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United States vs. Barrias (4349)

PROMULGATED: Sept 24, 1908
PONENTE: Tracey, J.
PETITIONER: United States


Circular 397 of the Insular Collector of Customs
Par 70
No heavily loaded casco, lighter, or other similar craft shall be permitted to move in the
Pasig River without being towed by steam or moved by other adequate power

Par 83
For the violation of any of the foregoing regulations, the person offending shall be liable to
a fine of not less than 5php and not more than 500php, in the discretion of the court

Act No 355 (amended by Act 1235/ 1480) Philippine Customs Administrative Act
Act No. 1235
The Collector is not only empowered to make suitable regulations, but also to fix penalties
for violation thereof not exceeding a fine of P500.

Act 1136 (see facts)


Barrias (the Captain of the Maude, a lighter aka barge used in unloading/loading ships) was charged
with a violation of paragraphs 70 and 83 of Circular No 397 of the Insular Collector of Customs.

He was proved to be moving and directing the heavily laden Maude through the Pasig River by bamboo
poles in the hands of the crew, and without steam, sail, or any other external power.

Counsel for appellant attacked the validity of Par 70 on 2 grounds (see Issues).

Attorney General agreed with the counsel for the defense and asked for Barrias discharge as Par 70 is
unauthorized by sec 19 of Act 355 and that the Collector cited an unauthorized/ illegal rule, expressly
passing over the question of the delegation of legislative power.

After argument of the case, the Collector issued a Memo stating that Sec 5 and 8 of Act No 1136, which
was not referred to in the original briefs, was applicable to the case.

Act 1136 States that the collector is authorized to license craft engaged in lighterage
and includes authorization for the regulation (Sec 5) and the punishment for violations
(Sec 8)

The Collector of Customs for the Philippine Islands is hereby authorized, empowered, and
directed to promptly make and publish suitable rules and regulations to carry this law into
effect and to regulate the business herein licensed.

Any person who shall violate .shall be deemed guilty of misdemeanor and upon conviction
shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 6 mos, or by a fine of not more than 100

As shown above, Act no 1136 Sec 5 guarantees the authority of the Collector

The instant complaint was framed in reference of its authority to sections 19 and 311 of Act No. 355 of
the Philippine Customs Administrative Act. As amended by Acts Nos. 1235 and 1480.

Under Act No. 1235 (amended Act 355) Collector is empowered to make suitable regulations and
fix penalties for violation thereof not exceeding a fine of P500. This presents a serious problem as the
power conferred upon the legislature to make laws cannot be delegated by that department to any other
body or authority. (In this case: Philippine Commission authorizing the Collector to promulgate the

Appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila (Barrias was convicted based on Act

1. W/N Par 70 is unauthorized by section 19 of Act No. 355 (Amended by Act 1235)

NO, it is not unauthorized (or unapproved/unsanctioned)

With reference to sec 19 of Act 355 (amended by Act No 1235) The
Collector is not only empowered to make suitable regulations, but also to
fix penalties for violation thereof, not exceeding a fine of Php 500.

2. W/N the acts of the Philippine Commission bear the interpretation of authorizing the
*Collector to promulgate such a law (ACT 355), they are void, constitutes an illegal
delegation of legislative power.

Issue is not material.

The Court acknowledges that the authorization given to the Collector
posed a serious question. But, as the court has determined that Act No
1136 is applicable to the case, then, it is unnecessary to reference Art

Act No 1136 does not violate the undue delegation of power as
the necessity to confide to some local authority the framing/
enforcement of harbor regulations is recognized around the
world. And when kept within their proper scope, are in their
nature police regulations not involving an undue grant of
legislative power.

Re: Act 355: The Court stated that it posed a serious question
and that According to one of the settled maxims of
constitutional law is, the power conferred upon the
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legislature to make laws cannot be delegated by that
department to any other body or authority.

Re: Act 355: Where the sovereign power of the state has
located the authority, there it must remain; and by the
constitutional agency alone the laws must be made until the
constitution itself is changed.

Conviction of defendant for the violation of Acts Nos. 355 and 1235 is revoked. He is then convicted of
a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of 25 dollars under Act 1136 with costs of both instances.

- Defendant was convicted based on Act 1136 and not on Act 355/1235. The Court based the
decision on Act 1136 as they said it is sufficient to sustain the prosecution. They did not take into
account the extent and validity of other acts, as references to them were considered immaterial,
and that none of the subsequent statutes could repeal the aforesaid section of Act 1136.

Appeal from judgment, lighter, delegation of legislative power