Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 316

.R. No.

115455 August 25, 1994

ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner,


vs.
THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE and THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

G.R. No. 115525 August 25, 1994

JUAN T. DAVID, petitioner,


vs.
TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR., as Executive Secretary; ROBERTO DE OCAMPO, as Secretary of Finance; LIWAYWAY VINZONS-
CHATO, as Commissioner of Internal Revenue; and their AUTHORIZED AGENTS OR REPRESENTATIVES, respondents.

G.R. No. 115543 August 25, 1994

RAUL S. ROCO and the INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners,


vs.
THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE; THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE AND
BUREAU OF CUSTOMS, respondents.

G.R. No. 115544 August 25, 1994

PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE, INC.; EGP PUBLISHING CO., INC.; PUBLISHING CORPORATION; PHILIPPINE JOURNALISTS, INC.;
JOSE L. PAVIA; and OFELIA L. DIMALANTA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. LIWAYWAY V. CHATO, in her capacity as Commissioner of Internal Revenue; HON. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR., in his
capacity as Executive Secretary; and HON. ROBERTO B. DE OCAMPO, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance, respondents.

G.R. No. 115754 August 25, 1994

CHAMBER OF REAL ESTATE AND BUILDERS ASSOCIATIONS, INC., (CREBA), petitioner,


vs.
THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondent.

G.R. No. 115781 August 25, 1994

KILOSBAYAN, INC., JOVITO R. SALONGA, CIRILO A. RIGOS, ERME CAMBA, EMILIO C. CAPULONG, JR., JOSE T. APOLO,
EPHRAIM TENDERO, FERNANDO SANTIAGO, JOSE ABCEDE, CHRISTINE TAN, FELIPE L. GOZON, RAFAEL G. FERNANDO,
RAOUL V. VICTORINO, JOSE CUNANAN, QUINTIN S. DOROMAL, MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD, INTEGRITY
AND NATIONALISM, INC. ("MABINI"), FREEDOM FROM DEBT COALITION, INC., PHILIPPINE BIBLE SOCIETY, INC., and WIGBERTO
TAÑADA, petitioners,
vs.
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE, THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and THE
COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, respondents.

G.R. No. 115852 August 25, 1994

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE, and COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

G.R. No. 115873 August 25, 1994

COOPERATIVE UNION OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners,


vs.
HON. LIWAYWAY V. CHATO, in her capacity as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, HON. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR., in his
capacity as Executive Secretary, and HON. ROBERTO B. DE OCAMPO, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance, respondents.

G.R. No. 115931 August 25, 1994

PHILIPPINE EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION, INC., and ASSOCIATION OF PHILIPPINE BOOK-SELLERS, petitioners,
vs.
HON. ROBERTO B. DE OCAMPO, as the Secretary of Finance; HON. LIWAYWAY V. CHATO, as the Commissioner of Internal
Revenue and HON. GUILLERMO PARAYNO, JR., in his capacity as the Commissioner of Customs, respondents.
Arturo M. Tolentino for and in his behalf.

Donna Celeste D. Feliciano and Juan T. David for petitioners in G.R. No. 115525.

Roco, Bunag, Kapunan, Migallos and Jardeleza for petitioner R.S. Roco.

Villaranza and Cruz for petitioners in G.R. No. 115544.

Carlos A. Raneses and Manuel M. Serrano for petitioner in G.R. No. 115754.

Salonga, Hernandez & Allado for Freedon From Debts Coalition, Inc. & Phil. Bible Society.

Estelito P. Mendoza for petitioner in G.R. No. 115852.

Panganiban, Benitez, Parlade, Africa & Barinaga Law Offices for petitioners in G.R. No. 115873.

R.B. Rodriguez & Associates for petitioners in G.R. No. 115931.

Reve A.V. Saguisag for MABINI.

MENDOZA, J.:

The value-added tax (VAT) is levied on the sale, barter or exchange of goods and properties as well as on the sale or exchange of services.
It is equivalent to 10% of the gross selling price or gross value in money of goods or properties sold, bartered or exchanged or of the gross
receipts from the sale or exchange of services. Republic Act No. 7716 seeks to widen the tax base of the existing VAT system and enhance
its administration by amending the National Internal Revenue Code.

These are various suits for certiorari and prohibition, challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7716 on various grounds
summarized in the resolution of July 6, 1994 of this Court, as follows:

I. Procedural Issues:

A. Does Republic Act No. 7716 violate Art. VI, § 24 of the Constitution?

B. Does it violate Art. VI, § 26(2) of the Constitution?

C. What is the extent of the power of the Bicameral Conference Committee?

II. Substantive Issues:

A. Does the law violate the following provisions in the Bill of Rights (Art. III)?

1. §1

2. § 4

3. § 5

4. § 10

B. Does the law violate the following other provisions of the Constitution?

1. Art. VI, § 28(1)

2. Art. VI, § 28(3)


These questions will be dealt in the order they are stated above. As will presently be explained not all of these questions are judicially
cognizable, because not all provisions of the Constitution are self executing and, therefore, judicially enforceable. The other departments of
the government are equally charged with the enforcement of the Constitution, especially the provisions relating to them.

I. PROCEDURAL ISSUES

The contention of petitioners is that in enacting Republic Act No. 7716, or the Expanded Value-Added Tax Law, Congress violated the
Constitution because, although H. No. 11197 had originated in the House of Representatives, it was not passed by the Senate but was
simply consolidated with the Senate version (S. No. 1630) in the Conference Committee to produce the bill which the President signed into
law. The following provisions of the Constitution are cited in support of the proposition that because Republic Act No. 7716 was passed in
this manner, it did not originate in the House of Representatives and it has not thereby become a law:

Art. VI, § 24: All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local
application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or
concur with amendments.

Id., § 26(2): No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days,
and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except
when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon
the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately
thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.

It appears that on various dates between July 22, 1992 and August 31, 1993, several bills 1 were introduced in the House of Representatives
seeking to amend certain provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code relative to the value-added tax or VAT. These bills were referred
to the House Ways and Means Committee which recommended for approval a substitute measure, H. No. 11197, entitled

AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCE
ITS ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108
AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112, 115 AND 116 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237 AND 238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING
SECTIONS 113 AND 114 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED

The bill (H. No. 11197) was considered on second reading starting November 6, 1993 and, on November 17, 1993, it was approved by the
House of Representatives after third and final reading.

It was sent to the Senate on November 23, 1993 and later referred by that body to its Committee on Ways and Means.

On February 7, 1994, the Senate Committee submitted its report recommending approval of S. No. 1630, entitled

AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCE
ITS ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108,
AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237, AND 238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING SECTIONS 113,
114 and 116 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES

It was stated that the bill was being submitted "in substitution of Senate Bill No. 1129, taking into consideration P.S. Res. No. 734 and H.B.
No. 11197."

On February 8, 1994, the Senate began consideration of the bill (S. No. 1630). It finished debates on the bill and approved it on second
reading on March 24, 1994. On the same day, it approved the bill on third reading by the affirmative votes of 13 of its members, with one
abstention.

H. No. 11197 and its Senate version (S. No. 1630) were then referred to a conference committee which, after meeting four times (April 13,
19, 21 and 25, 1994), recommended that "House Bill No. 11197, in consolidation with Senate Bill No. 1630, be approved in accordance with
the attached copy of the bill as reconciled and approved by the conferees."

The Conference Committee bill, entitled "AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM, WIDENING ITS TAX
BASE AND ENHANCING ITS ADMINISTRATION AND FOR THESE PURPOSES AMENDING AND REPEALING THE RELEVANT
PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," was thereafter
approved by the House of Representatives on April 27, 1994 and by the Senate on May 2, 1994. The enrolled bill was then presented to the
President of the Philippines who, on May 5, 1994, signed it. It became Republic Act No. 7716. On May 12, 1994, Republic Act No. 7716 was
published in two newspapers of general circulation and, on May 28, 1994, it took effect, although its implementation was suspended until
June 30, 1994 to allow time for the registration of business entities. It would have been enforced on July 1, 1994 but its enforcement was
stopped because the Court, by the vote of 11 to 4 of its members, granted a temporary restraining order on June 30, 1994.
First. Petitioners' contention is that Republic Act No. 7716 did not "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives as required by Art.
VI, §24 of the Constitution, because it is in fact the result of the consolidation of two distinct bills, H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. In this
connection, petitioners point out that although Art. VI, SS 24 was adopted from the American Federal Constitution, 2 it is notable in two
respects: the verb "shall originate" is qualified in the Philippine Constitution by the word "exclusively" and the phrase "as on other bills" in the
American version is omitted. This means, according to them, that to be considered as having originated in the House, Republic Act No. 7716
must retain the essence of H. No. 11197.

This argument will not bear analysis. To begin with, it is not the law — but the revenue bill — which is required by the Constitution to
"originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives. It is important to emphasize this, because a bill originating in the House may undergo
such extensive changes in the Senate that the result may be a rewriting of the whole. The possibility of a third version by the conference
committee will be discussed later. At this point, what is important to note is that, as a result of the Senate action, a distinct bill may be
produced. To insist that a revenue statute — and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process culminating in the enactment of the
law — must substantially be the same as the House bill would be to deny the Senate's power not only to "concur with amendments" but also
to "propose amendments." It would be to violate the coequality of legislative power of the two houses of Congress and in fact make the
House superior to the Senate.

The contention that the constitutional design is to limit the Senate's power in respect of revenue bills in order to compensate for the grant to
the Senate of the treaty-ratifying power 3 and thereby equalize its powers and those of the House overlooks the fact that the powers being
compared are different. We are dealing here with the legislative power which under the Constitution is vested not in any particular chamber
but in the Congress of the Philippines, consisting of "a Senate and a House of Representatives." 4 The exercise of the treaty-ratifying power
is not the exercise of legislative power. It is the exercise of a check on the executive power. There is, therefore, no justification for comparing
the legislative powers of the House and of the Senate on the basis of the possession of such nonlegislative power by the Senate. The
possession of a similar power by the U.S. Senate 5 has never been thought of as giving it more legislative powers than the House of
Representatives.

In the United States, the validity of a provision (§ 37) imposing an ad valorem tax based on the weight of vessels, which the U.S. Senate had
inserted in the Tariff Act of 1909, was upheld against the claim that the provision was a revenue bill which originated in the Senate in
contravention of Art. I, § 7 of the U.S. Constitution. 6 Nor is the power to amend limited to adding a provision or two in a revenue bill
emanating from the House. The U.S. Senate has gone so far as changing the whole of bills following the enacting clause and substituting its
own versions. In 1883, for example, it struck out everything after the enacting clause of a tariff bill and wrote in its place its own measure, and
the House subsequently accepted the amendment. The U.S. Senate likewise added 847 amendments to what later became the Payne-
Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909; it dictated the schedules of the Tariff Act of 1921; it rewrote an extensive tax revision bill in the same year and
recast most of the tariff bill of 1922. 7 Given, then, the power of the Senate to propose amendments, the Senate can propose its own version
even with respect to bills which are required by the Constitution to originate in the House.

It is insisted, however, that S. No. 1630 was passed not in substitution of H. No. 11197 but of another Senate bill (S. No. 1129) earlier filed
and that what the Senate did was merely to "take [H. No. 11197] into consideration" in enacting S. No. 1630. There is really no difference
between the Senate preserving H. No. 11197 up to the enacting clause and then writing its own version following the enacting clause (which,
it would seem, petitioners admit is an amendment by substitution), and, on the other hand, separately presenting a bill of its own on the same
subject matter. In either case the result are two bills on the same subject.

Indeed, what the Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff, or tax bills, bills authorizing an increase of the public
debt, private bills and bills of local application must come from the House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the
districts, the members of the House can be expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and problems. On the other hand, the senators,
who are elected at large, are expected to approach the same problems from the national perspective. Both views are thereby made to bear
on the enactment of such laws.

Nor does the Constitution prohibit the filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the House, so long as
action by the Senate as a body is withheld pending receipt of the House bill. The Court cannot, therefore, understand the alarm expressed
over the fact that on March 1, 1993, eight months before the House passed H. No. 11197, S. No. 1129 had been filed in the Senate. After all
it does not appear that the Senate ever considered it. It was only after the Senate had received H. No. 11197 on November 23, 1993 that the
process of legislation in respect of it began with the referral to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means of H. No. 11197 and the
submission by the Committee on February 7, 1994 of S. No. 1630. For that matter, if the question were simply the priority in the time of filing
of bills, the fact is that it was in the House that a bill (H. No. 253) to amend the VAT law was first filed on July 22, 1992. Several other bills
had been filed in the House before S. No. 1129 was filed in the Senate, and H. No. 11197 was only a substitute of those earlier bills.

Second. Enough has been said to show that it was within the power of the Senate to propose S. No. 1630. We now pass to the next
argument of petitioners that S. No. 1630 did not pass three readings on separate days as required by the Constitution 8 because the second
and third readings were done on the same day, March 24, 1994. But this was because on February 24, 1994 9 and again on March 22, 1994,
10 the President had certified S. No. 1630 as urgent. The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but
also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment,
etc." in Art. VI, § 26(2) qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law: (i) the bill has passed three readings on separate
days and (ii) it has been printed in its final form and distributed three days before it is finally approved.

In other words, the "unless" clause must be read in relation to the "except" clause, because the two are really coordinate clauses of the same
sentence. To construe the "except" clause as simply dispensing with the second requirement in the "unless" clause (i.e., printing and
distribution three days before final approval) would not only violate the rules of grammar. It would also negate the very premise of the
"except" clause: the necessity of securing the immediate enactment of a bill which is certified in order to meet a public calamity or
emergency. For if it is only the printing that is dispensed with by presidential certification, the time saved would be so negligible as to be of
any use in insuring immediate enactment. It may well be doubted whether doing away with the necessity of printing and distributing copies of
the bill three days before the third reading would insure speedy enactment of a law in the face of an emergency requiring the calling of a
special election for President and Vice-President. Under the Constitution such a law is required to be made within seven days of the
convening of Congress in emergency session. 11

That upon the certification of a bill by the President the requirement of three readings on separate days and of printing and distribution can
be dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice. For example, the bill defining the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court
which, in consolidation with the Senate version, became Republic Act No. 5440, was passed on second and third readings in the House of
Representatives on the same day (May 14, 1968) after the bill had been certified by the President as urgent. 12

There is, therefore, no merit in the contention that presidential certification dispenses only with the requirement for the printing of the bill and
its distribution three days before its passage but not with the requirement of three readings on separate days, also.

It is nonetheless urged that the certification of the bill in this case was invalid because there was no emergency, the condition stated in the
certification of a "growing budget deficit" not being an unusual condition in this country.

It is noteworthy that no member of the Senate saw fit to controvert the reality of the factual basis of the certification. To the contrary, by
passing S. No. 1630 on second and third readings on March 24, 1994, the Senate accepted the President's certification. Should such
certification be now reviewed by this Court, especially when no evidence has been shown that, because S. No. 1630 was taken up on
second and third readings on the same day, the members of the Senate were deprived of the time needed for the study of a vital piece of
legislation?

The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law under Art. VII, § 18, or the
existence of a national emergency justifying the delegation of extraordinary powers to the President under Art. VI, § 23(2), is subject to
judicial review because basic rights of individuals may be at hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which involves
doing away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are duly considered by members of Congress, certainly should elicit a
different standard of review.

Petitioners also invite attention to the fact that the President certified S. No. 1630 and not H. No. 11197. That is because S. No. 1630 was
what the Senate was considering. When the matter was before the House, the President likewise certified H. No. 9210 the pending in the
House.

Third. Finally it is contended that the bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 is the bill which the Conference Committee prepared by
consolidating H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. It is claimed that the Conference Committee report included provisions not found in either the
House bill or the Senate bill and that these provisions were "surreptitiously" inserted by the Conference Committee. Much is made of the fact
that in the last two days of its session on April 21 and 25, 1994 the Committee met behind closed doors. We are not told, however, whether
the provisions were not the result of the give and take that often mark the proceedings of conference committees.

Nor is there anything unusual or extraordinary about the fact that the Conference Committee met in executive sessions. Often the only way
to reach agreement on conflicting provisions is to meet behind closed doors, with only the conferees present. Otherwise, no compromise is
likely to be made. The Court is not about to take the suggestion of a cabal or sinister motive attributed to the conferees on the basis solely of
their "secret meetings" on April 21 and 25, 1994, nor read anything into the incomplete remarks of the members, marked in the transcript of
stenographic notes by ellipses. The incomplete sentences are probably due to the stenographer's own limitations or to the incoherence that
sometimes characterize conversations. William Safire noted some such lapses in recorded talks even by recent past Presidents of the United
States.

In any event, in the United States conference committees had been customarily held in executive sessions with only the conferees and their
staffs in attendance. 13 Only in November 1975 was a new rule adopted requiring open sessions. Even then a majority of either chamber's
conferees may vote in public to close the meetings. 14

As to the possibility of an entirely new bill emerging out of a Conference Committee, it has been explained:

Under congressional rules of procedure, conference committees are not expected to make any material change in the
measure at issue, either by deleting provisions to which both houses have already agreed or by inserting new
provisions. But this is a difficult provision to enforce. Note the problem when one house amends a proposal originating
in either house by striking out everything following the enacting clause and substituting provisions which make it an
entirely new bill. The versions are now altogether different, permitting a conference committee to draft essentially a new
bill. . . . 15

The result is a third version, which is considered an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," the only requirement for which being that the
third version be germane to the subject of the House and Senate bills. 16

Indeed, this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include in its report an entirely new provision that is
not found either in the House bill or in the Senate bill. 17 If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions,
there is no reason why it cannot propose several provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," so long
as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills before the committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of
both houses of Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the Conference Committee
acted as a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis. 18
Nonetheless, it is argued that under the respective Rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives a conference committee can only
act on the differing provisions of a Senate bill and a House bill, and that contrary to these Rules the Conference Committee inserted
provisions not found in the bills submitted to it. The following provisions are cited in support of this contention:

Rules of the Senate

Rule XII:

§ 26. In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on the provision of any bill or joint
resolution, the differences shall be settled by a conference committee of both Houses which shall meet within ten days
after their composition.

The President shall designate the members of the conference committee in accordance with subparagraph (c), Section
3 of Rule III.

Each Conference Committee Report shall contain a detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or
amendments to the subject measure, and shall be signed by the conferees.

The consideration of such report shall not be in order unless the report has been filed with the Secretary of the Senate
and copies thereof have been distributed to the Members.

(Emphasis added)

Rules of the House of Representatives

Rule XIV:

§ 85. Conference Committee Reports. — In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the
amendments to any bill or joint resolution, the differences may be settled by conference committees of both Chambers.

The consideration of conference committee reports shall always be in order, except when the journal is being read,
while the roll is being called or the House is dividing on any question. Each of the pages of such reports shall be signed
by the conferees. Each report shall contain a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or amendments
to the subject measure.

The consideration of such report shall not be in order unless copies thereof are distributed to the Members: Provided,
That in the last fifteen days of each session period it shall be deemed sufficient that three copies of the report, signed
as above provided, are deposited in the office of the Secretary General.

(Emphasis added)

To be sure, nothing in the Rules limits a conference committee to a consideration of conflicting provisions. But Rule XLIV, § 112 of the Rules
of the Senate is cited to the effect that "If there is no Rule applicable to a specific case the precedents of the Legislative Department of the
Philippines shall be resorted to, and as a supplement of these, the Rules contained in Jefferson's Manual." The following is then quoted from
the Jefferson's Manual:

The managers of a conference must confine themselves to the differences committed to them. . . and may not include
subjects not within disagreements, even though germane to a question in issue.

Note that, according to Rule XLIX, § 112, in case there is no specific rule applicable, resort must be to the legislative practice. The
Jefferson's Manual is resorted to only as supplement. It is common place in Congress that conference committee reports include new
matters which, though germane, have not been committed to the committee. This practice was admitted by Senator Raul S. Roco, petitioner
in G.R. No. 115543, during the oral argument in these cases. Whatever, then, may be provided in the Jefferson's Manual must be considered
to have been modified by the legislative practice. If a change is desired in the practice it must be sought in Congress since this question is
not covered by any constitutional provision but is only an internal rule of each house. Thus, Art. VI, § 16(3) of the Constitution provides that
"Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings. . . ."

This observation applies to the other contention that the Rules of the two chambers were likewise disregarded in the preparation of the
Conference Committee Report because the Report did not contain a "detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of changes in, or
amendments to, the subject measure." The Report used brackets and capital letters to indicate the changes. This is a standard practice in
bill-drafting. We cannot say that in using these marks and symbols the Committee violated the Rules of the Senate and the House.
Moreover, this Court is not the proper forum for the enforcement of these internal Rules. To the contrary, as we have already ruled,
"parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no concern." 19 Our concern is with the procedural
requirements of the Constitution for the enactment of laws. As far as these requirements are concerned, we are satisfied that they have been
faithfully observed in these cases.

Nor is there any reason for requiring that the Committee's Report in these cases must have undergone three readings in each of the two
houses. If that be the case, there would be no end to negotiation since each house may seek modifications of the compromise bill. The
nature of the bill, therefore, requires that it be acted upon by each house on a "take it or leave it" basis, with the only alternative that if it is not
approved by both houses, another conference committee must be appointed. But then again the result would still be a compromise measure
that may not be wholly satisfying to both houses.

Art. VI, § 26(2) must, therefore, be construed as referring only to bills introduced for the first time in either house of Congress, not to the
conference committee report. For if the purpose of requiring three readings is to give members of Congress time to study bills, it cannot be
gainsaid that H. No. 11197 was passed in the House after three readings; that in the Senate it was considered on first reading and then
referred to a committee of that body; that although the Senate committee did not report out the House bill, it submitted a version (S. No.
1630) which it had prepared by "taking into consideration" the House bill; that for its part the Conference Committee consolidated the two
bills and prepared a compromise version; that the Conference Committee Report was thereafter approved by the House and the Senate,
presumably after appropriate study by their members. We cannot say that, as a matter of fact, the members of Congress were not fully
informed of the provisions of the bill. The allegation that the Conference Committee usurped the legislative power of Congress is, in our view,
without warrant in fact and in law.

Fourth. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 must be resolved in its favor. Our cases 20 manifest
firm adherence to the rule that an enrolled copy of a bill is conclusive not only of its provisions but also of its due enactment. Not even claims
that a proposed constitutional amendment was invalid because the requisite votes for its approval had not been obtained 21 or that certain
provisions of a statute had been "smuggled" in the printing of the bill 22 have moved or persuaded us to look behind the proceedings of a
coequal branch of the government. There is no reason now to depart from this rule.

No claim is here made that the "enrolled bill" rule is absolute. In fact in one case 23 we "went behind" an enrolled bill and consulted the
Journal to determine whether certain provisions of a statute had been approved by the Senate in view of the fact that the President of the
Senate himself, who had signed the enrolled bill, admitted a mistake and withdrew his signature, so that in effect there was no longer an
enrolled bill to consider.

But where allegations that the constitutional procedures for the passage of bills have not been observed have no more basis than another
allegation that the Conference Committee "surreptitiously" inserted provisions into a bill which it had prepared, we should decline the
invitation to go behind the enrolled copy of the bill. To disregard the "enrolled bill" rule in such cases would be to disregard the respect due
the other two departments of our government.

Fifth. An additional attack on the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 is made by the Philippine Airlines, Inc., petitioner in G.R. No. 11582,
namely, that it violates Art. VI, § 26(1) which provides that "Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be
expressed in the title thereof." It is contended that neither H. No. 11197 nor S. No. 1630 provided for removal of exemption of PAL
transactions from the payment of the VAT and that this was made only in the Conference Committee bill which became Republic Act No.
7716 without reflecting this fact in its title.

The title of Republic Act No. 7716 is:

AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE- ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM, WIDENING ITS TAX BASE AND
ENHANCING ITS ADMINISTRATION, AND FOR THESE PURPOSES AMENDING AND REPEALING THE
RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES.

Among the provisions of the NIRC amended is § 103, which originally read:

§ 103. Exempt transactions. — The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:

....

(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws or international agreements to which the Philippines is a
signatory. Among the transactions exempted from the VAT were those of PAL because it was exempted under its
franchise (P.D. No. 1590) from the payment of all "other taxes . . . now or in the near future," in consideration of the
payment by it either of the corporate income tax or a franchise tax of 2%.

As a result of its amendment by Republic Act No. 7716, § 103 of the NIRC now provides:

§ 103. Exempt transactions. — The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:

....
(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws, except those granted under Presidential Decree Nos. 66, 529,
972, 1491, 1590. . . .

The effect of the amendment is to remove the exemption granted to PAL, as far as the VAT is concerned.

The question is whether this amendment of § 103 of the NIRC is fairly embraced in the title of Republic Act No. 7716, although no mention is
made therein of P.D. No. 1590 as among those which the statute amends. We think it is, since the title states that the purpose of the statute
is to expand the VAT system, and one way of doing this is to widen its base by withdrawing some of the exemptions granted before. To insist
that P.D. No. 1590 be mentioned in the title of the law, in addition to § 103 of the NIRC, in which it is specifically referred to, would be to insist
that the title of a bill should be a complete index of its content.

The constitutional requirement that every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in its title is
intended to prevent surprise upon the members of Congress and to inform the people of pending legislation so that, if they wish to, they can
be heard regarding it. If, in the case at bar, petitioner did not know before that its exemption had been withdrawn, it is not because of any
defect in the title but perhaps for the same reason other statutes, although published, pass unnoticed until some event somehow calls
attention to their existence. Indeed, the title of Republic Act No. 7716 is not any more general than the title of PAL's own franchise under P.D.
No. 1590, and yet no mention is made of its tax exemption. The title of P.D. No. 1590 is:

AN ACT GRANTING A NEW FRANCHISE TO PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC. TO ESTABLISH, OPERATE, AND
MAINTAIN AIR-TRANSPORT SERVICES IN THE PHILIPPINES AND BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND OTHER
COUNTRIES.

The trend in our cases is to construe the constitutional requirement in such a manner that courts do not unduly interfere with the enactment
of necessary legislation and to consider it sufficient if the title expresses the general subject of the statute and all its provisions are germane
to the general subject thus expressed. 24

It is further contended that amendment of petitioner's franchise may only be made by special law, in view of § 24 of P.D. No. 1590 which
provides:

This franchise, as amended, or any section or provision hereof may only be modified, amended, or repealed expressly
by a special law or decree that shall specifically modify, amend, or repeal this franchise or any section or provision
thereof.

This provision is evidently intended to prevent the amendment of the franchise by mere implication resulting from the enactment of a later
inconsistent statute, in consideration of the fact that a franchise is a contract which can be altered only by consent of the parties. Thus in
Manila Railroad Co. v.
Rafferty, 25 it was held that an Act of the U.S. Congress, which provided for the payment of tax on certain goods and articles imported into
the Philippines, did not amend the franchise of plaintiff, which exempted it from all taxes except those mentioned in its franchise. It was held
that a special law cannot be amended by a general law.

In contrast, in the case at bar, Republic Act No. 7716 expressly amends PAL's franchise (P.D. No. 1590) by specifically excepting from the
grant of exemptions from the VAT PAL's exemption under P.D. No. 1590. This is within the power of Congress to do under Art. XII, § 11 of
the Constitution, which provides that the grant of a franchise for the operation of a public utility is subject to amendment, alteration or repeal
by Congress when the common good so requires.

II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES

A. Claims of Press Freedom, Freedom of Thought and Religious Freedom

The Philippine Press Institute (PPI), petitioner in G.R. No. 115544, is a nonprofit organization of newspaper publishers established for the
improvement of journalism in the Philippines. On the other hand, petitioner in G.R. No. 115781, the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), is a
nonprofit organization engaged in the printing and distribution of bibles and other religious articles. Both petitioners claim violations of their
rights under § § 4 and 5 of the Bill of Rights as a result of the enactment of the VAT Law.

The PPI questions the law insofar as it has withdrawn the exemption previously granted to the press under § 103 (f) of the NIRC. Although
the exemption was subsequently restored by administrative regulation with respect to the circulation income of newspapers, the PPI presses
its claim because of the possibility that the exemption may still be removed by mere revocation of the regulation of the Secretary of Finance.
On the other hand, the PBS goes so far as to question the Secretary's power to grant exemption for two reasons: (1) The Secretary of
Finance has no power to grant tax exemption because this is vested in Congress and requires for its exercise the vote of a majority of all its
members 26 and (2) the Secretary's duty is to execute the law.

§ 103 of the NIRC contains a list of transactions exempted from VAT. Among the transactions previously granted exemption were:
(f) Printing, publication, importation or sale of books and any newspaper, magazine, review, or bulletin which appears
at regular intervals with fixed prices for subscription and sale and which is devoted principally to the publication of
advertisements.

Republic Act No. 7716 amended § 103 by deleting ¶ (f) with the result that print media became subject to the VAT with respect to all aspects
of their operations. Later, however, based on a memorandum of the Secretary of Justice, respondent Secretary of Finance issued Revenue
Regulations No. 11-94, dated June 27, 1994, exempting the "circulation income of print media pursuant to § 4 Article III of the 1987
Philippine Constitution guaranteeing against abridgment of freedom of the press, among others." The exemption of "circulation income" has
left income from advertisements still subject to the VAT.

It is unnecessary to pass upon the contention that the exemption granted is beyond the authority of the Secretary of Finance to give, in view
of PPI's contention that even with the exemption of the circulation revenue of print media there is still an unconstitutional abridgment of press
freedom because of the imposition of the VAT on the gross receipts of newspapers from advertisements and on their acquisition of paper, ink
and services for publication. Even on the assumption that no exemption has effectively been granted to print media transactions, we find no
violation of press freedom in these cases.

To be sure, we are not dealing here with a statute that on its face operates in the area of press freedom. The PPI's claim is simply that, as
applied to newspapers, the law abridges press freedom. Even with due recognition of its high estate and its importance in a democratic
society, however, the press is not immune from general regulation by the State. It has been held:

The publisher of a newspaper has no immunity from the application of general laws. He has no special privilege to
invade the rights and liberties of others. He must answer for libel. He may be punished for contempt of court. . . . Like
others, he must pay equitable and nondiscriminatory taxes on his business. . . . 27

The PPI does not dispute this point, either.

What it contends is that by withdrawing the exemption previously granted to print media transactions involving printing, publication,
importation or sale of newspapers, Republic Act No. 7716 has singled out the press for discriminatory treatment and that within the class of
mass media the law discriminates against print media by giving broadcast media favored treatment. We have carefully examined this
argument, but we are unable to find a differential treatment of the press by the law, much less any censorial motivation for its enactment. If
the press is now required to pay a value-added tax on its transactions, it is not because it is being singled out, much less targeted, for special
treatment but only because of the removal of the exemption previously granted to it by law. The withdrawal of exemption is all that is involved
in these cases. Other transactions, likewise previously granted exemption, have been delisted as part of the scheme to expand the base and
the scope of the VAT system. The law would perhaps be open to the charge of discriminatory treatment if the only privilege withdrawn had
been that granted to the press. But that is not the case.

The situation in the case at bar is indeed a far cry from those cited by the PPI in support of its claim that Republic Act No. 7716 subjects the
press to discriminatory taxation. In the cases cited, the discriminatory purpose was clear either from the background of the law or from its
operation. For example, in Grosjean v. American Press Co., 28 the law imposed a license tax equivalent to 2% of the gross receipts derived
from advertisements only on newspapers which had a circulation of more than 20,000 copies per week. Because the tax was not based on
the volume of advertisement alone but was measured by the extent of its circulation as well, the law applied only to the thirteen large
newspapers in Louisiana, leaving untaxed four papers with circulation of only slightly less than 20,000 copies a week and 120 weekly
newspapers which were in serious competition with the thirteen newspapers in question. It was well known that the thirteen newspapers had
been critical of Senator Huey Long, and the Long-dominated legislature of Louisiana respondent by taxing what Long described as the "lying
newspapers" by imposing on them "a tax on lying." The effect of the tax was to curtail both their revenue and their circulation. As the U.S.
Supreme Court noted, the tax was "a deliberate and calculated device in the guise of a tax to limit the circulation of information to which the
public is entitled in virtue of the constitutional guaranties." 29 The case is a classic illustration of the warning that the power to tax is the
power to destroy.

In the other case 30 invoked by the PPI, the press was also found to have been singled out because everything was exempt from the "use
tax" on ink and paper, except the press. Minnesota imposed a tax on the sales of goods in that state. To protect the sales tax, it enacted a
complementary tax on the privilege of "using, storing or consuming in that state tangible personal property" by eliminating the residents'
incentive to get goods from outside states where the sales tax might be lower. The Minnesota Star Tribune was exempted from both taxes
from 1967 to 1971. In 1971, however, the state legislature amended the tax scheme by imposing the "use tax" on the cost of paper and ink
used for publication. The law was held to have singled out the press because (1) there was no reason for imposing the "use tax" since the
press was exempt from the sales tax and (2) the "use tax" was laid on an "intermediate transaction rather than the ultimate retail sale."
Minnesota had a heavy burden of justifying the differential treatment and it failed to do so. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court found the law
to be discriminatory because the legislature, by again amending the law so as to exempt the first $100,000 of paper and ink used, further
narrowed the coverage of the tax so that "only a handful of publishers pay any tax at all and even fewer pay any significant amount of tax."
31 The discriminatory purpose was thus very clear.

More recently, in Arkansas Writers' Project, Inc. v. Ragland, 32 it was held that a law which taxed general interest magazines but not
newspapers and religious, professional, trade and sports journals was discriminatory because while the tax did not single out the press as a
whole, it targeted a small group within the press. What is more, by differentiating on the basis of contents (i.e., between general interest and
special interests such as religion or sports) the law became "entirely incompatible with the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the
press."
These cases come down to this: that unless justified, the differential treatment of the press creates risks of suppression of expression. In
contrast, in the cases at bar, the statute applies to a wide range of goods and services. The argument that, by imposing the VAT only on print
media whose gross sales exceeds P480,000 but not more than P750,000, the law discriminates 33 is without merit since it has not been
shown that as a result the class subject to tax has been unreasonably narrowed. The fact is that this limitation does not apply to the press
along but to all sales. Nor is impermissible motive shown by the fact that print media and broadcast media are treated differently. The press
is taxed on its transactions involving printing and publication, which are different from the transactions of broadcast media. There is thus a
reasonable basis for the classification.

The cases canvassed, it must be stressed, eschew any suggestion that "owners of newspapers are immune from any forms of ordinary
taxation." The license tax in the Grosjean case was declared invalid because it was "one single in kind, with a long history of hostile misuse
against the freedom of the
press." 34 On the other hand, Minneapolis Star acknowledged that "The First Amendment does not prohibit all regulation of the press [and
that] the States and the Federal Government can subject newspapers to generally applicable economic regulations without creating
constitutional problems." 35

What has been said above also disposes of the allegations of the PBS that the removal of the exemption of printing, publication or
importation of books and religious articles, as well as their printing and publication, likewise violates freedom of thought and of conscience.
For as the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held in Jimmy Swaggart Ministries v. Board of Equalization, 36 the Free Exercise of Religion
Clause does not prohibit imposing a generally applicable sales and use tax on the sale of religious materials by a religious organization.

This brings us to the question whether the registration provision of the law, 37 although of general applicability, nonetheless is invalid when
applied to the press because it lays a prior restraint on its essential freedom. The case of American Bible Society v. City of Manila 38 is cited
by both the PBS and the PPI in support of their contention that the law imposes censorship. There, this Court held that an ordinance of the
City of Manila, which imposed a license fee on those engaged in the business of general merchandise, could not be applied to the appellant's
sale of bibles and other religious literature. This Court relied on Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 39 in which it was held that, as a license fee is
fixed in amount and unrelated to the receipts of the taxpayer, the license fee, when applied to a religious sect, was actually being imposed as
a condition for the exercise of the sect's right under the Constitution. For that reason, it was held, the license fee "restrains in advance those
constitutional liberties of press and religion and inevitably tends to suppress their exercise." 40

But, in this case, the fee in § 107, although a fixed amount (P1,000), is not imposed for the exercise of a privilege but only for the purpose of
defraying part of the cost of registration. The registration requirement is a central feature of the VAT system. It is designed to provide a
record of tax credits because any person who is subject to the payment of the VAT pays an input tax, even as he collects an output tax on
sales made or services rendered. The registration fee is thus a mere administrative fee, one not imposed on the exercise of a privilege, much
less a constitutional right.

For the foregoing reasons, we find the attack on Republic Act No. 7716 on the ground that it offends the free speech, press and freedom of
religion guarantees of the Constitution to be without merit. For the same reasons, we find the claim of the Philippine Educational Publishers
Association (PEPA) in G.R. No. 115931 that the increase in the price of books and other educational materials as a result of the VAT would
violate the constitutional mandate to the government to give priority to education, science and technology (Art. II, § 17) to be untenable.

B. Claims of Regressivity, Denial of Due Process, Equal Protection, and


Impairment
of Contracts

There is basis for passing upon claims that on its face the statute violates the guarantees of freedom of speech, press and religion. The
possible "chilling effect" which it may have on the essential freedom of the mind and conscience and the need to assure that the channels of
communication are open and operating importunately demand the exercise of this Court's power of review.

There is, however, no justification for passing upon the claims that the law also violates the rule that taxation must be progressive and that it
denies petitioners' right to due process and that equal protection of the laws. The reason for this different treatment has been cogently stated
by an eminent authority on constitutional law thus: "[W]hen freedom of the mind is imperiled by law, it is freedom that commands a
momentum of respect; when property is imperiled it is the lawmakers' judgment that commands respect. This dual standard may not
precisely reverse the presumption of constitutionality in civil liberties cases, but obviously it does set up a hierarchy of values within the due
process clause." 41

Indeed, the absence of threat of immediate harm makes the need for judicial intervention less evident and underscores the essential nature
of petitioners' attack on the law on the grounds of regressivity, denial of due process and equal protection and impairment of contracts as a
mere academic discussion of the merits of the law. For the fact is that there have even been no notices of assessments issued to petitioners
and no determinations at the administrative levels of their claims so as to illuminate the actual operation of the law and enable us to reach
sound judgment regarding so fundamental questions as those raised in these suits.

Thus, the broad argument against the VAT is that it is regressive and that it violates the requirement that "The rule of taxation shall be
uniform and equitable [and] Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation." 42 Petitioners in G.R. No. 115781 quote from a paper,
entitled "VAT Policy Issues: Structure, Regressivity, Inflation and Exports" by Alan A. Tait of the International Monetary Fund, that "VAT
payment by low-income households will be a higher proportion of their incomes (and expenditures) than payments by higher-income
households. That is, the VAT will be regressive." Petitioners contend that as a result of the uniform 10% VAT, the tax on consumption goods
of those who are in the higher-income bracket, which before were taxed at a rate higher than 10%, has been reduced, while basic
commodities, which before were taxed at rates ranging from 3% to 5%, are now taxed at a higher rate.

Just as vigorously as it is asserted that the law is regressive, the opposite claim is pressed by respondents that in fact it distributes the tax
burden to as many goods and services as possible particularly to those which are within the reach of higher-income groups, even as the law
exempts basic goods and services. It is thus equitable. The goods and properties subject to the VAT are those used or consumed by higher-
income groups. These include real properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of business, the
right or privilege to use industrial, commercial or scientific equipment, hotels, restaurants and similar places, tourist buses, and the like. On
the other hand, small business establishments, with annual gross sales of less than P500,000, are exempted. This, according to
respondents, removes from the coverage of the law some 30,000 business establishments. On the other hand, an occasional paper 43 of the
Center for Research and Communication cities a NEDA study that the VAT has minimal impact on inflation and income distribution and that
while additional expenditure for the lowest income class is only P301 or 1.49% a year, that for a family earning P500,000 a year or more is
P8,340 or 2.2%.

Lacking empirical data on which to base any conclusion regarding these arguments, any discussion whether the VAT is regressive in the
sense that it will hit the "poor" and middle-income group in society harder than it will the "rich," as the Cooperative Union of the Philippines
(CUP) claims in G.R. No. 115873, is largely an academic exercise. On the other hand, the CUP's contention that Congress' withdrawal of
exemption of producers cooperatives, marketing cooperatives, and service cooperatives, while maintaining that granted to electric
cooperatives, not only goes against the constitutional policy to promote cooperatives as instruments of social justice (Art. XII, § 15) but also
denies such cooperatives the equal protection of the law is actually a policy argument. The legislature is not required to adhere to a policy of
"all or none" in choosing the subject of taxation. 44

Nor is the contention of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA), petitioner in G.R. 115754, that the VAT will reduce
the mark up of its members by as much as 85% to 90% any more concrete. It is a mere allegation. On the other hand, the claim of the
Philippine Press Institute, petitioner in G.R. No. 115544, that the VAT will drive some of its members out of circulation because their profits
from advertisements will not be enough to pay for their tax liability, while purporting to be based on the financial statements of the
newspapers in question, still falls short of the establishment of facts by evidence so necessary for adjudicating the question whether the tax
is oppressive and confiscatory.

Indeed, regressivity is not a negative standard for courts to enforce. What Congress is required by the Constitution to do is to "evolve a
progressive system of taxation." This is a directive to Congress, just like the directive to it to give priority to the enactment of laws for the
enhancement of human dignity and the reduction of social, economic and political inequalities (Art. XIII, § 1), or for the promotion of the right
to "quality education" (Art. XIV, § 1). These provisions are put in the Constitution as moral incentives to legislation, not as judicially
enforceable rights.

At all events, our 1988 decision in Kapatiran 45 should have laid to rest the questions now raised against the VAT. There similar arguments
made against the original VAT Law (Executive Order No. 273) were held to be hypothetical, with no more basis than newspaper articles
which this Court found to be "hearsay and [without] evidentiary value." As Republic Act No. 7716 merely expands the base of the VAT
system and its coverage as provided in the original VAT Law, further debate on the desirability and wisdom of the law should have shifted to
Congress.

Only slightly less abstract but nonetheless hypothetical is the contention of CREBA that the imposition of the VAT on the sales and leases of
real estate by virtue of contracts entered into prior to the effectivity of the law would violate the constitutional provision that "No law impairing
the obligation of contracts shall be passed." It is enough to say that the parties to a contract cannot, through the exercise of prophetic
discernment, fetter the exercise of the taxing power of the State. For not only are existing laws read into contracts in order to fix obligations
as between parties, but the reservation of essential attributes of sovereign power is also read into contracts as a basic postulate of the legal
order. The policy of protecting contracts against impairment presupposes the maintenance of a government which retains adequate authority
to secure the peace and good order of society. 46

In truth, the Contract Clause has never been thought as a limitation on the exercise of the State's power of taxation save only where a tax
exemption has been granted for a valid consideration. 47 Such is not the case of PAL in G.R. No. 115852, and we do not understand it to
make this claim. Rather, its position, as discussed above, is that the removal of its tax exemption cannot be made by a general, but only by a
specific, law.

The substantive issues raised in some of the cases are presented in abstract, hypothetical form because of the lack of a concrete record. We
accept that this Court does not only adjudicate private cases; that public actions by "non-Hohfeldian" 48 or ideological plaintiffs are now
cognizable provided they meet the standing requirement of the Constitution; that under Art. VIII, § 1, ¶ 2 the Court has a "special function" of
vindicating constitutional rights. Nonetheless the feeling cannot be escaped that we do not have before us in these cases a fully developed
factual record that alone can impart to our adjudication the impact of actuality 49 to insure that decision-making is informed and well
grounded. Needless to say, we do not have power to render advisory opinions or even jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory judgment. In
effect we are being asked to do what the Conference Committee is precisely accused of having done in these cases — to sit as a third
legislative chamber to review legislation.

We are told, however, that the power of judicial review is not so much power as it is duty imposed on this Court by the Constitution and that
we would be remiss in the performance of that duty if we decline to look behind the barriers set by the principle of separation of powers. Art.
VIII, § 1, ¶ 2 is cited in support of this view:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.

To view the judicial power of review as a duty is nothing new. Chief Justice Marshall said so in 1803, to justify the assertion of this power in
Marbury v. Madison:

It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to
particular cases must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must
decide on the operation of each. 50

Justice Laurel echoed this justification in 1936 in Angara v. Electoral Commission:

And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other
departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred
obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to
establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. 51

This conception of the judicial power has been affirmed in several


cases 52 of this Court following Angara.

It does not add anything, therefore, to invoke this "duty" to justify this Court's intervention in what is essentially a case that at best is not ripe
for adjudication. That duty must still be performed in the context of a concrete case or controversy, as Art. VIII, § 5(2) clearly defines our
jurisdiction in terms of "cases," and nothing but "cases." That the other departments of the government may have committed a grave abuse
of discretion is not an independent ground for exercising our power. Disregard of the essential limits imposed by the case and controversy
requirement can in the long run only result in undermining our authority as a court of law. For, as judges, what we are called upon to render
is judgment according to law, not according to what may appear to be the opinion of the day.

_______________________________

In the preceeding pages we have endeavored to discuss, within limits, the validity of Republic Act No. 7716 in its formal and substantive
aspects as this has been raised in the various cases before us. To sum up, we hold:

(1) That the procedural requirements of the Constitution have been complied with by Congress in the enactment of the statute;

(2) That judicial inquiry whether the formal requirements for the enactment of statutes — beyond those prescribed by the Constitution —
have been observed is precluded by the principle of separation of powers;

(3) That the law does not abridge freedom of speech, expression or the press, nor interfere with the free exercise of religion, nor deny to any
of the parties the right to an education; and

(4) That, in view of the absence of a factual foundation of record, claims that the law is regressive, oppressive and confiscatory and that it
violates vested rights protected under the Contract Clause are prematurely raised and do not justify the grant of prospective relief by writ of
prohibition.

WHEREFORE, the petitions in these cases are DISMISSED.

Bidin, Quiason, and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
NARVASA, C.J.:
I fully concur with the conclusions set forth in the scholarly
opinion of my learned colleague, Mr. Justice Vicente V.
Mendoza. I write this separate opinion to express my own
views relative to the procedural issues raised by the
various petitions and death with by some other Members
of the Court in their separate opinions.
By their very nature, it would seem, discussions of
constitutional issues prove fertile ground for a not
uncommon phenomenon: debate marked by passionate
partisanship amounting sometimes to impatience with
adverse views, an eagerness on the part of the
proponents on each side to assume the role of, or be
perceived as, staunch defenders of constitutional
principles, manifesting itself in flights of rhetoric, even
hyperbole. The peril in this, obviously, is a diminution of
objectivity — that quality which, on the part of those
charged with the duty and authority of interpreting the
fundamental law, is of the essence of their great function.
For the Court, more perhaps than for any other person or
group, it is necessary to maintain that desirable objectivity.
It must make certain that on this as on any other occasion,
the judicial function is meticulously performed, the facts
ascertained as comprehensively and as accurately as
possible, all the issues particularly identified, all the
arguments clearly understood; else, it may itself be
accused, by its own members or by others, of a lack of
adherence to, or a careless observance of, its own
procedures, the signatures of its individual members on its
enrolled verdicts notwithstanding.
In the matter now before the Court, and whatever
reservations some people may entertain about their
intellectual limitations or moral scruples, I cannot bring
myself to accept the thesis which necessarily implies that
the members of our august Congress, in enacting the
expanded VAT law, exposed their ignorance, or
indifference to the observance, of the rules of procedure
set down by the Constitution or by their respective
chambers, or what is worse, deliberately ignored those
rules for some yet undiscovered purpose nefarious in
nature, or at least some purpose other than the public
weal; or that a few of their fellows, acting as a bicameral
conference committee, by devious schemes and cunning
maneuvers, and in conspiracy with officials of the
Executive Department and others, succeeded in "pulling
the wool over the eyes" of all their other colleagues and
foisting on them a bill containing provisions that neither
chamber of our bicameral legislature conceived or
contemplated. This is the thesis that the petitioners would
have this Court approve. It is a thesis I consider bereft of
any factual or logical foundation.
Other than the bare declarations of some of the
petitioners, or arguments from the use and import of the
language employed in the relevant documents and
records, there is no evidence before the Court adequate to
support a finding that the legislators concerned, whether of
the upper or lower chamber, acted otherwise than in good
faith, in the honest discharge of their functions, in the
sincere belief that the established procedures were being
regularly observed or, at least, that there occurred no
serious or fatal deviation therefrom. There is no evidence
on which reasonably to rest a conclusion that any
executive or other official took part in or unduly influenced
the proceedings before the bicameral conference
committee, or that the members of the latter were
motivated by a desire to surreptitiously introduce improper
revisions in the bills which they were required to reconcile,
or that after agreement had been reached on the mode
and manner of reconciliation of the "disagreeing
provisions," had resorted to stratragems or employed
under-handed ploys to ensure their approval and adoption
by either House. Neither is there any proof that in voting
on the Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) version of
the reconciled bills, the members of the Senate and the
House did so in ignorance of, or without understanding,
the contents thereof or the bills therein reconciled.
Also unacceptable is the theory that since the Constitution
requires appropriation and revenue bills to originate
exclusively in the House of Representatives, it is improper
if not unconstitutional for the Senate to formulate, or even
think about formulating, its own draft of this type of
measure in anticipation of receipt of one transmitted by the
lower Chamber. This is specially cogent as regards much-
publicized suggestions for legislation (like the expanded
VAT Law) emanating from one or more legislators, or from
the Executive Department, or the private sector, etc. which
understandably could be expected to forthwith generate
much Congressional cogitation.
Exclusive origination, I submit, should have no reference
to time of conception. As a practical matter, origination
should refer to the affirmative act which effectively puts the
bicameral legislative procedure in motion, i.e., the
transmission by one chamber to the other of a bill for its
adoption. This is the purposeful act which sets the
legislative machinery in operation to effectively lead to the
enactment of a statute. Until this transmission takes place,
the formulation and discussions, or the reading for three or
more times of proposed measures in either chamber,
would be meaningless in the context of the activity leading
towards concrete legislation. Unless transmitted to the
other chamber, a bill prepared by either house cannot
possibly become law. In other words, the first affirmative,
efficacious step, the operative act as it were, leading to
actual enactment of a statute, is the transmission of a bill
from one house to the other for action by the latter. This is
the origination that is spoken of in the Constitution in its
Article VI, Section 24, in reference to appropriation,
revenue, or tariff bills, etc.
It may be that in the Senate, revenue or tax measures are
discussed, even drafted, and this before a similar activity
takes place in the House. This is of no moment, so long as
those measures or bill remain in the Senate and are not
sent over the House. There is no origination of revenue or
tax measures by the Senate in this case. However, once
the House completes the drawing up of a similar tax
measure in accordance with the prescribed procedure,
ven if this is done subsequent to the Senate’s own
measure — indeed, even if this be inspired by information
that measure of the Senate — and after third reading
transmits its bill to the Senate, there is origination by (or
in) the House within the contemplation of the Constitution.
So it is entirely possible, as intimated, that in expectation
of the receipt of a revenue or tax bill from the House of
Representatives, the Senate commences deliberations on
its own concept of such a legislative measure. This,
possibly to save time, so that when the House bill raches
it, its thoughts and views on the matter are already formed
and even reduced to writing in the form of a draft statute.
This should not be thought ilegal, as interdicted by the
Constitution. What the Constitution prohibits is for the
Senate to begin the legislative process first, by sending its
own revenue bill to the House of Representatives for its
consideration and action. This is the initiation that is
prohibited to the Senate.
But petitioners claims that this last was what in fact
happened, that the went through the legislative mill and
was finally approved as R.A. No. 7716, was the Senate
version, SB 1630. This is disputed by the respondents.
They claim it was House Bill 11197 that, after being
transmitted to the Senate, was referred after first reading
to its Committee on Ways and Means; was reported out by
said Committee; underwent second and third readings,
was sent to the bicameral conference committee and then,
after appropriate proceedings therein culminating in
extensive amendments thereof, was finally approved by
both Houses and became the Expanded VAT Law.
On whose side does the truth lie? If it is not possible to
make that determination from the pleadings and records
before this Court, shall it require evidence to be
presented? No, on both law and principle. The Court will
reject a case where the legal issues raised, whatever they
may be, depend for their resolution on still unsettled
questions of fact. Petitioners may not, by raising what are
Court to assume the role of a trier of facts. It is on the
contrary their obligation, before raising those questions to
this Court, to see to it that all issues of fact are settled in
accordance with the procedures laid down by law for proof
of facts. Failing this, petitioners would have only
themselves to blame for a peremptory dismissal.
Now, what is really proven about what happened to HB
11197 after it was transmitted to the Senate? It seems to
be admitted on all sides that after going through first
reading, HB 11197 was referred to the Committee on
Ways and Means chaired by Senator Ernesto Herrera.
It is however surmised that after this initial step, HB 11197
was never afterwards deliberated on in the Senate, that it
was there given nothing more than a "passing glance,"
and that it never went through a proper second and third
reading. There is no competent proof to substantiate this
claim. What is certain is that on February 7, 1994, the
Senate Committee on Ways and Means submitted its
Report (No. 349) stating that HB 11197 was considered,
and recommending that SB 1630 be approved "in
substitution of S.B. No. 1129, taking into consideration
P.S. Res. No. 734 1 and H.B. No. 11197." This Report
made known to the Senate, and clearly indicates, that H.B.
No. 11197 was indeed deliberated on by the Committee;
in truth, as Senator Herrera pointed out, the BCC later
"agreed to adopt (a broader coverage of the VAT) which is
closely adhering to the Senate version ** ** with some new
provisions or amendments." The plain implication is that
the Senate Committee had indeed discussed HB 11197 in
comparison with the inconsistent parts of SB 1129 and
afterwards proposed amendments to the former in the
form of a new bill (No. 1630) more closely akin to the
Senate bill (No. 1129).
And it is as reasonable to suppose as not that later, during
the second and third readings on March 24, 1994, the
Senators, assembled as a body, had before them copies
of HB 11197 and SB 1129, as well as of the Committee's
new "SB 1630" that had been recommended for their
approval, or at the very least were otherwise perfectly
aware that they were considering the particular provisions
of these bills. That there was such a deliberation in the
Senate on HB 11197 in light of inconsistent portions of SB
1630, may further be necessarily inferred from the
request, made by the Senate on the same day, March 24,
1994, for the convocation of a bicameral conference
committee to reconcile "the disagreeing provisions of said
bill (SB 1630) and House Bill No. 11197," a request that
could not have been made had not the Senators more or
less closely examined the provisions of HB 11197 and
compared them with those of the counterpart Senate
measures.
Were the proceedings before the bicameral conference
committee fatally flawed? The affirmative is suggested
because the committee allegedly overlooked or ignored
the fact that SB 1630 could not validly originate in the
Senate, and that HB 11197 and SB 1630 never properly
passed both chambers. The untenability of these
contentions has already been demonstrated. Now,
demonstration of the indefensibility of other arguments
purporting to establish the impropriety of the BCC
proceedings will be attempted.
There is the argument, for instance, that the conference
committee never used HB 11197 even as "frame of
reference" because it does not appear that the suggestion
therefor (made by House Penal Chairman Exequiel Javier
at the bicameral conference committee's meeting on April
19, 1994, with the concurrence of Senator Maceda) was
ever resolved, the minutes being regrettably vague as to
what occurred after that suggestion was made. It is,
however, as reasonable to assume that it was, as it was
not, given the vagueness of the minutes already alluded
to. In fact, a reading of the BCC Report persuasively
demonstrates that HB 11197 was not only utilized as a
"frame of reference" but actually discussed and
deliberated on.
Said BCC Report pertinently states: 2
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT
The Conference Committee on the disagreeing
provisions of House Bill No. 11197, entitled:
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE
ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS
ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE
PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 1013,
104, 105, 106, 107, 108 AND 110 OF TITLE IV,
112, 115 AND 116 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237,
AND 238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING
SECTIONS 113SD AND 114 OF TITLE V, ALL
OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE
CODE, AS AMENDED
and Senate Bill No. 1630 entitled:
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE
ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS
ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE
PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104,
1 106, 107, 108 AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112, 115,
117 AND 121 OF TITLE V, ACND 236, 237, AND
238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING SECTIONS
1113, 114, 116, 119 AND 120 OF TITLE V, ALL
OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE
CODE, AS AMENDED AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES
having met, after full and free conference, has
agreed to recommend and do hereby
recommend to their respective Houses that
House Bill No. 11197, in consolidation with
Senate Bill No. 1630, be approved in accordance
with the attached copy of the bill as reconciled
and approved by the conferees.
Approved.
The Report, it will be noted, explicitly adverts to House Bill
No. 11197, it being in fact mentioned ahead of Senate Bill
No. 1630; graphically shows the very close identity of the
subjects of both bills (indicated in their respective titles);
and clearly says that the committee met in "full and free
conference" on the "disagreeing provisions" of both bills
(obviously in an effort to reconcile them); and that
reconciliation of said "disagreeing provisions" had been
effected, the BCC having agreed that "House Bill No.
11197, in consolidation with Senate Bill No. 1630, be
approved in accordance with the attached copy of the bill
as reconciled and approved by the conferees."
It may be concluded, in other words, that, conformably to
the procedure provided in the Constitution with which all
the Members of the bicameral conference committee
cannot but be presumed to be familiar, and no proof to the
contrary having been adduced on the point, it was the
original bill (HB 11197) which said body had considered
and deliberated on in detail, reconciled or harmonized with
SB 1630, and used as basis for drawing up the amended
version eventually reported out and submitted to both
houses of Congress.
It is further contended that the BCC was created and
convoked prematurely, that SB 1630 should first have
been sent to the House of Representatives for
concurrence It is maintained, in other words, that the latter
chamber should have refused the Senate request for a
bicameral conference committee to reconcile the
"disagreeing provisions" of both bills, and should have
required that SB 1630 be first transmitted to it. This,
seemingly, is nit-picking given the urgency of the proposed
legislation as certified by the President (to both houses, in
fact). Time was of the essence, according to the
President's best judgment — as regards which absolutely
no one in either chamber of Congress took exception,
general acceptance being on the contrary otherwise
manifested — and that judgment the Court will not now
question. In light of that urgency, what was so vital or
indispensable about such a transmittal that its absence
would invalidate all else that had been done towards
enactment of the law, completely escapes me, specially
considering that the House had immediately acceded
without demur to the request for convocation of the
conference committee.
What has just been said should dispose of the argument
that the statement in the enrolled bill, that "This Act which
is a consolidation of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill
No. 11630 was finally passed by the House of
Representatives and the Senate on April 27, 1994 and
May 2, 1994," necessarily signifies that there were two (2)
bills separately introduced, retaining their independent
existence until they reached the bicameral conference
committee where they were consolidated, and therefore,
the VAT law did not originate exclusively in the House
having originated in part in the Senate as SB 1630, which
bill was not embodied in but merely merged with HB
11197, retaining its separate identity until it was joined by
the BCC with the house measure. The more logical, and
fairer, course is to construe the expression, "consolidation
of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 11630" in the
context of accompanying and contemporaneous
statements, i.e.: (a) the declaration in the BCC Report,
supra, that the committee met to reconcile the disagreeing
provisions of the two bills, "and after full and free
conference" on the matter, agreed and so recommended
that "House Bill No. 11197, in consolidation with Senate
Bill No. 1630, be approved in accordance with the
attached copy of the bill as reconciled and approved by
the conferees;" and (b) the averment of Senator Herrera,
in the Report of the Ways and Means Committee, supra,
that the committee had actually "considered" (discussed)
HB No. 11197 and taken it "into consideration" in
recommending that its own version of the measure (SB
1630) be the one approved.
That the Senate might have drawn up its own version of
the expanded VAT bill, contemporaneously with or even
before the House did, is of no moment. It bears repeating
in this connection that no VAT bill ever originated in the
Senate; neither its SB 1129 or SB 1630 or any of its drafts
was ever officially transmitted to the House as an initiating
bill which, as already pointed out, is what the Constitution
forbids; it was HB 11197 that was first sent to the Senate,
underwent first reading, was referred to Committee on
Ways and Means and there discussed in relation to and in
comparison with the counterpart Senate version or
versions — the mere formulation of which was, as also
already discussed, not prohibited to it — and afterwards
considered by the Senate itself, also in connection with SB
1630, on second and third readings. HB 11197 was in the
truest sense, the originating bill.
An issue has also arisen respecting the so-called "enrolled
bill doctrine" which, it is said, whatever sacrosanct status it
might originally have enjoyed, is now in bad odor with
modern scholars on account of its imputed rigidity and
unrealism; it being also submitted that the ruling in
Mabanag v. Lopez Vito (78 Phil. 1) and the cases
reaffirming it, is no longer good law, it being based on a
provision of the Code of Civil Procedure 3 long since
stricken from the statute books.
I would myself consider the "enrolled bill" theory as laying
down a presumption of so strong a character as to be well
nigh absolute or conclusive, fully in accord with the familiar
and fundamental philosophy of separation of powers. The
result, as far as I am concerned, is to make discussion of
the enrolled bill principle purely academic; for as already
pointed out, there is no proof worthy of the name of any
facts to justify its reexamination and, possibly, disregard.
The other question is, what is the nature of the power
given to a bicameral conference committee of reconciling
differences between, or "disagreeing provisions" in, a bill
originating from the House in relation to amendments
proposed by the Senate — whether as regards some or all
of its provisions? Is the mode of reconciliation, subject to
fixed procedure and guidelines? What exactly can the
committee do, or not do? Can it only clarify or revise
provisions found in either Senate or House bill? Is it
forbidden to propose additional or new provisions, even on
matters necessarily or reasonably connected with or
germane to items in the bills being reconciled?
In answer, it is postulated that the reconciliation function is
quite limited. In these cases, the conference committee
should have confined itself to reconciliation of differences
or inconsistencies only by (a) restoring provisions of
HB11197 aliminated by SB 1630, or (b) sustaining wholly
or partly the Senate amendments, or (c) as a compromise,
agreeing that neither provisions nor amendments be
carried into the final form of HB 11197 for submission to
both chambers of the legislature.
The trouble is, it is theorized, the committee incorporated
activities or transactions which were not within the
contemplation of both bills; it made additions and deletions
which did not enjoy the enlightenment of initial committee
studies; it exercised what is known as an "ex post veto
power" granted to it by no law, rule or regulation, a power
that in truth is denied to it by the rules of both the Senate
and the House. In substantiation, the Senate rule is cited,
similar to that of the House, providing that "differences
shall be settled by a conference committee" whose report
shall contain "detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of
the changes in or amendments to the subject measure, **
(to be) signed by the conferees;" as well as the
"Jefferson's Manual," adopted by the Senate as
supplement to its own rules, directing that the managers of
the conference must confine themselves to differences
submitted to them; they may not include subjects not
within the disagreements even though germane to a
question in issue."
It is significant that the limiting proviso in the relevant rules
has been construed and applied as directory, not
mandatory. During the oral argument, counsel for
petitioners admitted that the practice for decades has
been for bicameral conference committees to include such
provisions in the reconciled bill as they believed to be
germane or necessary and acceptable to both chambers,
even if not within any of the "disagreeing provisions," and
the reconciled bills, containing such provisions had
invariably been approved and adopted by both houses of
Congress. It is a practice, they say, that should be
stopped. But it is a practice that establishes in no
uncertain manner the prevailing concept in both houses of
Congress of the permissible and acceptable modes of
reconciliation that their conference committees may adopt,
one whose undesirability is not all that patent if not,
indeed, incapable of unquestionable demonstration. The
fact is that conference committees only take up bills which
have already been freely and fully discussed in both
chambers of the legislature, but as to which there is need
of reconciliation in view of "disagreeing provisions"
between them; and both chambers entrust the function of
reconciling the bills to their delegates at a conference
committee with full awareness, and tacit consent, that
conformably with established practice unquestioningly
observed over many years, new provisions may be
included even if not within the "disagreeing provisions" but
of which, together with other changes, they will be given
detailed and sufficiently explicit information prior to voting
on the conference committee version.
In any event, a fairly recent decision written for the Court
by Senior Associate Justice Isagani A. Cruz, promulgated
on November 11, 1993 (G.R. No. 105371, The Philippine
Judges Association, etc., et al. v. Hon. Pete Prado, etc., et
al.), should leave no doubt of the continuing vitality of the
enrolled bill doctrine and give an insight into the nature of
the reconciling function of bicameral conference
committees. In that case, a bilateral conference committee
was constituted and met to reconcile Senate Bill No. 720
and House Bill No. 4200. It adopted a "reconciled"
measure that was submitted to and approved by both
chambers of Congress and ultimately signed into law by
the President, as R.A. No. 7354. A provision in this statute
(removing the franking privilege from the courts, among
others) was assailed as being an invalid amendment
because it was not included in the original version of either
the senate or the house bill and hence had generated no
disagreement between them which had to be reconciled.
The Court held:
While it is true that a conference committee is the
mechanism for compromising differences
between the Senate and the House, it is not
limited in its jurisdiction to this question. Its
broader function is described thus:
A conference committee may deal
generally with the subject matter or it
may be limited to resolving the precise
differences between the two houses.
Even where the conference committee
is not by rule limited in its jurisdiction,
legislative custom severely limits the
freedom with which new subject matter
can be inserted into the conference bill.
But occasionally a conference
committee produces unexpected results,
results beyond its mandate. These
excursions occur even where the rules
impose strict limitations on conference
committee jurisdiction. This is
symptomatic of the authoritarian power
of conference committee (Davies,
Legislative Law and Process: In A
Nutshell, 1987 Ed., p. 81).
It is a matter of record that the Conference
Committee Report on the bill in question was
returned to and duly approved by both the
Senate and the House of Representatives.
Thereafter, the bill was enrolled with its
certification by Senate President Neptali A.
Gonzales and Speaker Ramon V. Mitra of the
House of Representatives as having been duly
passed by both Houses of Congress. It was then
presented to and approved by President Corazon
C. Aquino on April 3, 1992.
Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the
Court may not inquire beyond the certification of
the approval of a bill from the presiding officers of
Congress. Casco Philippine Chemical Co. v.
Gimenez (7 SCRA 347) laid down the rule that
the enrolled bill is conclusive upon the Judiciary
(except in matters that have to be entered in the
journals like the yeas and nays on the final
reading of the bill) (Mabanag v. Lopez Vito, 78
Phil. 1). The journals are themselves also binding
on the Supreme Court, as we held in the old (but
still valid) case of U.S. v. Pons (34 Phil. 729),
where we explained the reason thus:
To inquire into the veracity of the
journals of the Philippine legislature
when they are, as we have said, clear
and explicit, would be to violate both the
letter and spirit of the organic laws by
which the Philippine Government was
brought into existence, to invade a
coordinate and independent department
of the Government, and to interfere with
the legitimate powers and functions of
the Legislature. Applying these
principles, we shall decline to look into
the petitioners' charges that an
amendment was made upon the last
reading of the bill that eventually R.A.
No. 7354 and that copies thereof in its
final form were not distributed among
the members of each House. Both the
enrolled bill and the legislative journals
certify that the measure was duly
enacted i.e., in accordance with Article
VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the Constitution. We
are bound by such official assurances
from a coordinate department of the
government, to which we owe, at the
very least, a becoming courtesy.
Withal, an analysis of the changes made by the
conference committee in HB 11197 and SB 1630 by way
of reconciling their "disagreeing provisions," — assailed by
petitioners as unauthorized or incongrouous — reveals
that many of the changes related to actual "disagreeing
provisions," and that those that might perhaps be
considered as entirely new are nevertheless necessarily or
logically connected with or germane to particular matters
in the bills being reconciled.
For instance, the change made by the bicameral
conference committee (BCC) concerning amendments to
Section 99 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC)
— the addition of "lessors of goods or properties and
importers of goods" — is really a reconciliation of
disagreeing provisions, for while HB 11197 mentions as
among those subject to tax, "one who sells, barters, or
exchanges goods or properties and any person who
leases personal properties," SB 1630 does not. The
change also merely clarifies the provision by providing that
the contemplated taxpayers includes "importers." The
revision as regards the amendment to Section 100, NIRC,
is also simple reconciliation, being nothing more than the
adoption by the BCC of the provision in HB 11197
governing the sale of gold to Bangko Sentral, in contrast to
SB 1630 containing no such provision. Similarly, only
simple reconciliation was involved as regards approval by
the BCC of a provision declaring as not exempt, the sale
of real properties primarily held for sale to customers or
held for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business,
which provision is found in HB 11197 but not in SB 1630;
as regards the adoption by the BCC of a provision on life
insurance business, contained in SB 1630 but not found in
HB 11197; as regards adoption by the BCC of the
provision in SB 1630 for deferment of tax on certain goods
and services for no longer than 3 years, as to which there
was no counterpart provision in SB 11197; and as regards
the fixing of a period for the adoption of implementing
rules, a period being prescribed in SB 1630 and none in
HB 11197.
In respect of other revisions, it would seem that questions
logically arose in the course of the discussion of specific
"disagreeing provisions" to which answers were given
which, because believed acceptable to both houses of
Congress, were placed in the BCC draft. For example,
during consideration of radio and television time (Sec.
100, NIRC) dealt with in both House and Senate bills, the
question apparently came up, the relevance of which is
apparent on its face, relative to satellite transmission and
cable television time. Hence, a provision in the BCC bill on
the matter. Again, while deliberating on the definition of
goods or properties in relation to the provision subjecting
sales thereof to tax, a question apparently arose, logically
relevant, about real properties intended to be sold by a
person in economic difficulties, or because he wishes to
buy a car, i.e., not as part of a business, the BCC
evidently resolved to clarify the matter by excluding from
the tax, "real properties held primarily for sale to
customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of
business." And in the course of consideration of the term,
sale or exchange of services (Sec 102, NIRC), the inquiry
most probably was posed as to whether the term should
be understood as including other services: e.g., services
of lessors of property whether real or personal, of
warehousemen, of keepers of resthouses, pension
houses, inns, resorts, or of common carriers, etc., and
presumably the BCC resolved to clarify the matter by
including the services just mentioned. Surely, changes of
this nature are obviously to be expected in proceedings
before bicameral conference committees and may even
be considered grist for their mill, given the history of such
BCCs and their general practice here and abroad
In any case, all the changes and revisions, and deletions,
made by the conference committee were all subsequently
considered by and approved by both the Senate and the
House, meeting and voting separately. It is an
unacceptable theorization, to repeat, that when the BCC
report and its proposed bill were submitted to the Senate
and the House, the members thereof did not bother to
read, or what is worse, having read did not understand,
what was before them, or did not realize that there were
new provisions in the reconciled version unrelated to any
"disagreeing provisions," or that said new provisions or
revisions were effectively concealed from them
Moreover, it certainly was entirely within the power and
prerogative of either legislative chamber to reject the BCC
bill and require the organization of a new bicameral
conference committee. That this option was not exercised
by either house only proves that the BCC measure was
found to be acceptable as in fact it was approved and
adopted by both chambers.
I vote to DISMISS the petitions for lack of merit.

PADILLA, J.:
I
The original VAT law and the expanded VAT law
In Kapatiran v. Tan,1 where the ponente was the writer of
this Separate Opinion, a unanimous Supreme Court en
banc upheld the validity of the original VAT law (Executive
Order No. 273, approved on 25 July 1987). It will, in my
view, be pointless at this time to re-open arguments
advanced in said case as to why said VAT law was invalid,
and it will be equally redundant to re-state the principles
laid down by the Court in the same case affirming the
validity of the VAT law as a tax measure. And yet, the
same arguments are, in effect, marshalled against the
merits and substance of the expanded VAT law (Rep. Act.
No. 7716, approved on 5 May 1994). The same Supreme
Court decision should therefore dispose, in the main, of
such arguments, for the expanded VAT law is predicated
basically on the same principles as the original VAT law,
except that now the tax base of the VAT imposition has
been expanded or broadened.
It only needs to be stated — what actually should be
obvious — that a tax measure, like the expanded VAT law
(Republic Act. No. 7716), is enacted by Congress and
approved by the President in the exercise of the State's
power to tax, which is an attribute of sovereignty. And
while the power to tax, if exercised without limit, is a power
to destroy, and should, therefore, not be allowed in such
form, it has to be equally recognized that the power to tax
is an essential right of government. Without taxes, basic
services to the people can come to a halt; economic
progress will be stunted, and, in the long run, the people
will suffer the pains of stagnation and retrogression.
Consequently, upon careful deliberation, I have no
difficulty in reaching the conclusion that the expanded VAT
law comes within the legitimate power of the state to tax.
And as I had occasion to previously state:
Constitutional Law, to begin with, is concerned
with power not political convenience, wisdom,
exigency, or even necessity. Neither the
Executive nor the legislative (Commission on
Appointments) can create power where the
Constitution confers none.2
Likewise, in the first VAT case, I said:
In any event, if petitioners seriously believe that
the adoption and continued application of the
VAT are prejudicial to the general welfare or the
interests of the majority of the people, they
should seek, recourse and relief from the political
branches of the government. The Court, following
the time-honored doctrine of separation of
powers, cannot substitute its judgment for that of
the President (and Congress) as to the wisdom,
justice and advisability of the adoption of the
VAT. 3
This Court should not, as a rule, concern itself with
questions of policy, much less, economic policy. That is
better left to the two (2) political branches of government.
That the expanded VAT law is unwise, unpopular and
even anti-poor, among other things said against it, are
arguments and considerations within the realm of policy-
debate, which only Congress and the Executive have the
authority to decisively confront, alleviate, remedy and
resolve.
II
The procedure followed in the approval of Rep. Act No.
7716
Petitioners however posit that the present case raises a
far-reaching constitutional question which the Court is
duty-bound to decide under its expanded jurisdiction in the
1987 Constitution.4 Petitioners more specifically question
and impugn the manner by which the expanded VAT law
(Rep. Act. No. 7716) was approved by Congress. They
contend that it was approved in violation of the
Constitution from which fact it follows, as a consequence,
that the law is null and void. Main reliance of the
petitioners in their assault in Section 24, Art. VI of the
Constitution which provides:
Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills,
bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bill of
local application, and private bills shall originate
exclusively in the House of Representatives, but
the Senate may propose or concur with
amendments.
While it should be admitted at the outset that there was no
rigorous and strict adherence to the literal command of the
above provision, it may however be said, after careful
reflection, that there was substantial compliance with the
provision.
There is no question that House Bill No. 11197 expanding
the VAT law originated from the House of
Representatives. It is undeniably a House measure. On
the other hand, Senate Bill No. 1129, also expanding the
VAT law, originated from the Senate. It is undeniably a
Senate measure which, in point of time, actually antedated
House Bill No. 11197.
But it is of record that when House Bill No. 11197 was,
after approval by the House, sent to the Senate, it was
referred to, and considered by the Senate Committee on
Ways and Means (after first reading) together with Senate
Bill No. 1129, and the Committee came out with Senate
Bill No. 1630 in substitution of Senate Bill No. 1129 but
after expressly taking into consideration House Bill No.
11197.
Since the Senate is, under the above-quoted constitutional
provision, empowered to concur with a revenue measure
exclusively originating from the House, or to propose
amendments thereto, to the extent of proposing
amendments by SUBSTITUTION to the House measure,
the approval by the Senate of Senate Bill No. 1630, after it
had considered House Bill No. 11197, may be taken, in
my view, as an AMENDMENT BY SUBSTITUTION by the
Senate not only of Senate Bill No. 1129 but of House Bill
No. 11197 as well which, it must be remembered,
originated exclusively from the House.
But then, in recognition of the fact that House Bill No.
11197 which originated exclusively from the House and
Senate Bill No. 1630 contained conflicting provisions, both
bills (House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630) were
referred to the Bicameral Conference Committee for joint
consideration with a view to reconciling their conflicting
provisions.
The Conference Committee came out eventually with a
Conference Committee Bill which was submitted to both
chambers of Congress (the Senate and the House). The
Conference Committee reported out a bill consolidating
provisions in House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No.
1630. What transpired in both chambers after the
Conference Committee Report was submitted to them is
not clear from the records in this case. What is clear
however is that both chambers voted separately on the bill
reported out by the Conference Committee and both
chambers approved the bill of the Conference Committee.
To me then, what should really be important is that both
chambers of Congress approved the bill reported out by
the Conference Committee. In my considered view, the act
of both chambers of Congress in approving the
Conference Committee bill, should put an end to any
inquiry by this Court as to how the bill came about. What is
more, such separate approvals CURED whatever
constitutional infirmities may have arisen in the procedures
leading to such approvals. For, if such infirmities were
serious enough to impugn the very validity of the measure
itself, there would have been an objection or objections
from members of both chambers to the approval. The
Court has been shown no such objection on record in both
chambers.
Petitioners contend that there were violations of Sec. 26
paragraph 2, Article VI of the Constitution which provides:
Sec. 26. . . .
(2) No bill passed by either House shall become
a law unless it has passed three readings on
separate days, and printed copies thereof in its
final form have been distributed to its Members
three days before its passage, except when the
President certifies to the necessity of its
immediate enactment to meet a public calamity
or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no
amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the
vote thereon shall be taken immediately
thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the
Journal.
in that, when Senate Bill No. 1630 (the Senate counterpart
of House Bill No. 11197) was approved by the Senate,
after it had been reported out by the Senate Committee on
Ways and Means, the bill went through second and third
readings on the same day (not separate days) and printed
copies thereof in its final form were not distributed to the
members of the Senate at least three (3) days before its
passage by the Senate. But we are told by the
respondents that the reason for this "short cut" was that
the President had certified to the necessity of the bill's
immediate enactment to meet an emergency — a
certification that, by leave of the same constitutional
provision, dispensed with the second and third readings
on separate days and the printed form at least three (3)
days before its passage.
We have here then a situation where the President did
certify to the necessity of Senate Bill No. 1630's immediate
enactment to meet an emergency and the Senate
responded accordingly. While I would be the last to say
that this Court cannot review the exercise of such power
by the President in appropriate cases ripe for judicial
review, I am not prepared however to say that the
President gravely abused his discretion in the exercise of
such power as to require that this Court overturn his
action. We have been shown no fact or circumstance
which would impugn the judgment of the President,
concurred in by the Senate, that there was an emergency
that required the immediate enactment of Senate Bill No.
1630. On the other hand, a becoming respect for a co-
equal and coordinate department of government points
that weight and credibility be given to such Presidential
judgment.
The authority or power of the Conference Committee to
make insertions in and deletions from the bills referred to
it, namely, House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630
is likewise assailed by petitioners. Again, what appears
important here is that both chambers approved and ratified
the bill as reported out by the Conference Committee (with
the reported insertions and deletions). This is perhaps
attributable to the known legislative practice of allowing a
Conference Committee to make insertions in and deletions
from bills referred to it for consideration, as long as they
are germane to the subject matter of the bills under
consideration. Besides, when the Conference Committee
made the insertions and deletions complained of by
petitioners, was it not actually performing the task
assigned to it of reconciling conflicting provisions in House
Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630?
This Court impliedly if not expressly recognized the fact of
such legislative practice in Philippine Judges Association,
etc. vs. Hon. Peter Prado, etc., 5 In said case, we stated
thus:
The petitioners also invoke Sec. 74 of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, requiring that
amendment to any bill when the House and the
Senate shall have differences thereon may be
settled by a conference committee of both
chambers. They stress that Sec. 35 was never a
subject of any disagreement between both
Houses and so the second paragraph could not
have been validly added as an amendment.
These arguments are unacceptable.
While it is true that a conference committee is the
mechanism for compromising differences
between the Senate and the House, it is not
limited in its jurisdiction to this question. Its
broader function is described thus:
A conference committee may deal
generally with the subject matter or it
may be limited to resolving the precise
differences between the two houses.
Even where the conference committee
is not by rule limited in its jurisdiction,
legislative custom severely limits the
freedom with which new subject matter
can be inserted into the conference bill.
But occasionally a conference
committee produces unexpected results,
results beyond its mandate. These
excursions occurs even where the rules
impose strict limitations on conference
committee jurisdiction. This is
symptomatic of the authoritarian power
of conference committee (Davies,
Legislative Law and Process: In A
Nutshell, 1986 Ed., p. 81).
It is a matter of record that the Conference
Committee Report on the bill in question was
returned to and duly approved by both the
Senate and the House of Representatives.
Thereafter, the bill was enrolled with its
certification by Senate President Neptali A.
Gonzales and Speaker Ramon V. Mitra of the
House of Representatives as having been duly
passed by both Houses of Congress. It was then
presented to and approved by President Corazon
C. Aquino on April 3, 1992.
It would seem that if corrective measures are in order to
clip the powers of the Conference Committee, the remedy
should come from either or both chambers of Congress,
not from this Court, under the time-honored doctrine of
separation of powers.
Finally, as certified by the Secretary of the Senate and the
Secretary General of the House of Representatives —
This Act (Rep. Act No. 7716) is a consolidation of
House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630
(w)as finally passed by the House of
Representatives and the Senate on April 27,
1994 and May 2, 1994 respectively.
Under the long-accepted doctrine of the "enrolled bill," the
Court in deference to a co-equal and coordinate branch of
government is held to a recognition of Rep. Act No. 7716
as a law validly enacted by Congress and, thereafter,
approved by the President on 5 May 1994. Again, we
quote from out recent decision in Philippine Judges
Association, supra:
Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the
Court may not inquire beyond the certification of
the approval of a bill from the presiding officers of
Congress. Casco Philippine Chemical Co. v.
Gimenez laid down the rule that the enrolled bill
is conclusive upon the Judiciary (except in
matters that have to be entered in the journals
like the yeas and nays on the finally reading of
the bill). The journals are themselves also binding
on the Supreme Court, as we held in the old (but
still valid) case of U.S. vs. Pons,8 where we
explained the reason thus:
To inquire into the veracity of the
journals of the Philippine legislature
when they are, as we have said, clear
and explicit, would be to violate both the
letter and spirit of the organic laws by
which the Philippine Government was
brought into existence, to invade a
coordinate and independent department
of the Government, and to interfere with
the legitimate powers and functions of
the Legislature.
Applying these principles, we shall decline to look
into the petitioners' charges that an amendment
was made upon the last reading of the bill that
eventually became R.A. No. 7354 and that copies
thereof in its final form were not distributed
among the members of each House. Both the
enrolled bill and the legislative journals certify
that the measure was duly enacted i.e., in
accordance with Article VI, Sec. 26(2) of the
Constitution. We are bound by such official
assurances from a coordinate department of the
government, to which we owe, at the very least, a
becoming courtesy.
III
Press Freedom and Religious Freedom and Rep. Act No.
7716
The validity of the passage of Rep. Act No. 7716
notwithstanding, certain provisions of the law have to be
examined separately and carefully.
Rep. Act. No. 7716 in imposing a value-added tax on
circulation income of newspapers and similar publications
and on income derived from publishing advertisements in
newspapers 9, to my mind, violates Sec. 4, Art. III of the
Constitution. Indeed, even the Executive Department has
tried to cure this defect by the issuance of the BIR
Regulation No. 11-94 precluding implementation of the tax
in this area. It should be clear, however, that the BIR
regulation cannot amend the law (Rep. Act No. 7716).
Only legislation (as distinguished from administration
regulation) can amend an existing law.
Freedom of the press was virtually unknown in the
Philippines before 1900. In fact, a prime cause of the
revolution against Spain at the turn of the 19th century
was the repression of the freedom of speech and
expression and of the press. No less than our national
hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, in "Filipinas Despues de Cien
Anos" (The Philippines a Century Hence) describing the
reforms sine quibus non which the Filipinos were insisting
upon, stated: "The minister . . . who wants his reforms to
be reforms, must begin by declaring the press in the
Philippines free . . . ". 10
Press freedom in the Philippines has met repressions,
most notable of which was the closure of almost all forms
of existing mass media upon the imposition of martial law
on 21 September 1972.
Section 4, Art. III of the Constitution maybe traced to the
United States Federal Constitution. The guarantee of
freedom of expression was planted in the Philippines by
President McKinley in the Magna Carta of Philippine
Liberty, Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission
on 7 April 1900.
The present constitutional provision which reads:
Sec. 4 No law shall be passed abridging the
freedom of speech, of expression, or of the
press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble and petition the government for
redress of grievances.
is essentially the same as that guaranteed in the U.S.
Federal Constitution, for which reason, American case law
giving judicial expression as to its meaning is highly
persuasive in the Philippines.
The plain words of the provision reveal the clear intention
that no prior restraint can be imposed on the exercise of
free speech and expression if they are to remain effective
and meaningful.
The U.S. Supreme Court in the leading case of Grosjean
v. American Press Co. Inc.11 declared a statute imposing
a gross receipts license tax of 2% on circulation and
advertising income of newspaper publishers as
constituting a prior restraint which is contrary to the
guarantee of freedom of the press.
In Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan 12, the U.S. Supreme
Court stated: "Any system of prior restraint of expression
comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against
its constitutionality."
In this jurisdiction, prior restraint on the exercise of free
expression can be justified only on the ground that there is
a clear and present danger of a substantive evil which the
State has the right to prevent 13.
In the present case, the tax imposed on circulation and
advertising income of newspaper publishers is in the
nature of a prior restraint on circulation and free
expression and, absent a clear showing that the requisite
for prior restraint is present, the constitutional flaw in the
law is at once apparent and should not be allowed to
proliferate.
Similarly, the imposition of the VAT on the sale and
distribution of religious articles must be struck down for
being contrary to Sec. 5, Art. III of the Constitution which
provides:
Sec. 5. No law shall be made respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof. The free exercise and
enjoyment of religious profession and worship,
without discrimination or preference, shall forever
be allowed. No religious test shall be required for
the exercise of civil or political rights.
That such a tax on the sale and distribution of religious
articles is unconstitutional, has been long settled in
American Bible Society, supra.
Insofar, therefore, as Rep. Act No. 7716 imposes a value-
added tax on the exercise of the above- discussed two (2)
basic constitutional rights, Rep. Act No. 7716 should be
declared unconstitutional and of no legal force and effect.
IV
Petitions of CREBA and PAL and Rep. Act No. 7716
The Chamber of Real Estate and Builder's Association,
Inc. (CREBA) filed its own petition (GR No. 11574) arguing
that the provisions of Rep. Act No. 7716 imposing a 10%
value-added tax on the gross selling price or gross value
in money of every sale, barter or exchange of goods or
properties (Section 2) and a 10% value-added tax on
gross receipts derived from the sale or exchange of
services, including the use or lease of properties (Section
3), violate the equal protection, due process and non-
impairment provisions of the Constitution as well as the
rule that taxation should be uniform, equitable and
progressive.
The issue of whether or not the value-added tax is
uniform, equitable and progressive has been settled in
Kapatiran.
CREBA which specifically assails the 10% value-added
tax on the gross selling price of real properties, fails to
distinguish between a sale of real properties primarily held
for sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary
course of trade or business and isolated sales by
individual real property owners (Sec. 103[s]). That those
engaged in the business of real estate development
realize great profits is of common knowledge and need not
be discussed at length here. The qualification in the law
that the 10% VAT covers only sales of real property
primarily held for sale to customers, i.e. for trade or
business thus takes into consideration a taxpayer's
capacity to pay. There is no showing that the consequent
distinction in real estate sales is arbitrary and in violation
of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The
inherent power to tax of the State, which is vested in the
legislature, includes the power to determine whom or what
to tax, as well as how much to tax. In the absence of a
clear showing that the tax violates the due process and
equal protection clauses of the Constitution, this Court, in
keeping with the doctrine of separation of powers, has to
defer to the discretion and judgment of Congress on this
point.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) in a separate petition (G.R. No.
115852) claims that its franchise under PD No. 1590
which makes it liable for a franchise tax of only 2% of
gross revenues "in lieu of all the other fees and charges of
any kind, nature or description, imposed, levied,
established, assessed or collected by any municipal, city,
provincial, or national authority or government agency,
now or in the future," cannot be amended by Rep. Act No.
7716 as to make it (PAL) liable for a 10% value-added tax
on revenues, because Sec. 24 of PD No. 1590 provides
that PAL's franchise can only be amended, modified or
repealed by a special law specifically for that purpose.
The validity of PAL's above argument can be tested by
ascertaining the true intention of Congress in enacting
Rep. Act No. 7716. Sec. 4 thereof dealing with Exempt
Transactions states:
Sec. 103. Exempt Transactions. — The following
shall be exempt from the value-added tax:
xxx xxx xxx
(q) Transactions which are exempt under special
laws, except those granted under Presidential
Decrees No. 66, 529, 972, 1491,
1590, . . . " (Emphasis supplied)
The repealing clause of Rep. Act No. 7716 further reads:
Sec. 20. Repealing clauses. — The provisions of
any special law relative to the rate of franchise
taxes are hereby expressly repealed.
xxx xxx xxx
All other laws, orders, issuances, rules and
regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with this
Act are hereby repealed, amended or modified
accordingly (Emphasis supplied)
There can be no dispute, in my mind, that the clear intent
of Congress was to modify PAL's franchise with respect to
the taxes it has to pay. To this extent, Rep. Act No. 7716
can be considered as a special law amending PAL's
franchise and its tax liability thereunder. That Rep. Act.
No. 7716 imposes the value-added taxes on other
subjects does not make it a general law which cannot
amend PD No. 1590.
To sum up: it is my considered view that Rep. Act No.
7716 (the expanded value-added tax) is a valid law,
viewed from both substantive and procedural standards,
except only insofar as it violates Secs. 4 and 5, Art. III of
the Constitution (the guarantees of freedom of expression
and the free exercise of religion). To that extent, it is, in its
present form, unconstitutional.
I, therefore, vote to DISMISS the petitions, subject to the
above qualification.

VITUG, J.:
Lest we be lost by a quagmire of trifles, the real threshold
and prejudicial issue, to my mind, is whether or not this
Court is ready to assume and to take upon itself with an
overriding authority the awesome responsibility of
overseeing the entire bureaucracy. Far from it, ours is
merely to construe and to apply the law regardless of its
wisdom and salutariness, and to strike it down only when it
clearly disregards constitutional proscriptions. It is what
the fundamental law mandates, and it is what the Court
must do.
I cannot yet concede to the novel theory, so challengingly
provocative as it might be, that under the 1987
Constitution the Court may now at good liberty intrude, in
the guise of the people's imprimatur, into every affair of the
government. What significance can still then remain, I ask,
of the time honored and widely acclaimed principle of
separation of powers, if at every turn the Court allows itself
to pass upon, at will, the disposition of a co-equal,
independent and coordinate branch in our system of
government. I dread to think of the so varied uncertainties
that such an undue interference can lead to. The respect
for long standing doctrines in our jurisprudence, nourished
through time, is one of maturity not timidity, of stability
rather than quiescence.
It has never occurred to me, and neither do I believe it has
been intended, that judicial tyranny is envisioned, let alone
institutionalized, by our people in the 1987 Constitution.
The test of tyranny is not solely on how it is wielded but on
how, in the first place, it can be capable of being
exercised. It is time that any such perception of judicial
omnipotence is corrected.
Against all that has been said, I see, in actuality in these
cases at bench, neither a constitutional infringement of
substance, judging from precedents already laid down by
this Court in previous cases, nor a justiciability even now
of the issues raised, more than an attempt to sadly
highlight the perceived shortcomings in the procedural
enactment of laws, a matter which is internal to Congress
and an area that is best left to its own basic concern. The
fact of the matter is that the legislative enactment, in its
final form, has received the ultimate approval of both
houses of Congress. The finest rhetoric, indeed
fashionable in the early part of this closing century, would
still be a poor substitute for tangibility. I join, nonetheless,
some of my colleagues in respectfully inviting the kind
attention of the honorable members of our Congress in the
suggested circumspect observance of their own rules.
A final remark. I should like to make it clear that this
opinion does not necessarily foreclose the right, peculiar
to any taxpayer adversely affected, to pursue at the proper
time, in appropriate proceedings, and in proper fora, the
specific remedies prescribed therefor by the National
Internal Revenue Code, Republic Act 1125, and other
laws, as well as rules of procedure, such as may be
pertinent. Some petitions filed with this Court are, in
essence, although styled differently, in the nature of
declaratory relief over which this Court is bereft of original
jurisdiction.
All considered, I, therefore, join my colleagues who are
voting for the dismissal of the petitions.

CRUZ, J.:
It is a curious and almost incredible fact that at the hearing
of these cases on July 7, 1994, the lawyers who argued
for the petitioners — two of them former presidents of the
Senate and the third also a member of that body — all
asked this Court to look into the internal operations of their
Chamber and correct the irregularities they claimed had
been committed there as well as in the House of
Representatives and in the bicameral conference
committee.
While a member of the legislative would normally resist
such intervention and invoke the doctrine of separation of
powers to protect Congress from what he would call
judicial intrusion, these counsel practically implored the
Court to examine the questioned proceedings and to this
end go beyond the journals of each House, scrutinize the
minutes of the committee, and investigate all other matters
relating to the passage of the bill (or bills) that eventually
became R.A. No. 7716.
In effect, the petitioners would have us disregard the time-
honored inhibitions laid down by the Court upon itself in
the landmark case of U.S. v. Pons (34 Phil. 725), where it
refused to consider extraneous evidence to disprove the
recitals in the journals of the Philippine Legislature that it
had adjourned sine die at midnight of February 28, 1914.
Although it was generally known then that the special
session had actually exceeded the deadline fixed by the
Governor-General in his proclamation, the Court chose to
be guided solely by the legislative journals, holding
significantly as follows:
. . . From their very nature and object, the records
of the legislature are as important as those of the
judiciary, and to inquire into the veracity of the
journals of the Philippine Legislature, when they
are, as we have said, clear and explicit, would be
to violate both the letter and the spirit of the
organic laws by which the Philippine Government
was brought into existence, to invade a
coordinate and independent department of the
Government, and to interfere with the legitimate
powers and functions of the Legislature. But
counsel in his argument says that the public
knows that the Assembly's clock was stopped on
February 28, 1914, at midnight and left so until
the determination of the discussion of all pending
matters. Or, in other words, the hands of the
clock were stayed in order to enable the
Assembly to effect an adjournment apparently
within the fixed time by the Governor's
proclamation for the expiration of the special
session, in direct violation of the Act of Congress
of July 1, 1902. If the clock was, in fact, stopped,
as here suggested, "the resultant evil might be
slight as compared with that of altering the
probative force and character of legislative
records, and making the proof of legislative
action depend upon uncertain oral evidence,
liable to loss by death or absence, and so
imperfect on account of the treachery of memory.
. . . The journals say that the Legislature
adjourned at 12 midnight on February 28, 1914.
This settles the question, and the court did not err
in declining to go beyond the journals.
As one who has always respected the rationale of the
separation of powers, I realize only too well the serious
implications of the relaxation of the doctrine except only
for the weightiest of reasons. The lowering of the barriers
now dividing the three major branches of the government
could lead to individious incursions by one department into
the exclusive domains of the other departments to the
detriment of the proper discharge of the functions
assigned to each of them by the Constitution.
Still, while acknowledging the value of tradition and the
reasons for judicial non-interference announced in Pons, I
am not disinclined to take a second look at the ruling from
a more pragmatic viewpoint and to tear down, if we must,
the iron curtain it has hung, perhaps improvidently, around
the proceedings of the legislature.
I am persuaded even now that where a specific procedure
is fixed by the Constitution itself, it should not suffice for
Congress to simply say that the rules have been observed
and flatly consider the matter closed. It does not have to
be as final as that. I would imagine that the judiciary, and
particularly this Court, should be able to verify that
statement and determine for itself, through the exercise of
its own powers, if the Constitution has, indeed, been
obeyed.
In fact, the Court had already said that the question of
whether certain procedural rules have been followed is
justiciable rather than political because what is involved is
the legality and not the wisdom of the act in question. So
we ruled in Sanidad v. Commission on Elections (73
SCRA 333) on the amendment of the Constitution; in Daza
v. Singson (180 SCRA 496) on the composition of the
Commission on Appointments; and in the earlier case of
Tañada v. Cuenco (100 SCRA 1101) on the organization
of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, among several other
cases.
By the same token, the ascertainment of whether a bill
underwent the obligatory three readings in both Houses of
Congress should not be considered an invasion of the
territory of the legislature as this would not involve an
inquiry into its discretion in approving the measure but
only the manner in which the measure was enacted.
These views may upset the conservatives among us who
are most comfortable when they allow themselves to be
petrified by precedents instead of venturing into uncharted
waters. To be sure, there is much to be said of the wisdom
of the past expressed by vanished judges talking to the
future. Via trita est tuttisima. Except when there is a need
to revise them because of an altered situation or an
emergent idea, precedents should tell us that, indeed, the
trodden path is the safest path.
It could be that the altered situation has arrived to
welcome the emergent idea. The jurisdiction of this Court
has been expanded by the Constitution, to possibly
include the review the petitioners would have us make of
the congressional proceedings being questioned. Perhaps
it is also time to declare that the activities of Congress can
no longer be smoke-screened in the inviolate recitals of its
journals to prevent examination of its sacrosanct records
in the name of the separation of powers.
But then again, perhaps all this is not yet necessary at this
time and all these observations are but wishful musings for
a more activist judiciary. For I find that this is not even
necessary, at least for me, to leave the trodden path in the
search for new adventures in the byways of the law. The
answer we seek, as I see it, is not far afield. It seems to
me that it can be found through a study of the enrolled bill
alone and that we do not have to go beyond that measure
to ascertain if R.A. No. 7716 has been validly enacted.
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in case of conflict
between the enrolled bill and the legislative journals, it is
the former that should prevail except only as to matters
that the Constitution requires to be entered in the journals.
(Mabanag v. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1). These are the yeas
and nays on the final reading of a bill or on any question at
the request of at least one-fifth of the member of the
House (Constitution, Art. VI, Sec. 16[4]), the objections of
the President to a vetoed bill or item (Ibid, Sec. 27 [1]),
and the names of the members voting for or against the
overriding of his veto (Id. Section 27 [1]), The original of a
bill is not specifically required by the Constitution to be
entered in the journals. Hence, on this particular manner, it
is the recitals in the enrolled bill and not in the journals that
must control.
Article VI, Section 24, of the Constitution provides:
Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills,
bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills
of local application, and private bills shall
originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives, but the Senate may propose or
concur with amendments.
The enrolled bill submitted to and later approved by the
President of the Philippines as R.A. No. 7716 was signed
by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the
House of Representatives. It carried the following
certification over the signatures of the Secretary of the
Senate and the Acting Secretary of the House of
Representatives:
This Act which is a consolidation of House Bill
No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 11630 was finally
passed by the House of Representative and the
Senate on April 27, 1994, and May 2, 1994.
Let us turn to Webster for the meaning of certain words,
To "originate" is "to bring into being; to create something
(original); to invent; to begin; start." The word "exclusively"
means "excluding all others" and is derived from the word
"exclusive," meaning "not shared or divided; sole; single."
Applying these meanings, I would read Section 24 as
saying that the bills mentioned therein must be brought
into being, or created, or invented, or begun or started,
only or singly or by no other body than the house of
Representatives.
According to the certification, R.A. No. 7716 "is a
consolidation of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No.
1630." Again giving the words used their natural and
ordinary sense conformably to an accepted canon of
construction, I would read the word "consolidation" as a
"combination or merger" and derived from the word
"consolidated," meaning "to combine into one; merge;
unite."
The two bills were separately introduced in their respective
Chambers. Both retained their independent existence until
they reached the bicameral conference committee where
they were consolidated. It was this consolidated measure
that was finally passed by Congress and submitted to the
President of the Philippines for his approval.
House Bill No. 11197 originated in the House of
Representatives but this was not the bill that eventually
became R.A. No. 7716. The measure that was signed into
law by President Ramos was the consolidation of that bill
and another bill, viz., Senate Bill No. 1630, which was
introduced in the Senate. The resultant enrolled bill thus
did not originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives. The enrolled bill itself says that part of it
(and it does not matter to what extent) originated in the
Senate.
It would have been different if the only participation of the
Senate was in the amendment of the measure that was
originally proposed in the House of Representatives. But
this was not the case. The participation of the Senate was
not in proposing or concurring with amendments that
would have been incorporated in House Bill No. 11197. Its
participation was in originating its own Senate Bill No.
1630, which was not embodied in but merged with House
Bill No. 11197.
Senate Bill No. 1630 was not even an amendment by
substitution, assuming this was permissible. To
"substitute" means "to take the place of; to put or use in
place of another." Senate Bill No. 1630 did not, upon its
approval replace (and thus eliminate) House Bill No.
11197. Both bills retained their separate identities until
they were joined or united into what became the enrolled
bill and ultimately R.A. No. 7716.
The certification in the enrolled bill says it all. It is clear
that R.A. No. 7716 did not originate exclusively in the
House of Representatives.
To go back to my earlier observations, this conclusion
does not require the reversal of U.S. vs. Pons and an
inquiry by this Court into the proceedings of the legislature
beyond the recitals of its journals. All we need to do is
consider the certification in the enrolled bill and, without
entering the precincts of Congress, declare that by this
own admission it has, indeed, not complied with the
Constitution.
While this Court respects the prerogatives of the other
departments, it will not hesitate to rise to its higher duty to
require from them, if they go astray, full and strict
compliance with the fundamental law. Our fidelity to it
must be total. There is no loftier principle in our democracy
than the supremacy of the Constitution, to which all must
submit.
I vote to invalidate R.A. No. 7716 for violation of Article VI,
Sec. 24, of the Constitution.
REGALADO, J.:
It would seem like an inconceivable irony that Republic Act
No. 7716 which, so respondents claim, was conceived by
the collective wisdom of a bicameral Congress and crafted
with sedulous care by two branches of government should
now be embroiled in challenges to its validity for having
been enacted in disregard of mandatory prescriptions of
the Constitution itself. Indeed, such impugnment by
petitioners goes beyond merely the procedural flaws in the
parturition of the law. Creating and regulating as it does
definite rights to property, but with its own passage having
been violative of explicit provisions of the organic law,
even without going into the intrinsic merits of the
provisions of Republic Act No. 7716 its substantive
invalidity is pro facto necessarily entailed.
How it was legislated into its present statutory existence is
not in serious dispute and need not detain us except for a
recital of some salient and relevant facts. The House of
Representatives passed House Bill No. 11197 1 on third
reading on November 17, 1993 and, the following day, It
transmitted the same to the Senate for concurrence. On its
part, the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 1630 on second
and third readings on March 24, 1994. It is important to
note in this regard that on March 22, 1994, said S.B. No.
1630 had been certified by President Fidel V. Ramos for
immediate enactment to meet a public emergency, that is,
a growing budgetary deficit. There was no such
certification for H.B. No. 11197 although it was the
initiating revenue bill.
It is, therefore, not only a curious fact but, more
importantly, an invalid procedure since that Presidential
certification was erroneously made for and confined to
S.B. No. 1630 which was indisputably a tax bill and, under
the Constitution, could not validly originate in the Senate.
Whatever is claimed in favor of S.B. No. 1630 under the
blessings of that certification, such as its alleged
exemption from the three separate readings requirement,
is accordingly negated and rendered inutile by the
inefficacious nature of said certification as it could lawfully
have been issued only for a revenue measure originating
exclusively from the lower House. To hold otherwise would
be to validate a Presidential certification of a bill initiated in
the Senate despite the Constitutional prohibition against
its originating therefrom.
Equally of serious significance is the fact that S.B. No.
1630 was reported out in Committee Report No. 349
submitted to the Senate on February 7, 1994 and
approved by that body "in substitution of S.B. No. 1129,"
while merely "taking into consideration P.S. No. 734 and
H.B. No. 11197." 2 S.B. No. 1630, therefore, was never
filed in substitution of either P.S. No. 734 or, more
emphatically, of H.B. No. 11197 as these two legislative
issuances were merely taken account of, at the most, as
referential bases or materials.
This is not a play on misdirection for, in the first instance,
the respondents assure us that H.B. No. 11197 was
actually the sole source of and started the whole
legislative process which culminated in Republic Act No.
7716. The participation of the Senate in enacting S.B. No.
1630 was, it is claimed, justified as it was merely in
pursuance of its power to concur in or propose
amendments to H.B. No. 11197. Citing the 83-year old
case of Flint vs. Stone Tracy Co., 3 it is blithely announced
that such power to amend includes an amendment by
substitution, that is, even the extent of substituting the
entire H.B. No. 11197 by an altogether completely new
measure of Senate provenance. Ergo, so the justification
goes, the Senate acted perfectly in accordance with its
amending power under Section 24, Article VI of the
Constitution since it merely proposed amendments
through a bill allegedly prepared in advance.
This is a mode of argumentation which, by reason of
factual inaccuracy and logical implausibility, both astounds
and confounds. For, it is of official record that S.B. No.
1630 was filed, certified and enacted in substitution of S.B.
No. 1129 which in itself was likewise in derogation of the
Constitutional prohibition against such initiation of a tax bill
in the Senate. In any event, S.B. No. 1630 was neither
intended as a bill to be adopted by the Senate nor to be
referred to the bicameral conference committee as a
substitute for H.B. No. 11197. These indelible facts
appearing in official documents cannot be erased by any
amount of strained convolutions or incredible pretensions
that S.B. No. 1630 was supposedly enacted in anticipation
of H.B. No. 11197.
On that score alone, the invocation by the Solicitor
General of the hoary concept of amendment by
substitution falls flat on its face. Worse, his concomitant
citation of Flint to recover from that prone position only
succeeded in turning the same postulation over, this time
supinely flat on its back. As elsewhere noted by some
colleagues, which I will just refer to briefly to avoid
duplication, respondents initially sought sanctuary in that
doctrine supposedly laid down in Flint, thus: "It has, in fact,
been held that the substitution of an entirely new measure
for the one originally proposed can be supported as a valid
amendment." 4 (Emphasis supplied.) During the
interpellation by the writer at the oral argument held in
these cases, the attention of the Solicitor General was
called to the fact that the amendment in Flint consisted
only of a single item, that its, the substitution of a
corporate tax for an inheritance tax proposed in a general
revenue bill; and that the text of the decision therein
nowhere contained the supposed doctrines he quoted and
ascribed to the court, as those were merely summations of
arguments of counsel therein. It is indeed a source of
disappointment for us, but an admission of desperation on
his part, that, instead of making a clarification or a defense
of his contention, the Solicitor General merely reproduced
all over again 5 the same quotations as they appeared in
his original consolidated comment, without venturing any
explanation or justification.
The aforestated dissemblance, thus unmasked, has
further undesirable implications on the contentions
advanced by respondents in their defense. For, even
indulging respondents ex gratia argumenti in their
pretension that S.B. No. 1630 substituted or replaced H.B.
No. 11197, aside from muddling the issue of the true
origination of the disputed law, this would further enmesh
respondents in a hopeless contradiction.
In a publication authorized by the Senate and from which
the Solicitor General has liberally quoted, it is reported as
an accepted rule therein that "(a)n amendment by
substitution when approved takes the place of the principal
bill. C.R. March 19, 1963, p. 943." 6 Stated elsewise, the
principal bill is supplanted and goes out of actuality.
Applied to the present situation, and following
respondents' submission that H.B. No. 11197 had been
substituted or replaced in its entirety, then in law it had no
further existence for purposes of the subsequent stages of
legislation except, possibly, for referential data.
Now, the enrolled bill thereafter submitted to the President
of the Philippines, signed by the President of the Senate
and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, carried
this solemn certification over the signatures of the
respective secretaries of both chambers: "This Act which
is a consolidation of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill
No. 1630 was finally passed by the House of
Representatives and the Senate on April 27, 1994, and
May 2, 1994." (Emphasis mine.) In reliance thereon, the
Chief Executive signed the same into law as Republic Act
No. 7716.
The confusion to which the writer has already confessed is
now compounded by that official text of the aforequoted
certification which speaks, and this cannot be a mere
lapsus calami, of two independent and existing bills (one
of them being H.B. No. 11197) which were consolidated to
produce the enrolled bill. In parliamentary usage, to
consolidate two bills, is to unite them into one 7 and which,
in the case at bar, necessarily assumes that H.B. No.
11197 never became legally inexistent. But did not the
Solicitor General, under the theory of amendment by
substitution of the entire H.B. No. 11197 by S.B. No. 1630,
thereby premise the same upon the replacement, hence
the total elimination from the legislative process, of H.B.
11197?
It results, therefore, that to prove compliance with the
requirement for the exclusive origination of H.B. No.
11197, two alternative but inconsistent theories had to be
espoused and defended by respondents' counsel. To
justify the introduction and passage of S.B. No. 1630 in
the Senate, it was supposedly enacted only as an
amendment by substitution, hence on that theory H.B. No.
11197 had to be considered as displaced and terminated
from its role or existence. Yet, likewise for the same
purpose but this time on the theory of origination by
consolidation, H.B. No. 11197 had to be resuscitated so it
could be united or merged with S.B. No. 1630. This latter
alternative theory, unfortunately, also exacerbates the
constitutional defect for then it is an admission of a dual
origination of the two tax bills, each respectively initiated in
and coming from the lower and upper chambers of
Congress.
Parenthetically, it was also this writer who pointedly
brought this baffling situation to the attention of the
Solicitor General during the aforesaid oral argument, to
the extent of reading aloud the certification in full. We had
hoped thereby to be clarified on these vital issue in
respondents' projected memorandum, but we have not
been favored with an explanation unraveling this delimma.
Verily, by passing sub silentio on these intriguing
submissions, respondents have wreaked havoc on both
logic and law just to gloss over their non-compliance with
the Constitutional mandate for exclusive origination of a
revenue bill. The procedure required therefor, we
emphatically add, can be satisfied only by complete and
strict compliance since this is laid down by the Constitution
itself and not by a mere statute.
This writer consequently agrees with the clearly tenable
proposition of petitioners that when the Senate passed
and approved S.B. No. 1630, had it certified by the Chief
Executive, and thereafter caused its consideration by the
bicameral conference committee in total substitution of
H.B. No. 11197, it clearly and deliberately violated the
requirements of the Constitution not only in the origination
of the bill but in the very enactment of Republic Act No.
7716. Contrarily, the shifting sands of inconsistency in the
arguments adduced for respondents betray such lack of
intellectual rectitude as to give the impression of being
mere rhetorics in defense of the indefensible.
We are told, however, that by our discoursing on the
foregoing issues we are introducing into non-justiciable
areas long declared verboten by such time-honored
doctrines as those on political questions, the enrolled bill
theory and the respect due to two co-equal and coordinate
branches of Government, all derived from the separation
of powers inherent in republicanism. We appreciate the
lectures, but we are not exactly unaware of the teachings
in U.S. vs. Pons, 8 Mabanag, vs. Lopez Vito, 9 Casco
Philippine Chemical Co., Inc. vs. Gimenez, etc., et al., 10
Morals vs. Subido, etc., 11 and Philippine Judges
Association, etc., et al. vs. Prado, etc., et al., 12 on the
one hand, and Tañada, et al. vs. Cuenco, et al., 13
Sanidad, et al., vs. Commission on Elections, et al., 14
and Daza vs. Singson, et al., 15 on the other, to know
which would be applicable to the present controversy and
which should be rejected.
But, first, a positional exordium. The writer of this opinion
would be among the first to acknowledge and enjoin not
only courtesy to, but respect for, the official acts of the
Executive and Legislative departments, but only so long
as the same are in accordance with or are defensible
under the fundamental charter and the statutory law. He
would readily be numbered in the ranks of those who
would preach a reasoned sermon on the separation of
powers, but with the qualification that the same are not
contained in tripartite compartments separated by
empermeable membranes. He also ascribes to the
general validity of American constitutional doctrines as a
matter of historical and legal necessity, but not to the
extent of being oblivious to political changes or unmindful
of the fallacy of undue generalization arising from myopic
disregard of the factual setting of each particular case.
These ruminations have likewise been articulated and
dissected by my colleagues, hence it is felt that the only
issue which must be set aright in this dissenting opinion is
the so-called enrolled bill doctrine to which we are urged
to cling with reptilian tenacity. It will be preliminarily noted
that the official certification appearing right on the face of
Republic Act No. 7716 would even render unnecessary
any further judicial inquiry into the proceedings which
transpired in the two legislative chambers and, on a
parody of tricameralism, in the bicameral conference
committee. Moreover, we have the excellent dissertations
of some of my colleagues on these matters, but
respondents insist en contra that the congressional
proceedings cannot properly be inquired into by this Court.
Such objection confirms a suppressive pattern aimed at
sacrificing the rule of law to the fiat of expediency.
Respondents thus emplaced on their battlements the
pronouncement of this Court in the aforecited case of
Philippine Judges Association vs. Prado. 16 Their reliance
thereon falls into the same error committed by their
seeking refuge in the Flint case, ante. which, as has
earlier been demonstrated (aside from the quotational
misrepresentation), could not be on par with the factual
situation in the present case. Flint, to repeat, involved a
mere amendment on a single legislative item, that is,
substituting the proposal therein of an inheritance tax by
one on corporate tax. Now, in their submission based on
Philippine Judges Association, respondents studiously
avoid mention of the fact that the questioned insertion
referred likewise to a single item, that is, the repeal of the
franking privilege thretofore granted to the judiciary. That
both cases cannot be equated with those at bar,
considering the multitude of items challenged and the
plethora of constitutional violations involved, is too obvious
to belabor. Legal advocacy and judicial adjudication must
have a becoming sense of qualitative proportion, instead
of lapsing into the discredited and maligned practice of
yielding blind adherence to precedents.
The writer unqualifiedly affirms his respect for valid official
acts of the two branches of government and eschews any
unnecessary intrusion into their operational management
and internal affairs. These, without doubt, are matters
traditionally protected by the republican principle of
separation of powers. Where, however, there is an
overriding necessity for judicial intervention in light of the
pervasive magnitude of the problems presented and the
gravity of the constitutional violations alleged, but this
Court cannot perform its constitutional duty expressed in
Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution unless it makes
the inescapable inquiry, then the confluence of such
factors should compel an exception to the rule as an
ultimate recourse. The cases now before us present both
the inevitable challenge and the inescapable exigency for
judicial review. For the Court to now shirk its bounden duty
would not only project it as a citadel of the timorous and
the slothful, but could even undermine its raison d'etre as
the highest and ultimate tribunal.
Hence, this dissenting opinion has touched on events
behind and which transpired prior to the presentation of
the enrolled bill for approval into law. The details of that
law which resulted from the legislative action followed by
both houses of Congress, the substantive validity of
whose provisions and the procedural validity of which
legislative process are here challenged as
unconstitutional, have been graphically presented by
petitioners and admirably explained in the respective
opinions of my brethren. The writer concurs in the
conclusions drawn therefrom and rejects the contention
that we have unjustifiably breached the dike of the
enrolled bill doctrine.
Even in the land of its source, the so-called conclusive
presumption of validity originally attributed to that doctrine
has long been revisited and qualified, if not altogether
rejected. On the competency of judicial inquiry, it has been
held that "(u)nder the 'enrolled bill rule' by which an
enrolled bill is sole expository of its contents and
conclusive evidence of its existence and valid enactment,
it is nevertheless competent for courts to inquire as to
what prerequisites are fixed by the Constitution of which
journals of respective houses of Legislature are required
to furnish the evidence." 17
In fact, in Gwynn vs. Hardee, etc., et al., 18 the Supreme
Court of Florida declared:
(1) While the presumption is that the enrolled bill,
as signed by the legislative officers and filed with
the secretary of state, is the bill as it passed, yet
this presumption is not conclusive, and when it is
shown from the legislative journals that a bill
though engrossed and enrolled, and signed by
the legislative officers, contains provisions that
have not passed both houses, such provisions
will be held spurious and not a part of the law. As
was said by Mr. Justice Cockrell in the case of
Wade vs. Atlantic Lumber Co., 51 Fla. 628, text
633, 41 So. 72, 73:
This Court is firmly committed to the
holding that when the journals speak
they control, and against such proof the
enrolled bill is not conclusive.
More enlightening and apropos to the present controversy
is the decision promulgated on May 13, 1980 by the
Supreme Court of Kentucky in D & W Auto Supply, et al.
vs. Department of Revenue, et al., 19 pertinent exceprts
wherefrom are extensively reproduced hereunder:
. . . In arriving at our decision we must, perforce,
reconsider the validity of a long line of decisions
of this court which created and nurtured the so-
called "enrolled bill" doctrine.
xxx xxx xxx
[1] Section 46 of the Kentucky Constitution sets
out certain procedures that the legislature must
follow before a bill can be considered for final
passage. . . . .
xxx xxx xxx
. . . Under the enrolled bill doctrine as it now
exists in Kentucky, a court may not look behind
such a bill, enrolled and certified by the
appropriate officers, to determine if there are any
defects.
xxx xxx xxx
. . . In Lafferty, passage of the law in question
violated this provision, yet the bill was properly
enrolled and approved by the governor. In
declining to look behind the law to determine the
propriety of its enactment, the court enunciated
three reasons for adopting the enrolled bill rule.
First, the court was reluctant to scrutinize the
processes of the legislature, an equal branch of
government. Second, reasons of convenience
prevailed, which discouraged requiring the
legislature to preserve its records and anticipated
considerable complex litigation if the court ruled
otherwise. Third, the court acknowledged the
poor record-keeping abilities of the General
Assembly and expressed a preference for
accepting the final bill as enrolled, rather than
opening up the records of the legislature. . . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Nowhere has the rule been adopted without
reason, or as a result of judicial whim. There are
four historical bases for the doctrine. (1) An
enrolled bill was a "record" and, as such, was not
subject to attack at common law. (2) Since the
legislature is one of the three branches of
government, the courts, being coequal, must
indulge in every presumption that legislative acts
are valid. (3) When the rule was originally
formulated, record-keeping of the legislatures
was so inadequate that a balancing of equities
required that the final act, the enrolled bill, be
given efficacy. (4) There were theories of
convenience as expressed by the Kentucky court
in Lafferty.
The rule is not unanimous in the several states,
however, and it has not been without its critics.
From an examination of cases and treaties, we
can summarize the criticisms as follows: (1)
Artificial presumptions, especially conclusive
ones, are not favored. (2) Such a rule frequently
(as in the present case) produces results which
do not accord with facts or constitutional
provisions. (3) The rule is conducive to fraud,
forgery, corruption and other wrongdoings. (4)
Modern automatic and electronic record-keeping
devices now used by legislatures remove one of
the original reasons for the rule. (5) The rule
disregards the primary obligation of the courts to
seek the truth and to provide a remedy for a
wrong committed by any branch of government.
In light of these considerations, we are convinced
that the time has come to re-examine the
enrolled bill doctrine.
[2] This court is not unmindful of the admonition
of the doctrine of stare decisis. The maxim is
"Stare decisis et non quieta movere," which
simply suggests that we stand by precedents and
not disturb settled points of law. Yet, this rule is
not inflexible, nor is it of such a nature as to
require perpetuation of error or logic. As we
stated in Daniel's Adm'r v. Hoofnel, 287 Ky 834,
155 S.W. 2d 469, 471-72 (1941) (citations
omitted):
The force of the rule depends upon the
nature of the question to be decided and
the extent of the disturbance of rights
and practices which a change in the
interpretation of the law or the course of
judicial opinions may create. Cogent
considerations are whether there is
clear error and urgent reasons "for
neither justice nor wisdom requires a
court to go from one doubtful rule to
another," and whether or not the evils of
the principle that has been followed will
be more injurious than can possibly
result from a change.
Certainly, when a theory supporting a rule of law is not
grounded on facts, or upon sound logic, or is unjust, or
has been discredited by actual experience, it should be
discarded, and with it the rule it supports.
[3] It is clear to us that the major premise of the
Lafferty decision, the poor record-keeping of the
legislature, has disappeared. Modern equipment
and technology are the rule in record-keeping by
our General Assembly. Tape recorders, electric
typewriters, duplicating machines, recording
equipment, printing presses, computers,
electronic voting machines, and the like remove
all doubts and fears as to the ability of the
General Assembly to keep accurate and readily
accessible records.
It is also apparent that the "convenience" rule is
not appropriate in today's modern and developing
judicial philosophy. The fact that the number and
complexity of lawsuits may increase is not
persuasive if one is mindful that the overriding
purpose of our judicial system is to discover the
truth and see that justice is done. The existence
of difficulties and complexities should not deter
this pursuit and we reject any doctrine or
presumption that so provides.
Lastly, we address the premises that the equality
of the various branches of government requires
that we shut our eyes to constitutional failings
and other errors of our coparceners in
government. We simply do not agree. Section 26
of the Kentucky Constitution provides that any
law contrary to the constitution is "void." The
proper exercise of judicial authority requires us to
recognize any law which is unconstitutional and
to declare it void. Without belaboring the point,
we believe that under section 228 of the
Kentucky Constitution it is our obligation to
"support . . . the Constitution of the
commonwealth." We are sworn to see that
violations of the constitution — by any person,
corporation, state agency or branch of
government — are brought to light and corrected.
To countenance an artificial rule of law that
silences our voices when confronted with
violations of our constitution is not acceptable to
this court.
We believe that a more reasonable rule is the
one which Professor Sutherland describes as the
"extrinsic evidence" rule . . . Under this approach
there is a prima facie presumption that an
enrolled bill is valid, but such presumption may
be overcome by clear, satisfactory and
convincing evidence establishing that
constitutional requirements have not been met.
We therefore overrule Lafferty v. Huffman and all
other cases following the so-called enrolled bill
doctrine, to the extent that there is no longer a
conclusive presumption that an enrolled bill is
valid. . . . (Emphasis mine.)
Undeniably, the value-added tax system may have its own
merits to commend its continued adoption, and the
proposed widening of its base could achieve laudable
governmental objectives if properly formulated and
conscientiously implemented. We would like to believe,
however, that ours is not only an enlightened democracy
nurtured by a policy of transparency but one where the
edicts of the fundamental law are sacrosanct for all,
barring none. While the realization of the lofty ends of this
administration should indeed be the devout wish of all,
likewise barring none, it can never be justified by methods
which, even if unintended, are suggestive of
Machiavellism.
Accordingly, I vote to grant the instant petitions and to
invalidate Republic Act No. 7716 for having been enacted
in violation of Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


The legislative history of R.A. No. 7716, as highlighted in
the Consolidated Memorandum for the public respondents
submitted by the Office of the Solicitor General,
demonstrates beyond doubt that it was passed in violation
or deliberate disregard of mandatory provisions of the
Constitution and of the rules of both chambers of
Congress relating to the enactment of bills.
I therefore vote to strike down R.A. No. 7716 as
unconstitutional and as having been enacted with grave
abuse of discretion.
The Constitution provides for a bicameral Congress.
Therefore, no bill can be enacted into law unless it is
approved by both chambers — the Senate and the House
of Representatives (hereinafter House). Otherwise stated,
each chamber may propose and approve a bill, but until it
is submitted to the other chamber and passed by the
latter, it cannot be submitted to the President for its
approval into law.
Paragraph 2, Section 26, Article VI of the Constitution
provides:
No bill passed by either House shall become a
law unless it has passed three readings on
separate days, and printed copies thereof in its
final form have been distributed to its Members
three days before its passage, except when the
President certifies to the necessity of its
immediate enactment to meet a public calamity
or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no
amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the
vote thereon shall be taken immediately
thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the
journal.
The "three readings" refers to the three readings in both
chambers.
There are, however, bills which must originate exclusively
in the House. Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution
enumerates them:
Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills,
bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills
of local application, and private bills shall
originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives, but the Senate may propose or
concur with amendments.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1 defines
originate as follows:
vt 1: to cause the beginning of: give rise to:
INITIATE . . . 2. to start (a person or thing) on a
course or journey . . . vi: to take or have origin: be
derived: ARISE, BEGIN, START . . .
Black's Law Dictionary 2 defines the word exclusively in
this wise:
Apart from all others; only; solely; substantially all
or for the greater part. To the exclusion of all
others; without admission of others to
participation; in a manner to exclude.
In City Mayor vs. The Chief of Philippine Constabulary,3
this Court said:
The term "exclusive" in its usual and generally
accepted sense, means possessed to the
exclusion of others; appertaining to the subject
alone, not including, admitting or pertaining to
another or others, undivided, sole. (15 Words and
Phrases, p. 510, citing Mitchel v. Tulsa Water,
Light, Heat and Power Co., 95 P. 961, 21 Okl.
243; and p. 513, citing Commonwealth v.
Superintendent of House of Correction, 64 Pa.
Super. 613, 615).
Indisputably then, only the House can cause the beginning
or initiate the passage of any appropriation, revenue, or
tarriff bill, any bill increasing the public debt, any bill of
local application, or any private bill. The Senate can only
"propose or concur with amendments."
Under the Rules of the Senate, the first reading is the
reading of the title of the bill and its referral to the
corresponding committee; the second reading consists of
the reading of the bill in the form recommended by the
corresponding committee; and the third reading is the
reading of the bill in the form it will be after approval on
second reading. 4 During the second reading, the
following takes place:
(1) Second reading of the bill;
(2) Sponsorship by the Committee Chairman or
any member designated by the corresponding
committee;
(3) If a debate ensues, turns for and against the
bill shall be taken alternately;
(4) The sponsor of the bill closes the debate;
(5) After the close of the debate, the period of
amendments follows;
(6) Then, after the period of amendments is
closed, the voting on the bill on second reading. 5
After approval on second readings, printed copies thereof
in its final form shall be distributed to the Members of the
Senate at least three days prior to the third reading,
except in cases of certified bills. At the third reading, the
final vote shall be taken and the yeas and nays shall be
entered in the Journal. 6
Under the Rules of the House, the first reading of a bill
consists of a reading of the number, title, and author
followed by the referral to the appropriate committees; 7
the second reading consists of the reading in full of the bill
with the amendments proposed by the committee, it any; 8
and the third reading is the reading of the bill in the form
as approved on second reading and takes place only after
printed copies thereof in its final form have been
distributed to the Members at least three days before,
unless the bill is
certified.9 At the second reading, the following takes
place:
(1) Reading of the bill;
(2) Sponsorship;
(3) Debates;
(4) Period of Amendments; and
(5) Voting on Second Reading. 10
At the third reading, the votes shall be taken immediately
and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal. 11
Clearly, whether in the Senate or in the House, every bill
must pass the three readings on separate days, except
when the bill is certified. Amendments to the bill on third
reading are constitutionally prohibited. 12
After its passage by one chamber, the bill should then be
transmitted to the other chamber for its concurrence.
Section 83, Rule XIV of the Rules of the House expressly
provides:
Sec. 83. Transmittal to Senate. — The Secretary
General, without need of express order, shall
transmit to the Senate for its concurrence all the
bills and joint or concurrent resolutions approved
by the House or the amendments of the House to
the bills or resolutions of the Senate, as the case
may be. If the measures approved without
amendments are bills or resolutions of the
Senate, or if amendments of the Senate to bills of
the House are accepted, he shall forthwith notify
the Senate of the action taken.
Simplified, this rule means that:
1. As to a bill originating in the House:
(a) Upon its approval by the House, the
bill shall be transmitted to the Senate;
(b) The Senate may approve it with or
without amendments;
(c) The Senate returns the bill to the
House;
(d) The House may accept the Senate
amendments; if it does not, the
Secretary General shall notify the
Senate of that action. As hereinafter be
shown, a request for conference shall
then be in order.
2. As to bills originating in the Senate;
(a) Upon its approval by the Senate, the
bill shall be transmitted to the House;
(b) The House may approve it with or
without amendments;
(c) The House then returns it to the
Senate, informing it of the action taken;
(d) The Senate may accept the House
amendements; if it does not, it shall
notify the House and make a request for
conference.
The transmitted bill shall then pass three readings in the
other chamber on separate days. Section 84, Rule XIV of
the Rules of the House states:
Sec. 84. Bills from the Senate. — The bills,
resolutions and communications of the Senate
shall be referred to the corresponding committee
in the same manner as bills presented by
Members of the House.
and Section 51, Rule XXIII of the Rules of the Senate
provides:
Sec. 51. Prior to their final approval, bills and joint
resolutions shall be read at least three times.
It is only when the period of disagreement is reached, i.e.,
amended proposed by one chamber to a bill originating
from the other are not accepted by the latter, that a
request for conference is made or is in order. The request
for conference is specifically covered by Section 26, Rule
XII of the Rules of the Senate which reads:
Sec. 26. In the event that the Senate does not
agree with the House of Representatives on the
provision of any bill or joint resolution, the
differences shall be settled by a conference
committee of both Houses which shall meet
within ten days after its composition.
and Section 85, Rule XIV of the Rules of the House which
reads:
Sec. 85. Conference Committee Reports. — In
the event that the House does not agree with the
Senate on the amendments to any bill or joint
resolution, the differences may be settled by
conference committees of both Chambers.
The foregoing provisions of the Constitution and the Rules
of both chambers of Congress are mandatory.
In his Treatise On the Constitutional Limitations, 13 more
particularly on enactment of bill, Cooley states:
Where, for an instance, the legislative power is to
be exercised by two houses, and by settled and
well-understood parliamentary law these two
houses are to hold separate sessions for their
deliberations, and the determination of the one
upon a proposes law is to be submitted to the
separate determination of the other, the
constitution, in providing for two houses, has
evidently spoken in reference to this settled
custom, incorporating it as a rule of constitutional
interpretation; so that it would require no
prohibitory clause to forbid the two houses from
combining in one, and jointly enacting laws by the
vote of a majority of all. All those rules which are
of the essentials of law-making must be observed
and followed; and it is only the customary rules of
order and routine, such as in every deliberative
body are always understood to be under its
control, and subject to constant change at its will,
that the constitution can be understood to have
left as matters of discretion, to be established,
modified, or abolished by the bodies for whose
government in non-essential matters they exist.
In respect of appropriation, revenue, or tariff bills, bills
increasing the public debt, bills of local application, or
private bills, the return thereof to the House after the
Senate shall have "proposed or concurred with
amendments" for the former either to accept or reject the
amendments would not only be in conformity with the
foregoing rules but is also implicit from Section 24 of
Article VI.
With the foregoing as our guiding light, I shall now show
the violations of the Constitution and of the Rules of the
Senate and of the House in the passage of R.A. No. 7716.
VIOLATIONS OF SECTION 24, ARTICLE VI
OF THE CONSTITUTION:
First violation. — Since R.A. No. 7716 is a revenue
measure, it must originate exclusively in the House — not
in the Senate. As correctly asserted by petitioner
Tolentino, on the face of the enrolled copy of R.A. No.
7716, it is a "CONSOLIDATION OF HOUSE BILL NO.
11197 AND SENATE BILL NO. 1630." In short, it is an
illicit marriage of a bill which originated in the House and a
bill which originated in the Senate. Therefore, R.A. No.
7716 did not originate exclusively in the House.
The only bill which could serve as a valid basis for R.A.
No. 7716 is House Bill (HB) No. 11197. This bill, which is
the substitute bill recommended by the House Committee
on Ways and Means in substitution of House Bills Nos.
253, 771, 2450, 7033, 8086, 9030, 9210, 9397, 10012,
and 10100, and covered by its Committee Report No. 367,
14 was approved on third reading by the House on 17
November 1993. 15 Interestingly, HB No. 9210, 16 which
was filed by Representative Exequiel B. Javier on 19 May
1993, was certified by the President in his letter to
Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. of 1 June 1993. 17 Yet, HB
No. 11197, which substituted HB No. 9210 and the others
above-stated, was not. Its certification seemed to have
been entirely forgotten.
On 18 November 1993, the Secretary-General of the
House, pursuant to Section 83, Rule XIV of the Rules of
the House, transmitted to the President of the Senate HB
No. 11197 and requested the concurrence of the Senate
therewith. 18
However, HB No. 11197 had passed only its first reading
in that Senate by its referral to its Committee on Ways and
Means. That Committee never deliberated on HB No.
11197 as it should have. It acted only on Senate Bill (SB)
No. 1129 19 introduced by Senator Ernesto F. Herrera on
1 March 1993. It then prepared and proposed SB No.
1630, and in its Committee Report No.
349 20 which was submitted to the Senate on 7 February
1994, 21 it recommended that SB No. 1630 be approved
"in substitution of S.B. No. 1129, taking into consideration
P.S. Res. No. 734 and H.B. No. 11197." 22 It must be
carefully noted that SB No. 1630 was proposed and
submitted for approval by the Senate in SUBSTITUTION
of SB No. 1129, and not HB No. 11197. Obviously, the
principal measure which the Committee deliberated on
and acted upon was SB No. 1129 and not HB No. 11197.
The latter, instead of being the only measure to be taken
up, deliberated upon, and reported back to the Senate for
its consideration on second reading and, eventually, on
third reading, was, at the most, merely given by the
Committee a passing glance.
This specific unequivocal action of the Senate Committee
on Ways and Means, i.e., proposing and recommending
approval of SB No. 1630 as a substitute for or in
substitution of SB No. 1129 demolishes at once the thesis
of the Solicitor General that:
Assuming that SB 1630 is distinct from HB
11197, amendment by substitution is within the
purview of Section 24, Article VI of the
Constitution.
because, according to him, (a) "Section 68, Rule XXIX of
the Rules of the Senate authorizes an amendment by
substitution and the only condition required is that "the text
thereof is submitted in writing"; and (b) "[I]n Flint vs. Stone
Tracy Co. (220 U.S. 107) the United Stated Supreme
Court, interpreting the provision in the United States
Constitution similar to Section 24, Article VI of the
Philippine Constitution, stated that the power of the
Senate to amend a revenue bill includes substitution of an
entirely new measure for the one originally proposed by
the House of Representatives." 23
This thesis is utterly without merit. In the first place, it
reads into the Committee Report something which it had
not contemplated, that is, to propose SB No. 1630 in
substitution of HB No. 11197; or speculates that the
Committee may have committed an error in stating that it
is SB No. 1129, and not HB No. 11197, which is to be
substituted by SB No. 1630. Either, of course, is
unwarranted because the words of the Report, solemnly
signed by the Chairman, Vice-Chairman (who dissented),
seven members, and three ex-officio
members, 24 leave no room for doubt that although SB
No. 1129, P.S. Res No. 734, and HB No. 11197 were
referred to and considered by the Committee, it had
prepared the attached SB No. 1630 which it recommends
for approval "in substitution of S.B. No. 11197, taking into
consideration P.S. No. 734 and H.B. No. 11197 with
Senators Herrera, Angara, Romulo, Sotto, Ople and
Shahani as authors." To do as suggested would be to
substitute the judgment of the Committee with another that
is completely inconsistent with it, or, simply, to capriciously
ignore the facts.
In the second place, the Office of the Solicitor General
intentionally made it appear, to mislead rather than to
persuade us, that in Flint vs. Stone Tracy
Co. 25 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, as quoted by it in
the Consolidated Memorandum for Respondents, as
follows: 26
The Senate has the power to amend a revenue
bill. This power to amend is not confined to the
elimination of provisions contained in the original
act, but embraces as well the addition of such
provisions thereto as may render the original act
satisfactory to the body which is called upon to
support it. It has, in fact, been held that the
substitution of an entirely new measure for the
one originally proposed can be supported as a
valid amendment.
xxx xxx xxx
It is contended in the first place that this section
of the act is unconstitutional, because it is a
revenue measure, and originated in the Senate in
violation of Section 7 of article 1 of the
Constitution, providing that "all bills for raising
revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives, but the Senate may propose or
concur with the amendments, as on other bills."
The first part is not a statement of the Court, but a
summary of the arguments of counsel in one of the
companion cases (No. 425, entitled, "Gay vs. Baltic Mining
Co."). The second part is the second paragraph of the
opinion of the Court delivered by Mr. Justice Day. The
misrepresentation that the first part is a statement of the
Court is highly contemptuous. To show such deliberate
misrepresentation, it is well to quote what actually are
found in 55 L.Ed. 408, 410, to wit:
Messrs. Charles A. Snow and Joseph H. Knight
filed a brief for appellees in No. 425:
xxx xxx xxx
The Senate has the power to amend a revenue
bill. This power to amend is not confined to the
elimination of provisions contained in the original
act, but embraces as well the addition of such
provisions thereto as may render the original act
satisfactory to the body which is called upon to
support it. It has, in fact, been held that the
substitution of an entirely new measure for the
one originally proposed can be supported as a
valid amendment.
Brake v. Collison, 122 Fed. 722.
Mr. James L. Quackenbush filed a statement for
appellees in No. 442.
Solicitor General Lehmann (by special leave)
argued the cause for the United States on
reargument.
Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:
These cases involve the constitutional
validity of 38 of the act of Congress
approved August 5, 1909, known as "the
corporation tax" law. 36 Stat. at L. 11,
112-117, chap. 6, U.S. Comp. Stat.
Supp. 1909, pp. 659, 844-849.
It is contended in the first place that this
section of the act is unconstitutional,
because it is a revenue measure, and
originated in the Senate in violation of 7
of article 1 of the Constitution, providing
the "all bills for raising revenue shall
originate in the House of
Representatives, but the Senate may
propose or concur with the
amendments, as on other bills." The
history of the act is contained in the
government's brief, and is accepted as
correct, no objection being made to its
accuracy.
This statement shows that the tariff bill
of which the section under consideration
is a part, originated in the House of
Representatives, and was there a
general bill for the collection of revenue.
As originally introduced, it contained a
plan of inheritance taxation. In the
Senate the proposed tax was removed
from the bill, and the corporation tax, in
a measure, substituted therefor. The bill
having properly originated in the House,
we perceive no reason in the
constitutional provision relied upon why
it may not be amended in the Senate in
the manner which it was in this case.
The amendment was germane to the
subject-matter of the bill, and not
beyond the power of the Senate to
propose. (Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
As shown above, the underlined portions were deliberately
omitted in the quotation made by the Office of the Solicitor
General.
In the third place, a Senate amendment by substitution
with an entirely new bill of a bill, which under Section 24,
Article VI of the Constitution can only originate exclusively
in the House, is not authorized by said Section 24. Flint vs.
Stone Tracy Co. cannot be invoked in favor of such a
view. As pointed out by Mr. Justice Florenz D. Regalado
during the oral arguments of these cases and during the
initial deliberations thereon by the Court, Flint involves a
Senate amendment to a revenue bill which, under the
United States Constitution, should originate from the
House of Representatives. The amendment consisted of
the substitution of a corporation tax in lieu of the plan of
inheritance taxation contained in a general bill for the
collection of revenue as it came from the House of
Representatives where the bill originated. The
constitutional provision in question is Section 7, Article I of
the United States Constitution which reads:
Sec. 7. Bills and Resolutions. — All Bills for
raising Revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or
concur with Amendments, as on other Bills.
This provision, contrary to the misleading claim of the
Solicitor General, is not similar to Section 24, Article VI of
our Constitution, which for easy comparison is hereunder
quoted again:
All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills
authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of
local application, and private bills shall originate
exclusively in the House of Representatives, but
the Senate may propose or concur with
amendments.
Note that in the former the word exclusively does not
appear. And, in the latter, the phrase "as on other Bill,"
which is found in the former, does not appear. These are
very significant in determining the authority of the upper
chamber over the bills enumerated in Section 24. Since
the origination is not exclusively vested in the House of
Representatives of the United States, the Senate's
authority to propose or concur with amendments is
necessarily broader. That broader authority is further
confirmed by the phrase "as on other Bills," i.e., its power
to propose or concur with amendments thereon is the
same as in ordinary bills. The absence of this phrase in
our Constitution was clearly intended to restrict or limit the
Philippine Senate's power to propose or concur with
amendments. In the light of the exclusivity of origination
and the absence of the phrase "as on other Bills," the
Philippine Senate cannot amend by substitution with an
entirely new bill of its own any bill covered by Section 24
of Article VI which the House of Representatives
transmitted to it because such substitution would indirectly
violate Section 24.
These obvious substantive differences between Section 7,
Article I of the U.S. Constitution and Section 24, Article VI
of our Constitution are enough reasons why this Court
should neither allow itself to be misled by Flint vs. Stone
nor be awed by Rainey vs. United States 27 and the
opinion of Messrs. Ogg and Ray 28 which the majority
cites to support the view that the power of the U.S. Senate
to amend a revenue measure is unlimited. Rainey
concerns the Tariff Act of 1909 of the United States of
America and specifically involved was its Section 37 which
was an amendment introduced by the U.S. Senate. It was
claimed by the petitioners that the said section is a
revenue measure which should originate in the House of
Representatives. The U.S. Supreme Court, however,
adopted and approved the finding of the court a quo that:
the section in question is not void as a bill for
raising revenue originating in the Senate, and not
in the House of Representatives. It appears that
the section was proposed by the Senate as an
amendment to a bill for raising revenue which
originated in the House. That is sufficient.
Messrs. Ogg and Ray, who are professors emeritus of
political science, based their statement not even on a case
decided by the U.S. Supreme Court but on their
perception of what Section 7, Article I of the U.S.
Constitution permits. In the tenth edition (1951) of their
work, they state:
Any bill may make its first appearance in either
house, except only that bills for raising revenue
are required by the constitution to "originate" in
the House of Representatives. Indeed, through
its right to amend revenue bills, even to the
extent of substituting new ones, the Senate may,
in effect, originate them also. 29
Their "in effect" conclusion is, of course, logically correct
because the word exclusively does not appear in said
Section 7, Article I of the U.S. Constitution.
Neither can I find myself in agreement with the view of the
majority that the Constitution does not prohibit the filing in
the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt
of the bill from the House so long as action by the Senate
as a body is withheld pending receipt of the House bill,
thereby stating, in effect, that S.B. No. 1129 was such an
anticipatory substitute bill, which, nevertheless, does not
seem to have been considered by the Senate except only
after its receipt of H.B. No. 11179 on 23 November 1993
when the process of legislation in respect of it began with
a referral to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Firstly, to say that the Constitution does not prohibit it is to
render meaningless Section 24 of Article VI or to sanction
its blatant disregard through the simple expedient of filing
in the Senate of a so-called anticipatory substitute bill.
Secondly, it suggests that S.B. No. 1129 was filed as an
anticipatory measure to substitute for H.B. No. 11179. This
is a speculation which even the author of S.B. No. 1129
may not have indulged in. S.B. No. 1129 was filed in the
Senate by Senator Herrera on 1 March 1993. H.B. No.
11197 was approved by the House on third reading only
on 17 November 1993. Frankly, I cannot believe that
Senator Herrera was able to prophesy that the House
would pass any VAT bill, much less to know its provisions.
That "it does not seem that the Senate even considered"
the latter not until after its receipt of H.B. No. 11179 is
another speculation. As stated earlier, S.B. No. 1129 was
filed in the Senate on 1 March 1993, while H.B. No. 11197
was transmitted to the Senate only on 18 November 1993.
There is no evidence on record to show that both were
referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means at
the same time. Finally, in respect of H.B. No. 11197, its
legislative process did not begin with its referral to the
Senate's Ways and Means Committee. It began upon its
filing, as a Committee Bill of the House of Committee on
Ways and Means, in the House.
Second violation. — Since SB No. 1129 is a revenue
measure, it could not even be validly introduced or
initiated in the Senate. It follows too, that the Senate
cannot validly act thereon.
Third violation. — Since SB No. 1129 could not have been
validly introduced in the Senate and could not have been
validly acted on by the Senate, then it cannot be
substituted by another revenue measure, SB No. 1630,
which the Senate Committee on Ways and Means
introduced in substitution of SB No. 1129. The filing or
introduction in the Senate of SB No. 1630 also violated
Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution.
VIOLATIONS OF SECTION 26(2), ARTICLE VI
OF THE CONSTITUTION:
First violation. — The Senate, despite its lack of
constitutional authority to consider SB No. 1630 or SB No.
1129 which the former substituted, opened deliberations
on second reading of SB No. 1630 on 8 February 1994.
On 24 March 1994, the Senate approved it on second
reading and on third reading. 30 That approval on the
same day violated Section 26(2), Article VI of the
Constitution. The justification therefor was that on 24
February 1994 the President certified to "the necessity of
the enactment of SB No. 1630 . . . to meet a public
emergency." 31
I submit, however, that the Presidential certification is void
ab initio not necessarily for the reason adduced by
petitioner Kilosbayan, Inc., but because it was addressed
to the Senate for a bill which is prohibited from originating
therein. The only bill which could be properly certified on
permissible constitutional grounds even if it had already
been transmitted to the Senate is HB No. 11197. As
earlier observed, this was not so certified, although HB
No. 9210 (one of those consolidated into HB No. 11197)
was certified on 1 June 1993. 32
Also, the certification of SB No. 1630 cannot, by any
stretch of the imagination, be extended to HB No. 11197
because SB No. 1630 did not substitute HB No. 11197 but
SB No. 1129.
Considering that the certification of SB No. 1630 is void,
its approval on second and third readings in one day
violated Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution.
Second violation. — It further appears that on 24 June
1994, after the approval of SB No. 1630, the Secretary of
the Senate, upon directive of the Senate President,
formally notified the House Speaker of the Senate's
approval thereof and its request for a bicameral
conference "in view of the disagreeing provisions of said
bill and House Bill No. 11197." 33
It must be stressed again that HB No. 11197 was never
submitted for or acted on second and third readings in the
Senate, and SB No. 1630 was never sent to the House for
its concurrence. Elsewise stated, both were only half-way
through the legislative mill. Their submission to a
conference committee was not only anomalously
premature, but violative of the constitutional rule on three
readings.
The suggestion that SB No. 1630 was not required to be
submitted to the House for otherwise the procedure would
be endless, is unacceptable for, firstly, it violates Section
26, Rule XII of the Rules of the Senate and Section 85,
Rule XIV of the Rules of the House, and, secondly, it is
never endless. If the chamber of origin refuses to accept
the amendments of the other chamber, the request for
conference shall be made.
VIOLATIONS OF THE RULES OF BOTH
CHAMBERS;
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.
The erroneous referral to the conference committee needs
further discussion. Since S.B. No. 1630 was not a
substitute bill for H.B. No. 11197 but for S.B. No. 1129, it
(S.B. No. 1630) remained a bill which originated in the
Senate. Even assuming arguendo that it could be validly
initiated in the Senate, it should have been first transmitted
to the House where it would undergo three readings. On
the other hand, since HB No. 11197 was never acted upon
by the Senate on second and third readings, no
differences or inconsistencies could as yet arise so as to
warrant a request for a conference. It should be noted that
under Section 83, Rule XIV of the Rules of the House, it is
only when the Senate shall have approved with
amendments HB no. 11197 and the House declines to
accept the amendments after having been notified thereof
that the request for a conference may be made by the
House, not by the Senate. Conversely, the Senate's
request for a conference would only be proper if, following
the transmittal of SB No. 1630 to the House, it was
approved by the latter with amendments but the Senate
rejected the amendments.
Indisputably then, when the request for a bicameral
conference was made by the Senate, SB No. 1630 was
not yet transmitted to the House for consideration on three
readings and HB No. 11197 was still in the Senate
awaiting consideration on second and third readings. Their
referral to the bicameral conference committee was
palpably premature and, in so doing, both the Senate and
the House acted without authority or with grave abuse of
discretion. Nothing, and absolutely nothing, could have
been validly acted upon by the bicameral conference
committee.
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION COMMITTED
BY
THE BICAMERAL CONFERENCE
COMMITTEE.
Serious irregularities amounting to lack of jurisdiction or
grave abuse of discretion were committed by the
bicameral conference committee.
First, it assumed, and took for granted that SB No. 1630
could validly originate in the Senate. This assumption is
erroneous.
Second, it assumed that HB No. 11197 and SB No. 1630
had properly passed both chambers of Congress and
were properly and regularly submitted to it. As earlier
discussed, the assumption is unfounded in fact.
Third, per the bicameral conference committee's
proceedings of 19 April 1994, Representative Exequiel
Javier, Chairman of the panel from the House, initially
suggested that HB No. 11197 should be the "frame of
reference," because it is a revenue measure, to which
Senator Ernesto Maceda concurred. However, after an
incompletely recorded reaction of Senator Ernesto
Herrera, Chairman of the Senate panel, Representative
Javier seemed to agree that "all amendments will be
coming from the Senate." The issue of what should be the
"frame of reference" does not appear to have been
resolved. These facts are recorded in this wise, as quoted
in the Consolidated Memorandum for Respondents: 34
CHAIRMAN JAVIER.
First of all, what would be the basis, no, or
framework para huwag naman mawala yung
personality namin dito sa bicameral, no, because
the bill originates from the House because this is
a revenue bill, so we would just want to ask, we
make the House Bill as the frame of reference,
and then everything will just be inserted?
HON. MACEDA.
Yes. That's true for every revenue measure.
There's no other way. The House Bill has got to
be the base. Of course, for the record, we know
that this is an administration; this is certified by
the President and I was about to put into the
records as I am saying now that your problem
about the impact on prices on the people was
already decided when the President and the
administration sent this to us and certified it. They
have already gotten over that political implication
of this bill and the economic impact on prices.
CHAIRMAN HERRERA.
Yung concern mo about the bill as the reference
in this discussion is something that we can just . .
.
CHAIRMAN JAVIER.
We will just . . . all the amendments will be
coming from the Senate.
(BICAMERAL CONFERENCE ON MAJOR
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HB NO. 11197 AND
SB NO. 1630 [Cte. on Ways & Means] APRIL 19,
1994, II-6 and II-7; Emphasis supplied)
These exchanges would suggest that Representative
Javier had wanted HB No. 11197 to be the principal
measure on which reconciliation of the differences should
be based. However, since the Senate did not act on this
Bill on second and third readings because its Committee
on Ways and Means did not deliberate on it but instead
proposed SB No. 1630 in substitution of SB No. 1129, the
suggestion has no factual basis. Then, when finally he
agreed that "all amendments will be coming from the
Senate," he in fact withdrew the former suggestion and
agreed that SB No. 1630, which is the Senate version of
the Value Added Tax (VAT) measure, should be the
"frame of reference." But then SB No. 1630 was never
transmitted to the House for the latter's concurrence.
Hence, it cannot serve as the "frame of reference" or as
the basis for deliberation. The posture taken by
Representative Javier also indicates that SB No. 1630
should be taken as the amendment to HB No. 11197.
This, too, is unfounded because SB No. 1630 was not
proposed in substitution of HB No. 11197.
Since SB No. 1630 did not pass three readings in the
House and HB No. 11197 did not pass second and third
readings in the Senate, it logically follows that no
disagreeing provisions had as yet arisen. The bicameral
conference committee erroneously assumed the contrary.
Even granting arguendo that both HB No. 11197 and SB
No. 1630 had been validly approved by both chambers of
Congress and validly referred to the bicameral conference
committee, the latter had very limited authority thereon. It
was created "in view of the disagreeing provisions of" the
two bills. 35 Its duty was limited to the reconciliation of
disagreeing provisions or the resolution of differences or
inconsistencies. The committee recognized that limited
authority in the opening paragraph of its Report 36 when it
said:
The Conference Committee on the disagreeing
provisions of House Bill No. 11197 . . . and
Senate Bill No. 1630 . . . .
Under such limited authority, it could only either (a)
restore, wholly or partly, the specific provisions of HB No.
11197 amended by SB No. 1630, (b) sustain, wholly or
partly, the Senate's amendments, or (c) by way of a
compromise, to agree that neither provisions in HB No.
11197 amended by the Senate nor the latter's
amendments thereto be carried into the final form of the
former.
But as pointed out by petitioners Senator Raul Roco and
Kilosbayan, Inc., the bicameral conference committee not
only struck out non-disagreeing provisions of HB No.
11197 and SB No. 1630, i.e., provisions where both bills
are in full agreement; it added more activities or
transactions to be covered by VAT, which were not within
the contemplation of both bills.
Since both HB No. 11197 and SB No. 1630 were still half-
cooked in the legislative vat, and were not ready for
referral to a conference, the bicameral conference
committee clearly acted without jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion when it consolidated both into one bill
which became R.A. No. 7716.
APPROVAL BY BOTH CHAMBERS OF
CONFERENCE
COMMITTEE REPORT AND PROPOSED BILL
DID
NOT CURE CONSTITUTIONAL INFIRMITIES.
I cannot agree with the suggestion that since both the
Senate and the House had approved the bicameral
conference committee report and the bill proposed by it in
substitution of HB No. 11197 and SB No. 1630, whatever
infirmities may have been committed by it were cured by
ratification. This doctrine of ratification may apply to minor
procedural flaws or tolerable breachs of the parameters of
the bicameral conference committee's limited powers but
never to violations of the Constitution. Congress is not
above the Constitution. In the instant case, since SB No.
1630 was introduced in violation of Section 24, Article VI
of the Constitution, was passed in the Senate in violation
of the "three readings" rule, and was not transmitted to the
House for the completion of the constitutional process of
legislation, and HB No. 11197 was not likewise passed by
the Senate on second and third readings, neither the
Senate nor the House could validly approve the bicameral
conference committee report and the proposed bill.
In view of the foregoing, the conclusion is inevitable that
for non-compliance with mandatory provisions of the
Constitution and of the Rules of the Senate and of the
House on the enactment of laws, R.A. No. 7716 is
unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void. A discussion
then of the instrinsic validity of some of its provisions
would be unnecessary.
The majority opinion, however, invokes the enrolled bill
doctrine and wants this Court to desist from looking behind
the copy of the assailed measure as certified by the
Senate President and the Speaker of the House. I
respectfully submit that the invocation is misplaced. First,
as to the issue of origination, the certification in this case
explicitly states that R.A. No. 7716 is a "consolidation of
House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630." This is
conclusive evidence that the measure did not originate
exclusively in the House. Second, the enrolled bill doctrine
is of American origin, and unquestioned fealty to it may no
longer be justified in view of the expanded jurisdiction 37
of this Court under Section 1, Article VIII of our
Constitution which now expressly grants authority to this
Court to:
determine whether or not there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government.
Third, even under the regime of the 1935 Constitution
which did not contain the above provision, this Court,
through Mr. Chief Justice Makalintal, in Astorga vs.
Villegas, 38 declared that it cannot be truly said that
Mabanag vs. Lopez
Vito 39 has laid to rest the question of whether the
enrolled bill doctrine or the journal entry rule should
be adhered to in this jurisdiction, and stated:
As far as Congress itself is concerned, there is
nothing sacrosanct in the certification made by
the presiding officers. It is merely a mode of
authentication. The lawmaking process in
Congress ends when the bill is approved by both
Houses, and the certification does not add to the
validity of the bill or cure any defect already
present upon its passage. In other words, it is the
approval of Congress and not the signatures of
the presiding officers that is essential. Thus the
(1935) Constitution says that "[e]very bill passed
by the Congress shall, before it becomes law, be
presented to the President." In Brown vs. Morris,
supra, the Supreme Court of Missouri,
interpreting a similar provision in the State
Constitution, said that the same "makes it clear
that the indispensable step in the passage" and it
follows that if a bill, otherwise fully enacted as a
law, is not attested by the presiding officer, other
proof that it has "passed both houses will satisfy
the constitutional requirement."
Fourth, even in the United States, the enrolled bill doctrine
has been substantially undercut. This is shown in the
disquisitions of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno in his
dissenting opinion, citing Sutherland, Statutory
Construction.
Last, the pleadings of the parties have established beyond
doubt that HB No. 11197 was not acted on second and
third readings in the Senate and SB No. 1630, which was
approved by the Senate on second and third readings in
substitution of SB No. 1129, was never transmitted to the
House for its passage. Otherwise stated, they were only
passed in their respective chamber of origin but not in the
other. In no way can each become a law under paragraph
2, Section 26, Article VI of the Constitution. For the Court
to close its eyes to this fact because of the enrolled bill
doctrine is to shrink its duty to hold "inviolate what is
decreed by the Constitution." 40
I vote then to GRANT these petitions and to declare R.A.
No. 7716 as unconstitutional.

ROMERO, J.:
Few issues brought before this Court for resolution have
roiled the citizenry as much as the instant case brought by
nine petitioners which challenges the constitutionality of
Republic Act No. 7716 (to be referred to herein as the
"Expanded Value Added Tax" or EVAT law to distinguish it
from Executive Order No. 273 which is the VAT law
proper) that was enacted on May 5, 1994. A visceral
issue, it has galvanized the populace into mass action and
strident protest even as the EVAT proponents have taken
to podia and media in a post facto information campaign.
The Court is confronted here with an atypical case. Not
only is it a vatful of seething controversy but some unlikely
petitioners invoke unorthodox remedies. Three Senator-
petitioners would nullify a statute that bore the
indispensable stamp of approval of their own Chamber
with two of them publicly repudiating what they had earlier
endorsed. With two former colleagues, one of them an
erstwhile Senate President, making common cause with
them, they would stay the implementation by the
Executive Department of a law which they themselves
have initiated. They address a prayer to a co-equal
Department to probe their official acts for any procedural
irregularities they have themselves committed lest the
effects of these aberrations inflict such damage or
irreparable loss as would bring down the wrath of the
people on their heads.
To the extent that they perceive that a vital cog in the
internal machinery of the Legislature has malfunctioned
from having operated in blatant violation of the enabling
Rules they have themselves laid down, they would now
plead that this other Branch of Government step in,
invoking the exercise of what is at once a delicate and
awesome power. Undoubtedly, the case at bench is as
much a test for the Legislature as it is for the Judiciary.
A backward glance on the Value Added Tax (VAT) is in
order at this point.
The first codification of the country's internal revenue laws
was effected with the enactment of Commonwealth Act
No. 466, commonly known as the 'National Internal
Revenue Code' which was approved on June 15, 1939
and took effect on July 1, 1939, although the provisions on
the income tax were made retroactive to January 1, 1939.
Since 1939 when the turnover tax was replaced
by the manufacturer's sales tax, the Tax Code
had provided for a single-stage value-added tax
on original sales by manufacturers, producers
and importers computed on the "cost deduction
method" and later, on the basis of the "tax credit
method." The turnover tax was re-introduced in
1985 by Presidential Decree No. 1991 (as
amended by Presidential Decree No. 2006). 1
In 1986, a tax reform package was approved by the
Aquino Cabinet. It contained twenty-nine measures, one of
which proposed the adoption of the VAT, as well as the
simplification of the sales tax structure and the abolition of
the turnover tax.
Up until 1987, the system of taxing goods
consisted of (a) an excise tax on certain selected
articles (b) fixed and percentage taxes on original
and subsequent sales, on importations and on
milled articles and (c) mining taxes on mineral
products. Services were subjected to percentage
taxes based mainly on gross receipts. 2
On July 25, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino signed
into law Executive Order No. 273 which adopted the VAT.
From the former single-stage value-added tax, it
introduced the multi-stage VAT system where "the value-
added tax is imposed on the sale of and distribution
process culminating in sale, to the final consumer.
Generally described, the taxpayer (the seller) determines
his tax liability by computing the tax on the gross selling
price or gross receipt ("output tax") and subtracting or
crediting the earlier VAT on the purchase or importation of
goods or on the sale of service ("input tax") against the tax
due on his own sale." 3
On January 1, 1988, implementing rules and regulations
for the VAT were promulgated. President Aquino then
issued Proclamation No. 219 on February 12, 1988 urging
the public and private sectors to join the nationwide
consumers' education campaign for VAT.
Soon after the implementation of Executive Order No. 273,
its constitutionality was assailed before this Court in the
case of Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng
Pilipinas, Inc., et al. v. Tan. 4 The four petitioners sought
to nullify the VAT law "for being unconstitutional in that its
enactment is not allegedly within the powers of the
President; that the VAT is oppressive, discriminatory,
regressive, and violates the due process and equal
protection clauses and other provisions of the 1987
Constitution." 5 In dismissing the consolidated petitions,
this Court stated:
The Court, following the time-honored doctrine of
separation of powers cannot substitute its
judgment for that of the President as to the
wisdom, justice and advisability of the VAT. The
Court can only look into and determine whether
or not Executive Order No. 273 was enacted and
made effective as law, in the manner required by
and consistent with, the Constitution, and to
make sure that it was not issued in grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction; and, in this regard, the Court finds no
reason to impede its application or continued
implementation. 6
Although declared constitutional, the VAT law was sought
to be amended from 1992 on by a series of bills filed in
both Houses of Congress. In chronological sequence,
these were:

HB/SB No. Date Filed in Congress


HB No. 253 - July 22, 1992
HB No. 771 - August 10, 1992
HB No. 2450 - September 9, 1992
Senate Res. No. 7347 - September
10, 1992
HB No. 7033 - February 3, 1993
SB No. 11298 - March 1, 1993
HB No. 8086 - March 9, 1993
HB No. 9030 - May 11, 1993
HB No. 9210 9 - May 19, 1993
HB No. 9297 - May 25, 1993
HB No. 10012 - July 28, 1993
HB No. 10100 - August 3, 1993
HB No. 11197 in substitution of HB
Nos. 253, 771, 2450, 7033, 8086,
9030, 9210, 9297, 10012 and
10100 10 - November 5, 1993
We now trace the course taken by H.B. No. 11197 and
S.B. No. 1129.
HB/SB No.
HB No. 11197 was approved in the
Lower House onsecond reading -
November 11, 1993
HB No. 11197 was approved in
the Lower House on third
reading and voted upon
with 114 Yeas and 12 Nays - November 17, 1993
HB No. 11197 was transmitted
to the Senate - November 18, 1993
Senate Committee on Ways and
Means submitted Com.
Report No. 349 recommeding
for approval SB No. 1630 in
substitution of SB No. 1129,
taking into consideration PS Res. No.
734 and HB No. 11197 11 - February 7, 1994
Certification by President Fidel V.
Ramos of Senate Bill No.
1630 for immediate enactment
to meet a public emergency - March 22, 1994
SB No. 1630 was approved by
the Senate on second and third
readings and subsequently
voted upon with 13 yeas, none
against and one abstention - March 24, 1994
Transmittal by the Senate to the
Lower House of a request
for a conference in view of
disagreeing provisions of
SB No. 1630 and HB NO.
11197 - March 24, 1994
The Bicameral Conference Committee
conducted various meetings to
reconcile the proposals on the
VAT - April 13, 19, 20, 21, 25
The House agreed on the Conference
Committee Report - April 27, 1994
The Senate agreed on the Conference
Committee Report - May 2, 1994
The President signed Republic Act
No. 7716 - The Expanded
VAT Law 12 - May 5, 1994
Republic Act No. 7716 was
published in two newspapers
of general circulation - May 12, 1994
Republic Act No. 7716 became
effective - May 28, 1994

Republic Act No. 7716 merely expanded the base of the


VAT law even as the tax retained its multi-stage character.
At the oral hearing held on July 7, 1994, this Court
delimited petitioners' arguments to the following issues
culled from their respective petitions.
PROCEDURAL ISSUES
Does Republic Act No. 7716 violate Article VI, Section 24,
of the Constitution? 13
Does it violate Article VI, Section 26, paragraph 2, of the
Constitution? 14
What is the extent of the power of the Bicameral
Conference Committee?
SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES
Does the law violate the following provisions in Article III
(Bill of Rights) of the Constitution:
1. Section 1 15
2. Section 4 16
3. Section 5 17
4. Section 10 18
Does the law violate the following other provisions of the
Constitution?
1. Article VI, Section 28,
paragraph 1 19
2. Article VI, Section 28,
paragraph 3 20
As a result of the unedifying experience of the past where
the Court had the propensity to steer clear of questions it
perceived to be "political" in nature, the present
Constitution, in contrast, has explicitly expanded judicial
power to include the duty of the courts, especially the
Supreme Court, "to determine whether or not there has
been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government." 21 I submit that under
this explicit mandate, the Court is empowered to rule upon
acts of other Government entities for the purpose of
determining whether there may have been, in fact,
irregularities committed tantamount to violation of the
Constitution, which case would clearly constitute a grave
abuse of discretion on their part.
In the words of the sponsor of the above-quoted Article of
the Constitution on the Judiciary, the former Chief Justice
Roberto R. Concepcion, "the judiciary is the final arbiter on
the question of whether or not a branch of government or
any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in
excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an
abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or
lack of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a
duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature.
This is the back ground of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which
means that the courts cannot hereafter exhibit its wonted
reticence by claiming that such matters constitute a
political question." 22
In the instant petitions, this Court is called upon, not so
much to exercise its traditional power of judicial review as
to determine whether or not there has indeed been a
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Legislature
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Where there are grounds to resolve a case without
touching on its constitutionality, the Court will do so with
utmost alacrity in due deference to the doctrine of
separation of powers anchored on the respect that must
be accorded to the other branches of government which
are coordinate, coequal and, as far as practicable,
independent of one another.
Once it is palpable that the constitutional issue is
unavoidable, then it is time to assume jurisdiction,
provided that the following requisites for a judicial inquiry
are met: that there must be an actual and appropriate
case; a personal and substantial interest of the party
raising the constitutional question; the constitutional
question must be raised at the earliest possible
opportunity and the decision of the constitutional question
must be necessary to the determination of the case itself,
the same being the lis mota of the case. 23
Having assured ourselves that the above-cited requisites
are present in the instant petitions, we proceed to take
them up.
ARTICLE VI, SECTION 24
Some petitioners assail the constitutionality of Republic
Act No. 7716 as being in violation of Article VI, Section 24
of the Constitution which provides:
All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills
authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of
local application, and private bills, shall originate
exclusively in the House of Representatives, but
the Senate may propose or concur with
amendments.
In G.R. Nos. 115455 and 115781, petitioners argue:
(a) The bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 did not
originate exclusively in the House of Representatives. The
Senate, after receiving H.B. No. 11197, submitted its own
bill, S.B. No. 1630, and proceeded to vote and approve
the same after second and third readings.
(b) The Senate exceeded its authority to "propose or
concur with amendments" when it submitted its own bill,
S.B. No. 1630, recommending its approval "in substitution
of S.B. No. 1129, taking into consideration P.S. Res. No.
734 and H.B. No. 11197."
(c) H.B. No. 11197 was not deliberated upon by the
Senate. Neither was it voted upon by the Senate on
second and third readings, as what was voted upon was
S.B. No. 1630.
Article VI, Section 24 is taken word for word from Article
VI, Section 18 of the 1935 Constitution which was, in turn,
patterned after Article I, Section 7 (1) of the Constitution of
the United States, which states:
All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the
House of Representatives, but the Senate may
propose or concur with amendments as on other
bills.
The historical precedent for requiring revenue bills to
originate in Congress is explained in the U.S. case of
Morgan v. Murray. 24
The constitutional requirement that all bills for
raising revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives stemmed from a remedial
outgrowth of the historic conflict between
Parliament (i.e., Commons) and the Crown,
whose ability to dominate the monarchially
appointive and hereditary Lords was patent. See
1 Story, Constitution, S 875 et seq., 5th Ed.; 1
Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, pp. 267, 268,
8th Ed., 1 Sutherland, Statutory Construction, S
806, 3d Ed. There was a measure of like
justification for the insertion of the provision of
article I, S 7, cl. 1, of the Federal Constitution. At
that time (1787) and thereafter until the adoption
(in 1913) of the Seventeenth Amendment
providing for the direct election of senators, the
members of the United States Senate were
elected for each state by the joint vote of both
houses of the Legislature of the respective
states, and hence, were removed from the
people . . .
The legislative authority under the 1935 Constitution being
unicameral, in the form of the National Assembly, it served
no purpose to include the subject provision in the draft
submitted by the 1934 Constitutional Convention to the
Filipino people for ratification.
In 1940, however, the Constitution was amended to
establish a bicameral Congress of the Philippines
composed of a House of Representatives and a Senate.
In the wake of the creation of a new legislative machinery,
new provisions were enacted regarding the law-making
power of Congress. The National Assembly explained how
the final formulation of the subject provision came about:
The concurrence of both houses would be
necessary to the enactment of a law. However,
all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills
authorizing an increase of the public debt, bills of
local application, and private bills, should
originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives, although the Senate could
propose or concur with amendments.
In one of the first drafts of the amendments, it
was proposed to give both houses equal powers
in lawmaking. There was, however, much
opposition on the part of several members of the
Assembly. In another draft; the following
provision, more restrictive than the present
provision in the amendment, was proposed and
for sometime was seriously considered:
All bills appropriating public funds,
revenue or tariff bills, bills of local
application, and private bills shall
originate exclusively in the Assembly,
but the Senate may propose or concur
with amendments. In case of
disapproval by the Senate of any such
bills, the Assembly may repass the
same by a two-thirds vote of all its
members, and thereupon, the bill so
repassed shall be deemed enacted and
may be submitted to the President for
corresponding action. In the event that
the Senate should fail to finally act on
any such bills, the Assembly may, after
thirty days from the opening of the next
regular sessions of the same legislative
term, reapprove the same with a vote of
two-thirds of all the members of the
Assembly. And upon such reapproval,
the bill shall be deemed enacted and
may be submitted to the president for
corresponding action.
However, the special committee voted finally to
report the present amending provision as it is
now worded; and in that form it was approved by
the National Assembly with the approval of
Resolution No. 38 and later of Resolution No. 73.
25 (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, the present Constitution is identically worded as its
1935 precursor: "All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills,
bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local
application, and private bills, shall originate exclusively in
the House of Representatives, but the Senate may
propose or concur with amendments." (Emphasis
supplied)
That all revenue bills, such as Republic Act No. 7716,
should "originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives" logically flows from the more
representative and broadly-based character of this
Chamber.
It is said that the House of Representatives being
the more popular branch of the legislature, being
closer to the people, and having more frequent
contacts with them than the Senate, should have
the privilege of taking the initiative in the
proposals of revenue and tax project, the
disposal of the people's money, and the
contracting of public indebtedness.
These powers of initiative in the raising and
spending of public funds enable the House of
Representatives not only to implement but even
to determine the fiscal policies of the
government. They place on its shoulders much of
the responsibility of solving the financial problems
of the government, which are so closely related
to the economic life of the country, and of
deciding on the proper distribution of revenues
for such uses as may best advance public
interests. 26
The popular nature of the Lower House has been more
pronounced with the inclusion of Presidentially-appointed
sectoral representatives, as provided in Article VI, Section
5 (2), of the Constitution, thus: "The party-list
representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the
total number of representatives including those under the
party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification
of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to
party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by
law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban
poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and
such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the
religious sector." (Emphasis supplied)
This novel provision which was implemented in the
Batasang Pambansa during the martial law regime 27 was
eventually incorporated in the present Constitution in order
to give those from the marginalized and often deprived
sector, an opportunity to have their voices heard in the
halls of the Legislature, thus giving substance and
meaning to the concept of "people empowerment."
That the Congressmen indeed have access to, and
consult their constituencies has been demonstrated often
enough by the fact that even after a House bill has been
transmitted to the Senate for concurrence, some
Congressmen have been known to express their desire to
change their earlier official position or reverse themselves
after having heard their constituents' adverse reactions to
their representations.
In trying to determine whether the mandate of the
Constitution with regard to the initiation of revenue bills
has been preserved inviolate, we have recourse to the
tried and tested method of definition of terms. The term
"originate" is defined by Webster's New International
Dictionary (3rd Edition, 1986) as follows: "v.i., to come into
being; begin; to start."
On the other hand, the word "exclusively" is defined by the
same Webster's Dictionary as "in an exclusive manner; to
the exclusion of all others; only; as, it is his, exclusively."
Black's Law Dictionary has this definition: "apart from all
others; only; solely; substantially all or for the greater part.
To the exclusion of all other; without admission of others
to participation; in a manner to exclude. Standard Oil Co.
of Texas v. State, Tex. Civ. App., 142 S.W. 2d 519, 521,
522, 523."
This Court had occasion to define the term "exclusive" as
follows:
. . . In its usual and generally accepted sense, the
term means possessed to the exclusion of
others; appertaining to the subject alone; not
including, admitting or pertaining to another or
others; undivided, sole. 28
When this writer, during the oral argument of July 7, 1994,
asked the petitioner in G.R. No. 115455 whether he
considers the word "exclusively" to be synonymous with
"solely," he replied in the affirmative. 29
A careful examination of the legislative history traced
earlier in this decision shows that the original VAT law,
Executive Order No. 273, was sought to be amended by
ten House bills which finally culminated in House Bill No.
11197, as well as two Senate bills. It is to be noted that
the first House Bill No. 253 was filed on July 22, 1992, and
two other House bills followed in quick succession on
August 10 and September 9, 1992 before a Senate
Resolution, namely, Senate Res. No. 734, was filed on
September 10, 1992 and much later, a Senate Bill proper,
viz., Senate Bill No. 1129 on March 1, 1993. Undoubtedly,
therefore, these bills originated or had their start in the
House and before any Senate bill amending the VAT law
was filed. In point of time and venue, the conclusion is
ineluctable that Republic Act No. 7716, which is
indisputably a revenue measure, originated in the House
of Representatives in the form of House Bill No. 253, the
first EVAT bill.
Additionally, the content and substance of the ten
amendatory House Bills filed over the roughly one-year
period from July 1992 to August 1993 reenforce the
position that these revenue bills, pertaining as they do, to
Executive Order No. 273, the prevailing VAT law,
originated in the Lower House.
House Bill Nos. 253, 771, 2450, 7033, 8086, 9030, 9210,
9297, 10012 and 10100 were intended to restructure the
VAT system by exempting or imposing the tax on certain
items or otherwise introducing reforms in the mechanics of
implementation. 30 Of these, House Bill No. 9210 was
favored with a Presidential certification on the need for its
immediate enactment to meet a public emergency. Easily
the most comprehensive, it noted that the revenue
performance of the VAT, being far from satisfactory since
the collections have always fallen short of projections, "the
system is rendered inefficient, inequitable and less
comprehensive." Hence, the Bill proposed several
amendments designed to widen the tax base of the VAT
and enhance its administration. 31
That House Bill No. 11197 being a revenue bill, originated
from the Lower House was acknowledged, in fact was
virtually taken for granted, by the Chairmen of the
Committee on Ways and Means of both the House of
Representatives and the Senate. Consequently, at the
April 19, 1994 meeting of the Bicameral Conference
Committee, the Members agreed to make the House Bill
as the "frame of reference" or "base" of the discussions of
the Bicameral Conference Committee with the
"amendments" or "insertions to emanate from the Senate."
32
As to whether the bills originated exclusively in the Lower
House is altogether a different matter. Obviously, bills
amendatory of VAT did not originate solely in the House to
the exclusion of all others for there were P.S. Res. No.
734 filed in the Senate on September 10, 1992 followed by
Senate Bill No. 1129 which was filed on March 1, 1993.
About a year later, this was substituted by Senate Bill No.
1630 that eventually became the EVAT law, namely,
Republic Act No. 7716.
Adverting to the passage of the amendatory VAT bills in
the Lower House, it is to be noted that House Bill No.
11197 which substituted all the prior bills introduced in
said House complied with the required readings, that is,
the first reading consisting of the reading of the title and
referral to the appropriate Committee, approval on second
reading on November 11, 1993 and on third reading on
November 17, 1993 before being finally transmitted to the
Senate. In the Senate, its identity was preserved and its
provisions were taken into consideration when the Senate
Committee on Ways and Means submitted Com. Report
No. 349 which recommended for approval "S.B. No. 1630
in substitution of S.B. No. 1129, taking into consideration
P.S. Res. No. 734 and H.B. No. 11197." At this stage, the
subject bill may be considered to have passed first reading
in the Senate with the submission of said Committee
Report No. 349 by the Senate Committee on Ways and
Means to which it had been referred earlier. What
remained, therefore, was no longer House Bill No. 11197
but Senate Bill No. 1630. Thence, the Senate, instead of
transmitting the bill to the Lower House for its concurrence
and amendments, if any, took a "shortcut," bypassed the
Lower House and instead, approved Senate Bill No. 1630
on both second and third readings on the same day,
March 24, 1994.
The first irregularity, that is, the failure to return Senate Bill
No. 1630 to the Lower House for its approval is fatal
inasmuch as the other chamber of legislature was not
afforded the opportunity to deliberate and make known its
views. It is no idle dictum that no less than the Constitution
ordains: "The legislative power shall be vested in the
Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a
Senate and a House of Representatives . . ." 33
(Emphasis supplied)
It is to be pointed out too, that inasmuch as Senate Bill No.
1630 which had "taken into consideration" House Bill No.
11197 was not returned to the Lower House for
deliberation, the latter Chamber had no opportunity at all
to express its views thereon or to introduce any
amendment. The customary practice is, after the Senate
has considered the Lower House Bill, it returns the same
to the House of origin with its amendments. In the event
that there may be any differences between the two, the
same shall then be referred to a Conference Committee
composed of members from both Chambers which shall
then proceed to reconcile said differences.
In the instant case, the Senate transmitted to the Lower
House on March 24, 1994, a letter informing the latter that
it had "passed S. No. 1630
entitled . . . (and) in view of the disagreeing provisions of
said bill and House Bill No. 11197, entitled . . . the Senate
requests a conference . . ." This, in spite of the fact that
Com. Report No. 349 of the Senate Committee on Ways
and Means had already recommended for approval on
February 7, 1994 "S.B. No. 1630 . . . taking into
consideration H.B. No. 11197." Clearly, the Conference
Committee could only have acted upon Senate Bill No.
1630, for House Bill No. 11197 had already been fused
into the former.
At the oral hearing of July 7, 1994, petitioner in G.R. No.
115455 admitted, in response to this writer's query, that he
had attempted to rectify some of the perceived
irregularities by presenting a motion in the Senate to recall
the bill from the Conference Committee so that it could
revert to the period of amendment, but he was outvoted, in
fact "slaughtered." 34
In accordance with the Rules of the House of
Representatives and the Senate, Republic Act No. 7716
was duly authenticated after it was signed by the
President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
Representatives followed by the certifications of the
Secretary of the Senate and the Acting Secretary General
of the House of Representatives. 35 With the signature of
President Fidel V. Ramos under the words "Approved: 5
May 1994," it was finally promulgated.
Its legislative journey ended, Republic Act No. 7716
attained the status of an enrolled bill which is defined as
one "which has been duly introduced, finally passed by
both houses, signed by the proper officers of each,
approved by the governor (or president) and filed by the
secretary of state." 36
Stated differently:
It is a declaration by the two houses, through
their presiding officers, to the president, that a
bill, thus attested, has received in due form, the
sanction of the legislative branch of the
government, and that it is delivered to him in
obedience to the constitutional requirement that
all bills which pass Congress shall be presented
to him. And when a bill, thus attested, receives
his approval, and is deposited in the public
archives, its authentication as a bill that has
passed Congress should be deemed complete
and unimpeachable. As the President has no
authority to approve a bill not passed by
Congress, an enrolled Act in the custody of the
Secretary of State, and having the official
attestations of the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, of the President of the Senate,
and of the President of the United States, carries,
on its face, a solemn assurance by the legislative
and executive departments of the government,
charged, respectively, with the duty of enacting
and executing the laws, that it was passed by
Congress. The respect due to coequal and
independent departments requires the judicial
department to act upon that assurance, and to
accept, as having passed Congress, all bills
authenticated in the manner stated; leaving the
courts to determine, when the question properly
arises, whether the Act, so authenticated, is in
conformity with the Constitution. 37
The enrolled bill assumes importance when there is some
variance between what actually transpired in the halls of
Congress, as reflected in its journals, and as shown in the
text of the law as finally enacted. But suppose the journals
of either or both Houses fail to disclose that the law was
passed in accordance with what was certified to by their
respective presiding officers and the President. Or that
certain constitutional requirements regarding its passage
were not observed, as in the instant case. Which shall
prevail: the journal or the enrolled bill?
A word on the journal.
The journal is the official record of the acts of a
legislative body. It should be a true record of the
proceedings arranged in chronological order. It
should be a record of what is done rather than
what is said. The journal should be a clear,
concise, unembellished statement of all
proposals made and all actions taken complying
with all requirements of constitutions, statutes,
charters or rules concerning what is to be
recorded and how it is to be recorded. 38
Article VI, Section 16 (4) of the Constitution ordains:
Each house shall keep a Journal of its
proceedings, and from time to time publish the
same, excepting such parts as may, in its
judgment, affect national security; and the yeas
and nays on any question shall, at the request of
one-fifth of the Members present, be entered in
the Journal.
Each House shall also keep a Record of its
proceedings." (Emphasis supplied)
The rationale behind the above provision and of the
"journal entry rule" is as follows:
It is apparent that the object of this provision is to
make the legislature show what it has done,
leaving nothing whatever to implication. And,
when the legislature says what it has done, with
regard to the passage of any bill, it negatives the
idea that it has done anything else in regard
thereto. Silence proves nothing where one is
commanded to speak . . . . Our constitution
commands certain things to be done in regard to
the passage of a bill, and says that no bill shall
become a law unless these things are done. It
seems a travesty upon our supreme law to say
that it guaranties to the people the right to have
their laws made in this manner only, and that
there is no way of enforcing this right, or for the
court to say that this is law when the constitution
says it is not law. There is one safe course which
is in harmony with the constitution, and that is to
adhere to the rule that the legislature must show,
as commanded by the constitution, that it has
done everything required by the constitution to be
done in the serious and important matter of
making laws. This is the rule of evidence
provided by the constitution. It is not
presumptuous in the courts, nor disrespectful to
the legislature, to judge the acts of the legislature
by its own evidence. 39
Confronted with a discrepancy between the journal
proceedings and the law as duly enacted, courts have
indulged in different theories. The "enrolled bill" and
"journal entry" rules, being rooted deep in the
Parliamentary practices of England where there is no
written constitution, and then transplanted to the United
States, it may be instructive to examine which rule prevails
in the latter country through which, by a process of
legislative osmosis, we adopted them in turn.
There seems to be three distinct and different
rules as applicable to the enrolled bill recognized
by the various courts of this country. The first of
these rules appears to be that the enrolled bill is
the ultimate proof and exclusive and conclusive
evidence that the bill passed the legislature in
accordance with the provisions of the
Constitution. Such has been the holding in
California, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas,
Washington, New Mexico, Mississippi, Indiana,
South Dakota, and may be some others.
The second of the rules seems to be that the
enrolled bill is a verity and resort cannot be had
to the journals of the Legislature to show that the
constitutional mandates were not complied with
by the Legislature, except as to those provisions
of the Constitution, compliance with which is
expressly required to be shown on the journal.
This rule has been adopted in South Carolina,
Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, Ohio, New Jersey,
United States Supreme Court, and others.
The third of the rules seems to be that the
enrolled bill raises only a prima facie presumption
that the mandatory provisions of the Constitution
have been complied with and that resort may be
had to the journals to refute that presumption,
and if the constitutional provision is one,
compliance with which is expressly required by
the Constitution to be shown on the journals, then
the mere silence of the journals to show a
compliance therewith will refute the presumption.
This rule has been adopted in Illinois, Florida,
Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Idaho,
Minnesota, Nebraska, Arizona, Oregon, New
Jersey, Colorado, and others. 40
In the 1980 case of D & W Auto Supply v. Department of
Revenue, the Supreme Court of Kentucky which had
subscribed in the past to the first of the three theories,
made the pronouncement that it had shifted its stand and
would henceforth adopt the third. It justified its changed
stance, thus:
We believe that a more reasonable rule is the
one which Professor Sutherland describes as the
"extrinsic evidence" rule . . . . Under this
approach there is a prima facie presumption that
an enrolled bill is valid, but such presumption
may be overcome by clear satisfactory and
convincing evidence establishing that
constitutional requirements have not been met.
41
What rule, if any, has been adopted in this jurisdiction?
Advocates of the "journal entry rule" cite the 1916 decision
in U.S. v. Pons 42 where this Court placed reliance on the
legislative journals to determine whether Act No. 2381 was
passed on February 28, 1914 which is what appears in the
Journal, or on March 1, 1914 which was closer to the truth.
The confusion was caused by the adjournment sine die at
midnight of February 28, 1914 of the Philippine
Commission.
A close examination of the decision reveals that the Court
did not apply the "journal entry rule" vis-a-vis the "enrolled
bill rule" but the former as against what are "behind the
legislative journals."
Passing over the question of whether the printed
Act (No. 2381), published by authority of law, is
conclusive evidence as to the date when it was
passed, we will inquire whether the courts may
go behind the legislative journals for the purpose
of determining the date of adjournment when
such journals are clear and explicit. 43
It is to be noted from the above that the Court "passed
over" the probative value to be accorded to the enrolled
bill.
Opting for the journals, the Court proceeded to explain:
From their very nature and object, the records of
the Legislature are as important as those of the
judiciary, and to inquire into the veracity of the
journals of the Philippine Legislature, when they
are, as we have said clear and explicit, would be
to violate both the letter and the spirit of the
organic laws by which the Philippine Government
was brought into existence, to invade a
coordinate and independent department of the
Government, and to interfere with the legitimate
powers and functions of the Legislature. 44
Following the courts in the United States since the
Constitution of the Philippine Government is modeled after
that of the Federal Government, the Court did not hesitate
to follow the courts in said country, i.e., to consider the
journals decisive of the point at issue. Thus: "The journals
say that the Legislature adjourned at 12 midnight on
February 28, 1914. This settles the question and the court
did not err in declining to go behind these journals." 45
The Court made a categorical stand for the "enrolled bill
rule" for the first time in the 1947 case of Mabanag v.
Lopez Vito 46 where it held that an enrolled bill imports
absolute verity and is binding on the courts. This Court
held itself bound by an authenticated resolution, despite
the fact that the vote of three-fourths of the Members of
the Congress (as required by the Constitution to approve
proposals for constitutional amendments) was not actually
obtained on account of the suspension of some members
of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In this
connection, the Court invoked the "enrolled bill rule" in this
wise: "If a political question conclusively binds the judges
out of respect to the political departments, a duly certified
law or resolution also binds the judges under the 'enrolled
bill rule' born of that respect." 47
Mindful that the U.S. Supreme Court is on the side of
those who favor the rule and for no other reason than that
it conforms to the expressed policy of our law making body
(i.e., Sec. 313 of the old Code of Civil Procedure, as
amended by Act No. 2210), the Court said that "duly
certified copies shall be conclusive proof of the provisions
of such Acts and of the due enactment thereof." Without
pulling the legal underpinnings from U.S. v. Pons, it
justified its position by saying that if the Court at the time
looked into the journals, "in all probability, those were the
documents offered in evidence" and that "even if both the
journals and authenticated copy of the Act had been
presented, the disposal of the issue by the Court on the
basis of the journals does not imply rejection of the
enrolled theory; for as already stated, the due enactment
of a law may be proved in either of the two ways specified
in Section 313 of Act No. 190 as amended." 48 Three
Justices voiced their dissent from the majority decision.
Again, the Court made its position plain in the 1963 case
of Casco Philippine Chemical Co., Inc. v. Gimenez 49
when a unanimous Court ruled that: "The enrolled bill is
conclusive upon the courts as regards the tenor of the
measure passed by Congress and approved by the
President. If there has been any mistake in the printing of
a bill before it was certified by the officers of Congress and
approved by the Executive, the remedy is by amendment
or curative legislation not by judicial decree." According to
Webster's New 20th Century Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1983,
the word "tenor" means, among others, "the general drift
of something spoken or written; intent, purport,
substance."
Thus, the Court upheld the respondent Auditor General's
interpretation that Republic Act No. 2609 really exempted
from the margin fee on foreign exchange transactions
"urea formaldehyde" as found in the law and not "urea and
formaldehyde" which petitioner insisted were the words
contained in the bill and were so intended by Congress.
In 1969, the Court similarly placed the weight of its
authority behind the conclusiveness of the enrolled bill. In
denying the motion for reconsideration, the Court ruled in
Morales v. Subido that "the enrolled Act in the office of the
legislative secretary of the President of the Philippines
shows that Section 10 is exactly as it is in the statute as
officially published in slip form by the Bureau of Printing . .
. Expressed elsewise, this is a matter worthy of the
attention not of an Oliver Wendell Holmes but of a
Sherlock Holmes." 50 The alleged omission of a phrase in
the final Act was made, not at any stage of the legislative
proceedings, but only in the course of the engrossment of
the bill, more specifically in the proofreading thereof.
But the Court did include a caveat that qualified the
absoluteness of the "enrolled bill" rule stating:
By what we have essayed above we are not of
course to be understood as holding that in all
cases the journals must yield to the enrolled bill.
To be sure there are certain matters which the
Constitution (Art. VI, secs. 10 [4], 20 [1], and 21
[1]) expressly requires must be entered on the
journal of each house. To what extent the validity
of a legislative act may be affected by a failure to
have such matters entered on the journal, is a
question which we do not now decide (Cf. e.g.,
Wilkes Country Comm'rs. v. Coler, 180 U.S. 506
[1900]). All we hold is that with respect to matters
not expressly required to be entered on the
journal, the enrolled bill prevails in the event of
any discrepancy. 51
More recently, in the 1993 case of Philippine Judges
Association v. Prado, 52 this Court, in ruling on the
unconstitutionality of Section 35 of Republic Act No. 7354
withdrawing the franking privilege from the entire hierarchy
of courts, did not so much adhere to the enrolled bill rule
alone as to both "enrolled bill and legislative journals."
Through Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, we stated: "Both the
enrolled bill and the legislative journals certify that the
measure was duly enacted, i.e., in accordance with Article
VI, Sec. 26(2) of the Constitution. We are bound by such
official assurances from a coordinate department of the
government, to which we owe, at the very least, a
becoming courtesy."
Aware of the shifting sands on which the validity and
continuing relevance of the "enrolled bill" theory rests, I
have taken pains to trace the history of its applicability in
this jurisdiction, as influenced in varying degrees by
different Federal rulings.
As applied to the instant petition, the issue posed is
whether or not the procedural irregularities that attended
the passage of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No.
1630, outside of the reading and printing requirements
which were exempted by the Presidential certification, may
no longer be impugned, having been "saved" by the
conclusiveness on us of the enrolled bill. I see no cogent
reason why we cannot continue to place reliance on the
enrolled bill, but only with respect to matters pertaining to
the procedure followed in the enactment of bills in
Congress and their subsequent engrossment, printing
errors, omission of words and phrases and similar
relatively minor matters relating more to form and factual
issues which do not materially alter the essence and
substance of the law itself.
Certainly, "courts cannot claim greater ability to judge
procedural legitimacy, since constitutional rules on
legislative procedure are easily mastered. Procedural
disputes are over facts — whether or not the bill had
enough votes, or three readings, or whatever — not over
the meaning of the constitution. Legislators, as
eyewitnesses, are in a better position than a court to rule
on the facts. The argument is also made that legislatures
would be offended if courts examined legislative
procedure. 53
Such a rationale, however, cannot conceivably apply to
substantive changes in a bill introduced towards the end of
its tortuous trip through Congress, catching both
legislators and the public unawares and altering the same
beyond recognition even by its sponsors.
This issue I wish to address forthwith.
EXTENT OF THE POWER OF THE BICAMERAL
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
One of the issues raised in these petitions, especially in
G.R. Nos. 115781, 115543 and 115754, respectively, is
whether or not —
Congress violated Section 26, par. 2, Article VI
(of the 1987 Constitution) when it approved the
Bicameral Conference Committee Report which
embodied, in violation of Rule XII of the Rules of
the Senate, a radically altered tax measure
containing provisions not reported out or
discussed in either House as well as provisions
on which there was no disagreement between
the House and the Senate and, worse, provisions
contrary to what the House and the Senate had
approved after three separate readings. 54
and
By adding or deleting provisions, when there was
no conflicting provisions between the House and
Senate versions, the BICAM acted in excess of
its jurisdiction or with such grave abuse of
discretion as to amount to loss of jurisdiction. . . .
In adding to the bill and thus subjecting to VAT,
real properties, media and cooperatives despite
the contrary decision of both Houses, the BICAM
exceeded its jurisdiction or acted with such abuse
of discretion as to amount to loss of jurisdiction. .
. . 55
I wish to consider this issue in light of Article VIII, Sec. 1 of
the Constitution which provides that "(j)udicial power
includes the duty of the courts of justice . . . to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
any branch or instrumentality of the Government." We are
also guided by the principle that a court may interfere with
the internal procedures of its coordinate branch only to
uphold the Constitution. 56
A conference committee has been defined:
. . . unlike the joint committee is two committees,
one appointed by each house. It is normally
appointed for a specific bill and its function is to
gain accord between the two houses either by
the recession of one house from its bill or its
amendments or by the further amendment of the
existing legislation or by the substitution of an
entirely new bill. Obviously the conference
committee is always a special committee and
normally includes the member who introduced
the bill and the chairman of the committee which
considered it together with such other
representatives of the house as seem expedient.
(Horack, Cases and Materials on Legislation
[1940] 220. See also Zinn, Conference
Procedure in Congress, 38 ABAJ 864 [1952];
Steiner, The Congressional Conference
Committee [U of III. Press,
1951]). 57
From the foregoing definition, it is clear that a bicameral
conference committee is a creature, not of the
Constitution, but of the legislative body under its power to
determine rules of its proceedings under Article VI, Sec.
16 (3) of the Constitution. Thus, it draws its life and vitality
from the rules governing its creation. The why, when, how
and wherefore of its operations, in other words, the
parameters within which it is to function, are to be found in
Section 26, Rule XII of the Rules of the Senate and
Section 85 of the Rules of the House of Representatives,
respectively, which provide:
Rule XII, Rules of the Senate
Sec. 26. In the event that the Senate does not
agree with the House of Representatives on the
provision of any bill or joint resolution, the
differences shall be settled by a conference
committee of both Houses which shall meet
within ten days after their composition.
The President shall designate the members of
the conference committee in accordance with
subparagraph (c), Section 8 of Rule III.
Each Conference Committee Report shall contain
a detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of
the changes in or amendments to the subject
measure, and shall be signed by the conferees.
The consideration of such report shall not be in
order unless the report has been filed with the
Secretary of the Senate and copies thereof have
been distributed to the Members.
Rules of the House of Representatives
Sec. 85. Conference Committee Reports. — In
the event that the House does not agree with the
Senate on the amendments to any bill or joint
resolution, the differences may be settled by
conference committee of both Chambers.
The consideration of conference committee
reports shall always be in order, except when the
journal is being read, while the roll is being called
or the House is dividing on any question. Each of
the pages of such reports shall contain a
detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the
changes in or amendments to the subject
measure.
The consideration of such report shall not be in
order unless copies thereof are distributed to the
Members: Provided, That in the last fifteen days
of each session period it shall be deemed
sufficient that three copies of the report, signed
as above provided, are deposited in the office of
the Secretary General.
Under these Rules, a bicameral conference committee
comes into being only when there are disagreements and
differences between the Senate and the House with
regard to certain provisions of a particular legislative act
which have to be reconciled.
Jefferson's Manual, which, according to Section 112, Rule
XLIX of the Senate Rules, supplements it, states that a
conference committee is usually called "on the occasion of
amendments between the Houses" and "in all cases of
difference of opinion between the two House on matters
pending between
them." 58 It further states:
The managers of a conference must confine themselves
to the differences committed to them, and may not include
subjects not within the disagreements, even though
germane to a question in issue. But they may perfect
amendments committed to them if they do not in so doing
go beyond the differences. . . . Managers may not change
the text to which both Houses have agreed. 59 (Emphasis
supplied.)
Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedures which is also
considered as controlling authority for any situation not
covered by a specific legislative
rule, 60 states that either House may "request a
conference with the other on any matter of difference or
dispute between them" and that in such a request, "the
subject of the conference should always be stated." 61
In the Philippines, as in the United States, the Conference
Committee exercises such a wide range of authority that
they virtually constitute a third House in the Legislature. As
admitted by the Solicitor General, "It was the practice in
past Congresses for Conference Committees to insert in
bills approved by the two Houses new provisions that were
not originally contemplated by them." 62
In Legislative Procedure, Robert Luce gives a graphic
description of the milieu and the circumstances which
have conspired to transform an initially innocuous
mechanism designed to facilitate action into an all-
powerful Frankenstein that brooks no challenge to its
authority even from its own members.
Their power lies chiefly in the fact that reports of
conference committees must be accepted without
amendment or else rejected in toto. The impulse
is to get done with the matters and so the motion
to accept has undue advantage, for some
members are sure to prefer swallowing
unpalatable provisions rather than prolong
controversy. This is the more likely if the report
comes in the rush of business toward the end of
a session, when to seek further conference might
result in the loss of the measure altogether. At
any time in the session there is some risk of such
a result following the rejection of a conference
report, for it may not be possible to secure a
second conference, or delay may give opposition
to the main proposal chance to develop more
strength.
xxx xxx xxx
Entangled in a network of rule and custom, the
Representative who resents and would resist this
theft of his rights, finds himself helpless. Rarely
can he vote, rarely can he voice his mind, in the
matter of any fraction of the bill. Usually he
cannot even record himself as protesting against
some one feature while accepting the measure
as whole. Worst of all, he cannot by argument or
suggested change, try to improve what the other
branch has done.
This means more than the subversion of
individual rights. It means to a degree the
abandonment of whatever advantage the
bicameral system may have. By so much it in
effect transfers the lawmaking power to a small
group of members who work out in private a
decision that almost always prevails. What is
worse, these men are not chosen in a way to
ensure the wisest choice. It has become the
practice to name as conferees the ranking
members of the committee, so that the accident
of seniority determines. Exceptions are made, but
in general it is not a question of who are most
competent to serve. Chance governs, sometimes
giving way to favor, rarely to merit.
xxx xxx xxx
Speaking broadly, the system of legislating by
conference committee is unscientific and
therefore defective. Usually it forfeits the benefit
of scrutiny and judgment by all the wisdom
available. Uncontrolled, it is inferior to that
process by which every amendment is secured
independent discussion and vote. . . . 63
(Emphasis supplied)
Not surprisingly has it been said: "Conference Committee
action is the most undemocratic procedure in the
legislative process; it is an appropriate target for legislative
critics." 64
In the case at bench, petitioners insist that the Conference
Committee to which Senate Bill No. 1630 and House Bill
No. 11197 were referred for the purpose of harmonizing
their differences, overreached themselves in not confining
their "reconciliation" function to those areas of
disagreement in the two bills but actually making
"surreptitious insertions" and deletions which amounted to
a grave abuse of discretion.
At this point, it becomes imperative to focus on the errant
provisions which found their way into Republic Act No.
7716. Below is a breakdown to facilitate understanding the
grounds for petitioners' objections:
INSERTIONS MADE BY BICAMERAL CONFERENCE
COMMITTEE (BICAM) TO SENATE BILL (SB) NO. 1630
AND HOUSE BILL (HB) NO. 11197
1. Sec. 99 of the National Internal Revenue Code
(NIRC)
(1) Under the HB, this section includes any person who, in
the course of trade or business, sells, barters or
exchanges goods OR PROPERTIES and any person who
LEASES PERSONAL PROPERTIES.
(2) The SB completely changed the said section and
defined a number of words and phrases. Also, Section 99-
A was added which included one who sells, exchanges,
barters PROPERTIES and one who imports
PROPERTIES.
(3) The BICAM version makes LESSORS of goods OR
PROPERTIES and importers of goods LIABLE to VAT
(subject of petition in G.R. No. 115754).
2. Section 100 (VAT on Sale of Goods)
The term "goods" or "properties" includes the following,
which were not found in either the HB or the SB:
— In addition to radio and television time;
SATTELITE TRANSMISSION AND CABLE
TELEVISION TIME.
— The term "Other similar properties" was
deleted, which was present in the HB and the SB.
— Real properties held primarily for sale to
customers or held for lease in the ordinary course
or business were included, which was neither in
the HB nor the SB (subject of petition in G.R. No.
115754).
3. Section 102
On what are included in the term "sale or exchange of
services," as to make them subject to VAT, the BICAM
included/inserted the following (not found in either House
or Senate Bills):
1. Services of lessors of property, whether
personal or real (subject of petition in G.R. No.
115754);
2. Warehousing services;
3. Keepers of resthouses, pension houses, inns,
resorts;
4. Common carriers by land, air and sea;
5. Services of franchise grantees of telephone
and telegraph;
6. Radio and television broadcasting;
7. All other franchise grantees except those
under Section 117 of this Code (subject of
petition in G.R. No. 115852);
8. Services of surety, fidelity, indemnity, and
bonding companies;
9. Also inserted by the BICAM (on page 8
thereof) is the lease or use of or the right to use
of satellite transmission and cable television time.
4. Section 103 (Exempt Transactions)
The BICAM deleted subsection (f) in its entirety, despite its
inclusion in both the House and Senate Bills. Therefore,
under Republic Act No. 7716, the "printing, publication,
importation or sale of books and any newspaper,
magazine, review, or bulletin which appears at regular
intervals with fixed prices for subscription and sale and
which is not devoted principally to the publication of
advertisements" is subject to VAT (subject of petition in
G.R. No. 115931 and G.R. No. 115544).
The HB and SB did not touch Subsection (g) but it was
amended by the BICAM by changing the word TEN to
FIVE. Thus, importation of vessels with tonnage of more
than five thousand tons is VAT exempt.
Subsection L, which was identical in the HB and the SB
that stated that medical, dental, hospital and veterinary
services were exempted from the VAT was amended by
the BICAM by adding the qualifying phrase: EXCEPT
THOSE RENDERED BY PROFESSIONALS, thus
subjecting doctors, dentists and veterinarians to the VAT.
Subsection U which exempts from VAT "transactions
which are exempt under special laws," was amended by
the BICAM by adding the phrase: EXCEPT THOSE
GRANTED UNDER PD Nos. 66, 529, 972, 1491, AND
1590, AND NON-ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES UNDER
RA 6938 (subject of petition in G.R. No. 115873), not
found in either the HB or the SB, resulting in the inclusion
of all cooperatives to the VAT, except non-electric
cooperatives.
The sale of real properties was included in the exempt
transactions under the House Bill, but the BICAM qualified
this with the provision:
(S) SALE OF REAL PROPERTIES NOT
PRIMARILY HELD FOR SALE TO CUSTOMERS
OR HELD FOR LEASE IN THE ORDINARY
COURSE OF TRADE OR BUSINESS OR REAL
PROPERTY UTILIZED FOR LOW-COST AND
SOCIALIZED HOUSING AS DEFINED BY RA
NO. 7279 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE
URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING ACT
OF 1992 AND OTHER RELATED LAWS.
(subject of petition in G.R. No. 115754)
The BICAM also exempted the sale of properties, the
receipts of which are not less than P480,000.00 or more
than P720,000.00. Under the SB, no amount was given,
but in the HB it was stated that receipts from the sale of
properties not less than P350,000.00 nor more than
P600,000.00 were exempt.
It did not include, as VAT exempt, the sale or transfer of
securities, as defined in the Revised Securities Act (BP
178) which was contained in both Senate and House Bills.
5. Section 104
Not included in the HB or the SB is the phrase
"INCLUDING PACKAGING MATERIALS" which was
inserted by the BICAM in Section 104 (A) (1) (B), thus
excluding from creditable input tax packaging materials
and the phrase "ON WHICH A VALUE-ADDED TAX HAS
BEEN ACTUALLY PAID" in Section 104 (A) (2).
6. Section 107
Both House and Senate Bills provide for the payment of
P500.00 VAT registration fee but this was increased by
BICAM to P1,000.00.
7. Section 112
Regarding a person whose sales or receipts are exempt
under Section 103 (w), the BICAM inserted the phrase:
"THREE PERCENT UPON THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS
ACT AND FOUR PERCENT (4%) TWO YEARS
THEREAFTER," although the SB and the HB provide only
"three percent of his gross quarterly sales."
8. Section 115
The BICAM adopted the HB version which subjects
common carriers by land, air or water for the transport of
passengers to 3% of their gross quarterly sales, which is
not found in the SB.
9. Section 117
The BICAM amended this section by subjecting franchises
on electric, gas and water utilities to a tax of two percent
(2%) on gross receipts
derived . . ., although neither the HB nor the SB has a
similar provision.
10. Section 17 (d)
(a) The BICAM defers for only 2 years the VAT on
services of actors and actresses, although the SB defers it
for 3 years.
(b) The BICAM uses the word "EXCLUDE" in the section
on deferment of VAT collection on certain goods and
services. The HB does not contain any counterpart
provision and SB only allows deferment for no longer than
3 years.
11. Section 18 on the Tax Administration Development
Fund is an entirely new provision not contained in the
House/Senate Bills. This fund is supposed to ensure
effective implementation of Republic Act No. 7716.
12. Section 19
No period within which to promulgate the implementing
rules and regulations is found in the HB or the SB but
BICAM provided "within 90 days" which found its way in
Republic Act No. 7716.
Even a cursory perusal of the above outline will convince
one that, indeed, the Bicameral Conference Committee
(henceforth to be referred to as BICAM) exceeded the
power and authority granted in the Rules of its creation.
Both Senate and House Rules limit the task of the
Conference Committee in almost identical language to the
settlement of differences in the provisions or amendments
to any bill or joint resolution. If it means anything at all, it is
that there are provisions in subject bill, to start with, which
differ and, therefore, need reconciliation. Nowhere in the
Rules is it authorized to initiate or propose completely new
matter. Although under certain rules on legislative
procedure, like those in Jefferson's Manual, a conference
committee may introduce germane matters in a particular
bill, such matters should be circumscribed by the
committee's sole authority and function to reconcile
differences.
Parenthetically, in the Senate and in the House, a matter
is "germane" to a particular bill if there is a common tie
between said matter and the provisions which tend to
promote the object and purpose of the bill it seeks to
amend. If it introduces a new subject matter not within the
purview of the bill, then it is not "germane" to the bill. 65
The test is whether or not the change represented an
amendment or extension of the basic purpose of the
original, or the introduction of an entirely new and different
subject matter. 66
In the BICAM, however, the germane subject matter must
be within the ambit of the disagreement between the two
Houses. If the "germane" subject is not covered by the
disagreement but it is reflected in the final version of the
bill as reported by the Conference Committee or, if what
appears to be a "germane" matter in the sense that it is
"relevant or closely allied" 67 with the purpose of the bill,
was not the subject of a disagreement between the
Senate and the House, it should be deemed an
extraneous matter or even a "rider" which should never be
considered legally passed for not having undergone the
three-day reading requirement. Insertion of new matter on
the part of the BICAM is, therefore, an ultra vires act which
makes the same void.
The determination of what is "germane" and what is not
may appear to be a difficult task but the Congress, having
been confronted with the problem before, resolved it in
accordance with the rules. In that case, the Congress
approved a Conference Committee's insertion of new
provisions that were not contemplated in any of the
provisions in question between the Houses simply
because of the provision in Jefferson's Manual that
conferees may report matters "which are germane
modifications of subjects in disagreement between the
Houses and the committee. 68 In other words, the matter
was germane to the points of disagreement between the
House and the Senate.
As regards inserted amendments in the BICAM, therefore,
the task of determining what is germane to a bill is
simplified, thus: If the amendments are not circumscribed
by the subjects of disagreement between the two Houses,
then they are not germane to the purpose of the bill.
In the instant case before us, the insertions and deletions
made do not merely spell an effort at settling conflicting
provisions but have materially altered the bill, thus giving
rise to the instant petitions on the part of those who were
caught unawares by the legislative legerdemain that took
place. Going by the definition of the word "amendment" in
Black's Law Dictionary, 5th Ed., 1979, which means "to
change or modify for the better; to alter by modification,
deletion, or addition," said insertions and deletions
constitute amendments. Consequently, these violated
Article VI, Section 26 (2) which provides inter alia: "Upon
the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be
allowed . . ." This proscription is intended to subject all bills
and their amendments to intensive deliberation by the
legislators and the ample ventilation of issues to afford the
public an opportunity to express their opinions or
objections issues to afford the public an opportunity to
express their opinions or objections thereon. The same
rationale underlies the three-reading requirement to the
end that no surprises may be sprung on an unsuspecting
citizenry.
Provisions of the "now you see it, now you don't" variety,
meaning those which were either in the House and/or
Senate versions but simply disappeared or were
"bracketed out" of existence in the BICAM Report, were
eventually incorporated in Republic Act No. 7716. Worse,
some goods, properties or services which were not
covered by the two versions and, therefore, were never
intended to be so covered, suddenly found their way into
the same Report. No advance notice of such insertions
prepared the rest of the legislators, much less the public
who could be adversely affected, so that they could be
given the opportunity to express their views thereon. Well
has the final BICAM report been described, therefore, as
an instance of "taxation without representation."
That the conferees or delegates in the BICAM
representing the two Chambers could not possibly be
charged with bad faith or sinister motives or, at the very
least, unseemly behavior, is of no moment. The stark fact
is that items not previously subjected to the VAT now fell
under its coverage without interested sectors or parties
having been afforded the opportunity to be heard thereon.
This is not to say that the Conference Committee Report
should have undergone the three readings required in
Article VI, Section 26 (2), for this clearly refers only to bills
which, after having been initially filed in either House,
negotiated the labyrinthine passage therein until its
approval. The composition of the BICAM including as it
usually does, the Chairman of the appropriate Committee,
the sponsor of the bill and other interested members
ensures an informed discussion, at least with respect to
the disagreeing provisions. The same does not obtain as
regards completely new matter which suddenly spring on
the legislative horizon.
It has been pointed out that such extraneous matters
notwithstanding, all Congressman and Senators were
given the opportunity to approve or turn down the
Committee Report in toto, thus "curing" whatever defect or
irregularity it bore.
Earlier in this opinion, I explained that the source of the
acknowledged power of this ad hoc committee stems from
the precise fact that, the meetings, being scheduled "take
it or leave it" basis. It has not been uncommon for
legislators who, for one reason or another have been
frustrated in their attempt to pass a pet bill in their own
chamber, to work for its passage in the BICAM where it
may enjoy a more hospitable reception and faster
approval. In the instant case, had there been full, open
and unfettered discussion on the bills during the
Committee sessions, there would not have been as much
vociferous objections on this score. Unfortunately,
however, the Committee held two of the five sessions
behind closed doors, sans stenographers, record-takers
and interested observers. To that extent, the proceedings
were shrouded in mystery and the public's right to
information on matters of public concern as enshrined in
Article III, Section 7 69 and the government's policy of
transparency in transactions involving public interest in
Article II, Section 28 of the
Constitution 70 are undermined.
Moreover, that which is void ab initio such as the
objectionable provisions in the Conference Committee
Report, cannot be "cured" or ratified. For all intents and
purposes, these never existed. Quae ab initio non valent,
ex post facto convalescere non possunt. Things that are
invalid from the beginning are not made valid by a
subsequent act.
Should this argument be unacceptable, the "enrolled bill"
doctrine, in turn, is invoked to support the proposition that
the certification by the presiding officers of Congress,
together with the signature of the President, bars further
judicial inquiry into the validity of the law. I reiterate my
submission that the "enrolled bill ruling" may be applicable
but only with respect to questions pertaining to the
procedural enactment, engrossment, printing, the insertion
or deletion of a word or phrase here and there, but would
draw a dividing line with respect to substantial substantive
changes, such as those introduced by the BICAM herein.
We have before us then the spectacle of a body created
by the two Houses of Congress for the very limited
purpose of settling disagreements in provisions between
bills emanating therefrom, exercising the plenary
legislative powers of the parent chambers but holding itself
exempt from the mandatory constitutional requirements
that are the hallmarks of legislation under the aegis of a
democratic political system. From the initial filing, through
the three readings which entail detailed debates and
discussions in Committee and plenary sessions, and on to
the transmittal to the other House in a repetition of the
entire process to ensure exhaustive deliberations — all
these have been skipped over. In the proverbial twinkling
of an eye, provisions that probably may not have seen the
light of day had they but run their full course through the
legislative mill, sprang into existence and emerged full-
blown laws.
Yet our Constitution vests the legislative power in "the
Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a
Senate and a House of
Representatives . . ." 71 and not in any special, standing
or super committee of its own creation, no matter that
these have been described, accurately enough, as "the
eye, the ear, the hand, and very often the brain of the
house."
Firstly, that usage or custom has sanctioned this
abbreviated, if questionable, procedure does not warrant
its being legitimized and perpetuated any longer.
Consuetudo, contra rationem introducta, potius usurpatio
quam consuetudo appellari debet. A custom against
reason is rather an usurpation. In the hierarchy of sources
of legislative procedure, constitutional rules, statutory
provisions and adopted rules (as for example, the Senate
and House Rules), rank highest, certainly much ahead of
customs and usages.
Secondly, is this Court to assume the role of passive
spectator or indulgent third party, timorous about
exercising its power or more importantly, performing its
duty, of making a judicial determination on the issue of
whether there has been grave abuse of discretion by the
other branches or instrumentalities of government, where
the same is properly invoked? The time is past when the
Court was not loathe to raise the bogeyman of the political
question to avert a head-on collision with either the
Executive or Legislative Departments. Even the separation
of powers doctrine was burnished to a bright sheen as
often as it was invoked to keep the judiciary within bounds.
No longer does this condition obtain. Article VIII, Section 2
of the Constitution partly quoted in this paragraph has
broadened the scope of judicial inquiry. This Court can
now safely fulfill its mandate of delimiting the powers of
co-equal departments like the Congress, its officers or its
committees which may have no compunctions about
exercising legislative powers in full.
Thirdly, dare we close our eyes to the presumptuous
assumption by a runaway committee of its progenitor's
legislative powers in derogation of the rights of the people,
in the process, subverting the democratic principles we all
are sworn to uphold, when a proper case is made out for
our intervention? The answers to the above queries are
self-evident.
I call to mind this exhortation: "We are sworn to see that
violations of the constitution — by any person, corporation,
state agency or branch of government — are brought to
light and corrected. To countenance an artificial rule of law
that silences our voices when confronted with violations of
our Constitution is not acceptable to this Court." 72
I am not unaware that a rather recent decision of ours
brushed aside an argument that a provision in subject law
regarding the withdrawal of the franking privilege from the
petitioners and this Court itself, not having been included
in the original version of Senate Bill No. 720 or of House
Bill No. 4200 but only in the Conference Committee
Report, was violative of Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the
Constitution. Likewise, that said Section 35, never having
been a subject of disagreement between both Houses,
could not have been validly added as an amendment
before the Conference Committee.
The majority opinion in said case explained:
While it is true that a conference committee is the
mechanism for compromising differences between the
Senate and the House, it is not limited in its jurisdiction to
this question. Its broader function is described thus:
A conference committee may deal generally with
the subject matter or it may be limited to
resolving the precise differences between the two
houses. Even where the conference committee is
not by rule limited in its jurisdiction, legislative
custom severely limits the freedom with which
new subject matter can be inserted into the
conference bill. But occasionally a conference
committee produces unexpected results, results
beyond its mandate. These excursions occur
even where the rules impose strict limitations on
conference committee jurisdiction. This is
symptomatic of the authoritarian power of
conference committee (Davies, Legislative Law
and Process: In a Nutshell, 1986 Ed., p. 81). 73
(Emphasis supplied)
At the risk of being repetitious, I wish to point out that the
general rule, as quoted above, is: "Even where the
conference committee is not by rule limited in its
jurisdiction, legislative custom severely limits the freedom
with which new subject matter can be inserted into the
conference bill." What follows, that is, "occasionally a
conference committee produces unexpected results,
results beyond its mandate. . ." is the exception. Then it
concludes with a declaration that: "This is symptomatic of
the authoritarian power of conference committee." Are we
about to reinstall another institution that smacks of
authoritarianism which, after our past experience, has
become anathema to the Filipino people?
The ruling above can hardly be cited in support of the
proposition that a provision in a BICAM report which was
not the subject of differences between the House and
Senate versions of a bill cannot be nullified. It submit that
such is not authorized in our Basic Law. Moreover, this
decision concerns merely one provision whereas the
BICAM Report that culminated in the EVAT law has a
wider scope as it, in fact, expanded the base of the
original VAT law by imposing the tax on several items
which were not so covered prior to the EVAT.
One other flaw in most BICAM Reports, not excluding this
one under scrutiny, is that, hastily drawn up, it often fails to
conform to the Senate and House Rules requiring no less
than a "detailed" and "sufficiently explicit statement of the
changes in or amendments to the subject measure." The
Report of the committee, as may be gleaned from the
preceding pages, was no more than the final version of the
bill as "passed" by the BICAM. The amendments or
subjects of dissension, as well as the reconciliation made
by the committee, are not even pointed out, much less
explained therein.
It may be argued that legislative rules of procedure may
properly be suspended, modified, revoked or waived at will
by the legislators themselves. 74 This principle, however,
does not come into play in interpreting what the record of
the proceedings shows was, or was not, done. It is rather
designed to test the validity of legislative action where the
record shows a final action in violation or disregard of
legislative rules. 75 Utilizing the Senate and the House
Rules as both guidelines and yardstick, the BICAM here
obviously did not adhere to the rule on what the Report
should contain.
Given all these irregularities that have apparently been
engrafted into the BICAM system, and which have been
tolerated, if not accorded outright acceptance by everyone
involved in or conversant with, the institution, it may be
asked: Why not leave well enough alone?
That these practices have remained unchallenged in the
past does not justify our closing our eyes and turning a
deaf ear to them. Writ large is the spectacle of a
mechanism ensconced in the very heart of the people's
legislative halls, that now stands indicted with the charge
of arrogating legislative powers unto itself through the use
of dubious "shortcuts." Here, for the people to judge, is the
"mother of all shortcuts."
In the petitions at bench, we are confronted with the
enactment of a tax law which was designed to broaden the
tax base. It is rote learning for any law student that as an
attribute of sovereignty, the power to tax is "the strongest
of all the powers of government." 76 Admittedly, "for all its
plenitude, the power to tax is not unconfined. There are
restrictions." 77 Were there none, then the oft-quoted
1803 dictum of Chief Justice Marshall that "the power to
tax involves the power to destroy" 78 would be a truism.
Happily, we can concur with, and the people can find
comfort in, the reassuring words of Mr. Justice Holmes:
"The power to tax is not the power to destroy while this
Court sits." 79
Manakanaka, mayroong dumudulog dito sa
Kataastaasang Hukuman na may kamangha-manghang
hinaing. Angkop na halimbawa ay ang mga petisyong
iniharap ngayon sa amin.
Ang ilan sa kanila ay mga Senador na nais mapawalang
bisa ang isang batas ukol sa buwis na ipinasa mismo nila.
Diumano ito ay hindi tumalima sa mga itinatadhana ng
Saligang Batas. Bukod sa rito, tutol sila sa mga bagong
talata na isiningit ng "Bicameral Conference Committee"
na nagdagdag ng mga bagong bagay bagay at serbisyo
na papatawan ng buwis. Ayon sa kanila, ginampanan ng
komiteng iyan ang gawain na nauukol sa buong Kongreso.
Kung kaya't ang nararapat na mangyari ay ihatol ng
Kataastaasang Hukuman na malabis na pagsasamantala
sa sariling pagpapasiya ang ginawa ng Kongreso.
Bagama't bantulot kaming makialam sa isang kapantay na
sangay ng Pamahalaan, hindi naman nararapat na kami
ay tumangging gampanan ang tungkulin na iniatas sa
amin ng Saligang Batas. Lalu't-lalo nang ang batas na
kinauukulan ay maaaring makapinsala sa nakararami sa
sambayanan.
Sa ganang akin, itong batas na inihaharap sa amin
ngayon, ay totoong labag sa Saligang Batas, samakatuwid
ay walang bisa. Nguni't ito ay nauukol lamang sa mga
katiwalian na may kinalaman sa paraan ng
pagpapasabatas nito. Hindi namin patakaran ang
makialam o humadlang sa itinakdang gawain ng Saligang
Batas sa Pangulo at sa Kongreso. Ang dalawang sangay
na iyan ng Pamahalaan ang higit na maalam ukol sa kung
ang anumang panukalang batas ay nararapat, kanais-nais
o magagampanan; kung kaya't hindi kami nararapat na
maghatol o magpapasiya sa mga bagay na iyan. Ang
makapapataw ng angkop na lunas sa larangan na iyan ay
ang mismong mga kinatawan ng sambayanan sa
Kongreso.
Faced with this challenge of protecting the rights of the
people by striking down a law that I submit is
unconstitutional and in the process, checking the wonted
excesses of the Bicameral Conference Committee system,
I see in this case a suitable vehicle to discharge the
Court's Constitutional mandate and duty of declaring that
there has indeed been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
the Legislature.
Republic Act No. 7716, being unconstitutional and void, I
find no necessity to rule on the substantive issues as dealt
with in the majority opinion as they have been rendered
moot and academic. These issues pertain to the intrinsic
merits of the law. It is axiomatic that the wisdom,
desirability and advisability of enacting certain laws lie, not
within the province of the Judiciary but that of the political
departments, the Executive and the Legislative. The relief
sought by petitioners from what they perceive to be the
harsh and onerous effect of the EVAT on the people is
within their reach. For Congress, of which Senator-
petitioners are a part, can furnish the solution by either
repealing or amending the subject law.
For the foregoing reasons, I VOTE to GRANT the petition.
PUNO, J.:
Petitioners plead that we affirm the self-evident proposition
that they who make law should not break the law. There
are many evils whose elimination can be trusted to time.
The evil of lawlessness in lawmaking cannot. It must be
slain on sight for it subverts the sovereignty of the people.
First, a fast snapshot of the facts. On November 17, 1993,
the House of Representatives passed on third reading
House Bill (H.B.) No. 11197 entitled "An Act Restructuring
the Value Added Tax (VAT) System to Widen its Tax Base
and Enhance its Administration, Amending for These
Purposes Sections 99, 100, 102 to 108 and 110 Title V
and 236, 237 and 238 of Title IX, and Repealing Sections
113 and 114 of Title V, all of the National Internal Revenue
Code as Amended." The vote was 114 Yeas and 12 Nays.
The next day, November 18, 1993, H.B. No. 11197 was
transmitted to the Senate for its concurrence by the Hon.
Camilo L. Sabio, Secretary General of the House of
Representatives.
On February 7, 1994, the Senate Committee on Ways and
Means submitted Senate Bill (S.B.) No. 1630,
recommending its approval "in substitution of Senate Bill
No. 1129 taking into consideration P.S. Res. No. 734 and
House Bill No. 11197." On March 24, 1994, S.B. No. 1630
was approved on second and third readings. On the same
day, the Senate, thru Secretary Edgardo E. Tumangan,
requested the House for a conference "in view of the
disagreeing provisions of S.B. No. 1630 and H.B. No.
11197." It designated the following as members of its
Committee: Senators Ernesto F. Herrera, Leticia R.
Shahani, Alberto S. Romulo, John H. Osmeña, Ernesto M.
Maceda, Blas F. Ople, Francisco S. Tatad, Rodolfo G.
Biazon, and Wigberto S. Tañada. On the part of the
House, the members of the Committee were:
Congressmen Exequiel B. Javier, James L. Chiongbian,
Renato V. Diaz, Arnulfo P. Fuentebella, Mariano M. Tajon,
Gregorio Andolong, Thelma Almario, and Catalino
Figueroa. After five (5) meetings, 1 the Bicameral
Conference Committee submitted its Report to the Senate
and the House stating:
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT
The Conference Committee on the disagreeing
provisions of House Bill No. 11197, entitled:
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE
ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS
ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE
PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104,
105, 106, 107, 108 AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112,
115 AND 116 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237, AND
238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING SECTIONS
113 AND 114 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE
NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS
AMENDED
and Senate Bill No. 1630 entitled:
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE
ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS
ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE
PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104,
106, 107, 108 AND 110 OF TITLE IV, 112, 115,
117 AND 121 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237, AND
238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING SECTIONS
113, 114, 116, 119 AND 120 OF TITLE V, ALL
OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE
CODE, AS AMENDED AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES
having met, after full and free conference, has
agreed to recommend and do hereby
recommend to their respective Houses that
House Bill No. 11197, in consolidation with
Senate Bill No. 1630, be approved in accordance
with the attached copy of the bill as reconciled
and approved by the conferees.
Approved.
The Report was approved by the House on April 27, 1994.
The Senate approved it on May 2, 1994. On May 5, 1994,
the President signed the bill into law as R.A. No. 7716.
There is no question that the Bicameral Conference
Committee did more than reconcile differences between
House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630. In several
instances, it either added new provisions or deleted
provisions already approved in House Bill No. 11197 and
Senate Bill No. 1630. These insertions/deletions
numbering twenty four (24) are specified in detail by
petitioner Tolentino as follows: 2
SOME SALIENT POINTS ON THE
(AMENDMENTS TO THE VATE LAW [EO 273])
SHOWING ADDITIONS/INSERTIONS MADE BY
BICAMERAL
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO SB 1630 & HB
11197
I On Sec. 99 of the NIRC
H.B. 11197 amends this section by including, as
liable to VAT, any person who in the course of
trade of business, sells, barters, or exchanges
goods or PROPERTIES and any person who
LEASES PERSONAL PROPERTIES.
Senate Bill 1630 deleted Sec. 99 to give way for
a new Section 99 — DEFINITION OF TERMS —
where eleven (11) terms were defined. A new
Section, Section 99-A was incorporated which
included as subject to VAT, one who sells,
exchanges, barters PROPERTIES and one who
imports PROPERTIES.
The BCC version (R.A. 7716) makes LESSORS
of goods OR PROPERTIES and importers of
goods LIABLE to VAT.
II On Section 100 (VAT on sale of goods)
A. The H.B., S.B., and the BCC (R.A. 7716) all
included sale of PROPERTIES as subject to
VAT.
The term GOODS or PROPERTIES includes the
following:
HB (pls. refer SB (pls. refer BCC (RA 7716

to Sec. 2) To Sec. 1(4) (Sec. 2)

1. The same 1. The same


1. Right or the
privilege to use

patent, copyright,

design, or model,

plan, secret

formula or process,

goodwill trademark,

tradebrand or other

like property or

right.

2. Right or the 2. The same 2. The same

privilege to use

in the Philippines

of any industrial,

commercial, or

scientific equip-

ment.

3. Right or the 3. The same 3. The same

privilege to use
motion picture films,

films, tapes and

discs.

4. Radio and 4. The same 4. In addition

Television time to radio and

television time the

following were

included:

SATELLITE
TRANSMISSION

and CABLE

TELEVISION TIME

5. Other Similar 5. The Same 5. 'Other

properties similar properties'

was deleted

6. - 6. - 6. Real

properties held

primarily for sale to

customers or held

for lease in the

ordinary course or

business

B. The HB and the BCC Bills has each a provision which includes THE SALE OF GOLD
TO BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS as falling under the term Export Sales, hence
subject to 0% VAT. The Senate Bill does not contain such provision (See Section 102-A
thereof).

III. On Section 102


This section was amended to include as subject to a 10% VAT the gross receipts derived
from THE SALE OR EXCHANGE OF SERVICES, INCLUDING THE USE OR LEASE OF
PROPERTIES.

The SB, HB, and BCC have the same provisions on this.

However, on what are included in the term SALE OR EXCHANGE OF SERVICES, the
BCC included/inserted the following (not found in either the House or Senate Bills):

1. Services of lessors of property WHETHER PERSONAL OR REAL;


(See BCC Report/Bill p. 7)

2. WAREHOUSING SERVICES (Ibid.,)

3. Keepers of RESTHOUSES, PENSION HOUSES, INNS, RESORTS


(Ibid.,)

4. Common carriers by LAND, AIR AND SEA (Ibid.,)

5. SERVICES OF FRANCHISE GRANTEES OF TELEPHONE AND


TELEGRAPH;

6. RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTING

7. ALL OTHER FRANCHISE GRANTEES EXCEPT THOSE UNDER


SECTION 117 OF THIS CODE

8. SERVICES OF SURETY, FIDELITY, INDEMNITY, AND BONDING


COMPANIES.

9. Also inserted by the BCC (on page B thereof) is the LEASE OR USE
OF OR THE RIGHT TO USE OF SATTELITE TRANSMISSION AND
CABLE TELEVISION TIME

IV. On Section 103 (Exempt Transactions)

The BCC deleted subsection (f) in its entirety, despite its retention in both the House and
Senate Bills, thus under RA 7716, the "printing, publication, importation or sale of books
and any newspaper, magazine, review, or bulletin which appears at regular intervals with
fixed prices for subscription and sale and which is not devoted principally to the
publication of advertisements" is subject to VAT.

Subsection (g) was amended by the BCC (both Senate and House Bills did not) by
changing the word TEN to FIVE, thus: "Importation of passenger and/or cargo vessel of
more than five thousand ton to ocean going, including engine and spare parts of said
vessel to be used by the importer himself as operator thereof." In short, importation of
vessels with tonnage of more than 5 thousand is VAT exempt.

Subsection L, was amended by the BCC by adding the qualifying phrase: EXCEPT
THOSE RENDERED BY PROFESSIONALS.
Subsection U which exempts from VAT "Transactions which are exempt under special
laws", was amended by BCC by adding the phrase: EXCEPT THOSE GRANTED
UNDER PD NOS. 66, 529, 972, 1491, and 1590, and NON-ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES
under RA 6938. This is the reason why cooperatives are now subject to VAT.

While the SALE OF REAL PROPERTIES was included in the exempt transactions under
the House Bill, the BCC made a qualification by stating:

(S) SALE OF REAL PROPERTIES NOT PRIMARILY HELD FOR SALE


TO CUSTOMERS OR HELD FOR LEASE IN THE ORDINARY COURSE
OF TRADE OR BUSINESS OR REAL PROPERTY UTILIZED FOR
LOW-COST AND SOCIALIZED HOUSING AS DEFINED BY R.A. NO.
7279 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND
HOUSING ACT OF 1992 AND OTHER RELATED LAWS.

Under the Senate Bill, the sale of real property utilized for low-cost and
socialized housing as defined by RA 7279, is one of the exempt
transactions.

Under the House Bill, also exempt from VAT, is the SALE OF
PROPERTIES OTHER THAN THE TRANSACTIONS MENTIONED IN
THE FOREGOING PARAGRAPHS WITH A GROSS ANNUAL SALES
AND/OR RECEIPTS OF WHICH DOES NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT
PRESCRIBED IN THE REGULATIONS TO BE PROMULGATED BY
THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE WHICH SHALL NOT BE LESS THAN
P350,000.00 OR HIGHER THAN P600,000.00 . . . Under the Senate Bill,
the amount is P240,000.00. The BCC agreed at the amount of not less
than P480,000.00 or more than P720,000.00 SUBJECT TO TAX UNDER
SEC. 112 OF THIS CODE.

The BCC did not include, as VAT exempt, the sale or transfer of
securities as defined in the Revised Securities Act (BP 178) which was
contained in both Senate and House Bills.

V On Section 104

The phrase INCLUDING PACKAGING MATERIALS was included by the BCC on Section
104 (A) (1) (B), and the phrase ON WHICH A VALUE-ADDED TAX HAS BEEN
ACTUALLY on Section 104 (A) (2).

These phrases are not contained in either House and Senate Bills.

VI On Section 107

Both House and Senate Bills provide for the payment of P500.00 VAT registration fee.
The BCC provides for P1,000.00 VAT fee.

VII On Section 112

While both the Senate and House Bills provide that a person whose sales or receipts and
are exempt under Section 103[w] of the Code, and who are not VAT registered shall pay
a tax equivalent to THREE (3) PERCENT of his gross quarterly sales or receipts, the
BCC inserted the phrase: THREE PERCENT UPON THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT
AND FOUR PERCENT (4%) TWO YEARS THEREAFTER.

VIII On Section 115

Sec. 17 of SB 1630 Sec. 12 of House Bill 11197 amends this Section by clarifying that
common carriers by land, air or water FOR THE TRANSPORT OF PASSENGERS are
subject to Percentage Tax equivalent to 3% of their quarterly gross sales.

The BCC adopted this and the House Bill's provision that the GROSS RECEIPTS OF
COMMON CARRIERS DERIVED FROM THEIR INCOMING AND OUTGOING FREIGHT
SHALL NOT BE SUBJECTED TO THE LOCAL TAXES IMPOSED UNDER RA 7160.
The Senate Bill has no similar provision.

IX On Section 117

This Section has not been touched by either Senate and House Bills. But the BCC
amended it by subjecting franchises on ELECTRIC, GAS and WATER UTILITIES A TAX
OF TWO PERCENT (2%) ON GROSS RECEIPTS DERIVED . . . .

X On Section 121

The BCC adopted the Senate Bills' amendment to this section by subjecting to 5%
premium tax on life insurance business.

The House Bill does not contain this provision.

XI Others

A) The House Bill does not contain any provision on the deferment of VAT collection on
Certain Goods and Services as does the Senate Bill (Section 19, SB 1630). But although
the Senate Bill authorizes the deferment on certain goods and services for no longer than
3 years, there is no specific provision that authorizes the President to EXCLUDE from
VAT any of these. The BCC uses the word EXCLUDE.

B) Moreover, the Senate Bill defers the VAT on services of actors and actresses etc. for 3
years but the BCC defers it for only 2 years.

C) Section 18 of the BCC Bill (RA 7716) is an entirely new provision not contained in the
House/Senate Bills.

D) The period within which to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations is within
60 days under SB 1630; No specific period under the House Bill, within 90 days under
RA 7716 (BCC).

E) The House Bill provides for a general repealing clause i.e., all inconsistent laws etc.
are repealed. Section 16 of the Senate Bill expressly repeals Sections 113, 114, 116, 119
and 120 of the code. The same Senate Bill however contains a general repealing clause
in Sec. 21 thereof.

RA 7716 (BCC's Bill) expressly repeals Sections 113, 114 and 116 of the NIRC; Article
39 (c) (d) and (e) of EO 226 and provides the repeal of Sec. 119 and 120 of the NIRC
upon the expiration of two (2) years unless otherwise excluded by the President.
The charge that the Bicameral Conference Committee added new provisions in the bills of the two
chambers is hardly disputed by respondents. Instead, respondents justify them. According to
respondents: (1) the Bicameral Conference Committee has an ex post veto power or a veto after the fact
of approval of the bill by both Houses; (2) the bill prepared by the Bicameral Conference Committee, with
its additions and deletions, was anyway approved by both Houses; (3) it was the practice in past
Congresses for conference committees to insert in bills approved by the two Houses new provisions that
were not originally contemplated by them; and (4) the enrolled bill doctrine precludes inquiry into the
regularity of the proceedings that led to the enactment of R.A. 7716.

With due respect, I reject these contentions which will cave in on closer examination.

First. There is absolutely no legal warrant for the bold submission that a Bicameral Conference
Committee possesses the power to add/delete provisions in bills already approved on third reading by
both Houses or an ex post veto power. To support this postulate that can enfeeble Congress itself,
respondents cite no constitutional provision, no law, not even any rule or regulation. 3 Worse, their stance
is categorically repudiated by the rules of both the Senate and the House of Representatives which define
with precision the parameters of power of a Bicameral Conference Committee. Thus, Section 209, Rule
XII of the Rules of the Senate provides;

In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on the
provision of any bill or joint resolution, the differences shall be settled by a conference
committee of both Houses which shall meet within ten days after their composition.

Each Conference Committee Report shall contain a detailed and sufficiently explicit
statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject measure, and shall be signed
by the conferees. (Emphasis supplied)

The counterpart rule of the House of Representatives is cast in near identical language. Section 85 of the
Rules of the House of Representatives pertinently provides:

In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the amendments to any
bill or joint resolution, the differences may be settled by a conference committee of both
chambers.

. . . . Each report shall contain a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in
or amendments to the subject measure. (Emphasis supplied)

The Jefferson's Manual has been adopted 4 as a supplement to our parliamentary rules and practice.
Section 456 of Jefferson's Manual similarly confines the powers of a conference committee, viz: 5

The managers of a conference must confine themselves to the differences committed to


them . . . and may not include subjects not within the disagreements, even though
germane to a question in issue.

This rule of antiquity has been honed and honored in practice by the Congress of the United States.
Thus, it is chronicled by Floyd Biddick, Parliamentarian Emeritus of the United States Senate, viz: 6

Committees of conference are appointed for the sole purpose of compromising and
adjusting the differing and conflicting opinions of the two Houses and the committees of
conference alone can grant compromises and modify propositions of either Houses within
the limits of the disagreement. Conferees are limited to the consideration of differences
between the two Houses.
Conferees shall not insert in their report matters not committed to them by either House,
nor shall they strike from the bill matters agreed to by both Houses. No matter on which
there is nothing in either the Senate or House passed versions of a bill may be included
in the conference report and actions to the contrary would subject the report to a point of
order. (Emphasis ours)

In fine, there is neither a sound nor a syllable in the Rules of the Senate and the House of Representative
to support the thesis of the respondents that a bicameral conference committee is clothed with an ex post
veto power.

But the thesis that a Bicameral Conference Committee can wield ex post veto power does not only
contravene the rules of both the Senate and the House. It wages war against our settled ideals of
representative democracy. For the inevitable, catastrophic effect of the thesis is to install a Bicameral
Conference Committee as the Third Chamber of our Congress, similarly vested with the power to make
laws but with the dissimilarity that its laws are not the subject of a free and full discussion of both Houses
of Congress. With such a vagrant power, a Bicameral Conference Committee acting as a Third Chamber
will be a constitutional monstrosity.

It needs no omniscience to perceive that our Constitution did not provide for a Congress composed of
three chambers. On the contrary, section 1, Article VI of the Constitution provides in clear and certain
language: "The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of
a Senate and a House of Representatives . . ." Note that in vesting legislative power exclusively to the
Senate and the House, the Constitution used the word "shall." Its command for a Congress of two houses
is mandatory. It is not mandatory sometimes.

In vesting legislative power to the Senate, the Constitution means the Senate ". . . composed of twenty-
four Senators . . . elected at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines . . . ." 7 Similarly, when the
Constitution vested the legislative power to the House, it means the House ". . . composed of not more
than two hundred and fifty members . . . who shall be elected from legislative districts . . . and those who .
. . shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or
organizations." 8 The Constitution thus, did not vest on a Bicameral Conference Committee with an ad
hoc membership the power to legislate for it exclusively vested legislative power to the Senate and the
House as co-equal bodies. To be sure, the Constitution does not mention the Bicameral Conference
Committees of Congress. No constitutional status is accorded to them. They are not even statutory
creations. They owe their existence from the internal rules of the two Houses of Congress. Yet,
respondents peddle the disconcerting idea that they should be recognized as a Third Chamber of
Congress and with ex post veto power at that.

The thesis that a Bicameral Conference Committee can exercise law making power with ex post veto
power is freighted with mischief. Law making is a power that can be used for good or for ill, hence, our
Constitution carefully laid out a plan and a procedure for its exercise. Firstly, it vouchsafed that the power
to make laws should be exercised by no other body except the Senate and the House. It ought to be
indubitable that what is contemplated is the Senate acting as a full Senate and the House acting as a full
House. It is only when the Senate and the House act as whole bodies that they truly represent the people.
And it is only when they represent the people that they can legitimately pass laws. Laws that are not
enacted by the people's rightful representatives subvert the people's sovereignty. Bicameral Conference
Committees, with their ad hoc character and limited membership, cannot pass laws for they do not
represent the people. The Constitution does not allow the tyranny of the majority. Yet, the respondents
will impose the worst kind of tyranny — the tyranny of the minority over the majority. Secondly, the
Constitution delineated in deft strokes the steps to be followed in making laws. The overriding purpose of
these procedural rules is to assure that only bills that successfully survive the searching scrutiny of the
proper committees of Congress and the full and unfettered deliberations of both Houses can become
laws. For this reason, a bill has to undergo three (3) mandatory separate readings in each House. In the
case at bench, the additions and deletions made by the Bicameral Conference Committee did not enjoy
the enlightened studies of appropriate committees. It is meet to note that the complexities of modern day
legislations have made our committee system a significant part of the legislative process. Thomas Reed
called the committee system as "the eye, the ear, the hand, and very often the brain of the house."
President Woodrow Wilson of the United States once referred to the government of the United States as
"a government by the Chairman of the Standing Committees of Congress. . . " 9 Neither did these
additions and deletions of the Bicameral Conference Committee pass through the coils of collective
deliberation of the members of the two Houses acting separately. Due to this shortcircuiting of the
constitutional procedure of making laws, confusion shrouds the enactment of R.A. No. 7716. Who
inserted the additions and deletions remains a mystery. Why they were inserted is a riddle. To use a
Churchillian phrase, lawmaking should not be a riddle wrapped in an enigma. It cannot be, for Article II,
section 28 of the Constitution mandates the State to adopt and implement a "policy of full public
disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest." The Constitution could not have contemplated a
Congress of invisible and unaccountable John and Mary Does. A law whose rationale is a riddle and
whose authorship is obscure cannot bind the people.

All these notwithstanding, respondents resort to the legal cosmetology that these additions and deletions
should govern the people as laws because the Bicameral Conference Committee Report was anyway
submitted to and approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The submission may have
some merit with respect to provisions agreed upon by the Committee in the process of reconciling
conflicts between S.B. No. 1630 and H.B. No. 11197. In these instances, the conflicting provisions had
been previously screened by the proper committees, deliberated upon by both Houses and approved by
them. It is, however, a different matter with respect to additions and deletions which were entirely new
and which were made not to reconcile inconsistencies between S.B. No. 1630 and H.B. No. 11197. The
members of the Bicameral Conference Committee did not have any authority to add new provisions or
delete provisions already approved by both Houses as it was not necessary to discharge their limited task
of reconciling differences in bills. At that late stage of law making, the Conference Committee cannot
add/delete provisions which can become laws without undergoing the study and deliberation of both
chambers given to bills on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd readings. Even the Senate and the House cannot enact a
law which will not undergo these mandatory three (3) readings required by the Constitution. If the Senate
and the House cannot enact such a law, neither can the lesser Bicameral Conference Committee.

Moreover, the so-called choice given to the members of both Houses to either approve or disapprove the
said additions and deletions is more of an optical illusion. These additions and deletions are not submitted
separately for approval. They are tucked to the entire bill. The vote is on the bill as a package, i.e.,
together with the insertions and deletions. And the vote is either "aye" or "nay," without any further debate
and deliberation. Quite often, legislators vote "yes" because they approve of the bill as a whole although
they may object to its amendments by the Conference Committee. This lack of real choice is well
observed by Robert Luce: 10

Their power lies chiefly in the fact that reports of conference committees must be
accepted without amendment or else rejected in toto. The impulse is to get done with the
matter and so the motion to accept has undue advantage, for some members are sure to
prefer swallowing unpalatable provisions rather than prolong controversy. This is the
more likely if the report comes in the rush of business toward the end of a session, when
to seek further conference might result in the loss of the measure altogether. At any time
in the session there is some risk of such a result following the rejection of a conference
report, for it may not be possible to secure a second conference, or delay may give
opposition to the main proposal chance to develop more strength.

In a similar vein, Prof. Jack Davies commented that "conference reports are returned to assembly and
Senate on a take-it or leave-it-basis, and the bodies are generally placed in the position that to leave-it is
a practical impossibility." 11 Thus, he concludes that "conference committee action is the most
undemocratic procedure in the legislative process." 12

The respondents also contend that the additions and deletions made by the Bicameral Conference
Committee were in accord with legislative customs and usages. The argument does not persuade for it
misappreciates the value of customs and usages in the hierarchy of sources of legislative rules of
procedure. To be sure, every legislative assembly has the inherent right to promulgate its own internal
rules. In our jurisdiction, Article VI, section 16(3) of the Constitution provides that "Each House may
determine the rules of its proceedings . . ." But it is hornbook law that the sources of Rules of Procedure
are many and hierarchical in character. Mason laid them down as follows: 13

xxx xxx xxx

1. Rules of Procedure are derived from several sources. The principal sources are as
follows:

a. Constitutional rules.

b. Statutory rules or charter provisions.

c. Adopted rules.

d. Judicial decisions.

e. Adopted parliamentary authority.

f. Parliamentary law.

g. Customs and usages.

2. The rules from the different sources take precedence in the order listed above except
that judicial decisions, since they are interpretations of rules from one of the other
sources, take the same precedence as the source interpreted. Thus, for example, an
interpretation of a constitutional provision takes precedence over a statute.

3. Whenever there is conflict between rules from these sources the rule from the source
listed earlier prevails over the rule from the source listed, later. Thus, where the
Constitution requires three readings of bills, this provision controls over any provision of
statute, adopted rules, adopted manual, or of parliamentary law, and a rule of
parliamentary law controls over a local usage but must give way to any rule from a higher
source of authority. (Emphasis ours)

As discussed above, the unauthorized additions and deletions made by the Bicameral Conference
Committee violated the procedure fixed by the Constitution in the making of laws. It is reasonless for
respondents therefore to justify these insertions as sanctioned by customs and usages.

Finally, respondents seek sanctuary in the conclusiveness of an enrolled bill to bar any judicial inquiry on
whether Congress observed our constitutional procedure in the passage of R.A. No. 7716. The enrolled
bill theory is a historical relic that should not continuously rule us from the fossilized past. It should be
immediately emphasized that the enrolled bill theory originated in England where there is no written
constitution and where Parliament is
supreme. 14 In this jurisdiction, we have a written constitution and the legislature is a body of limited
powers. Likewise, it must be pointed out that starting from the decade of the 40's, even American courts
have veered away from the rigidity and unrealism of the conclusiveness of an enrolled bill. Prof.
Sutherland observed: 15

xxx xxx xxx.


Where the failure of constitutional compliance in the enactment of statutes is not
discoverable from the face of the act itself but may be demonstrated by recourse to the
legislative journals, debates, committee reports or papers of the governor, courts have
used several conflicting theories with which to dispose of the issue. They have held: (1)
that the enrolled bill is conclusive and like the sheriff's return cannot be attacked; (2) that
the enrolled bill is prima facie correct and only in case the legislative journal shows
affirmative contradiction of the constitutional requirement will the bill be held invalid, (3)
that although the enrolled bill is prima facie correct, evidence from the journals, or other
extrinsic sources is admissible to strike the bill down; (4) that the legislative journal is
conclusive and the enrolled bill is valid only if it accords with the recital in the journal and
the constitutional procedure.

Various jurisdictions have adopted these alternative approaches in view of strong dissent and
dissatisfaction against the philosophical underpinnings of the conclusiveness of an enrolled bill. Prof.
Sutherland further observed:

. . . Numerous reasons have been given for this rule. Traditionally, an enrolled bill was "a
record" and as such was not subject to attack at common law. Likewise, the rule of
conclusiveness was similar to the common law rule of the inviolability of the sheriff's
return. Indeed, they had the same origin, that is, the sheriff was an officer of the king and
likewise the parliamentary act was a regal act and no official might dispute the king's
word. Transposed to our democratic system of government, courts held that as the
legislature was an official branch of government the court must indulge every
presumption that the legislative act was valid. The doctrine of separation of powers was
advanced as a strong reason why the court should treat the acts of a co-ordinate branch
of government with the same respect as it treats the action of its own officers; indeed, it
was thought that it was entitled to even greater respect, else the court might be in the
position of reviewing the work of a supposedly equal branch of government. When these
arguments failed, as they frequently did, the doctrine of convenience was advanced, that
is, that it was not only an undue burden upon the legislature to preserve its records to
meet the attack of persons not affected by the procedure of enactment, but also that it
unnecessarily complicated litigation and confused the trial of substantive issues.

Although many of these arguments are persuasive and are indeed the basis for the rule
in many states today, they are not invulnerable to attack. The rule most relied on — the
sheriff's return or sworn official rule — did not in civil litigation deprive the injured party of
an action, for always he could sue the sheriff upon his official bond. Likewise, although
collateral attack was not permitted, direct attack permitted raising the issue of fraud, and
at a later date attack in equity was also available; and that the evidence of the sheriff was
not of unusual weight was demonstrated by the fact that in an action against the sheriff
no presumption of its authenticity prevailed.

The argument that the enrolled bill is a "record" and therefore unimpeachable is likewise
misleading, for the correction of records is a matter of established judicial procedure.
Apparently, the justification is either the historical one that the king's word could not be
questioned or the separation of powers principle that one branch of the government must
treat as valid the acts of another.

Persuasive as these arguments are, the tendency today is to avoid reaching results by
artificial presumptions and thus it would seem desirable to insist that the enrolled bill
stand or fall on the basis of the relevant evidence which may be submitted for or against
it.
(Emphasis ours)
Thus, as far back as the 1940's, Prof. Sutherland confirmed that ". . . the tendency seems to be toward
the abandonment of the conclusive presumption rule and the adoption of the third rule leaving only a
prima facie presumption of validity which may be attacked by any authoritative source of information." 16

I am not unaware that this Court has subscribed to the conclusiveness of an enrolled bill as enunciated in
the 1947 lead case of Mabanag v. Lopez Vito, and reiterated in subsequent cases. 17

With due respect, I submit that these rulings are no longer good law. Part of the ratiocination in Mabanag
states:

xxx xxx xxx

If for no other reason than that it conforms to the expressed policy of our law making
body, we choose to follow the rule. Section 313 of the old Code of Civil Procedure, as
amended by Act No. 2210, provides: "Official documents" may be proved as follows: . . .
(2) the proceedings of the Philippine Commission, or of any legislative body that may be
provided for in the Philippine Islands, or of Congress, by the journals of those bodies or of
either house thereof, or by published statutes or resolutions, or by copies certified by the
clerk or secretary, or printed by their order; Provided, That in the case of Acts of the
Philippine Commission or the Philippine Legislature, when there is an existence of a copy
signed by the presiding officers and secretaries of said bodies, it shall be conclusive
proof of the provisions of such Acts and of the due enactment thereof.

Suffice to state that section 313 of the Old Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2210 is no
longer in our statute books. It has long been repealed by the Rules of Court. Mabanag also relied on
jurisprudence and authorities in the United States which are under severe criticisms by modern scholars.
Hence, even in the United States the conclusiveness of an enrolled bill has been junked by most of the
States. It is also true that as late as last year, in the case of Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, op.
cit., this Court still relied on the conclusiveness of an enrolled bill as it refused to invalidate a provision of
law on the ground that it was merely inserted by the bicameral conference committee of both Houses.
Prado, however, is distinguishable. In Prado, the alleged insertion of the second paragraph of section 35
of R.A. No. 7354 repealing the franking privilege of the judiciary does not appear to be an uncontested
fact. In the case at bench, the numerous additions/deletions made by the Bicameral Conference
Committee as detailed by petitioners Tolentino and Salonga are not disputed by the respondents. In
Prado, the Court was not also confronted with the argument that it can no longer rely on the
conclusiveness of an enrolled bill in light of the new provision in the Constitution defining judicial power.
More specifically, section 1 of Article VIII now provides:

Sec. 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts
as may be established by law.

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether
or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis
supplied)

Former Chief Justice Roberto R. Concepcion, the sponsor of this provision in the Constitutional
Commission explained the sense and the reach of judicial power as follows: 18

xxx xxx xxx

. . . In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter on the question of whether or not a
branch of government or any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of
jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess
of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of
this nature.

This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which means that the courts cannot
hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters
constitute political question. (Emphasis ours)

The Constitution cannot be any clearer. What it granted to this Court is not a mere power which it can
decline to exercise. Precisely to deter this disinclination, the Constitution imposed it as a duty of this Court
to strike down any act of a branch or instrumentality of government or any of its officials done with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Rightly or wrongly, the Constitution has
elongated the checking powers of this Court against the other branches of government despite their more
democratic character, the President and the legislators being elected by the people.

It is, however, theorized that this provision is nothing new. 19 I beg to disagree for the view misses the
significant changes made in our constitutional canvass to cure the legal deficiencies we discovered during
martial law. One of the areas radically changed by the framers of the 1987 Constitution is the imbalance
of power between and among the three great branches of our government — the Executive, the
Legislative and the Judiciary. To upgrade the powers of the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commission
strengthened some more the independence of courts. Thus, it further protected the security of tenure of
the members of the Judiciary by providing "No law shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it
undermines the security of tenure of its Members." 20 It also guaranteed fiscal autonomy to the Judiciary.
21

More, it depoliticalized appointments in the judiciary by creating the Judicial and Bar Council which was
tasked with screening the list of prospective appointees to the judiciary. 22 The power of confirming
appointments to the judiciary was also taken away from Congress. 23 The President was likewise given a
specific time to fill up vacancies in the judiciary — ninety (90) days from the occurrence of the vacancy in
case of the Supreme Court 24 and ninety (90) days from the submission of the list of recommendees by
the Judicial and Bar Council in case of vacancies in the lower courts. 25 To further insulate appointments
in the judiciary from the virus of politics, the Supreme Court was given the power to "appoint all officials
and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law." 26 And to make the separation
of the judiciary from the other branches of government more watertight, it prohibited members of the
judiciary to be " . . . designated to any agency performing quasi judicial or administrative functions." 27
While the Constitution strengthened the sinews of the Supreme Court, it reduced the powers of the two
other branches of government, especially the Executive. Notable of the powers of the President clipped
by the Constitution is his power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and to proclaim martial law. The
exercise of this power is now subject to revocation by Congress. Likewise, the sufficiency of the factual
basis for the exercise of said power may be reviewed by this Court in an appropriate proceeding filed by
any citizen. 28

The provision defining judicial power as including the "duty of the courts of justice . . . to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government" constitutes the capstone of the efforts of the
Constitutional Commission to upgrade the powers of this Court vis-a-vis the other branches of
government. This provision was dictated by our experience under martial law which taught us that a
stronger and more independent judiciary is needed to abort abuses in government. As sharply stressed
by petitioner Salonga, this provision is distinctly Filipino and its interpretation should not be depreciated
by undue reliance on inapplicable foreign jurisprudence. It is thus crystal clear that unlike other Supreme
Courts, this Court has been mandated by our new Constitution to be a more active agent in annulling acts
of grave abuse of discretion committed by a branch of government or any of its officials. This new role,
however, will not compel the Court, appropriately defined by Prof. A. Bickel as the least dangerous
branch of government, to assume imperial powers and run roughshod over the principle of separation of
power for that is judicial tyranny by any language. But while respecting the essential of the principle of
separation of power, the Court is not to be restricted by its non-essentials. Applied to the case at bench,
by voiding R.A. No. 7716 on the ground that its enactment violated the procedure imposed by the
Constitution in lawmaking, the Court is not by any means wrecking the wall separating the powers
between the legislature and the judiciary. For in so doing, the Court is not engaging in lawmaking which is
the essence of legislative power. But the Court's interposition of power should not be defeated by the
conclusiveness of the enrolled bill. A resort to this fiction will result in the enactment of laws not properly
deliberated upon and passed by Congress. Certainly, the enrolled bill theory was not conceived to cover
up violations of the constitutional procedure in law making, a procedure intended to assure the passage
of good laws. The conclusiveness of the enrolled bill can, therefore, be disregarded for it is not necessary
to preserve the principle of separation of powers.

In sum, I submit that in imposing to this Court the duty to annul acts of government committed with grave
abuse of discretion, the new Constitution transformed this Court from passivity to activism. This
transformation, dictated by our distinct experience as a nation, is not merely evolutionary but
revolutionary. Under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, this Court approached constitutional violations by
initially determining what it cannot do; under the 1987 Constitution, there is a shift in stress — this Court
is mandated to approach constitutional violations not by finding out what it should not do but what it must
do. The Court must discharge this solemn duty by not resuscitating a past that petrifies the present.

I vote to declare R.A. No. 7716 unconstitutional.

BELLOSILLO, J.:

With a consensus already reached after due deliberations, silence perhaps should be the better part of
discretion, except to vote. The different views and opinions expressed are so persuasive and convincing;
they are more than enough to sway the pendulum for or against the subject petitions. The penetrating and
scholarly dissertations of my brethren should dispense with further arguments which may only confound
and confuse even the most learned of men.

But there is a crucial point, a constitutional issue which, I submit, has been belittled, treated lightly, if not
almost considered insignificant and purposeless. It is elementary, as much as it is fundamental. I am
referring to the word "exclusively" appearing in Sec. 24, Art. VI, of our 1987 Constitution. This is
regrettable, to say the least, as it involves a constitutional mandate which, wittingly or unwittingly, has
been cast aside as trivial and meaningless.

A comparison of the particular provision on the enactment of revenue bills in the U.S. Constitution with its
counterpart in the Philippine Constitution will help explain my position.

Under the U.S. Constitution, "[a]ll bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives;
but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills" (Sec. 7, par. [1], Art. I). In
contrast, our 1987 Constitution reads: "All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of
the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments" (Sec. 24, Art. VI; Emphasis
supplied).

As may be gleaned from the pertinent provision of our Constitution, all revenue bills are required to
originate "exclusively" in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, the U.S. Constitution does not
use the word "exclusively;" it merely says, "[a]ll bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives."

Since the term "exclusively" has already been adequately defined in the various opinions, as to which
there seems to be no dispute, I shall no longer offer my own definition.
Verily, the provision in our Constitution requiring that all revenue bills shall originate exclusively from the
Lower House is mandatory. The word "exclusively" is an "exclusive word," which is indicative of an intent
that the provision is mandatory. 1 Hence, all American authorities expounding on the meaning and
application of Sec. 7, par. (1), Art. I, of the U.S. Constitution cannot be used in the interpretation of Sec.
24, Art. VI, of our 1987 Constitution which has a distinct feature of "exclusiveness" all its own. Thus, when
our Constitution absolutely requires — as it is mandatory — that a particular bill should exclusively
emanate from the Lower House, there is no alternative to the requirement that the bill to become valid law
must originate exclusively from that House.

In the interpretation of constitutions, questions frequently arise as to whether particular sections are
mandatory or directory. The courts usually hesitate to declare that a constitutional provision is directory
merely in view of the tendency of the legislature to disregard provisions which are not said to be
mandatory. Accordingly, it is the general rule to regard constitutional provisions as mandatory, and not to
leave any discretion to the will of the legislature to obey or disregard them. This presumption as to
mandatory quality is usually followed unless it is unmistakably manifest that the provisions are intended to
be merely directory. So strong is the inclination in favor of giving obligatory force to the terms of the
organic law that it has even been said that neither by the courts nor by any other department of the
government may any provision of the Constitution be regarded as merely directory, but that each and
everyone of its provisions should be treated as imperative and mandatory, without reference to the rules
and distinguishing between the directory and the mandatory statutes. 2

The framers of our 1987 Constitution could not have used the term "exclusively" if they only meant to
replicate and adopt in toto the U.S. version. By inserting "exclusively" in Sec. 24, Art. VI, of our
Constitution, their message is clear: they wanted it different, strong, stringent. There must be a
compelling reason for the inclusion of the word "exclusively," which cannot be an act of retrogression but
progression, an improvement on its precursor. Thus, "exclusively" must be given its true meaning, its
purpose observed and virtue recognized, for it could not have been conceived to be of minor
consequence. That construction is to be sought which gives effect to the whole of the statute — its every
word. Ut magis valeat quam pereat.

Consequently, any reference to American authorities, decisions and opinions, however wisely and
delicately put, can only mislead in the interpretation of our own Constitution. To refer to them in defending
the constitutionality of R.A. 7716, subject of the present petitions, is to argue on a false premise, i.e., that
Sec. 24, Art. VI, of our 1987 Constitution is, or means exactly, the same as Sec. 7, par. (1), Art. I, of the
U.S. Constitution, which is not correct. Hence, only a wrong conclusion can be drawn from a wrong
premise.

For example, it is argued that in the United States, from where our own legislature is patterned, the
Senate can practically substitute its own tax measure for that of the Lower House. Thus, according to the
Majority, citing an American case, "the validity of Sec. 37 which the Senate had inserted in the Tariff Act
of 1909 by imposing an ad valorem tax based on the weight of vessels, was upheld against the claim that
the revenue bill originated in the Senate in contravention of Art. I, Sec. 7, of the U.S. Constitution." 3 In an
effort to be more convincing, the Majority even quotes the footnote in Introduction to American
Government by F.A. Ogg and P.O. Ray which reads —

Thus in 1883 the upper house struck out everything after the enacting clause of a tariff
bill and wrote its own measure, which the House eventually felt obliged to accept. It
likewise added 847 amendments to the Payne-Aldrich tariff act of 1909, dictated the
schedules of the emergency tariff act of 1921, rewrote an extensive tax revision bill in the
same year, and recast most of the permanent tariff bill of 1922 4 —

which in fact suggests, very clearly, that the subject revenue bill actually originated from the Lower House
and was only amended, perhaps considerably, by the Senate after it was passed by the former and
transmitted to the latter.
In the cases cited, where the statutes passed by the U.S. Congress were upheld, the revenue bills did not
actually originate from the Senate but, in fact, from the Lower House. Thus, the Supreme Court of the
United States, speaking through Chief Justice White in Rainey v. United States 5 upheld the revenue bill
passed by Congress and adopted the ruling of the lower court that —

. . . the section in question is not void as a bill for raising revenue originating in the
Senate and not in the House of Representatives. It appears that the section was
proposed by the Senate as an amendment to a bill for raising revenue which originated in
the House. That is sufficient.

Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., 6 on which the Solicitor General heavily leans in his Consolidated Comment as
well as in his Memorandum, does not support the thesis of the Majority since the subject bill therein
actually originated from the Lower House and not from the Senate, and the amendment merely covered a
certain provision in the House bill.

In fine, in the cases cited which were lifted from American authorities, it appears that the revenue bills in
question actually originated from the House of Representatives and were amended by the Senate only
after they were transmitted to it. Perhaps, if the factual circumstances in those cases were exactly the
same as the ones at bench, then the subject revenue or tariff bill may be upheld in this jurisdiction on the
principle of substantial compliance, as they were in the United States, except possibly in instances where
the House bill undergoes what is now referred to as "amendment by substitution," for that would be in
derogation of our Constitution which vests solely in the House of Representatives the power to initiate
revenue bills. A Senate amendment by substitution simply means that the bill in question did not in effect
originate from the lower chamber but from the upper chamber and not disguises itself as a mere
amendment of the House version.

It is also theorized that in the U.S., amendment by substitution is recognized. That may be true. But the
process may be validly effective only under the U.S. Constitution. The cases before us present a totally
different factual backdrop. Several months before the Lower House could even pass HB No. 11197, P.S.
Res. No. 734 and SB No. 1129 had already been filed in the Senate. Worse, the Senate subsequently
approved SB No. 1630 "in substitution of SB No. 1129, taking into consideration P.S. Res. No. 734 and
HB No. 11197," and not HB No. 11197 itself "as amended." Here, the Senate could not have proposed or
concurred with amendments because there was nothing to concur with or amend except its own bill. It
must be stressed that the process of concurring or amending presupposes that there exists a bill upon
which concurrence may be based or amendments introduced. The Senate should have reported out HB
No. 11197, as amended, even if in the amendment it took into consideration SB No. 1630. It should not
have submitted to the Bicameral Conference Committee SB No. 1630 which, admittedly, did not originate
exclusively from the Lower House.

But even assuming that in our jurisdiction a revenue bill of the Lower House may be amended by
substitution by the Senate — although I am not prepared to accept it in view of Sec. 24, Art. VI, of our
Constitution — still R.A. 7716 could not have been the result of amendment by substitution since the
Senate had no House bill to speak of that it could amend when the Senate started deliberating on its own
version.

Be that as it may, I cannot rest easy on the proposition that a constitutional mandate calling for the
exclusive power and prerogative of the House of Representatives may just be discarded and ignored by
the Senate. Since the Constitution is for the observance of all — the judiciary as well as the other
departments of government — and the judges are sworn to support its provisions, the courts are not at
liberty to overlook or disregard its commands. And it is not fair and just to impute to them undue
interference if they look into the validity of legislative enactments to determine whether the fundamental
law has been faithfully observed in the process. It is their duty to give effect to the existing Constitution
and to obey all constitutional provisions irrespective of their opinion as to the wisdom of such provisions.
The rule is fixed that the duty in a proper case to declare a law unconstitutional cannot be declined and
must be performed in accordance with the deliberate judgment of the tribunal before which the validity of
the enactment is directly drawn into question. When it is clear that a statute transgresses the authority
vested in the legislature by the Constitution, it is the duty of the courts to declare the act unconstitutional
because they cannot shirk from it without violating their oaths of office. This duty of the courts to maintain
the Constitution as the fundamental law of the state is imperative and unceasing; and, as Chief Justice
Marshal said, whenever a statute is in violation of the fundamental law, the courts must so adjudge and
thereby give effect to the Constitution. Any other course would lead to the destruction of the Constitution.
Since the question as to the constitutionality of a statute is a judicial matter, the courts will not decline the
exercise of jurisdiction upon the suggestion that action might be taken by political agencies in disregard of
the judgment of the judicial tribunals. 7

It is my submission that the power and authority to originate revenue bills under our Constitution is vested
exclusively in the House of Representatives. Its members being more numerous than those of the
Senate, elected more frequently, and more directly represent the people, are therefore considered better
aware of the economic life of their individual constituencies. It is just proper that revenue bills originate
exclusively from them.

In this regard, we do not have to devote much time delving into American decisions and opinions and
invoke them in the interpretation of our own Constitution which is different from the American version,
particularly on the enactment of revenue bills. We have our own Constitution couched in a language our
own legislators thought best. Insofar as revenue bills are concerned, our Constitution is not American; it is
distinctively Filipino. And no amplitude of legerdemain can detract from our constitutional requirement that
all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local
application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, although the
Senate may propose or concur with amendments.

In this milieu, I am left no option but to vote to grant the petitions and strike down R.A. 7716 as
unconstitutional.

# Separate Opinions

NARVASA, C.J.:

I fully concur with the conclusions set forth in the scholarly opinion of my learned colleague, Mr Justice
Vicente V. Mendoza. I write this separate opinion to express my own views relative to the procedural
issues raised by the various petitions and death with by some other Members of the Court in their
separate opinions.

By their very nature, it would seem, discussions of constitutional issues prove fertile ground for a not
uncommon phenomenon: debate marked by passionate partisanship amounting sometimes to impatience
with adverse views, an eagerness on the part of the proponents on each side to assume the role of, or be
perceived as, staunch defenders of constitutional principles, manifesting itself in flights of rhetoric, even
hyperbole. The peril in this, obviously, is a diminution of objectivity — that quality which, on the part of
those charged with the duty and authority of interpreting the fundamental law, is of the essence of their
great function. For the Court, more perhaps than for any other person or group, it is necessary to maintain
that desirable objectivity. It must make certain that on this as on any other occasion, the judicial function
is meticulously performed, the facts ascertained as comprehensively and as accurately as possible, all
the issues particularly identified, all the arguments clearly understood; else, it may itself be accused, by
its own members or by others, of a lack of adherence to, or a careless observance of, its own procedures,
the signatures of its individual members on its enrolled verdicts notwithstanding.

In the matter now before the Court, and whatever reservations some people may entertain about their
intellectual limitations or moral scruples, I cannot bring myself to accept the thesis which necessarily
implies that the members of our august Congress, in enacting the expanded VAT law, exposed their
ignorance, or indifference to the observance, of the rules of procedure set down by the Constitution or by
their respective chambers, or what is worse, deliberately ignored those rules for some yet undiscovered
purpose nefarious in nature, or at least some purpose other than the public weal; or that a few of their
fellows, acting as a bicameral conference committee, by devious schemes and cunning maneuvers, and
in conspiracy with officials of the Executive Department and others, succeeded in "pulling the wool over
the eyes" of all their other colleagues and foisting on them a bill containing provisions that neither
chamber of our bicameral legislature conceived or contemplated. This is the thesis that the petitioners
would have this Court approve. It is a thesis I consider bereft of any factual or logical foundation.

Other than the bare declarations of some of the petitioners, or arguments from the use and import of the
language employed in the relevant documents and records, there is no evidence before the Court
adequate to support a finding that the legislators concerned, whether of the upper or lower chamber,
acted otherwise than in good faith, in the honest discharge of their functions, in the sincere belief that the
established procedures were being regularly observed or, at least, that there occurred no serious or fatal
deviation therefrom. There is no evidence on which reasonably to rest a conclusion that any executive or
other official took part in or unduly influenced the proceedings before the bicameral conference
committee, or that the members of the latter were motivated by a desire to surreptitiously introduce
improper revisions in the bills which they were required to reconcile, or that after agreement had been
reached on the mode and manner of reconciliation of the "disagreeing provisions," had resorted to
stratragems or employed under-handed ploys to ensure their approval and adoption by either House.
Neither is there any proof that in voting on the Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) version of the
reconciled bills, the members of the Senate and the House did so in ignorance of, or without
understanding, the contents thereof or the bills therein reconciled.

Also unacceptable is the theory that since the Constitution requires appropriation and revenue bills to
originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, it is improper if not unconstitutional for the Senate
to formulate, or even think about formulating, its own draft of this type of measure in anticipation of receipt
of one transmitted by the lower Chamber. This is specially cogent as regards much-publicized
suggestions for legislation (like the expanded VAT Law) emanating from one or more legislators, or from
the Executive Department, or the private sector, etc. which understandably could be expected to forthwith
generate much Congressional cogitation.

Exclusive origination, I submit, should have no reference to time of conception. As a practical matter,
origination should refer to the affirmative act which effectively puts the bicameral legislative procedure in
motion, i.e., the transmission by one chamber to the other of a bill for its adoption. This is the purposeful
act which sets the legislative machinery in operation to effectively lead to the enactment of a statute. Until
this transmission takes place, the formulation and discussions, or the reading for three or more times of
proposed measures in either chamber, would be meaningless in the context of the activity leading
towards concrete legislation. Unless transmitted to the other chamber, a bill prepared by either house
cannot possibly become law. In other words, the first affirmative, efficacious step, the operative act as it
were, leading to actual enactment of a statute, is the transmission of a bill from one house to the other for
action by the latter. This is the origination that is spoken of in the Constitution in its Article VI, Section 24,
in reference to appropriation, revenue, or tariff bills, etc.

It may be that in the Senate, revenue or tax measures are discussed, even drafted, and this before a
similar activity takes place in the House. This is of no moment, so long as those measures or
MISSING PAGE 3

Report (No. 349) stating that


HB 11197 was considered,
and recommending that SB
1630 be approved "in
substitution of S.B. No. 1129,
taking into consideration P.S.
Res. No. 734 1 and H.B. No.
11197." This Report made
known to the Senate, and
clearly indicates, that H.B.
No. 11197 was indeed
deliberated on by the
Committee; in truth, as
Senator Herrera pointed out,
the BCC later "agreed to
adopt (a broader coverage of
the VAT) which is closely
adhering to the Senate
version ** ** with some new
provisions or amendments."
The plain implication is that
the Senate Committee had
indeed discussed HB 11197
in comparison with the
inconsistent parts of SB
1129 and afterwards
proposed amendments to
the former in the form of a
new bill (No. 1630) more
closely akin to the Senate bill
(No. 1129).
And it is as reasonable to
suppose as not that later,
during the second and third
readings on March 24, 1994,
the Senators, assembled as
a body, had before them
copies of HB 11197 and SB
1129, as well as of the
Committee's new "SB 1630"
that had been recommended
for their approval, or at the
very least were otherwise
perfectly aware that they
were considering the
particular provisions of these
bills. That there was such a
deliberation in the Senate on
HB 11197 in light of
inconsistent portions of SB
1630, may further be
necessarily inferred from the
request, made by the Senate
on the same day, March 24,
1994, for the convocation of
a bicameral conference
committee to reconcile "the
disagreeing provisions of
said bill (SB 1630) and
House Bill No. 11197," a
request that could not have
been made had not the
Senators more or less
closely examined the
provisions of HB 11197 and
compared them with those of
the counterpart Senate
measures.
Were the proceedings before
the bicameral conference
committee fatally flawed?
The affirmative is suggested
because the committee
allegedly overlooked or
ignored the fact that SB 1630
could not validly originate in
the Senate, and that HB
11197 and SB 1630 never
properly passed both
chambers. The untenability
of these contentions has
already been demonstrated.
Now, demonstration of the
indefensibility of other
arguments purporting to
establish the impropriety of
the BCC proceedings will be
attempted.
There is the argument, for
instance, that the conference
committee never used HB
11197 even as "frame of
reference" because it does
not appear that the
suggestion therefor (made
by House Penal Chairman
Exequiel Javier at the
bicameral conference
committee's meeting on April
19, 1994, with the
concurrence of Senator
Maceda) was ever resolved,
the minutes being regrettably
vague as to what occurred
after that suggestion was
made. It is, however, as
reasonable to assume that it
was, as it was not, given the
vagueness of the minutes
already alluded to. In fact, a
reading of the BCC Report
persuasively demonstrates
that HB 11197 was not only
utilized as a "frame of
reference" but actually
discussed and deliberated
on.
Said BCC Report pertinently
states: 2
CONFERENCE
COMMITTEE REPORT
The Conference
Committee on the
disagreeing provisions
of House Bill No. 11197,
entitled:
AN ACT
RESTRUCTURING THE
VALUE ADDED TAX
(VAT) SYSTEM TO
WIDEN ITS TAX BASE
AND ENHANCE ITS
ADMINISTRATION,
AMENDING FOR
THESE PURPOSES
SECTIONS 99, 100,
102, 1013, 104, 105,
106, 107, 108 AND 110
OF TITLE IV, 112, 115
AND 116 OF TITLE V,
AND 236, 237, AND 238
OF TITLE IX, AND
REPEALING
SECTIONS 113SD AND
114 OF TITLE V, ALL
OF THE NATIONAL
INTERNAL REVENUE
CODE, AS AMENDED
and Senate Bill No.
1630 entitled:
AN ACT
RESTRUCTURING THE
VALUE ADDED TAX
(VAT) SYSTEM TO
WIDEN ITS TAX BASE
AND ENHANCE ITS
ADMINISTRATION,
AMENDING FOR
THESE PURPOSES
SECTIONS 99, 100,
102, 103, 104, 1 106,
107, 108 AND 110 OF
TITLE IV, 112, 115, 117
AND 121 OF TITLE V,
ACND 236, 237, AND
238 OF TITLE IX, AND
REPEALING
SECTIONS 1113, 114,
116, 119 AND 120 OF
TITLE V, ALL OF THE
NATIONAL INTERNAL
REVENUE CODE, AS
AMENDED AND FOR
OTHER PURPOSES
having met, after full and
free conference, has
agreed to recommend
and do hereby
recommend to their
respective Houses that
House Bill No. 11197, in
consolidation with
Senate Bill No. 1630, be
approved in accordance
with the attached copy
of the bill as reconciled
and approved by the
conferees.
Approved.
The Report, it will be noted,
explicitly adverts to House
Bill No. 11197, it being in fact
mentioned ahead of Senate
Bill No. 1630; graphically
shows the very close identity
of the subjects of both bills
(indicated in their respective
titles); and clearly says that
the committee met in "full
and free conference" on the
"disagreeing provisions" of
both bills (obviously in an
effort to reconcile them); and
that reconciliation of said
"disagreeing provisions" had
been effected, the BCC
having agreed that "House
Bill No. 11197, in
consolidation with Senate Bill
No. 1630, be approved in
accordance with the
attached copy of the bill as
reconciled and approved by
the conferees."
It may be concluded, in other
words, that, conformably to
the procedure provided in
the Constitution with which
all the Members of the
bicameral conference
committee cannot but be
presumed to be familiar, and
no proof to the contrary
having been adduced on the
point, it was the original bill
(HB 11197) which said body
had considered and
deliberated on in detail,
reconciled or harmonized
with SB 1630, and used as
basis for drawing up the
amended version eventually
reported out and submitted
to both houses of Congress.
It is further contended that
the BCC was created and
convoked prematurely, that
SB 1630 should first have
been sent to the House of
Representatives for
concurrence It is maintained,
in other words, that the latter
chamber should have
refused the Senate request
for a bicameral conference
committee to reconcile the
"disagreeing provisions" of
both bills, and should have
required that SB 1630 be
first transmitted to it. This,
seemingly, is nit-picking
given the urgency of the
proposed legislation as
certified by the President (to
both houses, in fact). Time
was of the essence,
according to the President's
best judgment — as regards
which absolutely no one in
either chamber of Congress
took exception, general
acceptance being on the
contrary otherwise
manifested — and that
judgment the Court will not
now question. In light of that
urgency, what was so vital or
indispensable about such a
transmittal that its absence
would invalidate all else that
had been done towards
enactment of the law,
completely escapes me,
specially considering that the
House had immediately
acceded without demur to
the request for convocation
of the conference committee.
What has just been said
should dispose of the
argument that the statement
in the enrolled bill, that "This
Act which is a consolidation
of House Bill No. 11197 and
Senate Bill No. 11630 was
finally passed by the House
of Representatives and the
Senate on April 27, 1994 and
May 2, 1994," necessarily
signifies that there were two
(2) bills separately
introduced, retaining their
independent existence until
they reached the bicameral
conference committee where
they were consolidated, and
therefore, the VAT law did
not originate exclusively in
the House having originated
in part in the Senate as SB
1630, which bill was not
embodied in but merely
merged with HB 11197,
retaining its separate identity
until it was joined by the
BCC with the house
measure. The more logical,
and fairer, course is to
construe the expression,
"consolidation of House Bill
No. 11197 and Senate Bill
No. 11630" in the context of
accompanying and
contemporaneous
statements, i.e.: (a) the
declaration in the BCC
Report, supra, that the
committee met to reconcile
the disagreeing provisions of
the two bills, "and after full
and free conference" on the
matter, agreed and so
recommended that "House
Bill No. 11197, in
consolidation with Senate Bill
No. 1630, be approved in
accordance with the
attached copy of the bill as
reconciled and approved by
the conferees;" and (b) the
averment of Senator
Herrera, in the Report of the
Ways and Means
Committee, supra, that the
committee had actually
"considered" (discussed) HB
No. 11197 and taken it "into
consideration" in
recommending that its own
version of the measure (SB
1630) be the one approved.
That the Senate might have
drawn up its own version of
the expanded VAT bill,
contemporaneously with or
even before the House did,
is of no moment. It bears
repeating in this connection
that no VAT bill ever
originated in the Senate;
neither its SB 1129 or SB
1630 or any of its drafts was
ever officially transmitted to
the House as an initiating bill
which, as already pointed
out, is what the Constitution
forbids; it was HB 11197 that
was first sent to the Senate,
underwent first reading, was
referred to Committee on
Ways and Means and there
discussed in relation to and
in comparison with the
counterpart Senate version
or versions — the mere
formulation of which was, as
also already discussed, not
prohibited to it — and
afterwards considered by the
Senate itself, also in
connection with SB 1630, on
second and third readings.
HB 11197 was in the truest
sense, the originating bill.
An issue has also arisen
respecting the so-called
"enrolled bill doctrine" which,
it is said, whatever
sacrosanct status it might
originally have enjoyed, is
now in bad odor with modern
scholars on account of its
imputed rigidity and
unrealism; it being also
submitted that the ruling in
Mabanag v. Lopez Vito (78
Phil. 1) and the cases
reaffirming it, is no longer
good law, it being based on
a provision of the Code of
Civil Procedure 3 long since
stricken from the statute
books.
I would myself consider the
"enrolled bill" theory as
laying down a presumption
of so strong a character as to
be well nigh absolute or
conclusive, fully in accord
with the familiar and
fundamental philosophy of
separation of powers. The
result, as far as I am
concerned, is to make
discussion of the enrolled bill
principle purely academic;
for as already pointed out,
there is no proof worthy of
the name of any facts to
justify its reexamination and,
possibly, disregard.
The other question is, what
is the nature of the power
given to a bicameral
conference committee of
reconciling differences
between, or "disagreeing
provisions" in, a bill
originating from the House in
relation to amendments
proposed by the Senate —
whether as regards some or
all of its provisions? Is the
mode of reconciliation,
subject to fixed procedure
and guidelines? What
exactly can the committee
do, or not do? Can it only
clarify or revise provisions
found in either Senate or
House bill? Is it forbidden to
propose additional or new
provisions, even on matters
necessarily or reasonably
connected with or germane
to items in the bills being
reconciled?
In answer, it is postulated
that the reconciliation
function is quite limited. In
these cases, the conference
committee should have
confined itself to
reconciliation of differences
or inconsistencies only by (a)
restoring provisions of
HB11197 aliminated by SB
1630, or (b) sustaining
wholly or partly the Senate
amendments, or (c) as a
compromise, agreeing that
neither provisions nor
amendments be carried into
the final form of HB 11197
for submission to both
chambers of the legislature.
The trouble is, it is theorized,
the committee incorporated
activities or transactions
which were not within the
contemplation of both bills; it
made additions and
deletions which did not enjoy
the enlightenment of initial
committee studies; it
exercised what is known as
an "ex post veto power"
granted to it by no law, rule
or regulation, a power that in
truth is denied to it by the
rules of both the Senate and
the House. In substantiation,
the Senate rule is cited,
similar to that of the House,
providing that "differences
shall be settled by a
conference committee"
whose report shall contain
"detailed and sufficiently
explicit statement of the
changes in or amendments
to the subject measure, ** (to
be) signed by the conferees;"
as well as the "Jefferson's
Manual," adopted by the
Senate as supplement to its
own rules, directing that the
managers of the conference
must confine themselves to
differences submitted to
them; they may not include
subjects not within the
disagreements even though
germane to a question in
issue."
It is significant that the
limiting proviso in the
relevant rules has been
construed and applied as
directory, not mandatory.
During the oral argument,
counsel for petitioners
admitted that the practice for
decades has been for
bicameral conference
committees to include such
provisions in the reconciled
bill as they believed to be
germane or necessary and
acceptable to both
chambers, even if not within
any of the "disagreeing
provisions," and the
reconciled bills, containing
such provisions had
invariably been approved
and adopted by both houses
of Congress. It is a practice,
they say, that should be
stopped. But it is a practice
that establishes in no
uncertain manner the
prevailing concept in both
houses of Congress of the
permissible and acceptable
modes of reconciliation that
their conference committees
may adopt, one whose
undesirability is not all that
patent if not, indeed,
incapable of unquestionable
demonstration. The fact is
that conference committees
only take up bills which have
already been freely and fully
discussed in both chambers
of the legislature, but as to
which there is need of
reconciliation in view of
"disagreeing provisions"
between them; and both
chambers entrust the
function of reconciling the
bills to their delegates at a
conference committee with
full awareness, and tacit
consent, that conformably
with established practice
unquestioningly observed
over many years, new
provisions may be included
even if not within the
"disagreeing provisions" but
of which, together with other
changes, they will be given
detailed and sufficiently
explicit information prior to
voting on the conference
committee version.
In any event, a fairly recent
decision written for the Court
by Senior Associate Justice
Isagani A. Cruz, promulgated
on November 11, 1993 (G.R.
No. 105371, The Philippine
Judges Association, etc., et
al. v. Hon. Pete Prado, etc.,
et al.), should leave no doubt
of the continuing vitality of
the enrolled bill doctrine and
give an insight into the
nature of the reconciling
function of bicameral
conference committees. In
that case, a bilateral
conference committee was
constituted and met to
reconcile Senate Bill No. 720
and House Bill No. 4200. It
adopted a "reconciled"
measure that was submitted
to and approved by both
chambers of Congress and
ultimately signed into law by
the President, as R.A. No.
7354. A provision in this
statute (removing the
franking privilege from the
courts, among others) was
assailed as being an invalid
amendment because it was
not included in the original
version of either the senate
or the house bill and hence
had generated no
disagreement between them
which had to be reconciled.
The Court held:
While it is true that a
conference committee is
the mechanism for
compromising
differences between the
Senate and the House,
it is not limited in its
jurisdiction to this
question. Its broader
function is described
thus:
A conference committee
may deal generally with
the subject matter or it
may be limited to
resolving the precise
differences between the
two houses. Even where
the conference
committee is not by rule
limited in its jurisdiction,
legislative custom
severely limits the
freedom with which new
subject matter can be
inserted into the
conference bill. But
occasionally a
conference committee
produces unexpected
results, results beyond
its mandate. These
excursions occur even
where the rules impose
strict limitations on
conference committee
jurisdiction. This is
symptomatic of the
authoritarian power of
conference committee
(Davies, Legislative Law
and Process: In A
Nutshell, 1987 Ed., p.
81).
It is a matter of record
that the Conference
Committee Report on
the bill in question was
returned to and duly
approved by both the
Senate and the House
of Representatives.
Thereafter, the bill was
enrolled with its
certification by Senate
President Neptali A.
Gonzales and Speaker
Ramon V. Mitra of the
House of
Representatives as
having been duly
passed by both Houses
of Congress. It was then
presented to and
approved by President
Corazon C. Aquino on
April 3, 1992.
Under the doctrine of
separation of powers,
the Court may not
inquire beyond the
certification of the
approval of a bill from
the presiding officers of
Congress. Casco
Philippine Chemical Co.
v. Gimenez (7 SCRA
347) laid down the rule
that the enrolled bill is
conclusive upon the
Judiciary (except in
matters that have to be
entered in the journals
like the yeas and nays
on the final reading of
the bill) (Mabanag v.
Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1).
The journals are
themselves also binding
on the Supreme Court,
as we held in the old
(but still valid) case of
U.S. v. Pons (34 Phil.
729), where we
explained the reason
thus:
To inquire into the
veracity of the journals
of the Philippine
legislature when they
are, as we have said,
clear and explicit, would
be to violate both the
letter and spirit of the
organic laws by which
the Philippine
Government was
brought into existence,
to invade a coordinate
and independent
department of the
Government, and to
interfere with the
legitimate powers and
functions of the
Legislature. Applying
these principles, we
shall decline to look into
the petitioners' charges
that an amendment was
made upon the last
reading of the bill that
eventually R.A. No.
7354 and that copies
thereof in its final form
were not distributed
among the members of
each House. Both the
enrolled bill and the
legislative journals
certify that the measure
was duly enacted i.e., in
accordance with Article
VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the
Constitution. We are
bound by such official
assurances from a
coordinate department
of the government, to
which we owe, at the
very least, a becoming
courtesy.
Withal, an analysis of the
changes made by the
conference committee in HB
11197 and SB 1630 by way
of reconciling their
"disagreeing provisions," —
assailed by petitioners as
unauthorized or
incongrouous — reveals that
many of the changes related
to actual "disagreeing
provisions," and that those
that might perhaps be
considered as entirely new
are nevertheless necessarily
or logically connected with or
germane to particular
matters in the bills being
reconciled.
For instance, the change
made by the bicameral
conference committee (BCC)
concerning amendments to
Section 99 of the National
Internal Revenue Code
(NIRC) — the addition of
"lessors of goods or
properties and importers of
goods" — is really a
reconciliation of disagreeing
provisions, for while HB
11197 mentions as among
those subject to tax, "one
who sells, barters, or
exchanges goods or
properties and any person
who leases personal
properties," SB 1630 does
not. The change also merely
clarifies the provision by
providing that the
contemplated taxpayers
includes "importers." The
revision as regards the
amendment to Section 100,
NIRC, is also simple
reconciliation, being nothing
more than the adoption by
the BCC of the provision in
HB 11197 governing the sale
of gold to Bangko Sentral, in
contrast to SB 1630
containing no such provision.
Similarly, only simple
reconciliation was involved
as regards approval by the
BCC of a provision declaring
as not exempt, the sale of
real properties primarily held
for sale to customers or held
for lease in the ordinary
course of trade or business,
which provision is found in
HB 11197 but not in SB
1630; as regards the
adoption by the BCC of a
provision on life insurance
business, contained in SB
1630 but not found in HB
11197; as regards adoption
by the BCC of the provision
in SB 1630 for deferment of
tax on certain goods and
services for no longer than 3
years, as to which there was
no counterpart provision in
SB 11197; and as regards
the fixing of a period for the
adoption of implementing
rules, a period being
prescribed in SB 1630 and
none in HB 11197.
In respect of other revisions,
it would seem that questions
logically arose in the course
of the discussion of specific
"disagreeing provisions" to
which answers were given
which, because believed
acceptable to both houses of
Congress, were placed in the
BCC draft. For example,
during consideration of radio
and television time (Sec.
100, NIRC) dealt with in both
House and Senate bills, the
question apparently came
up, the relevance of which is
apparent on its face, relative
to satellite transmission and
cable television time. Hence,
a provision in the BCC bill on
the matter. Again, while
deliberating on the definition
of goods or properties in
relation to the provision
subjecting sales thereof to
tax, a question apparently
arose, logically relevant,
about real properties
intended to be sold by a
person in economic
difficulties, or because he
wishes to buy a car, i.e., not
as part of a business, the
BCC evidently resolved to
clarify the matter by
excluding from the tax, "real
properties held primarily for
sale to customers or held for
lease in the ordinary course
of business." And in the
course of consideration of
the term, sale or exchange of
services (Sec 102, NIRC),
the inquiry most probably
was posed as to whether the
term should be understood
as including other services:
e.g., services of lessors of
property whether real or
personal, of warehousemen,
of keepers of resthouses,
pension houses, inns,
resorts, or of common
carriers, etc., and
presumably the BCC
resolved to clarify the matter
by including the services just
mentioned. Surely, changes
of this nature are obviously
to be expected in
proceedings before
bicameral conference
committees and may even
be considered grist for their
mill, given the history of such
BCCs and their general
practice here and abroad
In any case, all the changes
and revisions, and deletions,
made by the conference
committee were all
subsequently considered by
and approved by both the
Senate and the House,
meeting and voting
separately. It is an
unacceptable theorization, to
repeat, that when the BCC
report and its proposed bill
were submitted to the
Senate and the House, the
members thereof did not
bother to read, or what is
worse, having read did not
understand, what was before
them, or did not realize that
there were new provisions in
the reconciled version
unrelated to any "disagreeing
provisions," or that said new
provisions or revisions were
effectively concealed from
them
Moreover, it certainly was
entirely within the power and
prerogative of either
legislative chamber to reject
the BCC bill and require the
organization of a new
bicameral conference
committee. That this option
was not exercised by either
house only proves that the
BCC measure was found to
be acceptable as in fact it
was approved and adopted
by both chambers.
I vote to DISMISS the
petitions for lack of merit.
PADILLA, J.:
I
The original VAT law and the
expanded VAT law
In Kapatiran v. Tan,1 where
the ponente was the writer of
this Separate Opinion, a
unanimous Supreme Court
en banc upheld the validity of
the original VAT law
(Executive Order No. 273,
approved on 25 July 1987). It
will, in my view, be pointless
at this time to re-open
arguments advanced in said
case as to why said VAT law
was invalid, and it will be
equally redundant to re-state
the principles laid down by
the Court in the same case
affirming the validity of the
VAT law as a tax measure.
And yet, the same
arguments are, in effect,
marshalled against the
merits and substance of the
expanded VAT law (Rep.
Act. No. 7716, approved on
5 May 1994). The same
Supreme Court decision
should therefore dispose, in
the main, of such arguments,
for the expanded VAT law is
predicated basically on the
same principles as the
original VAT law, except that
now the tax base of the VAT
imposition has been
expanded or broadened.
It only needs to be stated -
what actually should be
obvious - that a tax measure,
like the expanded VAT law
(Republic Act. No. 7716), is
enacted by Congress and
approved by the President in
the exercise of the State's
power to tax, which is an
attribute of sovereignty. And
while the power to tax, if
exercised without limit, is a
power to destroy, and
should, therefore, not be
allowed in such form, it has
to be equally recognized that
the power to tax is an
essential right of
government. Without taxes,
basic services to the people
can come to a halt;
economic progress will be
stunted, and, in the long run,
the people will suffer the
pains of stagnation and
retrogression.
Consequently, upon careful
deliberation, I have no
difficulty in reaching the
conclusion that the
expanded VAT law comes
within the legitimate power of
the state to tax. And as I had
occasion to previously state:
Constitutional Law, to
begin with, is concerned
with power not political
convenience, wisdom,
exigency, or even
necessity. Neither the
Executive nor the
legislative (Commission
on Appointments) can
create power where the
Constitution confers
none."2
Likewise, in the first VAT
case, I said:
In any event, if
petitioners seriously
believe that the adoption
and continued
application of the VAT
are prejudicial to the
general welfare or the
interests of the majority
of the people, they
should seek, recourse
and relief from the
political branches of the
government. The Court,
following the time-
honored doctrine of
separation of powers,
cannot substitute its
judgment for that of the
President (and
Congress) as to the
wisdom, justice and
advisability of the
adoption of the VAT. 3
This Court should not, as a
rule, concern itself with
questions of policy, much
less, economic policy. That
is better left to the two (2)
political branches of
government. That the
expanded VAT law is
unwise, unpopular and even
anti-poor, among other
things said against it, are
arguments and
considerations within the
realm of policy-debate, which
only Congress and the
Executive have the authority
to decisively confront,
alleviate, remedy and
resolve.
II
The procedure followed in
the approval of Rep. Act No.
7716
Petitioners however posit
that the present case raises
a far-reaching constitutional
question which the Court is
duty-bound to decide under
its expanded jurisdiction in
the 1987 Constitution.4
Petitioners more specifically
question and impugn the
manner by which the
expanded VAT law (Rep.
Act. No. 7716) was approved
by Congress. They contend
that it was approved in
violation of the Constitution
from which fact it follows, as
a consequence, that the law
is null and void. Main
reliance of the petitioners in
their assault in Section 24,
Art. VI of the Constitution
which provides:
Sec. 24. All
appropriation, revenue
or tariff bills, bills
authorizing increase of
the public debt, bill of
local application, and
private bills shall
originate exclusively in
the House of
Representatives, but the
Senate may propose or
concur with
amendments.
While it should be admitted
at the outset that there was
no rigorous and strict
adherence to the literal
command of the above
provision, it may however be
said, after careful reflection,
that there was substantial
compliance with the
provision.
There is no question that
House Bill No. 11197
expanding the VAT law
originated from the House of
Representatives. It is
undeniably a House
measure. On the other hand,
Senate Bill No. 1129, also
expanding the VAT law,
originated from the Senate. It
is undeniably a Senate
measure which, in point of
time, actually antedated
House Bill No. 11197.
But it is of record that when
House Bill No. 11197 was,
after approval by the House,
sent to the Senate, it was
referred to, and considered
by the Senate Committee on
Ways and Means (after first
reading) together with
Senate Bill No. 1129, and
the Committee came out with
Senate Bill No. 1630 in
substitution of Senate Bill
No. 1129 but after expressly
taking into consideration
House Bill No. 11197.
Since the Senate is, under
the above-quoted
constitutional provision,
empowered to concur with a
revenue measure exclusively
originating from the House,
or to propose amendments
thereto, to the extent of
proposing amendments by
SUBSTITUTION to the
House measure, the
approval by the Senate of
Senate Bill No. 1630, after it
had considered House Bill
No. 11197, may be taken, in
my view, as an
AMENDMENT BY
SUBSTITUTION by the
Senate not only of Senate
Bill No. 1129 but of House
Bill No. 11197 as well which,
it must be remembered,
originated exclusively from
the House.
But then, in recognition of
the fact that House Bill No.
11197 which originated
exclusively from the House
and Senate Bill No. 1630
contained conflicting
provisions, both bills (House
Bill No. 11197 and Senate
Bill No. 1630) were referred
to the Bicameral Conference
Committee for joint
consideration with a view to
reconciling their conflicting
provisions.
The Conference Committee
came out eventually with a
Conference Committee Bill
which was submitted to both
chambers of Congress (the
Senate and the House). The
Conference Committee
reported out a bill
consolidating provisions in
House Bill No. 11197 and
Senate Bill No. 1630. What
transpired in both chambers
after the Conference
Committee Report was
submitted to them is not
clear from the records in this
case. What is clear however
is that both chambers voted
separately on the bill
reported out by the
Conference Committee and
both chambers approved the
bill of the Conference
Committee.
To me then, what should
really be important is that
both chambers of Congress
approved the bill reported
out by the Conference
Committee. In my
considered view, the act of
both chambers of Congress
in approving the Conference
Committee bill, should put an
end to any inquiry by this
Court as to how the bill came
about. What is more, such
separate approvals CURED
whatever constitutional
infirmities may have arisen in
the procedures leading to
such approvals. For, if such
infirmities were serious
enough to impugn the very
validity of the measure itself,
there would have been an
objection or objections from
members of both chambers
to the approval. The Court
has been shown no such
objection on record in both
chambers.
Petitioners contend that
there were violations of Sec.
26 paragraph 2, Article VI of
the Constitution which
provides:
SEC. 26. ...
(2) No bill passed by
either House shall
become a law unless it
has passed three
readings on separate
days, and printed copies
thereof in its final form
have been distributed to
its Members three days
before its passage,
except when the
President certifies to the
necessity of its
immediate enactment to
meet a public calamity
or emergency. Upon the
last reading of a bill, no
amendment thereto
shall be allowed, and
the vote thereon shall be
taken immediately
thereafter, and the yeas
and nays entered in the
Journal.
in that, when Senate Bill No.
1630 (the Senate
counterpart of House Bill No.
11197) was approved by the
Senate, after it had been
reported out by the Senate
Committee on Ways and
Means, the bill went through
second and third readings on
the same day (not separate
days) and printed copies
thereof in its final form were
not distributed to the
members of the Senate at
least three (3) days before its
passage by the Senate. But
we are told by the
respondents that the reason
for this "short cut" was that
the President had certified to
the necessity of the bill's
immediate enactment to
meet an emergency - a
certification that, by leave of
the same constitutional
provision, dispensed with the
second and third readings on
separate days and the
printed form at least three (3)
days before its passage.
We have here then a
situation where the President
did certify to the necessity of
Senate Bill No. 1630's
immediate enactment to
meet an emergency and the
Senate responded
accordingly. While I would be
the last to say that this Court
cannot review the exercise of
such power by the President
in appropriate cases ripe for
judicial review, I am not
prepared however to say that
the President gravely abused
his discretion in the exercise
of such power as to require
that this Court overturn his
action. We have been shown
no fact or circumstance
which would impugn the
judgment of the President,
concurred in by the Senate,
that there was an emergency
that required the immediate
enactment of Senate Bill No.
1630. On the other hand, a
becoming respect for a co-
equal and coordinate
department of government
points that weight and
credibility be given to such
Presidential judgment.
The authority or power of the
Conference Committee to
make insertions in and
deletions from the bills
referred to it, namely, House
Bill No. 11197 and Senate
Bill No. 1630 is likewise
assailed by petitioners.
Again, what appears
important here is that both
chambers approved and
ratified the bill as reported
out by the Conference
Committee (with the reported
insertions and deletions).
This is perhaps attributable
to the known legislative
practice of allowing a
Conference Committee to
make insertions in and
deletions from bills referred
to it for consideration, as
long as they are germane to
the subject matter of the bills
under consideration.
Besides, when the
Conference Committee
made the insertions and
deletions complained of by
petitioners, was it not
actually performing the task
assigned to it of reconciling
conflicting provisions in
House Bill No. 11197 and
Senate Bill No. 1630?
This Court impliedly if not
expressly recognized the fact
of such legislative practice in
Philippine Judges
Association, etc. vs. Hon.
Peter Prado, etc., 5 In said
case, we stated thus:
The petitioners also
invoke Sec. 74 of the
Rules of the House of
Representatives,
requiring that
amendment to any bill
when the House and the
Senate shall have
differences thereon may
be settled by a
conference committee of
both chambers. They
stress that Sec. 35 was
never a subject of any
disagreement between
both Houses and so the
second paragraph could
not have been validly
added as an
amendment.
These arguments are
unacceptable.
While it is true that a
conference committee is
the mechanism for
compromising
differences between the
Senate and the House,
it is not limited in its
jurisdiction to this
question. Its broader
function is described
thus:
‘A conference
committee may deal
generally with the
subject matter or it may
be limited to resolving
the precise differences
between the two
houses. Even where the
conference committee is
not by rule limited in its
jurisdiction, legislative
custom severely limits
the freedom with which
new subject matter can
be inserted into the
conference bill. But
occasionally a
conference committee
produces unexpected
results, results beyond
its mandate. These
excursions occurs even
where the rules impose
strict limitations on
conference committee
jurisdiction. This is
symptomatic of the
authoritarian power of
conference committee
(Davies, Legislative Law
and Process: In A
Nutshell, 1986 Ed., p.
81).’
It is a matter of record
that the Conference
Committee Report on
the bill in question was
returned to and duly
approved by both the
Senate and the House
of Representatives.
Thereafter, the bill was
enrolled with its
certification by Senate
President Neptali A.
Gonzales and Speaker
Ramon V. Mitra of the
House of
Representatives as
having been duly
passed by both Houses
of Congress. It was then
presented to and
approved by President
Corazon C. Aquino on
April 3, 1992.
It would seem that if
corrective measures are in
order to clip the powers of
the Conference Committee,
the remedy should come
from either or both chambers
of Congress, not from this
Court, under the time-
honored doctrine of
separation of powers.
Finally, as certified by the
Secretary of the Senate and
the Secretary General of the
House of Representatives -
This Act (Rep. Act No.
7716) is a consolidation
of House Bill No. 11197
and Senate Bill No.
1630 (w)as finally
passed by the House of
Representatives and the
Senate on April 27,
1994 and May 2, 1994
respectively.
Under the long-accepted
doctrine of the "enrolled bill,"
the Court in deference to a
co-equal and coordinate
branch of government is held
to a recognition of Rep. Act
No. 7716 as a law validly
enacted by Congress and,
thereafter, approved by the
President on 5 May 1994.
Again, we quote from out
recent decision in Philippine
Judges Association, supra:
Under the doctrine of
separation of powers,
the Court may not
inquire beyond the
certification of the
approval of a bill from
the presiding officers of
Congress. Casco
Philippine Chemical Co.
v. Gimenez laid down
the rule that the enrolled
bill is conclusive upon
the Judiciary (except in
matters that have to be
entered in the journals
like the yeas and nays
on the finally reading of
the bill). The journals
are themselves also
binding on the Supreme
Court, as we held in the
old (but still valid) case
of U.S. vs. Pons,8
where we explained the
reason thus:
‘To inquire into the
veracity of the journals
of the Philippine
legislature when they
are, as we have said,
clear and explicit, would
be to violate both the
letter and spirit of the
organic laws by which
the Philippine
Government was
brought into existence,
to invade a coordinate
and independent
department of the
Government, and to
interfere with the
legitimate powers and
functions of the
Legislature.’
Applying these
principles, we shall
decline to look into the
petitioners' charges that
an amendment was
made upon the last
reading of the bill that
eventually became R.A.
No. 7354 and that
copies thereof in its final
form were not
distributed among the
members of each
House. Both the
enrolled bill and the
legislative journals
certify that the measure
was duly enacted i.e., in
accordance with Article
VI, Sec. 26(2) of the
Constitution. We are
bound by such official
assurances from a
coordinate department
of the government, to
which we owe, at the
very least, a becoming
courtesy.
III
Press Freedom and
Religious Freedom and Rep.
Act No. 7716
The validity of the passage
of Rep. Act No. 7716
notwithstanding, certain
provisions of the law have to
be examined separately and
carefully.
Rep. Act. No. 7716 in
imposing a value-added tax
on circulation income of
newspapers and similar
publications and on income
derived from publishing
advertisements in
newspapers 9, to my mind,
violates Sec. 4, Art. III of the
Constitution. Indeed, even
the Executive Department
has tried to cure this defect
by the issuance of the BIR
Regulation No. 11-94
precluding implementation of
the tax in this area. It should
be clear, however, that the
BIR regulation cannot amend
the law (Rep. Act No. 7716).
Only legislation (as
distinguished from
administration regulation)
can amend an existing law.
Freedom of the press was
virtually unknown in the
Philippines before 1900. In
fact, a prime cause of the
revolution against Spain at
the turn of the 19th century
was the repression of the
freedom of speech and
expression and of the press.
No less than our national
hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, in
"Filipinas Despues de Cien
Anos" (The Philippines a
Century Hence) describing
the reforms sine quibus non
which the Filipinos were
insisting upon, stated: "The
minister ... who wants his
reforms to be reforms, must
begin by declaring the press
in the Philippines free ... ". 10
Press freedom in the
Philippines has met
repressions, most notable of
which was the closure of
almost all forms of existing
mass media upon the
imposition of martial law on
21 September 1972.
Section 4, Art. III of the
Constitution maybe traced to
the United States Federal
Constitution. The guarantee
of freedom of expression
was planted in the
Philippines by President
McKinley in the Magna Carta
of Philippine Liberty,
Instructions to the Second
Philippine Commission on 7
April 1900.
The present constitutional
provision which reads:
Sec. 4 No law shall be
passed abridging the
freedom of speech, of
expression, or of the
press, or the right of the
people peaceably to
assemble and petition
the government for
redress of grievances.
is essentially the same as
that guaranteed in the U.S.
Federal Constitution, for
which reason, American
case law giving judicial
expression as to its meaning
is highly persuasive in the
Philippines.
The plain words of the
provision reveal the clear
intention that no prior
restraint can be imposed on
the exercise of free speech
and expression if they are to
remain effective and
meaningful.
The U.S. Supreme Court in
the leading case of Grosjean
v. American Press Co. Inc @=. 11
declared a statute imposing a gross receipts license tax of 2% on circulation and advertising income of newspaper publishers as constituting
a prior restraint which is contrary to the guarantee of freedom of the press.

In Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan 12, the U.S. Supreme Court stated: "Any system of prior restraint of expression comes to this Court bearing
a heavy presumption against its constitutionality."

In this jurisdiction, prior restraint on the exercise of free expression can be justified only on the ground that there is a clear and present
danger of a substantive evil which the State has the right to prevent 13.

In the present case, the tax imposed on circulation and advertising income of newspaper publishers is in the nature of a prior restraint on
circulation and free expression and, absent a clear showing that the requisite for prior restraint is present, the constitutional flaw in the law is
at once apparent and should not be allowed to proliferate.

Similarly, the imposition of the VAT on the sale and distribution of religious articles must be struck down for being contrary to Sec. 5, Art. III of
the Constitution which provides:

Sec. 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free
exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be
allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

That such a tax on the sale and distribution of religious articles is unconstitutional, has been long settled in American Bible Society, supra.

Insofar, therefore, as Rep. Act No. 7716 imposes a value-added tax on the exercise of the above- discussed two (2) basic constitutional
rights, Rep. Act No. 7716 should be declared unconstitutional and of no legal force and effect.

IV

Petitions of CREBA and PAL and Rep. Act No. 7716

The Chamber of Real Estate and Builder's Association, Inc. (CREBA) filed its own petition (GR No. 11574) arguing that the provisions of
Rep. Act No. 7716 imposing a 10% value-added tax on the gross selling price or gross value in money of every sale, barter or exchange of
goods or properties (Section 2) and a 10% value-added tax on gross receipts derived from the sale or exchange of services, including the
use or lease of properties (Section 3), violate the equal protection, due process and non-impairment provisions of the Constitution as well as
the rule that taxation should be uniform, equitable and progressive.

The issue of whether or not the value-added tax is uniform, equitable and progressive has been settled in Kapatiran.

CREBA which specifically assails the 10% value-added tax on the gross selling price of real properties, fails to distinguish between a sale of
real properties primarily held for sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business and isolated sales by
individual real property owners (Sec. 103[s]). That those engaged in the business of real estate development realize great profits is of
common knowledge and need not be discussed at length here. The qualification in the law that the 10% VAT covers only sales of real
property primarily held for sale to customers, i.e. for trade or business thus takes into consideration a taxpayer's capacity to pay. There is no
showing that the consequent distinction in real estate sales is arbitrary and in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The
inherent power to tax of the State, which is vested in the legislature, includes the power to determine whom or what to tax, as well as how
much to tax. In the abseence o f a clear showing that the tax violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution, this
Court, in keeping with the doctrine of separation of powers, has to defer to the discretion and judgment of Congress on this point.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) in a separate petition (G.R. No. 115852) claims that its franchise under PD No. 1590 which makes it liable for a
franchise tax of only 2% of gross revenues "in lieu of all the other fees and charges of any kind, nature or description, imposed, levied,
established, assessed or collected by any municipal, city, provincial, or national authority or government agency, now or in the future," cannot
be amended by Rep. Act No. 7716 as to make it (PAL) liable for a 10% value-added tax on revenues, because Sec. 24 of PD No. 1590
provides that PAL's franchise can only be amended, modified or repealed by a special law specifically for that purpose.
The validity of PAL's above argument can be tested by ascertaining the true intention of Congress in enacting Rep. Act No. 7716. Sec. 4
thereof dealing with Exempt Transactions states:

Section 103. Exempt Transactions. - The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:

xxx xxx xxx

(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws, except those granted under Presidential Decrees No. 66, 529,
972, 1491, 1590, ... " (Italics supplied)

The repealing clause of Rep. Act No. 7716 further reads:

Sec. 20. Repealing clauses. - The provisions of any special law relative to the rate of franchise taxes are hereby
expressly repealed.

xxx xxx xxx

All other laws, orders, issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed,
amended or modified accordingly (italics supplied)

There can be no dispute, in my mind, that the clear intent of Congress was to modify PAL's franchise with respect to the taxes it has to pay.
To this extent, Rep. Act No. 7716 can be considered as a special law amending PAL's franchise and its tax liability thereunder. That Rep.
Act. No. 7716 imposes the value-added taxes on other subjects does not make it a general law which cannot amend PD No. 1590.

To sum up: it is my considered view that Rep. Act No. 7716 (the expanded value-added tax) is a valid law, viewed from both substantive and
procedural standards, except only insofar as it violates Secs. 4 and 5, Art. III of the Constitution (the guarantees of freedom of expression
and the free exercise of religion). To that extent, it is, in its present form, unconstitutional.

I, therefore, vote to DISMISS the petitions, subject to the above qualification.

VITUG, J.:

Lest we be lost by a quagmire of trifles, the real threshold and prejudicial issue, to my mind, is whether or not this Court is ready to assume
and to take upon itself with an overriding authority the owesome responsibility of overseeing the entire bureaucracy. Far from it, ours is
merely to construe and to apply the law regardless of its wisdom and salutariness, and to strike it down only when it clearly disregards
constitutional proscriptions. It is what the fundamental law mandates, and it is what the Court must do. I cannot yet concede to the novel
theory, so challengingly provocative as it might be, that under the 1987 Constitution the Court may now at good liberty intrude, in the guise of
the people's imprimatur, into every affair of the government. What significance can still then remain, I ask, of the time honored and widely
acclaimed principle of separation of powers, if at every turn the Court allows itself to pass upon, at will, the disposition of a co-equal,
independent and coordinate branch in our system of government. I dread to think of the so varied uncertainties that such an undue
interference can lead to. The respect for long standing doctrines in our jurisprudence, a nourished through time, is one of maturity not
timidity, of stability rather than quiescence.

It has never occurred to me, and neither do I believe it has been intended, that judicial tyranny is envisioned, let alone institutionalized, by our
people in the 1987 Constitution. The test of tyranny is not solely on how it is wielded but on how, in the first place, it can be capable of being
exercised. It is time that any such perception of judicial omnipotence is corrected.

Against all that has been said, I see, in actuality in these cases at bench, neither a constitutional infringement of substance, judging from
precedents already laid down by this Court in previous cases, nor a justiciability even now of the issues raised, more than an attempt to sadly
highlight the perceived shortcomings in the procedural enactment of laws, a matter which is internal to Congress and an area that is best left
to its own basic concern. The fact of the matter is that the legislative enactment, in its final form, has received the ultimate approval of both
houses of Congress. The finest rhetoric, indeed fashionable in the early part of this closing century, would still be a poor substitute for
tangibility. I join, nonetheless, some of my colleagues in respectfully inviting the kind attention of the honorable members of our Congress in
the suggested circumspect observance of their own rules.

A final remark. I should like to make it clear that this opinion does not necessarily foreclose the right, peculiar to any taxpayer adversely
affected, to pursue at the proper time, in appropriate proceedings, and in proper for a, the specific remedies prescribed therefor by the
National Internal Revenue Code, Republic Act 1125, and other laws, as well as rules of procedure, such as may be pertinent. Some petitions
filed with this Court are, in essence, although styled differently, in the nature of declaratory relief over which this Court is bereft of original
jurisdiction.

All considered, I, therefore, join my colleagues who are voting for the dismissal of the petitions.
CRUZ, J.:

It is a curious and almost incredible fact that at the hearing of these cases on July 7, 1994, the lawyers who argued for the petitioners - two of
them former presidents of the Senate and the third also a member of that body - all asked this Court to look into the internal operations of
their Chamber and correct the irregularities they claimed had been committed there as well as in the House of Representatives and in the
bicameral conference committee.

While a member of the legislative would normally resist such intervention and invoke the doctrine of separation of powers to protect
Congress from what he would call judicial intrusion, these counsel practically implored the Court to examine the questioned proceedings and
to this end go beyond the journals of each House, scrutinize the minutes of the committee, and investigate all other matters relating to the
passage of the bill (or bills) that eventually became R.A. No. 7716.

In effect, the petitioners would have us disregard the time-honored inhibitions laid down by the Court upon itself in the landmark case of U.S.
v. Pons (34 Phil. 725), where it refused to consider extraneous evidence to disprove the recitals in the journals of the Philippine Legislature
that it had adjourned sine die at midnight of February 28, 1914. Although it was generally known then that the special session had actually
exceeded the deadline fixed by the Governor-General in his proclamation, the Court chose to be guided solely by the legislative journals,
holding significantly as follows:

... From their very nature and object, the records of the legislature are as important as those of the judiciary, and to
inquire into the veracity of the journals of the Philippine Legislature, when they are, as we have said, clear and explicit,
would be to violate both the letter and the spirit of the organic laws by which the Philippine Government was brought
into existence, to invade a coordinate and independent department of the Government, and to interfere with the
legitimate powers and functions of the Legislature. But counsel in his argument says that the public knows that the
Assembly's clock was stopped on February 28, 1914, at midnight and left so until the determination of the discussion of
all pending matters. Or, in other words, the hands of the clock were stayed in order to enable the Assembly to effect an
adjournment apparently within the fixed time by the Governor's proclamation for the expiration of the special session, in
direct violation of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902. If the clock was, in fact, stopped, as here suggested, "the
resultant evil might be slight as compared with that of altering the probative force and character of legislative records,
and making the proof of legislative action depend upon uncertain oral evidence, liable to loss by death or absence, and
so imperfect on account of the treachery of memory.

... The journals say that the Legislature adjourned at 12 midnight on February 28, 1914. This settles the question, and
the court did not err in declining to go beyond the journals.

As one who has always respected the rationale of the separation of powers, I realize only too well the serious implications of the relaxation of
the doctrine except only for the weightiest of reasons. The lowering of the barriers now dividing the three major branches of the government
could lead to individious incursions by one department into the exclusive domains of the other departments to the detriment of the proper
discharge of the functions assigned to each of them by the Constitution.

Still, while acknowledging the value of tradition and the reasons for judicial non-interference announced in Pons, I am not disinclined to take
a second look at the ruling from a more pragmatic viewpoint and to tear down, if we must, the iron curtain it has hung, perhaps improvidently,
around the proceedings of the legislature.

I am persuaded even now that where a specific procedure is fixed by the Constitution itself, it should not suffice for Congress to simply say
that the rules have been observed and flatly consider the matter closed. It does not have to be as final as that. I would imagine that the
judiciary, and particularly this Court, should be able to verify that statement and determine for itself, through the exercise of its own powers, if
the Constitution has, indeed, been obeyed.

In fact, the Court had already said that the question of whether certain procedural rules have been followed is justiciable rather than political
because what is involved is the legality and not the wisdom of the act in question. So we ruled in Sanidad v. Commission on Elections (73
SCRA 333) on the amendment of the Constitution; in Daza v. Singson (180 SCRA 496) on the composition of the Commission on
Appointments; and in the earlier case of Tañada v. Cuenco (100 SCRA 1101) on the organization of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, among
several other cases.

By the same token, the ascertainment of whether a bill underwent the obligatory three readings in both Houses of Congress should not be
considered an invasion of the territory of the legislature as this would not involve an inquiry into its discretion in approving the measure but
only the manner in which the measure was enacted.

These views may upset the conservatives among us who are most comfortable when they allow themselves to be petrified by precedents
instead of venturing into uncharted waters. To be sure, there is much to be said of the wisdom of the past expressed by vanished judges
talking to the future. Via trita est tuttisima. Except when there is a need to revise them because of an altered situation or an emergent idea,
precedents should tell us that, indeed, the trodden path is the safest path.

It could be that the altered situation has arrived to welcome the emergent idea. The jurisdiction of this Court has been expanded by the
Constitution, to possibly include the review the petitioners would have us make of the congressional proceedings being questioned. Perhaps
it is also time to declare that the activities of Congress can no longer be smoke-screened in the inviolate recitals of its journals to prevent
examination of its sacrosanct records in the name of the separation of powers.

But then again, perhaps all this is not yet necessary at this time and all these observations are but wishful musings for a more activist
judiciary. For I find that this is not even necessary, at least for me, to leave the trodden path in the search for new adventures in the byways
of the law. The answer we seek, as I see it, is not far afield It seems to me that it can be found through a study of the enrolled bill alone and
that we do not have to go beyond that measure to ascertain if R.A. No. 7716 has been validly enacted.

It is settled in this jurisdiction that in case of conflict between the enrolled bill and the legislative journals, it is the former that should prevail
except only as to matters that the Constitution requires to be entered in the journals. (Mabanag v. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1). These are the yeas
and nays on the final reading of a bill or on any question at the request of at least one-fifth of the member of the House (Constitution, Art. VI,
Sec. 16[4]), the objections of the President to a vetoed bill or item (Ibid, Sec. 27 [1]), and the names of the members voting for or against the
overriding of his veto (Id. Section 27 [1]), The original of a bill is not specifically required by the Constitution to be entered in the journals.
Hence, on this particular manner, it is the recitals in the enrolled bill and not in the journals that must control.

Article VI, Section 24, of the Constitution provides:

Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application,
and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with
amendments.

The enrolled bill submitted to and later approved by the President of the Philippines as R.A. No. 7716 was signed by the President of the
Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It carried the following certification over the signatures of the Secretary of the
Senate and the Acting Secretary of the House of Representatives:

This Act which is a consolidation of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 11630 was finally passed by the House of
Representative and the Senate on April 27, 1994, and May 2, 1994.

Let us turn to Webster for the meaning of certain words,

To "originate" is "to bring into being; to create something (original); to invent; to begin; start." The word "exclusively" means "excluding all
others" and is derived from the word "exclusive," meaning "not shared or divided; sole; single." Applying these meanings, I would read
Section 24 as saying that the bills mentioned therein must be brought into being, or created, or invented, or begun or started, only or singly or
by no other body than the house of Representatives.

According to the certification, R.A. No. 7716 "is a consolidation of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630." Again giving the words
used their natural and ordinary sense conformably to an accepted canon of construction, I would read the word "consolidation" as a
"combination or merger" and derived from the word "consolidated," meaning "to combine into one; merge; unite."

The two bills were separately introduced in their respective Chambers. Both retained their independent existence until they reached the
bicameral conference committee where they were consolidated. It was this consolidated measure that was finally passed by Congress and
submitted to the President of the Philippines for his approval.

House Bill No. 11197 originated in the House of Representatives but this was not the bill that eventually became R.A. No. 7716. The
measure that was signed into law by President Ramos was the consolidation of that bill and another bill, viz., Senate Bill No. 1630, which
was introduced in the Senate. The resultant enrolled bill thus did not originate exclusively in the House of Representatives. The enrolled bill
itself says that part of it (and it does not matter to what extent) originated in the Senate.

It would have been different if the only participation of the Senate was in the amendment of the measure that was originally proposed in the
House of Representatives. But this was not the case. The participation of the Senate was not in proposing or concurring with amendments
that would have been incorporated in House Bill No. 11197. Its participation was in originating its own Senate Bill No. 1630, which was not
embodied in but merged with House Bill No. 11197.

Senate Bill No. 1630 was not even an amendment by substitution, assuming this was permissible. To "substitute" means "to take the place
of; to put or use in place of another." Senate Bill No. 1630 did not, upon its approval replace (and thus eliminate) House Bill No. 11197. Both
bills retained their separate identities until they were joined or united into what became the enrolled bill and ultimately R.A. No. 7716.

The certification in the enrolled bill says it all. It is clear that R.A. No. 7716 did not originate exclusively in the House of Representatives.

To go back to my earlier observations, this conclusion does not require the reversal of U.S. vs. Pons and an inquiry by this Court into the
proceedings of the legislature beyond the recitals of its journals. All we need to do is consider the certification in the enrolled bill and, without
entering the precincts of Congress, declare that by this own admission it has, indeed, not complied with the Constitution.
While this Court respects the prerogatives of the other departments, it will not hesitate to rise to its higher duty to require from them, if they
go astray, full and strict compliance with the fundamental law. Our fidelity to it must be total. There is no loftier principle in our democracy
than the supremacy of the Constitution, to which all must submit.

I vote to invalidate R.A. No. 7716 for violation of Article VI, Sec. 24, of the Constitution.

REGALADO, J.:

It would seem like an inconceivable irony that Republic Act No. 7716 which, so respondents claim, was conceived by the collective wisdom
of a bicameral Congress and crafted with sedulous care by two branches of government should now be embroiled in challenges to its validity
for having been enacted in disregard of mandatory prescriptions of the Constitution itself. Indeed, such impugnment by petitioners goes
beyond merely the procedural flaws in the parturition of the law. Creating and regulating as it does definite rights to property, but with its own
passage having been violative of explicit provisions of the organic law, even without going into the intrinsic merits of the provisions of
Republic Act No. 7716 its substantive invalidity is pro facto necessarily entailed.

How it was legislated into its present statutory existence is not in serious dispute and need not detain us except for a recital of some salient
and relevant facts. The House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 11197 1 on third reading on November 17, 1993 and, the following
day, It transmitted the same to the Senate for concurrence. On its part, the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 1630 on second and third
readings on March 24, 1994. It is important to note in this regard that on March 22, 1994, said S.B. No. 1630 had been certified by President
Fidel V. Ramos for immediate enactment to meet a public emergency, that is, a growing budgetary deficit. There was no such certification for
H.B. No. 11197 although it was the initiating revenue bill.

It is, therefore, not only a curious fact but, more importantly, an invalid procedure since that Presidential certification was erroneously made
for and confined to S.B. No. 1630 which was indisputably a tax bill and, under the Constitution, could not validly originate in the Senate.
Whatever is claimed in favor of S.B. No. 1630 under the blessings of that certification, such as its alleged exemption from the three separate
readings requirement, is accordingly negated and rendered inutile by the inefficacious nature of said certification as it could lawfully have
been issued only for a revenue measure originating exclusively from the lower House. To hold otherwise would be to validate a Presidential
certification of a bill initiated in the Senate despite the Constitutional prohibition against its originating therefrom.

Equally of serious significance is the fact that S.B. No. 1630 was reported out in Committee Report No. 349 submitted to the Senate on
February 7, 1994 and approved by that body "in substitution of S.B. No. 1129," while merely "taking into consideration P.S. No. 734 and H.B.
No. 11197." 2 S.B. No. 1630, therefore, was never filed in substitution of either P.S. No. 734 or, more emphatically, of H.B. No. 11197 as
these two legislative issuances were merely taken account of, at the most, as referential bases or materials.

This is not a play on misdirection for, in the first instance, the respondents assure us that H.B. No. 11197 was actually the sole source of and
started the whole legislative process which culminated in Republic Act No. 7716. The participation of the Senate in enacting S.B. No. 1630
was, it is claimed, justified as it was merely in pursuance of its power to concur in or propose amendments to H.B. No. 11197. Citing the 83-
year old case of Flint vs. Stone Tracy Co., 3 it is blithely announced that such power to amend includes an amendment by substitution, that
is, even the extent of substituting the entire H.B. No. 11197 by an altogether completely new measure of Senate provenance. Ergo, so the
justification goes, the Senate acted perfectly in accordance with its amending power under Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution since it
merely proposed amendments through a bill allegedly prepared in advance.

This is a mode of argumentation which, by reason of factual inaccuracy and logical implausibility, both astounds and confounds. For, it is of
official record that S.B. No. 1630 was filed, certified and enacted in substitution of S.B. No. 1129 which in itself was likewise in derogation of
the Constitutional prohibition against such initiation of a tax bill in the Senate. In any event, S.B. No. 1630 was neither intended as a bill to be
adopted by the Senate nor to be referred to the bicameral conference committee as a substitute for H.B. No. 11197. These indelible facts
appearing in official documents cannot be erased by any amount of strained convolutions or incredible pretensions that S.B. No. 1630 was
supposedly enacted in anticipation of H.B. No. 11197.

On that score alone, the invocation by the Solicitor General of the hoary concept of amendment by substitution falls flat on its face. Worse,
his concomitant citation of Flint to recover from that prone position only succeeded in turning the same postulation over, this time supinely flat
on its back. As elsewhere noted by some colleagues, which I will just refers to briefly to avoid duplication, respondents initially sought
sanctuary in that doctrine supposedly laid down in Flint, thus: "It has, in fact, been held that the substitution of an entirely new measure for
the one originally proposed can be supported as a valid amendment." 4 (Italics supplied.) During the interpellation by the writer at the oral
argument held in these cases, the attention of the Solicitor General was called to the fact that the amendment in Flint consisted only of a
single item, that its, the substitution of a corporate tax for an inheritance tax proposed in a general revenue bill; and that the text of the
decision therein nowhere contained the supposed doctrines he quoted and ascribed to the court, as those were merely summations of
arguments of counsel therein. It is indeed a source of disappointment for us, but an admission of desperation on his part, that, instead of
making a clarification or a defense of his contention, the Solicitor General merely reproduced all over again 5 the same quotations as they
appeared in his original consolidated comment, without venturing any explanation or justification.

The aforestated dissemblance, thus unmasked, has further undesirable implications on the contentions advanced by respondents in their
defense. For, even indulging respondents ex gratia argumenti in their pretension that S.B. No. 1630 substituted or replaced H.B. No. 11197,
aside from muddling the issue of the true origination of the disputed law, this would further enmesh respondents in a hopeless contradiction.
In a publication authorized by the Senate and from which the Solicitor General has liberally quoted, it is reported as an accepted rule therein
that "(a)n amendment by substitution when approved takes the place of the principal bill. C.R. March 19, 1963." 6 Stated elsewise, the
principal bill is supplanted and goes out of actuality. Applied to the present situation, and following respondents' submission that H.B. No.
11197 had been substituted or replaced in its entirety, then in law it had no further existence for purposes of the subsequent stages of
legislation except, possibly, for referential data.

Now, the enrolled bill thereafter submitted to the President of the Philippines, signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the
House of Representatives, carried this solemn certification over the signatures of the respective secretaries of both chambers: "This Act
which is a consolidation of House Bill No. 11197 and Senate Bill No. 1630 was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the
Senate on April 27, 1994, and May 2, 1994." (Italics mine.) In reliance thereon, the Chief Executive signed the same into law as Republic Act
No. 7716.

The confusion to which the writer has already confessed is now compounded by that official text of the aforequoted certification which
speaks, and this cannot be a mere lapsus calami, of two independent and existing bills (one of them being H.B. No. 11197) which were
consolidated to produce the enrolled bill. In parliamentary usage, to consolidate two bills, is to unite them into one 7 and which, in the case at
bar, necessarily assumes that H.B. No. 11197 never became legally inexistent. But did not the Solicitor General, under the theory of
amendment by substitution of the entire H.B. No. 11197 by S.B. No. 1630, thereby premise the same upon the replacement, hence the total
elimination from the legislative process, of H.B. 11197?

It results, therefore, that to prove compliance with the requirement for the exclusive origination of H.B. No. 11197, two alternative but
inconsistent theories had to be espoused and defended by respondents' counsel. To justify the introduction and passage of S.B. No. 1630 in
the Senate, it was supposedly enacted only as an amendment by substitution, hence on that theory H.B. No. 11197 had to be considered as
displaced and terminated from its role or existence. Yet, likewise for the same purpose but this time on the theory of origination by
consolidation, H.B. No. 11197 had to be resuscitated so it could be united or merged with S.B. No. 1630. This latter alternative theory,
unfortunately, also exacerbates the constitutional defect for then it is an admission of a dual origination of the two tax bills, each respectively
initiated in and coming from the lower and upper chambers of Congress.

Parenthetically, it was also this writer who pointedly brought this baffling situation to the attention of the Solicitor General during the aforesaid
oral argument, to the extent of reading aloud the certification in full. We had hoped thereby to be clarified on these vital issue in respondents'
projected memorandum, but we have not been favored with an explanation unraveling this delimma. Verily, by passing sub silentio on these
intriguing submissions, respondents have wreaked havoc on both logic and law just to gloss over their non-compliance with the
Constitutional mandate for exclusive origination of a revenue bill. The procedure required therefor, we emphatically add, can be satisfied only
by complete and strict compliance since this is laid down by the Constitution itself and not by a mere statute.

This writer consequently agrees with the clearly tenable proposition of petitioners that when the Senate passed and approved S.B. No. 1630,
had it certified by the Chief Executive, and thereafter caused its consideration by the bicameral conference committee in total substitution of
H.B. No. 11197, it clearly and deliberately violated the requirements of the Constitution not only in the origination of the bill but in the very
enactment of Republic Act No. 7716. Contrarily, the shifting sands of inconsistency in the arguments adduced for respondents betray such
lack of intellectual rectitude as to give the impression of being mere rhetorics in defense of the indefensible.

We are told, however, that by our discoursing on the foregoing issues we are introducing into non-justiciable areas long declared verboten by
such time-honored doctrines as those on political questions, the enrolled bill theory and the respect due to two co-equal and coordinate
branches of Government, all derived from the separation of powers inherent in republicanism. We appreciate the lectures, but we are not
exactly unaware of the teachings in U.S. vs. Pons, 8 Mabanag, vs. Lopez Vito, 9 Casco Philippine Chemical Co.,. vs. Gimenez, etc., et al.,
10 Morals vs. Subido, etc., 11 and Philippine Judges Association, etc., et al. vs. Prado, etc., et al., 12 on the one hand, and Tañada, et al. vs.
Cuenco, et al., 13 Sanidad, et al., vs. Commission on Elections, et al., 14 and Daza vs. Singson, et al., 15 on the other, to know which would
be applicable to the present controversy and which should be rejected.

But, first, a positional exordium. The writer of this opinion would be among the first to acknowledge and enjoin not only courtesy to, but
respect for, the official acts of the Executive and Legislative departments, but only so long as the same are in accordance with or are
defensible under the fundamental charter and the statutory law. He would readily be numbered in the ranks of those who would preach a
reasoned sermon on the separation of powers, but with the qualification that the same are not contained in tripartite compartments separated
by empermeable membranes. He also ascribes to the general validity of American constitutional doctrines as a matter of historical and legal
necessity, but not to the extent of being oblivious to political changes or unmindful of the fallacy of undue generalization arising from myopic
disregard of the factual setting of each particular case.

These ruminations have likewise been articulated and dissected by my colleagues, hence it is felt that the only issue which must be set aright
in this dissenting opinion is the so-called enrolled bill doctrine to which we are urged to cling with reptilian tenacity. It will be preliminarily
noted that the official certification appearing right on the face of Republic Act No. 7716 would even render unnecessary any further judicial
inquiry into the proceedings which transpired in the two legislative chambers and, on a parody of tricameralism, in the bicameral conference
committee. Moreover, we have the excellent dissertations of some of my colleagues on these matters, but respondents insist en contra that
the congressional proceedings cannot properly be inquired into by this Court. Such objection confirms a suppressive pattern aimed at
sacrificing the rule of law to the fiat of expediency.

Respondents thus emplaced on their battlements the pronouncement of this Court in the aforecited case of Philippine Judges Association vs.
Prado. 16 Their reliance thereon falls into the same error committed by their seeking refuge in the Flint case, ante. which, as has earlier been
demonstrated (aside from the quotational misrepresentation), could not be on par with the factual situation in the present case. Flint, to
repeat, involved a mere amendment on a single legislative item, that is, substituting the proposal therein of an inheritance tax by one on
corporate tax. Now, in their submission based on Philippine Judges Association, respondents studiously avoid mention of the fact that the
questioned insertion referred likewise to a single item, that is, the repeal of the franking privilege thretofore granted to the judiciary. That both
cases cannot be equated with those at bar, considering the multitude of items challenged and the plethora of constitutional violations
involved, is too obvious to belabor. Legal advocacy and judicial adjudication must have a becoming sense of qualitative proportion, instead of
lapsing into the discredited and maligned practice of yielding blind adherence to precedents.

The writer unqualifiedly affirms his respect for valid official acts of the two branches of government and eschews any unnecessary intrusion
into their operational management and internal affairs. These, without doubt, are matters traditionally protected by the republican principle of
separation of powers. Where, however, there is an overriding necessity for judicial intervention in light of the pervasive magnitude of the
problems presented and the gravity of the constitutional violations alleged, but this Court cannot perform its constitutional duty expressed in
Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution unless it makes the inescapable inquiry, then the confluence of such factors should compel an
exception to the rule as an ultimate recourse. The cases now before us present both the inevitable challenge and the inescapable exigency
for judicial review. For the Court to now shirk its bounden duty would not only project it as a citadel of the timorous and the slothful, but could
even undermine its raison d'etre as the highest and ultimate tribunal.

Hence, this dissenting opinion has touched on events behind and which transpired prior to the presentation of the enrolled bill for approval
into law. The details of that law which resulted from the legislative action followed by both houses of Congress, the substantive validity of
whose provisions and the procedural validity of which legislative process are here challenged as unconstitutional, have been graphically
presented by petitioners and admirably explained in the respective opinions of my brethren. The writer concurs in the conclusions drawn
therefrom and rejects the contention that we have unjustifiably breached the dike of the enrolled bill doctrine.

Even in the land of its source, the so-called conclusive presumption of validity originally attributed to that doctrine has long been revisited and
qualified, if not altogether rejected. On the competency of judicial inquiry, it has been held that "(u)nder the 'enrolled bill rule' by which an
enrolled bill is sole expository of its contents and conclusive evidence of its existence and valid enactment, it is nevertheless competent for
courts to inquire as to what prerequisites are fixed by the Constitution of which journals of respective houses of Legislature are required to
furnish the evidence." 17

In fact, in Gwynn vs. Hardee, etc., et al., 18 the Supreme Court of Florida declared:

(1) While the presumption is that the enrolled bill, as signed by the legislative officers and filed with the secretary of
state, is the bill as it passed, yet this presumption is not conclusive, and when it is shown from the legislative journals
that a bill though engrossed and enrolled, and signed by the legislative officers, contains provisions that have not
passed both houses, such provisions will be held spurious and not a part of the law. As was said by Mr. Justice
Cockrell in the case of Wade vs. Atlantic Lumber Co., 51 Fla. 628, text 633, 41 So. 72, 73:

‘This Court is firmly committed to the holding that when the journals speak they control, and against such proof the
enrolled bill is not conclusive.'

More enlightening and apropos to the present controversy is the decision promulgated on May 13, 1980 by the Supreme Court of Kentucky
in D & W Auto Supply, et al. vs. Department of Revenue, et al., 19 pertinent exceprts wherefrom are extensively reproduced hereunder:

... In arriving at our decision we must, perforce, reconsider the validity of a long line of decisions of this court which
created and nurtured the so-called 'enrolled bill' doctrine.

xxx xxx xxx

[1] Section 46 of the Kentucky Constitution sets out certain procedures that the legislature must follow before a bill can
be considered for final passage. ... .

xxx xxx xxx

... Under the enrolled bill doctrine as it now exists in Kentucky, a court may not look behind such a bill, enrolled and
certified by the appropriate officers, to determine if there are any defects.

xxx xxx xxx

... In Lafferty, passage of the law in question violated this provision, yet the bill was properly enrolled and approved by
the governor. In declining to look behind the law to determine the propriety of its enactment, the court enunciated three
reasons for adopting the enrolled bill rule. First, the court was reluctant to scrutinize the processes of the legislature, an
equal branch of government. Second, reasons of convenience prevailed, which discouraged requiring the legislature to
preserve its records and anticipated considerable complex litigation if the court ruled otherwise. Third, the court
acknowledged the poor record-keeping abilities of the General Assembly and expressed a preference for accepting the
final bill as enrolled, rather than opening up the records of the legislature. ... .

xxx xxx xxx


Nowhere has the rule been adopted without reason, or as a result of judicial whim. There are four historical bases for
the doctrine. (1) An enrolled bill was a 'record' and, as such, was not subject to attack at common law. (2) Since the
legislature is one of the three branches of government, the courts, being coequal, must indulge in every presumption
that legislative acts are valid. (3) When the rule was originally formulated, record-keeping of the legislatures was so
inadequate that a balancing of equities required that the final act, the enrolled bill, be given efficacy. (4) There were
theories of convenience as expressed by the Kentucky court in Lafferty.

The rule is not unanimous in the several states, however, and it has not been without its critics. From an examination of
cases and treaties, we can summarize the criticisms as follows: (1) Artificial presumptions, especially conclusive ones,
are not favored. (2) Such a rule frequently (as in the present case) produces results which do not accord with facts or
constitutional provisions. (3) The rule is conducive to fraud, forgery, corruption and other wrongdoings. (4) Modern
automatic and electronic record-keeping devices now used by legislatures remove one of the original reasons for the
rule. (5) The rule disregards the primary obligation of the courts to seek the truth and to provide a remedy for a wrong
committed by any branch of government. In light of these considerations, we are convinced that the time has come to
re-examine the enrolled bill doctrine.

[2] This court is not unmindful of the admonition of the doctrine of stare decisis. The maxim is "Stare decisis et non
quieta movere," which simply suggests that we stand by precedents and not disturb settled points of law. Yet, this rule
is not inflexible, nor is it of such a nature as to require perpetuation of error or logic. As we stated in Daniel's Adm'r v.
Hoofnel, 287 Ky 834, 155 S.W. 2d 469, 471-72 (1941) (citations omitted):

The force of the rule depends upon the nature of the question to be decided and the extent of the disturbance of rights
and practices which a change in the interpretation of the law or the course of judicial opinions may create. Cogent
considerations are whether there is clear error and urgent reasons 'for neither justice nor wisdom requires a court to go
from one doubtful rule to another,' and whether or not the evils of the principle that has been followed will be more
injurious than can possibly result from a change.

Certainly, when a theory supporting a rule of law is not grounded on facts, or upon sound logic, or is unjust, or has been discredited by actual
experience, it should be discarded, and with it the rule it supports.

[3] It is clear to us that the major premise of the Lafferty decision, the poor record- keeping of the legislature, has
disappeared. Modern equipment and technology are the rule in record-keeping by our General Assembly. Tape
recorders, electric typewriters, duplicating machines, recording equipment, printing presses, computers, electronic
voting machines, and the like remove all doubts and fears as to the ability of the General Assembly to keep accurate
and readily accessible records.

It is also apparent that the 'convenience' rule is not appropriate in today's modern and developing judicial philosophy.
The fact that the number and complexity of lawsuits may increase is not persuasive if one is mindful that the overriding
purpose of our judicial system is to discover the truth and see that justice is done. The existence of difficulties and
complexities should not deter this pursuit and we reject any doctrine or presumption that so provides.

Lastly, we address the premises that the equality of the various branches of government requires that we shut our eyes
to constitutional failings and other errors of our coparceners in government. We simply do not agree. Section 26 of the
Kentucky Constitution provides that any law contrary to the constitution is 'void.' The proper exercise of judicial
authority requires us to recognize any law which is unconstitutional and to declare it void. Without belaboring the point,
we believe that under section 228 of the Kentucky Constitution it is our obligation to 'support ... the Constitution of the
commonwealth.' We are sworn to see that violations of the constitution - by any person, corporation, state agency or
branch of government - are brought to light and corrected. To countenance an artificial rule of law that silences our
voices when confronted with violations of our constitution is not acceptable to this court.

We believe that a more reasonable rule is the one which Professor Sutherland describes as the 'extrinsic evidence' rule
... Under this approach there is a prima facie presumption that an enrolled bill is valid, but such presumption may be
overcome by clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence establishing that constitutional requirements have not been
met.

We therefore overrule Lafferty v. Huffman and all other cases following the so-called enrolled bill doctrine, to the extent
that there is no longer a conclusive presumption that an enrolled bill is valid. ... (Italics mine.)

Undeniably, the value-added tax system may have its own merits to commend its continued adoption, and the proposed widening of its base
could achieve laudable governmental objectives if properly formulated and conscientiously implemented. We would like to believe, however,
that ours is not only an enlightened democracy nurtured by a policy of transparency but one where the edicts of the fundamental law are
sacrosanct for all, barring none. While the realization of the lofty ends of this administration should indeed be the devout wish of all, likewise
barring none, it can never be justified by methods which, even if unintended, are suggestive of Machiavellism.

Accordingly, I vote to grant the instant petitions and to invalidate Republic Act No. 7716 for having been enacted in violation of Section 24,
Article VI of the Constitution.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:

The legislative history of R.A. No. 7716, as highlighted in the Consolidated Memorandum for the public respondents submitted by the Office
of the Solicitor General, demonstrates beyond doubt that it was passed in violation or deliberate disregard of mandatory provisions of the
Constitution and of the rules of both chambers of Congress relating to the enactment of bills.

I therefore vote to strike down R.A. No. 7716 as unconstitutional and as having been enacted with grave abuse of discretion.

The Constitution provides for a bicameral Congress. Therefore, no bill can be enacted into law unless it is approved by both chambers -- the
Senate and the House of Representatives (hereinafter House). Otherwise stated, each chamber may propose and approve a bill, but until it
is submitted to the other chamber and passed by the latter, it cannot be submitted to the President for its approval into law.

Paragraph 2, Section 26, Article VI of the Constitution provides:

No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed
copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the
President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last
reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter,
and the yeas and nays entered in the journal.

The "three readings" refers to the three readings in both chambers.

There are, however, bills which must originate exclusively in the House. Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution enumerates them:

SEC. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application,
and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with
amendments.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1 defines originate as follows:

vt 1: to cause the beginning of: give rise to: INITIATE ... 2. to start (a person or thing) on a course or journey ... vi: to
take or have origin: be derived: ARISE, BEGIN, START ...

Black's Law Dictionary 2 defines the word exclusively in this wise:

Apart from all others; only; solely; substantially all or for the greater part. To the exclusion of all others; without
admission of others to participation; in a manner to exclude.

In City Mayor vs. The Chief of Philippine Constabulary, @= 3 this Court said:

The term 'exclusive' in its usual and generally accepted sense, means possessed to the exclusion of others;
appertaining to the subject alone, not including, admitting or pertaining to another or others, undivided, sole. (15 Words
and Phrases, p. 510, citing Mitchel v. Tulsa Water, Light, Heat and Power Co., 95 P. 961, 21 Okl. 243; and p. 513,
citing Commonwealth v. Superintendent of House of Correction, 64 Pa. Super. 613, 615).

Indisputably then, only the House can cause the beginning or initiate the passage of any appropriation, revenue, or tarriff bill, any bill
increasing the public debt, any bill of local application, or any private bill. The Senate can only "propose or concur with amendments."

Under the Rules of the Senate, the first reading is the reading of the title of the bill and its referral to the corresponding committee; the
second reading consists of the reading of the bill in the form recommended by the corresponding committee; and the third reading is the
reading of the bill in the form it will be after approval on second reading. 4 During the second reading, the following takes place;

(1) Second reading of the bill;

(2) Sponsorship by the Committee Chairman or any member designated by the corresponding committee;

(3) If a debate ensues, turns for and against the bill shall be taken alternately;

(4) The sponsor of the bill closes the debate;


(5) After the close of the debate, the period of amendments follows:

(6) Then, after the period of amendments is closed, the voting the bill on second reading. 5

After approval on second readings, printed copies thereof in its final form shall be distributed to the Members of the Senate at least three
days prior to the third reading, the final vote shall be taken and the yeas and nays shall be entered in the Journal. 6

Under the Rules of the House, the first reading of a bill consists of a reading of the number, title, and author followed by the referral to the
appropriate committees; 7 the second reading consists of the reading in full of the bill with the amendments proposed by the committee, it
any; 8 and the third reading is the reading of the bill in the form as approved on second reading and takes place only after printed copies
thereof in its final form have been distributed to the Members at least three days before, unless the bill is certified. 9 At the second reading,
the following takes place:

(1) Reading of the bill;

(2) Sponsorship;

3) Debates;

(4) Period of Amendments; and

(5) Voting on Second Reading. 10

At the third reading, the votes shall be taken immediately and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal. 11

Clearly, whether in the Senate or in the House, every bill must pass the three readings on separate days, except when the bill is certified.
Amendments to the bill on third reading are constitutionally prohibited. 12

After its passage by one chamber, the bill should then be transmitted to the other chamber for its concurrence. Section 83, Rule XIV of the
Rules of the House expressly provides:

SEC. 83. Transmittal to Senate. -- The Secretary General, without need of express order, shall transmit to the Senate
for its concurrence all the bills and joint or concurrent resolutions approved by the House or the amendments of the
House to the bills or resolutions of the Senate, or if amendments of the Senate to bills of the House are accepted, he
shall forthwith notify the Senate of the action taken.

Simplified, this rule means that:

1. As to a bill originating in the House:

(a) Upon its approval by the House, the bill shall be transmitted to the Senate;

(b) The Senate may approve it with or without amendments;

(c) The Senate returns the bill to the House;

(d) The House may accept the Senate amendments; if it does not, the Secretary General shall notify the Senate of that
action. As hereinafter be shown, a request for conference shall then be in order.

2. As to bills originating in the Senate;

(a) Upon its approval by the Senate, the bill shall be transmitted to the House;

(b) The House may approve it with or without amendments;

(c) The House then returns it to the Senate, informing it of the action taken;

(d) The Senate may accept the House amendements; if it does not, it shall notify the House and make a request for
conference.
The transmitted bill shall then pass three readings in the other chamber on separate days. Section 84, Rule XIV of the Rules of the House
states:

SEC. 84. Bills from the Senate. -- The bills, resolutions and communications of the Senate shall be referred to the
corresponding committee in the same manner as bills presented by Members of the House.

and Section 51, Rule XXII of the Rules of the Senate provides:

SEC. 51. Prior to their final approval, bills and joint resolutions shall be read at least three times." It is only when the
period of disagreement is reached, i.e., amendments proposed by one chamber to a bill originating from the other are
not accepted by the latter, that a request for conference is made or is in order. The request for conference is
specifically covered by Section 26, Rule XI of the Rules of the Senate which reads:

It is only when the period of disagreement is reached, i.e., amended proposed by one chamber to a bill originating from the other are not
accepted by their latter, that a request for conference is made or is in order. The request for conference is specifically covered by Section 26,
Rule XII of the Rules of the Senate which reads:

SEC. 26. In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on the provision of any bill or
joint resolution, the differences shall be settled by a conference committee of both Houses which shall meet within ten
days after its composition.

and Section 85, Rule XIV of the Rules of the House which reads:

SEC. 85. Conference Committee Reports. -- In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the
amendments to any bill or joint resolution, the differences may be settled by conference committees of both Chambers.

The foregoing provisions of the Constitution and the Rules of both chambers of Congress are mandatory.

In his Treatise On the Constitutional Limitations, 13 more particularly on enactment of bill, Cooley states:

Where, for an instance, the legislative power is to be exercised by two houses, and by settled and well-understood parliamentary
law these two houses are to hold separate sessions for their deliberations, and the determination of the one upon a proposes law
is to be submitted to the separate determination of the other, the constitution, in providing for two houses, has evidently spoken in
reference to this settled custom, incorporating it as a rule of constitutional interpretation; so that it would require no prohibitory
clause to forbid the two houses from combining in one, and jointly enacting laws by the vote of a majority of all. All those rules
which are of the essentials of law-making must be observed and followed; and it is only the customary rules of order and routine,
such as in every deliberative body are always understood to be under its control, and subject to constant change at its will, that
the constitution can be understood to have left as matters of discretion, to be established, modified, or abolished by the bodies for
whose government in non-essential matters they exist.
In respect of appropriation, revenue, or tariff bills, bills increasing the public debt, bills of local application, or private bills, the return thereof to
the House after the Senate shall have "proposed or concurred with amendments" for the former either to accept or reject the amendments
would not only be in conformity with the foregoing rules but is also implicit from Section 24 of Article VI.

With the foregoing as our guiding light, I shall now show the violations of the Constitution and of the Rules of the Senate and of the House in
the passage of R.A. No. 7716.

VIOLATIONS OF SECTION 24, ARTICLE VI OF THE CONSTITUTION:

First violation. -- Since R.A. No. 7716 is a revenue measure, it must originate exclusively in the House --