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G.R. No.

L-10405

December 29, 1960

WENCESLAO PASCUAL, in his official capacity as Provincial Governor of Rizal, petitioner-appellant, vs. THE SECRETARY OF PUBLIC WORKS AND COMMUNICATIONS, ET AL., respondents-appellees. Asst. Fiscal Noli M. Cortes and Jose P. Santos for appellant. Office of the Asst. Solicitor General Jose G. Bautista and Solicitor A. A. Torres for appellee.

CONCEPCION, J.: Appeal, by petitioner Wenceslao Pascual, from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, dismissing the above entitled case and dissolving the writ of preliminary injunction therein issued, without costs. On August 31, 1954, petitioner Wenceslao Pascual, as Provincial Governor of Rizal, instituted this action for declaratory relief, with injunction, upon the ground that Republic Act No. 920, entitled "An Act Appropriating Funds for Public Works", approved on June 20, 1953, contained, in section 1-C (a) thereof, an item (43[h]) of P85,000.00 "for the construction, reconstruction, repair, extension and improvement" of Pasig feeder road terminals (Gen. Roxas Gen. Araneta Gen. Lucban Gen. Capinpin Gen. Segundo Gen. Delgado Gen. Malvar Gen. Lim)"; that, at the time of the passage and approval of said Act, the aforementioned feeder roads were "nothing but projected and planned subdivision roads, not yet constructed, . . . within the Antonio Subdivision . . . situated at . . . Pasig, Rizal" (according to the tracings attached to the petition as Annexes A and B, near Shaw Boulevard, not far away from the intersection between the latter and Highway 54), which projected feeder roads "do not connect any government property or any important premises to the main highway"; that the aforementioned Antonio Subdivision (as well as the lands on which said feeder roads were to be construed) were private properties of respondent Jose C. Zulueta, who, at the time of the passage and approval of said Act, was a member of the Senate of the Philippines; that on May, 1953, respondent Zulueta, addressed a letter to the Municipal Council of Pasig, Rizal, offering to donate said projected feeder roads to the municipality of Pasig, Rizal; that, on June 13, 1953, the offer was accepted by the council, subject to the condition "that the donor would submit a plan of the said roads and agree to change the names of two of them"; that no deed of donation in favor of the municipality of Pasig was, however, executed; that on July 10, 1953, respondent Zulueta wrote another letter to said council, calling attention to the approval of Republic Act. No. 920, and the sum of P85,000.00 appropriated therein for the construction of the projected feeder roads in question; that the municipal council of Pasig endorsed said letter of respondent Zulueta to the District Engineer of Rizal, who, up to the present "has not made any endorsement thereon" that inasmuch as the projected feeder roads in question were private property at the time of the passage and approval of Republic Act No. 920, the appropriation of P85,000.00 therein made, for the construction, reconstruction, repair, extension and improvement of said projected feeder roads, was illegal and, therefore, void ab initio"; that said appropriation of P85,000.00 was made by Congress because its members were made to believe that the projected feeder roads in question were "public roads and not private streets of a private subdivision"'; that, "in order to give a semblance of legality, when there is absolutely none, to the aforementioned appropriation", respondents Zulueta executed on December 12, 1953, while he was a member of the Senate of the Philippines, an alleged deed of donation copy of which is annexed to the petition of the four (4) parcels of land constituting said projected feeder roads, in favor of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines; that said alleged deed of donation was, on the same date, accepted by the then Executive Secretary; that being subject to an onerous condition, said donation partook of the nature of a contract; that, such, said donation violated the provision of our fundamental law prohibiting members of Congress from being directly or indirectly financially interested in any contract with the Government, and, hence, is unconstitutional, as well as null and voidab initio, for the construction of the projected feeder roads in question with public funds would greatly enhance or increase the value of the aforementioned subdivision of respondent Zulueta, "aside from relieving him from the burden of constructing his subdivision streets or roads at his own expense"; that the construction of said projected feeder roads was then being undertaken by the Bureau of Public Highways; and that, unless restrained by the court, the respondents would continue to execute, comply with, follow and implement the aforementioned illegal provision of law, "to the irreparable damage, detriment and prejudice not only to the petitioner but to the Filipino nation." Petitioner prayed, therefore, that the contested item of Republic Act No. 920 be declared null and void; that the alleged deed of donation of the feeder roads in question be "declared unconstitutional and, therefor, illegal"; that a writ of injunction be issued enjoining the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, the Director of the Bureau of Public Works and Highways and Jose C. Zulueta from ordering or allowing the continuance of the abovementioned feeder roads project, and from making and securing any new and further releases on the aforementioned

item of Republic Act No. 920, and the disbursing officers of the Department of Public Works and Highways from making any further payments out of said funds provided for in Republic Act No. 920; and that pending final hearing on the merits, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued enjoining the aforementioned parties respondent from making and securing any new and further releases on the aforesaid item of Republic Act No. 920 and from making any further payments out of said illegally appropriated funds. Respondents moved to dismiss the petition upon the ground that petitioner had "no legal capacity to sue", and that the petition did "not state a cause of action". In support to this motion, respondent Zulueta alleged that the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, not its provincial governor, should represent the Province of Rizal, pursuant to section 1683 of the Revised Administrative Code; that said respondent is " not aware of any law which makes illegal the appropriation of public funds for the improvements of . . . private property"; and that, the constitutional provision invoked by petitioner is inapplicable to the donation in question, the same being a pure act of liberality, not a contract. The other respondents, in turn, maintained that petitioner could not assail the appropriation in question because "there is no actual bona fide case . . . in which the validity of Republic Act No. 920 is necessarily involved" and petitioner "has not shown that he has a personal and substantial interest" in said Act "and that its enforcement has caused or will cause him a direct injury." Acting upon said motions to dismiss, the lower court rendered the aforementioned decision, dated October 29, 1953, holding that, since public interest is involved in this case, the Provincial Governor of Rizal and the provincial fiscal thereof who represents him therein, "have the requisite personalities" to question the constitutionality of the disputed item of Republic Act No. 920; that "the legislature is without power appropriate public revenues for anything but a public purpose", that the instructions and improvement of the feeder roads in question, if such roads where private property, would not be a public purpose; that, being subject to the following condition: The within donation is hereby made upon the condition that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines will use the parcels of land hereby donated for street purposes only and for no other purposes whatsoever; it being expressly understood that should the Government of the Republic of the Philippines violate the condition hereby imposed upon it, the title to the land hereby donated shall, upon such violation, ipso facto revert to the DONOR, JOSE C. ZULUETA. (Emphasis supplied.) which is onerous, the donation in question is a contract; that said donation or contract is "absolutely forbidden by the Constitution" and consequently "illegal", for Article 1409 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, declares in existence and void from the very beginning contracts "whose cause, objector purpose is contrary to law, morals . . . or public policy"; that the legality of said donation may not be contested, however, by petitioner herein, because his "interest are not directly affected" thereby; and that, accordingly, the appropriation in question "should be upheld" and the case dismissed. At the outset, it should be noted that we are concerned with a decision granting the aforementioned motions to dismiss, which as much, are deemed to have admitted hypothetically the allegations of fact made in the petition of appellant herein. According to said petition, respondent Zulueta is the owner of several parcels of residential land situated in Pasig, Rizal, and known as the Antonio Subdivision, certain portions of which had been reserved for the projected feeder roads aforementioned, which, admittedly, were private property of said respondent when Republic Act No. 920, appropriating P85,000.00 for the "construction, reconstruction, repair, extension and improvement" of said roads, was passed by Congress, as well as when it was approved by the President on June 20, 1953. The petition further alleges that the construction of said roads, to be undertaken with the aforementioned appropriation of P85,000.00, would have the effect of relieving respondent Zulueta of the burden of constructing his subdivision streets or roads at his own expenses, 1and would "greatly enhance or increase the value of the subdivision" of said respondent. The lower court held that under these circumstances, the appropriation in question was "clearly for a private, not a public purpose." Respondents do not deny the accuracy of this conclusion, which is self-evident. 2However, respondent Zulueta contended, in his motion to dismiss that: A law passed by Congress and approved by the President can never be illegal because Congress is the source of all laws . . . Aside from the fact that movant is not aware of any law which makes illegal the appropriation of public funds for the improvement of what we, in the meantime, may assume as private property . . . (Record on Appeal, p. 33.)

The first proposition must be rejected most emphatically, it being inconsistent with the nature of the Government established under the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and the system of checks and balances underlying our political structure. Moreover, it is refuted by the decisions of this Court invalidating legislative enactments deemed violative of the Constitution or organic laws. 3 As regards the legal feasibility of appropriating public funds for a public purpose, the principle according to Ruling Case Law, is this: It is a general rule that the legislature is without power to appropriate public revenue for anything but a public purpose. . . . It is the essential character of the direct object of the expenditure which must determine its validity as justifying a tax, and not the magnitude of the interest to be affected nor the degree to which the general advantage of the community, and thus the public welfare, may be ultimately benefited by their promotion. Incidental to the public or to the state, which results from the promotion of private interest and the prosperity of private enterprises or business, does not justify their aid by the use public money. (25 R.L.C. pp. 398-400; Emphasis supplied.) The rule is set forth in Corpus Juris Secundum in the following language: In accordance with the rule that the taxing power must be exercised for public purposes only, discussedsupra sec. 14, money raised by taxation can be expended only for public purposes and not for the advantage of private individuals. (85 C.J.S. pp. 645-646; emphasis supplied.) Explaining the reason underlying said rule, Corpus Juris Secundum states: Generally, under the express or implied provisions of the constitution, public funds may be used only for public purpose. The right of the legislature to appropriate funds is correlative with its right to tax, and, under constitutional provisions against taxation except for public purposes and prohibiting the collection of a tax for one purpose and the devotion thereof to another purpose, no appropriation of state funds can be made for other than for a public purpose.

The test of the constitutionality of a statute requiring the use of public funds is whether the statute is designed to promote the public interest, as opposed to the furtherance of the advantage of individuals, although each advantage to individuals might incidentally serve the public. (81 C.J.S. pp. 1147; emphasis supplied.) Needless to say, this Court is fully in accord with the foregoing views which, apart from being patently sound, are a necessary corollary to our democratic system of government, which, as such, exists primarily for the promotion of the general welfare. Besides, reflecting as they do, the established jurisprudence in the United States, after whose constitutional system ours has been patterned, said views and jurisprudence are, likewise, part and parcel of our own constitutional law.lawphil.net This notwithstanding, the lower court felt constrained to uphold the appropriation in question, upon the ground that petitioner may not contest the legality of the donation above referred to because the same does not affect him directly. This conclusion is, presumably, based upon the following premises, namely: (1) that, if valid, said donation cured the constitutional infirmity of the aforementioned appropriation; (2) that the latter may not be annulled without a previous declaration of unconstitutionality of the said donation; and (3) that the rule set forth in Article 1421 of the Civil Code is absolute, and admits of no exception. We do not agree with these premises. The validity of a statute depends upon the powers of Congress at the time of its passage or approval, not upon events occurring, or acts performed, subsequently thereto, unless the latter consists of an amendment of the organic law, removing, with retrospective operation, the constitutional limitation infringed by said statute. Referring to the P85,000.00 appropriation for the projected feeder roads in question, the legality thereof depended upon whether said roads were public or private property when the bill, which, latter on, became Republic Act 920, was passed by Congress, or, when said bill was approved by the President and the disbursement of said sum became effective, or on June 20, 1953 (see section 13 of said Act). Inasmuch as the land on which the projected feeder roads were to be constructed belonged then to respondent Zulueta, the result is that said appropriation sought a private purpose, and

hence, was null and void. 4 The donation to the Government, over five (5) months after the approval and effectivity of said Act, made, according to the petition, for the purpose of giving a "semblance of legality", or legalizing, the appropriation in question, did not cure its aforementioned basic defect. Consequently, a judicial nullification of said donation need not precede the declaration of unconstitutionality of said appropriation. Again, Article 1421 of our Civil Code, like many other statutory enactments, is subject to exceptions. For instance, the creditors of a party to an illegal contract may, under the conditions set forth in Article 1177 of said Code, exercise the rights and actions of the latter, except only those which are inherent in his person, including therefore, his right to the annulment of said contract, even though such creditors are not affected by the same, except indirectly, in the manner indicated in said legal provision. Again, it is well-stated that the validity of a statute may be contested only by one who will sustain a direct injury in consequence of its enforcement. Yet, there are many decisions nullifying, at the instance of taxpayers, laws providing for the disbursement of public funds, 5upon the theory that "the expenditure of public funds by an officer of the State for the purpose of administering an unconstitutional act constitutes a misapplication of such funds," which may be enjoined at the request of a taxpayer. 6Although there are some decisions to the contrary, 7the prevailing view in the United States is stated in the American Jurisprudence as follows: In the determination of the degree of interest essential to give the requisite standing to attack the constitutionality of a statute, the general rule is that not only persons individually affected, but alsotaxpayers, have sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of moneys raised by taxation and may therefore question the constitutionality of statutes requiring expenditure of public moneys. (11 Am. Jur. 761; emphasis supplied.) However, this view was not favored by the Supreme Court of the U.S. in Frothingham vs. Mellon (262 U.S. 447), insofar as federal laws are concerned, upon the ground that the relationship of a taxpayer of the U.S. to its Federal Government is different from that of a taxpayer of a municipal corporation to its government. Indeed, under the composite system of government existing in the U.S., the states of the Union are integral part of the Federation from an international viewpoint, but, each state enjoys internally a substantial measure of sovereignty, subject to the limitations imposed by the Federal Constitution. In fact, the same was made by representatives ofeach state of the Union, not of the people of the U.S., except insofar as the former represented the people of the respective States, and the people of each State has, independently of that of the others, ratified said Constitution. In other words, the Federal Constitution and the Federal statutes have become binding upon the people of the U.S. in consequence of an act of, and, in this sense, through the respective states of the Union of which they are citizens. The peculiar nature of the relation between said people and the Federal Government of the U.S. is reflected in the election of its President, who is chosen directly, not by the people of the U.S., but by electors chosen by each State, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct (Article II, section 2, of the Federal Constitution).lawphi1.net The relation between the people of the Philippines and its taxpayers, on the other hand, and the Republic of the Philippines, on the other, is not identical to that obtaining between the people and taxpayers of the U.S. and its Federal Government. It is closer, from a domestic viewpoint, to that existing between the people and taxpayers of each state and the government thereof, except that the authority of the Republic of the Philippines over the people of the Philippines is more fully direct than that of the states of the Union, insofar as the simple and unitary type of our national government is not subject to limitations analogous to those imposed by the Federal Constitution upon the states of the Union, and those imposed upon the Federal Government in the interest of the Union. For this reason, the rule recognizing the right of taxpayers to assail the constitutionality of a legislation appropriating local or state public funds which has been upheld by the Federal Supreme Court (Crampton vs. Zabriskie, 101 U.S. 601) has greater application in the Philippines than that adopted with respect to acts of Congress of the United States appropriating federal funds. Indeed, in the Province of Tayabas vs. Perez (56 Phil., 257), involving the expropriation of a land by the Province of Tayabas, two (2) taxpayers thereof were allowed to intervene for the purpose of contesting the price being paid to the owner thereof, as unduly exorbitant. It is true that in Custodio vs. President of the Senate (42 Off. Gaz., 1243), a taxpayer and employee of the Government was not permitted to question the constitutionality of an appropriation for backpay of members of Congress. However, in Rodriguez vs. Treasurer of the Philippines and Barredo vs. Commission on Elections (84 Phil., 368; 45 Off. Gaz., 4411), we entertained the action of taxpayers impugning the validity of certain appropriations of public funds, and invalidated the same. Moreover, the reason that impelled this Court to take such position in said two (2) cases the importance of the issues therein raised is present in the case at bar. Again, like the petitioners in the Rodriguez and Barredo cases, petitioner herein is not merely a taxpayer. The Province of Rizal, which he represents officially as its Provincial Governor, is our most

populated political subdivision, 8and, the taxpayers therein bear a substantial portion of the burden of taxation, in the Philippines. Hence, it is our considered opinion that the circumstances surrounding this case sufficiently justify petitioners action in contesting the appropriation and donation in question; that this action should not have been dismissed by the lower court; and that the writ of preliminary injunction should have been maintained. Wherefore, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed, and the records are remanded to the lower court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision, with the costs of this instance against respondent Jose C. Zulueta. It is so ordered. Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Gutierrez David, Paredes, and Dizon, JJ., concur. G.R. No. 99886 March 31, 1993 JOHN H. OSMEA, petitioner, vs. OSCAR ORBOS, in his capacity as Executive Secretary; JESUS ESTANISLAO, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance; WENCESLAO DELA PAZ, in his capacity as Head of the Office of Energy Affairs; REX V. TANTIONGCO, and the ENERGY REGULATORY BOARD, respondents. Nachura & Sarmiento for petitioner. The Solicitor General for public respondents.

NARVASA, C.J.: The petitioner seeks the corrective, 1 prohibitive and coercive remedies provided by Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,2 upon the following posited grounds, viz.: 3 1) the invalidity of the "TRUST ACCOUNT" in the books of account of the Ministry of Energy (now, the Office of Energy Affairs), created pursuant to 8, paragraph 1, of P.D. No. 1956, as amended, "said creation of a trust fund being contrary to Section 29 (3), Article VI of the . . Constitution; 4 2) the unconstitutionality of 8, paragraph 1 (c) of P.D. No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137, for "being an undue and invalid delegation of legislative power . . to the Energy Regulatory Board;" 5 3) the illegality of the reimbursements to oil companies, paid out of the Oil Price Stabilization Fund, 6 because it contravenes 8, paragraph 2 (2) of P. D. 1956, as amended; and 4) the consequent nullity of the Order dated December 10, 1990 and the necessity of a rollback of the pump prices and petroleum products to the levels prevailing prior to the said Order. It will be recalled that on October 10, 1984, President Ferdinand Marcos issued P.D. 1956 creating a Special Account in the General Fund, designated as the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF). The OPSF was designed to reimburse oil companies for cost increases in crude oil and imported petroleum products resulting from exchange rate adjustments and from increases in the world market prices of crude oil. Subsequently, the OPSF was reclassified into a "trust liability account," in virtue of E.O. 1024, 7 and ordered released from the National Treasury to the Ministry of Energy. The same Executive Order also authorized the investment of the fund in government securities, with the earnings from such placements accruing to the fund.

President Corazon C. Aquino, amended P.D. 1956. She promulgated Executive Order No. 137 on February 27, 1987, expanding the grounds for reimbursement to oil companies for possible cost underrecovery incurred as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products, the amount of the underrecovery being left for determination by the Ministry of Finance. Now, the petition alleges that the status of the OPSF as of March 31, 1991 showed a "Terminal Fund Balance deficit" of some P12.877 billion; 8 that to abate the worsening deficit, "the Energy Regulatory Board . . issued an Order on December 10, 1990, approving the increase in pump prices of petroleum products," and at the rate of recoupment, the OPSF deficit should have been fully covered in a span of six (6) months, but this notwithstanding, the respondents Oscar Orbos, in his capacity as Executive Secretary; Jesus Estanislao, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance; Wenceslao de la Paz, in his capacity as Head of the Office of Energy Affairs; Chairman Rex V. Tantiongco and the Energy Regulatory Board "are poised to accept, process and pay claims not authorized under P.D. 1956." 9 The petition further avers that the creation of the trust fund violates 29(3), Article VI of the Constitution, reading as follows: (3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purposes only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government. The petitioner argues that "the monies collected pursuant to . . P.D. 1956, as amended, must be treated as a 'SPECIAL FUND,' not as a 'trust account' or a 'trust fund,' and that "if a special tax is collected for a specific purpose, the revenue generated therefrom shall 'be treated as a special fund' to be used only for the purpose indicated, and not channeled to another government objective." 10 Petitioner further points out that since "a 'special fund' consists of monies collected through the taxing power of a State, such amounts belong to the State, although the use thereof is limited to the special purpose/objective for which it was created." 11 He also contends that the "delegation of legislative authority" to the ERB violates 28 (2). Article VI of the Constitution, viz.: (2) The Congress may, by law, authorize the President to fix, within specified limits, and subject to such limitations and restrictions as it may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the Government; and, inasmuch as the delegation relates to the exercise of the power of taxation, "the limits, limitations and restrictions must be quantitative, that is, the law must not only specify how to tax, who (shall) be taxed (and) what the tax is for, but also impose a specific limit on how much to tax." 12 The petitioner does not suggest that a "trust account" is illegal per se, but maintains that the monies collected, which form part of the OPSF, should be maintained in a special account of the general fund for the reason that the Constitution so provides, and because they are, supposedly, taxes levied for a special purpose. He assumes that the Fund is formed from a tax undoubtedly because a portion thereof is taken from collections of ad valorem taxes and the increases thereon. It thus appears that the challenge posed by the petitioner is premised primarily on the view that the powers granted to the ERB under P.D. 1956, as amended, partake of the nature of the taxation power of the State. The Solicitor General observes that the "argument rests on the assumption that the OPSF is a form of revenue measure drawing from a special tax to be expended for a special purpose." 13 The petitioner's perceptions are, in the Court's view, not quite correct. To address this critical misgiving in the position of the petitioner on these issues, the Court recalls its holding inValmonte v. Energy Regulatory Board, et al. 14 The foregoing arguments suggest the presence of misconceptions about the nature and functions of the OPSF. The OPSF is a "Trust Account" which was established "for the purpose of minimizing

the frequent price changes brought about by exchange rate adjustment and/or changes in world market prices of crude oil and imported petroleum products." 15 Under P.D. No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137 dated 27 February 1987, this Trust Account may be funded from any of the following sources: a) Any increase in the tax collection from ad valorem tax or customs duty imposed on petroleum products subject to tax under this Decree arising from exchange rate adjustment, as may be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Board of Energy; b) Any increase in the tax collection as a result of the lifting of tax exemptions of government corporations, as may be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Board of Energy: c) Any additional amount to be imposed on petroleum products to augment the resources of the Fund through an appropriate Order that may be issued by the Board of Energy requiring payment of persons or companies engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing and/or marketing petroleum products; d) Any resulting peso cost differentials in case the actual peso costs paid by oil companies in the importation of crude oil and petroleum products is less than the peso costs computed using the reference foreign exchange rate as fixed by the Board of Energy. xxx xxx xxx The fact that the world market prices of oil, measured by the spot market in Rotterdam, vary from day to day is of judicial notice. Freight rates for hauling crude oil and petroleum products from sources of supply to the Philippines may also vary from time to time. The exchange rate of the peso vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar and other convertible foreign currencies also changes from day to day. These fluctuations in world market prices and in tanker rates and foreign exchange rates would in a completely free market translate into corresponding adjustments in domestic prices of oil and petroleum products with sympathetic frequency. But domestic prices which vary from day to day or even only from week to week would result in a chaotic market with unpredictable effects upon the country's economy in general. The OPSF was established precisely to protect local consumers from the adverse consequences that such frequent oil price adjustments may have upon the economy. Thus, the OPSF serves as a pocket, as it were, into which a portion of the purchase price of oil and petroleum products paid by consumers as well as some tax revenues are inputted and from which amounts are drawn from time to time to reimburse oil companies, when appropriate situations arise, for increases in, as well as underrecovery of, costs of crude importation. The OPSF is thus a buffer mechanism through which the domestic consumer prices of oil and petroleum products are stabilized, instead of fluctuating every so often, and oil companies are allowed to recover those portions of their costs which they would not otherwise recover given the level of domestic prices existing at any given time.To the extent that some tax revenues are also put into it, the OPSF is in effect a device through which the domestic prices of petroleum products are subsidized in part. It appears to the Court that the establishment and maintenance of the OPSF is well within that pervasive and non-waivable power and responsibility of the government to secure the physical and economic survival and well-being of the community, that comprehensive sovereign authority we designate as the police power of the State. The stabilization, and subsidy of domestic prices of petroleum products and fuel oil clearly critical in importance considering, among other things, the continuing high level of dependence of the country on imported crude oil are appropriately regarded as public purposes. Also of relevance is this Court's ruling in relation to the sugar stabilization fund the nature of which is not far different from the OPSF. In Gaston v. Republic Planters Bank, 16 this Court upheld the legality of the sugar stabilization fees and explained their nature and character, viz.: The stabilization fees collected are in the nature of a tax, which is within the power of the State to impose for the promotion of the sugar industry (Lutz v. Araneta, 98 Phil. 148). . . . The tax collected

is not in a pure exercise of the taxing power. It is levied with a regulatory purpose, to provide a means for the stabilization of the sugar industry. The levy is primarily in the exercise of the police power of the State (Lutz v. Araneta, supra). xxx xxx xxx The stabilization fees in question are levied by the State upon sugar millers, planters and producers for a special purpose that of "financing the growth and development of the sugar industry and all its components, stabilization of the domestic market including the foreign market." The fact that the State has taken possession of moneys pursuant to law is sufficient to constitute them state funds, even though they are held for a special purpose (Lawrence v. American Surety Co. 263 Mich. 586, 249 ALR 535, cited in 42 Am Jur Sec. 2, p. 718). Having been levied for a special purpose, the revenues collected are to be treated as a special fund, to be, in the language of the statute, "administered in trust" for the purpose intended. Once the purpose has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance if any, is to be transferred to the general funds of the Government. That is the essence of the trust intended (SEE 1987 Constitution, Article VI, Sec. 29(3), lifted from the 1935 Constitution, Article VI, Sec. 23(1). 17 The character of the Stabilization Fund as a special kind of fund is emphasized by the fact that the funds are deposited in the Philippine National Bank and not in the Philippine Treasury, moneys from which may be paid out only in pursuance of an appropriation made by law (1987) Constitution, Article VI, Sec. 29 (3), lifted from the 1935 Constitution, Article VI, Sec. 23(1). (Emphasis supplied). Hence, it seems clear that while the funds collected may be referred to as taxes, they are exacted in the exercise of the police power of the State. Moreover, that the OPSF is a special fund is plain from the special treatment given it by E.O. 137. It is segregated from the general fund; and while it is placed in what the law refers to as a "trust liability account," the fund nonetheless remains subject to the scrutiny and review of the COA. The Court is satisfied that these measures comply with the constitutional description of a "special fund." Indeed, the practice is not without precedent. With regard to the alleged undue delegation of legislative power, the Court finds that the provision conferring the authority upon the ERB to impose additional amounts on petroleum products provides a sufficient standard by which the authority must be exercised. In addition to the general policy of the law to protect the local consumer by stabilizing and subsidizing domestic pump rates, 8(c) of P.D. 1956 18 expressly authorizes the ERB to impose additional amounts to augment the resources of the Fund. What petitioner would wish is the fixing of some definite, quantitative restriction, or "a specific limit on how much to tax." 19 The Court is cited to this requirement by the petitioner on the premise that what is involved here is the power of taxation; but as already discussed, this is not the case. What is here involved is not so much the power of taxation as police power. Although the provision authorizing the ERB to impose additional amounts could be construed to refer to the power of taxation, it cannot be overlooked that the overriding consideration is to enable the delegate to act with expediency in carrying out the objectives of the law which are embraced by the police power of the State. The interplay and constant fluctuation of the various factors involved in the determination of the price of oil and petroleum products, and the frequently shifting need to either augment or exhaust the Fund, do not conveniently permit the setting of fixed or rigid parameters in the law as proposed by the petitioner. To do so would render the ERB unable to respond effectively so as to mitigate or avoid the undesirable consequences of such fluidity. As such, the standard as it is expressed, suffices to guide the delegate in the exercise of the delegated power, taking account of the circumstances under which it is to be exercised. For a valid delegation of power, it is essential that the law delegating the power must be (1) complete in itself, that is it must set forth the policy to be executed by the delegate and (2) it must fix a standard limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable to which the delegate must conform. 20 . . . As pointed out in Edu v. Ericta: "To avoid the taint of unlawful delegation, there must be a standard, which implies at the very least that the legislature itself determines matters of principle and lays down fundamental policy. Otherwise, the charge of complete abdication may be hard to repel. A standard thus defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative

command is to be effected. It is the criterion by which the legislative purpose may be carried out. Thereafter, the executive or administrative office designated may in pursuance of the above guidelines promulgate supplemental rules and regulations. The standard may either be express or implied. If the former, the non-delegation objection is easily met. The standard though does not have to be spelled out specifically. It could be implied from the policy and purpose of the act considered as a whole. 21 It would seem that from the above-quoted ruling, the petition for prohibition should fail. The standard, as the Court has already stated, may even be implied. In that light, there can be no ground upon which to sustain the petition, inasmuch as the challenged law sets forth a determinable standard which guides the exercise of the power granted to the ERB. By the same token, the proper exercise of the delegated power may be tested with ease. It seems obvious that what the law intended was to permit the additional imposts for as long as there exists a need to protect the general public and the petroleum industry from the adverse consequences of pump rate fluctuations. "Where the standards set up for the guidance of an administrative officer and the action taken are in fact recorded in the orders of such officer, so that Congress, the courts and the public are assured that the orders in the judgment of such officer conform to the legislative standard, there is no failure in the performance of the legislative functions." 22 This Court thus finds no serious impediment to sustaining the validity of the legislation; the express purpose for which the imposts are permitted and the general objectives and purposes of the fund are readily discernible, and they constitute a sufficient standard upon which the delegation of power may be justified. In relation to the third question respecting the illegality of the reimbursements to oil companies, paid out of the Oil Price Stabilization Fund, because allegedly in contravention of 8, paragraph 2 (2) of P.D. 1956, amended 23 the Court finds for the petitioner. The petition assails the payment of certain items or accounts in favor of the petroleum companies (i.e., inventory losses, financing charges, fuel oil sales to the National Power Corporation, etc.) because not authorized by law. Petitioner contends that "these claims are not embraced in the enumeration in 8 of P.D. 1956 . . since none of them was incurred 'as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products,'" 24 and since these items are reimbursements for which the OPSF should not have responded, the amount of the P12.877 billion deficit "should be reduced by P5,277.2 million." 25 It is argued "that under the principle of ejusdem generis . . . the term 'other factors' (as used in 8 of P.D. 1956) . . can only include such 'other factors' which necessarily result in the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products." 26 The Solicitor General, for his part, contends that "(t)o place said (term) within the restrictive confines of the rule ofejusdem generis would reduce (E.O. 137) to a meaningless provision." This Court, in Caltex Philippines, Inc. v. The Honorable Commissioner on Audit, et al., 27 passed upon the application of ejusdem generis to paragraph 2 of 8 of P.D. 1956, viz.: The rule of ejusdem generis states that "[w]here words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are held to be as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned." 28A reading of subparagraphs (i) and (ii) easily discloses that they do not have a common characteristic. The first relates to price reduction as directed by the Board of Energy while the second refers to reduction in internal ad valorem taxes. Therefore, subparagraph (iii) cannot be limited by the enumeration in these subparagraphs. What should be considered for purposes of determining the "other factors" in subparagraph (iii) is the first sentence of paragraph (2) of the Section which explicitly allows the cost underrecovery only if such were incurred as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products. The Court thus holds, that the reimbursement of financing charges is not authorized by paragraph 2 of 8 of P.D. 1956, for the reason that they were not incurred as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products. Under the same provision, however, the payment of inventory losses is upheld as valid, being clearly a result of domestic price reduction, when oil companies incur a cost underrecovery for yet unsold stocks of oil in inventory acquired at a higher price.

Reimbursement for cost underrecovery from the sales of oil to the National Power Corporation is equally permissible, not as coming within the provisions of P.D. 1956, but in virtue of other laws and regulations as held inCaltex 29 and which have been pointed to by the Solicitor General. At any rate, doubts about the propriety of such reimbursements have been dispelled by the enactment of R.A. 6952, establishing the Petroleum Price Standby Fund, 2 of which specifically authorizes the reimbursement of "cost underrecovery incurred as a result of fuel oil sales to the National Power Corporation." Anent the overpayment refunds mentioned by the petitioner, no substantive discussion has been presented to show how this is prohibited by P.D. 1956. Nor has the Solicitor General taken any effort to defend the propriety of this refund. In fine, neither of the parties, beyond the mere mention of overpayment refunds, has at all bothered to discuss the arguments for or against the legality of the so-called overpayment refunds. To be sure, the absence of any argument for or against the validity of the refund cannot result in its disallowance by the Court. Unless the impropriety or illegality of the overpayment refund has been clearly and specifically shown, there can be no basis upon which to nullify the same. Finally, the Court finds no necessity to rule on the remaining issue, the same having been rendered moot and academic. As of date hereof, the pump rates of gasoline have been reduced to levels below even those prayed for in the petition. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED insofar as it prays for the nullification of the reimbursement of financing charges, paid pursuant to E.O. 137, and DISMISSED in all other respects. SO ORDERED. Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo, Campos, Jr., and Quiason, JJ., concur. Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave. G.R. No. L-31156 February 27, 1976 PEPSI-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., plaintiff-appellant, vs. MUNICIPALITY OF TANAUAN, LEYTE, THE MUNICIPAL MAYOR, ET AL., defendant appellees. Sabido, Sabido & Associates for appellant. Provincial Fiscal Zoila M. Redona & Assistant Provincial Fiscal Bonifacio R Matol and Assistant Solicitor General Conrado T. Limcaoco & Solicitor Enrique M. Reyes for appellees.

MARTIN, J.: This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Leyte in its Civil Case No. 3294, which was certified to Us by the Court of Appeals on October 6, 1969, as involving only pure questions of law, challenging the power of taxation delegated to municipalities under the Local Autonomy Act (Republic Act No. 2264, as amended, June 19, 1959). On February 14, 1963, the plaintiff-appellant, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of the Philippines, Inc., commenced a complaint with preliminary injunction before the Court of First Instance of Leyte for that court to declare Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264. 1 otherwise known as the Local Autonomy Act, unconstitutional as an undue delegation of taxing authority as well as to declare Ordinances Nos. 23 and 27, series of 1962, of the municipality of Tanauan, Leyte, null and void. On July 23, 1963, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Facts, the material portions of which state that, first, both Ordinances Nos. 23 and 27 embrace or cover the same subject matter and the production tax rates imposed therein

are practically the same, and second, that on January 17, 1963, the acting Municipal Treasurer of Tanauan, Leyte, as per his letter addressed to the Manager of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Plant in said municipality, sought to enforce compliance by the latter of the provisions of said Ordinance No. 27, series of 1962. Municipal Ordinance No. 23, of Tanauan, Leyte, which was approved on September 25, 1962, levies and collects "from soft drinks producers and manufacturers a tai of one-sixteenth (1/16) of a centavo for every bottle of soft drink corked." 2 For the purpose of computing the taxes due, the person, firm, company or corporation producing soft drinks shall submit to the Municipal Treasurer a monthly report, of the total number of bottles produced and corked during the month. 3 On the other hand, Municipal Ordinance No. 27, which was approved on October 28, 1962, levies and collects "on soft drinks produced or manufactured within the territorial jurisdiction of this municipality a tax of ONE CENTAVO (P0.01) on each gallon (128 fluid ounces, U.S.) of volume capacity." 4 For the purpose of computing the taxes due, the person, fun company, partnership, corporation or plant producing soft drinks shall submit to the Municipal Treasurer a monthly report of the total number of gallons produced or manufactured during the month. 5 The tax imposed in both Ordinances Nos. 23 and 27 is denominated as "municipal production tax.' On October 7, 1963, the Court of First Instance of Leyte rendered judgment "dismissing the complaint and upholding the constitutionality of [Section 2, Republic Act No. 2264] declaring Ordinance Nos. 23 and 27 legal and constitutional; ordering the plaintiff to pay the taxes due under the oft the said Ordinances; and to pay the costs." From this judgment, the plaintiff Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company appealed to the Court of Appeals, which, in turn, elevated the case to Us pursuant to Section 31 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended. There are three capital questions raised in this appeal: 1. Is Section 2, Republic Act No. 2264 an undue delegation of power, confiscatory and oppressive? 2. Do Ordinances Nos. 23 and 27 constitute double taxation and impose percentage or specific taxes? 3. Are Ordinances Nos. 23 and 27 unjust and unfair? 1. The power of taxation is an essential and inherent attribute of sovereignty, belonging as a matter of right to every independent government, without being expressly conferred by the people. 6 It is a power that is purely legislative and which the central legislative body cannot delegate either to the executive or judicial department of the government without infringing upon the theory of separation of powers. The exception, however, lies in the case of municipal corporations, to which, said theory does not apply. Legislative powers may be delegated to local governments in respect of matters of local concern. 7 This is sanctioned by immemorial practice. 8 By necessary implication, the legislative power to create political corporations for purposes of local self-government carries with it the power to confer on such local governmental agencies the power to tax. 9 Under the New Constitution, local governments are granted the autonomous authority to create their own sources of revenue and to levy taxes. Section 5, Article XI provides: "Each local government unit shall have the power to create its sources of revenue and to levy taxes, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law." Withal, it cannot be said that Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264 emanated from beyond the sphere of the legislative power to enact and vest in local governments the power of local taxation. The plenary nature of the taxing power thus delegated, contrary to plaintiff-appellant's pretense, would not suffice to invalidate the said law as confiscatory and oppressive. In delegating the authority, the State is not limited 6 the exact measure of that which is exercised by itself. When it is said that the taxing power may be delegated to municipalities and the like, it is meant that there may be delegated such measure of power to impose and collect taxes as the legislature may deem expedient. Thus, municipalities may be permitted to tax subjects which for reasons of public policy the State has not deemed wise to tax for more general purposes. 10 This is not to say though that the constitutional injunction against deprivation of property without due process of law may be passed over under the guise of the taxing power, except when the taking of the property is in the lawful exercise of the taxing power, as when (1) the tax is for a public purpose; (2) the rule on uniformity of taxation is observed; (3) either the person or

property taxed is within the jurisdiction of the government levying the tax; and (4) in the assessment and collection of certain kinds of taxes notice and opportunity for hearing are provided. 11 Due process is usually violated where the tax imposed is for a private as distinguished from a public purpose; a tax is imposed on property outside the State, i.e., extraterritorial taxation; and arbitrary or oppressive methods are used in assessing and collecting taxes. But, a tax does not violate the due process clause, as applied to a particular taxpayer, although the purpose of the tax will result in an injury rather than a benefit to such taxpayer. Due process does not require that the property subject to the tax or the amount of tax to be raised should be determined by judicial inquiry, and a notice and hearing as to the amount of the tax and the manner in which it shall be apportioned are generally not necessary to due process of law. 12 There is no validity to the assertion that the delegated authority can be declared unconstitutional on the theory of double taxation. It must be observed that the delegating authority specifies the limitations and enumerates the taxes over which local taxation may not be exercised. 13 The reason is that the State has exclusively reserved the same for its own prerogative. Moreover, double taxation, in general, is not forbidden by our fundamental law, since We have not adopted as part thereof the injunction against double taxation found in the Constitution of the United States and some states of the Union. 14 Double taxation becomes obnoxious only where the taxpayer is taxed twice for the benefit of the same governmental entity 15 or by the same jurisdiction for the same purpose, 16 but not in a case where one tax is imposed by the State and the other by the city or municipality. 17 2. The plaintiff-appellant submits that Ordinance No. 23 and 27 constitute double taxation, because these two ordinances cover the same subject matter and impose practically the same tax rate. The thesis proceeds from its assumption that both ordinances are valid and legally enforceable. This is not so. As earlier quoted, Ordinance No. 23, which was approved on September 25, 1962, levies or collects from soft drinks producers or manufacturers a tax of one-sixteen (1/16) of a centavo for .every bottle corked, irrespective of the volume contents of the bottle used. When it was discovered that the producer or manufacturer could increase the volume contents of the bottle and still pay the same tax rate, the Municipality of Tanauan enacted Ordinance No. 27, approved on October 28, 1962, imposing a tax of one centavo (P0.01) on each gallon (128 fluid ounces, U.S.) of volume capacity. The difference between the two ordinances clearly lies in the tax rate of the soft drinks produced: in Ordinance No. 23, it was 1/16 of a centavo for every bottle corked; in Ordinance No. 27, it is one centavo (P0.01) on each gallon (128 fluid ounces, U.S.) of volume capacity. The intention of the Municipal Council of Tanauan in enacting Ordinance No. 27 is thus clear: it was intended as a plain substitute for the prior Ordinance No. 23, and operates as a repeal of the latter, even without words to that effect. 18 Plaintiff-appellant in its brief admitted that defendants-appellees are only seeking to enforce Ordinance No. 27, series of 1962. Even the stipulation of facts confirms the fact that the Acting Municipal Treasurer of Tanauan, Leyte sought t6 compel compliance by the plaintiff-appellant of the provisions of said Ordinance No. 27, series of 1962. The aforementioned admission shows that only Ordinance No. 27, series of 1962 is being enforced by defendants-appellees. Even the Provincial Fiscal, counsel for defendants-appellees admits in his brief "that Section 7 of Ordinance No. 27, series of 1962 clearly repeals Ordinance No. 23 as the provisions of the latter are inconsistent with the provisions of the former." That brings Us to the question of whether the remaining Ordinance No. 27 imposes a percentage or a specific tax. Undoubtedly, the taxing authority conferred on local governments under Section 2, Republic Act No. 2264, is broad enough as to extend to almost "everything, accepting those which are mentioned therein." As long as the text levied under the authority of a city or municipal ordinance is not within the exceptions and limitations in the law, the same comes within the ambit of the general rule, pursuant to the rules of exclucion attehus and exceptio firmat regulum in cabisus non excepti 19 The limitation applies, particularly, to the prohibition against municipalities and municipal districts to impose "any percentage tax or other taxes in any form based thereon nor impose taxes on articles subject to specific tax except gasoline, under the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code." For purposes of this particular limitation, a municipal ordinance which prescribes a set ratio between the amount of the tax and the volume of sale of the taxpayer imposes a sales tax and is null and void for being outside the power of the municipality to enact. 20 But, the imposition of "a tax of one centavo (P0.01) on each gallon (128 fluid ounces, U.S.) of volume capacity" on all soft drinks produced or manufactured under Ordinance No. 27 does not partake of the nature of a percentage tax on sales, or other taxes in any form based thereon. The tax is levied on the produce (whether sold or not) and not on the sales. The volume capacity of the taxpayer's production of soft drinks is considered solely for purposes of determining the tax rate on the products, but there is not set ratio between the volume of sales and the amount of the tax. 21 Nor can the tax levied be treated as a specific tax. Specific taxes are those imposed on specified articles, such as distilled spirits, wines, fermented liquors, products of tobacco other than cigars and cigarettes, matches firecrackers, manufactured oils and other fuels, coal, bunker fuel oil, diesel fuel oil, cinematographic films, playing cards, saccharine, opium and other habit-forming drugs. 22 Soft drink is not one of those specified.

3. The tax of one (P0.01) on each gallon (128 fluid ounces, U.S.) of volume capacity on all softdrinks, produced or manufactured, or an equivalent of 1- centavos per case, 23 cannot be considered unjust and unfair. 24 an increase in the tax alone would not support the claim that the tax is oppressive, unjust and confiscatory. Municipal corporations are allowed much discretion in determining the reates of imposable taxes. 25 This is in line with the constutional policy of according the widest possible autonomy to local governments in matters of local taxation, an aspect that is given expression in the Local Tax Code (PD No. 231, July 1, 1973). 26 Unless the amount is so excessive as to be prohibitive, courts will go slow in writing off an ordinance as unreasonable. 27 Reluctance should not deter compliance with an ordinance such as Ordinance No. 27 if the purpose of the law to further strengthen local autonomy were to be realized. 28 Finally, the municipal license tax of P1,000.00 per corking machine with five but not more than ten crowners or P2,000.00 with ten but not more than twenty crowners imposed on manufacturers, producers, importers and dealers of soft drinks and/or mineral waters under Ordinance No. 54, series of 1964, as amended by Ordinance No. 41, series of 1968, of defendant Municipality, 29 appears not to affect the resolution of the validity of Ordinance No. 27. Municipalities are empowered to impose, not only municipal license taxes upon persons engaged in any business or occupation but also to levy for public purposes, just and uniform taxes. The ordinance in question (Ordinance No. 27) comes within the second power of a municipality. ACCORDINGLY, the constitutionality of Section 2 of Republic Act No. 2264, otherwise known as the Local Autonomy Act, as amended, is hereby upheld and Municipal Ordinance No. 27 of the Municipality of Tanauan, Leyte, series of 1962, re-pealing Municipal Ordinance No. 23, same series, is hereby declared of valid and legal effect. Costs against petitioner-appellant. SO ORDERED. Castro, C.J., Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Esguerra, Muoz Palma, Aquino and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-35726 July 21, 1982 SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, petitioner, vs. CITY OF BACOLOD and MIGUEL REYNALDO as City Treasurer of Bacolod City, respondents. Filemon Q. Almazan and Perlita C. Triatirona for petitioner. Catalino A. Dayon (City Legal Officer) for respondents.

ESCOLIN, J.: We set aside the decision of the Court of First instance of Negros Occidental in Civil Case No. 5980, entitled "Social Security System versus City of Bacolod and Miguel Reynaldo, as City Treasurer of Bacolod City," which sustained the forfeiture of certain real properties of the Social Security System in favor of the City of Bacolod for delinquency in payment of real estate taxes. Petitioner Social Security System is a government agency created under Republic Act No. 1161, whose primary function is to "develop, establish gradually and perfect a social security system which shall be suitable to the needs of the people throughout the Philippines, and shall provide protection against the hazards of disability, sickness, old age, and death." 1 In pursuance of its operations, petitioner, maintains a number of regional offices, one of which is the five-storey building, known as SSS Building in Bacolod City, occupying four parcels of land. In 1970, said lands and building were assessed for taxation at P1,744,840.00.

For petitioner's failure to pay the realty taxes for the years 1968, 1969 and 1970 which, including penalties, amounted to P104,956.06, respondent city sometime in early 1970 levied upon said lands and building; and on April 3, 1970, it declared said properties forfeited in its favor. In protest thereto, petitioner addressed a letter dated July 27, 1970 to the City Mayor of Bacolod, through respondent city treasurer, seeking reconsideration of the forfeiture proceedings on the ground that petitioner, being a government-owned and controlled corporation, is exempt from payment of real estate taxes. When no action thereon was taken by respondent city treasurer, petitioner filed an action in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental for nullification of the forfeiture proceedings. In the same complaint it sought the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain respondent city from consolidating its ownership over the forfeited properties, and this writ was issued by the court upon petitioner's posting of a cash bond in the amount of P105,000.00. After due hearing, the lower court rendered a decision declaring ... the properties of the Social Security System not exempt from the payment of real property tax inasmuch as the SSS does not fall under the provisions of Section 29 of the Charter of the City of Bacolod, and considering further that there is no law which exempts said entity from taxes, the same should therefore be subject to taxation like any other corporation in accordance with Section 27 of the City Charter of Bacolod City. The complaint is hereby dismissed with costs against the plaintiff. Hence, this petition. We find the petition meritorious. Section 29 of the Commonwealth Act No. 326, otherwise known as the Charter of the City of Bacolod, provides as follows: |plain SECTION 29. Exemption from taxation. Lands and buildings owned by the United States of America, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the City of Bacolod, the Province of Occidental Negros, and cemeteries, churches and their adjacent parsonages and convents, and lands, buildings and improvements used exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes, and not for profit, shall be exempt from taxation; but such exemptions shall not extend to lands or buildings held for investment, though the income therefrom be devoted to religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes. The court a quo restricted the scope of the exemption contemplated by the above section exclusively to those government agencies, entities and instrumentalities exercising governmental or sovereign functions. It relied on the ruling laid down in "NACOCO versus Bacani, et al." 2 to the effect that the National Coconut Corporation, a government agency performing mere ministrant functions, is not included in the term "Government of the Republic of the Philippines" for purposes of exemption from the legal fees provided for in Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. 3Invoking the case of "SSS versus Hon. Soriano, et al." 4 where this Court definitively categorized the SSS as a government agency performing proprietary functions, the trial court concluded that petitioner SSS does not fall within the coverage of Section 29 of the Charter of Bacolod City. There can be no question that a government owned or controlled corporation is subject to payment of the legal fees provided for in Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. Such liability is plainly written in Section 1 of Republic Act No. 104, which reads: ... All corporations, agencies, or instrumentalities owned or controlled by the government shall pay such duties, taxes, fees and other charges upon their transaction, business, industry, sale, or income as are imposed by law upon individuals, associations or corporations engaged in any taxable business, industry, or activity except on goods or commodities imported or purchased and sold or distributed for relief purposes as may be determined by President of the Philippines. However, the subject of inquiry in the case at bar is not whether a government corporation exercising ministrant or proprietary function, such as petitioner SSS, is exempt from the payment of legal fees, but whether the properties in

question, which are concededly owned by the government, are exempt from realty taxes. We hold that under Section 29 of the Charter of the City of Bacolod they are so exempt. It bears emphasis that the said section does not contain any qualification whatsoever in providing for the exemption from real estate taxes of "lands and buildings owned by the Commonwealth or Republic of Philippines." Hence, when the legislature exempted lands and buildings owned by the government from payment of said taxes, what it intended was a broad and comprehensive application of such mandate, regardless of whether such property is devoted to governmental or proprietary purpose. This conclusion is ineluctable from an examination of Commonwealth Act No. 470, a statute which deals specifically with the incidence of real estate taxes and the exemption thereto. It is to be noted that Section 3(a) of said statute contains a similarly worded exemption from the payment of realty taxes of "properties owned by ... the Republic of the Philippines, any province, city, municipality or municipal district ..." And in "Board of Assessment Appeals vs. Court of Tax Appeals" 5, this Court interpreted this provision in this wise: ... in exempting from taxation 'property owned by the Republic of the Philippines, any province, city, municipality or municipal district ... said section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 470 makes no distinction between property held in a sovereign, governmental or political capacity and those possessed in a private propriety or patrimonial character. And where the law does not distinguish neither may we, unless there are facts and circumstances clearly showing that the lawmaker intended the contrary, but no such facts and circumstances have been brought to our attention. Indeed, the noun 'property' and the verb 'owned' used in said section, 3 (a) strongly suggest that the object of exemption is considered more from the view point of dominion, than from that of domain. Moreover, taxes are financial burdens imposed for the purpose of raising revenues with which to defray the cost of the operation of the Government, and a tax on property of the Government, whether national or local, would merely have the effect of taking money from one pocket to put it in another pocket (Cooley on Taxation, Sec. 621, 4th Edition). Hence, it would not serve, in the final analysis, the main purpose of taxation. What is more, it would tend to defeat it, on account of the paper work, time and consequently, expenses it would entail. (The Law on Local Taxation, by Justiniano Y. Castillo, p. 13). The distinction laid down in "NACOCO vs. Bacani" 6 between government agencies exercising constituent functions, on the one hand, and those performing ministrant functions, on the other, has therefore no relevance to the issue before Us. What is decisive is that the properties possessed by the SSS, albeit devoted to private or proprietary purpose, are in fact owned by the government of the Philippines. As such they are exempt from realty taxes. It is axiomatic that when public property is involved, exemption is the rule and taxation, the exception. In connection with the issue at hand, it would not be amiss to state that Presidential Decree No. 24, which amended the Social Security Act of 1954, has already removed all doubts as to the exemption of the SSS from taxation. Thus SEC. 16. Exemption from tax, legal process, and lien. All laws to the contrary notwithstanding, the SSS and all its assets, all contributions collected and all accruals thereto and income therefrom as well as all benefit payments and all papers or documents which may be required in connection with the operation or execution of this Act shall be exempt from any tax, assessment, fee, charge or customs or import duty; and all benefit payments made by the SSS shall likewise be exempt from all kinds of taxes, fees or charges, and shall not be liable to attachment, garnishments, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatsoever, either before or after receipt by the person or persons entitled thereto, except to pay any debt of the covered employee to the SSS. WHEREFORE, the decision under review is hereby set aside, and the surety bond filed by petitioner cancelled. SO ORDERED. Barredo (Chairman), Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos and De Castro, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 122605. April 30, 2001]

SEA-LAND SERVICE, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents. DECISION PARDO, J.:

The Case

Appeal via certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming in toto that of the Court of Tax Appeals which denied petitioners claim for tax credit or refund of income tax paid on its gross Philippine billings for taxable year 1984, in the amount of P870,093.12.[1]

The Facts

The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows: Sea-Land Service Incorporated (SEA-LAND), an American international shipping company licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission to do business in the Philippines entered into a contract with the United States Government to transport military household goods and effects of U. S. military personnel assigned to the Subic Naval Base. From the aforesaid contract, SEA-LAND derived an income for the taxable year 1984 amounting to P58,006,207.54. During the taxable year in question, SEA-LAND filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the corresponding corporate Income Tax Return (ITR) and paid the income tax due thereon of 1.5% as required in Section 25 (a) (2) of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) in relation to Article 9 of the RP-US Tax Treaty, amounting to P870,093.12. Claiming that it paid the aforementioned income tax by mistake, a written claim for refund was filed with the BIR on 15 April 1987. However, before the said claim for refund could be acted upon by public respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue, petitioner-appellant filed a petition for review with the CTA docketed as CTA Case No. 4149, to judicially pursue its claim for refund and to stop the running of the two-year prescriptive period under the then Section 243 of the NIRC. On 21 February 1995, CTA rendered its decision denying SEA-LANDs claim for refund of the income tax it paid in 1984.[2] On March 30, 1995, petitioner appealed the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals to the Court of Appeals.[3] After due proceedings, on October 26, 1995, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision dismissing the appeal and affirming in toto the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals.[4] Hence, this petition.[5]

The Issue

The issue raised is whether or not the income that petitioner derived from services in transporting the household goods and effects of U. S. military personnel falls within the tax exemption provided in Article XII, paragraph 4 of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

The Courts Ruling

We deny the petition. The RP-US Military Bases Agreement provides: No national of the United States, or corporation organized under the laws of the United States, resident in the United States, shall be liable to pay income tax in the Philippines in respect of any profits derived under a contract made in the United States with the government of the United States in connection with the construction, maintenance, operation and defense of the bases, or any tax in the nature of a license in respect of any service or work for the United States in connection with the construction, maintenance, operation and defense of the bases.[6] Petitioner Sea-Land Service, Inc. a US shipping company licensed to do business in the Philippines earned income during taxable year 1984 amounting to P58,006,207.54, and paid income tax thereon of 1.5% amounting to P870,093.12. The question is whether petitioner is exempted from the payment of income tax on its revenue earned from the transport or shipment of household goods and effects of US personnel assigned at Subic Naval Base. Laws granting exemption from tax are construed strictissimi juris against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the taxing power. Taxation is the rule and exemption is the exception. [7] The law does not look with favor on tax exemptions and that he who would seek to be thus privileged must justify it by words too plain to be mistaken and too categorical to be misinterpreted.[8] Under Article XII (4) of the RPUS Military Bases Agreement, the Philippine Government agreed to exempt from payment of Philippine income tax nationals of the United States, or corporations organized under the laws of the United States, residents in the United States in respect of any profit derived under a contract made in the United States with the Government of the United States in connection with theconstruction, maintenance, operation and defense of the bases. It is obvious that the transport or shipment of household goods and effects of U. S. military personnel is not included in the term construction, maintenance, operation and defense of the bases. Neither could the performance of this service to the U. S. government be interpreted as directly related to the defense and security of the Philippine territories. When the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but only for application. [9] Any interpretation that would give it an expansive construction to encompass petitioners exemption from taxation would be unwarranted. The avowed purpose of tax exemption is some public benefit or interest, which the lawmaking body considers sufficient to offset the monetary loss entailed in the grant of the exemption. [10] The hauling or transport of household goods and personal effects of U. S. military personnel would not directly contribute to the defense and security of the Philippines. We see no reason to reverse the ruling of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals. The Supreme Court will not set aside lightly the conclusion reached by the Court of Tax Appeals which, by the very nature of its function, is dedicated exclusively to the consideration of tax problems and has necessarily developed an expertise on the subject, unless there has been an abuse or improvident exercise of authority.[11] Hence, the Court of Appeals did not err or gravely abuse its discretion in dismissing the petition for review. We can not grant the petition.

The Judgment

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition for lack of merit. No costs. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-54908 January 22, 1990

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, petitioner, vs. MITSUBISHI METAL CORPORATION, ATLAS CONSOLIDATED MINING AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and the COURT OF TAX APPEALS, respondents. G.R. No. 80041 January 22, 1990 COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, petitioner, vs. MITSUBISHI METAL CORPORATION, ATLAS CONSOLIDATED MINING AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and the COURT OF TAX APPEALS, respondents. Gadioma Law Offices for respondents.

REGALADO, J.: These cases, involving the same issue being contested by the same parties and having originated from the same factual antecedents generating the claims for tax credit of private respondents, the same were consolidated by resolution of this Court dated May 31, 1989 and are jointly decided herein. The records reflect that on April 17, 1970, Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (hereinafter, Atlas) entered into a Loan and Sales Contract with Mitsubishi Metal Corporation (Mitsubishi, for brevity), a Japanese corporation licensed to engage in business in the Philippines, for purposes of the projected expansion of the productive capacity of the former's mines in Toledo, Cebu. Under said contract, Mitsubishi agreed to extend a loan to Atlas 'in the amount of $20,000,000.00, United States currency, for the installation of a new concentrator for copper production. Atlas, in turn undertook to sell to Mitsubishi all the copper concentrates produced from said machine for a period of fifteen (15) years. It was contemplated that $9,000,000.00 of said loan was to be used for the purchase of the concentrator machinery from Japan. 1 Mitsubishi thereafter applied for a loan with the Export-Import Bank of Japan (Eximbank for short) obviously for purposes of its obligation under said contract. Its loan application was approved on May 26, 1970 in the sum of4,320,000,000.00, at about the same time as the approval of its loan for 2,880,000,000.00 from a consortium of Japanese banks. The total amount of both loans is equivalent to $20,000,000.00 in United States currency at the then prevailing exchange rate. The records in the Bureau of Internal Revenue show that the approval of the loan by Eximbank to Mitsubishi was subject to the condition that Mitsubishi would use the amount as a loan to Atlas and as a consideration for importing copper concentrates from Atlas, and that Mitsubishi had to pay back the total amount of loan by September 30, 1981. 2 Pursuant to the contract between Atlas and Mitsubishi, interest payments were made by the former to the latter totalling P13,143,966.79 for the years 1974 and 1975. The corresponding 15% tax thereon in the amount of P1,971,595.01 was withheld pursuant to Section 24 (b) (1) and Section 53 (b) (2) of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 131, and duly remitted to the Government. 3 On March 5, 1976, private respondents filed a claim for tax credit requesting that the sum of P1,971,595.01 be applied against their existing and future tax liabilities. Parenthetically, it was later noted by respondent Court of Tax Appeals in its decision that on August 27, 1976, Mitsubishi executed a waiver and disclaimer of its interest in the claim for tax credit in favor of Atlas. 4 The petitioner not having acted on the claim for tax credit, on April 23, 1976 private respondents filed a petition for review with respondent court, docketed therein as CTA Case No. 2801. 5 The petition was grounded on the claim that Mitsubishi was a mere agent of Eximbank, which is a financing institution owned, controlled and financed by the Japanese Government. Such governmental status of Eximbank, if it may be so called, is the basis for private repondents' claim for exemption from paying the tax on the interest payments on the loan as earlier stated. It was further claimed that the interest payments on the loan from the consortium of Japanese banks were likewise exempt

because said loan supposedly came from or were financed by Eximbank. The provision of the National Internal Revenue Code relied upon is Section 29 (b) (7) (A), 6 which excludes from gross income: (A) Income received from their investments in the Philippines in loans, stocks, bonds or other domestic securities, or from interest on their deposits in banks in the Philippines by (1) foreign governments, (2) financing institutions owned, controlled, or enjoying refinancing from them, and (3) international or regional financing institutions established by governments. Petitioner filed an answer on July 9, 1976. The case was set for hearing on April 6, 1977 but was later reset upon manifestation of petitioner that the claim for tax credit of the alleged erroneous payment was still being reviewed by the Appellate Division of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The records show that on November 16, 1976, the said division recommended to petitioner the approval of private respondent's claim. However, before action could be taken thereon, respondent court scheduled the case for hearing on September 30, 1977, during which trial private respondents presented their evidence while petitioner submitted his case on the basis of the records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the pleadings. 7 On April 18, 1980, respondent court promulgated its decision ordering petitioner to grant a tax credit in favor of Atlas in the amount of P1,971,595.01. Interestingly, the tax court held that petitioner admitted the material averments of private respondents when he supposedly prayed "for judgment on the pleadings without off-spring proof as to the truth of his allegations." 8 Furthermore, the court declared that all papers and documents pertaining to the loan of 4,320,000,000.00 obtained by Mitsubishi from Eximbank show that this was the same amount given to Atlas. It also observed that the money for the loans from the consortium of private Japanese banks in the sum of 2,880,000,000.00 "originated" from Eximbank. From these, respondent court concluded that the ultimate creditor of Atlas was Eximbank with Mitsubishi acting as a mere "arranger or conduit through which the loans flowed from the creditor Export-Import Bank of Japan to the debtor Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corporation." 9 A motion for reconsideration having been denied on August 20, 1980, petitioner interposed an appeal to this Court, docketed herein as G.R. No. 54908. While CTA Case No. 2801 was still pending before the tax court, the corresponding 15% tax on the amount of P439,167.95 on the P2,927,789.06 interest payments for the years 1977 and 1978 was withheld and remitted to the Government. Atlas again filed a claim for tax credit with the petitioner, repeating the same basis for exemption. On June 25, 1979, Mitsubishi and Atlas filed a petition for review with the Court of Tax Appeals docketed as CTA Case No. 3015. Petitioner filed his answer thereto on August 14, 1979, and, in a letter to private respondents dated November 12, 1979, denied said claim for tax credit for lack of factual or legal basis. 10 On January 15, 1981, relying on its prior ruling in CTA Case No. 2801, respondent court rendered judgment ordering the petitioner to credit Atlas the aforesaid amount of tax paid. A motion for reconsideration, filed on March 10, 1981, was denied by respondent court in a resolution dated September 7, 1987. A notice of appeal was filed on September 22, 1987 by petitioner with respondent court and a petition for review was filed with this Court on December 19, 1987. Said later case is now before us as G.R. No. 80041 and is consolidated with G.R. No. 54908. The principal issue in both petitions is whether or not the interest income from the loans extended to Atlas by Mitsubishi is excludible from gross income taxation pursuant to Section 29 b) (7) (A) of the tax code and, therefore, exempt from withholding tax. Apropos thereto, the focal question is whether or not Mitsubishi is a mere conduit of Eximbank which will then be considered as the creditor whose investments in the Philippines on loans are exempt from taxes under the code. Prefatorily, it must be noted that respondent court erred in holding in CTA Case No. 2801 that petitioner should be deemed to have admitted the allegations of the private respondents when it submitted the case on the basis of the pleadings and records of the bureau. There is nothing to indicate such admission on the part of petitioner nor can we accept respondent court's pronouncement that petitioner did not offer to prove the truth of its allegations. The records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue relevant to the case were duly submitted and admitted as petitioner's supporting evidence. Additionally, a hearing was conducted, with presentation of evidence, and the findings of respondent court were based not only on the pleadings but on the evidence adduced by the parties. There could, therefore, not have been a judgment on the pleadings, with the theorized admissions imputed to petitioner, as mistakenly held by respondent court.

Time and again, we have ruled that findings of fact of the Court of Tax Appeals are entitled to the highest respect and can only be disturbed on appeal if they are not supported by substantial evidence or if there is a showing of gross error or abuse on the part of the tax court. 11 Thus, ordinarily, we could give due consideration to the holding of respondent court that Mitsubishi is a mere agent of Eximbank. Compelling circumstances obtaining and proven in these cases, however, warrant a departure from said general rule since we are convinced that there is a misapprehension of facts on the part of the tax court to the extent that its conclusions are speculative in nature. The loan and sales contract between Mitsubishi and Atlas does not contain any direct or inferential reference to Eximbank whatsoever. The agreement is strictly between Mitsubishi as creditor in the contract of loan and Atlas as the seller of the copper concentrates. From the categorical language used in the document, one prestation was in consideration of the other. The specific terms and the reciprocal nature of their obligations make it implausible, if not vacuous to give credit to the cavalier assertion that Mitsubishi was a mere agent in said transaction. Surely, Eximbank had nothing to do with the sale of the copper concentrates since all that Mitsubishi stated in its loan application with the former was that the amount being procured would be used as a loan to and in consideration for importing copper concentrates from Atlas. 12 Such an innocuous statement of purpose could not have been intended for, nor could it legally constitute, a contract of agency. If that had been the purpose as respondent court believes, said corporations would have specifically so stated, especially considering their experience and expertise in financial transactions, not to speak of the amount involved and its purchasing value in 1970. A thorough analysis of the factual and legal ambience of these cases impels us to give weight to the following arguments of petitioner: The nature of the above contract shows that the same is not just a simple contract of loan. It is not a mere creditor-debtor relationship. It is more of a reciprocal obligation between ATLAS and MITSUBISHI where the latter shall provide the funds in the installation of a new concentrator at the former's Toledo mines in Cebu, while ATLAS in consideration of which, shall sell to MITSUBISHI, for a term of 15 years, the entire copper concentrate that will be produced by the installed concentrator. Suffice it to say, the selling of the copper concentrate to MITSUBISHI within the specified term was the consideration of the granting of the amount of $20 million to ATLAS. MITSUBISHI, in order to fulfill its part of the contract, had to obtain funds. Hence, it had to secure a loan or loans from other sources. And from what sources, it is immaterial as far as ATLAS in concerned. In this case, MITSUBISHI obtained the $20 million from the EXIMBANK, of Japan and the consortium of Japanese banks financed through the EXIMBANK, of Japan. When MITSUBISHI therefore secured such loans, it was in its own independent capacity as a private entity and not as a conduit of the consortium of Japanese banks or the EXIMBANK of Japan. While the loans were secured by MITSUBISHI primarily "as a loan to and in consideration for importing copper concentrates from ATLAS," the fact remains that it was a loan by EXIMBANK of Japan to MITSUBISHI and not to ATLAS. Thus, the transaction between MITSUBISHI and EXIMBANK of Japan was a distinct and separate contract from that entered into by MITSUBISHI and ATLAS. Surely, in the latter contract, it is not EXIMBANK, that was intended to be benefited. It is MITSUBISHI which stood to profit. Besides, the Loan and Sales Contract cannot be any clearer. The only signatories to the same were MITSUBISHI and ATLAS. Nowhere in the contract can it be inferred that MITSUBISHI acted for and in behalf of EXIMBANK, of Japan nor of any entity, private or public, for that matter. Corollary to this, it may well be stated that in this jurisdiction, well-settled is the rule that when a contract of loan is completed, the money ceases to be the property of the former owner and becomes the sole property of the obligor (Tolentino and Manio vs. Gonzales Sy, 50 Phil. 558). In the case at bar, when MITSUBISHI obtained the loan of $20 million from EXIMBANK, of Japan, said amount ceased to be the property of the bank and became the property of MITSUBISHI.

The conclusion is indubitable; MITSUBISHI, and NOT EXIMBANK, is the sole creditor of ATLAS, the former being the owner of the $20 million upon completion of its loan contract with EXIMBANK of Japan. The interest income of the loan paid by ATLAS to MITSUBISHI is therefore entirely different from the interest income paid by MITSUBISHI to EXIMBANK, of Japan. What was the subject of the 15% withholding tax is not the interest income paid by MITSUBISHI to EXIMBANK, but the interest income earned by MITSUBISHI from the loan to ATLAS. . . . 13 To repeat, the contract between Eximbank and Mitsubishi is entirely different. It is complete in itself, does not appear to be suppletory or collateral to another contract and is, therefore, not to be distorted by other considerations aliunde. The application for the loan was approved on May 20, 1970, or more than a month after the contract between Mitsubishi and Atlas was entered into on April 17, 1970. It is true that under the contract of loan with Eximbank, Mitsubishi agreed to use the amount as a loan to and in consideration for importing copper concentrates from Atlas, but all that this proves is the justification for the loan as represented by Mitsubishi, a standard banking practice for evaluating the prospects of due repayment. There is nothing wrong with such stipulation as the parties in a contract are free to agree on such lawful terms and conditions as they see fit. Limiting the disbursement of the amount borrowed to a certain person or to a certain purpose is not unusual, especially in the case of Eximbank which, aside from protecting its financial exposure, must see to it that the same are in line with the provisions and objectives of its charter. Respondents postulate that Mitsubishi had to be a conduit because Eximbank's charter prevents it from making loans except to Japanese individuals and corporations. We are not impressed. Not only is there a failure to establish such submission by adequate evidence but it posits the unfair and unexplained imputation that, for reasons subject only of surmise, said financing institution would deliberately circumvent its own charter to accommodate an alien borrower through a manipulated subterfuge, but with it as a principal and the real obligee. The allegation that the interest paid by Atlas was remitted in full by Mitsubishi to Eximbank, assuming the truth thereof, is too tenuous and conjectural to support the proposition that Mitsubishi is a mere conduit. Furthermore, the remittance of the interest payments may also be logically viewed as an arrangement in paying Mitsubishi's obligation to Eximbank. Whatever arrangement was agreed upon by Eximbank and Mitsubishi as to the manner or procedure for the payment of the latter's obligation is their own concern. It should also be noted that Eximbank's loan to Mitsubishi imposes interest at the rate of 75% per annum, while Mitsubishis contract with Atlas merely states that the "interest on the amount of the loan shall be the actual cost beginning from and including other dates of releases against loan." 14 It is too settled a rule in this jurisdiction, as to dispense with the need for citations, that laws granting exemption from tax are construed strictissimi juris against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the taxing power. Taxation is the rule and exemption is the exception. The burden of proof rests upon the party claiming exemption to prove that it is in fact covered by the exemption so claimed, which onus petitioners have failed to discharge. Significantly, private respondents are not even among the entities which, under Section 29 (b) (7) (A) of the tax code, are entitled to exemption and which should indispensably be the party in interest in this case. Definitely, the taxability of a party cannot be blandly glossed over on the basis of a supposed "broad, pragmatic analysis" alone without substantial supportive evidence, lest governmental operations suffer due to diminution of much needed funds. Nor can we close this discussion without taking cognizance of petitioner's warning, of pervasive relevance at this time, that while international comity is invoked in this case on the nebulous representation that the funds involved in the loans are those of a foreign government, scrupulous care must be taken to avoid opening the floodgates to the violation of our tax laws. Otherwise, the mere expedient of having a Philippine corporation enter into a contract for loans or other domestic securities with private foreign entities, which in turn will negotiate independently with their governments, could be availed of to take advantage of the tax exemption law under discussion. WHEREFORE, the decisions of the Court of Tax Appeals in CTA Cases Nos. 2801 and 3015, dated April 18, 1980 and January 15, 1981, respectively, are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

September 4, 1930 G.R. No. 33403 THIRTY-FIRST INFANTRY POST EXCHANGE and FIRST LIEUTENANT DAVID L. HARDEE, THIRTY-FIRST INFANTRY, UNITED STATES ARMY, plaintiffs, vs. JUAN POSADAS, JR., Collector of Internal Revenue, Philippine Islands, defendant. Wm. Taylor, Mark E. Guerin, and Thomas T. Trapnell for plaintiffs. Attorney-General Jaranilla for defendant. MALCOLM, J.: The question involved in these original proceedings of prohibition is whether a tax may be levied by the Government of the Philippine Islands on sales made by merchants to Post Exchanges of the United States Army in the Philippines. The point of jurisdiction of this court has not been raised by the Attorney-General in representation of the defendant, and we do not propose to be supercritical in this respect. The parties have submitted the case on the following agreed statement of facts: 1. The plaintiff, Thirty-first Infantry Post Exchange, is now and for all the times material to this suit has been constituted as a post exchange in accordance with the Army Regulations (of which the court may take judicial notice) and the laws of the United States, with its place of business in the Cuartel de Espaa in the City of Manila, P. I. It is an agency within the United States Army, under the control of the officers of the Army. It is recognized and authorized in general terms by the Congress of the United States in various enactments. First Lieutenant David L. Hardee, Thirty-first Infantry, whose residence is in the City of Manila, P. I., is the duly appointed and acting Exchange Officer of said exchange, and is charged with the immediate conduct and management of the business of said plaintiff Exchange. The defendant, Juan Posadas, jr., is the duly qualified and acting Collector of Internal Revenue of the Philippine islands, with office and residence in the City of Manila, P. I. 2. The said plaintiff Exchange is designed for the accommodation, convenience, and assistance of the personnel of the Army. All of the goods sold to and purchased by the said plaintiff Exchange are intended for resale to and are in fact resold, as they have been in the past, to the officers, soldiers and the civilian employees of the Army, and their families. The goods sold to and purchased by the said plaintiff Exchange have consisted and do consist largely of sundry articles for personal use, such as soaps, shaving materials, and other toilet articles, and other goods generally found in a well-stocked general store. Such purchases and resales, though fully authorized by law and the Army Regulations, are not specifically required by statutory enactment. The net proceeds derived from all such resales do not accrue to the general funds of the United States, that is, they are not deposited in the Treasury of the United States, but are used for the betterment of the condition of the enlisted personnel of the Army, to the end that thereby the morale and efficiency of the armed forces of the United States may be improved and increased.

3. In the course of its duly authorized business transactions, the said plaintiff Exchange, under the direction of the said plaintiff David L. Hardee, as Exchange Officer, and his predecessors in that office, has, during the period of several years last past, made many purchases of various and divers commodities, goods, wares, and merchandise from various and divers merchants in the Philippine Islands, and is continuing to do so, and like purchases by the said plaintiff Exchange from merchants in the Philippine Islands are intended and contemplated as necessary in the conduct of its duly authorized business. 4. Following many and divers of the aforesaid purchases by the said plaintiff Exchange, the defendant, Juan Posadas, Jr., Collector of Internal Revenue of the Philippine Islands, and his predecessors in that office, have collected from the merchants who made the sales of the commodities, goods, wares, and merchandise to the plaintiff Exchange, taxes at the rate of one and one-half per centum on the gross value in money of the commodities, goods, wares, and merchandise, sold by them to the plaintiff Exchange, and based on the actual prices at which the sales were made, and the average amount of money per annum for several years last past demanded and collected by the defendant and his predecessors in office as such taxes on the aforesaid sales to the plaintiff Exchange has been several thousand pesos, averaging more than two thousand pesos per annum since January 1, 1927. 5. The defendant persists in demanding and collecting such taxes and at the said rates on the sales of commodities, goods, wares, and merchandise which are being effected by merchants in the Philippine Islands to the plaintiff Exchange. He intends and expects to continue to demand and collect such taxes and at said rates on sales of commodities, goods, wares, and merchandise sold by merchants in the Philippine Islands to plaintiff Exchange, and all other Army post exchanges in the Philippine Islands, unless certain statutes of the Philippine Islands and of the United States in respect thereof shall be modified or repealed, or he be restrained and prohibited therefrom by judgment of the proper tribunal. The statutes upon which the defendant relies as his authority for such demand and collection of taxes, particularly, are section 1459 of Act. No. 2711, and Act No. 3243 of the public laws enacted by the Philippine Legislature; also the Act of June 4, 1918 (40 Stat., 597) and the Act of March 3, 1927 (44 Stat., 1390), enacted by the Congress of the United States, ratifying the said two enactments of the Philippine Legislature. 6. The effect of the demand and collection of taxes by the defendant on the sales of such commodities, goods, wares and merchandise thus sold to and bought by the plaintiff Exchange has been, is, and in the future will be unless the defendant be commanded to desist and refrain from such demand and collection, to increase the cost thereof to the plaintiff Exchange, by at least the amounts of such taxes demanded and collected as aforesaid in each instance. What is known as the sales tax is in force in the Philippines. A percentage tax of 1 1/2 per centum is collected on merchants sales. (Administrative Code, sec. 1459; Act No. 3243.) The taxes imposed by the Philippine Legislature in said section 1459 and in Act No. 3243 have by Acts of Congress been legalized and ratified, and the collection of all such taxes . . . legalized, ratified, and confirmed to all intents and purposes as if the same had by prior Act of Congress been specifically authorized and directed. (Acts of Congress of June 4, 1918, and March 3, 1927, 40 Stat. L., 597, and 44 Stat. L.,

1390.) Philippine law as thus enacted and expressly confirmed by the Congress, makes particular mention of the persons exempt from this tax, without, however, including in the enumeration commercial transactions with Army Post Exchanges. On the other hand, our general law provides express exemptions from the other taxes for the United States and its agencies. (Administrative Code, sec. 344, 1418, 1439, 1449 [s], 1450, 1474, and 1478.) Taxes have been collected from merchants who make sales to Army Post Exchanges since 1904. (Act No. 1189, sec. 139.) Similar taxes are paid by those who sell merchandise to the Philippine Government through the Bureau of Supply (Ruling, Bureau of Internal Revenue, March 5, 1925, and prior precedents), and we likewise assume, by those who do business with the United States Army and Navy in the Philippines. Only in the case at bar has formal legal protest been made. In 1916, the case of Walter E. Olsen & Co. vs. Rafferty ([1919], 39 Phil. 464), pertaining to the payment of specific taxes by Army Post Exchanges, arose. The revenue laws at that time, as they do now, provided that no specific tax shall be collected on any articles sold and delivered directly to the United States Army or Navy for actual use or issue by the Army or Navy, and any taxes which have been paid on articles so sold and delivered for such use or issue shall be refunded upon such sale and delivery, . . . . Although in this case passing reference was made in the court below and in appellants brief to some of the larger constitutional aspects, the Supreme Court confined its decision to determining whether or not merchandise, which is generally subject to the payment of internal revenue tax, is relieved from said tax when it is sold to the Army or Navy of the United States for resale to individuals by means or through the post exchanges or ships stores. The court, in resolving against the contention of the plaintiff merchant, said: While post exchanges and ships stores are institutions within the Army and Navy of the United States, and are recognized by Acts of Congress, and are under the control of the Army and Navy, and are organized for the convenience and assistance of the soldiers and sailors, we are not inclined to believe that goods sold to the soldiers and sailors of the Army and Navy, even though they be sold through said exchanges by the intervention of officers of the Army and Navy, are goods sold directly to the United States Army or Navy for actual use or issue by the Army or Navy. They are goods sold for the use and benefit of the post exchanges, etc., and not for the actual use or issue by the Army or Navy. We do not believe that the exemption provided for in the above-quoted section applies to goods sold to the United States Army and Navy to be resold to the individuals of said organization. The money used for the purchase of merchandise sold through the post exchanges, etc., is not supplied by, nor for, the United States Army and Navy. Neither does the money received in the resale of such merchandise through the post exchanges, etc., become a part of the general funds of the Army and Navy. In our opinion, the sale of merchandise through the post exchanges to the individuals of the United States Army and Navy are not goods sold and delivered directly to the United States Army or Navy for the actual use or issue by the Army or Navy and are therefore, not exempt from the payment of the internal revenue tax imposed by the law. (Emphasis those of court.) The laws to be applied are, in effect, Acts of the Congress of the United States, and so form a part of Philippine Organic Law. (Mitsui Bussan Kaisha vs. Manila E. R. R. & L. Co. [1919], 39 Phil. 624.) We do

not wish to be guilty of overstating the proper principle, but it would seem that since no law of the Congress forbids the taxation of merchants who deal with Army Post Exchanges, and since the Congress has legalized the applicable law, and in doing so has granted no immunity from taxation to merchants who deal with Army Post Exchanges, the Congress has permitted such transactions with Army Post Exchanges, on the assumption that Post Exchanges are agencies of the United States, to be taxed by the Philippine Government. It must be understood, however, that the waiver must be clear, and that every well grounded doubt should be resolved in favor of the exemption. (Austin vs. Aldermen of Boston [1869], 7 Wall., 694.) As to the facts, the nature of Army Post Exchanges is explained in the stipulation of facts and in the case of Walter E. Olsen & Co. vs. Rafferty, supra. In addition, it might be advisable to state that the construction, equipment, and maintenance of post exchange buildings are provided for by appropriation Acts of the Congress. The Court of Claims in holding an officer in charge of a post exchange not a retail dealer in liquors, said that post exchanges though conducted without financial liability to the Government, are, in their creation and management, governmental agencies . . . . (Dugan vs. U. S. [1899], 34 Court of Claims, 458.) The Judge Advocate General has said that a post exchange is a voluntary unincorporated cooperative association of Army organizations, a kind of cooperative store, in which all share in the benefits and all assume a position analogous to that of partners. (Opinion, J. A. G., June 4, 1918.) Again, although we do not desire to overstate the matter, the rule is that whenever a state engages in a business which is of a private nature, that business is not withdrawn from the taxing power of the Nation, or, conversely stated, whenever the National Government permits an organization under its control to engage in a business which is of a private nature, that business is not withdrawn from the taxing power of the state. (South Carolina vs. U. S. [1905], 199 U.S. 437.) The plaintiffs in this case are the Thirty-first Infantry Post Exchange and the Exchange Officer of that Exchange. But the stipulation of facts concedes that it is the merchants who effect the sales to the Post Exchange who pay the tax. And it is the officers, soldiers, and civilian employees and their families who are benefited by the post exchange to whom the tax is ultimately shifted. Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court of the United States had quite similar facts in mind when in his dissenting opinion in the case of Panhandle Oil Co. vs. Knox ([1928], 277 U.S. 218), he said: If the plaintiff in error had paid the tax and had added it to the price, the Government would have had nothing to say. Here, it must again be stated that it is not the vendors of merchandise who are protesting, but it is the Army Post Exchange which is the complainant. The foregoing might be sufficient to dispose of the case. However, we would not like to be charged with dodging the more vital issues, and so will take under view the larger constitutional aspects of the question. Chief Justice Marshall was originally responsible for the rule that without Congressional consent, no Federal agency or instrumentality can be taxed by state authority. (McCulloch vs. State of Maryland [1819], 4 Wheat., 316; Jaybird Mining Co. vs. Weir [1926], 271 U.S. 609.) Naturally, in the course of time, attempts have been made to extend the exemption from state taxation, established by the case of McCulloch vs. State of Maryland, supra, beyond its terms. Only those agencies through which the

Federal Government immediately and directly exercises its sovereign powers are immune from the taxing power of the states. The reason upon which the rule rests must be the guiding principle to control its operation. The limitations upon the taxing power of the state must receive a practical construction which does not seriously impair the taxing power of the Government imposing the tax. The effect of the tax upon the functions of the Government and the nature of the governmental agency determine finally the extent of the exemption. (Metcalf vs. Mitchell [1926], 269 U.S. 514; Thomson vs. Union Pacific Railroad Co. [1869], 9 Wall., 579.) It would be impracticable to point out all of the limitations to the general rule, but a few may be noted. Thus in the well considered decision in Union Pacific Railroad Co. vs. Peniston ([1873], 18 Wall., 5), it was said: It cannot be that a state tax which remotely affects the efficient exercise of a federal power is for that reason alone inhibited by the Constitution. Again, with more direct application, although contained in a dissenting opinion, Justice Thompson, in Weston vs. City Council of Charleston ([1829], 2 Pet., 449), said: The unqualified proposition that a State cannot directly or indirectly tax any instrument or means employed by the general government in the execution of its power, cannot be literally sustained. Congress has power to raise armies, such armies are made up of officers and soldiers, and are instruments employed by the government in executing its powers; and although the army, as such, cannot be taxed, yet it will not be claimed that all such officers and soldiers are exempt from State taxation. The United States Supreme Court has held that the use of machinery and boats in the harbor of San Juan, Porto Rico, in the performance of a dredging contract with the United States, does not exempt them from location taxation. (Gromer vs. Standard Dredging Co. [1911], 224 U.S. 362.) It has been contended during the course of our deliberations that, all other questions to one side, the case is governed by the comparatively recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Panhandle Oil Co. vs. Knox, supra. There it was held by a closely divided court that (1) A state tax imposed on dealers in gasoline for the privilege of selling, and measured at so many cents per gallon of gasoline sold, is void under the Federal Constitution as applied to sales to instrumentalities of the United States, such as the Coast Guard Fleet and a Veterans Hospital; (2) that the substance and legal effect is to tax the sale, and thus burden and tax the United States, exacting tribute on its transactions for the support of the State; and (3) that such an exaction infringes the right of the dealer to have the constitutional independence of the United States in respect of such purchases remain untrammeled. With all due deference to the pronouncements of the higher court which we are bound to abide by, we are yet convinced that the cited case is not controlling. We will point out some of the differences between the two cases. There the plaintiff in error was a private oil company which had been sued by the state to recover taxes; here the plaintiffs are not the private individuals who paid the taxes but are an Army Post Exchange and its Exchange Officer. There the law in question was an Act of the State Legislature; here the laws in question are Acts of the Philippine Legislature which have been ratified by the Congress of the United States and raised to the level of organic laws. There the right of the United States to make purchases was derived from the United States Constitution; here the right of the Army Post Exchange to make purchases is derived from Army regulations and Army practice. There the sale was made to instrumentalities authorized by the constitution, which consumed the merchandise; here

the sales were made to Army Post Exchanges not so constitutionally authorized, which merely acted as intermediaries. There it must be taken for granted that the Coast Guard Fleet and the Veterans Hospital were constructed and operated by Government funds; here, except that buildings are provided by the United States Government for the Army Post Exchanges, the latter are not so constructed and operated. The majority decision in the Panhandle Oil case carries the Marshallian theory of national supremacy just about to its extreme limits. We do not think that the present case falls within those limits. When a merchant sells a case of hair pins to an Army post exchange, and the wife of an Army officer purchases a package of those hair pins, and when a merchant sells a quantity of tobacco to an Army post exchange, and a soldier provides himself with his tobacco; and when the merchants who perfect the sales make good the required taxes, the exertion of national power is not so burdened or interfered with, and the exactions demanded do not so infringe the constitutional independence of the United States as to exempt the sales from taxation, which every one else, including the merchant who sells to the Philippine Government, must pay. That is our understanding of the authorities and of the law. There can exist no measure of doubt that the basic rule, together with its qualifications, applies not only to the States of the American Union, but also to unincorporated territories with the status of the Government of the Philippine Islands. Placing some emphasis on the point of long acquiescence in the imposition of the sales tax on vendors of merchandise to Army Post Exchanges; on the point that the Congress of the United States has virtually sanctioned such a sales tax by confirming Philippine revenue laws without reservation; and on the point that a kind of cooperative store in the Army is akin to a private business enterprise which is not withdrawn from taxation, we desire with more emphasis to indicate the lack of standing of the plaintiffs to contest the tax. On still broader grounds, we would consider the effects of the sales tax upon the United States Army, and the nature of an Army Post Exchange. The tax laid upon Philippine merchants who sell to Army Post Exchanges does not interfere with the supremacy of the United States Government, or with the operations of its instrumentality, the United States Army, to such an extent or in such a manner as to render the tax illegal. The tax does not deprive the Army of the power to serve the Government as it was intended to serve it, or hinder the efficient exercise of its power. We rule that an Army Post Exchange, although an agency within the United States Army, cannot secure exemption from taxation for merchants who make sales to the Post Exchange. The question must, therefore, be answered in the affirmative. The plaintiffs have not made out a case. Wherefore, the complaint will be dismissed, with costs. Avancea, C.J., Street, Villamor, Romualdez and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 137377. December 18, 2001]

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, petitioner, vs. MARUBENI CORPORATION, respondent.

DECISION PUNO, J.: In this petition for review, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue assails the decision dated January 15, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42518 which affirmed the decision dated July 29, 1996 of the Court of Tax Appeals in CTA Case No. 4109. The tax court ordered the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to desist from collecting the 1985 deficiency income, branch profit remittance and contractors taxes from Marubeni Corporation after finding the latter to have properly availed of the tax amnesty under Executive Orders Nos. 41 and 64, as amended. Respondent Marubeni Corporation is a foreign corporation organized and existing under the laws of Japan. It is engaged in general import and export trading, financing and the construction business. It is duly registered to engage in such business in the Philippines and maintains a branch office in Manila. Sometime in November 1985, petitioner Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued a letter of authority to examine the books of accounts of the Manila branch office of respondent corporation for the fiscal year ending March 1985. In the course of the examination, petitioner found respondent to have undeclared income from two (2) contracts in the Philippines, both of which were completed in 1984. One of the contracts was with the National Development Company (NDC) in connection with the construction and installation of a wharf/port complex at the Leyte Industrial Development Estate in the municipality of Isabel, province of Leyte. The other contract was with the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation (Philphos) for the construction of an ammonia storage complex also at the Leyte Industrial Development Estate. On March 1, 1986, petitioners revenue examiners recommended an assessment for deficiency income, branch profit remittance, contractors and commercial brokers taxes. Respondent questioned this assessment in a letter dated June 5, 1986. On August 27, 1986, respondent corporation received a letter dated August 15, 1986 from petitioner assessing respondent several deficiency taxes. The assessed deficiency internal revenue taxes, inclusive of surcharge and interest, were as follows: I. DEFICIENCY INCOME TAX FY ended March 31, 1985 Undeclared gross income (Philphos and and NDC construction projects). . . . . . . . . . . . P 967,269,811.14 Less: Cost and expenses (50%) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Net undeclared income . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Income tax due thereon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Add: 50% surcharge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20% int. p.a. fr. 7-15-85 to to 8-15-86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36,675,646.90 483,634,905.57 483,634,905.57 169,272,217.00 84,636,108.50

TOTAL AMOUNT DUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P 290,583,972.40 II. DEFICIENCY BRANCH PROFIT REMITTANCE TAX FY ended March 31, 1985 Undeclared net income from Philphos and NDC construction projects . . . . . P 483,634,905.57

Less: Income tax thereon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amount subject to Tax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tax due thereon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Add: 50% surcharge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20% int. p.a. fr. 4-26-85 to 8-15-86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TOTAL AMOUNT DUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . III. DEFICIENCY CONTRACTORS TAX FY ended March 31, 1985 Undeclared gross receipts/ gross income from

169,272,217.00 314,362,688.57 47,154,403.00 23,577,201.50

12,305,360.66 P 83,036,965.16

Philphos and NDC construction projects . . . . P 967,269,811.14 Contractors tax due thereon (4%). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Add: 50% surcharge for non-declaration. . . . . . 25% surcharge for late payment . . . . . . . . . Sub-total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Add: 20% int. p.a. fr. 4-21-85 to to 8-15-86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TOTAL AMOUNT DUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IV. 17,854,739.46 38,690,792.00 19,345,396.00 9,672,698.00 67,708,886.00

. . . . P 85,563,625.46

DEFICIENCY COMMERCIAL BROKERS TAX FY ended March 31, 1985

Undeclared share from commission income (denominated as subsidy from Home Office). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tax due thereon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Add: 50% surcharge for non-declaration. . . . . . . 25% surcharge for late payment . . . . . . . . . Sub-total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . P 24,683,114.50 1,628,569.00 814,284.50 407,142.25 2,849,995.75

Add: 20% int. p.a. fr. 4-21-85 to 8-15-86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TOTAL AMOUNT DUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P 751,539.98 3,600,535.68

The 50% surcharge was imposed for your clients failure to report for tax purposes the aforesaid taxable revenues while the 25% surcharge was imposed because of your clients failure to pay on time the above deficiency percentage taxes. xxx xxx x x x. [1]

Petitioner found that the NDC and Philphos contracts were made on a turn-key basis and that the gross income from the two projects amounted to P967,269,811.14. Each contract was for a piece of work and since the projects called for the construction and installation of facilities in the Philippines, the entire income therefrom constituted income from Philippine sources, hence, subject to internal revenue taxes. The assessment letter further stated that the same was petitioners final decision and that if respondent disagreed with it, respondent may file an appeal with the Court of Tax Appeals within thirty (30) days from receipt of the assessment. On September 26, 1986, respondent filed two (2) petitions for review with the Court of Tax Appeals. The first petition, CTA Case No. 4109, questioned the deficiency income, branch profit remittance and contractors tax assessments in petitioners assessment letter. The second, CTA Case No. 4110, questioned the deficiency commercial brokers assessment in the same letter. Earlier, on August 2, 1986, Executive Order (E.O.) No. 41[2] declaring a one-time amnesty covering unpaid income taxes for the years 1981 to 1985 was issued. Under this E.O., a taxpayer who wished to avail of the income tax amnesty should, on or before October 31, 1986: (a) file a sworn statement declaring his net worth as of December 31, 1985; (b) file a certified true copy of his statement declaring his net worth as of December 31, 1980 on record with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), or if no such record exists, file a statement of said net worth subject to verification by the BIR; and (c) file a return and pay a tax equivalent to ten per cent (10%) of the increase in net worth from December 31, 1980 to December 31, 1985. In accordance with the terms of E.O. No. 41, respondent filed its tax amnesty return dated October 30, 1986 and attached thereto its sworn statement of assets and liabilities and net worth as of Fiscal Year (FY) 1981 and FY 1986. The return was received by the BIR on November 3, 1986 and respondent paid the amount of P2,891,273.00 equivalent to ten percent (10%) of its net worth increase between 1981 and 1986. The period of the amnesty in E.O. No. 41 was later extended from October 31, 1986 to December 5, 1986 by E.O. No. 54 dated November 4, 1986. On November 17, 1986, the scope and coverage of E.O. No. 41 was expanded by Executive Order (E.O.) No. 64. In addition to the income tax amnesty granted by E.O. No. 41 for the years 1981 to 1985, E.O. No. 64 [3] included estate and donors taxes under Title III and the tax on business under Chapter II, Title V of the National Internal Revenue Code, also covering the years 1981 to 1985. E.O. No. 64 further provided that the immunities and privileges under E.O. No. 41 were extended to the foregoing tax liabilities, and the period within which the taxpayer could avail of the amnesty was extended to December 15, 1986. Those taxpayers who already filed their amnesty return under E.O. No. 41, as amended, could avail themselves of the benefits, immunities and privileges under the new E.O. by filing an amended return and paying an additional 5% on the increase in net worth to cover business, estate and donors tax liabilities. The period of amnesty under E.O. No. 64 was extended to January 31, 1987 by E.O No. 95 dated December 17, 1986. On December 15, 1986, respondent filed a supplemental tax amnesty return under the benefit of E.O. No. 64 and paid a further amount of P1,445,637.00 to the BIR equivalent to five percent (5%) of the increase of its net worth between 1981 and 1986. On July 29, 1996, almost ten (10) years after filing of the case, the Court of Tax Appeals rendered a decision in CTA Case No. 4109. The tax court found that respondent had properly availed of the tax amnesty under E.O. Nos. 41 and 64 and declared the deficiency taxes subject of said case as deemed cancelled and withdrawn. The Court of Tax Appeals disposed of as follows: WHEREFORE, the respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue is hereby ORDERED to DESIST from collecting the 1985 deficiency taxes it had assessed against petitioner and the same are deemed considered [sic] CANCELLED and WITHDRAWN by reason of the proper availment by petitioner of the amnesty under Executive Order No. 41, as amended.[4] Petitioner challenged the decision of the tax court by filing CA-G.R. SP No. 42518 with the Court of Appeals.

On January 15, 1999, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition and affirmed the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals. Hence, this recourse. Before us, petitioner raises the following issues: (1) Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the Decision of the Court of Tax Appeals which ruled that herein respondents deficiency tax liabilities were extinguished upon respondents availment of tax amnesty under Executive Orders Nos. 41 and 64. (2) Whether or not respondent is liable to pay the income, branch profit remittance, and contractors taxes assessed by petitioner.[5] The main controversy in this case lies in the interpretation of the exception to the amnesty coverage of E.O. Nos. 41 and 64. There are three (3) types of taxes involved herein income tax, branch profit remittance tax and contractors tax. These taxes are covered by the amnesties granted by E.O. Nos. 41 and 64. Petitioner claims, however, that respondent is disqualified from availing of the said amnesties because the latter falls under the exception in Section 4 (b) of E.O. No. 41. Section 4 of E.O. No. 41 enumerates which taxpayers cannot avail of the amnesty granted thereunder, viz: Sec. 4. Exceptions.The following taxpayers may not avail themselves of the amnesty herein granted: a) Those falling under the provisions of Executive Order Nos. 1, 2 and 14; b) Those with income tax cases already filed in Court as of the effectivity hereof; c) Those with criminal cases involving violations of the income tax law already filed in court as of the effectivity hereof; d) Those that have withholding tax liabilities under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, insofar as the said liabilities are concerned; e) Those with tax cases pending investigation by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as of the effectivity hereof as a result of information furnished under Section 316 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended; f) Those with pending cases involving unexplained or unlawfully acquired wealth before the Sandiganbayan; g) Those liable under Title Seven, Chapter Three (Frauds, Illegal Exactions and Transactions) and Chapter Four (Malversation of Public Funds and Property) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Petitioner argues that at the time respondent filed for income tax amnesty on October 30, 1986, CTA Case No. 4109 had already been filed and was pending before the Court of Tax Appeals. Respondent therefore fell under the exception in Section 4 (b) of E.O. No. 41. Petitioners claim cannot be sustained. Section 4 (b) of E.O. No. 41 is very clear and unambiguous. It excepts from income tax amnesty those taxpayers with income tax cases already filed in court as of the effectivity hereof. The point of reference is the date of effectivity of E.O. No. 41. The filing of income tax cases in court must have been made before and as of the date of effectivity of E.O. No. 41. Thus, for a taxpayer not to be disqualified under Section 4 (b) there must have been no income tax cases filed in court against him when E.O. No. 41 took effect. This is regardless of when the taxpayer filed for income tax amnesty, provided of course he files it on or before the deadline for filing. E.O. No. 41 took effect on August 22, 1986. CTA Case No. 4109 questioning the 1985 deficiency income, branch profit remittance and contractors tax assessments was filed by respondent with the Court of Tax Appeals on September 26, 1986. When E.O. No. 41 became effective on August 22, 1986, CTA Case No. 4109 had not yet been filed in court. Respondent corporation did not fall under the said exception in Section 4 (b), hence, respondent was not disqualified from availing of the amnesty for income tax under E.O. No. 41. The same ruling also applies to the deficiency branch profit remittance tax assessment. A branch profit remittance tax is defined and imposed in Section 24 (b) (2) (ii), Title II, Chapter III of the National Internal Revenue Code. [6] In the tax code, this tax falls under Title II on Income Tax. It is a tax on income. Respondent therefore did not fall under the exception in Section 4 (b) when it filed for amnesty of its deficiency branch profit remittance tax assessment. The difficulty herein is with respect to the contractors tax assessment and respondents availment of the amnesty under E.O. No. 64. E.O. No. 64 expanded the coverage of E.O. No. 41 by including estate and donors taxes and tax on business. Estate and donors taxes fall under Title III of the Tax Code while business taxes fall under Chapter II, Title V of the same. The contractors

tax is provided in Section 205, Chapter II, Title V of the Tax Code; it is defined and imposed under the title on business taxes, and is therefore a tax on business.[7] When E.O. No. 64 took effect on November 17, 1986, it did not provide for exceptions to the coverage of the amnesty for business, estate and donors taxes. Instead, Section 8 of E.O. No. 64 provided that: Section 8. The provisions of Executive Orders Nos. 41 and 54 which are not contrary to or inconsistent with this amendatory Executive Order shall remain in full force and effect. By virtue of Section 8 as afore-quoted, the provisions of E.O. No. 41 not contrary to or inconsistent with the amendatory act were reenacted in E.O. No. 64. Thus, Section 4 of E.O. No. 41 on the exceptions to amnesty coverage also applied to E.O. No. 64. With respect to Section 4 (b) in particular, this provision excepts from tax amnesty coverage a taxpayer who has income tax cases already filed in court as of the effectivity hereof. As to what Executive Order the exception refers to, respondent argues that because of the words income and hereof, they refer to Executive Order No. 41.[8] In view of the amendment introduced by E.O. No. 64, Section 4 (b) cannot be construed to refer to E.O. No. 41 and its date of effectivity. The general rule is that an amendatory act operates prospectively. [9] While an amendment is generally construed as becoming a part of the original act as if it had always been contained therein,[10] it may not be given a retroactive effect unless it is so provided expressly or by necessary implication and no vested right or obligations of contract are thereby impaired.[11] There is nothing in E.O. No. 64 that provides that it should retroact to the date of effectivity of E.O. No. 41, the original issuance. Neither is it necessarily implied from E.O. No. 64 that it or any of its provisions should apply retroactively. Executive Order No. 64 is a substantive amendment of E.O. No. 41. It does not merely change provisions in E.O. No. 41. It supplements the original act by adding other taxes not covered in the first. [12] It has been held that where a statute amending a tax law is silent as to whether it operates retroactively, the amendment will not be given a retroactive effect so as to subject to tax past transactions not subject to tax under the original act.[13] In an amendatory act, every case of doubt must be resolved against its retroactive effect.[14] Moreover, E.O. Nos. 41 and 64 are tax amnesty issuances. A tax amnesty is a general pardon or intentional overlooking by the State of its authority to impose penalties on persons otherwise guilty of evasion or violation of a revenue or tax law. [15] It partakes of an absolute forgiveness or waiver by the government of its right to collect what is due it and to give tax evaders who wish to relent a chance to start with a clean slate. [16] A tax amnesty, much like a tax exemption, is never favored nor presumed in law.[17] If granted, the terms of the amnesty, like that of a tax exemption, must be construed strictly against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the taxing authority.[18] For the right of taxation is inherent in government. The State cannot strip itself of the most essential power of taxation by doubtful words. He who claims an exemption (or an amnesty) from the common burden must justify his claim by the clearest grant of organic or state law. It cannot be allowed to exist upon a vague implication. If a doubt arises as to the intent of the legislature, that doubt must be resolved in favor of the state.[19] In the instant case, the vagueness in Section 4 (b) brought about by E.O. No. 64 should therefore be construed strictly against the taxpayer. The term income tax cases should be read as to refer to estate and donors taxes and taxes on business while the word hereof, to E.O. No. 64. Since Executive Order No. 64 took effect on November 17, 1986, consequently, insofar as the taxes in E.O. No. 64 are concerned, the date of effectivity referred to in Section 4 (b) of E.O. No. 41 should be November 17, 1986. Respondent filed CTA Case No. 4109 on September 26, 1986. When E.O. No. 64 took effect on November 17, 1986, CTA Case No. 4109 was already filed and pending in court. By the time respondent filed its supplementary tax amnesty return on December 15, 1986, respondent already fell under the exception in Section 4 (b) of E.O. Nos. 41 and 64 and was disqualified from availing of the business tax amnesty granted therein. It is respondents other argument that assuming it did not validly avail of the amnesty under the two Executive Orders, it is still not liable for the deficiency contractors tax because the income from the projects came from the Offshore Portion of the contracts. The two contracts were divided into two parts, i.e., the Onshore Portion and the Offshore Portion. All materials and equipment in the contract under the Offshore Portion were manufactured and completed in Japan, not in the Philippines, and are therefore not subject to Philippine taxes. Before going into respondents arguments, it is necessary to discuss the background of the two contracts, examine their pertinent provisions and implementation. The NDC and Philphos are two government corporations. In 1980, the NDC, as the corporate investment arm of the Philippine Government, established the Philphos to engage in the large-scale manufacture of phosphatic fertilizer for the local and foreign markets.[20] The Philphos plant complex which was envisioned to be the largest phosphatic fertilizer operation in Asia, and among the largest in the world, covered an area of 180 hectares within the 435-hectare Leyte Industrial Development Estate in the municipality of Isabel, province of Leyte. In 1982, the NDC opened for public bidding a project to construct and install a modern, reliable, efficient and integrated wharf/port complex at the Leyte Industrial Development Estate. The wharf/ port complex was intended to be one of the major

facilities for the industrial plants at the Leyte Industrial Development Estate. It was to be specifically adapted to the site for the handling of phosphate rock, bagged or bulk fertilizer products, liquid materials and other products of Philphos, the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation (Pasar),[21] and other industrial plants within the Estate. The bidding was participated in by Marubeni Head Office in Japan. Marubeni, Japan pre-qualified and on March 22, 1982, the NDC and respondent entered into an agreement entitled Turn-Key Contract for Leyte Industrial Estate Port Development Project Between National Development Company and Marubeni Corporation.[22] The Port Development Project would consist of a wharf, berths, causeways, mechanical and liquids unloading and loading systems, fuel oil depot, utilities systems, storage and service buildings, offsite facilities, harbor service vessels, navigational aid system, fire-fighting system, area lighting, mobile equipment, spare parts and other related facilities. [23]The scope of the works under the contract covered turn-key supply, which included grants of licenses and the transfer of technology and know-how,[24] and: x x x the design and engineering, supply and delivery, construction, erection and installation, supervision, direction and control of testing and commissioning of the Wharf-Port Complex as set forth in Annex I of this Contract, as well as the coordination of tie-ins at boundaries and schedule of the use of a part or the whole of the Wharf/Port Complex through the Owner, with the design and construction of other facilities around the site. The scope of works shall also include any activity, work and supply necessary for, incidental to or appropriate under present international industrial port practice, for the timely and successful implementation of the object of this Contract, whether or not expressly referred to in the abovementioned Annex I.[25] The contract price for the wharf/ port complex was Y12,790,389,000.00 and P44,327,940.00. In the contract, the price in Japanese currency was broken down into two portions: (1) the Japanese Yen Portion I; (2) the Japanese Yen Portion II, while the price in Philippine currency was referred to as the Philippine Pesos Portion. The Japanese Yen Portions I and II were financed in two (2) ways: (a) by yen credit loan provided by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF); and (b) by suppliers credit in favor of Marubeni from the Export-Import Bank of Japan. The OECF is a Fund under the Ministry of Finance of Japan extended by the Japanese government as assistance to foreign governments to promote economic development.[26] The OECF extended to the Philippine Government a loan ofY7,560,000,000.00 for the Leyte Industrial Estate Port Development Project and authorized the NDC to implement the same.[27] The other type of financing is an indirect type where the supplier, i.e., Marubeni, obtained a loan from the Export-Import Bank of Japan to advance payment to its sub-contractors.[28] Under the financing schemes, the Japanese Yen Portions I and II and the Philippine Pesos Portion were further broken down and subdivided according to the materials, equipment and services rendered on the project. The price breakdown and the corresponding materials, equipment and services were contained in a list attached as Annex III to the contract.[29] A few months after execution of the NDC contract, Philphos opened for public bidding a project to construct and install two ammonia storage tanks in Isabel. Like the NDC contract, it was Marubeni Head Office in Japan that participated in and won the bidding. Thus, on May 2, 1982, Philphos and respondent corporation entered into an agreement entitled Turn-Key Contract for Ammonia Storage Complex Between Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation and Marubeni Corporation. [30] The object of the contract was to establish and place in operating condition a modern, reliable, efficient and integrated ammonia storage complex adapted to the site for the receipt and storage of liquid anhydrous ammonia [31]and for the delivery of ammonia to an integrated fertilizer plant adjacent to the storage complex and to vessels at the dock. [32] The storage complex was to consist of ammonia storage tanks, refrigeration system, ship unloading system, transfer pumps, ammonia heating system, fire-fighting system, area lighting, spare parts, and other related facilities.[33] The scope of the works required for the completion of the ammonia storage complex covered the supply, including grants of licenses and transfer of technology and know-how,[34] and: x x x the design and engineering, supply and delivery, construction, erection and installation, supervision, direction and control of testing and commissioning of the Ammonia Storage Complex as set forth in Annex I of this Contract, as well as the coordination of tie-ins at boundaries and schedule of the use of a part or the whole of the Ammonia Storage Complex through the Owner with the design and construction of other facilities at and around the Site. The scope of works shall also include any activity, work and supply necessary for, incidental to or appropriate under present international industrial practice, for the timely and successful implementation of the object of this Contract, whether or not expressly referred to in the abovementioned Annex I.[35] The contract price for the project was Y3,255,751,000.00 and P17,406,000.00. Like the NDC contract, the price was divided into three portions. The price in Japanese currency was broken down into the Japanese Yen Portion I and Japanese Yen Portion II while the price in Philippine currency was classified as the Philippine Pesos Portion. Both Japanese Yen Portions I and II were financed by suppliers credit from the Export-Import Bank of Japan. The price stated in the three portions were further broken down into the corresponding materials, equipment and services required for the project and their individual prices. Like the NDC contract, the breakdown in the Philphos contract is contained in a list attached to the latter as Annex III.[36] The division of the price into Japanese Yen Portions I and II and the Philippine Pesos Portion under the two contracts corresponds to the two parts into which the contracts were classifiedthe Foreign Offshore Portion and the Philippine Onshore Portion. In both contracts, the Japanese Yen Portion I corresponds to the Foreign Offshore Portion. [37] Japanese Yen Portion II and the Philippine Pesos Portion correspond to the Philippine Onshore Portion.[38]

Under the Philippine Onshore Portion, respondent does not deny its liability for the contractors tax on the income from the two projects. In fact respondent claims, which petitioner has not denied, that the income it derived from the Onshore Portion of the two projects had been declared for tax purposes and the taxes thereon already paid to the Philippine government.[39] It is with regard to the gross receipts from the Foreign Offshore Portion of the two contracts that the liabilities involved in the assessments subject of this case arose. Petitioner argues that since the two agreements are turn-key, [40] they call for the supply of both materials and services to the client, they are contracts for a piece of work and are indivisible. The situs of the two projects is in the Philippines, and the materials provided and services rendered were all done and completed within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines. [41] Accordingly, respondents entire receipts from the contracts, including its receipts from the Offshore Portion, constitute income from Philippine sources. The total gross receipts covering both labor and materials should be subjected to contractors tax in accordance with the ruling in Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Engineering Equipment & Supply Co.[42] A contractors tax is imposed in the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) as follows: Sec. 205. Contractors, proprietors or operators of dockyards, and others.A contractors tax of four percent of the gross receipts is hereby imposed on proprietors or operators of the following business establishments and/or persons engaged in the business of selling or rendering the following services for a fee or compensation: (a) General engineering, general building and specialty contractors, as defined in Republic Act No. 4566; xxx xxx xxx

(q) Other independent contractors. The term independent contractors includes persons (juridical or natural) not enumerated above (but not including individuals subject to the occupation tax under the Local Tax Code) whose activity consists essentially of the sale of all kinds of services for a fee regardless of whether or not the performance of the service calls for the exercise or use of the physical or mental faculties of such contractors or their employees. It does not include regional or area headquarters established in the Philippines by multinational corporations, including their alien executives, and which headquarters do not earn or derive income from the Philippines and which act as supervisory, communications and coordinating centers for their affiliates, subsidiaries or branches in the Asia-Pacific Region. xxx xxx x x x.[43]

Under the afore-quoted provision, an independent contractor is a person whose activity consists essentially of the sale of all kinds of services for a fee, regardless of whether or not the performance of the service calls for the exercise or use of the physical or mental faculties of such contractors or their employees. The word contractor refers to a person who, in the pursuit of independent business, undertakes to do a specific job or piece of work for other persons, using his own means and methods without submitting himself to control as to the petty details.[44] A contractors tax is a tax imposed upon the privilege of engaging in business.[45] It is generally in the nature of an excise tax on the exercise of a privilege of selling services or labor rather than a sale on products; [46] and is directly collectible from the person exercising the privilege.[47] Being an excise tax, it can be levied by the taxing authority only when the acts, privileges or business are done or performed within the jurisdiction of said authority.[48] Like property taxes, it cannot be imposed on an occupation or privilege outside the taxing district.[49] In the case at bar, it is undisputed that respondent was an independent contractor under the terms of the two subject contracts. Respondent, however, argues that the work therein were not all performed in the Philippines because some of them were completed in Japan in accordance with the provisions of the contracts. An examination of Annex III to the two contracts reveals that the materials and equipment to be made and the works and services to be performed by respondent are indeed classified into two. The first part, entitled Breakdown of Japanese Yen Portion I provides: Japanese Yen Portion I of the Contract Price has been subdivided according to discrete portions of materials and equipment which will be shipped to Leyte as units and lots. This subdivision of price is to be used by owner to verify invoice for Progress Payments under Article 19.2.1 of the Contract. The agreed subdivision of Japanese Yen Portion I is as follows: xxx xxx x x x. [50]

The subdivision of Japanese Yen Portion I covers materials and equipment while Japanese Yen Portion II and the Philippine Pesos Portion enumerate other materials and equipment and the construction and installation work on the project. In other words, the

supplies for the project are listed under Portion I while labor and other supplies are listed under Portion II and the Philippine Pesos Portion. Mr. Takeshi Hojo, then General Manager of the Industrial Plant Section II of the Industrial Plant Department of Marubeni Corporation in Japan who supervised the implementation of the two projects, testified that all the machines and equipment listed under Japanese Yen Portion I in Annex III were manufactured in Japan.[51] The machines and equipment were designed, engineered and fabricated by Japanese firms sub-contracted by Marubeni from the list of sub-contractors in the technical appendices to each contract.[52] Marubeni sub-contracted a majority of the equipment and supplies to Kawasaki Steel Corporation which did the design, fabrication, engineering and manufacture thereof;[53] Yashima & Co. Ltd. which manufactured the mobile equipment; Bridgestone which provided the rubber fenders of the mobile equipment; [54]and B.S. Japan for the supply of radio equipment. [55] The engineering and design works made by Kawasaki Steel Corporation included the lay-out of the plant facility and calculation of the design in accordance with the specifications given by respondent.[56] All sub-contractors and manufacturers are Japanese corporations and are based in Japan and all engineering and design works were performed in that country.[57] The materials and equipment under Portion I of the NDC Port Project is primarily composed of two (2) sets of ship unloader and loader; several boats and mobile equipment.[58] The ship unloader unloads bags or bulk products from the ship to the port while the ship loader loads products from the port to the ship. The unloader and loader are big steel structures on top of each is a large crane and a compartment for operation of the crane. Two sets of these equipment were completely manufactured in Japan according to the specifications of the project. After manufacture, they were rolled on to a barge and transported to Isabel, Leyte.[59] Upon reaching Isabel, the unloader and loader were rolled off the barge and pulled to the pier to the spot where they were installed. [60] Their installation simply consisted of bolting them onto the pier.[61] Like the ship unloader and loader, the three tugboats and a line boat were completely manufactured in Japan. The boats sailed to Isabel on their own power. The mobile equipment, consisting of three to four sets of tractors, cranes and dozers, trailers and forklifts, were also manufactured and completed in Japan. They were loaded on to a shipping vessel and unloaded at the Isabel Port. These pieces of equipment were all on wheels and self-propelled. Once unloaded at the port, they were ready to be driven and perform what they were designed to do.[62] In addition to the foregoing, there are other items listed in Japanese Yen Portion I in Annex III to the NDC contract. These other items consist of supplies and materials for five (5) berths, two (2) roads, a causeway, a warehouse, a transit shed, an administration building and a security building. Most of the materials consist of steel sheets, steel pipes, channels and beams and other steel structures, navigational and communication as well as electrical equipment. [63] In connection with the Philphos contract, the major pieces of equipment supplied by respondent were the ammonia storage tanks and refrigeration units.[64] The steel plates for the tank were manufactured and cut in Japan according to drawings and specifications and then shipped to Isabel. Once there, respondents employees put the steel plates together to form the storage tank. As to the refrigeration units, they were completed and assembled in Japan and thereafter shipped to Isabel. The units were simply installed there.[65] Annex III to the Philphos contract lists down under the Japanese Yen Portion I the materials for the ammonia storage tank, incidental equipment, piping facilities, electrical and instrumental apparatus, foundation material and spare parts. All the materials and equipment transported to the Philippines were inspected and tested in Japan prior to shipment in accordance with the terms of the contracts.[66] The inspection was made by representatives of respondent corporation, of NDC and Philphos. NDC, in fact, contracted the services of a private consultancy firm to verify the correctness of the tests on the machines and equipment[67]while Philphos sent a representative to Japan to inspect the storage equipment.[68] The sub-contractors of the materials and equipment under Japanese Yen Portion I were all paid by respondent in Japan. In his deposition upon oral examination, Kenjiro Yamakawa, formerly the Assistant General Manager and Manager of the Steel Plant Marketing Department, Engineering & Construction Division, Kawasaki Steel Corporation, testified that the equipment and supplies for the two projects provided by Kawasaki under Japanese Yen Portion I were paid by Marubeni in Japan. Receipts for such payments were duly issued by Kawasaki in Japanese and English. [69] Yashima & Co. Ltd. and B.S. Japan were likewise paid by Marubeni in Japan.[70] Between Marubeni and the two Philippine corporations, payments for all materials and equipment under Japanese Yen Portion I were made to Marubeni by NDC and Philphos also in Japan. The NDC, through the Philippine National Bank, established letters of credit in favor of respondent through the Bank of Tokyo. The letters of credit were financed by letters of commitment issued by the OECF with the Bank of Tokyo. The Bank of Tokyo, upon respondents submission of pertinent documents, released the amount in the letters of credit in favor of respondent and credited the amount therein to respondents account within the same bank.[71] Clearly, the service of design and engineering, supply and delivery, construction, erection and installation, supervision, direction and control of testing and commissioning, coordination[72]of the two projects involved two taxing jurisdictions. These acts occurred in two countries Japan and the Philippines. While the construction and installation work were completed within the Philippines, the evidence is clear that some pieces of equipment and supplies were completely designed and engineered in Japan. The two sets of ship unloader and loader, the boats and mobile equipment for the NDC project and the ammonia storage tanks and refrigeration units were made and completed in Japan. They were already finished products when shipped to the Philippines. The other construction supplies listed under the Offshore Portion such as the steel sheets, pipes and structures, electrical and instrumental apparatus, these were not finished products when shipped to the Philippines. They, however, were likewise fabricated

and manufactured by the sub-contractors in Japan. All services for the design, fabrication, engineering and manufacture of the materials and equipment under Japanese Yen Portion I were made and completed in Japan. These services were rendered outside the taxing jurisdiction of the Philippines and are therefore not subject to contractors tax. Contrary to petitioners claim, the case of Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Engineering Equipment & Supply Co[73]is not in point. In that case, the Court found that Engineering Equipment, although an independent contractor, was not engaged in the manufacture of air conditioning units in the Philippines. Engineering Equipment designed, supplied and installed centralized airconditioning systems for clients who contracted its services. Engineering, however, did not manufacture all the materials for the airconditioning system. It imported some items for the system it designed and installed. [74] The issues in that case dealt with services performed within the local taxing jurisdiction. There was no foreign element involved in the supply of materials and services. With the foregoing discussion, it is unnecessary to discuss the other issues raised by the parties. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is denied. The decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 42518 is affirmed. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-26379 December 27, 1969

WILLIAM C. REAGAN, ETC., petitioner, vs. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondent. Quasha, Asperilla, Blanco, Zafra and Tayag for petitioner. Office of the Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo, Assistant Solicitor General Felicisimo R. Rosete, Solicitor Lolita O. Gal-lang and Special Attorney Gamaliel H. Mantolino for respondent. FERNANDO, J.: A question novel in character, the answer to which has far-reaching implications, is raised by petitioner William C. Reagan, at one time a civilian employee of an American corporation providing technical assistance to the United States Air Force in the Philippines. He would dispute the payment of the income tax assessed on him by respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue on an amount realized by him on a sale of his automobile to a member of the United States Marine Corps, the transaction having taken place at the Clark Field Air Base at Pampanga. It is his contention, seriously and earnestly expressed, that in legal contemplation the sale was made outside Philippine territory and therefore beyond our jurisdictional power to tax. Such a plea, far-fetched and implausible, on its face betraying no kinship with reality, he would justify by invoking, mistakenly as will hereafter be more fully shown an observation to that effect in a 1951 opinion, 1 petitioner ignoring that such utterance was made purely as a flourish of rhetoric and by way of emphasizing the decision reached, that the trading firm as purchaser of army goods must respond for the sales taxes due from an importer, as the American armed forces being exempt could not be taxed as such under the National Internal Revenue Code.2 Such an assumption, inspired by the commendable aim to render unavailing any attempt at tax evasion on the part of such vendee, found expression anew in a 1962 decision,3 coupled with the reminder however, to render the truth unmistakable, that "the areas covered by the United States Military Bases are not foreign territories both in the political and geographical sense." As thus clarified, it is manifest that such a view amounts at most to a legal fiction and is moreover obiter. It certainly cannot control the resolution of the specific question that confronts us. We declare our stand in an unequivocal manner. The sale having taken place on what indisputably is Philippine territory, petitioner's liability for the income tax due as a result thereof was unavoidable. As the Court of Tax Appeals reached a similar conclusion, we sustain its decision now before us on appeal. In the decision appealed from, the Court of Tax Appeals, after stating the nature of the case, started the recital of facts thus: "It appears that petitioner, a citizen of the United States and an employee of Bendix Radio, Division of Bendix Aviation Corporation, which provides technical assistance to the United States Air Force, was assigned at Clark Air Base, Philippines, on or about July 7, 1959 ... . Nine (9) months thereafter and before his tour of duty expired, petitioner imported on April 22, 1960 a tax-free 1960 Cadillac car with accessories valued at $6,443.83, including freight, insurance and other charges."4 Then came the following: "On July 11, 1960, more than two (2)

months after the 1960 Cadillac car was imported into the Philippines, petitioner requested the Base Commander, Clark Air Base, for a permit to sell the car, which was granted provided that the sale was made to a member of the United States Armed Forces or a citizen of the United States employed in the U.S. military bases in the Philippines. On the same date, July 11, 1960, petitioner sold his car for $6,600.00 to a certain Willie Johnson, Jr. (Private first class), United States Marine Corps, Sangley Point, Cavite, Philippines, as shown by a Bill of Sale . . . executed at Clark Air Base. On the same date, Pfc. Willie (William) Johnson, Jr. sold the car to Fred Meneses for P32,000.00 as evidenced by a deed of sale executed in Manila."5 As a result of the transaction thus made, respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue, after deducting the landed cost of the car as well as the personal exemption to which petitioner was entitled, fixed as his net taxable income arising from such transaction the amount of P17,912.34, rendering him liable for income tax in the sum of P2,979.00. After paying the sum, he sought a refund from respondent claiming that he was exempt, but pending action on his request for refund, he filed the case with the Court of Tax Appeals seeking recovery of the sum of P2,979.00 plus the legal rate of interest. As noted in the appealed decision: "The only issue submitted for our resolution is whether or not the said income tax of P2,979.00 was legally collected by respondent for petitioner."6 After discussing the legal issues raised, primarily the contention that the Clark Air Base "in legal contemplation, is a base outside the Philippines" the sale therefore having taken place on "foreign soil", the Court of Tax Appeals found nothing objectionable in the assessment and thereafter the payment of P2,979.00 as income tax and denied the refund on the same. Hence, this appeal predicated on a legal theory we cannot accept. Petitioner cannot make out a case for reversal. 1. Resort to fundamentals is unavoidable to place things in their proper perspective, petitioner apparently feeling justified in his refusal to defer to basic postulates of constitutional and international law, induced no doubt by the weight he would accord to the observation made by this Court in the two opinions earlier referred to. To repeat, scant comfort, if at all is to be derived from such an obiter dictum, one which is likewise far from reflecting the fact as it is. Nothing is better settled than that the Philippines being independent and sovereign, its authority may be exercised over its entire domain. There is no portion thereof that is beyond its power. Within its limits, its decrees are supreme, its commands paramount. Its laws govern therein, and everyone to whom it applies must submit to its terms. That is the extent of its jurisdiction, both territorial and personal. Necessarily, likewise, it has to be exclusive. If it were not thus, there is a diminution of its sovereignty. It is to be admitted that any state may, by its consent, express or implied, submit to a restriction of its sovereign rights. There may thus be a curtailment of what otherwise is a power plenary in character. That is the concept of sovereignty as auto-limitation, which, in the succinct language of Jellinek, "is the property of a state-force due to which it has the exclusive capacity of legal self-determination and self-restriction."7 A state then, if it chooses to, may refrain from the exercise of what otherwise is illimitable competence. Its laws may as to some persons found within its territory no longer control. Nor does the matter end there. It is not precluded from allowing another power to participate in the exercise of jurisdictional right over certain portions of its territory. If it does so, it by no means follows that such areas become impressed with an alien character. They retain their status as native soil. They are still subject to its authority. Its jurisdiction may be diminished, but it does not disappear. So it is with the bases under lease to the American armed forces by virtue of the military bases agreement of 1947. They are not and cannot be foreign territory. Decisions coming from petitioner's native land, penned by jurists of repute, speak to that effect with impressive unanimity. We start with the citation from Chief Justice Marshall, announced in the leading case of Schooner Exchange v. M'Faddon,8 an 1812 decision: "The jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory is necessarily exclusive and absolute. It is susceptible of no limitation not imposed by itself. Any restriction upon it, deriving validity from an external source, would imply a diminution of its sovereignty to the extent of the restriction, and an investment of that sovereignty to the same extent in that power which could impose such restriction." After which came this paragraph: "All exceptions, therefore, to the full and complete power of a nation within its own territories, must be traced up to the consent of the nation itself. They can flow from no other legitimate source." Chief Justice Taney, in an 1857 decision,9 affirmed the fundamental principle of everyone within the territorial domain of a state being subject to its commands: "For undoubtedly every person who is found within the limits of a government, whether the temporary purposes or as a resident, is bound by its laws." It is no exaggeration then for

Justice Brewer to stress that the United States government "is one having jurisdiction over every foot of soil within its territory, and acting directly upon each [individual found therein]; . . ."10 Not too long ago, there was a reiteration of such a view, this time from the pen of Justice Van Devanter. Thus: "It now is settled in the United States and recognized elsewhere that the territory subject to its jurisdiction includes the land areas under its dominion and control the ports, harbors, bays, and other in closed arms of the sea along its coast, and a marginal belt of the sea extending from the coast line outward a marine league, or 3 geographic miles."11 He could cite moreover, in addition to many American decisions, such eminent treatise-writers as Kent, Moore, Hyde, Wilson, Westlake, Wheaton and Oppenheim. As a matter of fact, the eminent commentator Hyde in his three-volume work on International Law, as interpreted and applied by the United States, made clear that not even the embassy premises of a foreign power are to be considered outside the territorial domain of the host state. Thus: "The ground occupied by an embassy is not in fact the territory of the foreign State to which the premises belong through possession or ownership. The lawfulness or unlawfulness of acts there committed is determined by the territorial sovereign. If an attache commits an offense within the precincts of an embassy, his immunity from prosecution is not because he has not violated the local law, but rather for the reason that the individual is exempt from prosecution. If a person not so exempt, or whose immunity is waived, similarly commits a crime therein, the territorial sovereign, if it secures custody of the offender, may subject him to prosecution, even though its criminal code normally does not contemplate the punishment of one who commits an offense outside of the national domain. It is not believed, therefore, that an ambassador himself possesses the right to exercise jurisdiction, contrary to the will of the State of his sojourn, even within his embassy with respect to acts there committed. Nor is there apparent at the present time any tendency on the part of States to acquiesce in his exercise of it."12 2. In the light of the above, the first and crucial error imputed to the Court of Tax Appeals to the effect that it should have held that the Clark Air Force is foreign soil or territory for purposes of income tax legislation is clearly without support in law. As thus correctly viewed, petitioner's hope for the reversal of the decision completely fades away. There is nothing in the Military Bases Agreement that lends support to such an assertion. It has not become foreign soil or territory. This country's jurisdictional rights therein, certainly not excluding the power to tax, have been preserved. As to certain tax matters, an appropriate exemption was provided for. Petitioner could not have been unaware that to maintain the contrary would be to defy reality and would be an affront to the law. While his first assigned error is thus worded, he would seek to impart plausibility to his claim by the ostensible invocation of the exemption clause in the Agreement by virtue of which a "national of the United States serving in or employed in the Philippines in connection with the construction, maintenance, operation or defense of the bases and residing in the Philippines only by reason of such employment" is not to be taxed on his income unless "derived from Philippine source or sources other than the United States sources."13 The reliance, to repeat, is more apparent than real for as noted at the outset of this opinion, petitioner places more faith not on the language of the provision on exemption but on a sentiment given expression in a 1951 opinion of this Court, which would be made to yield such an unwarranted interpretation at war with the controlling constitutional and international law principles. At any rate, even if such a contention were more adequately pressed and insisted upon, it is on its face devoid of merit as the source clearly was Philippine. In Saura Import and Export Co. v. Meer,14 the case above referred to, this Court affirmed a decision rendered about seven months previously,15 holding liable as an importer, within the contemplation of the National Internal Revenue Code provision, the trading firm that purchased army goods from a United States government agency in the Philippines. It is easily understandable why. If it were not thus, tax evasion would have been facilitated. The United States forces that brought in such equipment later disposed of as surplus, when no longer needed for military purposes, was beyond the reach of our tax statutes. Justice Tuason, who spoke for the Court, adhered to such a rationale, quoting extensively from the earlier opinion. He could have stopped there. He chose not to do so. The transaction having occurred in 1946, not so long after the liberation of the Philippines, he proceeded to discuss the role of the American military contingent in the Philippines as a belligerent occupant. In the course of such a dissertion, drawing on his well-known gift for rhetoric and cognizant that he was making an as if statement, he did say: "While in army bases or installations within the Philippines those goods were in contemplation of law on foreign soil." It is thus evident that the first, and thereafter the controlling, decision as to the liability for sales taxes as an importer by the purchaser, could have been reached without any need for such expression as that given utterance by Justice Tuason. Its value then as an authoritative doctrine cannot be as much as petitioner would mistakenly attach to it. It

was clearly obiter not being necessary for the resolution of the issue before this Court.16 It was an opinion "uttered by the way."17 It could not then be controlling on the question before us now, the liability of the petitioner for income tax which, as announced at the opening of this opinion, is squarely raised for the first time.18 On this point, Chief Justice Marshall could again be listened to with profit. Thus: "It is a maxim, not to be disregarded, that general expressions, in every opinion, are to be taken in connection with the case in which those expressions are used. If they go beyond the case, they may be respected, but ought not to control the judgment in a subsequent suit when the very point is presented for decision."19 Nor did the fact that such utterance of Justice Tuason was cited in Co Po v. Collector of Internal Revenue,20 a 1962 decision relied upon by petitioner, put a different complexion on the matter. Again, it was by way of pure embellishment, there being no need to repeat it, to reach the conclusion that it was the purchaser of army goods, this time from military bases, that must respond for the advance sales taxes as importer. Again, the purpose that animated the reiteration of such a view was clearly to emphasize that through the employment of such a fiction, tax evasion is precluded. What is more, how far divorced from the truth was such statement was emphasized by Justice Barrera, who penned the Co Po opinion, thus: "It is true that the areas covered by the United States Military Bases are not foreign territories both in the political and geographical sense."21 Justice Tuason moreover made explicit that rather than corresponding with reality, what was said by him was in the way of a legal fiction. Note his stress on "in contemplation of law." To lend further support to a conclusion already announced, being at that a confirmation of what had been arrived at in the earlier case, distinguished by its sound appreciation of the issue then before this Court and to preclude any tax evasion, an observation certainly not to be taken literally was thus given utterance. This is not to say that it should have been ignored altogether afterwards. It could be utilized again, as it undoubtedly was, especially so for the purpose intended, namely to stigmatize as without support in law any attempt on the part of a taxpayer to escape an obligation incumbent upon him. So it was quoted with that end in view in the Co Po case. It certainly does not justify any effort to render futile the collection of a tax legally due, as here. That was farthest from the thought of Justice Tuason. What is more, the statement on its face is, to repeat, a legal fiction. This is not to discount the uses of a fictio jurisin the science of the law. It was Cardozo who pointed out its value as a device "to advance the ends of justice" although at times it could be "clumsy" and even "offensive".22 Certainly, then, while far from objectionable as thus enunciated, this observation of Justice Tuason could be misused or misconstrued in a clumsy manner to reach an offensive result. To repeat, properly used, a legal fiction could be relied upon by the law, as Frankfurter noted, in the pursuit of legitimate ends.23 Petitioner then would be well-advised to take to heart such counsel of care and circumspection before invoking not a legal fiction that would avoid a mockery of the law by avoiding tax evasion but what clearly is a misinterpretation thereof, leading to results that would have shocked its originator. The conclusion is thus irresistible that the crucial error assigned, the only one that calls for discussion to the effect that for income tax purposes the Clark Air Force Base is outside Philippine territory, is utterly without merit. So we have said earlier. 3. To impute then to the statement of Justice Tuason the meaning that petitioner would fasten on it is, to paraphrase Frankfurter, to be guilty of succumbing to the vice of literalness. To so conclude is, whether by design or inadvertence, to misread it. It certainly is not susceptible of the mischievous consequences now sought to be fastened on it by petitioner. That it would be fraught with such peril to the enforcement of our tax statutes on the military bases under lease to the American armed forces could not have been within the contemplation of Justice Tuason. To so attribute such a bizarre consequence is to be guilty of a grave disservice to the memory of a great jurist. For his real and genuine sentiment on the matter in consonance with the imperative mandate of controlling constitutional and international law concepts was categorically set forth by him, not as an obiter but as the rationale of the decision, in People v. Acierto24 thus: "By the [Military Bases] Agreement, it should be noted, the Philippine Government merely consents that the United States exercise jurisdiction in certain cases. The consent was given purely as a matter of comity, courtesy, or expediency over the bases as part of the Philippine territory or divested itself completely of jurisdiction over offenses committed therein."

Nor did he stop there. He did stress further the full extent of our territorial jurisdiction in words that do not admit of doubt. Thus: "This provision is not and can not on principle or authority be construed as a limitation upon the rights of the Philippine Government. If anything, it is an emphatic recognition and reaffirmation of Philippine sovereignty over the bases and of the truth that all jurisdictional rights granted to the United States and not exercised by the latter are reserved by the Philippines for itself."25 It is in the same spirit that we approach the specific question confronting us in this litigation. We hold, as announced at the outset, that petitioner was liable for the income tax arising from a sale of his automobile in the Clark Field Air Base, which clearly is and cannot otherwise be other than, within our territorial jurisdiction to tax. 4. With the mist thus lifted from the situation as it truly presents itself, there is nothing that stands in the way of an affirmance of the Court of Tax Appeals decision. No useful purpose would be served by discussing the other assigned errors, petitioner himself being fully aware that if the Clark Air Force Base is to be considered, as it ought to be and as it is, Philippine soil or territory, his claim for exemption from the income tax due was distinguished only by its futility. There is further satisfaction in finding ourselves unable to indulge petitioner in his plea for reversal. We thus manifest fealty to a pronouncement made time and time again that the law does not look with favor on tax exemptions and that he who would seek to be thus privileged must justify it by words too plain to be mistaken and too categorical to be misinterpreted.26 Petitioner had not done so. Petitioner cannot do so. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals of May 12, 1966 denying the refund of P2,979.00 as the income tax paid by petitioner is affirmed. With costs against petitioner. Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Teehankee, JJ., concur. Reyes, J.B.L., J., concurs in the result. Barredo, J., took no part.

[G.R. No. 127410. January 20, 1999]

CONRADO L. TIU, JUAN T. MONTELIBANO JR. and ISAGANI M. JUNGCO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA JR., BASES CONVERSION AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY, BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE, CITY TREASURER OF OLONGAPO and MUNICIPAL TREASURER OF SUBIC, ZAMBALES, respondents. DECISION PANGANIBAN, J.: The constitutional right to equal protection of the law is not violated by an executive order, issued pursuant to law, granting tax and duty incentives only to businesses and residents within the secured area of the Subic Special Economic Zone and denying them to those who live within the Zone but outside such fenced-in territory. The Constitution does not require absolute equality among residents. It is enough that all persons under like circumstances or conditions are given the same privileges and required to follow the same obligations. In short, a classification based on valid and reasonable standards does not violate the equal protection clause.

The Case

Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals Decision[1] promulgated on August 29, 1996, and Resolution[2] dated November 13, 1996, in CA-GR SP No. 37788.[3] The challenged Decision upheld the constitutionality and validity of Executive Order No. 97-A (EO 97-A), according to which the grant and enjoyment of the tax and duty incentives authorized under Republic Act No. 7227 (RA 7227) were limited to the business enterprises and residents within the fenced-in area of the Subic Special Economic Zone (SSEZ). The assailed Resolution denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The Facts

On March 13, 1992, Congress, with the approval of the President, passed into law RA 7227 entitled An Act Accelerating the Conversion of Military Reservations Into Other Productive Uses, Creating the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for this Purpose, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes. Section 12 thereof created the Subic Special Economic Zone and granted thereto special privileges, as follows: SEC. 12. Subic Special Economic Zone. -- Subject to the concurrence by resolution of the sangguniang panlungsod of the City of Olongapo and the sangguniang bayan of the Municipalities of Subic, Morong and Hermosa, there is hereby created a Special Economic and Free-port Zone consisting of the City of Olongapo and the Municipality of Subic, Province of Zambales, the lands occupied by the Subic Naval Base and its contiguous extensions as embraced, covered, and defined by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America as amended, and within the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipalities of Morong and Hermosa, Province of Bataan, hereinafter referred to as the Subic Special Economic Zone whose metes and bounds shall be delineated in a proclamation to be issued by the President of the Philippines. Within thirty (30) days after the approval of this Act, each local government unit shall submit its resolution of concurrence to join the Subic Special Economic Zone to the Office of the President. Thereafter, the President of the Philippines shall issue a proclamation defining the metes and bounds of the zone as provided herein. The abovementioned zone shall be subject to the following policies: (a) Within the framework and subject to the mandate and limitations of the Constitution and the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code, the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments; (b) The Subic Special Economic Zone shall be operated and managed as a separate customs territory ensuring free flow or movement of goods and capital within, into and exported out of the Subic Special Economic Zone, as well as provide incentives such as tax and duty-free importations of raw materials, capital and equipment. However, exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines; (c) The provision of existing laws, rules and regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, no taxes, local and national, shall be imposed within the Subic Special Economic Zone. In lieu of paying taxes, three percent (3%) of the gross income earned by all businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be remitted to the National Government, one percent (1%) each to the local government units affected by the declaration of the zone in proportion to their population area, and other factors. In addition, there is hereby established a development fund of one percent (1%) of the gross income earned by all businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone to be utilized for the development of municipalities outside the City of Olongapo and the Municipality of Subic, and other municipalities contiguous to the base areas. In case of conflict between national and local laws with respect to tax exemption privileges in the Subic Special Economic Zone, the same shall be resolved in favor of the latter; (d) No exchange control policy shall be applied and free markets for foreign exchange, gold, securities and future shall be allowed and maintained in the Subic Special Economic Zone; (e) The Central Bank, through the Monetary Board, shall supervise and regulate the operations of banks and other financial institutions within the Subic Special Economic Zone;

(f) Banking and finance shall be liberalized with the establishment of foreign currency depository units of local commercial banks and offshore banking units of foreign banks with minimum Central Bank regulation; (g) Any investor within the Subic Special Economic Zone whose continuing investment shall not be less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000), his/her spouse and dependent children under twenty-one (21) years of age, shall be granted permanent resident status within the Subic Special Economic Zone. They shall have the freedom of ingress and egress to and from the Subic Special Economic Zone without any need of special authorization from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority referred to in Section 13 of this Act may also issue working visas renewable every two (2) years to foreign executives and other aliens possessing highly technical skills which no Filipino within the Subic Special Economic Zone possesses, as certified by the Department of Labor and Employment. The names of aliens granted permanent residence status and working visas by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority shall be reported to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation within thirty (30) days after issuance thereof; (h) The defense of the zone and the security of its perimeters shall be the responsibility of the National Government in coordination with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority shall provide and establish its own security and fire-fighting forces; and (i) Except as herein provided, the local government units comprising the Subic Special Economic Zone shall retain their basic autonomy and identity. The cities shall be governed by their respective charters and the municipalities shall operate and function in accordance with Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. On June 10, 1993, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Executive Order No. 97 (EO 97), clarifying the application of the tax and duty incentives thus: Section 1. On Import Taxes and Duties -- Tax and duty-free importations shall apply only to raw materials, capital goods and equipment brought in by business enterprises into the SSEZ. Except for these items, importations of other goods into the SSEZ, whether by business enterprises or resident individuals, are subject to taxes and duties under relevant Philippine laws. The exportation or removal of tax and duty-free goods from the territory of the SSEZ to other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to duties and taxes under relevant Philippine laws. Section 2. On All Other Taxes. -- In lieu of all local and national taxes (except import taxes and duties), all business enterprises in the SSEZ shall be required to pay the tax specified in Section 12(c) of R.A. No. 7227. Nine days after, on June 19, 1993, the President issued Executive Order No. 97-A (EO 97-A), specifying the area within which the tax-and-duty-free privilege was operative, viz.: Section 1.1. The Secured Area consisting of the presently fenced-in former Subic Naval Base shall be the only completely tax and duty-free area in the SSEFPZ [Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone]. Business enterprises and individuals (Filipinos and foreigners) residing within the Secured Area are free to import raw materials, capital goods, equipment, and consumer items tax and duty-free. Consumption items, however, must be consumed within the Secured Area. Removal of raw materials, capital goods, equipment and consumer items out of the Secured Area for sale to non-SSEFPZ registered enterprises shall be subject to the usual taxes and duties, except as may be provided herein On October 26, 1994, the petitioners challenged before this Court the constitutionality of EO 97-A for allegedly being violative of their right to equal protection of the laws. In a Resolution dated June 27, 1995, this Court referred the matter to the Court of Appeals, pursuant to Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95. Incidentally, on February 1, 1995, Proclamation No. 532 was issued by President Ramos. It delineated the exact metes and bounds of the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone, pursuant to Section 12 of RA 7227.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Respondent Court held that there is no substantial difference between the provisions of EO 97-A and Section 12 of RA 7227. In both, the Secured Area is precise and well-defined as xxx the lands occupied by the Subic Naval Base and its contiguous extensions as embraced, covered and defined by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the

United States of America, as amended, xxx. The appellate court concluded that such being the case, petitioners could not claim that EO 97-A is unconstitutional, while at the same time maintaining the validity of RA 7227. The court a quo also explained that the intention of Congress was to confine the coverage of the SSEZ to the secured area and not to include the entire Olongapo City and other areas mentioned in Section 12 of the law. It relied on the following deliberations in the Senate: Senator Paterno. Thank you, Mr. President. My first question is the extent of the economic zone. Since this will be a free port, in effect, I believe that it is important to delineate or make sure that the delineation will be quite precise[. M]y question is: Is it the intention that the entire of Olongapo City, the Municipality of Subic and the Municipality of Dinalupihan will be covered by the special economic zone or only portions thereof? Senator Shahani. Only portions, Mr. President. In other words, where the actual operations of the free port will take place. Senator Paterno. I see. So, we should say, COVERING THE DESIGNATED PORTIONS OR CERTAIN PORTIONS OF OLONGAPO CITY, SUBIC AND DINALUPIHAN to make it clear that it is not supposed to cover the entire area of all of these territories. Senator Shahani. So, the Gentleman is proposing that the words CERTAIN AREAS ... The President. The Chair would want to invite the attention of the Sponsor and Senator Paterno to letter C, which says: THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO PROCLAIM, DELINEATE AND SPECIFY THE METES AND BOUNDS OF OTHER SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES WHICH MAY BE CREATED IN THE CLARK MILITARY RESERVATIONS AND ITS EXTENSIONS. Probably, this provision can be expanded since, apparently, the intention is that what is referred to in Olongapo as Metro Olongapo is not by itself ipso jure already a special economic zone. Senator Paterno. That is correct. The President. Someone, some authority must declare which portions of the same shall be the economic zone. Is it the intention of the author that it is the President of the Philippines who will make such delineation? Senator Shahani. Yes, Mr. President. The Court of Appeals further justified the limited application of the tax incentives as being within the prerogative of the legislature, pursuant to its avowed purpose [of serving] some public benefit or interest. It ruled that EO 97-A merely implements the legislative purpose of [RA 7227]. Disagreeing, petitioners now seek before us a review of the aforecited Court of Appeals Decision and Resolution.

The Issue

Petitioners submit the following issue for the resolution of the Court: [W]hether or not Executive Order No. 97-A violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Specifically the issue is whether the provisions of Executive Order No. 97-A confining the application of R.A. 7227 within the secured area and excluding the residents of the zone outside of the secured area is discriminatory or not.[4]

The Courts Ruling

The petition[5] is bereft of merit.

Main Issue: The Constitutionality of EO 97-A

Citing Section 12 of RA 7227, petitioners contend that the SSEZ encompasses (1) the City of Olongapo, (2) the Municipality of Subic in Zambales, and (3) the area formerly occupied by the Subic Naval Base. However, EO 97-A, according to them,

narrowed down the area within which the special privileges granted to the entire zone would apply to the present fenced-in former Subic Naval Base only. It has thereby excluded the residents of the first two components of the zone from enjoying the benefits granted by the law. It has effectively discriminated against them, without reasonable or valid standards, in contravention of the equal protection guarantee. On the other hand, the solicitor general defends, on behalf of respondents, the validity of EO 97-A, arguing that Section 12 of RA 7227 clearly vests in the President the authority to delineate the metes and bounds of the SSEZ. He adds that the issuance fully complies with the requirements of a valid classification. We rule in favor of the constitutionality and validity of the assailed EO. Said Order is not violative of the equal protection clause; neither is it discriminatory. Rather, we find real and substantive distinctions between the circumstances obtaining inside and those outside the Subic Naval Base, thereby justifying a valid and reasonable classification. The fundamental right of equal protection of the laws is not absolute, but is subject to reasonable classification. If the groupings are characterized by substantial distinctions that make real differences, one class may be treated and regulated differently from another.[6] The classification must also be germane to the purpose of the law and must apply to all those belonging to the same class.[7] Explaining the nature of the equal protection guarantee, the Court in Ichong v. Hernandez[8] said: The equal protection of the law clause is against undue favor and individual or class privilege, as well as hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality. It is not intended to prohibit legislation which is limited either [by] the object to which it is directed or by [the] territory within which it is to operate. It does not demand absolute equality among residents; it merely requires that all persons shall be treated alike,under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and liabilities enforced. The equal protection clause is not infringed by legislation which applies only to those persons falling within a specified class, if it applies alike to all persons within such class, and reasonable grounds exist for making a distinction between those who fall within such class and those who do not. Classification, to be valid, must (1) rest on substantial distinctions, (2) be germane to the purpose of the law, (3) not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) apply equally to all members of the same class.[9] We first determine the purpose of the law. From the very title itself, it is clear that RA 7227 aims primarily to accelerate the conversion of military reservations into productive uses. Obviously, the lands covered under the 1947 Military Bases Agreement are its object. Thus, the law avows this policy: SEC. 2. Declaration of Policies. -- It is hereby declared the policy of the Government to accelerate the sound and balanced conversion into alternative productive uses of the Clark and Subic military reservations and their extensions (John Hay Station, Wallace Air Station, ODonnell Transmitter Station, San Miguel Naval Communications Station and Capas Relay Station), to raise funds by the sale of portions of Metro Manila military camps, and to apply said funds as provided herein for the development and conversion to productive civilian use of the lands covered under the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America, as amended. To undertake the above objectives, the same law created the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, some of whose relevant defined purposes are: (b) To adopt, prepare and implement a comprehensive and detailed development plan embodying a list of projects including but not limited to those provided in the Legislative-Executive Bases Council (LEBC) framework plan for the sound and balanced conversion of the Clark and Subic military reservations and their extensions consistent with ecological and environmental standards, into other productive uses to promote the economic and social development of Central Luzon in particular and the country in general; (c) To encourage the active participation of the private sector in transforming the Clark and Subic military reservations and their extensions into other productive uses; Further, in creating the SSEZ, the law declared it a policy to develop the zone into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center.[10] From the above provisions of the law, it can easily be deduced that the real concern of RA 7227 is to convert the lands formerly occupied by the US military bases into economic or industrial areas. In furtherance of such objective, Congress deemed it necessary to extend economic incentives to attract and encourage investors, both local and foreign. Among such enticements are: [11] (1) a separate customs territory within the zone, (2) tax-and-duty-free importations, (3) restructured income tax rates on business enterprises within the zone, (4) no foreign exchange control, (5) liberalized regulations on banking and finance, and (6) the grant of resident status to certain investors and of working visas to certain foreign executives and workers.

We believe it was reasonable for the President to have delimited the application of some incentives to the confines of the former Subic military base. It is this specific area which the government intends to transform and develop from its status quo ante as an abandoned naval facility into a self-sustaining industrial and commercial zone, particularly for big foreign and local investors to use as operational bases for their businesses and industries. Why the seeming bias for big investors? Undeniably, they are the ones who can pour huge investments to spur economic growth in the country and to generate employment opportunities for the Filipinos, the ultimate goals of the government for such conversion. The classification is, therefore, germane to the purposes of the law. And as the legal maxim goes, The intent of a statute is the law.[12] Certainly, there are substantial differences between the big investors who are being lured to establish and operate their industries in the so-called secured area and the present business operators outside the area. On the one hand, we are talking of billion-peso investments and thousands of new jobs. On the other hand, definitely none of such magnitude. In the first, the economic impact will be national; in the second, only local. Even more important, at this time the business activities outside the secured area are not likely to have any impact in achieving the purpose of the law, which is to turn the former military base to productive use for the benefit of the Philippine economy. There is, then, hardly any reasonable basis to extend to them the benefits and incentives accorded in RA 7227. Additionally, as the Court of Appeals pointed out, it will be easier to manage and monitor the activities within the secured area, which is already fenced off, to prevent fraudulent importation of merchandise or smuggling. It is well-settled that the equal-protection guarantee does not require territorial uniformity of laws. [13] As long as there are actual and material differences between territories, there is no violation of the constitutional clause. And of course, anyone, including the petitioners, possessing the requisite investment capital can always avail of the same benefits by channeling his or her resources or business operations into the fenced-off free port zone. We believe that the classification set forth by the executive issuance does not apply merely to existing conditions. As laid down in RA 7227, the objective is to establish a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center in the area. There will, therefore, be a long-term difference between such investment center and the areas outside it. Lastly, the classification applies equally to all the resident individuals and businesses within the secured area. The residents, being in like circumstances or contributing directly to the achievement of the end purpose of the law, are not categorized further. Instead, they are all similarly treated, both in privileges granted and in obligations required. All told, the Court holds that no undue favor or privilege was extended. The classification occasioned by EO 97-A was not unreasonable, capricious or unfounded. To repeat, it was based, rather, on fair and substantive considerations that were germane to the legislative purpose. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Martinez, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur. lack of merit. The assailed Decision and Resolution are

[G. R. No. 119775. October 24, 2003]

JOHN HAY PEOPLES ALTERNATIVE COALITION, MATEO CARIO FOUNDATION INC., CENTER FOR ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS FOUNDATION INC., REGINA VICTORIA A. BENAFIN REPRESENTED AND JOINED BY HER MOTHER MRS. ELISA BENAFIN, IZABEL M. LUYK REPRESENTED AND JOINED BY HER MOTHER MRS. REBECCA MOLINA LUYK, KATHERINE PE REPRESENTED AND JOINED BY HER MOTHER ROSEMARIE G. PE, SOLEDAD S. CAMILO, ALICIA C. PACALSO ALIAS KEVAB, BETTY I. STRASSER, RUBY C. GIRON, URSULA C. PEREZ ALIAS BA-YAY, EDILBERTO T. CLARAVALL, CARMEN CAROMINA, LILIA G. YARANON, DIANE MONDOC,petitioners, vs. VICTOR LIM, PRESIDENT, BASES CONVERSION DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY; JOHN HAY PORO POINT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, CITY OF BAGUIO, TUNTEX (B.V.I.) CO. LTD., ASIAWORLD INTERNATIONALE GROUP, INC., DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, respondents. DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.: By the present petition for prohibition, mandamus and declaratory relief with prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction, petitioners assail, in the main, the constitutionality of Presidential Proclamation No. 420, Series of 1994, CREATING AND DESIGNATING A PORTION OF THE AREA COVERED BY THE FORMER CAMP JOHN [HAY] AS THE JOHN HAY SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE PURSUANT TO REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7227. Republic Act No. 7227, AN ACT ACCELERATING THE CONVERSION OF MILITARY RESERVATIONS INTO OTHER PRODUCTIVE USES, CREATING THE BASES CONVERSION AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY FOR THIS PURPOSE, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, which was enacted on March 13, 1992, set out the policy of the government to accelerate the sound and balanced conversion into alternative productive uses of the former military bases under the 1947 Philippines-United States of America Military Bases Agreement, namely, the Clark and Subic military reservations as well as their extensions including the John Hay Station (Camp John Hay or the camp) in the City of Baguio.[1] As noted in its title, R.A. No. 7227 created public respondent Bases Conversion and Development Authority[2] (BCDA), vesting it with powers pertaining to the multifarious aspects of carrying out the ultimate objective of utilizing the base areas in accordance with the declared government policy. R.A. No. 7227 likewise created the Subic Special Economic [and Free Port] Zone (Subic SEZ) the metes and bounds of which were to be delineated in a proclamation to be issued by the President of the Philippines.[3] R.A. No. 7227 granted the Subic SEZ incentives ranging from tax and duty-free importations, exemption of businesses therein from local and national taxes, to other hallmarks of a liberalized financial and business climate.[4] And R.A. No. 7227 expressly gave authority to the President to create through executive proclamation, subject to the concurrence of the local government units directly affected, other Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the areas covered respectively by the Clark military reservation, the Wallace Air Station in San Fernando, La Union, and Camp John Hay.[5] On August 16, 1993, BCDA entered into a Memorandum of Agreement and Escrow Agreement with private respondents Tuntex (B.V.I.) Co., Ltd (TUNTEX) and Asiaworld Internationale Group, Inc. (ASIAWORLD), private corporations registered under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, preparatory to the formation of a joint venture for the development of Poro Point in La Union and Camp John Hay as premier tourist destinations and recreation centers. Four months later or on December 16, 1993, BCDA, TUNTEX and ASIAWORD executed a Joint Venture Agreement[6] whereby they bound themselves to put up a joint venture company known as the Baguio International Development and Management Corporation which would lease areas within Camp John Hay and Poro Point for the purpose of turning such places into principal tourist and recreation spots, as originally envisioned by the parties under their Memorandum of Agreement. The Baguio City government meanwhile passed a number of resolutions in response to the actions taken by BCDA as owner and administrator of Camp John Hay. By Resolution[7] of September 29, 1993, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Baguio City (the sanggunian) officially asked BCDA to exclude all the barangays partly or totally located within Camp John Hay from the reach or coverage of any plan or program for its development. By a subsequent Resolution[8] dated January 19, 1994, the sanggunian sought from BCDA an abdication, waiver or quitclaim of its ownership over the home lots being occupied by residents of nine (9) barangays surrounding the military reservation. Still by another resolution passed on February 21, 1994, the sanggunian adopted and submitted to BCDA a 15point concept for the development of Camp John Hay.[9] Thesanggunians vision expressed, among other things, a kind of development that affords protection to the environment, the making of a family-oriented type of tourist destination, priority in employment opportunities for Baguio residents and free access to the base area, guaranteed participation of the city government in the management and operation of the camp, exclusion of the previously named nine barangays from the area for development, and liability for local taxes of businesses to be established within the camp.[10] BCDA, TUNTEX and ASIAWORLD agreed to some, but rejected or modified the other proposals of the sanggunian.[11] They stressed the need to declare Camp John Hay a SEZ as a condition precedent to its full development in accordance with the mandate of R.A. No. 7227.[12]

On May 11, 1994, the sanggunian passed a resolution requesting the Mayor to order the determination of realty taxes which may otherwise be collected from real properties of Camp John Hay. [13] The resolution was intended to intelligently guide the sanggunian in determining its position on whether Camp John Hay be declared a SEZ, it (the sanggunian)being of the view that such declaration would exempt the camps property and the economic activity therein from local or national taxation. More than a month later, however, the sanggunian passed Resolution No. 255, (Series of 1994),[14] seeking and supporting, subject to its concurrence, the issuance by then President Ramos of a presidential proclamation declaring an area of 288.1 hectares of the camp as a SEZ in accordance with the provisions of R.A. No. 7227. Together with this resolution was submitted a draft of the proposed proclamation for consideration by the President.[15] On July 5, 1994 then President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 420,[16] the title of which was earlier indicated, which established a SEZ on a portion of Camp John Hay and which reads as follows: xxx Pursuant to the powers vested in me by the law and the resolution of concurrence by the City Council of Baguio, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Philippines, do hereby create and designate a portion of the area covered by the former John Hay reservation as embraced, covered, and defined by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America, as amended, as the John Hay Special Economic Zone, and accordingly order: SECTION 1. Coverage of John Hay Special Economic Zone. The John Hay Special Economic Zone shall cover the area consisting of Two Hundred Eighty Eight and one/tenth (288.1) hectares, more or less, of the total of Six Hundred Seventy-Seven (677) hectares of the John Hay Reservation, more or less, which have been surveyed and verified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as defined by the following technical description: A parcel of land, situated in the City of Baguio, Province of Benguet, Island of Luzon, and particularly described in survey plans Psd-131102-002639 and Ccs-131102-000030 as approved on 16 August 1993 and 26 August 1993, respectively, by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in detail containing : Lot 1, Lot 2, Lot 3, Lot 4, Lot 5, Lot 6, Lot 7, Lot 13, Lot 14, Lot 15, and Lot 20 of Ccs-131102-000030 -andLot 3, Lot 4, Lot 5, Lot 6, Lot 7, Lot 8, Lot 9, Lot 10, Lot 11, Lot 14, Lot 15, Lot 16, Lot 17, and Lot 18 of Psd-131102-002639 being portions of TCT No. T-3812, LRC Rec. No. 87. With a combined area of TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY EIGHT AND ONE/TENTH HECTARES (288.1 hectares); Provided that the area consisting of approximately Six and two/tenth (6.2) hectares, more or less, presently occupied by the VOA and the residence of the Ambassador of the United States, shall be considered as part of the SEZ only upon turnover of the properties to the government of the Republic of the Philippines. Sec. 2. Governing Body of the John Hay Special Economic Zone. Pursuant to Section 15 of Republic Act No. 7227, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority is hereby established as the governing body of the John Hay Special Economic Zone and, as such, authorized to determine the utilization and disposition of the lands comprising it, subject to private rights, if any, and in consultation and coordination with the City Government of Baguio after consultation with its inhabitants, and to promulgate the necessary policies, rules, and regulations to govern and regulate the zone thru the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation, which is its implementing arm for its economic development and optimum utilization. Sec. 3. Investment Climate in John Hay Special Economic Zone. Pursuant to Section 5(m) and Section 15 of Republic Act No. 7227, the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation shall implement all necessary policies, rules, and regulations governing the zone, including investment incentives, in consultation with pertinent government departments. Among others, the zone shall have all the applicable incentives of the Special Economic Zone under Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227 and those applicable incentives granted in the Export Processing Zones, the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987, the Foreign Investment Act of 1991, and new investment laws that may hereinafter be enacted. Sec. 4. Role of Departments, Bureaus, Offices, Agencies and Instrumentalities. All Heads of departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities of the government are hereby directed to give full support to Bases Conversion and Development

Authority and/or its implementing subsidiary or joint venture to facilitate the necessary approvals to expedite the implementation of various projects of the conversion program. Sec. 5. Local Authority. Except as herein provided, the affected local government units shall retain their basic autonomy and identity. Sec. 6. Repealing Clause. All orders, rules, and regulations, or parts thereof, which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Proclamation, are hereby repealed, amended, or modified accordingly. Sec. 7. Effectivity. This proclamation shall take effect immediately. Done in the City of Manila, this 5th day of July, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety-four. The issuance of Proclamation No. 420 spawned the present petition [17] for prohibition, mandamus and declaratory relief which was filed on April 25, 1995 challenging, in the main, its constitutionality or validity as well as the legality of the Memorandum of Agreement and Joint Venture Agreement between public respondent BCDA and private respondentsTUNTEX and ASIAWORLD. Petitioners allege as grounds for the allowance of the petition the following: I. PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION NO. 420, SERIES OF 1990 (sic) IN SO FAR AS IT GRANTS TAX EXEMPTIONS IS INVALID AND ILLEGAL AS IT IS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL EXERCISE BY THE PRESIDENT OF A POWER GRANTED ONLY TO THE LEGISLATURE. II. PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION NO. 420, IN SO FAR AS IT LIMITS THE POWERS AND INTERFERES WITH THE AUTONOMY OF THE CITY OF BAGUIO IS INVALID, ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL. III. PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION NO. 420, SERIES OF 1994 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL IN THAT IT VIOLATES THE RULE THAT ALL TAXES SHOULD BE UNIFORM AND EQUITABLE. IV. THE MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BY AND BETWEEN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC RESPONDENTS BASES CONVERSION DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY HAVING BEEN ENTERED INTO ONLY BY DIRECT NEGOTIATION IS ILLEGAL. V. THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BY AND BETWEEN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC RESPONDENT BASES CONVERSION DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY IS (sic) ILLEGAL. VI. THE CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN OF RESPONDENTS NOT HAVING UNDERGONE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT IS BEING ILLEGALLY CONSIDERED WITHOUT A VALID ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT. A temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction was prayed for to enjoin BCDA, John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation and the city government from implementing Proclamation No. 420, and TUNTEX and ASIAWORLD from proceeding with their plan respecting Camp John Hays development pursuant to their Joint Venture Agreement with BCDA.[18] Public respondents, by their separate Comments, allege as moot and academic the issues raised by the petition, the questioned Memorandum of Agreement and Joint Venture Agreement having already been deemed abandoned by the inaction of the parties thereto prior to the filing of the petition as in fact, by letter of November 21, 1995, BCDA formally notified TUNTEX and ASIAWORLD of the revocation of their said agreements.[19] In maintaining the validity of Proclamation No. 420, respondents contend that by extending to the John Hay SEZ economic incentives similar to those enjoyed by the Subic SEZ which was established under R.A. No. 7227, the proclamation is merely implementing the legislative intent of said law to turn the US military bases into hubs of business activity or investment. They underscore the point that the governments policy of bases conversion can not be achieved without extending the same tax exemptions granted by R.A. No. 7227 to Subic SEZ to other SEZs. Denying that Proclamation No. 420 is in derogation of the local autonomy of Baguio City or that it is violative of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, respondents assail petitioners lack of standing to bring the present suit even as taxpayers and in the absence of any actual case or controversy to warrant this Courts exercise of its power of judicial review over the proclamation.

Finally, respondents seek the outright dismissal of the petition for having been filed in disregard of the hierarchy of courts and of the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. Replying,[20] petitioners aver that the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies finds no application herein since they are invoking the exclusive authority of this Court under Section 21 of R.A. No. 7227 to enjoin or restrain implementation of projects for conversion of the base areas; that the established exceptions to the aforesaid doctrine obtain in the present petition; and that they possess the standing to bring the petition which is a taxpayers suit. Public respondents have filed their Rejoinder[21] and the parties have filed their respective memoranda. Before dwelling on the core issues, this Court shall first address the preliminary procedural questions confronting the petition. The judicial policy is and has always been that this Court will not entertain direct resort to it except when the redress sought cannot be obtained in the proper courts, or when exceptional and compelling circumstances warrant availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of this Courts primary jurisdiction. [22] Neither will it entertain an action for declaratory relief, which is partly the nature of this petition, over which it has no original jurisdiction. Nonetheless, as it is only this Court which has the power under Section 21[23] of R.A. No. 7227 to enjoin implementation of projects for the development of the former US military reservations, the issuance of which injunction petitioners pray for, petitioners direct filing of the present petition with it is allowed. Over and above this procedural objection to the present suit, this Court retains full discretionary power to take cognizance of a petition filed directly to it if compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues raised, warrant. [24] Besides, remanding the case to the lower courts now would just unduly prolong adjudication of the issues. The transformation of a portion of the area covered by Camp John Hay into a SEZ is not simply a reclassification of an area, a mere ascription of a status to a place. It involves turning the former US military reservation into a focal point for investments by both local and foreign entities. It is to be made a site of vigorous business activity, ultimately serving as a spur to the countrys long awaited economic growth. For, as R.A. No. 7227 unequivocally declares, it is the governments policy to enhance the benefits to be derived from the base areas in order to promote the economic and social development of Central Luzon in particular and the country in general. [25] Like the Subic SEZ, the John Hay SEZ should also be turned into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center.[26] More than the economic interests at stake, the development of Camp John Hay as well as of the other base areas unquestionably has critical links to a host of environmental and social concerns. Whatever use to which these lands will be devoted will set a chain of events that can affect one way or another the social and economic way of life of the communities where the bases are located, and ultimately the nation in general. Underscoring the fragility of Baguio Citys ecology with its problem on the scarcity of its water supply, petitioners point out that the local and national government are faced with the challenge of how to provide for an ecologically sustainable, environmentally sound, equitable transition for the city in the wake of Camp John Hays reversion to the mass of government property.[27] But that is why R.A. No. 7227 emphasizes the sound and balanced conversion of the Clark and Subic military reservations and their extensions consistent with ecological and environmental standards.[28] It cannot thus be gainsaid that the matter of conversion of the US bases into SEZs, in this case Camp John Hay, assumes importance of a national magnitude. Convinced then that the present petition embodies crucial issues, this Court assumes jurisdiction over the petition. As far as the questioned agreements between BCDA and TUNTEX and ASIAWORLD are concerned, the legal questions being raised thereon by petitioners have indeed been rendered moot and academic by the revocation of such agreements. There are, however, other issues posed by the petition, those which center on the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 420, which have not been mooted by the said supervening event upon application of the rules for the judicial scrutiny of constitutional cases. The issues boil down to: (1) (2) (3) Whether the present petition complies with the requirements for this Courts exercise of jurisdiction over constitutional issues; Whether Proclamation No. 420 is constitutional by providing for national and local tax exemption within and granting other economic incentives to the John Hay Special Economic Zone; and Whether Proclamation No. 420 is constitutional for limiting or interfering with the local autonomy of Baguio City;

It is settled that when questions of constitutional significance are raised, the court can exercise its power of judicial review only if the following requisites are present: (1) the existence of an actual and appropriate case; (2) a personal and substantial interest of the party raising the constitutional question; (3) the exercise of judicial review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the constitutional question is the lis mota of the case.[29] An actual case or controversy refers to an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory.[30] The controversy needs to be definite and concrete, bearing upon the legal relations of parties who are pitted against each other due to their adverse legal interests. [31] There is in the present case a real clash of interests and rights between petitioners and respondents arising from the issuance of a presidential proclamation that converts a portion of the area covered by Camp John Hay into a SEZ, the former insisting that such proclamation contains unconstitutional provisions, the latter claiming otherwise. R.A. No. 7227 expressly requires the concurrence of the affected local government units to the creation of SEZs out of all the base areas in the country. [32] The grant by the law on local government units of the right of concurrence on the bases conversion is equivalent to vesting a legal standing on them, for it is in effect a recognition of the real interests that communities nearby or surrounding a particular base area have in its utilization. Thus, the interest of petitioners, being inhabitants of Baguio, in assailing the legality of Proclamation No. 420, is personal and substantial such that they have sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the government act being challenged.[33] Theirs is a material interest, an interest in issue affected by the proclamation and not merely an interest in the question involved or an incidental interest, [34] for what is at stake in the enforcement of Proclamation No. 420 is the very economic and social existence of the people of Baguio City. Petitioners locus standi parallels that of the petitioner and other residents of Bataan, specially of the town of Limay, in Garcia v. Board of Investments[35] where this Court characterized their interest in the establishment of a petrochemical plant in their place as actual, real, vital and legal, for it would affect not only their economic life but even the air they breathe. Moreover, petitioners Edilberto T. Claravall and Lilia G. Yaranon were duly elected councilors of Baguio at the time, engaged in the local governance of Baguio City and whose duties included deciding for and on behalf of their constituents the question of whether to concur with the declaration of a portion of the area covered by Camp John Hay as a SEZ. Certainly then, petitioners Claravall and Yaranon, as city officials who voted against[36] the sanggunian Resolution No. 255 (Series of 1994) supporting the issuance of the now challenged Proclamation No. 420, have legal standing to bring the present petition. That there is herein a dispute on legal rights and interests is thus beyond doubt. The mootness of the issues concerning the questioned agreements between public and private respondents is of no moment. By the mere enactment of the questioned law or the approval of the challenged act, the dispute is deemed to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. Indeed, even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial duty.[37] As to the third and fourth requisites of a judicial inquiry, there is likewise no question that they have been complied with in the case at bar. This is an action filed purposely to bring forth constitutional issues, ruling on which this Court must take up. Besides, respondents never raised issues with respect to these requisites, hence, they are deemed waived. Having cleared the way for judicial review, the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 420, as framed in the second and third issues above, must now be addressed squarely. The second issue refers to petitioners objection against the creation by Proclamation No. 420 of a regime of tax exemption within the John Hay SEZ. Petitioners argue that nowhere in R. A. No. 7227 is there a grant of tax exemption to SEZs yet to be established in base areas, unlike the grant under Section 12 thereof of tax exemption and investment incentives to the therein established Subic SEZ. The grant of tax exemption to the John Hay SEZ, petitioners conclude, thus contravenes Article VI, Section 28 (4) of the Constitution which provides that No law granting any tax exemption shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of all the members of Congress. Section 3 of Proclamation No. 420, the challenged provision, reads: Sec. 3. Investment Climate in John Hay Special Economic Zone. Pursuant to Section 5(m) and Section 15 of Republic Act No. 7227, the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation shall implement all necessary policies, rules, and regulations governing the zone, including investment incentives, in consultation with pertinent government departments. Among others, the zone shall have all the applicable incentives of the Special Economic Zone under Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227 and those

applicable incentives granted in the Export Processing Zones, the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987, the Foreign Investment Act of 1991, and new investment laws that may hereinafter be enacted. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Upon the other hand, Section 12 of R.A. No. 7227 provides: xxx (a) Within the framework and subject to the mandate and limitations of the Constitution and the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code, the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments; b) The Subic Special Economic Zone shall be operated and managed as a separate customs territory ensuring free flow or movement of goods and capital within, into and exported out of the Subic Special Economic Zone, as well as provide incentives such as tax and duty free importations of raw materials, capital and equipment. However, exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines; (c) The provisions of existing laws, rules and regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, no taxes, local and national, shall be imposed within the Subic Special Economic Zone. In lieu of paying taxes, three percent (3%) of the gross income earned by all businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be remitted to the National Government, one percent (1%) each to the local government units affected by the declaration of the zone in proportion to their population area, and other factors. In addition, there is hereby established a development fund of one percent (1%) of the gross income earned by all businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone to be utilized for the Municipality of Subic, and other municipalities contiguous to be base areas. In case of conflict between national and local laws with respect to tax exemption privileges in the Subic Special Economic Zone, the same shall be resolved in favor of the latter; (d) No exchange control policy shall be applied and free markets for foreign exchange, gold, securities and futures shall be allowed and maintained in the Subic Special Economic Zone; (e) The Central Bank, through the Monetary Board, shall supervise and regulate the operations of banks and other financial institutions within the Subic Special Economic Zone; (f) Banking and Finance shall be liberalized with the establishment of foreign currency depository units of local commercial banks and offshore banking units of foreign banks with minimum Central Bank regulation; (g) Any investor within the Subic Special Economic Zone whose continuing investment shall not be less than Two Hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000), his/her spouse and dependent children under twenty-one (21) years of age, shall be granted permanent resident status within the Subic Special Economic Zone. They shall have freedom of ingress and egress to and from the Subic Special Economic Zone without any need of special authorization from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority referred to in Section 13 of this Act may also issue working visas renewable every two (2) years to foreign executives and other aliens possessing highly-technical skills which no Filipino within the Subic Special Economic Zone possesses, as certified by the Department of Labor and Employment. The names of aliens granted permanent residence status and working visas by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority shall be reported to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation within thirty (30) days after issuance thereof; x x x (Emphasis supplied) It is clear that under Section 12 of R.A. No. 7227 it is only the Subic SEZ which was granted by Congress with tax exemption, investment incentives and the like. There is no express extension of the aforesaid benefits to other SEZs still to be created at the time via presidential proclamation. The deliberations of the Senate confirm the exclusivity to Subic SEZ of the tax and investment privileges accorded it under the law, as the following exchanges between our lawmakers show during the second reading of the precursor bill of R.A. No. 7227 with respect to the investment policies that would govern Subic SEZ which are now embodied in the aforesaid Section 12 thereof: xxx

Senator Maceda: This is what I was talking about. We get into problems here because all of these following policies are centered around the concept of free port. And in the main paragraph above, we have declared both Clark and Subic as special economic zones, subject to these policies which are, in effect, a free-port arrangement. Senator Angara: The Gentleman is absolutely correct, Mr. President. So we must confine these policies only to Subic. May I withdraw then my amendment, and instead provide that THE SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE OF SUBIC SHALL BE ESTABLISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING POLICIES. Subject to style, Mr. President. Thus, it is very clear that these principles and policies are applicable only to Subic as a free port. Senator Paterno: Mr. President. The President: Senator Paterno is recognized. Senator Paterno: I take it that the amendment suggested by Senator Angara would then prevent the establishment of other special economic zones observing these policies. Senator Angara: No, Mr. President, because during our short caucus, Senator Laurel raised the point that if we give this delegation to the President to establish other economic zones, that may be an unwarranted delegation. So we agreed that we will simply limit the definition of powers and description of the zone to Subic, but that does not exclude the possibility of creating other economic zones within the baselands. Senator Paterno: But if that amendment is followed, no other special economic zone may be created under authority of this particular bill. Is that correct, Mr. President? Senator Angara: Under this specific provision, yes, Mr. President. This provision now will be confined only to Subic.[38] x x x (Underscoring supplied). As gathered from the earlier-quoted Section 12 of R.A. No. 7227, the privileges given to Subic SEZ consist principally of exemption from tariff or customs duties, national and local taxes of business entities therein (paragraphs (b) and (c)), free market and trade of specified goods or properties (paragraph d), liberalized banking and finance (paragraph f), and relaxed immigration rules for foreign investors (paragraph g). Yet, apart from these, Proclamation No. 420 also makes available to the John Hay SEZ benefits existing in other laws such as the privilege of export processing zone-based businesses of importing capital equipment and raw materials free from taxes, duties and other restrictions;[39] tax and duty exemptions, tax holiday, tax credit, and other incentives under the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987;[40] and the applicability to the subject zone of rules governing foreign investments in the Philippines.[41] While the grant of economic incentives may be essential to the creation and success of SEZs, free trade zones and the like, the grant thereof to the John Hay SEZ cannot be sustained. The incentives under R.A. No. 7227 are exclusive only to the Subic SEZ, hence, the extension of the same to the John Hay SEZ finds no support therein. Neither does the same grant of privileges to the John Hay SEZ find support in the other laws specified under Section 3 of Proclamation No. 420, which laws were already extant before the issuance of the proclamation or the enactment of R.A. No. 7227. More importantly, the nature of most of the assailed privileges is one of tax exemption. It is the legislature, unless limited by a provision of the state constitution, that has full power to exempt any person or corporation or class of property from taxation, its power to exempt being as broad as its power to tax. [42] Other than Congress, the Constitution may itself provide for specific tax exemptions, [43] or local governments may pass ordinances on exemption only from local taxes.[44] The challenged grant of tax exemption would circumvent the Constitutions imposition that a law granting any tax exemption must have the concurrence of a majority of all the members of Congress. [45] In the same vein, the other kinds of privileges extended to the John Hay SEZ are by tradition and usage for Congress to legislate upon.

Contrary to public respondents suggestions, the claimed statutory exemption of the John Hay SEZ from taxation should be manifest and unmistakable from the language of the law on which it is based; it must be expressly granted in a statute stated in a language too clear to be mistaken.[46] Tax exemption cannot be implied as it must be categorically and unmistakably expressed.[47] If it were the intent of the legislature to grant to the John Hay SEZ the same tax exemption and incentives given to the Subic SEZ, it would have so expressly provided in the R.A. No. 7227. This Court no doubt can void an act or policy of the political departments of the government on either of two groundsinfringement of the Constitution or grave abuse of discretion.[48] This Court then declares that the grant by Proclamation No. 420 of tax exemption and other privileges to the John Hay SEZ is void for being violative of the Constitution. This renders it unnecessary to still dwell on petitioners claim that the same grant violates the equal protection guarantee. With respect to the final issue raised by petitioners that Proclamation No. 420 is unconstitutional for being in derogation of Baguio Citys local autonomy, objection is specifically mounted against Section 2 thereof in which BCDA is set up as the governing body of the John Hay SEZ.[49] Petitioners argue that there is no authority of the President to subject the John Hay SEZ to the governance of BCDA which has just oversight functions over SEZ; and that to do so is to diminish the city governments power over an area within its jurisdiction, hence, Proclamation No. 420 unlawfully gives the President power of control over the local government instead of just mere supervision. Petitioners arguments are bereft of merit. Under R.A. No. 7227, the BCDA is entrusted with, among other things, the following purpose:[50] xxx (a) To own, hold and/or administer the military reservations of John Hay Air Station, Wallace Air Station, ODonnell Transmitter Station, San Miguel Naval Communications Station, Mt. Sta. Rita Station (Hermosa, Bataan) and those portions of Metro Manila Camps which may be transferred to it by the President; x x x (Underscoring supplied) With such broad rights of ownership and administration vested in BCDA over Camp John Hay, BCDA virtually has control over it, subject to certain limitations provided for by law. By designating BCDA as the governing agency of the John Hay SEZ, the law merely emphasizes or reiterates the statutory role or functions it has been granted. The unconstitutionality of the grant of tax immunity and financial incentives as contained in the second sentence of Section 3 of Proclamation No. 420 notwithstanding, the entire assailed proclamation cannot be declared unconstitutional, the other parts thereof not being repugnant to law or the Constitution. The delineation and declaration of a portion of the area covered by Camp John Hay as a SEZ was well within the powers of the President to do so by means of a proclamation. [51] The requisite prior concurrence by the Baguio City government to such proclamation appears to have been given in the form of a duly enacted resolution by the sanggunian. The other provisions of the proclamation had been proven to be consistent with R.A. No. 7227. Where part of a statute is void as contrary to the Constitution, while another part is valid, the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may stand and be enforced. [52] This Court finds that the other provisions in Proclamation No. 420 converting a delineated portion of Camp John Hay into the John Hay SEZ are separable from the invalid second sentence of Section 3 thereof, hence they stand. WHEREFORE, the second sentence of Section 3 of Proclamation No. 420 is hereby declared NULL AND VOID and is accordingly declared of no legal force and effect. Public respondents are hereby enjoined from implementing the aforesaid void provision. Proclamation No. 420, without the invalidated portion, remains valid and effective. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Vitug, Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur. Puno, J., no part, due to relationship. Quisumbing, J., due prior action, no part.

Ynares-Santiago, and Corona, JJ., on leave.

[G.R. No. 132527. July 29, 2005]

COCONUT OIL REFINERS ASSOCIATION, INC. represented by its President, JESUS L. ARRANZA, PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF MEAT PROCESSORS, INC. (PAMPI), represented by its Secretary, ROMEO G. HIDALGO, FEDERATION OF FREE FARMERS (FFF), represented by its President, JEREMIAS U. MONTEMAYOR, and BUKLURAN NG MANGGAGAWANG PILIPINO (BMP), represented by its Chairperson, FELIMON C. LAGMAN, petitioners, vs. HON. RUBEN TORRES, in his capacity as Executive Secretary; BASES CONVERSION AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, CLARK DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY, 88 MART DUTY FREE, FREEPORT TRADERS, PX CLUB, AMERICAN HARDWARE, ROYAL DUTY FREE SHOPS, INC., DFS SPORTS, ASIA PACIFIC, MCI DUTY FREE DISTRIBUTOR CORP. (formerly MCI RESOURCES, CORP.), PARK & SHOP, DUTY FREE COMMODITIES, L. FURNISHING, SHAMBURGH, SUBIC DFS, ARGAN TRADING CORP., ASIPINE CORP., BEST BUY, INC., PX CLUB, CLARK TRADING, DEMAGUS TRADING CORP., D.F.S. SPORTS UNLIMITED, INC., DUTY FREE FIRST SUPERSTORE, INC., FREEPORT, JC MALL DUTY FREE INC. (formerly 88 Mart [Clark] Duty Free Corp.), LILLY HILL CORP., MARSHALL, PUREGOLD DUTY FREE, INC., ROYAL DFS and ZAXXON PHILIPPINES, INC., respondents. DECISION AZCUNA, J.: This is a Petition for Prohibition and Injunction seeking to enjoin and prohibit the Executive Branch, through the public respondents Ruben Torres in his capacity as Executive Secretary, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), from allowing, and the private respondents from continuing with, the operation of tax and duty-free shops located at the Subic Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) and the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), and to declare the following issuances as unconstitutional, illegal, and void: 1. Section 5 of Executive Order No. 80,[1] dated April 3, 1993, regarding the CSEZ. 2. Executive Order No. 97-A, dated June 19, 1993, pertaining to the SSEZ. 3. Section 4 of BCDA Board Resolution No. 93-05-034,[2] dated May 18, 1993, pertaining to the CSEZ. Petitioners contend that the aforecited issuances are unconstitutional and void as they constitute executive lawmaking, and that they are contrary to Republic Act No. 7227[3] and in violation of the Constitution, particularly Section 1, Article III (equal protection clause), Section 19, Article XII (prohibition of unfair competition and combinations in restraint of trade), and Section 12, Article XII (preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods). The facts are as follows: On March 13, 1992, Republic Act No. 7227 was enacted, providing for, among other things, the sound and balanced conversion of the Clark and Subic military reservations and their extensions into alternative productive uses in the form of special economic zones in order to promote the economic and social development of Central Luzon in particular and the country in general. Among the salient provisions are as follows: SECTION 12. Subic Special Economic Zone. ... The abovementioned zone shall be subject to the following policies:

(a) Within the framework and subject to the mandate and limitations of the Constitution and the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code, the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments; (b) The Subic Special Economic Zone shall be operated and managed as a separate customs territory ensuring free flow or movement of goods and capital within, into and exported out of the Subic Special Economic Zone, as well as provide incentives such as tax and duty-free importations of raw materials, capital and equipment. However, exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines;[4] (c) The provision of existing laws, rules and regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, no taxes, local and national, shall be imposed within the Subic Special Economic Zone. In lieu of paying taxes, three percent (3%) of the gross income earned by all businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Ecoomic Zone shall be remitted to the National Government, one percent (1%) each to the local government units affected by the declaration of the zone in proportion to their population area, and other factors. In addition, there is hereby established a development fund of one percent (1%) of the gross income earned by all businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone to be utilized for the development of municipalities outside the City of Olangapo and the Municipality of Subic, and other municipalities contiguous to the base areas. ... SECTION 15. Clark and Other Special Economic Zones. Subject to the concurrence by resolution of the local government units directly affected, the President is hereby authorized to create by executive proclamation a Special Economic Zone covering the lands occupied by the Clark military reservations and its contiguous extensions as embraced, covered and defined by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America, as amended, located within the territorial jurisdiction of Angeles City, Municipalities of Mabalacat and Porac, Province of Pampanga and the Municipality of Capas, Province of Tarlac, in accordance with the policies as herein provided insofar as applicable to the Clark military reservations. The governing body of the Clark Special Economic Zone shall likewise be established by executive proclamation with such powers and functions exercised by the Export Processing Zone Authority pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 66 as amended. The policies to govern and regulate the Clark Special Economic Zone shall be determined upon consultation with the inhabitants of the local government units directly affected which shall be conducted within six (6) months upon approval of this Act. Similarly, subject to the concurrence by resolution of the local government units directly affected, the President shall create other Special Economic Zones, in the base areas of Wallace Air Station in San Fernando, La Union (excluding areas designated for communications, advance warning and radar requirements of the Philippine Air Force to be determined by the Conversion Authority) and Camp John Hay in the City of Baguio. Upon recommendation of the Conversion Authority, the President is likewise authorized to create Special Economic Zones covering the Municipalities of Morong, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, Castillejos and San Marcelino. On April 3, 1993, President Fidel V. Ramos issued Executive Order No. 80, which declared, among others, that Clark shall have all the applicable incentives granted to the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone under Republic Act No. 7227. The pertinent provision assailed therein is as follows: SECTION 5. Investments Climate in the CSEZ. Pursuant to Section 5(m) and Section 15 of RA 7227, the BCDA shall promulgate all necessary policies, rules and regulations governing the CSEZ, including investment incentives, in consultation with the local government units and pertinent government departments for implementation by the CDC. Among others, the CSEZ shall have all the applicable incentives in the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone under RA 7227 and those applicable incentives granted in the Export Processing Zones, the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987, the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 and new investments laws which may hereinafter be enacted. The CSEZ Main Zone covering the Clark Air Base proper shall have all the aforecited investment incentives, while the CSEZ SubZone covering the rest of the CSEZ shall have limited incentives. The full incentives in the Clark SEZ Main Zone and the limited incentives in the Clark SEZ Sub-Zone shall be determined by the BCDA.

Pursuant to the directive under Executive Order No. 80, the BCDA passed Board Resolution No. 93-05-034 on May 18, 1993, allowing the tax and duty-free sale at retail of consumer goods imported via Clark for consumption outside the CSEZ. The assailed provisions of said resolution read, as follows: Section 4. SPECIFIC INCENTIVES IN THE CSEZ MAIN ZONE. The CSEZ-registered enterprises/businesses shall be entitled to all the incentives available under R.A. No. 7227, E.O. No. 226 and R.A. No. 7042 which shall include, but not limited to, the following: I. As in Subic Economic and Free Port Zone: A. Customs: ... 4. Tax and duty-free purchase and consumption of goods/articles (duty free shopping) within the CSEZ Main Zone. 5. For individuals, duty-free consumer goods may be brought out of the CSEZ Main Zone into the Philippine Customs territory but not to exceed US$200.00 per month per CDC-registered person, similar to the limits imposed in the Subic SEZ. This privilege shall be enjoyed only once a month. Any excess shall be levied taxes and duties by the Bureau of Customs. On June 10, 1993, the President issued Executive Order No. 97, Clarifying the Tax and Duty Free Incentive Within the Subic Special Economic Zone Pursuant to R.A. No. 7227. Said issuance in part states, thus: SECTION 1. On Import Taxes and Duties Tax and duty-free importations shall apply only to raw materials, capital goods and equipment brought in by business enterprises into the SSEZ. Except for these items, importations of other goods into the SSEZ, whether by business enterprises or resident individuals, are subject to taxes and duties under relevant Philippine laws. The exportation or removal of tax and duty-free goods from the territory of the SSEZ to other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to duties and taxes under relevant Philippine laws. Nine days after, on June 19, 1993, Executive Order No. 97-A was issued, Further Clarifying the Tax and DutyFree Privilege Within the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone. The relevant provisions read, as follows: SECTION 1. The following guidelines shall govern the tax and duty-free privilege within the Secured Area of the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone: 1.1 The Secured Area consisting of the presently fenced-in former Subic Naval Base shall be the only completely tax and duty-free area in the SSEFPZ. Business enterprises and individuals (Filipinos and foreigners) residing within the Secured Area are free to import raw materials, capital goods, equipment, and consumer items tax and duty-free. Consumption items, however, must be consumed within the Secured Area. Removal of raw materials, capital goods, equipment and consumer items out of the Secured Area for sale to non-SSEFPZ registered enterprises shall be subject to the usual taxes and duties, except as may be provided herein. 1.2. Residents of the SSEFPZ living outside the Secured Area can enter the Secured Area and consume any quantity of consumption items in hotels and restaurants within the Secured Area. However, these residents can purchase and bring out of the Secured Area to other parts of the Philippine territory consumer items worth not exceeding US$100 per month per person. Only residents age 15 and over are entitled to this privilege. 1.3. Filipinos not residing within the SSEFPZ can enter the Secured Area and consume any quantity of consumption items in hotels and restaurants within the Secured Area. However, they can purchase and bring out [of] the Secured Area to other parts of the Philippine territory consumer items worth not exceeding US$200 per year per person. Only Filipinos age 15 and over are entitled to this privilege. Petitioners assail the $100 monthly and $200 yearly tax-free shopping privileges granted by the aforecited provisions respectively to SSEZ residents living outside the Secured Area of the SSEZ and to Filipinos aged 15 and over residing outside the SSEZ.

On February 23, 1998, petitioners thus filed the instant petition, seeking the declaration of nullity of the assailed issuances on the following grounds: I. EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 97-A, SECTION 5 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 80, AND SECTION 4 OF BCDA BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 93-05-034 ARE NULL AND VOID [FOR] BEING AN EXERCISE OF EXECUTIVE LAWMAKING. II. EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 97-A, SECTION 5 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 80, AND SECTION 4 OF BCDA BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 93-05-034 ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR BEING VIOLATIVE OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE AND THE PROHIBITION AGAINST UNFAIR COMPETITION AND PRACTICES IN RESTRAINT OF TRADE. III. EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 97-A, SECTION 5 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 80, AND SECTION 4 OF BCDA BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 93-05-034 ARE NULL AND VOID [FOR] BEING VIOLATIVE OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7227. IV. THE CONTINUED IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CHALLENGED ISSUANCES IF NOT RESTRAINED WILL CONTINUE TO CAUSE PETITIONERS TO SUFFER GRAVE AND IRREPARABLE INJURY.[5] In their Comments, respondents point out procedural issues, alleging lack of petitioners legal standing, the unreasonable delay in the filing of the petition, laches, and the propriety of the remedy of prohibition. Anent the claim on lack of legal standing, respondents argue that petitioners, being mere suppliers of the local retailers operating outside the special economic zones, do not stand to suffer direct injury in the enforcement of the issuances being assailed herein. Assuming this is true, this Court has nevertheless held that in cases of paramount importance where serious constitutional questions are involved, the standing requirements may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper even where there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review.[6] In the same vein, with respect to the other alleged procedural flaws, even assuming the existence of such defects, this Court, in the exercise of its discretion, brushes aside these technicalities and takes cognizance of the petition considering the importance to the public of the present case and in keeping with the duty to determine whether the other branches of the government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution.[7] Now, on the constitutional arguments raised: As this Court enters upon the task of passing on the validity of an act of a co-equal and coordinate branch of the Government, it bears emphasis that deeply ingrained in our jurisprudence is the time-honored principle that a statute is presumed to be valid.[8] This presumption is rooted in the doctrine of separation of powers which enjoins upon the three coordinate departments of the Government a becoming courtesy for each others acts. [9] Hence, to doubt is to sustain. The theory is that before the act was done or the law was enacted, earnest studies were made by Congress, or the President, or both, to insure that the Constitution would not be breached.[10] This Court, however, may declare a law, or portions thereof, unconstitutional where a petitioner has shown a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative one. [11] In other words, before a statute or a portion thereof may be declared unconstitutional, it must be shown that the statute or issuance violates the Constitution clearly, palpably and plainly, and in such a manner as to leave no doubt or hesitation in the mind of the Court.[12]

The Issue on Executive Legislation Petitioners claim that the assailed issuances (Executive Order No. 97-A; Section 5 of Executive Order No. 80; and Section 4 of BCDA Board Resolution No. 93-05-034) constitute executive legislation, in violation of the rule on separation of powers. Petitioners argue that the Executive Department, by allowing through the questioned issuances the setting up of tax and duty-free shops and the removal of consumer goods and items from the zones without

payment of corresponding duties and taxes, arbitrarily provided additional exemptions to the limitations imposed by Republic Act No. 7227, which limitations petitioners identify as follows: (1) [Republic Act No. 7227] allowed only tax and duty-free importation of raw materials, capital and equipment.

(2) It provides that any exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines. Anent the first alleged limitation, petitioners contend that the wording of Republic Act No. 7227 clearly limits the grant of tax incentives to the importation of raw materials, capital and equipment only. Hence, they claim that the assailed issuances constitute executive legislation for invalidly granting tax incentives in the importation of consumer goods such as those being sold in the duty-free shops, in violation of the letter and intent of Republic Act No. 7227. A careful reading of Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227, which pertains to the SSEZ, would show that it does not restrict the duty-free importation only to raw materials, capital and equipment. Section 12 of the cited law is partly reproduced, as follows: SECTION 12. Subic Special Economic Zone. ... The abovementioned zone shall be subject to the following policies: ... (b) The Subic Special Economic Zone shall be operated and managed as a separate customs territory ensuring free flow or movement of goods and capital within, into and exported out of the Subic Special Economic Zone, as well as provide incentives such as tax and duty-free importations of raw materials, capital and equipment. However, exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines.[13] While it is true that Section 12 (b) of Republic Act No. 7227 mentions only raw materials, capital and equipment, this does not necessarily mean that the tax and duty-free buying privilege is limited to these types of articles to the exclusion of consumer goods. It must be remembered that in construing statutes, the proper course is to start out and follow the true intent of the Legislature and to adopt that sense which harmonizes best with the context and promotes in the fullest manner the policy and objects of the Legislature.[14] In the present case, there appears to be no logic in following the narrow interpretation petitioners urge. To limit the tax-free importation privilege of enterprises located inside the special economic zone only to raw materials, capital and equipment clearly runs counter to the intention of the Legislature to create a free port where the free flow of goods or capital within, into, and out of the zones is insured. The phrase tax and duty-free importations of raw materials, capital and equipment was merely cited as an example of incentives that may be given to entities operating within the zone. Public respondent SBMA correctly argued that the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, on which petitioners impliedly rely to support their restrictive interpretation, does not apply when words are mentioned by way of example. [15] It is obvious from the wording of Republic Act No. 7227, particularly the use of the phrase such as, that the enumeration only meant to illustrate incentives that the SSEZ is authorized to grant, in line with its being a free port zone. Furthermore, said legal maxim should be applied only as a means of discovering legislative intent which is not otherwise manifest, and should not be permitted to defeat the plainly indicated purpose of the Legislature.[16] The records of the Senate containing the discussion of the concept of special economic zone in Section 12 (a) of Republic Act No. 7227 show the legislative intent that consumer goods entering the SSEZ which satisfy the needs of the zone and are consumed there are not subject to duties and taxes in accordance with Philippine laws, thus: Senator Guingona. . . . The concept of Special Economic Zone is one that really includes the concept of a free port, but it is broader. While a free port is necessarily included in the Special Economic Zone, the reverse is not true that a free port would include a special economic zone.

Special Economic Zone, Mr. President, would include not only the incoming and outgoing of vessels, duty-free and tax-free, but it would involve also tourism, servicing, financing and all the appurtenances of an investment center. So, that is the concept, Mr. President. It is broader. It includes the free port concept and would cater to the greater needs of Olangapo City, Subic Bay and the surrounding municipalities. Senator Enrile. May I know then if a factory located within the jurisdiction of Morong, Bataan that was originally a part of the Subic Naval reservation, be entitled to a free port treatment or just a special economic zone treatment? Senator Guingona. As far as the goods required for manufacture is concerned, Mr. President, it would have privileges of duty-free and tax-free. But in addition, the Special Economic Zone could embrace the needs of tourism, could embrace the needs of servicing, could embrace the needs of financing and other investment aspects. Senator Enrile. When a hotel is constructed, Mr. President, in this geographical unit which we call a special economic zone, will the goods entering to be consumed by the customers or guests of the hotel be subject to duties? Senator Guingona. That is the concept that we are crafting, Mr. President. Senator Enrile. No. I am asking whether those goods will be duty-free, because it is constructed within a free port. Senator Guingona. For as long as it services the needs of the Special Economic Zone, yes. Senator Enrile. For as long as the goods remain within the zone, whether we call it an economic zone or a free port, for as long as we say in this law that all goods entering this particular territory will be duty-free and tax-free, for as long as they remain there, consumed there or reexported or destroyed in that place, then they are not subject to the duties and taxes in accordance with the laws of the Philippines? Senator Guingona. Yes.[17] Petitioners rely on Committee Report No. 1206 submitted by the Ad Hoc Oversight Committee on Bases Conversion on June 26, 1995. Petitioners put emphasis on the reports finding that the setting up of duty-free stores never figured in the minds of the authors of Republic Act No. 7227 in attracting foreign investors to the former military baselands. They maintain that said law aimed to attract manufacturing and service enterprises that will employ the dislocated former military base workers, but not investors who would buy consumer goods from duty-free stores. The Court is not persuaded. Indeed, it is well-established that opinions expressed in the debates and proceedings of the Legislature, steps taken in the enactment of a law, or the history of the passage of the law through the Legislature, may be resorted to as aids in the interpretation of a statute with a doubtful meaning. [18] Petitioners posture, however, overlooks the fact that the 1995 Committee Report they are referring to came into being well after the enactment of Republic Act No. 7227 in 1993. Hence, as pointed out by respondent Executive Secretary Torres, the aforementioned report cannot be said to form part of Republic Act No. 7227s legislative history. Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227, provides in part, thus: SEC. 12. Subic Special Economic Zone. -- . . . The abovementioned zone shall be subject to the following policies: (a) Within the framework and subject to the mandate and limitations of the Constitution and the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code, the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments. [19] The aforecited policy was mentioned as a basis for the issuance of Executive Order No. 97-A, thus: WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 7227 provides that within the framework and subject to the mandate and limitations of the Constitution and the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code, the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone (SSEFPZ) shall be developed into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments; and

WHEREAS, a special tax and duty-free privilege within a Secured Area in the SSEFPZ subject, to existing laws has been determined necessary to attract local and foreign visitors to the zone. Executive Order No. 97-A provides guidelines to govern the tax and duty-free privileges within the Secured Area of the Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone. Paragraph 1.6 thereof states that (t)he sale of tax and duty-free consumer items in the Secured Area shall only be allowed in duly authorized duty-free shops. The Court finds that the setting up of such commercial establishments which are the only ones duly authorized to sell consumer items tax and duty-free is still well within the policy enunciated in Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227 that . . .the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments. (Emphasis supplied.) However, the Court reiterates that the second sentences of paragraphs 1.2 and 1.3 of Executive Order No. 97-A, allowing tax and duty-free removal of goods to certain individuals, even in a limited amount, from the Secured Area of the SSEZ, are null and void for being contrary to Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227. Said Section clearly provides that exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines. On the other hand, insofar as the CSEZ is concerned, the case for an invalid exercise of executive legislation is tenable. In John Hay Peoples Alternative Coalition, et al. v. Victor Lim, et al.,[20] this Court resolved an issue, very much like the one herein, concerning the legality of the tax exemption benefits given to the John Hay Economic Zone under Presidential Proclamation No. 420, Series of 1994, CREATING AND DESIGNATING A PORTION OF THE AREA COVERED BY THE FORMER CAMP JOHN AS THE JOHN HAY SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE PURSUANT TO REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7227. In that case, among the arguments raised was that the granting of tax exemptions to John Hay was an invalid and illegal exercise by the President of the powers granted only to the Legislature. Petitioners therein argued that Republic Act No. 7227 expressly granted tax exemption only to Subic and not to the other economic zones yet to be established. Thus, the grant of tax exemption to John Hay by Presidential Proclamation contravenes the constitutional mandate that [n]o law granting any tax exemption shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of all the members of Congress.[21] This Court sustained the argument and ruled that the incentives under Republic Act No. 7227 are exclusive only to the SSEZ. The President, therefore, had no authority to extend their application to John Hay. To quote from the Decision: More importantly, the nature of most of the assailed privileges is one of tax exemption. It is the legislature, unless limited by a provision of a state constitution, that has full power to exempt any person or corporation or class of property from taxation, its power to exempt being as broad as its power to tax. Other than Congress, the Constitution may itself provide for specific tax exemptions, or local governments may pass ordinances on exemption only from local taxes. The challenged grant of tax exemption would circumvent the Constitutions imposition that a law granting any tax exemption must have the concurrence of a majority of all the members of Congress. In the same vein, the other kinds of privileges extended to the John Hay SEZ are by tradition and usage for Congress to legislate upon. Contrary to public respondents suggestions, the claimed statutory exemption of the John Hay SEZ from taxation should be manifest and unmistakable from the language of the law on which it is based; it must be expressly granted in a statute stated in a language too clear to be mistaken. Tax exemption cannot be implied as it must be categorically and unmistakably expressed. If it were the intent of the legislature to grant to John Hay SEZ the same tax exemption and incentives given to the Subic SEZ, it would have so expressly provided in R.A. No. 7227.[22] In the present case, while Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7227 expressly provides for the grant of incentives to the SSEZ, it fails to make any similar grant in favor of other economic zones, including the CSEZ. Tax and duty-free incentives being in the nature of tax exemptions, the basis thereof should be categorically and unmistakably expressed from the language of the statute. Consequently, in the absence of any express grant of tax and duty-free privileges to the CSEZ in Republic Act No. 7227, there would be no legal basis to uphold the questioned portions of

two issuances: Section 5 of Executive Order No. 80 and Section 4 of BCDA Board Resolution No. 93-05-034, which both pertain to the CSEZ. Petitioners also contend that the questioned issuances constitute executive legislation for allowing the removal of consumer goods and items from the zones without payment of corresponding duties and taxes in violation of Republic Act No. 7227 as Section 12 thereof provides for the taxation of goods that are exported or removed from the SSEZ to other parts of the Philippine territory. On September 26, 1997, Executive Order No. 444 was issued, curtailing the duty-free shopping privileges in the SSEZ and the CSEZ to prevent abuse of duty-free privilege and to protect local industries from unfair competition. The pertinent provisions of said issuance state, as follows: SECTION 3. Special Shopping Privileges Granted During the Year-round Centennial Anniversary Celebration in 1998. Upon effectivity of this Order and up to the Centennial Year 1998, in addition to the permanent residents, locators and employees of the fenced-in areas of the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone and the Clark Special Economic Zone who are allowed unlimited duty free purchases, provided these are consumed within said fenced-in areas of the Zones, the residents of the municipalities adjacent to Subic and Clark as respectively provided in R.A. 7227 (1992) and E.O. 97-A s. 1993 shall continue to be allowed One Hundred US Dollars (US$100) monthly shopping privilege until 31 December 1998. Domestic tourists visiting Subic and Clark shall be allowed a shopping privilege of US$25 for consumable goods which shall be consumed only in the fenced-in area during their visit therein. SECTION 4. Grant of Duty Free Shopping Privileges Limited Only To Individuals Allowed by Law. Starting 1 January 1999, only the following persons shall continue to be eligible to shop in duty free shops/outlets with their corresponding purchase limits: a. Tourists and Filipinos traveling to or returning from foreign destinations under E.O. 97-A s. 1993 One Thousand US Dollars (US$1,000) but not to exceed Ten Thousand US Dollars (US$10,000) in any given year; b. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Balikbayans defined under R.A. 6768 dated 3 November 1989 Two Thousand US Dollars (US$2,000); c. Residents, eighteen (18) years old and above, of the fenced-in areas of the freeports under R.A. 7227 (1992) and E.O. 97-A s. 1993 Unlimited purchase as long as these are for consumption within these freeports. The term "Residents" mentioned in item c above shall refer to individuals who, by virtue of domicile or employment, reside on permanent basis within the freeport area. The term excludes (1) non-residents who have entered into short- or long-term property lease inside the freeport, (2) outsiders engaged in doing business within the freeport, and (3) members of private clubs (e.g., yacht and golf clubs) based or located within the freeport. In this regard, duty free privileges granted to any of the above individuals (e.g., unlimited shopping privilege, tax-free importation of cars, etc.) are hereby revoked.[23] A perusal of the above provisions indicates that effective January 1, 1999, the grant of duty-free shopping privileges to domestic tourists and to residents living adjacent to SSEZ and the CSEZ had been revoked. Residents of the fenced-in area of the free port are still allowed unlimited purchase of consumer goods, as long as these are for consumption within these freeports. Hence, the only individuals allowed by law to shop in the duty-free outlets and remove consumer goods out of the free ports tax-free are tourists and Filipinos traveling to or returning from foreign destinations, and Overseas Filipino Workers and Balikbayans as defined under Republic Act No. 6768.[24] Subsequently, on October 20, 2000, Executive Order No. 303 was issued, amending Executive Order No. 444. Pursuant to the limited duration of the privileges granted under the preceding issuance, Section 2 of Executive Order No. 303 declared that [a]ll special shopping privileges as granted under Section 3 of Executive Order 444, s. 1997, are hereby deemed terminated. The grant of duty free shopping privileges shall be restricted to qualified individuals as provided by law. It bears noting at this point that the shopping privileges currently being enjoyed by Overseas Filipino Workers, Balikbayans, and tourists traveling to and from foreign destinations, draw authority not from the issuances being assailed herein, but from Executive Order No. 46[25] and Republic Act No. 6768, both enacted prior to the promulgation of Republic Act No. 7227. From the foregoing, it appears that petitioners objection to the allowance of tax-free removal of goods from the special economic zones as previously authorized by the questioned issuances has become moot and academic.

In any event, Republic Act No. 7227, specifically Section 12 (b) thereof, clearly provides that exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines. Thus, the removal of goods from the SSEZ to other parts of the Philippine territory without payment of said customs duties and taxes is not authorized by the Act. Consequently, the following italicized provisions found in the second sentences of paragraphs 1.2 and 1.3, Section 1 of Executive Order No. 97-A are null and void: 1.2 Residents of the SSEFPZ living outside the Secured Area can enter and consume any quantity of consumption items in hotels and restaurants within the Secured Area. However, these residents can purchase and bring out of the Secured Area to other parts of the Philippine territory consumer items worth not exceeding US $100 per month per person. Only residents age 15 and over are entitled to this privilege. 1.3 Filipinos not residing within the SSEFPZ can enter the Secured Area and consume any quantity of consumption items in hotels and restaurants within the Secured Area. However, they can purchase and bring out of the Secured Area to other parts of the Philippine territory consumer items worth not exceeding US $200 per year per person. Only Filipinos age 15 and over are entitled to this privilege.[26] A similar provision found in paragraph 5, Section 4(A) of BCDA Board Resolution No. 93-05-034 is also null and void. Said Resolution applied the incentives given to the SSEZ under Republic Act No. 7227 to the CSEZ, which, as aforestated, is without legal basis. Having concluded earlier that the CSEZ is excluded from the tax and duty-free incentives provided under Republic Act No. 7227, this Court will resolve the remaining arguments only with regard to the operations of the SSEZ. Thus, the assailed issuance that will be discussed is solely Executive Order No. 97-A, since it is the only one among the three questioned issuances which pertains to the SSEZ.

Equal Protection of the Laws Petitioners argue that the assailed issuance (Executive Order No. 97-A) is violative of their right to equal protection of the laws, as enshrined in Section 1, Article III of the Constitution. To support this argument, they assert that private respondents operating inside the SSEZ are not different from the retail establishments located outside, the products sold being essentially the same. The only distinction, they claim, lies in the products variety and source, and the fact that private respondents import their items tax-free, to the prejudice of the retailers and manufacturers located outside the zone. Petitioners contention cannot be sustained. It is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on a reasonable classification. [27] Classification, to be valid, must (1) rest on substantial distinction, (2) be germane to the purpose of the law, (3) not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) apply equally to all members of the same class.[28] Applying the foregoing test to the present case, this Court finds no violation of the right to equal protection of the laws. First, contrary to petitioners claim, substantial distinctions lie between the establishments inside and outside the zone, justifying the difference in their treatment. In Tiu v. Court of Appeals,[29] the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 97-A was challenged for being violative of the equal protection clause. In that case, petitioners claimed that Executive Order No. 97-A was discriminatory in confining the application of Republic Act No. 7227 within a secured area of the SSEZ, to the exclusion of those outside but are, nevertheless, still within the economic zone. Upholding the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 97-A, this Court therein found substantial differences between the retailers inside and outside the secured area, thereby justifying a valid and reasonable classification: Certainly, there are substantial differences between the big investors who are being lured to establish and operate their industries in the so-called secured area and the present business operators outside the area. On the one hand, we are talking of billion-peso investments and thousands of new jobs. On the other hand, definitely none of such magnitude. In the first, the economic impact will be national; in the second, only local. Even more important, at this time the business activities outside the secured area are not likely to have any impact in achieving the purpose of the law, which is to turn the former military base to productive use for the benefit of the Philippine economy. There is, then, hardly any reasonable basis to extend to them the benefits and incentives

accorded in R.A. 7227. Additionally, as the Court of Appeals pointed out, it will be easier to manage and monitor the activities within the secured area, which is already fenced off, to prevent fraudulent importation of merchandise or smuggling. It is well-settled that the equal-protection guarantee does not require territorial uniformity of laws. As long as there are actual and material differences between territories, there is no violation of the constitutional clause. And of course, anyone, including the petitioners, possessing the requisite investment capital can always avail of the same benefits by channeling his or her resources or business operations into the fenced-off free port zone.[30] The Court in Tiu found real and substantial distinctions between residents within the secured area and those living within the economic zone but outside the fenced-off area. Similarly, real and substantial differences exist between the establishments herein involved. A significant distinction between the two groups is that enterprises outside the zones maintain their businesses within Philippine customs territory, while private respondents and the other duly-registered zone enterprises operate within the so-called separate customs territory. To grant the same tax incentives given to enterprises within the zones to businesses operating outside the zones, as petitioners insist, would clearly defeat the statutes intent to carve a territory out of the military reservations in Subic Bay where free flow of goods and capital is maintained. The classification is germane to the purpose of Republic Act No. 7227. As held in Tiu, the real concern of Republic Act No. 7227 is to convert the lands formerly occupied by the US military bases into economic or industrial areas. In furtherance of such objective, Congress deemed it necessary to extend economic incentives to the establishments within the zone to attract and encourage foreign and local investors. This is the very rationale behind Republic Act No. 7227 and other similar special economic zone laws which grant a complete package of tax incentives and other benefits. The classification, moreover, is not limited to the existing conditions when the law was promulgated, but to future conditions as well, inasmuch as the law envisioned the former military reservation to ultimately develop into a self-sustaining investment center. And, lastly, the classification applies equally to all retailers found within the secured area. As ruled in Tiu, the individuals and businesses within the secured area, being in like circumstances or contributing directly to the achievement of the end purpose of the law, are not categorized further. They are all similarly treated, both in privileges granted and in obligations required. With all the four requisites for a reasonable classification present, there is no ground to invalidate Executive Order No. 97-A for being violative of the equal protection clause.

Prohibition against Unfair Competition and Practices in Restraint of Trade Petitioners next argue that the grant of special tax exemptions and privileges gave the private respondents undue advantage over local enterprises which do not operate inside the SSEZ, thereby creating unfair competition in violation of the constitutional prohibition against unfair competition and practices in restraint of trade. The argument is without merit. Just how the assailed issuance is violative of the prohibition against unfair competition and practices in restraint of trade is not clearly explained in the petition. Republic Act No. 7227, and consequently Executive Order No. 97-A, cannot be said to be distinctively arbitrary against the welfare of businesses outside the zones. The mere fact that incentives and privileges are granted to certain enterprises to the exclusion of others does not render the issuance unconstitutional for espousing unfair competition. Said constitutional prohibition cannot hinder the Legislature from using tax incentives as a tool to pursue its policies. Suffice it to say that Congress had justifiable reasons in granting incentives to the private respondents, in accordance with Republic Act No. 7227s policy of developing the SSEZ into a self-sustaining entity that will generate employment and attract foreign and local investment. If petitioners had wanted to avoid any alleged unfavorable consequences on their profits, they should upgrade their standards of quality so as to effectively compete in the market. In the alternative, if petitioners really wanted the preferential treatment accorded to the private respondents, they could have opted to register with SSEZ in order to operate within the special economic zone.

Preferential Use of Filipino Labor, Domestic Materials and Locally Produced Goods

Lastly, petitioners claim that the questioned issuance (Executive Order No. 97-A) openly violated the State policy of promoting the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods and adopting measures to help make them competitive. Again, the argument lacks merit. This Court notes that petitioners failed to substantiate their sweeping conclusion that the issuance has violated the State policy of giving preference to Filipino goods and labor. The mere fact that said issuance authorizes the importation and trade of foreign goods does not suffice to declare it unconstitutional on this ground. Petitioners cite Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS[31] which, however, does not apply. That case dealt with the policy enunciated under the second paragraph of Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution,[32] applicable to the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, which is different from the policy invoked in this petition, specifically that of giving preference to Filipino materials and labor found under Section 12 of the same Article of the Constitution. (Emphasis supplied). In Taada v. Angara,[33] this Court elaborated on the meaning of Section 12, Article XII of the Constitution in this wise: [W]hile the Constitution indeed mandates a bias in favor of Filipino goods, services, labor and enterprises, at the same time, it recognizes the need for business exchange with the rest of the world on the bases of equality and reciprocity and limits protection of Filipino enterprises only against foreign competition and trade practices that are unfair. In other words, the Constitution did not intend to pursue an isolationist policy. It did not shut out foreign investments, goods and services in the development of the Philippine economy. While the Constitution does not encourage the unlimited entry of foreign goods, services and investments into the country, it does not prohibit them either. In fact, it allows an exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity, frowning only on foreign competition that is unfair.[34] This Court notes that the Executive Department, with its subsequent issuance of Executive Order Nos. 444 and 303, has provided certain measures to prevent unfair competition. In particular, Executive Order Nos. 444 and 303 have restricted the special shopping privileges to certain individuals.[35] Executive Order No. 303 has limited the range of items that may be sold in the duty-free outlets,[36] and imposed sanctions to curb abuses of duty-free privileges. [37] With these measures, this Court finds no reason to strike down Executive Order No. 97-A for allegedly being prejudicial to Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods. WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. Section 5 of Executive Order No. 80 and Section 4 of BCDA Board Resolution No. 93-05-034 are hereby declared NULL and VOID and are accordingly declared of no legal force and effect. Respondents are hereby enjoined from implementing the aforesaid void provisions. All portions of Executive Order No. 97-A are valid and effective, except the second sentences in paragraphs 1.2 and 1.3 of said Executive Order, which are hereby declared INVALID. No costs. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, Chico-Nazario, and Garcia, JJ.,concur. Carpio, J., no part. Corona, J., on official leave. G.R. No. L-49336 August 31, 1981 THE PROVINCE OF ABRA, represented by LADISLAO ANCHETA, Provincial Assessor, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE HAROLD M. HERNANDO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch I, Court of First Instance Abra; THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF BANGUED, INC., represented by Bishop Odilo etspueler and Reverend Felipe Flores, respondents.

FERNANDO, C.J.: On the face of this certiorari and mandamus petition filed by the Province of Abra, 1 it clearly appears that the actuation of respondent Judge Harold M. Hernando of the Court of First Instance of Abra left much to be desired.

First, there was a denial of a motion to dismiss 2 an action for declaratory relief by private respondent Roman Catholic Bishop of Bangued desirous of being exempted from a real estate tax followed by a summary judgment 3granting such exemption, without even hearing the side of petitioner. In the rather vigorous language of the Acting Provincial Fiscal, as counsel for petitioner, respondent Judge "virtually ignored the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court; ... wantonly violated the rights of petitioner to due process, by giving due course to the petition of private respondent for declaratory relief, and thereafter without allowing petitioner to answer and without any hearing, adjudged the case; all in total disregard of basic laws of procedure and basic provisions of due process in the constitution, thereby indicating a failure to grasp and understand the law, which goes into the competence of the Honorable Presiding Judge." 4 It was the submission of counsel that an action for declaratory relief would be proper only before a breach or violation of any statute, executive order or regulation. 5 Moreover, there being a tax assessment made by the Provincial Assessor on the properties of respondent Roman Catholic Bishop, petitioner failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available under Presidential Decree No. 464 before filing such court action. Further, it was pointed out to respondent Judge that he failed to abide by the pertinent provision of such Presidential Decree which provides as follows: "No court shall entertain any suit assailing the validity of a tax assessed under this Code until the taxpayer, shall have paid, under protest, the tax assessed against him nor shall any court declare any tax invalid by reason of irregularities or informalities in the proceedings of the officers charged with the assessment or collection of taxes, or of failure to perform their duties within this time herein specified for their performance unless such irregularities, informalities or failure shall have impaired the substantial rights of the taxpayer; nor shall any court declare any portion of the tax assessed under the provisions of this Code invalid except upon condition that the taxpayer shall pay the just amount of the tax, as determined by the court in the pending proceeding." 6 When asked to comment, respondent Judge began with the allegation that there "is no question that the real properties sought to be taxed by the Province of Abra are properties of the respondent Roman Catholic Bishop of Bangued, Inc." 7 The very next sentence assumed the very point it asked when he categorically stated: "Likewise, there is no dispute that the properties including their procedure are actually, directly and exclusively used by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bangued, Inc. for religious or charitable purposes." 8 For him then: "The proper remedy of the petitioner is appeal and not this special civil action." 9 A more exhaustive comment was submitted by private respondent Roman Catholic Bishop of Bangued, Inc. It was, however, unable to lessen the force of the objection raised by petitioner Province of Abra, especially the due process aspect. it is to be admitted that his opposition to the petition, pressed with vigor, ostensibly finds a semblance of support from the authorities cited. It is thus impressed with a scholarly aspect. It suffers, however, from the grave infirmity of stating that only a pure question of law is presented when a claim for exemption is made. The petition must be granted. 1. Respondent Judge would not have erred so grievously had he merely compared the provisions of the present Constitution with that appearing in the 1935 Charter on the tax exemption of "lands, buildings, and improvements." There is a marked difference. Under the 1935 Constitution: "Cemeteries, churches, and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, and all lands, buildings, and improvements used exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation." 10 The present Constitution added "charitable institutions, mosques, and non-profit cemeteries" and required that for the exemption of ":lands, buildings, and improvements," they should not only be "exclusively" but also "actually and "directly" used for religious or charitable purposes. 11The Constitution is worded differently. The change should not be ignored. It must be duly taken into consideration. Reliance on past decisions would have sufficed were the words "actually" as well as "directly" not added. There must be proof therefore of the actual and direct use of the lands, buildings, and improvements for religious or charitable purposes to be exempt from taxation. According to Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Guerrero: 12"From 1906, in Catholic Church v. Hastings to 1966, in Esso Standard Eastern, Inc. v. Acting Commissioner of Customs, it has been the constant and uniform holding that exemption from taxation is not favored and is never presumed, so that if granted it must be strictly construed against the taxpayer. Affirmatively put, the law frowns on exemption from taxation, hence, an exempting provision should be construed strictissimi juris." 13 In Manila Electric Company v. Vera, 14 a 1975 decision, such principle was reiterated, reference being made to Republic Flour Mills, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue; 15 Commissioner of Customs v. Philippine Acetylene Co. & CTA; 16 andDavao Light and Power Co., Inc. v. Commissioner of Customs. 17 2. Petitioner Province of Abra is therefore fully justified in invoking the protection of procedural due process. If there is any case where proof is necessary to demonstrate that there is compliance with the constitutional provision that allows an exemption, this is it. Instead, respondent Judge accepted at its face the allegation of private respondent. All that was alleged in the petition for declaratory relief filed by private respondents, after mentioning certain parcels of land owned by it, are that they are used "actually, directly and exclusively" as sources of support of the parish priest

and his helpers and also of private respondent Bishop. 18 In the motion to dismiss filed on behalf of petitioner Province of Abra, the objection was based primarily on the lack of jurisdiction, as the validity of a tax assessment may be questioned before the Local Board of Assessment Appeals and not with a court. There was also mention of a lack of a cause of action, but only because, in its view, declaratory relief is not proper, as there had been breach or violation of the right of government to assess and collect taxes on such property. It clearly appears, therefore, that in failing to accord a hearing to petitioner Province of Abra and deciding the case immediately in favor of private respondent, respondent Judge failed to abide by the constitutional command of procedural due process. WHEREFORE, the petition is granted and the resolution of June 19, 1978 is set aside. Respondent Judge, or who ever is acting on his behalf, is ordered to hear the case on the merit. No costs. Barredo, Concepcion, Jr., and De Castro, JJ., concur. Aquino, J., concur in the result. Abad Santos, J., is on leave. G.R. No. 115455 October 30, 1995 ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner, vs. THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE and THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents. G.R. No. 115525 October 30, 1995 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 October 30, 1995 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 October 30, 1995 PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE, INC.; EGP PUBLISHING CO., INC.; KAMAHALAN 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 October 30, 1995 CHAMBER OF REAL ESTATE AND BUILDERS ASSOCIATIONS, INC., (CREBA), petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondent. G.R. No. 115781 October 30, 1995

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., and PHILIPPINE BIBLE SOCIETY, INC. and WIGBERTO TAADA,petitioners, vs. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE, THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and THE COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, respondents. G.R. No. 115852 October 30, 1995 PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC., petitioner, vs. THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE and COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents. G.R. No. 115873 October 30, 1995 COOPERATIVE UNION OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, 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 October 30, 1995 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. RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.: These are motions seeking reconsideration of our decision dismissing the petitions filed in these cases for the declaration of unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 7716, otherwise known as the Expanded Value-Added Tax Law. The motions, of which there are 10 in all, have been filed by the several petitioners in these cases, with the exception of the Philippine Educational Publishers Association, Inc. and the Association of Philippine Booksellers, petitioners in G.R. No. 115931. The Solicitor General, representing the respondents, filed a consolidated comment, to which the Philippine Airlines, Inc., petitioner in G.R. No. 115852, and the Philippine Press Institute, Inc., petitioner in G.R. No. 115544, and Juan T. David, petitioner in G.R. No. 115525, each filed a reply. In turn the Solicitor General filed on June 1, 1995 a rejoinder to the PPI's reply. On June 27, 1995 the matter was submitted for resolution. I. Power of the Senate to propose amendments to revenue bills. Some of the petitioners (Tolentino, Kilosbayan, Inc., Philippine Airlines (PAL), Roco, and Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA)) reiterate previous claims made by them that R.A. No. 7716 did not "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives as required by Art. VI, 24 of the Constitution. Although they admit that H. No. 11197 was filed in the House of Representatives where it passed three readings and that afterward it was sent to the Senate where after first reading it was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, they complain that the Senate did not pass it on second and third readings.

Instead what the Senate did was to pass its own version (S. No. 1630) which it approved on May 24, 1994. Petitioner Tolentino adds that what the Senate committee should have done was to amend H. No. 11197 by striking out the text of the bill and substituting it with the text of S. No. 1630. That way, it is said, "the bill remains a House bill and the Senate version just becomes the text (only the text) of the House bill." The contention has no merit. The enactment of S. No. 1630 is not the only instance in which the Senate proposed an amendment to a House revenue bill by enacting its own version of a revenue bill. On at least two occasions during the Eighth Congress, the Senate passed its own version of revenue bills, which, in consolidation with House bills earlier passed, became the enrolled bills. These were: R.A. No. 7369 (AN ACT TO AMEND THE OMNIBUS INVESTMENTS CODE OF 1987 BY EXTENDING FROM FIVE (5) YEARS TO TEN YEARS THE PERIOD FOR TAX AND DUTY EXEMPTION AND TAX CREDIT ON CAPITAL EQUIPMENT) which was approved by the President on April 10, 1992. This Act is actually a consolidation of H. No. 34254, which was approved by the House on January 29, 1992, and S. No. 1920, which was approved by the Senate on February 3, 1992. R.A. No. 7549 (AN ACT GRANTING TAX EXEMPTIONS TO WHOEVER SHALL GIVE REWARD TO ANY FILIPINO ATHLETE WINNING A MEDAL IN OLYMPIC GAMES) which was approved by the President on May 22, 1992. This Act is a consolidation of H. No. 22232, which was approved by the House of Representatives on August 2, 1989, and S. No. 807, which was approved by the Senate on October 21, 1991. On the other hand, the Ninth Congress passed revenue laws which were also the result of the consolidation of House and Senate bills. These are the following, with indications of the dates on which the laws were approved by the President and dates the separate bills of the two chambers of Congress were respectively passed: 1. R.A. NO. 7642 AN ACT INCREASING THE PENALTIES FOR TAX EVASION, AMENDING FOR THIS PURPOSE THE PERTINENT SECTIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE (December 28, 1992). House Bill No. 2165, October 5, 1992 Senate Bill No. 32, December 7, 1992 2. R.A. NO. 7643 AN ACT TO EMPOWER THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE TO REQUIRE THE PAYMENT OF THE VALUE-ADDED TAX EVERY MONTH AND TO ALLOW LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS TO SHARE IN VAT REVENUE, AMENDING FOR THIS PURPOSE CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE (December 28, 1992) House Bill No. 1503, September 3, 1992 Senate Bill No. 968, December 7, 1992 3. R.A. NO. 7646 AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE TO PRESCRIBE THE PLACE FOR PAYMENT OF INTERNAL REVENUE TAXES BY LARGE TAXPAYERS, AMENDING FOR THIS PURPOSE CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED (February 24, 1993) House Bill No. 1470, October 20, 1992

Senate Bill No. 35, November 19, 1992 4. R.A. NO. 7649 AN ACT REQUIRING THE GOVERNMENT OR ANY OF ITS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS, INSTRUMENTALITIES OR AGENCIES INCLUDING GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS (GOCCS) TO DEDUCT AND WITHHOLD THE VALUE-ADDED TAX DUE AT THE RATE OF THREE PERCENT (3%) ON GROSS PAYMENT FOR THE PURCHASE OF GOODS AND SIX PERCENT (6%) ON GROSS RECEIPTS FOR SERVICES RENDERED BY CONTRACTORS (April 6, 1993) House Bill No. 5260, January 26, 1993 Senate Bill No. 1141, March 30, 1993 5. R.A. NO. 7656 AN ACT REQUIRING GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS TO DECLARE DIVIDENDS UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS TO THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES (November 9, 1993) House Bill No. 11024, November 3, 1993 Senate Bill No. 1168, November 3, 1993 6. R.A. NO. 7660 AN ACT RATIONALIZING FURTHER THE STRUCTURE AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE DOCUMENTARY STAMP TAX, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, ALLOCATING FUNDS FOR SPECIFIC PROGRAMS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES (December 23, 1993) House Bill No. 7789, May 31, 1993 Senate Bill No. 1330, November 18, 1993 7. R.A. NO. 7717 AN ACT IMPOSING A TAX ON THE SALE, BARTER OR EXCHANGE OF SHARES OF STOCK LISTED AND TRADED THROUGH THE LOCAL STOCK EXCHANGE OR THROUGH INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, BY INSERTING A NEW SECTION AND REPEALING CERTAIN SUBSECTIONS THEREOF (May 5, 1994) House Bill No. 9187, November 3, 1993 Senate Bill No. 1127, March 23, 1994 Thus, the enactment of S. No. 1630 is not the only instance in which the Senate, in the exercise of its power to propose amendments to bills required to originate in the House, passed its own version of a House revenue measure. It is noteworthy that, in the particular case of S. No. 1630, petitioners Tolentino and Roco, as members of the Senate, voted to approve it on second and third readings. On the other hand, amendment by substitution, in the manner urged by petitioner Tolentino, concerns a mere matter of form. Petitioner has not shown what substantial difference it would make if, as the Senate actually did in this case,

a separate bill like S. No. 1630 is instead enacted as a substitute measure, "taking into Consideration . . . H.B. 11197." Indeed, so far as pertinent, the Rules of the Senate only provide: RULE XXIX AMENDMENTS xxx xxx xxx 68. Not more than one amendment to the original amendment shall be considered. No amendment by substitution shall be entertained unless the text thereof is submitted in writing. Any of said amendments may be withdrawn before a vote is taken thereon. 69. No amendment which seeks the inclusion of a legislative provision foreign to the subject matter of a bill (rider) shall be entertained. xxx xxx xxx 70-A. A bill or resolution shall not be amended by substituting it with another which covers a subject distinct from that proposed in the original bill or resolution. (emphasis added). Nor is there merit in petitioners' contention that, with regard to revenue bills, the Philippine Senate possesses less power than the U.S. Senate because of textual differences between constitutional provisions giving them the power to propose or concur with amendments. Art. I, 7, cl. 1 of the U.S. Constitution reads: 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. Art. VI, 24 of our 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. The addition of the word "exclusively" in the Philippine Constitution and the decision to drop the phrase "as on other Bills" in the American version, according to petitioners, shows the intention of the framers of our Constitution to restrict the Senate's power to propose amendments to revenue bills. Petitioner Tolentino contends that the word "exclusively" was inserted to modify "originate" and "the words 'as in any other bills' (sic) were eliminated so as to show that these bills were not to be like other bills but must be treated as a special kind." The history of this provision does not support this contention. The supposed indicia of constitutional intent are nothing but the relics of an unsuccessful attempt to limit the power of the Senate. It will be recalled that the 1935 Constitution originally provided for a unicameral National Assembly. When it was decided in 1939 to change to a bicameral legislature, it became necessary to provide for the procedure for lawmaking by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The work of proposing amendments to the Constitution was done by the National Assembly, acting as a constituent assembly, some of whose members, jealous of preserving the Assembly's lawmaking powers, sought to curtail the powers of the proposed Senate. Accordingly they proposed the following provision: 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 session 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. The special committee on the revision of laws of the Second National Assembly vetoed the proposal. It deleted everything after the first sentence. As rewritten, the proposal was approved by the National Assembly and embodied in Resolution No. 38, as amended by Resolution No. 73. (J. ARUEGO, KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTION 65-66 (1950)). The proposed amendment was submitted to the people and ratified by them in the elections held on June 18, 1940. This is the history of Art. VI, 18 (2) of the 1935 Constitution, from which Art. VI, 24 of the present Constitution was derived. It explains why the word "exclusively" was added to the American text from which the framers of the Philippine Constitution borrowed and why the phrase "as on other Bills" was not copied. Considering the defeat of the proposal, the power of the Senate to propose amendments must be understood to be full, plenary and complete "as on other Bills." Thus, because revenue bills are required to originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, the Senate cannot enact revenue measures of its own without such bills. After a revenue bill is passed and sent over to it by the House, however, the Senate certainly can pass its own version on the same subject matter. This follows from the coequality of the two chambers of Congress. That this is also the understanding of book authors of the scope of the Senate's power to concur is clear from the following commentaries: The power of the Senate to propose or concur with amendments is apparently without restriction. It would seem that by virtue of this power, the Senate can practically re-write a bill required to come from the House and leave only a trace of the original bill. For example, a general revenue bill passed by the lower house of the United States Congress contained provisions for the imposition of an inheritance tax . This was changed by the Senate into a corporation tax. The amending authority of the Senate was declared by the United States Supreme Court to be sufficiently broad to enable it to make the alteration. [Flint v. Stone Tracy Company, 220 U.S. 107, 55 L. ed. 389]. (L. TAADA AND F. CARREON, POLITICAL LAW OF THE PHILIPPINES 247 (1961)) The above-mentioned bills are supposed to be initiated by the House of Representatives because it is more numerous in membership and therefore also more representative of the people. Moreover, its members are presumed to be more familiar with the needs of the country in regard to the enactment of the legislation involved. The Senate is, however, allowed much leeway in the exercise of its power to propose or concur with amendments to the bills initiated by the House of Representatives. Thus, in one case, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives was changed by the Senate to make a proposed inheritance tax a corporation tax. It is also accepted practice for the Senate to introduce what is known as an amendment by substitution, which may entirely replace the bill initiated in the House of Representatives. (I. CRUZ, PHILIPPINE POLITICAL LAW 144-145 (1993)). In sum, while Art. VI, 24 provides that all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills must "originate exclusively in the House of Representatives," it also adds, "but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments." In the exercise of this power, the Senate may propose an entirely new bill as a substitute measure. As petitioner Tolentino states in a high school text, a committee to which a bill is referred may do any of the following: (1) to endorse the bill without changes; (2) to make changes in the bill omitting or adding sections or altering its language; (3) to make and endorse an entirely new bill as a substitute, in which case it will be known as a committee bill; or (4) to make no report at all.

(A. TOLENTINO, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES 258 (1950)) To except from this procedure the amendment of bills which are required to originate in the House by prescribing that the number of the House bill and its other parts up to the enacting clause must be preserved although the text of the Senate amendment may be incorporated in place of the original body of the bill is to insist on a mere technicality. At any rate there is no rule prescribing this form. S. No. 1630, as a substitute measure, is therefore as much an amendment of H. No. 11197 as any which the Senate could have made. II. S. No. 1630 a mere amendment of H. No. 11197. Petitioners' basic error is that they assume that S. No. 1630 is an independent and distinct bill. Hence their repeated references to its certification that it was passed by the Senate "in substitution of S.B. No. 1129, taking into consideration P.S. Res. No. 734 and H.B. No. 11197," implying that there is something substantially different between the reference to S. No. 1129 and the reference to H. No. 11197. From this premise, they conclude that R.A. No. 7716 originated both in the House and in the Senate and that it is the product of two "half-baked bills because neither H. No. 11197 nor S. No. 1630 was passed by both houses of Congress." In point of fact, in several instances the provisions of S. No. 1630, clearly appear to be mere amendments of the corresponding provisions of H. No. 11197. The very tabular comparison of the provisions of H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630 attached as Supplement A to the basic petition of petitioner Tolentino, while showing differences between the two bills, at the same time indicates that the provisions of the Senate bill were precisely intended to be amendments to the House bill. Without H. No. 11197, the Senate could not have enacted S. No. 1630. Because the Senate bill was a mere amendment of the House bill, H. No. 11197 in its original form did not have to pass the Senate on second and three readings. It was enough that after it was passed on first reading it was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Neither was it required that S. No. 1630 be passed by the House of Representatives before the two bills could be referred to the Conference Committee. There is legislative precedent for what was done in the case of H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. When the House bill and Senate bill, which became R.A. No. 1405 (Act prohibiting the disclosure of bank deposits), were referred to a conference committee, the question was raised whether the two bills could be the subject of such conference, considering that the bill from one house had not been passed by the other and vice versa. As Congressman Duran put the question: MR. DURAN. Therefore, I raise this question of order as to procedure: If a House bill is passed by the House but not passed by the Senate, and a Senate bill of a similar nature is passed in the Senate but never passed in the House, can the two bills be the subject of a conference, and can a law be enacted from these two bills? I understand that the Senate bill in this particular instance does not refer to investments in government securities, whereas the bill in the House, which was introduced by the Speaker, covers two subject matters: not only investigation of deposits in banks but also investigation of investments in government securities. Now, since the two bills differ in their subject matter, I believe that no law can be enacted. Ruling on the point of order raised, the chair (Speaker Jose B. Laurel, Jr.) said: THE SPEAKER. The report of the conference committee is in order. It is precisely in cases like this where a conference should be had. If the House bill had been approved by the Senate, there would have been no need of a conference; but precisely because the Senate passed another bill on the same subject matter, the conference committee had to be created, and we are now considering the report of that committee. (2 CONG. REC. NO. 13, July 27, 1955, pp. 3841-42 (emphasis added)) III. The President's certification. The fallacy in thinking that H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630 are distinct and unrelated measures also accounts for the petitioners' (Kilosbayan's and PAL's) contention that because the President separately certified to the need for the immediate enactment of these measures, his certification was ineffectual and void. The certification had to be made of the version of the same revenue bill which at the momentwas being considered. Otherwise, to follow petitioners' theory, it would be necessary for the President to certify as many bills as are presented in a house of Congress even though the bills are merely versions of the bill he has already certified. It

is enough that he certifies the bill which, at the time he makes the certification, is under consideration. Since on March 22, 1994 the Senate was considering S. No. 1630, it was that bill which had to be certified. For that matter on June 1, 1993 the President had earlier certified H. No. 9210 for immediate enactment because it was the one which at that time was being considered by the House. This bill was later substituted, together with other bills, by H. No. 11197. As to what Presidential certification can accomplish, we have already explained in the main decision that the phrase "except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, 26 (2) qualifies not only the requirement that "printed copies [of a bill] in its final form [must be] distributed to the members three days before its passage" but also the requirement that before a bill can become a law it must have passed "three readings on separate days." There is not only textual support for such construction but historical basis as well. Art. VI, 21 (2) of the 1935 Constitution originally provided: (2) No bill shall be passed by either House unless it shall have been printed and copies thereof in its final form furnished its Members at least three calendar days prior to its passage, except when the President shall have certified to the necessity of its immediate enactment. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereof shall be allowed and the question upon its passage shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered on the Journal. When the 1973 Constitution was adopted, it was provided in Art. VIII, 19 (2): (2) No bill 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 the Members three days before its passage, except when the Prime Minister 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. This provision of the 1973 document, with slight modification, was adopted in Art. VI, 26 (2) of the present Constitution, thus: (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 yeasand nays entered in the Journal. The exception is based on the prudential consideration that if in all cases three readings on separate days are required and a bill has to be printed in final form before it can be passed, the need for a law may be rendered academic by the occurrence of the very emergency or public calamity which it is meant to address. Petitioners further contend that a "growing budget deficit" is not an emergency, especially in a country like the Philippines where budget deficit is a chronic condition. Even if this were the case, an enormous budget deficit does not make the need for R.A. No. 7716 any less urgent or the situation calling for its enactment any less an emergency. Apparently, the members of the Senate (including some of the petitioners in these cases) believed that there was an urgent need for consideration of S. No. 1630, because they responded to the call of the President by voting on the bill on second and third readings on the same day. While the judicial department is not bound by the Senate's acceptance of the President's certification, the respect due coequal departments of the government in matters committed to them by the Constitution and the absence of a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion caution a stay of the judicial hand. At any rate, we are satisfied that S. No. 1630 received thorough consideration in the Senate where it was discussed for six days. Only its distribution in advance in its final printed form was actually dispensed with by holding the voting on second and third readings on the same day (March 24, 1994). Otherwise, sufficient time between the submission

of the bill on February 8, 1994 on second reading and its approval on March 24, 1994 elapsed before it was finally voted on by the Senate on third reading. The purpose for which three readings on separate days is required is said to be two-fold: (1) to inform the members of Congress of what they must vote on and (2) to give them notice that a measure is progressing through the enacting process, thus enabling them and others interested in the measure to prepare their positions with reference to it. (1 J. G. SUTHERLAND, STATUTES AND STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION 10.04, p. 282 (1972)). These purposes were substantially achieved in the case of R.A. No. 7716. IV. Power of Conference Committee. It is contended (principally by Kilosbayan, Inc. and the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI)) that in violation of the constitutional policy of full public disclosure and the people's right to know (Art. II, 28 and Art. III, 7) the Conference Committee met for two days in executive session with only the conferees present. As pointed out in our main decision, even in the United States it was customary to hold such sessions with only the conferees and their staffs in attendance and it was only in 1975 when a new rule was adopted requiring open sessions. Unlike its American counterpart, the Philippine Congress has not adopted a rule prescribing open hearings for conference committees. It is nevertheless claimed that in the United States, before the adoption of the rule in 1975, at least staff members were present. These were staff members of the Senators and Congressmen, however, who may be presumed to be their confidential men, not stenographers as in this case who on the last two days of the conference were excluded. There is no showing that the conferees themselves did not take notes of their proceedings so as to give petitioner Kilosbayan basis for claiming that even in secret diplomatic negotiations involving state interests, conferees keep notes of their meetings. Above all, the public's right to know was fully served because the Conference Committee in this case submitted a report showing the changes made on the differing versions of the House and the Senate. Petitioners cite the rules of both houses which provide that conference committee reports must contain "a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or other amendments." These changes are shown in the bill attached to the Conference Committee Report. The members of both houses could thus ascertain what changes had been made in the original bills without the need of a statement detailing the changes. The same question now presented was raised when the bill which became R.A. No. 1400 (Land Reform Act of 1955) was reported by the Conference Committee. Congressman Bengzon raised a point of order. He said: MR. BENGZON. My point of order is that it is out of order to consider the report of the conference committee regarding House Bill No. 2557 by reason of the provision of Section 11, Article XII, of the Rules of this House which provides specifically that the conference report must be accompanied by a detailed statement of the effects of the amendment on the bill of the House. This conference committee report is not accompanied by that detailed statement, Mr. Speaker. Therefore it is out of order to consider it. Petitioner Tolentino, then the Majority Floor Leader, answered: MR. TOLENTINO. Mr. Speaker, I should just like to say a few words in connection with the point of order raised by the gentleman from Pangasinan. There is no question about the provision of the Rule cited by the gentleman from Pangasinan, but this provision applies to those cases where only portions of the bill have been amended. In this case before us an entire bill is presented; therefore, it can be easily seen from the reading of the bill what the provisions are. Besides, this procedure has been an established practice. After some interruption, he continued: MR. TOLENTINO. As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, we have to look into the reason for the provisions of the Rules, and the reason for the requirement in the provision cited by the gentleman from Pangasinan is when there are only certain words or phrases inserted in or deleted from the provisions of the bill included in the conference report, and we cannot understand what those

words and phrases mean and their relation to the bill. In that case, it is necessary to make a detailed statement on how those words and phrases will affect the bill as a whole; but when the entire bill itself is copied verbatim in the conference report, that is not necessary. So when the reason for the Rule does not exist, the Rule does not exist. (2 CONG. REC. NO. 2, p. 4056. (emphasis added)) Congressman Tolentino was sustained by the chair. The record shows that when the ruling was appealed, it was upheld by viva voce and when a division of the House was called, it was sustained by a vote of 48 to 5. (Id., p. 4058) Nor is there any doubt about the power of a conference committee to insert new provisions as long as these are germane to the subject of the conference. As this Court held in Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, 227 SCRA 703 (1993), in an opinion written by then Justice Cruz, the jurisdiction of the conference committee is not limited to resolving differences between the Senate and the House. It may propose an entirely new provision. What is important is that its report is subsequently approved by the respective houses of Congress. This Court ruled that it would not entertain allegations that, because new provisions had been added by the conference committee, there was thereby a violation of the constitutional injunction that "upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed." 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 copiesthereof 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. (Id. at 710. (emphasis added)) It is interesting to note the following description of conference committees in the Philippines in a 1979 study: Conference committees may be of two types: free or instructed. These committees may be given instructions by their parent bodies or they may be left without instructions. Normally the conference committees are without instructions, and this is why they are often critically referred to as "the little legislatures." Once bills have been sent to them, the conferees have almost unlimited authority to change the clauses of the bills and in fact sometimes introduce new measures that were not in the original legislation. No minutes are kept, and members' activities on conference committees are difficult to determine. One congressman known for his idealism put it this way: "I killed a bill on export incentives for my interest group [copra] in the conference committee but I could not have done so anywhere else." The conference committee submits a report to both houses, and usually it is accepted. If the report is not accepted, then the committee is discharged and new members are appointed. (R. Jackson, Committees in the Philippine Congress, in COMMITTEES AND LEGISLATURES: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS 163 (J. D. LEES AND M. SHAW, eds.)). In citing this study, we pass no judgment on the methods of conference committees. We cite it only to say that conference committees here are no different from their counterparts in the United States whose vast powers we noted in Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, supra. At all events, under Art. VI, 16(3) each house has the power "to determine the rules of its proceedings," including those of its committees. Any meaningful change in the method and procedures of Congress or its committees must therefore be sought in that body itself. V. The titles of S. No. 1630 and H. No. 11197. PAL maintains that R.A. No. 7716 violates Art. VI, 26 (1) of the Constitution which provides that "Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof." PAL contends that the amendment of its franchise by the withdrawal of its exemption from the VAT is not expressed in the title of the law.

Pursuant to 13 of P.D. No. 1590, PAL pays a franchise tax of 2% on its gross revenue "in lieu of all other taxes, duties, royalties, registration, license and 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." PAL was exempted from the payment of the VAT along with other entities by 103 of the National Internal Revenue Code, which provides as follows: 103. Exempt transactions. The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax: xxx xxx xxx (q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws or international agreements to which the Philippines is a signatory. R.A. No. 7716 seeks to withdraw certain exemptions, including that granted to PAL, by amending 103, as follows: 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 Decree Nos. 66, 529, 972, 1491, 1590. . . . The amendment of 103 is expressed in the title of R.A. No. 7716 which reads: 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. By stating that R.A. No. 7716 seeks to "[RESTRUCTURE] THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM [BY] 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," Congress thereby clearly expresses its intention to amend any provision of the NIRC which stands in the way of accomplishing the purpose of the law. PAL asserts that the amendment of its franchise must be reflected in the title of the law by specific reference to P.D. No. 1590. It is unnecessary to do this in order to comply with the constitutional requirement, since it is already stated in the title that the law seeks to amend the pertinent provisions of the NIRC, among which is 103(q), in order to widen the base of the VAT. Actually, it is the bill which becomes a law that is required to express in its title the subject of legislation. The titles of H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630 in fact specifically referred to 103 of the NIRC as among the provisions sought to be amended. We are satisfied that sufficient notice had been given of the pendency of these bills in Congress before they were enacted into what is now R.A. No. 7716. In Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, supra, a similar argument as that now made by PAL was rejected. R.A. No. 7354 is entitled AN ACT CREATING THE PHILIPPINE POSTAL CORPORATION, DEFINING ITS POWERS, FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, PROVIDING FOR REGULATION OF THE INDUSTRY AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES CONNECTED THEREWITH. It contained a provision repealing all franking privileges. It was contended that the withdrawal of franking privileges was not expressed in the title of the law. In holding that there was sufficient description of the subject of the law in its title, including the repeal of franking privileges, this Court held: To require every end and means necessary for the accomplishment of the general objectives of the statute to be expressed in its title would not only be unreasonable but would actually render legislation impossible. [Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, 8th Ed., p. 297] As has been correctly explained:

The details of a legislative act need not be specifically stated in its title, but matter germane to the subject as expressed in the title, and adopted to the accomplishment of the object in view, may properly be included in the act. Thus, it is proper to create in the same act the machinery by which the act is to be enforced, to prescribe the penalties for its infraction, and to remove obstacles in the way of its execution. If such matters are properly connected with the subject as expressed in the title, it is unnecessary that they should also have special mention in the title. (Southern Pac. Co. v. Bartine, 170 Fed. 725) (227 SCRA at 707-708) VI. Claims of press freedom and religious liberty. We have held that, as a general proposition, the press is not exempt from the taxing power of the State and that what the constitutional guarantee of free press prohibits are laws which single out the press or target a group belonging to the press for special treatment or which in any way discriminate against the press on the basis of the content of the publication, and R.A. No. 7716 is none of these. Now it is contended by the PPI that by removing the exemption of the press from the VAT while maintaining those granted to others, the law discriminates against the press. At any rate, it is averred, "even nondiscriminatory taxation of constitutionally guaranteed freedom is unconstitutional." With respect to the first contention, it would suffice to say that since the law granted the press a privilege, the law could take back the privilege anytime without offense to the Constitution. The reason is simple: by granting exemptions, the State does not forever waive the exercise of its sovereign prerogative. Indeed, in withdrawing the exemption, the law merely subjects the press to the same tax burden to which other businesses have long ago been subject. It is thus different from the tax involved in the cases invoked by the PPI. The license tax in Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 80 L. Ed. 660 (1936) was found to be discriminatory because it was laid on the gross advertising receipts only of newspapers whose weekly circulation was over 20,000, with the result that the tax applied only to 13 out of 124 publishers in Louisiana. These large papers were critical of Senator Huey Long who controlled the state legislature which enacted the license tax. The censorial motivation for the law was thus evident. On the other hand, in Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Comm'r of Revenue, 460 U.S. 575, 75 L. Ed. 2d 295 (1983), the tax was found to be discriminatory because although it could have been made liable for the sales tax or, in lieu thereof, for the use tax on the privilege of using, storing or consuming tangible goods, the press was not. Instead, the press was exempted from both taxes. It was, however, later made to pay a special use tax on the cost of paper and ink which made these items "the only items subject to the use tax that were component of goods to be sold at retail." The U.S. Supreme Court held that the differential treatment of the press "suggests that the goal of regulation is not related to suppression of expression, and such goal is presumptively unconstitutional." It would therefore appear that even a law that favors the press is constitutionally suspect. (See the dissent of Rehnquist, J. in that case) Nor is it true that only two exemptions previously granted by E.O. No. 273 are withdrawn "absolutely and unqualifiedly" by R.A. No. 7716. Other exemptions from the VAT, such as those previously granted to PAL, petroleum concessionaires, enterprises registered with the Export Processing Zone Authority, and many more are likewise totally withdrawn, in addition to exemptions which are partially withdrawn, in an effort to broaden the base of the tax. The PPI says that the discriminatory treatment of the press is highlighted by the fact that transactions, which are profit oriented, continue to enjoy exemption under R.A. No. 7716. An enumeration of some of these transactions will suffice to show that by and large this is not so and that the exemptions are granted for a purpose. As the Solicitor General says, such exemptions are granted, in some cases, to encourage agricultural production and, in other cases, for the personal benefit of the end-user rather than for profit. The exempt transactions are: (a) Goods for consumption or use which are in their original state (agricultural, marine and forest products, cotton seeds in their original state, fertilizers, seeds, seedlings, fingerlings, fish, prawn livestock and poultry feeds) and goods or services to enhance agriculture (milling of palay, corn, sugar cane and raw sugar, livestock, poultry feeds, fertilizer, ingredients used for the manufacture of feeds).

(b) Goods used for personal consumption or use (household and personal effects of citizens returning to the Philippines) or for professional use, like professional instruments and implements, by persons coming to the Philippines to settle here. (c) Goods subject to excise tax such as petroleum products or to be used for manufacture of petroleum products subject to excise tax and services subject to percentage tax. (d) Educational services, medical, dental, hospital and veterinary services, and services rendered under employer-employee relationship. (e) Works of art and similar creations sold by the artist himself. (f) Transactions exempted under special laws, or international agreements. (g) Export-sales by persons not VAT-registered. (h) Goods or services with gross annual sale or receipt not exceeding P500,000.00. (Respondents' Consolidated Comment on the Motions for Reconsideration, pp. 58-60) The PPI asserts that it does not really matter that the law does not discriminate against the press because "even nondiscriminatory taxation on constitutionally guaranteed freedom is unconstitutional." PPI cites in support of this assertion the following statement in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 87 L. Ed. 1292 (1943): The fact that the ordinance is "nondiscriminatory" is immaterial. The protection afforded by the First Amendment is not so restricted. A license tax certainly does not acquire constitutional validity because it classifies the privileges protected by the First Amendment along with the wares and merchandise of hucksters and peddlers and treats them all alike. Such equality in treatment does not save the ordinance. Freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion are in preferred position. The Court was speaking in that case of a license tax, which, unlike an ordinary tax, is mainly for regulation. Its imposition on the press is unconstitutional because it lays a prior restraint on the exercise of its right. Hence, although its application to others, such those selling goods, is valid, its application to the press or to religious groups, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, in connection with the latter's sale of religious books and pamphlets, is unconstitutional. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it, "it is one thing to impose a tax on income or property of a preacher. It is quite another thing to exact a tax on him for delivering a sermon." A similar ruling was made by this Court in American Bible Society v. City of Manila, 101 Phil. 386 (1957) which invalidated a city ordinance requiring a business license fee on those engaged in the sale of general merchandise. It was held that the tax could not be imposed on the sale of bibles by the American Bible Society without restraining the free exercise of its right to propagate. The VAT is, however, different. It is not a license tax. It is not a tax on the exercise of a privilege, much less a constitutional right. It is imposed on the sale, barter, lease or exchange of goods or properties or the sale or exchange of services and the lease of properties purely for revenue purposes. To subject the press to its payment is not to burden the exercise of its right any more than to make the press pay income tax or subject it to general regulation is not to violate its freedom under the Constitution. Additionally, the Philippine Bible Society, Inc. claims that although it sells bibles, the proceeds derived from the sales are used to subsidize the cost of printing copies which are given free to those who cannot afford to pay so that to tax the sales would be to increase the price, while reducing the volume of sale. Granting that to be the case, the resulting burden on the exercise of religious freedom is so incidental as to make it difficult to differentiate it from any other economic imposition that might make the right to disseminate religious doctrines costly. Otherwise, to follow the petitioner's argument, to increase the tax on the sale of vestments would be to lay an impermissible burden on the right of the preacher to make a sermon.

On the other hand the registration fee of P1,000.00 imposed by 107 of the NIRC, as amended by 7 of R.A. No. 7716, although fixed in amount, is really just to pay for the expenses of registration and enforcement of provisions such as those relating to accounting in 108 of the NIRC. That the PBS distributes free bibles and therefore is not liable to pay the VAT does not excuse it from the payment of this fee because it also sells some copies. At any rate whether the PBS is liable for the VAT must be decided in concrete cases, in the event it is assessed this tax by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. VII. Alleged violations of the due process, equal protection and contract clauses and the rule on taxation. CREBA asserts that R.A. No. 7716 (1) impairs the obligations of contracts, (2) classifies transactions as covered or exempt without reasonable basis and (3) violates the rule that taxes should be uniform and equitable and that Congress shall "evolve a progressive system of taxation." With respect to the first contention, it is claimed that the application of the tax to existing contracts of the sale of real property by installment or on deferred payment basis would result in substantial increases in the monthly amortizations to be paid because of the 10% VAT. The additional amount, it is pointed out, is something that the buyer did not anticipate at the time he entered into the contract. The short answer to this is the one given by this Court in an early case: "Authorities from numerous sources are cited by the plaintiffs, but none of them show that a lawful tax on a new subject, or an increased tax on an old one, interferes with a contract or impairs its obligation, within the meaning of the Constitution. Even though such taxation may affect particular contracts, as it may increase the debt of one person and lessen the security of another, or may impose additional burdens upon one class and release the burdens of another, still the tax must be paid unless prohibited by the Constitution, nor can it be said that it impairs the obligation of any existing contract in its true legal sense." (La Insular v. Machuca Go-Tauco and Nubla Co-Siong, 39 Phil. 567, 574 (1919)). Indeed not only existing laws but also "the reservation of the essential attributes of sovereignty, is . . . read into contracts as a postulate of the legal order." (Philippine-American Life Ins. Co. v. Auditor General, 22 SCRA 135, 147 (1968)) Contracts must be understood as having been made in reference to the possible exercise of the rightful authority of the government and no obligation of contract can extend to the defeat of that authority. (Norman v. Baltimore and Ohio R.R., 79 L. Ed. 885 (1935)). It is next pointed out that while 4 of R.A. No. 7716 exempts such transactions as the sale of agricultural products, food items, petroleum, and medical and veterinary services, it grants no exemption on the sale of real property which is equally essential. The sale of real property for socialized and low-cost housing is exempted from the tax, but CREBA claims that real estate transactions of "the less poor," i.e., the middle class, who are equally homeless, should likewise be exempted. The sale of food items, petroleum, medical and veterinary services, etc., which are essential goods and services was already exempt under 103, pars. (b) (d) (1) of the NIRC before the enactment of R.A. No. 7716. Petitioner is in error in claiming that R.A. No. 7716 granted exemption to these transactions, while subjecting those of petitioner to the payment of the VAT. Moreover, there is a difference between the "homeless poor" and the "homeless less poor" in the example given by petitioner, because the second group or middle class can afford to rent houses in the meantime that they cannot yet buy their own homes. The two social classes are thus differently situated in life. "It is inherent in the power to tax that the State be free to select the subjects of taxation, and it has been repeatedly held that 'inequalities which result from a singling out of one particular class for taxation, or exemption infringe no constitutional limitation.'" (Lutz v. Araneta, 98 Phil. 148, 153 (1955). Accord, City of Baguio v. De Leon, 134 Phil. 912 (1968); Sison, Jr. v. Ancheta, 130 SCRA 654, 663 (1984); Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. v. Tan, 163 SCRA 371 (1988)). Finally, it is contended, for the reasons already noted, that R.A. No. 7716 also violates Art. VI, 28(1) which provides that "The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation." Equality and uniformity of taxation means that all taxable articles or kinds of property of the same class be taxed at the same rate. The taxing power has the authority to make reasonable and natural classifications for purposes of taxation. To satisfy this requirement it is enough that the statute or ordinance applies equally to all persons, forms and corporations placed in similar situation. (City of Baguio v. De Leon, supra; Sison, Jr. v. Ancheta, supra) Indeed, the VAT was already provided in E.O. No. 273 long before R.A. No. 7716 was enacted. R.A. No. 7716 merely expands the base of the tax. The validity of the original VAT Law was questioned in Kapatiran ng Naglilingkod sa

Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. v. Tan, 163 SCRA 383 (1988) on grounds similar to those made in these cases, namely, that the law was "oppressive, discriminatory, unjust and regressive in violation of Art. VI, 28(1) of the Constitution." (At 382) Rejecting the challenge to the law, this Court held: As the Court sees it, EO 273 satisfies all the requirements of a valid tax. It is uniform. . . . The sales tax adopted in EO 273 is applied similarly on all goods and services sold to the public, which are not exempt, at the constant rate of 0% or 10%. The disputed sales tax is also equitable. It is imposed only on sales of goods or services by persons engaged in business with an aggregate gross annual sales exceeding P200,000.00. Small corner sari-sari stores are consequently exempt from its application. Likewise exempt from the tax are sales of farm and marine products, so that the costs of basic food and other necessities, spared as they are from the incidence of the VAT, are expected to be relatively lower and within the reach of the general public. (At 382-383) The CREBA claims that the VAT is regressive. A similar claim is made by the Cooperative Union of the Philippines, Inc. (CUP), while petitioner Juan T. David argues that the law contravenes the mandate of Congress to provide for a progressive system of taxation because the law imposes a flat rate of 10% and thus places the tax burden on all taxpayers without regard to their ability to pay. The Constitution does not really prohibit the imposition of indirect taxes which, like the VAT, are regressive. What it simply provides is that Congress shall "evolve a progressive system of taxation." The constitutional provision has been interpreted to mean simply that "direct taxes are . . . to be preferred [and] as much as possible, indirect taxes should be minimized." (E. FERNANDO, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES 221 (Second ed. (1977)). Indeed, the mandate to Congress is not to prescribe, but to evolve, a progressive tax system. Otherwise, sales taxes, which perhaps are the oldest form of indirect taxes, would have been prohibited with the proclamation of Art. VIII, 17(1) of the 1973 Constitution from which the present Art. VI, 28(1) was taken. Sales taxes are also regressive. Resort to indirect taxes should be minimized but not avoided entirely because it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid them by imposing such taxes according to the taxpayers' ability to pay. In the case of the VAT, the law minimizes the regressive effects of this imposition by providing for zero rating of certain transactions (R.A. No. 7716, 3, amending 102 (b) of the NIRC), while granting exemptions to other transactions. (R.A. No. 7716, 4, amending 103 of the NIRC). Thus, the following transactions involving basic and essential goods and services are exempted from the VAT: (a) Goods for consumption or use which are in their original state (agricultural, marine and forest products, cotton seeds in their original state, fertilizers, seeds, seedlings, fingerlings, fish, prawn livestock and poultry feeds) and goods or services to enhance agriculture (milling of palay, corn sugar cane and raw sugar, livestock, poultry feeds, fertilizer, ingredients used for the manufacture of feeds). (b) Goods used for personal consumption or use (household and personal effects of citizens returning to the Philippines) and or professional use, like professional instruments and implements, by persons coming to the Philippines to settle here. (c) Goods subject to excise tax such as petroleum products or to be used for manufacture of petroleum products subject to excise tax and services subject to percentage tax. (d) Educational services, medical, dental, hospital and veterinary services, and services rendered under employer-employee relationship. (e) Works of art and similar creations sold by the artist himself.

(f) Transactions exempted under special laws, or international agreements. (g) Export-sales by persons not VAT-registered. (h) Goods or services with gross annual sale or receipt not exceeding P500,000.00. (Respondents' Consolidated Comment on the Motions for Reconsideration, pp. 58-60) On the other hand, the transactions which are subject to the VAT are those which involve goods and services which are used or availed of mainly by higher income groups. These include real properties held primarily for sale to customers or for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business, the right or privilege to use patent, copyright, and other similar property or right, the right or privilege to use industrial, commercial or scientific equipment, motion picture films, tapes and discs, radio, television, satellite transmission and cable television time, hotels, restaurants and similar places, securities, lending investments, taxicabs, utility cars for rent, tourist buses, and other common carriers, services of franchise grantees of telephone and telegraph. The problem with CREBA's petition is that it presents broad claims of constitutional violations by tendering issues not at retail but at wholesale and in the abstract. There is no fully developed record which can impart to adjudication the impact of actuality. There is no factual foundation to show in the concrete the application of the law to actual contracts and exemplify its effect on property rights. For the fact is that petitioner's members have not even been assessed the VAT. Petitioner's case is not made concrete by a series of hypothetical questions asked which are no different from those dealt with in advisory opinions. The difficulty confronting petitioner is thus apparent. He alleges arbitrariness. A mere allegation, as here, does not suffice. There must be a factual foundation of such unconstitutional taint. Considering that petitioner here would condemn such a provision as void on its face, he has not made out a case. This is merely to adhere to the authoritative doctrine that where the due process and equal protection clauses are invoked, considering that they are not fixed rules but rather broad standards, there is a need for proof of such persuasive character as would lead to such a conclusion. Absent such a showing, the presumption of validity must prevail. (Sison, Jr. v. Ancheta, 130 SCRA at 661) Adjudication of these broad claims must await the development of a concrete case. It may be that postponement of adjudication would result in a multiplicity of suits. This need not be the case, however. Enforcement of the law may give rise to such a case. A test case, provided it is an actual case and not an abstract or hypothetical one, may thus be presented. Nor is hardship to taxpayers alone an adequate justification for adjudicating abstract issues. Otherwise, adjudication would be no different from the giving of advisory opinion that does not really settle legal issues. We are told that it is our duty under Art. VIII, 1, 2 to decide whenever a claim is made that "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." This duty can only arise if an actual case or controversy is before us. Under Art . VIII, 5 our jurisdiction is defined in terms of "cases" and all that Art. VIII, 1, 2 can plausibly mean is that in the exercise of that jurisdiction we have the judicial power to determine questions of grave abuse of discretion by any branch or instrumentality of the government. Put in another way, what is granted in Art. VIII, 1, 2 is "judicial power," which is "the power of a court to hear and decide cases pending between parties who have the right to sue and be sued in the courts of law and equity" (Lamb v. Phipps, 22 Phil. 456, 559 (1912)), as distinguished from legislative and executive power. This power cannot be directly appropriated until it is apportioned among several courts either by the Constitution, as in the case of Art. VIII, 5, or by statute, as in the case of the Judiciary Act of 1948 (R.A. No. 296) and the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 (B.P. Blg. 129). The power thus apportioned constitutes the court's "jurisdiction," defined as "the power conferred by law upon a court or judge to take cognizance of a case, to the exclusion of all others." (United States v. Arceo, 6 Phil. 29 (1906)) Without an actual case coming within its jurisdiction, this Court cannot inquire into any allegation of grave abuse of discretion by the other departments of the government.

VIII. Alleged violation of policy towards cooperatives. On the other hand, the Cooperative Union of the Philippines (CUP), after briefly surveying the course of legislation, argues that it was to adopt a definite policy of granting tax exemption to cooperatives that the present Constitution embodies provisions on cooperatives. To subject cooperatives to the VAT would therefore be to infringe a constitutional policy. Petitioner claims that in 1973, P.D. No. 175 was promulgated exempting cooperatives from the payment of income taxes and sales taxes but in 1984, because of the crisis which menaced the national economy, this exemption was withdrawn by P.D. No. 1955; that in 1986, P.D. No. 2008 again granted cooperatives exemption from income and sales taxes until December 31, 1991, but, in the same year, E.O. No. 93 revoked the exemption; and that finally in 1987 the framers of the Constitution "repudiated the previous actions of the government adverse to the interests of the cooperatives, that is, the repeated revocation of the tax exemption to cooperatives and instead upheld the policy of strengthening the cooperatives by way of the grant of tax exemptions," by providing the following in Art. XII: 1. The goals of the national economy are a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged. The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets. However, the State shall protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices. In the pursuit of these goals, all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall be given optimum opportunity to develop. Private enterprises, including corporations, cooperatives, and similar collective organizations, shall be encouraged to broaden the base of their ownership. 15. The Congress shall create an agency to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments for social justice and economic development. Petitioner's contention has no merit. In the first place, it is not true that P.D. No. 1955 singled out cooperatives by withdrawing their exemption from income and sales taxes under P.D. No. 175, 5. What P.D. No. 1955, 1 did was to withdraw the exemptions and preferential treatments theretofore granted to private business enterprises in general, in view of the economic crisis which then beset the nation. It is true that after P.D. No. 2008, 2 had restored the tax exemptions of cooperatives in 1986, the exemption was again repealed by E.O. No. 93, 1, but then again cooperatives were not the only ones whose exemptions were withdrawn. The withdrawal of tax incentives applied to all, including government and private entities. In the second place, the Constitution does not really require that cooperatives be granted tax exemptions in order to promote their growth and viability. Hence, there is no basis for petitioner's assertion that the government's policy toward cooperatives had been one of vacillation, as far as the grant of tax privileges was concerned, and that it was to put an end to this indecision that the constitutional provisions cited were adopted. Perhaps as a matter of policy cooperatives should be granted tax exemptions, but that is left to the discretion of Congress. If Congress does not grant exemption and there is no discrimination to cooperatives, no violation of any constitutional policy can be charged. Indeed, petitioner's theory amounts to saying that under the Constitution cooperatives are exempt from taxation. Such theory is contrary to the Constitution under which only the following are exempt from taxation: charitable institutions, churches and parsonages, by reason of Art. VI, 28 (3), and non-stock, non-profit educational institutions by reason of Art. XIV, 4 (3). CUP's further ground for seeking the invalidation of R.A. No. 7716 is that it denies cooperatives the equal protection of the law because electric cooperatives are exempted from the VAT. The classification between electric and other cooperatives (farmers cooperatives, producers cooperatives, marketing cooperatives, etc.) apparently rests on a congressional determination that there is greater need to provide cheaper electric power to as many people as possible, especially those living in the rural areas, than there is to provide them with other necessities in life. We cannot say that such classification is unreasonable. We have carefully read the various arguments raised against the constitutional validity of R.A. No. 7716. We have in fact taken the extraordinary step of enjoining its enforcement pending resolution of these cases. We have now come to the conclusion that the law suffers from none of the infirmities attributed to it by petitioners and that its enactment by the other branches of the government does not constitute a grave abuse of discretion. Any question as to its

necessity, desirability or expediency must be addressed to Congress as the body which is electorally responsible, remembering that, as Justice Holmes has said, "legislators are the ultimate guardians of the liberties and welfare of the people in quite as great a degree as are the courts." (Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. May, 194 U.S. 267, 270, 48 L. Ed. 971, 973 (1904)). It is not right, as petitioner in G.R. No. 115543 does in arguing that we should enforce the public accountability of legislators, that those who took part in passing the law in question by voting for it in Congress should later thrust to the courts the burden of reviewing measures in the flush of enactment. This Court does not sit as a third branch of the legislature, much less exercise a veto power over legislation. WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are denied with finality and the temporary restraining order previously issued is hereby lifted. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Melo, Kapunan, Francisco and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur. Padilla and Vitug, JJ., maintained their separate opinion. Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo and Puno, JJ, maintained their dissenting opinion. Panganiban, J., took no part. Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita (September 1, 2005) DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

The expenses of government, having for their object the interest of all, should be borne by everyone, and the more man enjoys the advantages of society, the more he ought to hold himself honored in contributing to those expenses. -Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) French statesman and economist

Mounting budget deficit, revenue generation, inadequate fiscal allocation for education, increased emoluments for health workers, and wider coverage for full value-added tax benefits these are the reasons why Republic Act No. 9337 (R.A. No. 9337)
[1]

was enacted. Reasons, the wisdom of which, the Court even with its extensive constitutional power of review, cannot probe. The

petitioners in these cases, however, question not only the wisdom of the law, but also perceived constitutional infirmities in its passage. Every law enjoys in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. Their arguments notwithstanding, petitioners failed to justify their call for the invalidity of the law. Hence, R.A. No. 9337 is not unconstitutional. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY R.A. No. 9337 is a consolidation of three legislative bills namely, House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705, and Senate Bill No. 1950.

House Bill No. 3555[2] was introduced on first reading on January 7, 2005. The House Committee on Ways and Means approved the bill, in substitution of House Bill No. 1468, which Representative (Rep.) Eric D. Singson introduced on August 8, 2004. The President certified the bill on January 7, 2005 for immediate enactment. On January 27, 2005, the House of Representatives approved the bill on second and third reading. House Bill No. 3705[3] on the other hand, substituted House Bill No. 3105 introduced by Rep. Salacnib F. Baterina, and House Bill No. 3381 introduced by Rep. Jacinto V. Paras. Its mother bill is House Bill No. 3555. The House Committee on Ways and Means approved the bill on February 2, 2005. The President also certified it as urgent on February 8, 2005. The House of Representatives approved the bill on second and third reading on February 28, 2005. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means approved Senate Bill No. 1950[4] on March 7, 2005, in substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 1337, 1838 and 1873, taking into consideration House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705. Senator Ralph G. Recto sponsored Senate Bill No. 1337, while Senate Bill Nos. 1838 and 1873 were both sponsored by Sens. Franklin M. Drilon, Juan M. Flavier and Francis N. Pangilinan. The President certified the bill on March 11, 2005, and was approved by the Senate on second and third reading on April 13, 2005. On the same date, April 13, 2005, the Senate agreed to the request of the House of Representatives for a committee conference on the disagreeing provisions of the proposed bills. Before long, the Conference Committee on the Disagreeing Provisions of House Bill No. 3555, House Bill No. 3705, and Senate Bill No. 1950, after having met and discussed in full free and conference, recommended the approval of its report, which the Senate did on May 10, 2005, and with the House of Representatives agreeing thereto the next day, May 11, 2005. On May 23, 2005, the enrolled copy of the consolidated House and Senate version was transmitted to the President, who signed the same into law on May 24, 2005. Thus, came R.A. No. 9337. July 1, 2005 is the effectivity date of R.A. No. 9337.[5] When said date came, the Court issued a temporary restraining order, effective immediately and continuing until further orders, enjoining respondents from enforcing and implementing the law. Oral arguments were held on July 14, 2005. Significantly, during the hearing, the Court speaking through Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, voiced the rationale for its issuance of the temporary restraining order on July 1, 2005, to wit: J. PANGANIBAN : . . . But before I go into the details of your presentation, let me just tell you a little background. You know when the law took effect on July 1, 2005, the Court issued a TRO at about 5 oclock in the afternoon. But before that, there was a lot of complaints aired on television and on radio. Some people in a gas station were complaining that the gas prices went up by 10%. Some people were complaining that their electric bill will go up by 10%. Other times people riding in domestic air carrier were complaining that the prices that theyll have to pay would have to go up by 10%. While all that was being aired, per your presentation and per our own understanding of the law, thats not true. Its not true that the e-vat law necessarily increased prices by 10% uniformly isnt it?

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN ATTY. BANIQUED : :

No, Your Honor. It is not? Its not, because, Your Honor, there is an Executive Order that granted the Petroleum companies some subsidy . . . interrupted Thats correct . . . . . . and therefore that was meant to temper the impact . . . interrupted . . . mitigating measures . . . Yes, Your Honor. As a matter of fact a part of the mitigating measures would be the elimination of the Excise Tax and the import duties. That is why, it is not correct to say that the VAT as to petroleum dealers increased prices by 10%. Yes, Your Honor. And therefore, there is no justification for increasing the retail price by 10% to cover the E-Vat tax. If you consider the excise tax and the import duties, the Net Tax would probably be in the neighborhood of 7%? We are not going into exact figures I am just trying to deliver a point that different industries, different products, different services are hit differently. So its not correct to say that all prices must go up by 10%. Youre right, Your Honor. Now. For instance, Domestic Airline companies, Mr. Counsel, are at present imposed a Sales Tax of 3%. When this E-Vat law took effect the Sales Tax was also removed as a mitigating measure. So, therefore, there is no justification to increase the fares by 10% at best 7%, correct? I guess so, Your Honor, yes. There are other products that the people were complaining on that first day, were being increased arbitrarily by 10%. And thats one reason among many others this Court had to issue TRO because of the confusion in the implementation. Thats why we added as an issue in this case, even if its tangentially taken up by the pleadings of the parties, the confusion in the implementation of the E-vat. Our people were subjected to the mercy of that confusion of an across the board increase of 10%, which you yourself now admit and I think even the Government will admit is incorrect. In some cases, it should be 3% only, in some cases it should be 6% depending on these mitigating measures and the location and situation of each product, of each service, of each company, isnt it? Yes, Your Honor. : Alright. So thats one reason why we had to issue a TRO pending the clarification of all these and we wish the government will take time to clarify all these by means of a more detailed implementing rules, in case the law is upheld by this Court. . . .[6]

J. PANGANIBAN

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN :

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN :

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN :

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN :

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN :

ATTY. BANIQUED : J. PANGANIBAN

The Court also directed the parties to file their respective Memoranda.

G.R. No. 168056 Before R.A. No. 9337 took effect, petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al., filed a petition for prohibition on May 27, 2005. They question the constitutionality of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108, respectively, of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC). Section 4 imposes a 10% VAT on sale of goods and properties, Section 5 imposes a 10% VAT on importation of goods, and Section 6 imposes a 10% VAT on sale of services and use or lease of properties. These questioned provisions contain a uniform proviso authorizing the President, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, to raise the VAT rate to 12%, effective January 1, 2006, after any of the following conditions have been satisfied, to wit: . . . That the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied: (i) Value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%); or (ii) National government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and onehalf percent (1 %).

Petitioners argue that the law is unconstitutional, as it constitutes abandonment by Congress of its exclusive authority to fix the rate of taxes under Article VI, Section 28(2) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. G.R. No. 168207 On June 9, 2005, Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., et al., filed a petition for certiorari likewise assailing the constitutionality of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337. Aside from questioning the so-called stand-by authority of the President to increase the VAT rate to 12%, on the ground that it amounts to an undue delegation of legislative power, petitioners also contend that the increase in the VAT rate to 12% contingent on any of the two conditions being satisfied violates the due process clause embodied in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution, as it imposes an unfair and additional tax burden on the people, in that: (1) the 12% increase is ambiguous because it does not state if the rate would be returned to the original 10% if the conditions are no longer satisfied; (2) the rate is unfair and unreasonable, as the people are unsure of the applicable VAT rate from year to year; and (3) the increase in the VAT rate, which is supposed to be an incentive to the President to raise the VAT collection to at least 2 4/5 of the GDP of the previous year, should only be based on fiscal adequacy. Petitioners further claim that the inclusion of a stand-by authority granted to the President by the Bicameral Conference Committee is a violation of the no-amendment rule upon last reading of a bill laid down in Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution.

G.R. No. 168461 Thereafter, a petition for prohibition was filed on June 29, 2005, by the Association of Pilipinas Shell Dealers, Inc., et al., assailing the following provisions of R.A. No. 9337: 1) Section 8, amending Section 110 (A)(2) of the NIRC, requiring that the input tax on depreciable goods shall be amortized over a 60-month period, if the acquisition, excluding the VAT components, exceeds One Million Pesos (P1, 000,000.00); 2) 3) Section 8, amending Section 110 (B) of the NIRC, imposing a 70% limit on the amount of input tax to be credited against the output tax; and Section 12, amending Section 114 (c) of the NIRC, authorizing the Government or any of its political subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including GOCCs, to deduct a 5% final withholding tax on gross payments of goods and services, which are subject to 10% VAT under Sections 106 (sale of goods and properties) and 108 (sale of services and use or lease of properties) of the NIRC.

Petitioners contend that these provisions are unconstitutional for being arbitrary, oppressive, excessive, and confiscatory. Petitioners argument is premised on the constitutional right of non-deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution. According to petitioners, the contested sections impose limitations on the amount of input tax that may be claimed. Petitioners also argue that the input tax partakes the nature of a property that may not be confiscated, appropriated, or limited without due process of law. Petitioners further contend that like any other property or property right, the input tax credit may be transferred or disposed of, and that by limiting the same, the government gets to tax a profit or value-added even if there is no profit or value-added. Petitioners also believe that these provisions violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution, as the limitation on the creditable input tax if: (1) the entity has a high ratio of input tax; or (2) invests in capital equipment; or (3) has several transactions with the government, is not based on real and substantial differences to meet a valid classification. Lastly, petitioners contend that the 70% limit is anything but progressive, violative of Article VI, Section 28(1) of the Constitution, and that it is the smaller businesses with higher input tax to output tax ratio that will suffer the consequences thereof for it wipes out whatever meager margins the petitioners make. G.R. No. 168463 Several members of the House of Representatives led by Rep. Francis Joseph G. Escudero filed this petition for certiorari on June 30, 2005. They question the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9337 on the following grounds: 1) Sections 4, 5, and 6 of R.A. No. 9337 constitute an undue delegation of legislative power, in violation of Article VI, Section 28(2) of the Constitution;

2) 3)

The Bicameral Conference Committee acted without jurisdiction in deleting the no pass on provisions present in Senate Bill No. 1950 and House Bill No. 3705; and Insertion by the Bicameral Conference Committee of Sections 27, 28, 34, 116, 117, 119, 121, 125, [7] 148, 151, 236, 237 and 288, which were present in Senate Bill No. 1950, violates Article VI, Section 24(1) of the Constitution, which provides that all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives G.R. No. 168730

On the eleventh hour, Governor Enrique T. Garcia filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition on July 20, 2005, alleging unconstitutionality of the law on the ground that the limitation on the creditable input tax in effect allows VAT-registered establishments to retain a portion of the taxes they collect, thus violating the principle that tax collection and revenue should be solely allocated for public purposes and expenditures. Petitioner Garcia further claims that allowing these establishments to pass on the tax to the consumers is inequitable, in violation of Article VI, Section 28(1) of the Constitution. RESPONDENTS COMMENT The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of respondents. Preliminarily, respondents contend that R.A. No. 9337 enjoys the presumption of constitutionality and petitioners failed to cast doubt on its validity. Relying on the case of Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance, 235 SCRA 630 (1994), respondents argue that the procedural issues raised by petitioners, i.e., legality of the bicameral proceedings, exclusive origination of revenue measures and the power of the Senate concomitant thereto, have already been settled. With regard to the issue of undue delegation of legislative power to the President, respondents contend that the law is complete and leaves no discretion to the President but to increase the rate to 12% once any of the two conditions provided therein arise. Respondents also refute petitioners argument that the increase to 12%, as well as the 70% limitation on the creditable input tax, the 60-month amortization on the purchase or importation of capital goods exceeding P1,000,000.00, and the 5% final withholding tax by government agencies, is arbitrary, oppressive, and confiscatory, and that it violates the constitutional principle on progressive taxation, among others. Finally, respondents manifest that R.A. No. 9337 is the anchor of the governments fiscal reform agenda. A reform in the value-added system of taxation is the core revenue measure that will tilt the balance towards a sustainable macroeconomic environment necessary for economic growth. ISSUES The Court defined the issues, as follows: PROCEDURAL ISSUE

Whether R.A. No. 9337 violates the following provisions of the Constitution: a. b. Article VI, Section 24, and Article VI, Section 26(2) SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES 1. Whether Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108 of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. b. Article VI, Section 28(1), and Article VI, Section 28(2)

2. Whether Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 110(A)(2) and 110(B) of the NIRC; and Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 114(C) of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. b. Article VI, Section 28(1), and Article III, Section 1

RULING OF THE COURT As a prelude, the Court deems it apt to restate the general principles and concepts of value-added tax (VAT), as the confusion and inevitably, litigation, breeds from a fallacious notion of its nature. The VAT is a tax on spending or consumption. It is levied on the sale, barter, exchange or lease of goods or properties and services.[8] Being an indirect tax on expenditure, the seller of goods or services may pass on the amount of tax paid to the buyer,[9] with the seller acting merely as a tax collector.[10] The burden of VAT is intended to fall on the immediate buyers and ultimately, the end-consumers. In contrast, a direct tax is a tax for which a taxpayer is directly liable on the transaction or business it engages in, without transferring the burden to someone else.[11] Examples are individual and corporate income taxes, transfer taxes, and residence taxes.
[12]

In the Philippines, the value-added system of sales taxation has long been in existence, albeit in a different mode. Prior to 1978, the system was a single-stage tax computed under the cost deduction method and was payable only by the original sellers. The single-stage system was subsequently modified, and a mixture of the cost deduction method and tax credit method was used to determine the value-added tax payable.[13] Under the tax credit method, an entity can credit against or subtract from the VAT charged on its sales or outputs the VAT paid on its purchases, inputs and imports.[14] It was only in 1987, when President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 273, that the VAT system was rationalized by imposing a multi-stage tax rate of 0% or 10% on all sales using the tax credit method.[15]

E.O. No. 273 was followed by R.A. No. 7716 or the Expanded VAT Law,[16] R.A. No. 8241 or the Improved VAT Law,
[17]

R.A. No. 8424 or the Tax Reform Act of 1997,[18] and finally, the presently beleaguered R.A. No. 9337, also referred to by

respondents as the VAT Reform Act. The Court will now discuss the issues in logical sequence. PROCEDURAL ISSUE I. Whether R.A. No. 9337 violates the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 24, and b. Article VI, Section 26(2)

A.

The Bicameral Conference Committee Petitioners Escudero, et al., and Pimentel, et al., allege that the Bicameral Conference Committee exceeded its authority

by: 1) 2) Inserting the stand-by authority in favor of the President in Sections 4, 5, and 6 of R.A. No. 9337; Deleting entirely the no pass-on provisions found in both the House and Senate bills;

3) Inserting the provision imposing a 70% limit on the amount of input tax to be credited against the output tax; and 4) Including the amendments introduced only by Senate Bill No. 1950 regarding other kinds of taxes in addition to the value-added tax.

Petitioners now beseech the Court to define the powers of the Bicameral Conference Committee. It should be borne in mind that the power of internal regulation and discipline are intrinsic in any legislative body for, as unerringly elucidated by Justice Story, [i]f the power did not exist, it would be utterly impracticable to transact the business of the nation, either at all, or at least with decency, deliberation, and order.[19] Thus, Article VI, Section 16 (3) of the Constitution provides that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings. Pursuant to this inherent constitutional power to promulgate and implement its own rules of procedure, the respective rules of each house of Congress provided for the creation of a Bicameral Conference Committee. Thus, Rule XIV, Sections 88 and 89 of the Rules of House of Representatives provides as follows: Sec. 88. Conference Committee. In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the amendment to any bill or joint resolution, the differences may be settled by the conference committees of both chambers.

In resolving the differences with the Senate, the House panel shall, as much as possible, adhere to and support the House Bill. If the differences with the Senate are so substantial that they materially impair the House Bill, the panel shall report such fact to the House for the latters appropriate action. Sec. 89. Conference Committee Reports. . . . Each report shall contain a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject measure. ... The Chairman of the House panel may be interpellated on the Conference Committee Report prior to the voting thereon. The House shall vote on the Conference Committee Report in the same manner and procedure as it votes on a bill on third and final reading.

Rule XII, Section 35 of the Rules of the Senate states: Sec. 35. 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 (10) days after their composition. The President shall designate the members of the Senate Panel in the conference committee with the approval of the Senate. 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 a majority of the members of each House panel, voting separately. A comparative presentation of the conflicting House and Senate provisions and a reconciled version thereof with the explanatory statement of the conference committee shall be attached to the report. ...

The creation of such conference committee was apparently in response to a problem, not addressed by any constitutional provision, where the two houses of Congress find themselves in disagreement over changes or amendments introduced by the other house in a legislative bill. Given that one of the most basic powers of the legislative branch is to formulate and implement its own rules of proceedings and to discipline its members, may the Court then delve into the details of how Congress complies with its internal rules or how it conducts its business of passing legislation? Note that in the present petitions, the issue is not whether provisions of the rules of both houses creating the bicameral conference committee are unconstitutional, but whether the bicameral conference committee has strictly complied with the rules of both houses, thereby remaining within the jurisdiction conferred upon it by Congress. In the recent case of Farias vs. The Executive Secretary,[20] the Court En Banc, unanimously reiterated and emphasized its adherence to the enrolled bill doctrine, thus, declining therein petitioners plea for the Court to go behind the enrolled copy of the bill. Assailed in said case was Congresss creation of two sets of bicameral conference committees, the lack of records of said committees proceedings, the alleged violation of said committees of the rules of both houses, and the disappearance or deletion of one of the provisions in the compromise bill submitted by the bicameral conference committee. It was argued that such irregularities in the passage of the law nullified R.A. No. 9006, or the Fair Election Act. Striking down such argument, the Court held thus:

Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of a bill by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and the certification of the Secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed are conclusive of its due enactment. A review of cases reveals the Courts consistent adherence to the rule. The Court finds no reason to deviate from the salutary rule in this case where the irregularities alleged by the petitioners mostly involved the internal rules of Congress, e.g., creation of the 2nd or 3rd Bicameral Conference Committee by the House. This Court is not the proper forum for the enforcement of these internal rules of Congress, whether House or Senate. Parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no concern. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Rep. Act No. 9006 must be resolved in its favor. The Court reiterates its ruling in Arroyo vs. De Venecia, viz.: But the cases, both here and abroad, in varying forms of expression, all deny to the courts the power to inquire into allegations that, in enacting a law, a House of Congress failed to comply with its own rules, in the absence of showing that there was a violation of a constitutional provision or the rights of private individuals. In Osmea v. Pendatun, it was held: At any rate, courts have declared that the rules adopted by deliberative bodies are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them. And it has been said that Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observance, the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body. Consequently, mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure.[21] (Emphasis supplied)

The foregoing declaration is exactly in point with the present cases, where petitioners allege irregularities committed by the conference committee in introducing changes or deleting provisions in the House and Senate bills. Akin to the Farias case,[22] the present petitions also raise an issue regarding the actions taken by the conference committee on matters regarding Congress compliance with its own internal rules. As stated earlier, one of the most basic and inherent power of the legislature is the power to formulate rules for its proceedings and the discipline of its members. Congress is the best judge of how it should conduct its own business expeditiously and in the most orderly manner. It is also the sole concern of Congress to instill discipline among the members of its conference committee if it believes that said members violated any of its rules of proceedings. Even the expanded jurisdiction of this Court cannot apply to questions regarding only the internal operation of Congress, thus, the Court is wont to deny a review of the internal proceedings of a co-equal branch of government. Moreover, as far back as 1994 or more than ten years ago, in the case of Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance,[23] the Court already made the pronouncement that [i]f a change is desired in the practice [of the Bicameral Conference Committee] 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. [24] To date, Congress has not seen it fit to make such changes adverted to by the Court. It seems, therefore, that Congress finds the practices of the bicameral conference committee to be very useful for purposes of prompt and efficient legislative action. Nevertheless, just to put minds at ease that no blatant irregularities tainted the proceedings of the bicameral conference committees, the Court deems it necessary to dwell on the issue. The Court observes that there was a necessity for a conference

committee because a comparison of the provisions of House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705 on one hand, and Senate Bill No. 1950 on the other, reveals that there were indeed disagreements. As pointed out in the petitions, said disagreements were as follows: House Bill No. 3555 House Bill No.3705 Senate Bill No. 1950

With regard to Stand-By Authority in favor of President

Provides for 12% VAT on every sale of goods or properties (amending Sec. 106 of NIRC); 12% VAT on importation of goods (amending Sec. 107 of NIRC); and 12% VAT on sale of services and use or lease of properties (amending Sec. 108 of NIRC)

Provides for 12% VAT in general on sales of goods or properties and reduced rates for sale of certain locally manufactured goods and petroleum products and raw materials to be used in the manufacture thereof (amending Sec. 106 of NIRC); 12% VAT on importation of goods and reduced rates for certain imported products including petroleum products (amending Sec. 107 of NIRC); and 12% VAT on sale of services and use or lease of properties and a reduced rate for certain services including power generation (amending Sec. 108 of NIRC)

Provides for a single rate of 10% VAT on sale of goods or properties (amending Sec. 106 of NIRC), 10% VAT on sale of services including sale of electricity by generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, and use or lease of properties (amending Sec. 108 of NIRC)

With regard to the no pass-on provision

No similar provision

Provides that the VAT imposed on power generation and on the sale of petroleum products shall be absorbed by generation companies or sellers, respectively, and shall not be passed on to consumers

Provides that the VAT imposed on sales of electricity by generation companies and services of transmission companies and distribution companies, as well as those of franchise grantees of electric utilities shall not apply to residential end-users. VAT shall be absorbed by generation, transmission, and distribution companies. With regard to 70% limit on input tax credit

Provides that the input tax credit for capital goods on which a VAT has been paid shall be equally distributed over 5 years or the depreciable life of such capital goods; the input tax credit for goods and services other than capital goods shall not exceed 5% of the total amount of such goods and services; and for persons engaged in retail trading of goods, the allowable input tax credit shall not exceed 11% of the total amount of goods purchased.

No similar provision

Provides that the input tax credit for capital goods on which a VAT has been paid shall be equally distributed over 5 years or the depreciable life of such capital goods; the input tax credit for goods and services other than capital goods shall not exceed 90% of the output VAT.

With regard to amendments to be made to NIRC provisions regarding income and excise taxes

No similar provision

No similar provision

Provided for amendments to several NIRC provisions regarding corporate income, percentage, franchise and excise taxes

The disagreements between the provisions in the House bills and the Senate bill were with regard to (1) what rate of VAT is to be imposed; (2) whether only the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies should not be passed on to consumers, as proposed in the Senate bill, or both the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies and the VAT imposed on sale of petroleum products should not be passed on to consumers, as proposed in the House bill; (3) in what manner input tax credits should be limited; (4) and whether the NIRC provisions on corporate income taxes, percentage, franchise and excise taxes should be amended. There being differences and/or disagreements on the foregoing provisions of the House and Senate bills, the Bicameral Conference Committee was mandated by the rules of both houses of Congress to act on the same by settling said differences and/or disagreements. The Bicameral Conference Committee acted on the disagreeing provisions by making the following changes:

1.

With regard to the disagreement on the rate of VAT to be imposed, it would appear from the Conference

Committee Report that the Bicameral Conference Committee tried to bridge the gap in the difference between the 10% VAT rate proposed by the Senate, and the various rates with 12% as the highest VAT rate proposed by the House, by striking a compromise whereby the present 10% VAT rate would be retained until certain conditions arise, i.e., the value-added tax collection as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds 2 4/5%, or National Government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds 1%, when the President, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Finance shall raise the rate of VAT to 12% effective January 1, 2006.

2.

With regard to the disagreement on whether only the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and

distribution companies should not be passed on to consumers or whether both the VAT imposed on electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies and the VAT imposed on sale of petroleum products may be passed on to consumers, the Bicameral Conference Committee chose to settle such disagreement by altogether deleting from its Report any no pass-onprovision.

3.

With regard to the disagreement on whether input tax credits should be limited or not, the Bicameral Conference

Committee decided to adopt the position of the House by putting a limitation on the amount of input tax that may be credited

against the output tax, although it crafted its own language as to the amount of the limitation on input tax credits and the manner of computing the same by providing thus: (A) ... Provided, The input tax on goods purchased or imported in a calendar month for use in trade or business for which deduction for depreciation is allowed under this Code, shall be spread evenly over the month of acquisition and the fifty-nine (59) succeeding months if the aggregate acquisition cost for such goods, excluding the VAT component thereof, exceeds one million Pesos (P1,000,000.00): PROVIDED, however, that if the estimated useful life of the capital good is less than five (5) years, as used for depreciation purposes, then the input VAT shall be spread over such shorter period: . . . (B) Excess Output or Input Tax. If at the end of any taxable quarter the output tax exceeds the input tax, the excess shall be paid by the VAT-registered person. If the input tax exceeds the output tax, the excess shall be carried over to the succeeding quarter or quarters: PROVIDED that the input tax inclusive of input VAT carried over from the previous quarter that may be credited in every quarter shall not exceed seventy percent (70%) of the output VAT: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT any input tax attributable to zero-rated sales by a VAT-registered person may at his option be refunded or credited against other internal revenue taxes, . . . Creditable Input Tax. . . .

4.

With regard to the amendments to other provisions of the NIRC on corporate income tax, franchise, percentage and

excise taxes, the conference committee decided to include such amendments and basically adopted the provisions found in Senate Bill No. 1950, with some changes as to the rate of the tax to be imposed.

Under the provisions of both the Rules of the House of Representatives and Senate Rules, the Bicameral Conference Committee is mandated to settle the differences between the disagreeing provisions in the House bill and the Senate bill. The term settle is synonymous to reconcile and harmonize. [25] To reconcile or harmonize disagreeing provisions, the Bicameral Conference Committee may then (a) adopt the specific provisions of either the House bill or Senate bill, (b) decide that neither provisions in the House bill or the provisions in the Senate bill would be carried into the final form of the bill, and/or (c) try to arrive at a compromise between the disagreeing provisions.

In the present case, the changes introduced by the Bicameral Conference Committee on disagreeing provisions were meant only to reconcile and harmonize the disagreeing provisions for it did not inject any idea or intent that is wholly foreign to the subject embraced by the original provisions. The so-called stand-by authority in favor of the President, whereby the rate of 10% VAT wanted by the Senate is retained until such time that certain conditions arise when the 12% VAT wanted by the House shall be imposed, appears to be a compromise

to try to bridge the difference in the rate of VAT proposed by the two houses of Congress. Nevertheless, such compromise is still totally within the subject of what rate of VAT should be imposed on taxpayers. The no pass-on provision was deleted altogether. In the transcripts of the proceedings of the Bicameral Conference Committee held on May 10, 2005, Sen. Ralph Recto, Chairman of the Senate Panel, explained the reason for deleting the no passon provision in this wise: . . . the thinking was just to keep the VAT law or the VAT bill simple. And we were thinking that no sector should be a beneficiary of legislative grace, neither should any sector be discriminated on. The VAT is an indirect tax. It is a pass on-tax. And lets keep it plain and simple. Lets not confuse the bill and put a no pass-on provision. Two-thirds of the world have a VAT system and in this two-thirds of the globe, I have yet to see a VAT with a no pass-though provision. So, the thinking of the Senate is basically simple, lets keep the VAT simple.[26](Emphasis supplied) Rep. Teodoro Locsin further made the manifestation that the no pass-on provision never really enjoyed the support of either House.[27] With regard to the amount of input tax to be credited against output tax, the Bicameral Conference Committee came to a compromise on the percentage rate of the limitation or cap on such input tax credit, but again, the change introduced by the Bicameral Conference Committee was totally within the intent of both houses to put a cap on input tax that may be credited against the output tax. From the inception of the subject revenue bill in the House of Representatives, one of the major objectives was to plug a glaring loophole in the tax policy and administration by creating vital restrictions on the claiming of input VAT tax credits . . . and [b]y introducing limitations on the claiming of tax credit, we are capping a major leakage that has placed our collection efforts at an apparent disadvantage.[28] As to the amendments to NIRC provisions on taxes other than the value-added tax proposed in Senate Bill No. 1950, since said provisions were among those referred to it, the conference committee had to act on the same and it basically adopted the version of the Senate. Thus, all the changes or modifications made by the Bicameral Conference Committee were germane to subjects of the provisions referred to it for reconciliation. Such being the case, the Court does not see any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction committed by the Bicameral Conference Committee. In the earlier cases of Philippine Judges Association vs.

Prado[29] and Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance,[30] the Court recognized the long-standing legislative practice of giving said conference committee ample latitude for compromising differences between the Senate and the House. Thus, in

the Tolentino case, it was 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. 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. [31] (Emphasis supplied) B. R.A. No. 9337 Does Not Violate Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution on the No-Amendment Rule

Article VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the Constitution, states: 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.

Petitioners argument that the practice where a bicameral conference committee is allowed to add or delete provisions in the House bill and the Senate bill after these had passed three readings is in effect a circumvention of the no amendment rule (Sec. 26 (2), Art. VI of the 1987 Constitution), fails to convince the Court to deviate from its ruling in the Tolentino case that: Nor is there any reason for requiring that the Committees 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 modification of the compromise bill. . . . 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. [32] (Emphasis supplied)

The Court reiterates here that the no-amendment rule refers only to the procedure to be followed by each house of Congress with regard to bills initiated in each of said respective houses, before said bill is transmitted to the other house for its concurrence or amendment. Verily, to construe said provision in a way as to proscribe any further changes to a bill after one house has voted on it would lead to absurdity as this would mean that the other house of Congress would be deprived of its constitutional power to amend or introduce changes to said bill. Thus, Art. VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the Constitution cannot be taken to mean that the introduction by the Bicameral Conference Committee of amendments and modifications to disagreeing provisions in bills that have been acted upon by both houses of Congress is prohibited. C. R.A. No. 9337 Does Not Violate Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution on Exclusive Origination of Revenue Bills

Coming to the issue of the validity of the amendments made regarding the NIRC provisions on corporate income taxes and percentage, excise taxes. Petitioners refer to the following provisions, to wit: Section 27 Rates of Income Tax on Domestic Corporation 28(A)(1) Tax on Resident Foreign Corporation

28(B)(1) 34(B)(1) 116 117 119 121 148 151 236 237 288

Inter-corporate Dividends Inter-corporate Dividends Tax on Persons Exempt from VAT Percentage Tax on domestic carriers and keepers of Garage Tax on franchises Tax on banks and Non-Bank Financial Intermediaries Excise Tax on manufactured oils and other fuels Excise Tax on mineral products Registration requirements Issuance of receipts or sales or commercial invoices Disposition of Incremental Revenue

Petitioners claim that the amendments to these provisions of the NIRC did not at all originate from the House. They aver that House Bill No. 3555 proposed amendments only regarding Sections 106, 107, 108, 110 and 114 of the NIRC, while House Bill No. 3705 proposed amendments only to Sections 106, 107,108, 109, 110 and 111 of the NIRC; thus, the other sections of the NIRC which the Senate amended but which amendments were not found in the House bills are not intended to be amended by the House of Representatives. Hence, they argue that since the proposed amendments did not originate from the House, such amendments are a violation of Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution. The argument does not hold water. Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution reads: 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.

In the present cases, petitioners admit that it was indeed House Bill Nos. 3555 and 3705 that initiated the move for amending provisions of the NIRC dealing mainly with the value-added tax. Upon transmittal of said House bills to the Senate, the Senate came out with Senate Bill No. 1950 proposing amendments not only to NIRC provisions on the value-added tax but also amendments to NIRC provisions on other kinds of taxes. Is the introduction by the Senate of provisions not dealing directly with the value- added tax, which is the only kind of tax being amended in the House bills, still within the purview of the constitutional provision authorizing the Senate to propose or concur with amendments to a revenue bill that originated from the House? The foregoing question had been squarely answered in the Tolentino case, wherein the Court held, thus: . . . 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. . . . 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 Senates 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. 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. ... 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.[33] (Emphasis supplied)

Since there is no question that the revenue bill exclusively originated in the House of Representatives, the Senate was acting within its constitutional power to introduce amendments to the House bill when it included provisions in Senate Bill No. 1950 amending corporate income taxes, percentage, excise and franchise taxes. Verily, Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution does not contain any prohibition or limitation on the extent of the amendments that may be introduced by the Senate to the House revenue bill. Furthermore, the amendments introduced by the Senate to the NIRC provisions that had not been touched in the House bills are still in furtherance of the intent of the House in initiating the subject revenue bills. The Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 1468, the very first House bill introduced on the floor, which was later substituted by House Bill No. 3555, stated: One of the challenges faced by the present administration is the urgent and daunting task of solving the countrys serious financial problems. To do this, government expenditures must be strictly monitored and controlled and revenues must be significantly increased. This may be easier said than done, but our fiscal authorities are still optimistic the government will be operating on a balanced budget by the year 2009. In fact, several measures that will result to significant expenditure savings have been identified by the administration. It is supported with a credible package of revenue measures that include measures to improve tax administration and control the leakages in revenues from income taxes and the valueadded tax (VAT). (Emphasis supplied)

Rep. Eric D. Singson, in his sponsorship speech for House Bill No. 3555, declared that: In the budget message of our President in the year 2005, she reiterated that we all acknowledged that on top of our agenda must be the restoration of the health of our fiscal system. In order to considerably lower the consolidated public sector deficit and eventually achieve a balanced budget by the year 2009, we need to seize windows of opportunities which might seem poignant in the beginning, but in the long run prove effective and beneficial to the overall status of our economy. One such opportunity is a review of existing tax rates, evaluating the relevance given our present conditions.[34] (Emphasis supplied)

Notably therefore, the main purpose of the bills emanating from the House of Representatives is to bring in sizeable revenues for the government to supplement our countrys serious financial problems, and improve tax administration and control of the leakages in revenues from income taxes and value-added taxes. As these house bills were transmitted to the Senate, the latter, approaching the measures from the point of national perspective, can introduce amendments within the purposes of those bills. It can provide for ways that would soften the impact of the VAT measure on the consumer, i.e., by distributing the burden across all sectors instead of putting it entirely on the shoulders of the consumers. The sponsorship speech of Sen. Ralph Recto on why the provisions on income tax on corporation were included is worth quoting: All in all, the proposal of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means will raise P64.3 billion in additional revenues annually even while by mitigating prices of power, services and petroleum products. However, not all of this will be wrung out of VAT. In fact, only P48.7 billion amount is from the VAT on twelve goods and services. The rest of the tab P10.5 billion- will be picked by corporations. What we therefore prescribe is a burden sharing between corporate Philippines and the consumer. Why should the latter bear all the pain? Why should the fiscal salvation be only on the burden of the consumer? The corporate worlds equity is in form of the increase in the corporate income tax from 32 to 35 percent, but up to 2008 only. This will raise P10.5 billion a year. After that, the rate will slide back, not to its old rate of 32 percent, but two notches lower, to 30 percent. Clearly, we are telling those with the capacity to pay, corporations, to bear with this emergency provision that will be in effect for 1,200 days, while we put our fiscal house in order. This fiscal medicine will have an expiry date. For their assistance, a reward of tax reduction awaits them. We intend to keep the length of their sacrifice brief. We would like to assure them that not because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, this government will keep on making the tunnel long. The responsibility will not rest solely on the weary shoulders of the small man. Big business will be there to share the burden.[35]

As the Court has said, the Senate can propose amendments and in fact, the amendments made on provisions in the tax on income of corporations are germane to the purpose of the house bills which is to raise revenues for the government.

Likewise, the Court finds the sections referring to other percentage and excise taxes germane to the reforms to the VAT system, as these sections would cushion the effects of VAT on consumers. Considering that certain goods and services which were subject to percentage tax and excise tax would no longer be VAT-exempt, the consumer would be burdened more as they would be paying the VAT in addition to these taxes. Thus, there is a need to amend these sections to soften the impact of VAT. Again, in his sponsorship speech, Sen. Recto said: However, for power plants that run on oil, we will reduce to zero the present excise tax on bunker fuel, to lessen the effect of a VAT on this product. For electric utilities like Meralco, we will wipe out the franchise tax in exchange for a VAT.

And in the case of petroleum, while we will levy the VAT on oil products, so as not to destroy the VAT chain, we will however bring down the excise tax on socially sensitive products such as diesel, bunker, fuel and kerosene. ... What do all these exercises point to? These are not contortions of giving to the left hand what was taken from the right. Rather, these sprang from our concern of softening the impact of VAT, so that the people can cushion the blow of higher prices they will have to pay as a result of VAT.[36]

The other sections amended by the Senate pertained to matters of tax administration which are necessary for the implementation of the changes in the VAT system. To reiterate, the sections introduced by the Senate are germane to the subject matter and purposes of the house bills, which is to supplement our countrys fiscal deficit, among others. Thus, the Senate acted within its power to propose those amendments.

SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES I. Whether Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108 of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 28(1), and b. Article VI, Section 28(2) No Undue Delegation of Legislative Power

A.

Petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al., Pimentel, Jr., et al., and Escudero, et al. contend in common that Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108, respectively, of the NIRC giving the President the stand-by authority to raise the VAT rate from 10% to 12% when a certain condition is met, constitutes undue delegation of the legislative power to tax. The assailed provisions read as follows: SEC. 4. Sec. 106 of the same Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows: SEC. 106. Value-Added Tax on Sale of Goods or Properties. (A) Rate and Base of Tax. There shall be levied, assessed and collected on every sale, barter or exchange of goods or properties, a value-added tax equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the gross selling price or gross value in money of the goods or properties sold, bartered or exchanged, such tax to be paid by the seller or transferor: provided, that the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied. (i) value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%) or

(ii)

national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %).

SEC. 5. Section 107 of the same Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows: SEC. 107. Value-Added Tax on Importation of Goods. (A) In General. There shall be levied, assessed and collected on every importation of goods a value-added tax equivalent to ten percent (10%) based on the total value used by the Bureau of Customs in determining tariff and customs duties, plus customs duties, excise taxes, if any, and other charges, such tax to be paid by the importer prior to the release of such goods from customs custody: Provided, That where the customs duties are determined on the basis of the quantity or volume of the goods, the value-added tax shall be based on the landed cost plus excise taxes, if any: provided, further, that the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%) after any of the following conditions has been satisfied. (i) (ii) value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%) or national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %).

SEC. 6. Section 108 of the same Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

SEC. 108. Value-added Tax on Sale of Services and Use or Lease of Properties (A) Rate and Base of Tax. There shall be levied, assessed and collected, a valueadded tax equivalent to ten percent (10%) of gross receipts derived from the sale or exchange of services: provided, that the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied. (i) (ii) value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%) or national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %). (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioners allege that the grant of the stand-by authority to the President to increase the VAT rate is a virtual abdication by Congress of its exclusive power to tax because such delegation is not within the purview of Section 28 (2), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides: The Congress may, by law, authorize the President to fix within specified limits, and may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the government.

They argue that the VAT is a tax levied on the sale, barter or exchange of goods and properties as well as on the sale or exchange of services, which cannot be included within the purview of tariffs under the exempted delegation as the latter refers to customs duties, tolls or tribute payable upon merchandise to the government and usually imposed on goods or merchandise imported or exported.

Petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al., further contend that delegating to the President the legislative power to tax is contrary to republicanism. They insist that accountability, responsibility and transparency should dictate the actions of Congress and they should not pass to the President the decision to impose taxes. They also argue that the law also effectively nullified the Presidents power of control, which includes the authority to set aside and nullify the acts of her subordinates like the Secretary of Finance, by mandating the fixing of the tax rate by the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance. Petitioners Pimentel, et al. aver that the President has ample powers to cause, influence or create the conditions provided by the law to bring about either or both the conditions precedent. On the other hand, petitioners Escudero, et al. find bizarre and revolting the situation that the imposition of the 12% rate would be subject to the whim of the Secretary of Finance, an unelected bureaucrat, contrary to the principle of no taxation without representation. They submit that the Secretary of Finance is not mandated to give a favorable recommendation and he may not even give his recommendation. Moreover, they allege that no guiding standards are provided in the law on what basis and as to how he will make his recommendation. They claim, nonetheless, that any recommendation of the Secretary of Finance can easily be brushed aside by the President since the former is a mere alter ego of the latter, such that, ultimately, it is the President who decides whether to impose the increased tax rate or not. A brief discourse on the principle of non-delegation of powers is instructive. The principle of separation of powers ordains that each of the three great branches of government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in matters falling within its own constitutionally allocated sphere.[37] A logical corollary to the doctrine of separation of powers is the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim: potestas delegata non delegari potestwhich means what has been delegated, cannot be delegated.[38] This doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such as delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another.[39] With respect to the Legislature, Section 1 of Article VI of the Constitution provides that the Legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippineswhich shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The powers which Congress is prohibited from delegating are those which are strictly, or inherently and exclusively, legislative. Purely legislative power, which can never be delegated, has been described as the authority to make a complete law complete as to the time when it shall take effect and as to whom it shall be applicable and to determine the expediency of its enactment.[40] Thus, the rule is that in order that a court may be justified in holding a statute unconstitutional as a delegation of legislative power, it must appear that the power involved is purely legislative in nature that is, one appertaining exclusively to the legislative department. It is the nature of the power, and not the liability of its use or the manner of its exercise, which determines the validity of its delegation.

Nonetheless, the general rule barring delegation of legislative powers is subject to the following recognized limitations or exceptions: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution; Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution; Delegation to the people at large; Delegation to local governments; and Delegation to administrative bodies.

In every case of permissible delegation, there must be a showing that the delegation itself is valid. It is valid only if the law (a) is complete in itself, setting forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate; [41] and (b) fixes a standard the limits of which are sufficiently determinate and determinable to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions.[42] A sufficient standard is one which defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative command is to be effected.[43] Both tests are intended to prevent a total transference of legislative authority to the delegate, who is not allowed to step into the shoes of the legislature and exercise a power essentially legislative.[44] In People vs. Vera,[45] the Court, through eminent Justice Jose P. Laurel, expounded on the concept and extent of delegation of power in this wise: In testing whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is usual to inquire whether the statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands of the legislature so that nothing was left to the judgment of any other appointee or delegate of the legislature. ... The true distinction, says Judge Ranney, is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made. ... It is contended, however, that a legislative act may be made to the effect as law after it leaves the hands of the legislature. It is true that laws may be made effective on certain contingencies, as by proclamation of the executive or the adoption by the people of a particular community. In Wayman vs. Southard, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the legislature may delegate a power not legislative which it may itself rightfully exercise. The power to ascertain facts is such a power which may be delegated. There is nothing essentially legislative in ascertaining the existence of facts or conditions as the basis of the taking into effect of a law. That is a mental process common to all branches of the government.Notwithstanding the apparent tendency, however, to relax the rule prohibiting delegation of legislative authority on account of the complexity arising from social and economic forces at work in this modern industrial age, the orthodox pronouncement of Judge Cooley in his work on Constitutional Limitations finds restatement in Prof. Willoughby's treatise on the Constitution of the United States in the following language speaking of declaration of legislative power to administrative agencies: The principle which permits the legislature to provide that the administrative agent may determine when the circumstances are such as require the application of a law is defended upon the ground that at the time this authority is granted, the rule of public policy, which is the essence of the legislative act, is determined by the

legislature. In other words, the legislature, as it is its duty to do, determines that, under given circumstances, certain executive or administrative action is to be taken, and that, under other circumstances, different or no action at all is to be taken. What is thus left to the administrative official is not the legislative determination of what public policy demands, but simply the ascertainment of what the facts of the case require to be done according to the terms of the law by which he is governed. The efficiency of an Act as a declaration of legislative will must, of course, come from Congress, but the ascertainment of the contingency upon which the Act shall take effect may be left to such agencies as it may designate. The legislature, then, may provide that a law shall take effect upon the happening of future specified contingencies leaving to some other person or body the power to determine when the specified contingency has arisen. (Emphasis supplied).[46]

In Edu vs. Ericta,[47] the Court reiterated: What cannot be delegated is the authority under the Constitution to make laws and to alter and repeal them; the test is the completeness of the statute in all its terms and provisions when it leaves the hands of the legislature. To determine whether or not there is an undue delegation of legislative power, the inquiry must be directed to the scope and definiteness of the measure enacted.The legislative does not abdicate its functions when it describes what job must be done, who is to do it, and what is the scope of his authority. For a complex economy, that may be the only way in which the legislative process can go forward. A distinction has rightfully been made between delegation of power to make the laws which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, which constitutionally may not be done, and delegation of authority or discretion as to its execution to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law, to which no valid objection can be made. The Constitution is thus not to be regarded as denying the legislature the necessary resources of flexibility and practicability. (Emphasis supplied).[48]

Clearly, the legislature may delegate to executive officers or bodies the power to determine certain facts or conditions, or the happening of contingencies, on which the operation of a statute is, by its terms, made to depend, but the legislature must prescribe sufficient standards, policies or limitations on their authority.[49] While the power to tax cannot be delegated to executive agencies, details as to the enforcement and administration of an exercise of such power may be left to them, including the power to determine the existence of facts on which its operation depends.[50] The rationale for this is that the preliminary ascertainment of facts as basis for the enactment of legislation is not of itself a legislative function, but is simply ancillary to legislation. Thus, the duty of correlating information and making recommendations is the kind of subsidiary activity which the legislature may perform through its members, or which it may delegate to others to perform. Intelligent legislation on the complicated problems of modern society is impossible in the absence of accurate information on the part of the legislators, and any reasonable method of securing such information is proper.[51] The Constitution as a continuously operative charter of government does not require that Congress find for itself every fact upon which it desires to base legislative action or that it make for itself detailed determinations which it has declared to be prerequisite to application of legislative policy to particular facts and circumstances impossible for Congress itself properly to investigate.[52] In the present case, the challenged section of R.A. No. 9337 is the common proviso in Sections 4, 5 and 6 which reads as follows:

That the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006, raise the rate of value-added tax to twelve percent (12%), after any of the following conditions has been satisfied: (i) Value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (2 4/5%); or (ii) National government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %).

The case before the Court is not a delegation of legislative power. It is simply a delegation of ascertainment of facts upon which enforcement and administration of the increase rate under the law is contingent. The legislature has made the operation of the 12% rate effective January 1, 2006, contingent upon a specified fact or condition. It leaves the entire operation or non-operation of the 12% rate upon factual matters outside of the control of the executive. No discretion would be exercised by the President. Highlighting the absence of discretion is the fact that the word shall is used in the common proviso. The use of the word shall connotes a mandatory order. Its use in a statute denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion. [53] Where the law is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says, and courts have no choice but to see to it that the mandate is obeyed.[54] Thus, it is the ministerial duty of the President to immediately impose the 12% rate upon the existence of any of the conditions specified by Congress. This is a duty which cannot be evaded by the President. Inasmuch as the law specifically uses the word shall, the exercise of discretion by the President does not come into play. It is a clear directive to impose the 12% VAT rate when the specified conditions are present. The time of taking into effect of the 12% VAT rate is based on the happening of a certain specified contingency, or upon the ascertainment of certain facts or conditions by a person or body other than the legislature itself. The Court finds no merit to the contention of petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al. that the law effectively nullified the Presidents power of control over the Secretary of Finance by mandating the fixing of the tax rate by the President upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance. The Court cannot also subscribe to the position of petitioners Pimentel, et al. that the word shall should be interpreted to mean may in view of the phrase upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance. Neither does the Court find persuasive the submission of petitioners Escudero, et al. that any

recommendation by the Secretary of Finance can easily be brushed aside by the President since the former is a mere alter ego of the latter. When one speaks of the Secretary of Finance as the alter ego of the President, it simply means that as head of the Department of Finance he is the assistant and agent of the Chief Executive. The multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the secretaries of such departments,

such as the Department of Finance, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive, presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. The Secretary of Finance, as such, occupies a political position and holds office in an advisory capacity, and, in the language of Thomas Jefferson, "should be of the President's bosom confidence" and, in the language of Attorney-General Cushing, is subject to the direction of the President."[55]

In the present case, in making his recommendation to the President on the existence of either of the two conditions, the Secretary of Finance is not acting as the alter ego of the President or even her subordinate. In such instance, he is not subject to the power of control and direction of the President. He is acting as the agent of the legislative department, to determine and declare the event upon which its expressed will is to take effect.[56] The Secretary of Finance becomes the means or tool by which legislative policy is determined and implemented, considering that he possesses all the facilities to gather data and information and has a much broader perspective to properly evaluate them. His function is to gather and collate statistical data and other pertinent information and verify if any of the two conditions laid out by Congress is present. His personality in such instance is in reality but a projection of that of Congress. Thus, being the agent of Congress and not of the President, the President cannot alter or modify or nullify, or set aside the findings of the Secretary of Finance and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter. Congress simply granted the Secretary of Finance the authority to ascertain the existence of a fact, namely, whether by December 31, 2005, the value-added tax collection as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the previous year exceeds two and four-fifth percent (24/5%) or the national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1%). If either of these two instances has occurred, the Secretary of Finance, by legislative mandate, must submit such information to the President. Then the 12% VAT rate must be imposed by the President effective January 1, 2006. There is no undue delegation of legislative power but only of the discretion as to the execution of a law. This is constitutionally permissible.[57] Congress does not abdicate its functions or unduly delegate power when it describes what job must be done, who must do it, and what is the scope of his authority; in our complex economy that is frequently the only way in which the legislative process can go forward.[58] As to the argument of petitioners ABAKADA GURO Party List, et al. that delegating to the President the legislative power to tax is contrary to the principle of republicanism, the same deserves scant consideration. Congress did not delegate the power to tax but the mere implementation of the law. The intent and will to increase the VAT rate to 12% came from Congress and the task of the President is to simply execute the legislative policy. That Congress chose to do so in such a manner is not within the province of the Court to inquire into, its task being to interpret the law.[59] The insinuation by petitioners Pimentel, et al. that the President has ample powers to cause, influence or create the conditions to bring about either or both the conditions precedent does not deserve any merit as this argument is highly speculative. The Court

does not rule on allegations which are manifestly conjectural, as these may not exist at all. The Court deals with facts, not fancies; on realities, not appearances. When the Court acts on appearances instead of realities, justice and law will be short-lived. B. The 12% Increase VAT Rate Does Not Impose an Unfair and Unnecessary Additional Tax Burden

Petitioners Pimentel, et al. argue that the 12% increase in the VAT rate imposes an unfair and additional tax burden on the people. Petitioners also argue that the 12% increase, dependent on any of the 2 conditions set forth in the contested provisions, is ambiguous because it does not state if the VAT rate would be returned to the original 10% if the rates are no longer satisfied. Petitioners also argue that such rate is unfair and unreasonable, as the people are unsure of the applicable VAT rate from year to year. Under the common provisos of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, if any of the two conditions set forth therein are satisfied, the President shall increase the VAT rate to 12%. The provisions of the law are clear. It does not provide for a return to the 10% rate nor does it empower the President to so revert if, after the rate is increased to 12%, the VAT collection goes below the 24/5 of the GDP of the previous year or that the national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year does not exceed 1%. Therefore, no statutory construction or interpretation is needed. Neither can conditions or limitations be introduced where none is provided for. Rewriting the law is a forbidden ground that only Congress may tread upon.[60] Thus, in the absence of any provision providing for a return to the 10% rate, which in this case the Court finds none, petitioners argument is, at best, purely speculative. There is no basis for petitioners fear of a fluctuating VAT rate because the law itself does not provide that the rate should go back to 10% if the conditions provided in Sections 4, 5 and 6 are no longer present. The rule is that where the provision of the law is clear and unambiguous, so that there is no occasion for the court's seeking the legislative intent, the law must be taken as it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction.[61] Petitioners also contend that the increase in the VAT rate, which was allegedly an incentive to the President to raise the VAT collection to at least 2 4/5 of the GDP of the previous year, should be based on fiscal adequacy. Petitioners obviously overlooked that increase in VAT collection is not the only condition. There is another condition, i.e., the national government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds one and one-half percent (1 %). Respondents explained the philosophy behind these alternative conditions:

1.

VAT/GDP Ratio > 2.8%

The condition set for increasing VAT rate to 12% have economic or fiscal meaning. If VAT/GDP is less than 2.8%, it means that government has weak or no capability of implementing the VAT or that VAT is not effective in the function of the tax collection. Therefore, there is no value to increase it to 12% because such action will also be ineffectual. 2. Natl Govt Deficit/GDP >1.5%

The condition set for increasing VAT when deficit/GDP is 1.5% or less means the fiscal condition of government has reached a relatively sound position or is towards the direction of a balanced budget position. Therefore, there is no need to increase the VAT rate since the fiscal house is in a relatively healthy position. Otherwise stated, if the ratio is more than 1.5%, there is indeed a need to increase the VAT rate.[62]

That the first condition amounts to an incentive to the President to increase the VAT collection does not render it unconstitutional so long as there is a public purpose for which the law was passed, which in this case, is mainly to raise revenue. In fact, fiscal adequacy dictated the need for a raise in revenue. The principle of fiscal adequacy as a characteristic of a sound tax system was originally stated by Adam Smith in his Canons of Taxation (1776), as: IV. Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state.[63]

It simply means that sources of revenues must be adequate to meet government expenditures and their variations.[64] The dire need for revenue cannot be ignored. Our country is in a quagmire of financial woe. During the Bicameral Conference Committee hearing, then Finance Secretary Purisima bluntly depicted the countrys gloomy state of economic affairs, thus: First, let me explain the position that the Philippines finds itself in right now. We are in a position where 90 percent of our revenue is used for debt service. So, for every peso of revenue that we currently raise, 90 goes to debt service. Thats interest plus amortization of our debt. So clearly, this is not a sustainable situation. Thats the first fact. The second fact is that our debt to GDP level is way out of line compared to other peer countries that borrow money from that international financial markets. Our debt to GDP is approximately equal to our GDP. Again, that shows you that this is not a sustainable situation. The third thing that Id like to point out is the environment that we are presently operating in is not as benign as what it used to be the past five years. What do I mean by that? In the past five years, weve been lucky because we were operating in a period of basically global growth and low interest rates. The past few months, we have seen an inching up, in fact, a rapid increase in the interest rates in the leading economies of the world. And, therefore, our ability to borrow at reasonable prices is going to be challenged. In fact, ultimately, the question is our ability to access the financial markets. When the President made her speech in July last year, the environment was not as bad as it is now, at least based on the forecast of most financial institutions. So, we were assuming that raising 80 billion would

put us in a position where we can then convince them to improve our ability to borrow at lower rates. But conditions have changed on us because the interest rates have gone up. In fact, just within this room, we tried to access the market for a billion dollars because for this year alone, the Philippines will have to borrow 4 billion dollars. Of that amount, we have borrowed 1.5 billion. We issued last January a 25-year bond at 9.7 percent cost. We were trying to access last week and the market was not as favorable and up to now we have not accessed and we might pull back because the conditions are not very good. So given this situation, we at the Department of Finance believe that we really need to front-end our deficit reduction. Because it is deficit that is causing the increase of the debt and we are in what we call a debt spiral. The more debt you have, the more deficit you have because interest and debt service eats and eats more of your revenue. We need to get out of this debt spiral. And the only way, I think, we can get out of this debt spiral is really have a front-end adjustment in our revenue base.[65]

The image portrayed is chilling. Congress passed the law hoping for rescue from an inevitable catastrophe. Whether the law is indeed sufficient to answer the states economic dilemma is not for the Court to judge. In the Farias case, the Court refused to consider the various arguments raised therein that dwelt on the wisdom of Section 14 of R.A. No. 9006 (The Fair Election Act), pronouncing that: . . . policy matters are not the concern of the Court. Government policy is within the exclusive dominion of the political branches of the government. It is not for this Court to look into the wisdom or propriety of legislative determination. Indeed, whether an enactment is wise or unwise, whether it is based on sound economic theory, whether it is the best means to achieve the desired results, whether, in short, the legislative discretion within its prescribed limits should be exercised in a particular manner are matters for the judgment of the legislature, and the serious conflict of opinions does not suffice to bring them within the range of judicial cognizance.[66]

In the same vein, the Court in this case will not dawdle on the purpose of Congress or the executive policy, given that it is not for the judiciary to "pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.[67]

II. Whether Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 110(A)(2) and 110(B) of the NIRC; and Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 114(C) of the NIRC, violate the following provisions of the Constitution: a. Article VI, Section 28(1), and b. Article III, Section 1 A. Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses

Petitioners Association of Pilipinas Shell Dealers, Inc., et al. argue that Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 110 (A)(2), 110 (B), and Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 114 (C) of the NIRC are arbitrary, oppressive, excessive and confiscatory. Their argument is premised on the constitutional right against deprivation of life, liberty of property without due process of law, as embodied in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution. Petitioners also contend that these provisions violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law.

The doctrine is that where the due process and equal protection clauses are invoked, considering that they are not fixed rules but rather broad standards, there is a need for proof of such persuasive character as would lead to such a conclusion. Absent such a showing, the presumption of validity must prevail.[68] Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 110(B) of the NIRC imposes a limitation on the amount of input tax that may be credited against the output tax. It states, in part: [P]rovided, that the input tax inclusive of the input VAT carried over from the previous quarter that may be credited in every quarter shall not exceed seventy percent (70%) of the output VAT: Input Tax is defined under Section 110(A) of the NIRC, as amended, as the value-added tax due from or paid by a VATregistered person on the importation of goods or local purchase of good and services, including lease or use of property, in the course of trade or business, from a VAT-registered person, and Output Tax is the value-added tax due on the sale or lease of taxable goods or properties or services by any person registered or required to register under the law.

Petitioners claim that the contested sections impose limitations on the amount of input tax that may be claimed. In effect, a portion of the input tax that has already been paid cannot now be credited against the output tax. Petitioners argument is not absolute. It assumes that the input tax exceeds 70% of the output tax, and therefore, the input tax in excess of 70% remains uncredited. However, to the extent that the input tax is less than 70% of the output tax, then 100% of such input tax is still creditable. More importantly, the excess input tax, if any, is retained in a businesss books of accounts and remains creditable in the succeeding quarter/s. This is explicitly allowed by Section 110(B), which provides that if the input tax exceeds the output tax, the excess shall be carried over to the succeeding quarter or quarters. In addition, Section 112(B) allows a VAT-registered person to apply for the issuance of a tax credit certificate or refund for any unused input taxes, to the extent that such input taxes have not been applied against the output taxes. Such unused input tax may be used in payment of his other internal revenue taxes. The non-application of the unutilized input tax in a given quarter is not ad infinitum, as petitioners exaggeratedly contend. Their analysis of the effect of the 70% limitation is incomplete and one-sided. It ends at the net effect that there will be unapplied/unutilized inputs VAT for a given quarter. It does not proceed further to the fact that such unapplied/unutilized input tax may be credited in the subsequent periods as allowed by the carry-over provision of Section 110(B) or that it may later on be refunded through a tax credit certificate under Section 112(B). Therefore, petitioners argument must be rejected.

On the other hand, it appears that petitioner Garcia failed to comprehend the operation of the 70% limitation on the input tax. According to petitioner, the limitation on the creditable input tax in effect allows VAT-registered establishments to retain a portion of the taxes they collect, which violates the principle that tax collection and revenue should be for public purposes and expenditures As earlier stated, the input tax is the tax paid by a person, passed on to him by the seller, when he buys goods. Output tax meanwhile is the tax due to the person when he sells goods. In computing the VAT payable, three possible scenarios may arise: First, if at the end of a taxable quarter the output taxes charged by the seller are equal to the input taxes that he paid and passed on by the suppliers, then no payment is required; Second, when the output taxes exceed the input taxes, the person shall be liable for the excess, which has to be paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR);[69]and Third, if the input taxes exceed the output taxes, the excess shall be carried over to the succeeding quarter or quarters. Should the input taxes result from zero-rated or effectively zero-rated transactions, any excess over the output taxes shall instead be refunded to the taxpayer or credited against other internal revenue taxes, at the taxpayers option.[70] Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337 however, imposed a 70% limitation on the input tax. Thus, a person can credit his input tax only up to the extent of 70% of the output tax. In laymans term, the value-added taxes that a person/taxpayer paid and passed on to him by a seller can only be credited up to 70% of the value-added taxes that is due to him on a taxable transaction. There is no retention of any tax collection because the person/taxpayer has already previously paid the input tax to a seller, and the seller will subsequently remit such input tax to the BIR. The party directly liable for the payment of the tax is the seller. [71] What only needs to be done is for the person/taxpayer to apply or credit these input taxes, as evidenced by receipts, against his output taxes. Petitioners Association of Pilipinas Shell Dealers, Inc., et al. also argue that the input tax partakes the nature of a property that may not be confiscated, appropriated, or limited without due process of law. The input tax is not a property or a property right within the constitutional purview of the due process clause. A VATregistered persons entitlement to the creditable input tax is a mere statutory privilege. The distinction between statutory privileges and vested rights must be borne in mind for persons have no vested rights in statutory privileges. The state may change or take away rights, which were created by the law of the state, although it may not take away property, which was vested by virtue of such rights.[72] Under the previous system of single-stage taxation, taxes paid at every level of distribution are not recoverable from the taxes payable, although it becomes part of the cost, which is deductible from the gross revenue. When Pres. Aquino issued E.O.

No. 273 imposing a 10% multi-stage tax on all sales, it was then that the crediting of the input tax paid on purchase or importation of goods and services by VAT-registered persons against the output tax was introduced.[73] This was adopted by the Expanded VAT Law (R.A. No. 7716),[74] and The Tax Reform Act of 1997 (R.A. No. 8424). [75] The right to credit input tax as against the output tax is clearly a privilege created by law, a privilege that also the law can remove, or in this case, limit. Petitioners also contest as arbitrary, oppressive, excessive and confiscatory, Section 8 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 110(A) of the NIRC, which provides: SEC. 110. Tax Credits. (A) Creditable Input Tax. Provided, That the input tax on goods purchased or imported in a calendar month for use in trade or business for which deduction for depreciation is allowed under this Code, shall be spread evenly over the month of acquisition and the fifty-nine (59) succeeding months if the aggregate acquisition cost for such goods, excluding the VAT component thereof, exceeds One million pesos (P1,000,000.00): Provided, however, That if the estimated useful life of the capital goods is less than five (5) years, as used for depreciation purposes, then the input VAT shall be spread over such a shorter period: Provided, finally, That in the case of purchase of services, lease or use of properties, the input tax shall be creditable to the purchaser, lessee or license upon payment of the compensation, rental, royalty or fee.

The foregoing section imposes a 60-month period within which to amortize the creditable input tax on purchase or importation of capital goods with acquisition cost of P1 Million pesos, exclusive of the VAT component. Such spread out only poses a delay in the crediting of the input tax. Petitioners argument is without basis because the taxpayer is not permanently deprived of his privilege to credit the input tax. It is worth mentioning that Congress admitted that the spread-out of the creditable input tax in this case amounts to a 4year interest-free loan to the government.[76] In the same breath, Congress also justified its move by saying that the provision was designed to raise an annual revenue of 22.6 billion. [77] The legislature also dispelled the fear that the provision will fend off foreign investments, saying that foreign investors have other tax incentives provided by law, and citing the case of China, where despite a 17.5% non-creditable VAT, foreign investments were not deterred. [78] Again, for whatever is the purpose of the 60-month amortization, this involves executive economic policy and legislative wisdom in which the Court cannot intervene. With regard to the 5% creditable withholding tax imposed on payments made by the government for taxable transactions, Section 12 of R.A. No. 9337, which amended Section 114 of the NIRC, reads: SEC. 114. Return and Payment of Value-added Tax. (C) Withholding of Value-added Tax. The Government or any of its political subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) shall, before making payment on account of each purchase of goods and services which are subject to the value-added tax imposed in Sections 106 and 108 of this Code, deduct and withhold a final value-added tax at the rate of five percent (5%) of the gross payment thereof: Provided, That the payment for lease or use of properties or property rights to nonresident owners shall be subject to ten percent (10%) withholding tax at the time of

payment. For purposes of this Section, the payor or person in control of the payment shall be considered as the withholding agent. The value-added tax withheld under this Section shall be remitted within ten (10) days following the end of the month the withholding was made.

Section 114(C) merely provides a method of collection, or as stated by respondents, a more simplified VAT withholding system. The government in this case is constituted as a withholding agent with respect to their payments for goods and services. Prior to its amendment, Section 114(C) provided for different rates of value-added taxes to be withheld -- 3% on gross payments for purchases of goods; 6% on gross payments for services supplied by contractors other than by public works contractors; 8.5% on gross payments for services supplied by public work contractors; or 10% on payment for the lease or use of properties or property rights to nonresident owners. Under the present Section 114(C), these different rates, except for the 10% on lease or property rights payment to nonresidents, were deleted, and a uniform rate of 5% is applied. The Court observes, however, that the law the used the word final. In tax usage, final, as opposed to creditable, means full. Thus, it is provided in Section 114(C): final value-added tax at the rate of five percent (5%). In Revenue Regulations No. 02-98, implementing R.A. No. 8424 (The Tax Reform Act of 1997), the concept of final withholding tax on income was explained, to wit: SECTION 2.57. Withholding of Tax at Source (A) Final Withholding Tax. Under the final withholding tax system the amount of income tax withheld by the withholding agent is constituted as full and final payment of the income tax due from the payee on the said income. The liability for payment of the tax rests primarily on the payor as a withholding agent. Thus, in case of his failure to withhold the tax or in case of underwithholding, the deficiency tax shall be collected from the payor/withholding agent. (B) Creditable Withholding Tax. Under the creditable withholding tax system, taxes withheld on certain income payments are intended to equal or at least approximate the tax due of the payee on said income. Taxes withheld on income payments covered by the expanded withholding tax (referred to in Sec. 2.57.2 of these regulations) and compensation income (referred to in Sec. 2.78 also of these regulations) are creditable in nature.

As applied to value-added tax, this means that taxable transactions with the government are subject to a 5% rate, which constitutes as full payment of the tax payable on the transaction. This represents the net VAT payable of the seller. The other 5% effectively accounts for the standard input VAT (deemed input VAT), in lieu of the actual input VAT directly or attributable to the taxable transaction.[79] The Court need not explore the rationale behind the provision. It is clear that Congress intended to treat differently taxable transactions with the government.[80] This is supported by the fact that under the old provision, the 5% tax withheld by the government remains creditable against the tax liability of the seller or contractor, to wit:

SEC. 114. Return and Payment of Value-added Tax. (C) Withholding of Creditable Value-added Tax. The Government or any of its political subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) shall, before making payment on account of each purchase of goods from sellers and services rendered by contractors which are subject to the value-added tax imposed in Sections 106 and 108 of this Code, deduct and withhold the value-added tax due at the rate of three percent (3%) of the gross payment for the purchase of goods and six percent (6%) on gross receipts for services rendered by contractors on every sale or installment payment which shall be creditable against the value-added tax liability of the seller or contractor: Provided, however, That in the case of government public works contractors, the withholding rate shall be eight and one-half percent (8.5%): Provided, further, That the payment for lease or use of properties or property rights to nonresident owners shall be subject to ten percent (10%) withholding tax at the time of payment. For this purpose, the payor or person in control of the payment shall be considered as the withholding agent. The valued-added tax withheld under this Section shall be remitted within ten (10) days following the end of the month the withholding was made. (Emphasis supplied)

As amended, the use of the word final and the deletion of the word creditable exhibits Congresss intention to treat transactions with the government differently. Since it has not been shown that the class subject to the 5% final withholding tax has been unreasonably narrowed, there is no reason to invalidate the provision. Petitioners, as petroleum dealers, are not the only ones subjected to the 5% final withholding tax. It applies to all those who deal with the government. Moreover, the actual input tax is not totally lost or uncreditable, as petitioners believe. Revenue Regulations No. 14-2005 or the Consolidated Value-Added Tax Regulations 2005 issued by the BIR, provides that should the actual input tax exceed 5% of gross payments, the excess may form part of the cost. Equally, should the actual input tax be less than 5%, the difference is treated as income.[81] Petitioners also argue that by imposing a limitation on the creditable input tax, the government gets to tax a profit or value-added even if there is no profit or value-added. Petitioners stance is purely hypothetical, argumentative, and again, one-sided. The Court will not engage in a legal joust where premises are what ifs, arguments, theoretical and facts, uncertain. Any disquisition by the Court on this point will only be, as Shakespeare describes life in Macbeth,[82] full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Whats more, petitioners contention assumes the proposition that there is no profit or value-added. It need not take an astute businessman to know that it is a matter of exception that a business will sell goods or services without profit or value-added. It cannot be overstressed that a business is created precisely for profit. The equal protection clause under the Constitution means that no person or class of persons shall be deprived of the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances.[83] The power of the State to make reasonable and natural classifications for the purposes of taxation has long been established. Whether it relates to the subject of taxation, the kind of property, the rates to be levied, or the amounts to be raised, the

methods of assessment, valuation and collection, the States power is entitled to presumption of validity. As a rule, the judiciary will not interfere with such power absent a clear showing of unreasonableness, discrimination, or arbitrariness.[84] Petitioners point out that the limitation on the creditable input tax if the entity has a high ratio of input tax, or invests in capital equipment, or has several transactions with the government, is not based on real and substantial differences to meet a valid classification. The argument is pedantic, if not outright baseless. The law does not make any classification in the subject of taxation, the kind of property, the rates to be levied or the amounts to be raised, the methods of assessment, valuation and collection. Petitioners alleged distinctions are based on variables that bear different consequences. While the implementation of the law may yield varying end results depending on ones profit margin and value-added, the Court cannot go beyond what the legislature has laid down and interfere with the affairs of business. The equal protection clause does not require the universal application of the laws on all persons or things without distinction. This might in fact sometimes result in unequal protection. What the clause requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. By classification is meant the grouping of persons or things similar to each other in certain particulars and different from all others in these same particulars.[85]

Petitioners brought to the Courts attention the introduction of Senate Bill No. 2038 by Sens. S.R. Osmea III and Ma. Ana Consuelo A.S. Madrigal on June 6, 2005, and House Bill No. 4493 by Rep. Eric D. Singson. The proposed legislation seeks to amend the 70% limitation by increasing the same to 90%. This, according to petitioners, supports their stance that the 70% limitation is arbitrary and confiscatory. On this score, suffice it to say that these are still proposed legislations. Until Congress amends the law, and absent any unequivocal basis for its unconstitutionality, the 70% limitation stays. B. Uniformity and Equitability of Taxation

Article VI, Section 28(1) of the Constitution reads: The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation.

Uniformity in taxation means that all taxable articles or kinds of property of the same class shall be taxed at the same rate. Different articles may be taxed at different amounts provided that the rate is uniform on the same class everywhere with all people at all times.[86]

In this case, the tax law is uniform as it provides a standard rate of 0% or 10% (or 12%) on all goods and services. Sections 4, 5 and 6 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Sections 106, 107 and 108, respectively, of the NIRC, provide for a rate of 10% (or 12%) on sale of goods and properties, importation of goods, and sale of services and use or lease of properties. These same sections also provide for a 0% rate on certain sales and transaction. Neither does the law make any distinction as to the type of industry or trade that will bear the 70% limitation on the creditable input tax, 5-year amortization of input tax paid on purchase of capital goods or the 5% final withholding tax by the government. It must be stressed that the rule of uniform taxation does not deprive Congress of the power to classify subjects of taxation, and only demands uniformity within the particular class.[87] R.A. No. 9337 is also equitable. The law is equipped with a threshold margin. The VAT rate of 0% or 10% (or 12%) does not apply to sales of goods or services with gross annual sales or receipts not exceeding P1,500,000.00.[88] Also, basic marine and agricultural food products in their original state are still not subject to the tax,[89] thus ensuring that prices at the grassroots level will remain accessible. As was stated in Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. vs. Tan:[90] The disputed sales tax is also equitable. It is imposed only on sales of goods or services by persons engaged in business with an aggregate gross annual sales exceeding P200,000.00. Small corner sari-sari stores are consequently exempt from its application. Likewise exempt from the tax are sales of farm and marine products, so that the costs of basic food and other necessities, spared as they are from the incidence of the VAT, are expected to be relatively lower and within the reach of the general public.

It is admitted that R.A. No. 9337 puts a premium on businesses with low profit margins, and unduly favors those with high profit margins. Congress was not oblivious to this. Thus, to equalize the weighty burden the law entails, the law, under Section 116, imposed a 3% percentage tax on VAT-exempt persons under Section 109(v), i.e., transactions with gross annual sales and/or receipts not exceeding P1.5 Million. This acts as a equalizer because in effect, bigger businesses that qualify for VAT coverage and VAT-exempt taxpayers stand on equal-footing. Moreover, Congress provided mitigating measures to cushion the impact of the imposition of the tax on those previously exempt. Excise taxes on petroleum products[91] and natural gas[92] were reduced. Percentage tax on domestic carriers was removed.
[93]

Power producers are now exempt from paying franchise tax.[94] Aside from these, Congress also increased the income tax rates of corporations, in order to distribute the burden of

taxation. Domestic, foreign, and non-resident corporations are now subject to a 35% income tax rate, from a previous 32%. [95] Intercorporate dividends of non-resident foreign corporations are still subject to 15% final withholding tax but the tax credit allowed on the corporations domicile was increased to 20%.[96] The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is not exempt from income taxes anymore.[97] Even the sale by an artist of his works or services performed for the production of such works was not spared.

All these were designed to ease, as well as spread out, the burden of taxation, which would otherwise rest largely on the consumers. It cannot therefore be gainsaid that R.A. No. 9337 is equitable. C. Progressivity of Taxation

Lastly, petitioners contend that the limitation on the creditable input tax is anything but regressive. It is the smaller business with higher input tax-output tax ratio that will suffer the consequences. Progressive taxation is built on the principle of the taxpayers ability to pay. This principle was also lifted from Adam Smiths Canons of Taxation, and it states: I. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.

Taxation is progressive when its rate goes up depending on the resources of the person affected.[98] The VAT is an antithesis of progressive taxation. By its very nature, it is regressive. The principle of progressive taxation has no relation with the VAT system inasmuch as the VAT paid by the consumer or business for every goods bought or services enjoyed is the same regardless of income. In other words, the VAT paid eats the same portion of an income, whether big or small. The disparity lies in the income earned by a person or profit margin marked by a business, such that the higher the income or profit margin, the smaller the portion of the income or profit that is eaten by VAT. A converso, the lower the income or profit margin, the bigger the part that the VAT eats away. At the end of the day, it is really the lower income group or businesses with low-profit margins that is always hardest hit. Nevertheless, the Constitution does not really prohibit the imposition of indirect taxes, like the VAT. What it simply provides is that Congress shall "evolve a progressive system of taxation." The Court stated in the Tolentino case, thus: The Constitution does not really prohibit the imposition of indirect taxes which, like the VAT, are regressive. What it simply provides is that Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation. The constitutional provision has been interpreted to mean simply that direct taxes are . . . to be preferred [and] as much as possible, indirect taxes should be minimized. (E. FERNANDO, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES 221 (Second ed. 1977)) Indeed, the mandate to Congress is not to prescribe, but to evolve, a progressive tax system. Otherwise, sales taxes, which perhaps are the oldest form of indirect taxes, would have been prohibited with the proclamation of Art. VIII, 17 (1) of the 1973 Constitution from which the present Art. VI, 28 (1) was taken. Sales taxes are also regressive. Resort to indirect taxes should be minimized but not avoided entirely because it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid them by imposing such taxes according to the taxpayers' ability to pay. In the case of the VAT, the law minimizes the regressive effects of this imposition by providing for zero rating of certain transactions (R.A. No. 7716, 3, amending 102 (b) of the NIRC), while granting exemptions to other transactions. (R.A. No. 7716, 4 amending 103 of the NIRC)[99]

CONCLUSION

It has been said that taxes are the lifeblood of the government. In this case, it is just an enema, a first-aid measure to resuscitate an economy in distress. The Court is neither blind nor is it turning a deaf ear on the plight of the masses. But it does not have the panacea for the malady that the law seeks to remedy. As in other cases, the Court cannot strike down a law as unconstitutional simply because of its yokes. Let us not be overly influenced by the plea that for every wrong there is a remedy, and that the judiciary should stand ready to afford relief. There are undoubtedly many wrongs the judicature may not correct, for instance, those involving political questions. . . . Let us likewise disabuse our minds from the notion that the judiciary is the repository of remedies for all political or social ills; We should not forget that the Constitution has judiciously allocated the powers of government to three distinct and separate compartments; and that judicial interpretation has tended to the preservation of the independence of the three, and a zealous regard of the prerogatives of each, knowing full well that one is not the guardian of the others and that, for official wrong-doing, each may be brought to account, either by impeachment, trial or by the ballot box.[100]

The words of the Court in Vera vs. Avelino[101] holds true then, as it still holds true now. All things considered, there is no raison d'tre for the unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 9337. WHEREFORE, Republic Act No. 9337 not being unconstitutional, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 168056, 168207, 168461, 168463, and 168730, are herebyDISMISSED. There being no constitutional impediment to the full enforcement and implementation of R.A. No. 9337, the temporary restraining order issued by the Court on July 1, 2005 is LIFTED upon finality of herein decision. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 108524 November 10, 1994 MISAMIS ORIENTAL ASSOCIATION OF COCO TRADERS, INC., petitioner, vs. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE SECRETARY, COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE (BIR), AND REVENUE DISTRICT OFFICER, BIR MISAMIS ORIENTAL, respondents. Damasing Law Office for petitioner.

MENDOZA, J.: This is a petition for prohibition and injunction seeking to nullify Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 47-91 and enjoin the collection by respondent revenue officials of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on the sale of copra by members of petitioner organization. 1 Petitioner Misamis Oriental Association of Coco Traders, Inc. is a domestic corporation whose members, individually or collectively, are engaged in the buying and selling of copra in Misamis Oriental. The petitioner alleges that prior to the issuance of Revenue Memorandum Circular 47-91 on June 11, 1991, which implemented VAT Ruling 190-90,

copra was classified as agricultural food product under $ 103(b) of the National Internal Revenue Code and, therefore, exempt from VAT at all stages of production or distribution. Respondents represent departments of the executive branch of government charged with the generation of funds and the assessment, levy and collection of taxes and other imposts. The pertinent provision of the NIRC states: Sec. 103. Exempt Transactions. The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax: (a) Sale of nonfood agricultural, marine and forest products in their original state by the primary producer or the owner of the land where the same are produced; (b) Sale or importation in their original state of agricultural and marine food products, livestock and poultry of a kind generally used as, or yielding or producing foods for human consumption, and breeding stock and genetic material therefor; Under 103(a), as above quoted, the sale of agricultural non-food products in their original state is exempt from VAT only if the sale is made by the primary producer or owner of the land from which the same are produced. The sale made by any other person or entity, like a trader or dealer, is not exempt from the tax. On the other hand, under 103(b) the sale of agricultural food products in their original state is exempt from VAT at all stages of production or distribution regardless of who the seller is. The question is whether copra is an agricultural food or non-food product for purposes of this provision of the NIRC. On June 11, 1991, respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued the circular in question, classifying copra as an agricultural non-food product and declaring it "exempt from VAT only if the sale is made by the primary producer pursuant to Section 103(a) of the Tax Code, as amended." 2 The reclassification had the effect of denying to the petitioner the exemption it previously enjoyed when copra was classified as an agricultural food product under 103(b) of the NIRC. Petitioner challenges RMC No. 47-91 on various grounds, which will be presently discussed although not in the order raised in the petition for prohibition. First. Petitioner contends that the Bureau of Food and Drug of the Department of Health and not the BIR is the competent government agency to determine the proper classification of food products. Petitioner cites the opinion of Dr. Quintin Kintanar of the Bureau of Food and Drug to the effect that copra should be considered "food" because it is produced from coconut which is food and 80% of coconut products are edible. On the other hand, the respondents argue that the opinion of the BIR, as the government agency charged with the implementation and interpretation of the tax laws, is entitled to great respect. We agree with respondents. In interpreting 103(a) and (b) of the NIRC, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue gave it a strict construction consistent with the rule that tax exemptions must be strictly construed against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the state. Indeed, even Dr. Kintanar said that his classification of copra as food was based on "the broader definition of food which includes agricultural commodities and other components used in the manufacture/processing of food." The full text of his letter reads: 10 April 1991 Mr. VICTOR A. DEOFERIO, JR. Chairman VAT Review Committee Bureau of Internal Revenue Diliman, Quezon City Dear Mr. Deoferio: This is to clarify a previous communication made by this Office about copra in a letter dated 05 December 1990 stating that copra is not classified as food. The statement was made in the context

of BFAD's regulatory responsibilities which focus mainly on foods that are processed and packaged, and thereby copra is not covered. However, in the broader definition of food which include agricultural commodities and other components used in the manufacture/ processing of food, it is our opinion that copra should be classified as an agricultural food product since copra is produced from coconut meat which is food and based on available information, more than 80% of products derived from copra are edible products. Very truly yours, QUINTI N L. KINTAN AR, M.D., Ph.D. Director Assistan t Secretar y of Health for Standar ds and Regulati ons Moreover, as the government agency charged with the enforcement of the law, the opinion of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, in the absence of any showing that it is plainly wrong, is entitled to great weight. Indeed, the ruling was made by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in the exercise of his power under 245 of the NIRC to "make rulings or opinions in connection with the implementation of the provisions of internal revenue laws,including rulings on the classification of articles for sales tax and similar purposes." Second. Petitioner complains that it was denied due process because it was not heard before the ruling was made. There is a distinction in administrative law between legislative rules and interpretative rules. 3 There would be force in petitioner's argument if the circular in question were in the nature of a legislative rule. But it is not. It is a mere interpretative rule. The reason for this distinction is that a legislative rule is in the nature of subordinate legislation, designed to implement a primary legislation by providing the details thereof. In the same way that laws must have the benefit of public hearing, it is generally required that before a legislative rule is adopted there must be hearing. In this connection, the Administrative Code of 1987 provides: Public Participation. If not otherwise required by law, an agency shall, as far as practicable, publish or circulate notices of proposed rules and afford interested parties the opportunity to submit their views prior to the adoption of any rule. (2) In the fixing of rates, no rule or final order shall be valid unless the proposed rates shall have been published in a newspaper of general circulation at least two (2) weeks before the first hearing thereon. (3) In case of opposition, the rules on contested cases shall be observed. 4 In addition such rule must be published. 5 On the other hand, interpretative rules are designed to provide guidelines to the law which the administrative agency is in charge of enforcing.

Accordingly, in considering a legislative rule a court is free to make three inquiries: (i) whether the rule is within the delegated authority of the administrative agency; (ii) whether it is reasonable; and (iii) whether it was issued pursuant to proper procedure. But the court is not free to substitute its judgment as to the desirability or wisdom of the rule for the legislative body, by its delegation of administrative judgment, has committed those questions to administrative judgments and not to judicial judgments. In the case of an interpretative rule, the inquiry is not into the validity but into the correctness or propriety of the rule. As a matter of power a court, when confronted with an interpretative rule, is free to (i) give the force of law to the rule; (ii) go to the opposite extreme and substitute its judgment; or (iii) give some intermediate degree of authoritative weight to the interpretative rule. 6 In the case at bar, we find no reason for holding that respondent Commissioner erred in not considering copra as an "agricultural food product" within the meaning of 103(b) of the NIRC. As the Solicitor General contends, "copra per se is not food, that is, it is not intended for human consumption. Simply stated, nobody eats copra for food." That previous Commissioners considered it so, is not reason for holding that the present interpretation is wrong. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is not bound by the ruling of his predecessors. 7 To the contrary, the overruling of decisions is inherent in the interpretation of laws. Third. Petitioner likewise claims that RMC No. 47-91 is discriminatory and violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution because while coconut farmers and copra producers are exempt, traders and dealers are not, although both sell copra in its original state. Petitioners add that oil millers do not enjoy tax credit out of the VAT payment of traders and dealers. The argument has no merit. There is a material or substantial difference between coconut farmers and copra producers, on the one hand, and copra traders and dealers, on the other. The former produce and sell copra, the latter merely sell copra. The Constitution does not forbid the differential treatment of persons so long as there is a reasonable basis for classifying them differently. 8 It is not true that oil millers are exempt from VAT. Pursuant to 102 of the NIRC, they are subject to 10% VAT on the sale of services. Under 104 of the Tax Code, they are allowed to credit the input tax on the sale of copra by traders and dealers, but there is no tax credit if the sale is made directly by the copra producer as the sale is VAT exempt. In the same manner, copra traders and dealers are allowed to credit the input tax on the sale of copra by other traders and dealers, but there is no tax credit if the sale is made by the producer. Fourth. It is finally argued that RMC No. 47-91 is counterproductive because traders and dealers would be forced to buy copra from coconut farmers who are exempt from the VAT and that to the extent that prices are reduced the government would lose revenues as the 10% tax base is correspondingly diminished. This is not so. The sale of agricultural non-food products is exempt from VAT only when made by the primary producer or owner of the land from which the same is produced, but in the case of agricultural food products their sale in their original state is exempt at all stages of production or distribution. At any rate, the argument that the classification of copra as agricultural non-food product is counterproductive is a question of wisdom or policy which should be addressed to respondent officials and to Congress. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Regalado and Puno, JJ., concur.