30 2004, and 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2007. He was disqualified from his candidacy in the May 2004 elections because of the threeterm limit. Although the trial court previously ruled that Morales’ proclamation for the 1998-2001 term was void, there was no interruption of the continuity of Morales’ service with respect to the 19982001 term because the trial court’s ruling was promulgated only after the expiry of the 1998-2001 term. It served as Morales’ involuntary severance from the office with respect to the 2004-2007 term. Involuntary severance from office for any length of time short of the full term provided by law amounts to an interruption of continuity of service. The decision in the Rivera case was promulgated on 9 May 2007 and was effective immediately. The next day, Morales notified the vice mayor’s office of the said decision. The vice mayor assumed the office of the mayor from 17 May 2007 up to 30 June 2007. The assumption by the vice mayor of the office of the mayor, no matter how short it may seem to Dizon, interrupted Morales’ continuity of service. Thus, Morales did not hold office for the full term of 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2007. Indeed, the period from 17 May 2007 to 30 June 2007 served as a gap for purposes of the three-term limit rule. Wherefore, petition is denied.
Roseller De Guzman vs. COMELEC and Angelina Dela Cruz
FACTS: Petitioner De Guzman and private respondent Angelina Dela Cruz were candidates for vicemayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 elections. Private respondent filed against petitioner a petition for disqualification alleging that petitioner is not a citizen of the Philippines , but an immigrant and resident of the United States of America . In his answer, petitioner admitted that he was a naturalized American. However, he applied for dual citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225, otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003. Upon approval of his application, he took his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on September 6, 2006. He argued that having re-acquired Philippine
citizenship, he is entitled to exercise full civil and political rights. As such, he is qualified to run as vice-mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija. During the May 14, 2007 elections, private respondent won as vice-mayor. Petitioner filed an election protest on grounds of irregularities and massive cheating. The case was filed before the RTC of Guimba, Nueva Ecija and was docketed as Election Protest. Meanwhile, the Comelec First Division rendered its resolution disqualifying petitioner to run as vice-mayor. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was dismissed by the Comelec en banc for having been rendered moot in view of private respondent’s victory. Thereafter, the trial court in Election protest rendered a decision declaring petitioner as the winner for the vice-mayoralty position. Petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari, alleging that the Comelec acted with grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying him for running as vice-mayor because of his failure to renounce his American citizenship, and in dismissing the motion for reconsideration for being moot. He invokes the rulings in Frivaldo vs. Comelec and Mercado vs. Manzano, that the filing by a person with dual citizenship of a certificate of candidacy, containing an oath of allegiance, constituted a renunciation of his foreign citizenship. Moreover, he claims that the Comelec en Banc prematurely dismissed the motion for reconsideration because at that time, there was a pending election protest which was later decided in his favor. Meanwhile, private respondent claims that the passage of R.A. 9225 effectively abandoned the Court’s rulings in Frivaldo and Mercado; that the current law requires a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship; and that petitioner, having failed to renounce his American citizenship, remains a dual citizen and is therefore disqualified from running for an elective public position under Section 40 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. ISSUES: 1) Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in dismissing petitioner’s motion for reconsideration for being moot? 2) Whether or not petitioner is disqualified from running for vice-mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in May 14, 2007 elections for having failed to renounce his American citizenship in accordance with R.A. No. 9225? RULINGS: An issue becomes moot when it ceases to present a justifiable controversy so that a determination thereof would be without practical use and value. In this case, the pendency of petitioner’s election protest assailing the results of the election did not render moot the motion for reconsideration which he filed assailing his disqualification. The resolution of the issue remained relevant because it could significantly affect the outcome of the election protest. Philippine citizenship is an indispensable requirement for holding an elective office. “An elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines .” It bears stressing that the RTC later ruled in favor of petitioner in the election protest and declared him the winner. In view thereof, a definitive ruling on the issue of the petitioner’s citizenship was clearly necessary. Hence, the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration solely on the ground that the same was rendered moot because he lost to private respondent. Anent the second issue, we find that petitioner is disqualified from running for public office in view of his failure to renounce his American citizenship.
R.A. no. 9225 was enacted to allow re-acquisition and retention of the Philippine citizenship for: 1) natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country; and 2) natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of the law, become citizens of a foreign country. The law provides that they are deemed to have reacquired or retained their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance. Petitioner falls under the first category. In the instant case, there is no question that the petitioner re-acquired his Philippine citizenship after taking the oath of allegiance. However, it must be emphasized that R.A. No. 9225 imposes an additional requirement on those who wish to seek elective public office as follows: Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities – Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine Citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions: (2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications for holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath. Contrary to petitioner’s claim, the filing of a certificate of candidacy does not ipso facto amount to a renunciation of his foreign citizenship under R.A. No. 9225. The intent of the legislators was not only for Filipinos reacquiring or retaining their Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 to take their oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, but also to explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship if they wish to run for elective posts in the Philippines. To qualify as a candidate in Philippine elections, Filipinos must only have one citizenship, namely, Philippine citizenship. Petitioner failed to renounce his American citizenship; as such, he is disqualified from running for vice-mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 elections. Wherefore, the petition is dismissed.
Antonio Gunsi Sr. vs. Honorable Commissioners, COMELEC and Datu Israel Sinsuat
FACTS: Private respondent Datu Israel Sinsuat filed a petition for the denial of due course to or cancellation of the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Gunsi in connection with the May 10, 2004 Synchronized National and Local Elections. Essentially, Sinsuat sought the disqualification of Gunsi for Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao alleging that: (a) Gunsi was not a registered voter in the Municipality of South Upi, Maguindanao since he failed to sign his application for registration; (b) Gunsi’s name was inserted illegally in the list of applicants and Voters by Alice Lim, Acting Election Officer of South Upi; and (c) the unsigned application for registration has no legal effect. In refutation, Gunsi asseverated that his failure to sign his application for registration did not affect the validity of his registration, since he possess the qualifications of a voter set forth in Section 116 of the Omnibus Election Code as amended by section 9 of Republic Act 8189. After hearing, the Investigating Officer and Provincial Election Supervisor III, Lintang Bedol, issued a resolution recommending Gunsi’s disqualification to run for Municipal Mayor on the ground
that he is not a registered voter of the municipality. Bedol pointed out that the signature in the application for registration is indispensable for its validity as it is an authentication and affirmation of the data appearing therein. The COMELEC Second Division issued a resolution dismissing the instant petition for being moot and academic considering that Gunsi lost in the election for the position of Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao and the fact that Sinsuat was duly proclaimed as Mayor of South Upi on May 16, 2004. Upon motion for reconsideration of Gunsi, the COMELEC En Banc issued a resolution denying the motion. ISSUES: 1) Whether or not the Honorable Commission has jurisdiction over cases involving the right to vote? 2) Whether or not the Honorable Commission committed serious errors which are tantamount to grave abuse of discretion? 3) Whether or not the Honorable Commission is correct when it disqualified Gunsi to run as Mayor of South Upi for being a non registered resident of the same due to his inadvertent failure to affix his signature over his handwritten name in his application for registration personally filled up, sworn to an administering officer and duly filed with the COMELEC? RULINGS: Gunsi insists that he possessed the qualifications to run for Mayor; specifically, he claims that he was a registered voter at the time he filed his COC. He is adamant that his mere failure to affix his signature to the application for registration, which he accomplished personally before Joel Ellano, COMELEC Administering Officer, did not necessarily invalidate his application for registration. Consequently, he maintains that he is a registered voter, especially considering his name appears in the Registry List of Voters. In all, Gunsi avers that his COC should not have been cancelled; ultimately, he should not have been disqualified from running as Mayor of South Upi, Maguinadanao. We are not convinced. Gunsi’s arguments are annihilated by Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8189, The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, which explicitly provides in pertinent part: Section 10. Registration of Voters. – A qualified voter shall be registered in the permanent list of voters in a precinct of the city or municipality wherein he resides to be able to vote in any election. To register a voter, he shall personally accomplish an application form for registration as prescribed by the Commission in thee (3) copies before the Election Officer on any date during office hours after having acquired the qualification of a voter. xxxThe application for registration shall contain three (3) specimen signatures of the applicant, clear and legible rolled prints of his left and right thumbprints, with four identification size copies of his latest photograph, attached thereto, to be taken at the expense of the Commission. The irregularities surrounding Gunsi’s application for registration eloquently proclaim that he did not comply with the minimum requirements of R.A. No. 8189 which leads to only one conclusion: that Gunsi, not having demonstrated that he duly accomplished an application for registration, is not considered a registered voter. In short, the cancellation of Gunsi’s COC by the COMELEC and his consequent disqualification from running was correct. Wherefore, petition is dismissed.
V.C. Cadangen and Alliance of Civil Servants, Inc vs. COMELEC
FACTS: Petitioner Alliance of Civil servants Inc, represented by its then president, Atty. Sherwin Lopez, filed a petition for registration as a sectoral organization under Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act. It claimed among others, that it had been in existence since December 2004 and it sought to represent past and present government employees in the party-list system. The COMELEC second Division issued an order requiring Civil Servants to file a memorandum that would prove its presence or existence nationwide, track record, financial capability to wage a nationwide campaign, platform of government, officers and membership and compliance with the eight- point guideline laid down by this Court in Ang Bagong Bayani OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC. With its petition for registration pending, Civil Servants also filed a Manifestation of intent to participate in the May 14, 2007 National and Local Elections. However, the COMELEC Second Division issued a resolution denying Civil Servants’ petition for registration. Upon motion for reconsideration, the same was denied by the COMELEC En Banc. ISSUE: 1) Whether or not the COMELEC in denying the petition for registration, gravely abused its discretion? RULING: By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave, as when it is exercised arbitrarily or despotically by reason of passion or personal hostility. The abuse must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty, to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all in contemplation of law. Here, petitioner failed to demonstrate, and neither do we find that the COMELEC, through the questioned issuances, gravely abused its discretion. We note that in the registration of a party, organization or coalition under R.A. No. 7941, the COMELEC may require the submission of any relevant information; and it may refuse, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition based on any of the grounds enumerated in Section 6 thereof, among which is that the organization has declared untruthful statements in its petition. The COMELEC, after evaluating the documents submitted by petitioner, denied the latter’s plea for registration as sectoral party, not on the basis of its failure to prove its nationwide presence, but for its failure to show that it represents and seeks to uplift marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Further, The COMELEC found that petitioner made an untruthful statement in the pleadings and documents it submitted. Wherefore, the petition is dismissed.
Omar “Solitario” Ali vs. COMELEC, The Provincial Board of Canvassers of Lanao del Sur and Mamintal Adiong Jr.
FACTS: Petitioner Omar “Solitario” Ali and Mamintal Adiong were candidates for the position of Governor of the Province of Lanao del Sur during the May 14, 2007 elections. After elections, Adiong was proclaimed the winner. During the canvassing by the PBOC, Ali objected to the inclusion in the canvass of the MCOCs coming from the Municipalities of Picong, Ganassi, Buadiposo-Buntong and Bumbaran of the Province of Lanao del Sur. The PBOC denied all his objections. Ali then filed a consolidated appeal before the COMELEC. Ali filed a Motion to Annul Proclamation with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order before the COMELEC. He also filed a Motion to Correct Manifest Errors in the Certificate of Canvass of Buadiposo-Buntong, alleging that the Municipal Board of Canvassers there padded a total of 600 votes in favor of Adiong. In its resolution, the COMELEC Second Division dismissed Ali’s consolidated appeal and Motion to Correct Manifest Errors in the Certificate of Canvass of Buadiposo-Buntong. It also denied his Motion to Annul Proclamation. Ali filed a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC En Banc and the same was denied. ISSUE: 1) Whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion and/or lack of jurisdiction in dismissing Ali’s consolidated appeal, Motion to Annul Proclamation and Motion to Correct Manifest Errors? RULING: A review of the ruling of the COMELEC Second Division shows that, in resolving the case, the COMELEC examined the records and pertinent election documents as well as assessed the evidence submitted by the parties. The COMELEC meticulously and succinctly discussed the issues pertaining to the certificates of canvass coming from the Municipalities of Picong, Ganassi, Buadiposo-Buntong and Bumbaran in the Province of Lanao del Sur. It cannot, therefore, be faulted for grave abuse of discretion. Moreover, the COMELEC is the specialized agency tasked with the supervision of elections all over the country. Its findings of fact, when supported by substantial evidence are final, non-reviewable and binding upon this Court. The appreciation of cited election documents involves a question of fact best left to the determination if the COMELEC. Worth stressing, this Court is not a trier of facts and it will only step in if there is showing that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion. There being no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC, in our considered view, the petition should be dismissed. Wherefore, the petition is dismissed.
THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION vs. HENRY A. SOJOR
G.R. No. 168766, 22 May 2008
FACTS: Respondent Henry Sojor was appointed by then President Corazon Aquino as president of the Central Visayas Polytechnic College (CVPC) in Dumaguete City. 53
Pursuant to R.A. 8292 or the “Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997” a Board of Trustees (BOT) was formed to act as the governing body in state colleges. The BOT of CVPC appointed Sojor as president with a four-year term beginning September 1998 up to September 2002. Upon the expiration of his first term of office in 2002, he was appointed president of the institution for a second four-year term, expiring on September 24, 2006. On June 25, 2004, CVPC was converted into the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU). A Board of Regents (BOR) succeeded the BOT as its governing body. Meanwhile, three (3) separate administrative cases against Sojor were filed by CVPC faculty members before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Regional Office. Sojor moved to dismiss the first two complaints but was denied. Sojor appealed the actions of the Regional Office to the CSC. However, the CSC dismissed Sojor’s appeal and authorized its Regional Office to proceed with the investigation. Undaunted, he appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA) which ruled in his favor. It annulled the questioned CSC resolutions and permanently enjoined the CSC from proceeding with the administrative investigation. Hence, this petition. ISSUES: 1. Whether or not the CSC has jurisdiction over Sojor, in view of the exclusive grant of R.A. 9299 of the power to administer NORSU to its Board of Regent. 2. Whether or not the assumption by the CSC of jurisdiction over a president of a state university violate academic freedom
RULINGS: 1. Petition Granted. The power of the Board of Regents to Discipline Officials and Employees is Not Exclusive; CSC Has Concurrent Jurisdiction Over a President of a State University Section 4 of R.A. 8292, or the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, under which law Sojor was appointed during the time material to the present case, provides that the school’s governing board shall have the general powers of administration granted to a corporation. In addition, Section 4 of the law grants to the board the power to remove school faculty members, administrative officials, and employees for cause: Measured by the foregoing yardstick, there is no question that administrative power over the school exclusively belongs to its BOR. But does this exclusive administrative power extend to the power to remove its erring employees and officials. In light of the other provisions of R.A. 9299, Sojor’s argument that the BOR has exclusive power to remove its university officials must fail. Section 7 of R.A. 9299 states that the power to remove faculty members, employees, and officials of the university is granted to the Board of Regents “in addition to its general powers of administration.” This provision is essentially a reproduction of Section 4 of its predecessor, R.A. 8292, demonstrating that the intent of the lawmakers did not change even with the enactment of the new law. Verily, the Board of Regents of NORSU has the sole power of administration over the university. But this power is not exclusive in the matter of disciplining and removing its employees and officials. 54
When the law bestows upon a government body the jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving specific matters, it is to be presumed that such jurisdiction is exclusive unless it be proved that another body is likewise vested with the same jurisdiction, in which case, both bodies have concurrent jurisdiction over the matter. All members of the civil service are under the jurisdiction of the CSC, unless otherwise provided by law. Being a non-career civil servant does not remove Sojor from the ambit of the CSC. Career or noncareer, a civil service official or employee is within the jurisdiction of the CSC. 2. Academic Freedom May Not be Invoked When There are Alleged Violations of Civil Service Laws and Rules Certainly, academic institutions and personnel are granted wide latitude of action under the principle of academic freedom. Academic freedom encompasses the freedom to determine who may teach, who may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study. Following that doctrine, this Court has recognized that institutions of higher learning has the freedom to decide for itself the best methods to achieve their aims and objectives, free from outside coercion, except when the welfare of the general public so requires. They have the independence to determine who to accept to study in their school and they cannot be compelled by mandamus to enroll a student. That principle, however, finds no application to the facts of the present case. Contrary to the matters traditionally held to be justified to be within the bounds of academic freedom, the administrative complaints filed against Sojor involve violations of civil service rules. He is facing charges of nepotism, dishonesty, falsification of official documents, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. These are classified as grave offenses under civil service rules, punishable with suspension or even dismissal.
MAGALLANES vs. SUN YAT SEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
G.R. No. 160876 January 18, 2008
FACTS: On May 22, 1994, respondents terminated the services of petitioners. Thus, on August 3, 1994, they filed with the NLRC complaints against respondents for illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages, payment of backwages, 13th month pay, ECOLA, separation pay, moral damages, and attorney’s fees. On June 3, 1995, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision declaring that petitioners were illegally dismissed from the service and ordering respondents to reinstate them to their former or equivalent positions without loss of seniority rights, and to pay them their backwages, salary differential, 13th month pay differential, and service incentive leave benefits "as of June 20, 1995." Respondents were likewise directed to pay petitioners moral and exemplary damages. On appeal by respondents, the NLRC, in its Decision dated February 20, 1996, reversed the Arbiter’s judgment, holding that petitioners are contractual employees and that respondents merely allowed their contracts to lapse. A motion for reconsideration was filed but it was denied.
Petitioners then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari. On October 28, 1999, the Court of Appeals (Special Sixteenth Division) rendered its decision granting the petition. Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the appellate court. Respondents then filed with this Court a petition for certiorari. However, it was dismissed for lack of merit. Their motion for reconsideration was denied with finality by this Court on July 19, 2000. Meanwhile, on October 4, 2000, petitioners filed with the Labor Arbiter a motion for execution of his Decision as modified by the Court of Appeals. In an Order dated January 8, 2001, the Labor Arbiter computed the petitioners’ monetary awards reckoned from the time of their illegal dismissal in June 1994 up to October 29, 1999, pursuant to the Decision of the Court of Appeals. Respondents interposed an appeal to the NLRC contending that the computation should only be up to June 20, 1995. In an Order dated March 30, 2001, the NLRC modified the Labor Arbiter’s computation and ruled that the monetary awards due to petitioners should be computed from June 1994 up to June 20, 1995. ISSUE: Whether the issuance by the NLRC of the Order dated March 30, 2001, amending the amounts of separation pay and backwages, awarded by the Court of Appeals (Sixteenth Division) to petitioners and computed by the Labor Arbiter, is tantamount to grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. RULINGS: We sustain petitioners’ contention that the NLRC, in modifying the award of the Court of Appeals, committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Quasi-judicial agencies have neither business nor power to modify or amend the final and executory Decisions of the appellate courts. Under the principle of immutability of judgments, any alteration or amendment which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is void for lack of jurisdiction.8 We thus rule that the Order dated March 30, 2001 of the NLRC directing that the monetary award should be computed from June 1994, the date petitioners were dismissed from the service, up to June 20, 1995 only, is void.
MEDINA vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT (COA)
G.R. No. 176478 February 4, 2008
FACTS: COA, represented by the state auditors, filed an administrative case docketed before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, charging petitioner with grave misconduct and dishonesty. In a Decision dated 8 November 2004, Deputy Ombudsman Victor C. Fernandez approved the recommendation of the Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer to dismiss petitioner from service based on the existence of substantial evidence of a discrepancy in petitioner's account totaling P4,080,631.36. The said decision noted petitioner's supposed failure to file a counter-affidavit and position paper despite due notice. On 29 November 2004, petitioner filed an urgent motion stating that she complied with the directive to file a counter-affidavit and position paper and praying that the defenses therein be considered in reversing the 8 November 2004 decision. The motion was treated as a motion for reconsideration of the said decision. 56
On 31 January 2005, Deputy Ombudsman Fernandez issued the first assailed Joint Order denying petitioner's urgent motion. Although the order acknowledged the erroneous statement in the 8 November 2004 Decision stating that petitioner failed to submit a counter-affidavit, nevertheless, it affirmed the Resolution and Decision both dated 8 November 2004. Deputy Ombudsman Fernandez ruled that petitioner's CounterAffidavit and Position Paper did not present exculpatory arguments that would negate the allegation of discrepancy on petitioner's accounts. He also held that petitioner's concerns relating to the conduct of the audit should have been raised at the time of the audit or immediately thereafter, and that petitioner's failure to produce the amount of cash shortage despite demand created a presumption that she appropriated public funds under her custody for her own personal use. Petitioner sought reconsideration on grounds of newly discovered and material evidence and grave errors of fact and/or law prejudicial to her own interest. The purported newly discovered evidence consisted of petitioner's request for reconsideration of the audit report filed and still pending before the office of the audit team head, herein respondent Mawak, and letters sent by petitioner's counsel to the provincial auditor of Cavite questioning the audit and requesting a re-audit of petitioner's accounts. In the second assailed Joint Order dated 22 March 2005,12 Deputy Ombudsman Fernandez denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration. He reiterated that petitioner's allegations as regards the incompetence of the audit team and the errors in the audit report were matters which may be properly ventilated during trial. He explained that petitioner failed to produce the missing funds despite notice thereof creating a presumption that the same were appropriated for personal use and for the purpose of preliminary investigation, such findings warranted the filing of criminal charges against petitioner. The deputy ombudsman held that petitioner's belated request for re-audit could not be considered newly discovered evidence and denied the request for a formal investigation on the ground that petitioner was afforded due process when she filed her counteraffidavit and position paper.13 Petitioner elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals via a Petition for Review questioning the denial of her request for a formal investigation, the penalty of dismissal, and the sufficiency of the evidence against her. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition in the assailed Decision dated 23 October 2006. It held that petitioner was not entitled to a formal investigation and it affirmed the deputy ombudsman's factual finding that petitioner was guilty of grave misconduct and dishonesty. The appellate court also denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration in a Resolution dated 30 January 2007. Hence, the instant petition
ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals failed to order a formal reinvestigation, to reopen and review the records of the administrative case, to consider newly discovered evidence attached to petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the deputy ombudsman's Decision and to consider material allegations in the motion for reconsideration of the assailed decision
RULING: Petition Denied. Nothing prevents the Court of Appeals from adopting the factual findings and conclusion of the deputy ombudsman on the ground that the findings and conclusions were based on substantial evidence. Well-settled is the rule that the findings of fact of administrative bodies, if based on substantial evidence, are controlling on the reviewing authority. It is settled that it is not for the appellate court to substitute its own judgment for that of the administrative agency on the sufficiency of the evidence 57
and the credibility of the witnesses. Administrative decisions on matters within their jurisdiction are entitled to respect and can only be set aside on proof of grave abuse of discretion, fraud or error of law.
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs. TORRES
G.R. No. 168309 January 29, 2008
FACTS: The case arose from an administrative complaint for Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, and Falsification of Official Document filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by then Barangay Chairman Romancito L. Santos of Concepcion, Malabon, against Edilberto Torres (Edilberto), Maricar D. Torres (Maricar), and Marian D. Torres (Marian), then Municipal Councilor, Legislative Staff Assistant, and Messenger, respectively, of the Sangguniang Bayan of Malabon. Maricar and Marian are daughters of Edilberto. Maricar was appointed as Legislative Staff Assistant on, while Marian was appointed as Messenger. At the time of their public employment, they were both enrolled as full-time regular college students. During the period subject of this case, they were able to collect their respective salaries by submitting Daily Time Records (DTR) indicating that they reported for work every working day, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After due proceedings, Maricar and Marian has been found administratively guilty of Dishonesty and Falsification of Official Document .The charge against Edilberto was dismissed, having become moot and academic in view of his re-election on May 14, 2001. Aggrieved, Maricar and Marian went to the CA via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. In a Decision dated January 6, 2004, the CA granted the petition. While affirming the findings of fact of the Office of the Ombudsman, the CA set aside the finding of administrative guilt against Maricar and Marian. Petitioner moved to reconsider the reversal of its Decision by the CA, but the motion was denied in the CA Resolution dated May 27, 2005. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: 1. Whether or not the element of damage to the government is not a requisite for one to be held administratively liable for dishonesty and misconduct. 2. Whether or not the element of intent or malice applies to criminal prosecution, not to an offense of dishonesty and misconduct.
RULINGS: The petition is impressed with merit. It must be stressed that this is an administrative case for dishonesty, grave misconduct, and falsification of official document. To sustain a finding of administrative culpability only substantial evidence is required, not overwhelming or preponderant, and very much less than proof beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal cases. Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. 58
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs. COURT OF APPEALS
G.R. No. 159395, 07 May 2008
FACTS: Dr. Minda Virtudes (Dr. Virtudes) charged Dr. Mercedita J. Macabulos (Dr. Macabulos) who was then holding the position of Medical Officer V at the Department of Education, Culture and Sports – National Capital Region (DECS-NCR) or the Chief of the School Health and Nutrition Unit with dishonesty, grave misconduct, oppression, conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service and acts unbecoming a public official in violation of the Civil Service Laws and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Dr. Virtudes alleged that Dr. Macabulos incurred a cash advance of P45,000 and she was required by the latter to produce dental and medical receipts for the liquidation of the cash advance. Taking into account that Dr. Virtudes was not yet assigned at School Health and Nutrition Unit, DECS-NCR, she did not submit the receipts and invoices. Upon failure to submit the receipts, Dr. Macabulos allegedly subjected her to several forms of harassment. Dr. Macabulos denied the accusations and claimed that it was Dr. Antonia Lopez-Dee (Dr. Dee), the Supervising Dentist, who used the money to purchase medical and dental supplies. In support of her claim, she attached an unnotarized affidavit of Dr. Dee admitting said purchase using the cash advance of Dr. Macabulos. Dr. Virtudes asserted that it was Dr. Macabulos who used the cash advance by improperly spending it and that she tried to liquidate the same by submitting a tampered invoice in conformity with the amount of the cash advance. Graft Investigation Officer I Ulysis S. Calumpad rendered a decision absolving Dr. Macabulos from the administrative charge. However, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Margarito P. Gervacio, Jr. disapproved the decision. He found out that Dr. Dee signed an unnotarized affidavit but the contents of the first page were entirely different from the affidavit submitted by Dr. Macabulos in her counter-affidavit. A new memorandum by the Ombudsman was released finding Dr. Macabulos guilty imposing upon her the penalty of dismissal from the government service. Thereafter, Dr. Macabulos filed a motion for consideration before the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA reversed the decision of the Ombudsman ratiocinating that the Ombudsman can no longer investigate the complaint since the acts complained of were committed one year from the filing of the complaint and that the penalty imposed by the Ombudsman is not immediately executory. ISSUES: 1. Whether or not CA’s interpretation of Section 20(5) of Republic Act No. 6670 (The Ombudsman Act of 1989) as a prescriptive period on the Ombudsman administrative disciplinary cases is correct 2. Whether or not the penalty of dismissal from the service meted on the private respondent is immediately executory in accordance with the valid rule of execution pending appeal uniformly observed in administrative disciplinary cases RULINGS: Petition GRANTED. The Court of Appeals should have granted the motion for intervention filed by the Ombudsman. In its decision, the appellate court not only reversed the order of the Ombudsman but also delved into the investigatory power of the Ombudsman. Since the Ombudsman was not impleaded as a party when the case was appealed to the Court of Appeals in accordance with Section 6, Rule 43 of the Rules of 59
Court, the Ombudsman had no other recourse but to move for intervention and reconsideration of the decision in order to prevent the undue restriction of its constitutionally mandated investigatory power. The Court of Appeals held that under Section 20(5) of R.A. 6770, the Ombudsman is already barred by prescription from investigating the complaint since it was filed more than one year from the occurrence of the complained act. The Court found this interpretation by the appellate court unduly restrictive of the duty of the Ombudsman as provided under the Constitution to investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient. The use of the word “may” is ordinarily construed as permissive or directory, indicating that a matter of discretion is involved. Thus, the word “may,” when used in a statute, does not generally suggest compulsion. The use of the word “may” in Section 20(5) of R.A. 6770 indicates that it is within the discretion of the Ombudsman whether to conduct an investigation when a complaint is filed after one year from the occurrence of the complained act or omission. The Court of Appeals held that the order of the Ombudsman imposing the penalty of dismissal is not immediately executory. The Court of Appeals applied the ruling in Lapid v. Court of Appeals, that all other decisions of the Ombudsman which impose penalties that are not enumerated in Section 27 of RA 6770 are neither final nor immediately executory. In all administrative disciplinary cases, orders, directives, or decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari within ten (10) days from receipt of the written notice of the order, directive or decision or denial of the motion for reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The above rules may be amended or modified by the Office of the Ombudsman as the interest of justice may require. On 15 September 2003, A.O. 17 was issued, amending Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman was further amended and now reads: Section 7. Finality and execution of decision. – Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be final, executory and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified petition for review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the written Notice of the Decision or Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration. An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. In case the penalty is suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal. 60
A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course. The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure that the decision shall be strictly enforced and properly implemented. The refusal or failure by any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or censure shall be ground for disciplinary action against said officer. Hence, in the case of In the Matter to Declare in Contempt of Court Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, Secretary of DPWH, the Court noted that Section 7 of A.O. 17 provides for execution of the decisions pending appeal, which provision is similar to Section 47 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. More recently, in the 2007 case of Buencamino v. Court of Appeals, the primary issue was whether the decision of the Ombudsman suspending petitioner therein from office for six months without pay was immediately executory even pending appeal in the Court of Appeals. The Court held that the pertinent ruling in Lapid v. Court of Appeals has already been superseded by the case of In the Matter to Declare in Contempt of Court Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, Secretary of DPWH, which clearly held that decisions of the Ombudsman are immediately executory even pending appeal.
Sangguniang Barangay of Don Mariano Marcos, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya vs. Martinez
G.R. No. 170626 March 3, 2008
FACTS: On 5 November 2004, Martinez was administratively charged with Dishonesty and Graft and Corruption by petitioner before the Sangguniang Bayan as the disciplining authority over elective barangay officials pursuant to Section 61 of the Local Government Code. Petitioner filed with the Sangguniang Bayan an Amended Administrative Complaint against Martinez on 6 December 2004 for Dishonesty, Misconduct in Office and Violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Upon his failure to file an Answer to the Amended Administrative Complaint dated 6 December 2004, Martinez was declared by the Sangguniang Bayan as in default. Pending the administrative proceedings, Martinez was placed under preventive suspension for 60 days or until 8 August 2005. On 28 July 2005, the Sangguniang Bayan rendered its Decision which imposed upon Martinez the penalty of removal from office. The Decision dated 28 July 2005 was conveyed to the Municipal Mayor of Bayombong, Nueva Ecija, Severino Bagasao, for its implementation. On 3 August 2005, Municial Mayor Bagasao issued a Memorandum, wherein he stated that the Sanggunaing Bayan is not empowered to order Martinez’s removal from service. However, the Decision remains valid until reversed and must be executed by him. For the meantime, he ordered the indefinite suspension of Martinez since the period of appeal had not yet lapsed. On 26 August 2005, Martinez filed a Special Civil Action for Certiorari with a prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction before the trial court. On 20 October 2005, the trial court issued an Order declaring the Decision of the Sangguniang Bayan and the Memorandum of Mayor Bagasao void. It maintained that the proper courts, and not the petitioner, are 61
empowered to remove an elective local official from office, in accordance with Section 60 of the Local Government Code. A motion for reconsideration was filed but it was denied. Hence this petition.
ISSUE: Whether or not the Sangguniang Bayan may remove Martinez, an elective local official, from office. RULING: Petition Denied. Petitioner questions the Decision dated 20 October 2005 of the trial court for allowing the petition filed before it as an exception to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. If, indeed, the Sangguniang Bayan had no power to remove Martinez from office, then Martinez should have sought recourse from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. This Court upholds the ruling of the trial court. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies calls for resort first to the appropriate administrative authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling under their jurisdiction before the same may be elevated to the courts of justice for review. Non-observance of the doctrine results in lack of a cause of action, which is one of the grounds allowed by the Rules of Court for the dismissal of the complaint. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, which is based on sound public policy and practical consideration, is not inflexible. There are instances when it may be dispensed with and judicial action may be validly resorted to immediately. Among these exceptions are: 1) where there is estoppel on the part of the party invoking the doctrine; 2) where the challenged administrative act is patently illegal, amounting to lack of jurisdiction; 3) where there is unreasonable delay or official inaction that will irretrievably prejudice the complainant; 4) where the amount involved is relatively small as to make the rule impractical and oppressive; 5) where the question raised is purely legal and will ultimately have to be decided by the courts of justice; 6) where judicial intervention is urgent; 7) where its application may cause great and irreparable damage; 8) where the controverted acts violate due process; 9) when the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot; 10) where there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy; 11) when strong public interest is involved; and 13) in quo warranto proceedings. As a general rule, no recourse to courts can be had until all administrative remedies have been exhausted. However, this rule is not applicable where the challenged administrative act is patently illegal, amounting to lack of jurisdiction and where the question or questions involved are essentially judicial. In this case, it is apparent that the Sangguniang Bayan acted beyond its jurisdiction when it issued the assailed Order dated 28 July 2005 removing Martinez from office. Such act was patently illegal and, therefore, Martinez was no longer required to avail himself of an administrative appeal in order to annul the said Order of the Sangguniang Bayan.24 Thus, his direct recourse to regular courts of justice was justified. In addition, this Court in Castro v. Gloria25 declared that where the case involves only legal questions, the litigant need not exhaust all administrative remedies before such judicial relief can be sought. The reason behind providing an exception to the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies is that issues of law cannot be resolved with finality by the administrative officer. Appeal to the administrative officer would only be an exercise in futility. A legal question is properly addressed to a regular court of justice rather than to an administrative body.26 In the present case, Martinez raised before the trial court the sole issue of whether the Sangguniang Bayan has jurisdiction over a case involving the removal of a local elective official from office.27 In Martinez’s petition before the trial court, only a legal question was raised, one that will ultimately be resolved by the courts. 62
Hence, appeal to the administrative officer concerned would only be circuitous and, therefore, should no longer be required before judicial relief can be sought.
ESTHER S. PAGANO, Petitioner, vs. JUAN NAZARRO, Jr., ROSALINE Q. ELAYDA, RODRIGO P. KITO and ERNESTO M. CELINO, respondents.
G.R. No. 149072
FACTS: While Pagano was employed as Cashier IV of the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Benguet, it was discovered that in her accountabilities she had incurred a shortage of P1,424,289.99, which was later on found by the COA to amount to P4,080,799.77. The said amount cannot be accounted for by Pagano. On 12 January 1998, the Provincial Treasurer wrote a letter directing Pagano to explain why no administrative charge should be filed against her in connection with the cash shortage. Pagano submitted her explanation on 15 January 1998. On 16 January 1998, Pagano filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Councilor in Baguio City. An administrative charge for dishonesty, grave misconduct and malversation of public funds through falsification of official documents was filed against Pagano. Pagano was found liable. Pagano appealed, contending that she cannot be punished because of Sec 66 of the Omnibus Election Code. ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WHO HAS BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE CIVIL SERVICE BY OPERATION OF LAW PURSUANT TO SECTION 66 OF BATAS PAMBANSA BILANG 881 (THE OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE) MAY STILL BE ADMINISTRATIVELY CHARGED UNDER CIVIL SERVICE LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS RULING: YES, a government employee can still be administrative charged. The instant case is not moot and academic, despite the petitioner’s separation from government service. Even if the most severe of administrative sanctions - that of separation from service - may no longer be imposed on Pagano, there are other penalties which may be imposed on her if she is later found guilty of administrative offenses charged against her, namely, the disqualification to hold any government office and the forfeiture of benefits. Petitioner relies on Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code to exculpate her from an administrative charge. The aforementioned provision reads: Any person holding a public appointive officer or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.
Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code should be read in connection with Sections 46(b)(26) and 55, Chapters 6 and 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987: Section 44. Discipline: General Provisions: (b) The following shall be grounds for disciplinary action: (26) Engaging directly or indirectly in partisan political activities by one holding a non-political office. Section 55. Political Activity. – No officer or employee in the Civil Service including members of the Armed Forces, shall engage directly or indirectly in any partisan political activity or take part in any election except to vote nor shall he use his official authority or influence to coerce the political activity of any other person or body. The act of filing a Certificate of Candidacy while one is employed in the civil service constitutes a just cause for termination of employment for appointive officials. Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code, in considering an appointive official ipso facto resigned, merely provides for the immediate implementation of the penalty for the prohibited act of engaging in partisan political activity. This provision was not intended, and should not be used, as a defense against an administrative case for acts committed during government service. Moreover, the precipitate act of a government employee in effecting his or her separation from service, soon after an administrative case has been initiated against him or her is suspicious. An employee’s act of tendering his or her resignation immediately after the discovery of the anomalous transaction is indicative of his or her guilt as flight in criminal cases. In the present case, the hasty filing of petitioner’s certificate of candidacy appears to be a mere ploy to escape administrative liability.
PARAYNO vs. JOVELLANOS
G.R. No. 148408
FACTS: Petitioner was the owner of a gasoline filling station in Calasiao, Pangasinan. In 1989, some residents of Calasiao petitioned the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of said municipality for the closure or transfer of the station to another location. The Sangguniang Bayan recommended to the Mayor the closure or transfer of location of petitioner's gasoline station. Petitioner claimed that her gasoline station was not covered by Section 44 of the Official Zoning Code since it was not a "gasoline service station" but a "gasoline filling station" governed by Section 21 thereof. ISSUE: Whether or not the closure/transfer of her gasoline filling station by respondent municipality was an invalid exercise of the latter's police powers
RULING: Respondent municipality invalidly used its police powers in ordering the closure/transfer of petitioner's gasoline station. While it had, under RA 7160 the power to take actions and enact measures to promote the health and general welfare of its constituents, it should have given due deference to the law and the rights of petitioner. A local government is considered to have properly exercised its police powers only when the following requisites are met: (1) the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require the interference of the State and (2) the means employed are reasonably necessary for the attainment of the object sought to be accomplished and not unduly oppressive. The first requirement refers to the equal protection clause and the second, to the due process clause of the Constitution. Respondent municipality failed to comply with the due process clause when it passed Resolution No. 50. While it maintained that the gasoline filling station of petitioner was less than 100 meters from the nearest public school and church, the records do not show that it even attempted to measure the distance, notwithstanding that such distance was crucial in determining whether there was an actual violation of Section 44. The different local offices that respondent municipality tapped to conduct an investigation never conducted such measurement either.
ALBON vs. FERNANDO
494 SCRA 143
FACTS: The City of Marikina undertook a public works project to widen, clear and repair the existing sidewalks of Marikina Greenheights Subdivision. It was undertaken by the city government pursuant to Ordinance like other infrastructure projects relating to roads, streets and sidewalks previously undertaken by the city. Petitioner Aniano A. Albon filed with the Regional Trial Court a taxpayer’s suit for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with damages against respondents. Petitioner claimed that it was unconstitutional and unlawful for respondents to use government equipment and property, and to disburse public funds, of the City of Marikina for the grading, widening, clearing, repair and maintenance of the existing sidewalks of Marikina Greenheights Subdivision. He alleged that the sidewalks were private property because Marikina Greenheights Subdivision was owned by V.V. Soliven, Inc. Hence, the city government could not use public resources on them. The trial court rendered its decision dismissing the petition. Court of Appeals sustained the ruling of the trial court. ISSUE: Whether or not the widening, repair and improvement of the sidewalks of a privately-owned subdivision is a valid exercise of police power RULING: Like all LGUs, the City of Marikina is empowered to enact ordinances for the purposes set forth in the Local Government Code (RA 7160). It is expressly vested with police powers delegated to LGUs under the general welfare clause of RA 7160. With this power, LGUs may prescribe reasonable regulations to 65
protect the lives, health, and property of their constituents and maintain peace and order within their respective territorial jurisdictions. Cities and municipalities also have the power to exercise such powers and discharge such functions and responsibilities as may be necessary, appropriate or incidental to efficient and effective provisions of the basic services and facilities, including infrastructure facilities intended primarily to service the needs of their residents and which are financed by their own funds. These infrastructure facilities include municipal or city roads and bridges and similar facilities. There is no question about the public nature and use of the sidewalks in the Marikina Greenheights Subdivision. One of the “whereas clauses” of PD 1216 (which amended PD 957) declares that open spaces, roads, alleys and sidewalks in a residential subdivision are for public use and beyond the commerce of man. In conjunction herewith, PD 957, as amended by PD 1216, mandates subdivision owners to set aside open spaces which shall be devoted exclusively for the use of the general public. The ordinance was enacted in the exercise of the City of Marikina’s police powers to regulate the use of sidewalks.
MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY vs.CA
495 SCRA 591
FACTS: Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) operates the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Complex in Parañaque City under EO 903 or the MIAA Charter. The City of Parañaque assessed MIAA of real estate taxes. For its failure to pay said real estate taxes, the City of Parañaque commenced the procedure to levy on the Airport Lands and Buildings of MIAA. According to MIAA, although the MIAA Charter has placed the title to the Airport Lands and Buildings in its name, the real owner of such properties is the Republic of the Philippines . Since the Airport Lands and Buildings are devoted to public use and public service, the ownership of these properties remains with the State. The Airport Lands and Buildings are thus inalienable and are not subject to real estate tax by local governments. The City of Parañaque , on the other hand, invoked Section 193 of the Local Government Code, which expressly withdrew the tax exemption privileges of "government-owned and-controlled corporations" upon the effectivity of the Local Government Code. Not being mentioned in the exceptions mentioned in Section 193, MIAA cannot claim that the Airport Lands and Buildings are exempt from real estate tax. This argument finds support in the case of Mactan International Airport v. Marcos where the SC held that the Local Government Code has withdrawn the exemption from real estate tax granted to international airports. ISSUE: Is MIAA a GOCC not to be exempt from real property tax?
RULING: First, MIAA is not a government-owned or controlled corporation but an instrumentality of the National Government and thus exempt from local taxation. Second, the real properties of MIAA are owned by the Republic of the Philippines and thus exempt from real estate tax. MIAA is a government instrumentality vested with corporate powers to perform efficiently its governmental functions. MIAA is like any other government instrumentality, the only difference is that MIAA is vested with corporate powers. Section 2(10) of the Introductory Provisions of the Administrative Code defines a government "instrumentality" as follows: SEC. 2. xxx (10) Instrumentality refers to any agency of the National Government, not integrated within the department framework, vested with special functions or jurisdiction by law, endowed with some if not all corporate powers, administering special funds, and enjoying operational autonomy, usually through a charter. x x x When the law vests in a government instrumentality corporate powers, the instrumentality does not become a corporation. Unless the government instrumentality is organized as a stock or non-stock corporation, it remains a government instrumentality exercising not only governmental but also corporate powers. Thus, MIAA exercises the governmental powers of eminent domain, police authority and the levying of fees and charges. At the same time, MIAA exercises "all the powers of a corporation under the Corporation Law, insofar as these powers are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Executive Order." Under Section 133(o) of the Local Government Code, MIAA as a government instrumentality is not a taxable person because it is not subject to "[t]axes, fees or charges of any kind" by local governments. Only portions of the Airport Lands and Buildings leased to taxable persons like private parties are subject to real estate tax by the City of Parañaque .
COCA COLA BOTTLERS PHILS vs. CITY OF MANILA
493 SCRA 279
FACTS: The City Mayor of Manila approved Tax Ordinance No. 7988, otherwise known as "Revised Revenue Code of the City of Manila" repealing Tax Ordinance No. 7794 entitled, "Revenue Code of the City of Manila." Tax Ordinance No. 7988 amended certain sections of Tax Ordinance No. 7794 by increasing the tax rates applicable to certain establishments operating within the territorial jurisdiction of the City of Manila. Among those affected by the amendment is herein petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers Phil., Inc. Coca-Cola questioned the constitutionality of Section 21 of Tax Ordinance No. 7988. Tax Ordinance No. 7988 has been declared by the DOJ Secretary as null and void and without legal effect in 2000 due to respondents' failure to satisfy the requirement that said ordinance be published for three consecutive days in a newspaper of local circulation as required by Section 188 of the Local Government Code of 1991. The City of Manila appealed the DOJ Resolution to the RTC of Manila, which merely reiterated the findings of the DOJ Secretary. 67
During the pendency of the said case, the City Mayor of Manila approved Tax Ordinance No. 8011 entitled, "An Ordinance Amending Certain Sections of Ordinance No. 7988." The DOJ Secretary declared the amendatory ordinance null and void. However, on the basis of the enactment of Tax Ordinance No. 8011, the City of Manila filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the RTC of Manila. This petition by the City of Manila was granted.
ISSUE: Did the enactment of a subsequent amendatory ordinance cure the defect of a previous ordinance, which was declared null and void?
RULING: No. From the foregoing, it is evident that Tax Ordinance No. 7988 is null and void as said ordinance was published only for one day in the 22 May 2000 issue of the Philippine Post in contravention of the unmistakable directive of the Local Government Code of 1991. The DOJ secretary ruled that “Instead of amending Ordinance No. 7988, respondent should have enacted another tax measure which strictly complies with the requirements of law, both procedural and substantive. The passage of the assailed ordinance did not have the effect of curing the defects of Ordinance No. 7988 which, any way, does not legally exist." Said Resolution of the DOJ Secretary had, as well, attained finality by virtue of the dismissal with finality by this Court of respondents' Petition for Review on Certiorari in G.R. No. 157490 assailing the dismissal by the RTC of Manila, Branch 17, of its appeal due to lack of jurisdiction in its Order, dated 11 August 2003. The amending law, having been declared as null and void, in legal contemplation, therefore, does not exist. Furthermore, even if Tax Ordinance No. 8011 was not declared null and void, the trial court should not have dismissed the case on the reason that said tax ordinance had already amended Tax Ordinance No. 7988. As held by this Court in the case of People v. Lim, if an order or law sought to be amended is invalid, then it does not legally exist, there should be no occasion or need to amend it.
~END~ “Don’t be afraid of a little opposition. Remember that the kite of success generally rises against the wind of adversity – not with it.”