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Adminstrative Law

Arellano Univeristy School of Law


aiza ebina/2015

PEOPLE vs VERA
65 Phil 56
Doctrine of Non-Delegation of Powers
Delegation to Administrative Agencies
FACTS: Defendant Mariano Cu Unjieng applied for probation under the provisions of Act No. 4421,
otherwise known as The Probation Act. Original action for certiorari and prohibition was filed to prohibit the
Court of First Instance of Manila fromt taking any further action in entertaining the aforementioned
application for probation on the ground that Act No. 4421 in unconstitutional for being an undue delegation
of legislative power.
The challenged provision of the said Act was Section 11 thereof which reads: "This Act shall apply only in
those provinces in which the respective provincial boards have provided for the salary of a probation
officer at rates not lower than those now provided for provincial fiscals. Said probation officer shall be
appointed by the Secretary of Justice and shall be subject to the direction of the Probation Office."
ISSUE: Whether or not the provision in question constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative
power
RULING: Yes. For the purpose of the Probation Act, the provincial boards may be regarded as
administrative bodies endowed with power to determine when the Act should take effect in their respective
provinces. An examination of a variety of cases on delegation of power to administrative bodies will show
that the ratio decidendi is at variance but, it can be broadly asserted that the rationale revolves around the
presence or absence of a standard or rule of action or the sufficiency thereof in the statute, to aid the
delegate in exercising the granted discretion. As a rule, an act of the legislature is incomplete and hence
invalid if it does not lay down any rule or definite standard by which the administrative officer or board
may be guided in the exercise of the discretionary powers delegated to it.
The probation Act does not, by the force of any of its provisions, fix and impose upon the provincial boards
any standard or guide in the exercise of their discretionary power. By section 11 if the Act, the legislature
does not seemingly on its own authority extend the benefits of the Probation Act to the provinces but in
reality leaves the entire matter for the various provincial boards to determine. In other words, the
provincial boards of the various provinces are to determine for themselves, whether the Probation Law
shall apply to their provinces or not at all.
The applicability and application of the Probation Act are entirely placed in the hands of the provincial
boards. If the provincial board does not wish to have the Act applied in its province, all that it has to do is
to decline to appropriate the needed amount for the salary of a probation officer. The plain language of the
Act is not susceptible of any other interpretation. This, to our minds, is a virtual surrender of legislative
power to the provincial boards.
"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 should be observed that in the case at bar we are not concerned with the simple transference of details
of execution or the promulgation by executive or administrative officials of rules and regulations to carry
into effect the provisions of a law. 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. 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.
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
contingencies has arisen. But, in the case at bar, the legislature has not made the operation of the
Prohibition Act contingent upon specified facts or conditions to be ascertained by the provincial board. It
leaves, as we have already said, the entire operation or non-operation of the law upon the provincial
board. the discretion vested is arbitrary because it is absolute and unlimited.
A provincial board need not investigate conditions or find any fact, or await the happening of any specified
contingency. It is bound by no rule, limited by no principle of expendiency announced by the legislature.
It may take into consideration certain facts or conditions; and, again, it may not. It may have any purpose
or no purpose at all. It need not give any reason whatsoever for refusing or failing to appropriate any funds

for the salary of a probation officer. This is a matter which rest entirely at its pleasure. The fact that at
some future time we cannot say when the provincial boards may appropriate funds for the salaries of
probation officers and thus put the law into operation in the various provinces will not save the statute.
The time of its taking into effect, we reiterate, would yet be based solely upon the will of the provincial
boards and not upon the happening of a certain specified contingency, or upon the ascertainment of
certain facts or conditions by a person or body other than legislature itself.
While it may be undoubted that the legislature may suspend a law, or the execution or operation of a law,
a law may not be suspended as to certain individuals only, leaving the law to be enjoyed by others. The
suspension must be general, and cannot be made for individual cases or for particular localities.
RATIO: Doctrine of Non-Delegation of Powers: Corollary of separation of powers doctrine. - This rule which
follows as a necessary corollary of the doctrine of separation of powers prohibits the delegation of
legislative power, the vesting of judicial officers with non-judicial functions, as well as the investing on nonjudicial officers with judicial powers. Any attempt at such delegation is unconstitutional and void.
The distinction is between a delegation of power to make the law, which involves a discretion as to what
the law shall be, which delegationis void; and the delegation of authority or discretion as to the execution
of a law to be exercised under, and in pursuance of the law, to which delegation no objection can be made.
The legislature may delegate its authority to make findings of fact, and the fact-finding power may be
conferred for putting into effect, suspending, or applying the law. But where delegation to a fact-finding
body empowers it to create the conditions which constitute the fact, the delegation is invalid.
The test of completeness has been said to be whether the provision is sufficiently definite and certain to
enable one to know his rights and obligations thereunder.
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