Monthly Archives: April 2013

Republic of the Philippines vs. IAC and Spouses Pastor (G.R. No. 69344. April 26, 1991)


Roberto L. Bautista for private respondents.



Republic of the Philippines, through the Bureau of Internal Revenue, commenced an action in the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court), to collect from the spouses Antonio Pastor and Clara Reyes-Pastor deficiency income taxes for the years 1955 to 1959 with surcharge and monthly interest, and costs. The Pastors filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, but the motion was denied. They filed an answer admitting there was an assessment against them for income tax deficiency but denying liability therefor. They contended that they had availed of the tax amnesty under P.D.’s Nos. 23, 213 and 370 and had paid the corresponding amnesty taxes amounting of their reported untaxed income under P.D. 23, and a final payment on October 26, 1973 under P.D. 370 evidenced by the Government’s Official Receipt. The trial court held that the respondents had settled their income tax deficiency for the years 1955 to 1959, not under P.D. 23 or P.D. 370, but under P.D. 213.

The Government appealed to the Intermediate Appellant Court, alleging that the private respondents were not qualified to avail of the tax amnesty under P.D. 213 for the benefits of that decree are available only to persons who had no pending assessment for unpaid taxes, as provided in Revenue Regulations Nos. 8-72 and 7-73. Since the Pastors did in fact have a pending assessment against them, they were precluded from availing of the amnesty granted in P.D.’s Nos. 23 and 213. The Government further argued that “tax exemptions should be interpreted strictissimi juris against the taxpayer. The Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) rendered a decision dismissing the Government’s appeal and holding that the payment of deficiency income taxes by the Pastors under PD. No. 213, and the acceptance thereof by the Government, operated to divest the latter of its right to further recover deficiency income taxes from the private respondents pursuant to the existing deficiency tax assessment against them.


Whether or not the tax amnesty payments made by the private respondents bar an action for recovery of deficient income taxes under P.D.’s Nos. 23, 213 and 370.


YES. Petition for review is denied.


[T]he Government is estopped from collecting the difference between the deficiency tax assessment and the amount already paid by them as amnesty tax. The finding of the appellate court that the deficiency income taxes were paid by the Pastors, and accepted by the Government, under P.D. 213, granting amnesty to persons who are required by law to file income tax returns but who failed to do so, is entitled to the highest respect and may not be disturbed except under exceptional circumstances

The rule is that in case of doubt, tax statutes are to be construed strictly against the Government and liberally in favor of the taxpayer strictisimi juris for taxes, being burdens, are not to be presumed beyond what the applicable statute (in this case P.D. 213) expressly and clearly declares.


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People vs. Walpan Ladjaalam y Milapil (G.R. No. 136149-51. September 19, 2000)






The trial court found the appelant guilty of maintaining a drug den, an offense for which was sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Appelant’s guilt was established by the testimony of Prosecution Witness , who himself had used the extension house of appellant as a drug den on several occasions, including the time of the raid. The former’s testimony was corroborated by all the raiding police officers who testified before the court. That appelant did not deny ownership of the house and its extension lent credence to the prosecution’s story.

The trial court also convicted appellant of direct assault with multiple counts of attempted homicide. It found that “[t]he act of the accused [of] firing an M14 rifle [at] the policemen[,] who were about to enter his house to serve a search warrant x x x” constituted such complex crime. Aside from finding appellant guilty of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide, the trial court convicted him also of the separate offense of illegal possession of firearms under PD 1866, as amended by RA 8294, and sentenced him to 6 years of prision correccional to 8 years of prision mayor.


Whether or not appellant can be convicted separately of illegal possession of firearms after using said firearm in the commission of another crime.


NO. The appealed Decision was affirmed with modifications. Appellant is found guilty only of two offenses: (1) direct assault and multiple attempted homicide with the use of a weapon and (2) maintaining a drug den.


The law is clear: the accused can be convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that “no other crime was committed by the person arrested.” If the intention of the law in the second paragraph were to refer only to homicide and murder, it should have expressly said so, as it did in the third paragraph. Verily, where the law does not distinguish, neither should [the courts].

The Court is aware that this ruling effectively exonerates appellant of illegal possession of an M-14 rifle, an offense which normally carries a penalty heavier than that for direct assault. While the penalty for the first is prision mayor, for the second it is only prision correccional. Indeed, the accused may evade conviction for illegal possession of firearms by using such weapons in committing an even lighter offense, like alarm and scandal or slight physical injuries, both of which are punishable by arresto menor. This consequence, however, necessarily arises from the language of RA 8294, whose wisdom is not subject to the Court’s review. Any perception that the result reached here appears unwise should be addressed to Congress. Indeed, the Court has no discretion to give statutes a new meaning detached from the manifest intendment and language of the legislature. [The Court’s] task is constitutionally confined only to applying the law and jurisprudence to the proven facts, and [this Court] have done so in this case.


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Centeno vs. Pernillos and People (G.R. No. 113092. September 01, 1994)

MARTIN CENTENO, petitioner
HON. VICTORIA VILLALON-PORNILLOS, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 10, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Santiago V. Marcos, Jr. for petitioner.

Ponente: REGALADO J.


Respondent Judge filed a case against petitioner in violation of Presidential Decree No. 1564, or the Solicitation Permit Law, before the Municipal Trial Court (criminal case). Petitioner filed a motion to quash the information 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 by the trial court, and petitioner’s motion for reconsideration having met the same fate, trial on the merits ensued. Trial court found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied by the court.


Whether or not the phrase “charitable purposes” should be construed in its broadest sense so as to include a religious purpose.


NO. Decision appealed was reversed and set aside. Petitioner was acquitted.


[S]olicitation for religious purposes may be subject to proper regulation by the State in the exercise of police power. However, in the case at bar, considering that solicitations intended for a religious purpose are not within the coverage of Presidential Decree No. 1564, as earlier demonstrated, petitioner cannot be held criminally liable therefor.

[I]t is a well-entrenched rule that penal laws are to be construed strictly against the State and liberally in favor of the accused. They are not to be extended or enlarged by implications, intendments, analogies or equitable considerations.

[I]t 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 statute had the intention been not to restrict its meaning and to confine its terms to those expressly mentioned.


MENDOZA, concurring

First. Solicitation of contributions for the construction of a church is not solicitation for “charitable or public welfare purpose” but for a religious purpose, and a religious purpose is not necessarily a charitable or public welfare purpose. A fund campaign for the construction or repair of a church is not like fund drives for needy families or victims of calamity or for the construction of a civic center and the like. Like solicitation of subscription to religious magazines, it is part of the propagation of religious faith or evangelization. Such solicitation calls upon the virtue of faith, not of charity, save as those solicited for money or aid may not belong to the same religion as the solicitor. Such solicitation does not engage the philantrophic as much as the religious fervor of the person who is solicited for contribution.

Second. The purpose of the Decree is to protect the public against fraud in view of the proliferation of fund campaigns for charity and other civic projects. On the other hand, since religious fund drives are usually conducted among those belonging to the same religion, the need for public protection against fraudulent solicitations does not exist in as great a degree as does the need for protection with respect to solicitations for charity or civic projects so as to justify state regulation.

Third. To require a government permit before solicitation for religious purpose may be allowed is to lay a prior restraint on the free exercise of religion. Such restraint, if followed, may well justify requiring a permit before a church can make Sunday collections or enforce tithing. But in American Bible Society v. City of Manilawe precisely held that an ordinance requiring payment of a license fee before one may engage in business could not be applied to the appellant’s sale of bibles because that would impose a condition on the exercise of a constitutional right. It is for the same reason that religious rallies are exempted from the requirement of prior permit for public assemblies and other uses of public parks and streets.



Kilosbayan vs. Morato (G.R. No. 118910. July 17, 1995)

MANUEL L. MORATO, in his capacity as Chairman of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and the PHILIPPINE GAMING MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, respondents.

Ponente: MENDOZA


[T]his suit was filed seeking to declare the ELA invalid on the ground that it is substantially the same as the Contract of Lease nullified in the first case [decision in G.R. No. 113375 (Kilosbayan, Incorporated v. Guingona, 232 SCRA 110 (1994)) invalidating the Contract of Lease between the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Gaming Management Corp. (PGMC)]. Petitioners maintain (1) that the Equipment Lease Agreement (ELA) is a different lease contract with none of the vestiges of a joint venture which were found in the Contract of Lease nullified in the prior case; (2) that the ELA did not have to be submitted to a public bidding because it fell within the exception provided in E.O. No. 301, §1 (e); (3) that the power to determine whether the ELA is advantageous to the government is vested in the Board of Directors of the PCSO; (4) that for lack of funds the PCSO cannot purchase its own on-line lottery equipment and has had to enter into a lease contract; (5) that what petitioners are actually seeking in this suit is to further their moral crusade and political agenda, using the Court as their forum.


Whether or not the ELA between the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Gaming Management Corp. is invalid.


NO. Petition for prohibition, review and/or injunction was dismissed. Pertinent to the issue, the SC held:

x x x

(3) that the ELA is valid as a lease contract under the Civil Code and is not contrary to the charter of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office;

(4) that under §1(A) of its charter (R.A. 1169), the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office has authority to enter into a contract for the holding of an on-line lottery, whether alone or in association, collaboration or joint venture with another party, so long as it itselfholds or conducts such lottery; and

(5) That the Equipment Lease Agreement (ELA) in question did not have to be submitted to public bidding as a condition for its validity.


E.O. No. 301, §1 applies only to contracts for the purchase of supplies, materials and equipment. It does not refer to contracts of lease of equipment like the ELA. The provisions on lease are found in §§ 6 and 7 but they refer to the lease of privately-owned buildings or spaces for government use or of government-owned buildings or spaces for private use, and these provisions do not require public bidding. It is thus difficult to see how E.O. No. 301 can be applied to the ELA when the only feature of the ELA that may be thought of as close to a contract of purchase and sale is the option to buy given to the PCSO. An option to buy is not of course a contract of purchase and sale.

Indeed the question is not whether compared with the former joint venture agreement the present lease contract is “[more] advantageous to the government.” The question is whether under the circumstances, the ELA is the most advantageous contract that could be obtained compared with similar lease agreements which the PCSO could have made with other parties. Petitioners have not shown that more favorable terms could have been obtained by the PCSO or that at any rate the ELA, which the PCSO concluded with the PGMC, is disadvantageous to the government.


PADILLA, concurring

I join the majority in voting for the dismissal of the petition in this case.

As to whether or not the ELA is grossly disadvantageous to the government, it should be stressed that the matter involves, basically, a policy — determination by the executive branch which this Court should not ordinarily reverse or substitute with its own judgment, in keeping with the time honored doctrine of separation of powers.

VITUG, concurring

I most humbly reiterate the separate opinion I have made in Kilosbayan, Inc., et al., vs. Teofisto Guingona, Sr., etc., et al. (G.R. No. 113375, promulgated on 05 May 1994).

Back to the core of the petition, however, the matter of the legal standing of petitioners in their suit assailing the subject-contract appears to me, both under substantive law and the rules of procedure, to still be an insuperable issue. I have gone over carefully the pleadings submitted in G.R. No. 118910, and I regret my inability to see anything new that can convince me to depart from the view I have expressed on it in G.R. No. 113375.

FELICIANO, dissenting

With very great respect, it is submitted that the above conclusion has been merely assumed rather than demonstrated and that what is in fact before this Court does not adequately support such conclusion.

REGALADO, dissenting

I am constrained to respectfully dissent from the majority opinion premised on the constitutional and procedural doctrines posed and interpreted in tandem therein. I also regret that I have to impose on the majority with this virtual turno en contra when I could have indicated my disaccord by just joining Mr. Justice Davide in his commendably objective presentation of the minority position. I feel, however, that certain views that have been advanced require a rejoinder lest they lapse into the realm of unanimous precedents.

DAVIDE, dissenting

I register a dissenting vote.

I am disturbed by the sudden reversal of our rulings in KilosbayanInc., et al. vs. Guingona, et al. (hereinafter referred to as the first lotto case) regarding the application or interpretation of the exception clause in paragraph B, Section 1 of the Charter of the PCSO (R.A.. No. 1169), as amended by B.P. Blg. 442, and on the issue of locus standi of the petitioners to question the contract of lease involving the on-line lottery system entered into between the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Gaming Management Corporation (PGMC). Such reversal upsets the salutary doctrines of the law of the case, res judicata, and stare decisis. It puts to jeopardy the faith and confidence of the people, specially the lawyers and litigants, in the certainty and stability of the pronouncements of this Court. It opens the floodgates to endless litigations for re-examination of such pronouncements and weakens this Court’s judicial and moral authority to demand from lower courts obedience thereto and to impose sanctions for their opposite conduct.


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Cecilio de Villa vs Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 87416. April 8, 1991)

CECILIO S. DE VILLA, petitioner,

San Jose Enriquez, Lacas Santos & Borje for petitioner.

Eduardo R. Robles for private respondent.

Ponente: PARAS


[P]etitioner was charged before the Regional Trial Court with violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22. After arraignment and after private respondent had testified on direct examination, petitioner moved to dismiss the Information on the following grounds: x x x (b) That no offense was committed since the check involved was payable in dollars, hence, the obligation created is null and void pursuant to Republic Act No. 529 (An Act to Assure Uniform Value of Philippine Coin and Currency). Accused’s motion to dismiss was denied for lack of merit. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but his motion was subsequently denied by respondent court.


Whether or not B.P. No. 22 covers foreign (currency) checks.


YES. Petition was dismissed for lack of merit.


It is a cardinal principle in statutory construction that where the law does not distinguish courts should not distinguish. Parenthetically, the rule is that where the law does not make any exception, courts may not except something unless compelling reasons exist to justify it. Under the Bouncing Checks Law (B.P. Blg. 22), foreign checks, provided they are either drawn and issued in the Philippines though payable outside thereof, or made payable and dishonored in the Philippines though drawn and issued outside thereof, are within the coverage of said law. The law likewise applied to checks drawn against current accounts in foreign currency.

[I]t is well established that courts may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative body to assist in determining the construction of a statute of doubtful meaning (citation omitted). Thus, where there is doubts as to what a provision of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision during the legislative deliberation or discussion on the bill may be adopted (citation omitted). The records of the Batasan, Vol. III, unmistakably show that the intention of the lawmakers is to apply the law to whatever currency may be the subject thereof. Courts may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the legislative body to assist in determining the construction of a statute of doubtful meaning.


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People vs. Hon. Vicente Echavez, Jr. (G.R. Nos. L-47757-61 January 28, 1980)

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ABUNDIO R. ELLO, As 4th Assistant of Provincial Bohol VICENTE DE LA SERNA. JR., as complainant all private prosecutor, petitioners,
HON. VICENTE B. ECHAVES, JR., as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bohol Branch II, ANO DACULLO, GERONIMO OROYAN, MARIO APARICI, RUPERTO CAJES and MODESTO S SUELLO, respondents.

Ponente: AQUINO


Petitioner Ello filed with the lower court separate informations against sixteen persons charging them with squatting as penalized by Presidential Decree No. 772. Before the accused could be arraigned, respondent Judge Echaves motu proprio issued an omnibus order dismissing the five informations (out of 16 raffled) on the grounds (1) that it was alleged that the accused entered the land through “stealth and strategy”, whereas under the decree the entry should be effected “with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner”, and (2) that under the rule of ejusdem generis the decree does not apply to the cultivation of a grazing land. From the order of dismissal, the fiscal appealed to this Court under Republic Act No. 5440.


Whether or not P.D. No. 772 which penalizes squatting and similar acts, (also) apply to agricultural lands.


NO. Appeal was devoid of merit.Trial court’s dismissal was affirmed.


[T]he lower court correctly ruled that the decree does not apply to pasture lands because its preamble shows that it was intended to apply to squatting in urban communities or more particularly to illegal constructions in squatter areas made by well-to-do individuals. The squating complained of involves pasture lands in rural areas.

The rule of ejusdem generis (of the same kind or species) invoked by the trial court does not apply to this case. Here, the intent of the decree is unmistakable. It is intended to apply only to urban communities, particularly to illegal constructions. The rule of ejusdem generis is merely a tool of statutory construction which is resorted to when the legislative intent is uncertain.

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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Case Digests, Statutory Construction


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Defensor-Santiago vs. COMELEC (G.R. No. 127325. March 19, 1997)



COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JESUS DELFIN, ALBERTO PEDROSA & CARMEN PEDROSA, in their capacities as founding members of the People’s Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA), respondents.


Ponente: DAVIDE, JR.


Private respondent filed with public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) a “Petition to Amend the Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials, by People’s Initiative” (Delfin Petition) wherein Delfin asked the COMELEC for an order (1) Fixing the time and dates for signature gathering all over the country; (2) Causing the necessary publications of said Order and the attached “Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution, in newspapers of general and local circulation; and (3) Instructing Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Philippines, to assist Petitioners and volunteers, in establishing signing stations at the time and on the dates designated for the purpose. Delfin asserted that R.A. No. 6735 governs the conduct of initiative to amend the Constitution and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is a valid exercise of delegated powers. Petitioners contend that R.A. No. 6375 failed to be an enabling law because of its deficiency and inadequacy, and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is void.


Whether or not (1) the absence of subtitle for such initiative is not fatal, (2) R.A. No. 6735 is adequate to cover the system of initiative on amendment to the Constitution, and (3) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid. .


NO.  Petition (for prohibition) was granted. The conspicuous silence in subtitles simply means that the main thrust of the Act is initiative and referendum on national and local laws. R.A. No. 6735 failed to provide sufficient standard for subordinate legislation. Provisions COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 prescribing rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the Constitution are declared void.


Subtitles are intrinsic aids for construction and interpretation. R.A. No. 6735 failed to provide any subtitle on initiative on the Constitution, unlike in the other modes of initiative, which are specifically provided for in Subtitle II and Subtitle III. This deliberate omission indicates that the matter of people’s initiative to amend the Constitution was left to some future law. 

The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing. The petition then is the initiatory pleading. Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the COMELEC, sitting en banc. The only participation of the COMELEC or its personnel before the filing of such petition are (1) to prescribe the form of the petition; (2) to issue through its Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the total number of registered voters in each legislative district; (3) to assist, through its election registrars, in the establishment of signature stations; and (4) to verify, through its election registrars, the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters’ affidavits, and voters’ identification cards used in the immediately preceding election.

Since the Delfin Petition is not the initiatory petition under R.A. No. 6735 and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, it cannot be entertained or given cognizance of by the COMELEC. The respondent Commission must have known that the petition does not fall under any of the actions or proceedings under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure or under Resolution No. 2300, for which reason it did not assign to the petition a docket number. Hence, the said petition was merely entered as UND, meaning, undocketed. That petition was nothing more than a mere scrap of paper, which should not have been dignified by the Order of 6 December 1996, the hearing on 12 December 1996, and the order directing Delfin and the oppositors to file their memoranda or oppositions. In so dignifying it, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and merely wasted its time, energy, and resources.


PUNO, concurring and dissenting

I join the ground-breaking ponencia of our esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Davide insofar as it orders the COMELEC to dismiss the Delfin petition. I regret, however, I cannot share the view that R.A. No. 6735 and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 are legally defective and cannot implement the people’s initiative to amend the Constitution. I likewise submit that the petition with respect to the Pedrosas has no leg to stand on and should be dismissed. (MELO and MENDOZA concur)

VITUG, concurring and dissenting

I vote for granting the instant petition before the Court and for clarifying that the TRO earlier issued by the Court did not prescribe the exercise by the Pedrosas of their right to campaign for constitutional amendments.

[T]he TRO earlier issued by the Court which, consequentially, is made permanent under the ponencia should be held to cover only the Delfin petition and must not be so understood as having intended or contemplated to embrace the signature drive of the Pedrosas. The grant of such a right is clearly implicit in the constitutional mandate on people initiative.

FRANCISCO, concurring and dissenting

There is no question that my esteemed colleague Mr. Justice Davide has prepared a scholarly and well-written ponencia. Nonetheless, I cannot fully subscribe to his view that R. A. No. 6735 is inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. (MELO and MENDOZA concur)

PANGANIBAN, concurring and dissenting

Our distinguished colleague, Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., writing for the majority, holds that:

(1) The Comelec acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining the “initiatory” Delfin Petition.

(2) While the Constitution allows amendments to “be directly proposed by the people through initiative,” there is no implementing law for the purpose. RA 6735 is “incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned.”

(3) Comelec Resolution No. 2330, “insofar as it prescribes rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative on amendments to the Constitution, is void.”

I concur with the first item above. Until and unless an initiatory petition can show the required number of signatures — in this case, 12% of all the registered voters in the Philippines with at least 3% in every legislative district — no public funds may be spent and no government resources may be used in an initiative to amend the Constitution. Verily, the Comelec cannot even entertain any petition absent such signatures. However, I dissent most respectfully from the majority’s two other rulings.


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