11. Where a statute is ambiguous, courts may examine both the printed pages of the published Act as well as those extrinsic matters that may aid in construing the meaning of the statute, such as the history of its enactment, the reasons for the passage of the bill and the purposes to be accomplished by the measure.
G.R. No. L-28329 August 17, 1975
COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, petitioner,
ESSO STANDARD EASTERN, INC., (Formerly: Standard-Vacuum Refining Corp. (Phil.), respondent.
Appeal from the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals reversing the Commissioner of Customs’ decision holding respondent ESSO Standard Eastern, Inc., (formerly the Standard-Vacuum Refining Corporation (Phil.) and hereinafter referred to as ESSO) liable in the total sum of P775.62 as special import tax on certain articles imported by the latter under Republic Act No. 387, otherwise known as the Petroleum Act of 1949.
Respondent ESSO is the holder of Refining Concession No. 2, issued by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources on December 9, 1957, and operates a petroleum refining plant in Limay Bataan. Under Article 103 of Republic Act No. 387 which provides: “During the five years following the granting of any concession, the concessionaire may import free of customs duty, all equipment, machinery, material, instruments, supplies and accessories,” respondent imported and was assessed the special import tax (which it paid under protest) on the following separate importations:
1) One carton, scientific instruments with C & F value of assessed a special import tax in the amount of P31.98 (Airport Protest No. 10);
2) One carton of recorder parts with C & F value of $221.56; assessed special import tax in the amount of P43.82 (Airport Protest No. 11);
3) One carton of valves with C & F value of $310.58; assessed special import tax in the amount of P60.72 (Airport Protest No. 12);
4) One box of parts for Conversion boilers and Auxiliary Equipment with C & F value of $2,389.69; assessed special import tax in the amount of P467.00 (Airport Protest No. 15);
5) One carton of X-ray films with C & F value of $132.80; assessed special import tax in the amount of P26.00 (Airport Protest No. 16); and
6) One carton of recorder parts with C & F value of $750.39; assessed special import tax in the amount of P147.00 (Airport Protest No. 17). 1
The Collector of Customs on February 16, 1962, held that respondent ESSO was subject to the payment of the special import tax provided in Republic Act No. 1394, as amended by R.A. No. 2352, and dismissed the protest. 2
On March 1, 1962, respondent appealed the ruling of the Collector of Customs to the Commissioner of Customs who, on March 19, 1965, affirmed the decision of said Collector of Customs. 3
On July 2, 1965, respondent ESSO filed a petition with the Court of Tax Appeals for review of the decision of the Commissioner of Customs.
The Court of Tax Appeals, on September 30, 1967, reversed the decision of herein petitioner Commissioner of Customs and ordered refund of the amount of P775.62 to respondent ESSO which the latter had paid under protest. 4
This decision of the Court of Tax Appeals is now before this Court for review.
Petitioner contends that the special import tax under Republic Act No. 1394 is separate and distinct from the customs duty prescribed by the Tariff and Customs Code, and that the exemption enjoyed by respondent ESSO from the payment of customs duties under the Petroleum net of 1949 does not include exemption from the payment of the special import tax provided in R.A. No. 1394. 5
For its stand petitioner puts forward this rationale:
A perusal of the provisions of R.A. No. 1394 will show that the legislature considered the special import tax as a tax distinct from customs duties as witness the fact that Section 2(a) of the said law made separate mention of customs duties and special import tax when it provided that … if as a result of the application of the schedule therein, the total revenue derived from the customs duties and from the special import tax on goods, … imported from the United States is less in any calendar year than the proceeds from the exchange tax imposed under Republic Act Numbered Six Hundred and One, as amended, on such goods, articles or products during the calendar year 1955, the President may, by proclamation, suspend the reduction of the special import tax for the next succeeding calendar year ….
If it were the intention of Congress to exempt the holders of petroleum refinery concessions like the protestant (respondent herein), such exemption should have been clearly stated in the statute. Exemptions are never presumed. They must be expressed in the clearest and most unambiguous language and not left to mere implication. 6
Specifically, petitioner in his brief submitted two assignment of errors allegedly committed by the Court of Tax Appeals in the controverted decision, to wit:
1st assignment of error:
THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE TERM “CUSTOMS DUTY” IN ARTICLE 103 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 387 INCLUDES THE SPECIAL IMPORT TAX IMPOSED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 1394;
2nd assignment of error:
THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF CUSTOMS DUTIES UNDER REPUBLIC ACT NO. 387 INCLUDES EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF THE SPECIAL IMPORT TAX.
On the other hand, the Court of Tax Appeals rationalized the ground for its ruling thus:
If we are to adhere, as we should, to the plain and obvious meaning of words in consonance with settled rules of interpretation, it seems clear that the special import tax is an impost or a charge on the importation or bringing into the Philippines of all goods, articles or products subject thereto, for the phrase “import tax on all goods, articles or products imported or brought into the Philippines” in explicit and unambiguous terms simply means customs duties. It is hardly necessary to add that “customs duties” are simply taxes assessed on merchandise imported from, or exported to a foreign country.
And being a charge upon importation, the special import tax is essentially a customs duty, or at least partakes of the character thereof.
Citing numerous American decisions and definitions of terms “customs duties,” “duties,” “imposts,” “levies,” “tax,” and “tolls,” and their distinctions, including some pronouncements of this Court on the subject, the Court of Tax Appeals in its decision, went to great lengths to show that the term “special import tax” as used in R.A. No. 1394 includes customs duties. It sees the special import tax as nothing but an impost or a charge on the importation or bringing into the Philippines of goods, articles or products. 7
To clinch its theory the Court of Tax Appeals cited the similarity in the basis of computation of the customs duty as well as the similarity in the phraseology of Section 3 of Republic Act No. 1394 (which established the special import tax) and Section 9-01 of the Tariff & Customs code (the basic law providing for and regulating the imposition of customs duties and imposts on importations). 8
For its part, private respondent, ESSO, in its answer to the petition, leaned heavily on the same arguments as those given by the Tax Court, the burden of which is that the special import tax law is a customs law. 9
It is clear that the only issue involved in this case is whether or not the exemption enjoyed by herein private respondent ESSO Standard Eastern, Inc. from customs duties granted by Republic Act No. 387, or the Petroleum Act of 1949, should embrace or include the special import tax imposed by R.A. No. 1394, or the Special Import Tax Law.
We have examined the records of this case thoroughly and carefully considered the arguments presented by both parties and We are convinced that the only thing left to this Court to do is to determine the intention of the legislature through interpretation of the two statutes involved, i.e., Republic Act No. 1394 and Republic Act No. 387.
It is a well accepted principle that where a statute is ambiguous, as Republic Act No. 1394 appears to be, courts may examine both the printed pages of the published Act as well as those extrinsic matters that may aid in construing the meaning of the statute, such as the history of its enactment, the reasons for the passage of the bill and purposes to be accomplished by the measure. 10
Petitioner in the first assignment of error took exception to the finding of the Court of Tax Appeals that “The language of Republic Act No. 1394 seems to leave no room for doubt that the law intends that the phrase ‘Special import tax’ is taken to include customs duties” and countered with the argument that “An examination of the provisions of Republic Act No. 1394 will indubitably reveal that Congress considered the special import tax as a tax different from customs duties, as may be seen from the fact that Section 2(a) of said law made separate mention of customs duties and special import tax …” Thus:
… if as a result of the application of the schedule therein the total revenue derived from the customs duties and from the special import tax on goods, … imported from the United States is less in any calendar year than the proceeds from the exchange tax imposed under Republic Act Numbered Six Hundred and One, as amended, on such goods, articles or products during the calendar year 1955, the President may, by proclamation, suspend the reduction of the special import tax for the next succeeding calendar year …
Petitioner further argues:
Customs duties are prescribed by the Tariff and Customs Code, while the special import tax is provided for by Republic Act No. 1394. If our legislature had intended to classify the special import tax as customs duty, the said Art would not have expressly exempted from payment of the special Import tax importations of machinery, equipment, accessories, and spare parts for use of industries, without distinguishing whether the industries referred to are the industries exempt from the payment of Customs duties or the non-exempt ones (Sec. 6). It is sufficient that the imported machinery, etc., is for the use of any industry. 11
A study of petitioner’s two assignments of errors shows that one is anchored on practically the same ground as the other: both involve the interpretation of R.A. No. 387 (The Petroleum Act of 1949) in relation with R.A. No. 1394 (The Special Import Tax Law).
While the petitioner harps on particular clauses and phrases found in the two cited laws, which in a way was likewise resorted to by the respondent ESSO, it would do Us well to restate the fundamental rule in the construction of a statute.
In order to determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses and phrases of the statute should not be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts. In fact every statute should receive such construction as will make it harmonize with the pre-existing body of laws. Antagonism between the Act to be interpreted and existing or previous laws is to be avoided, unless it was clearly the intention of the legislature that such antagonism should arise and one amends or repeals the other, either expressly or by implication.
Another rule applied by this Court is that the courts may take judicial notice of the origin and history of the statutes which they are called upon to construe and administer, and of facts which affect their derivation, validity and operation. 12
Applying the above stated rules and principles, let us consider the history, the purpose and objectives of Republic Act No. 387 as it relates to Republic Act No. 1394 and other laws passed by the Congress of the Philippines insofar as they relate to each other.
Republic Act No. 387, the Petroleum Act of 1949, has this for its title, to wit:
AN ACT TO PROMOTE THE EXPLORATION, DEVELOPMENT, EXPLOITATION, AND UTILIZATION OF THE PETROLEUM RESOURCES OF THE PHILIPPINES; TO ENCOURAGE THE CONSERVATION OF SUCH PETROLEUM RESOURCES; TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO CREATE AN ADMINISTRATION UNIT AND A TECHNICAL BOARD IN THE BUREAU OF MINES; TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS THEREFORE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Art. 103 of said Act reads:
ART. 103. Customs duties. – During the five years following the granting of any concessions, the concessionaire may import free of customs duty, all equipment, machinery, material, instruments, supplies and accessories.
Art. 102 of the Same law insofar as pertinent, provides:
ART. 102. Work obligations, taxes, royalties not to be charged. – …; nor shall any other special taxes or levies be applied to such concessions, nor shall concessionaires under this Act be subjected to any provincial, municipal, or other local taxes or levies; nor shall any sales tax be charged on any petroleum produced from the concession or portion thereof, manufactured by the concessionaire and used in the working of his concession. ….
Art. 104, still of the same Act, reads:
ART. 104. No export to be imposed. – No export tax shall be levied upon petroleum produced from concessions granted under this Act.
The title of Republic Act No. 387 and the provisions of its three articles just cited give a clue to the intent of the Philippine legislature, which is to encourage the exploitation and development of the petroleum resources of the country. Through the instrumentality of said law, it declared in no uncertain terms that the intensification of the exploration for petroleum must be carried on unflinchingly even if, for the time being, no taxes, both national and local, may be collected from the industry. This is the unequivocal intention of the Philippine Congress when the language of the Petroleum Act is examined. Until this law or any substantial portion thereof is clearly amended or repealed by subsequent statutes, the intention of the legislature must be upheld.
Against this unambiguous language of R.A. No. 387, there is the subsequent legislation, R.A. No. 1394, the Special Import Tax Law, which, according to the herein petitioner, shows that the legislature considered the special import tax as a tax distinct from customs duties.
Republic Act No. 1394, otherwise known as the Special Import Tax Law, is entitled as follows:
AN ACT TO IMPOSE A SPECIAL IMPORT TAX ON ALL GOODS, ARTICLES OR PRODUCTS IMPORTED OR BROUGHT INTO THE PHILIPPINES, AND TO REPEAL REPUBLIC ACTS NUMBERED SIX HUNDRED AND ONE, EIGHT HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN, EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-ONE, ELEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE. ELEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-SEVEN AND THIRTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE.
The title indicates unmistakably that it is repealing six prior statutes. As will be seen later, all these laws dealt with the imposition of a special excise tax on foreign exchange or other form of levy on importation of goods into the country.
Section I of Republic Act No. 1394 reads as follows:
SECTION 1. Except as herein otherwise provided, there shall be levied, collected and paid as special import tax on all goods, articles or products imported or brought into the Philippines, irrespective of source, during the period and in accordance with the rates provided for in the following schedule:
It would appear that by the provision of Section 1 of this Act, the pertinent provision of the Petroleum Law, for which there appears to be no proviso to the contrary, has been modified or altered.
Section 6 of Republic Act No. 1394 declares that the tax provided for in its Section I shall not be imposed against importation into the Philippines of machinery and/or raw materials to be used by new and necessary industries as determined in accordance with R A. No. 901 and a long list of other goods, articles, machinery, equipment, accessories and others.
We shall now examine the six statutes repealed by R.A. No. 1394, namely:
R.A. No. 601 is an Act imposing a special excise tax of 17% on foreign exchange sold by the Central Bank or its agents. This is known as the Exchange Tax Law;
R.A. No. 814 amended Sections one, two and five and repealed Sections three and four of R.A. No. 601;
R.A. No. 871 amended Sections one and two of R.A. No. 601, as amended earlier by R.A. No. 814;
R.A. No. 1175 amended further Sections one and two of R.A. No. 601, as amended;
R.A. No. 1197 amended furthermore R.A. No. 601 as amended previously by R.A. No. 1175;
R.A. No. 1375 amended Sections one and two of R.A. No. 601 as amended by R.A. Nos. 1175 and 1197.
As can be seen from the foregoing, in one fell swoop, Republic Act No. 1394 repealed and revoked six earlier statutes which had something to do with the imposition of special levies and/or exemption of certain importations from the burden of the special import taxes or levies. On the other hand, it is apparent that R.A. No. 387, the Petroleum Act, had been spared from the pruning knife of Congress, although this latter law had granted more concessions and tax exemption privileges than any of the statutes that were amended, repealed or revoked by R.A. No. 1394. The answer must be that the Congress of the Philippine saw fit to preserve the privileges granted under the Petroleum Law of 1949 in order to keep the door open to the exploitation and development of the petroleum resources of the country with such incentives as are given under that law.
This ascertained will and intention of the legislature finds a parallelism in a case brought earlier before this Court.
A fishpond owner was slapped with taxes as a “merchant” by the Collector of Internal Revenue. He paid under protest and filed an action to recover the taxes paid, claiming that he was an agriculturist and not a merchant. When this Court was called upon to interpret the provisions of the Internal Revenue Law on whether fish is an agricultural product which falls under the exemption provisions of said law, it inquired into the purpose of the legislature in establishing the exemption for agricultural products. We held:
The first inquiry, therefore, must relate to the purpose the legislature had in mind in establishing the exemption contained in the clause now under consideration. It seems reasonable to assume that it was due to the belief on the part of the law-making body that by exempting agricultural products from this tax the farming industry would be favored and the development of the resources of the country encouraged. …. 13
Having this in mind, particularly the manner in which extrinsic aids the history of the enactment of the statute and purpose of the legislature in employing a clause or provision in the law had been applied in determining the true intent of the lawmaking body, We are convinced that R.A. No. 387, The Petroleum Act of 1949, was intended to encourage the exploitation, exploration and development of the petroleum resources of the country by giving it the necessary incentive in the form of tax exemptions. This is the raison d etre for the generous grant of tax exemptions to those who would invest their financial resources towards the achievement of this national economic goal.
On the contention of herein petitioner that the exemptions enjoyed by respondent ESSO under R.A. No. 387 have been abrogated by R.A. No. 1394, We hold that repeal by implication is not favored unless it is manifest that the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to be passed with deliberation and with full knowledge of all existing ones on the subject, it is logical to conclude that in passing a statute it was not intended to interfere with or abrogate any former law relating to the same matter, unless the repugnancy between the two is not only irreconcilable but also clear and convincing as a result of the language used, or unless the latter act fully embraces the subject matter of the earlier. 14
As observed earlier, Congress lined up for revocation by Republic Act No. 1394 six statutes dealing with the imposition of special imposts or levies or the granting of exemptions from special import taxes. Yet, considering the tremendous amount of revenues it was losing under the Petroleum Law of 1949, it failed to include the latter statute among those it chose to bury by the Special Import Taw Law. The reason for this is very clear: The legislature wanted to continue the incentives for the continuing development of the petroleum industry. It is not amiss to mention herein passing that contrary to the theory of the herein petitioner, R.A. No. 387 had not been repealed by R.A. No. 2352 which expressly abrogated Section 6 of R.A. No. 1394 but did not repeal any part of R.A. No. 387. Therefore, the exemption granted by Republic Act No. 387 still stands.
WHEREFORE, taking into consideration the weight given by this Court to the findings and conclusions of the Court of Tax Appeals on a matter it is well-equipped to handle, which findings and conclusions We find no reason to overturn, the petition of the Commissioner of Customs to reverse the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals should be, as it is hereby, denied.
12. Opinions and rulings of officials of the government called upon to execute or implement administrative laws command much respect and weight.
G.R. No. L-33693-94 May 31, 1979
MISAEL P. VERA, as Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and THE FAIR TRADE BOARD, petitioner,
HON. SERAFIN R. CUEVAS, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch IV, INSTITUTE OF EVAPORATED FILLED MILK
MANUFACTURERS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., CONSOLIDATED MILK COMPANY (PHIL.) INC., and MILK INDUSTRIES, INC., respondents.
This is a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction to review the decision rendered by respondent judge, in Civil Case No. 52276 and in Special Civil Action No. 52383 both of the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Plaintiffs, in Civil Case No. 52276 private respondents herein, are engaged in the manufacture, sale and distribution of filled milk products throughout the Philippines. The products of private respondent, Consolidated Philippines Inc. are marketed and sold under the brand Darigold whereas those of private respondent, General Milk Company (Phil.), Inc., under the brand “Liberty;” and those of private respondent, Milk Industries Inc., under the brand “Dutch Baby.” Private respondent, Institute of Evaporated Filled Milk Manufacturers of the Philippines, is a corporation organized for the principal purpose of upholding and maintaining at its highest the standards of local filled milk industry, of which all the other private respondents are members.
Civil Case No. 52276 is an action for declaratory relief with ex-parte petition for preliminary injunction wherein plaintiffs pray for an adjudication of their respective rights and obligations in relation to the enforcement of Section 169 of the Tax Code against their filled milk products.
The controversy arose from the order of defendant, Commissioner of Internal Revenue now petitioner herein, requiring plaintiffs- private respondents to withdraw from the market all of their filled milk products which do not bear the inscription required by Section 169 of the Tax Code within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the order with the explicit warning that failure of plaintiffs’ private respondents to comply with said order will result in the institution of the necessary action against any violation of the aforesaid order. Section 169 of the Tax Code reads as follows:
Section 169. Inscription to be placed on skimmed milk. – All condensed skimmed milk and all milk in whatever form, from which the fatty part has been removed totally or in part, sold or put on sale in the Philippines shall be clearly and legibly marked on its immediate containers, and in all the language in which such containers are marked, with the words, “This milk is not suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age,” or with other equivalent words.
The Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction dated February 16, 1963 restraining the Commissioner of Internal Revenue from requiring plaintiffs’ private respondents to print on the labels of their rifled milk products the words, “This milk is not suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age or words of similar import, ” as directed by the above quoted provision of Law, and from taking any action to enforce the above legal provision against the plaintiffs’ private respondents in connection with their rifled milk products, pending the final determination of the case, Civil Case No. 52276, on the merits.
On July 25, 1969, however, the Office of the Solicitor General brought an appeal from the said order by way of certiorari to the Supreme Court. 1 In view thereof, the respondent court in the meantime suspended disposition of these cases but in view of the absence of any injunction or restraining order from the Supreme Court, it resumed action on them until their final disposition therein.
Special Civil Action No. 52383, on the other hand, is an action for prohibition and injunction with a petition for preliminary injunction. Petitioners therein pray that the respondent Fair Trade Board desist from further proceeding with FTB I.S. No. I. entitled “Antonio R. de Joya vs. Institute of Evaporated Milk Manufacturers of the Philippines, etc.” pending final determination of Civil Case No. 52276. The facts of this special civil action show that on December 7, 1962, Antonio R. de Joya and Sufronio Carrasco, both in their individual capacities and in their capacities as Public Relations Counsel and President of the Philippine Association of Nutrition, respectively, filed FTB I.S. No. 1 with Fair Trade Board for misleading advertisement, mislabeling and/or misbranding. Among other things, the complaint filed include the charge of omitting to state in their labels any statement sufficient to Identify their filled milk products as “imitation milk” or as an imitation of genuine cows milk. and omitting to mark the immediate containers of their filled milk products with the words: “This milk is not suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age or with other equivalent words as required under Section 169 of the Tax Code. The Board proceeded to hear the complaint until it received the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Court of First Instance on March 19, 1963.
Upon agreement of the parties, Civil Case No. 52276 and Special Civil Action No. 52383 were heard jointly being intimately related with each other, with common facts and issues being also involved therein. On April 16, 1971, the respondent court issued its decision, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:
Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered:
In Civil Case No. 52276:
(a) Perpetually restraining the defendant, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, his agents, or employees from requiring plaintiffs to print on the labels of their filled milk products the words: “This milk is not suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age” or words with equivalent import and declaring as nun and void and without authority in law, the order of said defendant dated September 28, 1961, Annex A of the complaint, and the Ruling of the Secretary of Finance, dated November 12, 1962, Annex G of the complaint; and
In Special Civil Action No. 52383:
(b) Restraining perpetually the respondent Fair Trade Board, its agents or employees from continuing in the investigation of the complaints against petitioners docketed as FTB I.S. No. 2, or any charges related to the manufacture or sale by the petitioners of their filled milk products and declaring as null the proceedings so far undertaken by the respondent Board on said complaints. (pp. 20- 21, Rollo).
From the above decision of the respondent court, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Fair Trade Board joined together to file the present petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction, assigning the following errors:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT SEC. TION 169 OF THE TAX CODE HAS BEEN REPEALED BY IMPLICATION.
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT SECTION 169 OF THE TAX CODE HAS LOST ITS TAX PURPOSE, AND THAT COMMISSIONER NECESSARILY LOST HIS AUTHORITY TO ENFORCE THE SAME AND THAT THE PROPER AUTHORITY TO PROMOTE THE HEALTH OF INFANTS IS THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, AS PROVIDED FOR IN RA 3720, NOT THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE.
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE POWER TO INVESTIGATE AND TO PROSECUTE VIOLATIONS OF FOOD LAWS IS ENTRUSTED TO THE FOOD AND DRUG INSPECTION, THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, AND THAT THE FAIR TRADE BOARD IS WITHOUT JURISDICTION TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE ALLEGED MISBRANDING, MISLABELLING AND/OR MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENT OF FILLED MILK PRODUCTS. (pp, 4-5, Rollo).
The lower court did not err in ruling that Section 169 of the Tax Code has been repealed by implication. Section 169 was enacted in 1939, together with Section 141 (which imposed a Specific tax on skimmed milk) and Section 177 (which penalized the sale of skimmed milk without payment of the specific tax and without the legend required by Section 169). However, Section 141 was expressly repealed by Section 1 of Republic Act No. 344, and Section 177, by Section 1 of Republic Act No. 463. By the express repeal of Sections 141 and 177, Section 169 became a merely declaratory provision, without a tax purpose, or a penal sanction.
Moreover, it seems apparent that Section 169 of the Tax Code does not apply to filled milk. The use of the specific and qualifying terms “skimmed milk” in the headnote and “condensed skimmed milk” in the text of the cited section, would restrict the scope of the general clause “all milk, in whatever form, from which the fatty pat has been removed totally or in part.” In other words, the general clause is restricted by the specific term “skimmed milk” under the familiar rule of ejusdem generis that general and unlimited terms are restrained and limited by the particular terms they follow in the statute.
Skimmed milk is different from filled milk. According to the “Definitions, Standards of Purity, Rules and Regulations of the Board of Food Inspection,” skimmed milk is milk in whatever form from which the fatty part has been removed. Filled milk, on the other hand, is any milk, whether or not condensed, evaporated concentrated, powdered, dried, dessicated, to which has been added or which has been blended or compounded with any fat or oil other than milk fat so that the resulting product is an imitation or semblance of milk cream or skim milk.” The difference, therefore, between skimmed milk and filled milk is that in the former, the fatty part has been removed while in the latter, the fatty part is likewise removed but is substituted with refined coconut oil or corn oil or both. It cannot then be readily or safely assumed that Section 169 applies both to skimmed milk and filled milk.
The Board of Food Inspection way back in 1961 rendered an opinion that filled milk does not come within the purview of Section 169, it being a product distinct from those specified in the said Section since the removed fat portion of the milk has been replaced with coconut oil and Vitamins A and D as fortifying substances (p. 58, Rollo). This opinion bolsters the Court’s stand as to its interpretation of the scope of Section 169. Opinions and rulings of officials of the government called upon to execute or implement administrative laws command much respect and weight. (Asturias Sugar Central Inc. vs. Commissioner of Customs, G. R. No. L-19337, September 30, 1969, 29 SCRA 617; Tan, et. al. vs. the Municipality of Pagbilao et. al., L-14264, April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 887; Grapilon vs. Municipal Council of Carigara L-12347, May 30, 1961, 2 SCRA 103).
This Court is, likewise, induced to the belief that filled milk is suitable for nourishment for infants of all ages. The Petitioners themselves admitted that: “the filled milk products of the petitioners (now private respondents) are safe, nutritious, wholesome and suitable for feeding infants of all ages” (p. 44, Rollo) and that “up to the present, Filipino infants fed since birth with filled milk have not suffered any defects, illness or disease attributable to their having been fed with filled milk.” (p. 45, Rollo).
There would seem, therefore, to be no dispute that filled milk is suitable for feeding infants of all ages. Being so, the declaration required by Section 169 of the Tax Code that filled milk is not suitable for nourishment for infants less than one year of age would, in effect, constitute a deprivation of property without due. process of law.
Section 169 is being enforced only against respondent manufacturers of filled milk product and not as against manufacturers, distributors or sellers of condensed skimmed milk such as SIMILAC, SMA, BREMIL, ENFAMIL, OLAC, in which, as admitted by the petitioner, the fatty part has been removed and substituted with vegetable or corn oil. The enforcement of Section 169 against the private respondents only but not against other persons similarly situated as the private respondents amounts to an unconstitutional denial of the equal pro petition of the laws, for the law, equally enforced, would similarly offend against the Constitution. Yick Wo vs. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356,30 L. ed. 220).
As stated in the early part of this decision, with the repeal of Sections 141 and 177 of the Tax Code, Section 169 has lost its tax purpose. Since Section 169 is devoid of any tax purpose, petitioner Commissioner necessarily lost his authority to enforce the same. This was so held by his predecessor immediately after Sections 141 and 177 were repealed in General Circular No. V-85 as stated in paragraph IX of the Partial Stipulation of facts entered into by the parties, to wit:
… As the act of sewing skimmed milk without first paying the specific tax thereon is no longer unlawful and the enforcement of the requirement in regard to the placing of the proper legend on its immediate containers is a subject which does not come within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the penal provisions of Section 177 of the said Code having been repealed by Republic Act No. 463. (p. 102, Rollo).
Petitioner’s contention that he still has jurisdiction to enforce Section 169 by virtue of Section 3 of the Tax Code which provides that the Bureau of Internal Revenue shall also “give effect to and administer the supervisory and police power conferred to it by this Code or other laws” is untenable. The Bureau of Internal Revenue may claim police power only when necessary in the enforcement of its principal powers and duties consisting of the “collection of all national internal revenue taxes, fees and charges, and the enforcement of all forfeitures, penalties and fines connected therewith.” The enforcement of Section 169 entails the promotion of the health of the nation and is thus unconnected with any tax purpose. This is the exclusive function of the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health as provided for in Republic Act No. 3720. In particular, Republic Act No. 3720 provides:
Section 9. … It shall be the duty of the Board (Food and Drug Inspection), conformably with the rules and regulations, to hold hearings and conduct investigations relative to matters touching the Administration of this Act, to investigate processes of food, drug and cosmetic manufacture and to subject reports to the Food and Drug Administrator, recommending food and drug standards for adoption. Said Board shall also perform such additional functions, properly within the scope of the administration thereof, as maybe assigned to it by the Food and Drug Administrator. The decisions of the Board shall be advisory to the Food and Drug Administrator.
Section 26. …
(c) Hearing authorized or required by this Act shall be conducted by the Board of Food and Drug Inspection which shall submit recommendation to the Food and Drug Administrator.
(d) When it appears to the Food and Drug Administrator from the reports of the Food and Drug Laboratory that any article of food or any drug or cosmetic secured pursuant to Section 28 of this Act is adulterated or branded he shall cause notice thereof to be given to the person or persons concerned and such person or persons shall be given an opportunity to subject evidence impeaching the correctness of the finding or charge in question.
(e) When a violation of any provisions of this Act comes to the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administrator of such character that a criminal prosecution ought to be instituted against the offender, he shall certify the facts to the Secretary of Justice through the Secretary of Health, together with the chemists’ report, the findings of the Board of Food and Drug Inspection, or other documentary evidence on which the charge is based.
(f) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as requiring the Food and Drug Administrator to certify for prosecution pursuant to subparagraph (e) hereof, minor violations of this Act whenever he believes that public interest will be adequately served by a suitable written notice or warning.
The aforequoted provisions of law clearly show that petitioners, Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Fair Trade Board, are without jurisdiction to investigate and to prosecute alleged misbranding, mislabeling and/or misleading advertisements of filled milk. The jurisdiction on the matters cited is vested upon the Board of Food and Drug inspection and the Food and Drug Administrator, with the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Justice, also intervening in case criminal prosecution has to be instituted. To hold that the petitioners have also jurisdiction as would be the result were their instant petition granted, would only cause overlapping of powers and functions likely to produce confusion and conflict of official action which is neither practical nor desirable.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed en toto. No costs.
13. In case of doubt as to what a provision of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision during the legislative deliberations may be adopted.
G.R. No. 106724 February 9, 1994
THE NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION, represented by its Acting Chairman, Cesar Sarino, Teodolo C. Natividad, Vice-Chairman and Executive Officer, Brig. Gen. Virgilio H. David, Edgar Dula Torre, Guillermo P. Enriquez, Commissioners, and Chief Supt. Levy D. Macasiano Director for Personnel, petitioners,
Honorable Judge Salvador de Guzman, Jr., Chief Supt. Norberto M. Lina, Chief Supt. Ricardo Trinidad, Jr., Sr. Supt. Manuel Suarez, Supt. Justito B. Tagum, Sr. Supt. Tranquilino Aspiras, Sr., Supt. Ramon I. Navarro,
Sr. Supt. Ramon I. Navarro, Sr. Supt. Jose P. Suria, Sr. Supt. Agaton Abiera, Chief Insp. Bienvenido Torres, and the National (ROTC) Alumni Association Inc. (NARRA), represented by its President Col. Benjamin Gundran, and Director Hermogenes Peralta, Jr., respondents.
The case at bar had its origin in the implementation of the compulsory retirement of PNP officers as mandated in Sec. 39, RA 6975, otherwise known as “An Act Establishing the Philippine National Police Under a Reorganized Department of the Interior and Local Government”, which took effect on
January 2, 1991. Among others, RA 6975 provides for a uniform retirement system for PNP members. Section 39 thereof reads:
Sec. 39. Compulsory Retirement. – Compulsory retirement, for officer and non-officer, shall be upon the attainment of age fifty-six (56); Provided, That, in case of any officer with the rank of chief superintendent, director or deputy director general, the Commission may allow his retention in the service for an unextendible period of one (1) year.
Based on the above provision, petitioners sent notices of retirement to private respondents who are all members of the defunct Philippine Constabulary and have reached the age of fifty-six (56).
In response, private respondents filed a complaint on December 19, 1991 for declaratory relief with prayer for the issuance of an ex parte restraining order and/or injunction (docketed as Civil Case No. 91-3498) before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 142. In their complaint, respondents aver that the age of retirement set at fifty-six (56) by Section 39 of RA 6975 cannot be applied to them since they are also covered by Sec. 89 thereof which provides:
Any provision hereof to the contrary notwithstanding, and within the transition period of four (4) years following the effectivity of this Act, the following members of the INP shall be considered compulsorily retired:
a) Those who shall attain the age of sixty (60) on the first year of the effectivity of this Act.
b) Those who shall attain the age of fifty-nine (59) on the second year of the effectivity of this Act.
c) Those who shall attain the age of fifty-eight (58) on the third year of the effectivity of this Act.
d) Those who shall attain the age of fifty-seven (57) on the fourth year of the effectivity of this Act.
It is the submission of respondents that the term “INP” includes both the former members of the Philippine Constabulary and the local police force who were earlier constituted as the Integrated National Police (INP) by virtue of
PD 765 in 1975.
On the other hand, it is the belief of petitioners that the 4-year transition period provided in Section 89 applies only to the local police forces who previously retire, compulsorily, at age sixty (60) for those in the ranks of Police/Fire Lieutenant or higher (Sec. 33, PD 1184); while the retirement age for the PC had already been set at fifty-six (56) under the AFP law.
On December 23, 1991, respondent judge issued a restraining order followed by a writ of injunction on January 8, 1992 upon posting of a P100,000.00 bond by private respondents.
After the parties have submitted their respective pleadings, the case was submitted for resolution and on August 14, 1992, the respondent judge rendered the assailed decision, the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the court hereby declares that the term “INP” in Section 89 of the PNP Law includes all members of the present Philippine National Police, irrespective of the original status of the present members of the Philippine National Police before its creation and establishment, and that Section 39 thereof shall become operative after the lapse of the
four-year transition period.
The preliminary injunction issued is made permanent.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, pp. 29-30)
Petitioners filed the instant petition on October 8, 1992 seeking the reversal of the above judgment. On January 12, 1993, the Court resolved to treat the respondents’ Comment as Answer and gave due course to the petition.
In ruling in favor of private respondents, respondent judge observed, among others, that:
It may have been the intention of Congress to refer to the local police forces as the “INP” but the PNP Law failed to define who or what constituted the INP. The natural recourse of the court is to trace the source of the “INP” as courts are permitted to look to prior laws on the same subject and to investigate the antecedents involved. There is nothing extant in the statute books except that which was created and established under
PD 765 pursuant to the mandate of Article XV of the 1973 Constitution providing that the “State shall establish and maintain an integrated national police force whose organization, administration and operation shall be provided by law.” Heretofore, INP was unknown. And the said law categorically declared the PC “as the principal component of the Integrated National Police” (Sec. 5, PD 765).
The court was supplied by respondents (petitioners herein) with excerpts taken from the discussion amongst the members of Congress concerning the particular provision of Section 89. The court is not persuaded by said discussion; it was a simple matter for the members of the legislature to state precisely in clear and unequivocal terms their meaning, such as “integrated police” as used in PD 765. Instead, they employed “INP”, a generic term that includes the PC as the principal component of the INP, supra. In failing to categorically restrict the application of Section 89 as the members of legislature are said to have intended, it gave rise to the presumption that it has not limited nor intended to limit the meaning of the word when the bill was finally passed into law. It is not difficult for the court to also presume that in drafting the wording of the PNP Law, the legislators were aware of the historical legislative origin of the “INP”.
xxx xxx xxx
The court takes particular note of the fact that Section 89 is found in the Transitory Provisions of the law which do not provide for any distinction between the former PC officers and those belonging to the civilian police forces. These provision are specifically enacted to regulate the period covering the dissolution of the PC and the creation of the PNP, a period that necessarily would be attended by imbalances and or confusion occasioned by the wholesale and mass integration. In fact, the retirement payment scheme of the INP is still to be formulated, leaving the impression that nothing is really settled until after the transition of four years has lapsed. Section 89 therefore prevails over Section 39 up to the year 1995 when the retirement age for the members of the PNP shall then be age 56; after the year 1995, Section 39 shall then be the applicable law on retirement of PNP members. (Rollo, pp. 27-28; emphasis supplied)
Petitioners disagree and claim that the use of the term INP in Sec. 89 does not imply the same meaning contemplated under PD 765 wherein it is provided:
Sec. 1. Constitution of the Integrated National Police. – There is hereby established and constituted the Integrated National Police (INP) which shall be composed of the Philippine Constabulary as the nucleus, and the integrated police forces as established by Presidential Decrees
Nos. 421, 482, 531, 585 and 641, as components, under the Department of National Defense.
On the other hand, private respondents assert that being the nucleus of the Integrated National Police (INP) under PD 765, former members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) should not be discriminated against from the coverage of the term “INP” in Sec. 89, RA 6975. Clearly, it is argued, the term “INP” found in Section 89 of RA 6975 refers to the INP in PD 765. Thus, where the law does not distinguish, the courts should not distinguish.
Does the law, RA 6975, distinguish INP from the PC? Petitioners submit that it does and cite Sections 23 and 85 to stress the point, viz.:
Sec. 23. Composition. – Subject to the limitations provided for in this Act, the Philippine National Police, hereinafter referred to as the PNP, is hereby established, initially consisting of the members of the police forces who were integrated into the Integrated National Police (INP) pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 765, and the officers and enlisted personnel of the Philippine Constabulary (PC). . .
The permanent civilian employees of the present PC, INP, Narcotics Command, CIS and the technical command of the AFP assigned with the PC, including NAPOLCOM hearing officers holding regular items as such, shall be absorbed by the Department as employees thereof, subject to existing laws and regulations.
Sec. 85. Phase of Implementation. – The implementation of this Act shall be undertaken in three (3) phases, to wit:
Phase I – Exercise of option by the uniformed members of the Philippine Constabulary, the PC elements assigned with the Narcotics Command, CIS, and the personnel of the technical services of the AFP assigned with the PC to include the regular CIS investigating agents and the operatives and agents of the NAPOLCOM Inspection, Investigation and Intelligence Branch, and the personnel of the absorbed National Action Committee on Anti-Hijacking (NACAH) of the Department of National Defense, to be completed within six (6) months from the date of the effectivity of this Act. At the end of this phase, all personnel from the INP, PC, technical Services, NACAH, and NAPOLCOM Inspection, Investigation and Intelligence Branch shall have been covered by official orders assigning them to the PNP . . .
xxx xxx xxx
. . . Any PC-INP officer or enlisted personnel may, within the twelve-month period from the effectivity of this Act, retire . . .
Phase III – . . . To accomplish the tasks of Phase III, the Commission shall create a Board of Officers composed of the following: NAPOLCOM Commissioner as Chairman and one (1) representative each from the PC, INP, Civil Service Commission and the Department of Budget and Management.
Section 86 of the same law further provides:
Sec. 86. Assumption by the PNP of Police Functions. – The PNP shall absorb the functions of the PC, the INP and the Narcotics Command upon the effectivity of this Act.
From a careful perusal of the above provisions, it appears therefore that the use of the term INP is not synonymous with the PC. Had it been otherwise, the statute could have just made a uniform reference to the members of the whole Philippine National Police (PNP) for retirement purposes and not just the INP. The law itself distinguishes INP from the PC and it cannot be construed that “INP” as used in Sec. 89 includes the members of the PC.
And contrary to the pronouncement of respondent judge that the law failed to define who constitutes the INP, Sec. 90 of RA 6975 has in fact defined the same. Thus,
Sec. 90. Status of Present NAPOLCOM, PC-INP. – Upon the effectivity of this Act, the present National Police Commission and the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police shall cease to exist. The Philippine Constabulary, which is the nucleus of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police shall cease to be a major service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Integrated National Police, which is the civilian component of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police, shall cease to be the national police force and lieu thereof, a new police force shall be established and constituted pursuant to this Act. (emphasis supplied)
It is not altogether correct to state, therefore, that the legislature failed to define who the members of the INP are. In this regard, it is of no moment that the legislature failed to categorically restrict the application of the transition period in Sec. 89 specifically in favor of the local police forces for it would be a mere superfluity as the PC component of the INP was already retirable at age fifty-six (56).
Having defined the meaning of INP, the trial court need not have belabored on the supposed dubious meaning of the term. Nonetheless, if confronted with such a situation, courts are not without recourse in determining the construction of the statute with doubtful meaning for they may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative body. In case of doubt as to what a provision of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision during the legislative deliberations may be adopted (De Villa v. Court of Appeals,
195 SCRA 722  citing Palanca v. City of Manila, 41 Phil. 125 ; Arenas v. City of San Carlos, 82 SCRA 318 ).
Courts should not give a literal interpretation to the letter of the law if it runs counter to the legislative intent (Yellow Taxi and Pasay Transportation Workers’ Association v. Manila Yellow Taxi Cab. Co., 80 Phil. 83 ).
Examining the records of the Bicameral Conference Committee, we find that the legislature did intent to exclude the members of the PC from the coverage of Sec. 89 insofar as the retirement age is concerned, thus:
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Well, it seems what people really want is one common rule, so if it is fifty-six, fifty-six; of course, the PC wants sixty for everybody. Of course, it is not acceptable to us in the sense that we tied this up really to the question of: If you are lax in allowing their (the PC) entry into the PNP, then tighten up the retirement. If we will be strict in, like requiring examinations and other conditions for their original entry, then since we have sifted out a certain amount of undesirables, then we can allow a longer retirement age. That was the rationale, that was the tie-up. Since we are relaxing the entry, we should speed up . . .
THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. GUTANG). Exit.
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA) . . . the retirement, the exit.
THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. GUTANG). So let me get it very clear, Mr. Chairman. Fifty-six, let’s say, that will not make any adjustment in the PC because there (they) are (retirable at age) fifty-six.
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Kaya nga, wala na silang masasabi.
THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. GUTANG). In the case of the Police, since they are retireable now at sixty, for the officers, it will be
applicable to them on a one-year every year basis for a total period of four years transition. (Bicameral Conference Committee on National Defense, March 12, 1990)
REP. GUTANG. On the first year of effectivity, the police will retire at 60 years.
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Sixty.
REP. GUTANG. On the second year, 59.
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Oo.
REP. GUTANG. On the third year, 58.
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Fifty-eight. So ‘yung 55, on the third year, 58, doon siya re-retire.
REP. GUTANG. Oo.
SEN. SAGUISAG. So kung 55, when the law becomes effective . . .
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). He will retire at 58, doon siya aabot.
REP. UNICO. Pwede.
SEN. SAGUISAG. Dahil ‘yon, may time to . . .
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). Walang problema dito sa transition ng pulis, acceptable ito, eh.
THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. COJUANGCO). Sa PC?
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. MACEDA). PC, walang mawawala sa kanila, 56 ang retirement age nilang talaga, eh. Kaya ayaw ko
ngang dagdagan ‘yung 56 nila at ‘yon din ang sa Armed Forces, 56. (Ibid., May 22, 1990)
In applying the provisions of Sec. 89 in favor of the local police force as established in PD 765, the Court does not, in any manner, give any undue preferential treatment in favor of the other group. On the contrary, the Court is merely giving life to the real intent of the legislators based on the deliberations of the Bicameral Conference Committee that preceded the enactment of RA 6975.
The legislative intent to classify the INP in such manner that Section 89 of RA 6975 is applicable only to the local police force is clear. The question now is whether the classification is valid. The test for this is reasonableness such that it must conform to the following requirements: (1) It must be based upon substantial distinctions; (2) It must be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It must not be limited to existing conditions only; (4) It must apply equally to all members of the same class (People vs. Cayat, 68 Phil. 12 ).
The classification is based upon substantial distinctions. The PC, before the effectivity of the law (RA 6975), were already retirable at age 56 while the local police force were retirable at 60, and governed by different laws
(P.D. 1184, Sec. 33 and Sec. 50). The distinction is relevant for the purpose of the statute, which is to enable the local police force to plan for their retirement which would be earlier than usual because of the new law. Section 89 is merely transitory, remedial in nature, and loses its force and effect once the four-year transitory period has elapsed. Finally, it applies not only to some but to all local police officers.
It may be appropriate to state at this point that it seems absurd that a law will grant an extension to PC officers’ retirable age from 56 to 60 and then gradually lower it back to 56 without any cogent reason at all. Why should the retirement age of PC officers be increased during the transitory period to the exclusion of other PC officers who would retire at age 56 after such period? Such absurdity was never contemplated by the law and would defeat its purpose of providing a uniform retirement age for PNP members.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The writ of injunction issued on January 8, 1992 is hereby LIFTED and the assailed decision of respondent judge is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
14. Penal laws are to be construed strictly against the state and in favour of the accused.
G.R. No. 113092 September 1, 1994
MARTIN CENTENO, Petitioner, vs. HON. VICTORIA VILLALON-PORNILLOS, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 10, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
It is indeed unfortunate that a group of elderly men, who were moved by their desire to devote their remaining years to the service of their Creator by forming their own civic organization for that purpose, should find themselves enmeshed in a criminal case for making a solicitation from a community member allegedly without the required permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The records of this case reveal that sometime in the last quarter of 1985, the officers of a civic organization known as the Samahang Katandaan ng Nayon ng Tikay launched a fund drive for the purpose of renovating the chapel of Barrio Tikay, Malolos, Bulacan. Petitioner Martin Centeno, the chairman of the group, together with Vicente Yco, approached Judge Adoracion G. Angeles, a resident of Tikay, and solicited from her a contribution of P1,500.00. It is admitted that the solicitation was made without a permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
As a consequence, based on the complaint of Judge Angeles, an information 1 was filed against petitioner Martin Centeno, together with Religio Evaristo and Vicente Yco, for violation of Presidential Decree No. 1564, or the Solicitation Permit Law, before the Municipal Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 2, and docketed as Criminal Case No. 2602. Petitioner filed a motion to quash the information 2 on the ground that the facts alleged therein do not constitute an offense, claiming that Presidential Decree No. 1564 only covers solicitations made for charitable or public welfare purposes, but not those made for a religious purpose such as the construction of a chapel. This was denied 3 by the trial court, and petitioner’s motion for reconsideration having met the same fate, trial on the merits ensued.
On December 29, 1992, the said trial court rendered judgment 4 finding accused Vicente Yco and petitioner Centeno guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentencing them to each pay a fine of P200.00. Nevertheless, the trial court recommended that the accused be pardoned on the basis of its finding that they acted in good faith, plus the fact that it believed that the latter should not have been criminally liable were it not for the existence of Presidential Decree
No. 1564 which the court opined it had the duty to apply in the instant case.
Both accused Centeno and Yco appealed to the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 10. However, accused Yco subsequently withdrew his appeal, hence the case proceeded only with respect to petitioner Centeno. On May 21, 1993, respondent Judge Villalon-Pornillos affirmed the decision of the lower court but modified the penalty, allegedly because of the perversity of the act committed which caused damage and prejudice to the complainant, by sentencing petitioner Centeno to suffer an increased penalty of imprisonment of 6 months and a fine of P1,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. 5 The motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied by the court.
Thus it is that a fine of P200.00 imposed as a penalty by the lowest court in the judicial hierarchy eventually reached this highest tribunal, challenged on the sole issue of whether solicitations for religious purposes are within the ambit of Presidential Decree No. 1564. Quantitatively, the financial sanction is a nominal imposition but, on a question of principle, it is not a trifling matter. This Court is gratified that it can now grant this case the benefit of a final adjudication.
Petitioner questions the applicability of Presidential Decree No. 1564 to solicitations for contributions intended for religious purposes with the submissions that (1) the term “religious purpose” is not expressly included in the provisions of the statute, hence what the law does not include, it excludes;
(2) penal laws are to be construed strictly against the State and liberally in favor of the accused; and (3) to subject to State regulation solicitations made for a religious purpose would constitute an abridgment of the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under the Constitution.
Presidential Decree No. 1564 (which amended Act No. 4075, otherwise known as the Solicitation Permit Law), provides as follows:
Sec. 2. Any person, corporation, organization, or association desiring to solicit or receive contributions for charitable or public welfare purposes shall first secure a permit from the Regional Offices of the Department of Social Services and Development as provided in the Integrated Reorganization Plan. Upon the filing of a written application for a permit in the form prescribed by the Regional Offices of the Department of Social Services and Development, the Regional Director or his duly authorized representative may, in his discretion, issue a permanent or temporary permit or disapprove the application. In the interest of the public, he may in his discretion renew or revoke any permit issued under Act 4075.
The main issue to be resolved here is whether the phrase “charitable purposes” should be construed in its broadest sense so as to include a religious purpose. We hold in the negative.
I. Indeed, it is an elementary rule of statutory construction that the express mention of one person, thing, act, or consequence excludes all others. This rule is expressed in the familiar maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius.” Where a statute, by its terms, is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or construction, be extended to others. The rule proceeds from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumerations in a