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93 Phil.

699 – Political Law – The Judiciary – Te Legislature – Separation of Powers


Statutory Construction – Who May Interpret Laws
Saturnino David, the then Collector of Internal Revenue, ordered the taxing of Justice Pastor
Endencia’s and Justice Fernando Jugo’s (and other judges’) salary pursuant to Sec. 13 of
Republic Act No. 590 which provides that
No salary wherever received by any public officer of the Republic of the Philippines shall be
considered as exempt from the income tax, payment of which is hereby declared not to be a
diminution of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or by law.

The judges however argued that under the case of Perfecto vs Meer, judges are exempt from
taxation – this is also in observance of the doctrine of separation of powers, i.e., the executive,
to which the Internal Revenue reports, is separate from the judiciary; that under the Constitution,
the judiciary is independent and the salaries of judges may not be diminished by the other
branches of government; that taxing their salaries is already a diminution of their benefits/salaries
(see Section 9, Art. VIII, Constitution).
The Solicitor General, arguing in behalf of the CIR, states that the decision in Perfecto vs Meer
was rendered ineffective when Congress enacted Republic Act No. 590.
ISSUE: Whether or not Sec 13 of RA 590 is constitutional.
HELD: No. The said provision is a violation of the separation of powers. Only courts have the
power to interpret laws. Congress makes laws but courts interpret them. In Sec. 13, R.A. 590,
Congress is already encroaching upon the functions of the courts when it inserted the phrase:
“payment of which [tax] is hereby declared not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by the
Constitution or by law.”
Here, Congress is already saying that imposing taxes upon judges is not a diminution of their
salary. This is a clear example of interpretation or ascertainment of the meaning of the phrase
“which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office,” found in Section 9, Article VIII of
the Constitution, referring to the salaries of judicial officers. This act of interpreting the Constitution
or any part thereof by the Legislature is an invasion of the well-defined and established province
and jurisdiction of the Judiciary.
“The rule is recognized elsewhere that the legislature cannot pass any declaratory act, or act
declaratory of what the law was before its passage, so as to give it any binding weight with the
courts. A legislative definition of a word as used in a statute is not conclusive of its meaning as
used elsewhere; otherwise, the legislature would be usurping a judicial function in defining a term.
The interpretation and application of the Constitution and of statutes is within the exclusive
province and jurisdiction of the judicial department, and that in enacting a law, the Legislature
may not legally provide therein that it be interpreted in such a way that it may not violate a
Constitutional prohibition, thereby tying the hands of the courts in their task of later interpreting
said statute, especially when the interpretation sought and provided in said statute runs counter to
a previous interpretation already given in a case by the highest court of the land.
Endencia and Jugo v. David Case No. 98 G.R. No. L-6355-56 (August 31, 1953)

FACTS:

RA 590 declares that no salary received by a public officer shall be considered exempt from income tax,
payment of which is hereby declared not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by law. While Art. 8, Sec.
9 of the Constitution states that judges shall receive compensation as fixed by law, which shall not be
diminished during their continuance in office. Petitioners question the legality of RA 590.

ISSUE:

W/N RA 590 unconstitutional.

HELD:

No. Saying that the taxing of the salary of a judicial officer is not a decrease in compensation is a clear
interpretation of “Which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office”, by the Legislature.
Through the separation of powers, such a task must be done by the Judiciary. Judicial officers are exempt from
taxes on his salary not for his own benefit but for the public, to secure and preserve his independence of
judicial thought and action.

Eliseo Silva v. Belen Cabrera Case No. 146 G.R. No. L-3629 (March 19, 1951)

FACTS:

Respondent filed an application with the Public Service Commission for a certificate of public convenience, to
be able to operate an ice plant in the City of Lipa. Petitioner, owner of another ice plant already in the same
area, opposed Respondent’s application, claiming that public convenience did not need another ice plant. Atty.
Aspillera was delegated by the Commissioner to receive testimony and conduct hearing of the contest;
thereafter the Commission en banc rendered a decision that Respondent was allowed to operate the ice plant.
After which, Petitioner claimed that under the law, no one except the Commissioner may hear contested cases.

ISSUE:

W/N delegation to Atty. Aspillera to hear the case is lawful.

HELD:

No, the delegation is unlawful. Although Sec. 32 of Public Service Act allows the Commission to delegate to any
of their attorneys the right to receive evidence or take testimony, Sec. 3 of the same act provides that in (1) all
contested cases and (2) cases involving fixing of rates, the reception of evidence may only be delegated to one
of the Commissioners.

Thus, though the law makes it inconvenient or cumbersome for the Commission to handle contested cases,
where the law is clear, the Commission nor the Court may not disregard, circumvent, or interpret the law any
other way. Plus, you have to look at the entire Act, and not just specific provisions, in applying the law.
People of the Philippines v. Mapa Case No. 213 G.R. No. L-22301 (August 30, 1967)

FACTS:

Defendant was accused of illegal possession of firearms. He invokes in his defense that he was an appointed
Secret Agent of the provincial Governor of Batangas. He sought to be acquitted as the case of People v.
Macarandang used the same defense providing evidences of his appointment.

ISSUE:

W/N a Secret Agent falls among those authorized to possess firearms.

HELD:

No. The court held that the law cannot be any clearer. The law does not contain any exception for secret agent
therefore holding this position would not constitute a sufficient defense to a prosecution for a crime of illegal
possession of firearm and ammunitions. Wherefore the conviction of the accused must stand. The Court’s
ruling overturned that of People v. Macarandang.

Cebu Portland Cement v. Municipality of Naga, Cebu Case No. 53 G.R. Nos. 24116-17 (August 22, 1968)

FACTS:

Efforts of defendant Treasurer to collect from Plaintiff municipal license tax from 1960, 1961, as well as
penalties, amounting to a total sum of P204,300, have all been met with rebuff. Municipal tax imposed by
Amended Ordinance No. 21. Finally on June 26, 1961, defendant Treasurer decides to avail of Civil remedies as
provided for under Sec. 2304 of the Revised Administrative Code; he gives Plaintiff a period of ten (10) days
within which to settle the account from receipt thereof. On July 6, 1961, defendant Treasurer notified the
Plant Manager of the Plaintiff that he was distraining 100,000 bags of Apo Cement in satisfaction of Plaintiff’s
delinquency in municipal license tax; notice was received by Plant Officer-in-Charge Vicente T. Garagay, who
acknowledged the distraint. Said articles (the cement bags) will be sold by public auction to the highest bidder
on July 27, 1961, proceeds thereof will in part be utilized to settle the account. Despite notice of sale, it did not
take place on July 27, 1961 but on January 30, 1962

ISSUE:

W/N the distraint and public auction were valid.

HELD:

Both actions are valid. According to the Revised Administrative Code: “The remedy by distraint shall proceed as
follows: Upon failure of the person owing any municipal tax or revenue to pay the same, at the time required,
the municipal treasurer may seize and distraint any personal property belonging to such person or any
property subject to the tax lien, in sufficient quantity to satisfy the tax or charge in question, together with any
increment thereto incident to delinquency and the expenses of the distraint.” The clear and explicit language
of the law leaves no room for doubt. Also, this being a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, Plaintiff must be
deemed to have accepted as conclusive the findings of the lower court which upheld the validity of the auction.
United Christian Missionary Society vs. Social Security Commission Case No. 293 G.R. No. L-26712-16
(December 27, 1969)

FACTS:

Petitioner is a volunteer group that did not know that they had to pay tax for their operations. Nevertheless,
upon knowledge thereof, they paid their premium remittances but refused to pay the incredible penalty fees
since they did not know that they had to pay the aforementioned premium remittances, claiming that the
assessed penalties were inequitable. Respondent said that their organization is embraced in the Social Security
Act; therefore the assessed penalties are imposed on them.

ISSUE:

W/N Respondent erred in ruling that it has no authority under the Social Security Act to condone, waive or
relinquish the penalty prescribed by law for late payment of remittances.

HELD:

Respondent has no such authority. Petition is dismissed on the ground that in the absence of an express
provision in the Social Security Act vesting Respondent the power to condone penalties, it has no legal
authority to condone, waive, or relinquish the penalty for late premium remittances mandatorily imposed
under the SS Act. The reason of the law is “to develop, establish gradually and perfect a social security system
which shall be suitable to the needs of the people… to provide employees against the hazards of disability,
sickness, old age, and death.” Good faith and bad faith are irrelevant since the law makes no distinction. Where
the language of the law is clear and the intent of the legislature is equally plain, there is no room for
interpretation.

People v. Quijada Case No. G.R. Nos. 115008 (July 24, 1996)

FACTS:

Respondent killed Diosdado Iroy using an unlicensed firearm. He was convicted of 2 offenses, which were
separately filed: 1) Murder under Art. 248 of the RPC 2) Illegal possession of firearms in its aggravated form
under PD 1866 Par 2 of Sec 1 of P.D. 1866 states that, “If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an
unlicensed firearm, the penalty of death shall be imposed.”

ISSUE: 1) W/N the trial court’s judgment should be sustained in conformity with the doctrine laid down in
People v. Tac-an, People v. Tiozon, People v. Caling, etc. OR to modify the judgment and convict the appellant
only of illegal possession of firearm in its aggravated form pursuant to People v. Barros. 2) W/N the 2nd par of
Sec 1 of PD1866 integrated illegal possession of firearm and the resultant killing into a single integrated
offense.

HELD: 1) The trial court’s judgment is affirmed. 2) 2nd par of Sec 1 of P.D. 1866 does not support a conclusion
that intended to treat said two offenses as a single and integrated offense of “illegal possession with homicide
or murder”. It does not use the clause “as a result” or “on the occasion of ”to evince an intention to create a
single integrated crime, but rather it uses the clause “with the use of”.
Ala Mode Garments, Inc. v. NLRC Case No. 7 G. R. No. 122165 (February 17, l997)

FACTS:

Respondents were both employees of Petitioner and holding position as line leaders, tasked to supervise 36
sewers each. On May 5 and 6, l993, all the line leaders did not report for work. On May 6, l993, Private
Respondents were not allowed to enter the premises of the Petitioner, and then required to submit written
explanations as to their absence. On May 10, l993, Private Respondents tendered their explanation letters.
Despite their explanation, they were not allowed to resume their work and were advised to await the decision
of the management whether or not the real reason for their absence was intended to sabotage the operations
of Petitioner. But other line leaders were allowed to resume their work despite their absence on May 5 and 6,
l993.

ISSUE: 1. W/N the failure of Petitioner to allow Private Respondents from resuming their work constitutes
dismissal from the service? 2. W/N the Labor Arbiter erred in limiting the award of backwages for only a period
not exceeding three 3 years?

HELD:

Under the old doctrine, the backwages that can be awarded to illegally dismissed employees was not to exceed
a period of three years. However, a new doctrine allowed the awarding of “full” backwages and also prevented
the company from deducting the earnings of the illegally dismissed employees elsewhere during the pendency
of their case. The Labor Arbiter was wrong in awarding backwages for a period of not exceeding three years.

Enrile v. Salazar Case No. 40 G.R. No. 92163 (June 5, 1990)

FACTS:

Petitioner was arrested and charged with the crime of rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murders
allegedly committed during a failed coup attempt from November 29 to December 10, 1990. Petitioners
contend that they are being charged for a criminal offense that does not exist in the statute books because
technically, the crime of rebellion cannot be complexed with other offenses committed on the occasion
thereof.

ISSUE:

W/N case of Petitioners falls under the Hernandez doctrine.

HELD:

The doctrine in the case People v. Hernandez remains as the binding doctrine operating to prohibit the
complexing of rebellion with any other offense committed on the occasion thereof. The charges of murder and
multiple frustrated murders are absorbed in the crime of simple rebellion. Therefore, charges against
Petitioners in the information should be understood as that of simple rebellion under the RPC. Furthermore, in
a concurring opinion, Justice Feliciano states that if the court ruled that the charges of murder could be
prosecuted separately from rebellion, then the principle of non-retroactivity would be violated.
Banco de Oro Savings and Mortgage Bank v. Equitable Banking Corporation Case No. 12 G.R. No. 74917
(January 20, 1988)

FACTS:

Respondent Bank filed a case against Petitioner Bank for reimbursement of P45,982.23 as a consequence of six
crossed Manager’s checks which turned out to have forged and/or unauthorized endorsements appearing at
the back of each check. Philippine Clearing House Corp. (PCHC) ordered Petitioner Bank to pay the said
amount. Petitioner Bank appealed saying that PCHC had no jurisdiction because the checks involved were non-
negotiable checks.

ISSUE:

W/N PCHC had jurisdiction over checks which are non-negotiable.

HELD:

Yes. As provided in the articles of incorporation of PCHC, its operation extends to “clearing checks and other
clearing items.” Clearly, the term “checks” refer to checks in general use in commercial and business activities,
including nonnegotiable checks. No doubt non-negotiable checks are within the ambit of PCHC’s jurisdiction.
There should be no distinction in the application of a statute where none is indicated for courts are not
authorized to distinguish where the law makes no distinction. They should instead administer the law not as
they think it ought to be but as they find it and without regard to consequences.

Vda. De Macabenta v. Davao Stevedore Terminal Company Case No. 156 G.R. No. L-27489 (April 30, 1970)

FACTS:

At the time the decedent met the vehicular accident on September 12, 1961, which led to his death 16 days
later, the claimant-widow was not yet married to the decedent although they had already been living together
as husband and wife for the past 3 months. However, on the day following the accident, they were lawfully
wedded. The claimant widow gave birth on April 8, 1962, to the posthumous daughter of the deceased,
Racquel.

ISSUE:

W/N the widow and posthumous child are considered dependents under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.

HELD:

Yes. According to the Workmen’s Compensation Act, a widow living with the deceased or actually dependent
upon him totally or partly as well as her daughter, if under 18 years of age or incapable of supporting herself,
and unmarried, whether or not actually dependent on the deceased are considered dependents. Although not
his wife at the time of the accident but at the time of his death, are still considered dependents under the Act.