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[AGUSTIN PANALIGAN v. CITY OF TACLOBAN](http://lawyerly.ph/juris/view/c3047?user=fbGU2WFpmaitMVEVGZ2lBVW5xZ2RVdz09)
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[ GR No. L-9319, Sep 27, 1957 ]

AGUSTIN PANALIGAN v. CITY OF TACLOBAN +

DECISION

G. R. No. L-9319

[ G. R. No. L-9319, September 27, 1957 ]

AGUSTIN PANALIGAN, CASIMERO SEBOLINO, EPIFANIA UDTUJAN, VALENTIN CAMPOSANO, ANGELES GUANTERO, ESTEBBAN JUNTILLA. CIRIACA DE GALAGAR, MARCOS SAMSON, RAMON HERNANDEZ OR ARANDES, EPIFANIO PABILONA, AND PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, PETITIONERS-APPELLEES, VS. THE CITY OF TACLOBAN AND THE CITY TREASURER OF TIE CITY OF TACLOBAN, RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.

D E C I S I O N

FELIX, J.:

The City of Tacloban and the Treasurer thereof appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Leyte rendered in Civil Case No. 1767 declaring Ordinances Nos. 13 and 18, series of 1949, and Nos. 34 and 42, series of 1952, null and void. The facts of the case are as follows:

On March 26, 1954, AgustIn Panaligan, Casimiro Sebolino, Epifania Udtujan, Valentin Camposano, Angeles Guantero, Esteban Juntilla, Ciriaca de Galagar, Marcos Samson, Ramon Hernandez or Arandes, Epifanio Pabilona and Pedro Rodriguez, all residents; of the City of Tacloban, filed a petition for mandamus With the Court of First Instance of Leyte. The petition alleged that pursuant to Ordinance No. 13, as amended by Ordinance No. 18, series of 1999, and further amended by Ordinances Nos. 34 and 42, series of 1952, imposing inspection fees for every head of hog, cattle and carabao that was shipped or transported between the months of April and December,  1952, from Tacloban to other places, respondents City of Tacloban and the Treasurer thereof collected from petitioners,  duly receipted, the following amounts,  to wit:
1. AGUSTlN PAMALIGAN:  
   
Date
Amount
   
March 20, 1952
P143.00
April 21 1952
90.00
April 21, 1952
116.00
April 21, 1952
44.00
May 3 1952
110.00
May 10, 1952
102.00
May 12, 1952
86.00
May 17, 1952
92.00
May 24, 1952
122.00
May 31, 1952
122.00
June 7, 1952
120.00
Oct. 1952
60.00
Nov. 18 1952 
35.00
Dec. 2, 1952
30.00
 
_________
 
P1,418.00
 
2. CASIMIRO SEBOLINO:
 
Date
Amount
   
May 7, 1952
P140.00
June 30 1952
38.00
Aug. 18 1952
280.00
Sept. 10, 1952
20.00
Sept. 27 1952
140.00
Oct. 10, 1952
160.00
Nov. 29, 1952
80.00
 
_________
 
P1,200.00
 

1. EPIFANlA UDTUJAN:

 
Date
Amount
   
July 26, 1952
P120.00
Aug. 16, 1952
800.00
Sept. 5, 1952 .
300.00
Sept. 11, 1952
220.00
Sept. 22 1952
100.00
Oct. 13 1952
160.00
Oct. 22 1952
100.00
 
_________
 
P1,800.00
   
4. VAIENTlH CAMPOSANO:  
   
Date
Amount
   
May 5, 1952
P240.00
   
5. ANGELES GUANTERO:  
   
Date
Amount
   
Oct. 7, 19?2
P200.00
Nov.. 18, 1952
100.00
 
________
 
P300.00
   

6. ESIEBAN JUNTILLA: .  

 
   
Date
Amount
   
5 May 19, 1952
P200.00
   
7. CIRIACA DE GALAGAR:   
   
Date
Amount
   
May 8, 1952
P100.00
   
8. MARCOS SAMSON:  
   
Date
Amount
   
Apr. 21, 1952
P180.00
June 2, 1952
180.00
 
________
 
P360.00
   
9. RAMON HERNANDEZ OR ARANDES:  
   
Date
Amount
   
Apr. 8, 1952
P240.00
June 25, 19?2
300.00
 
________
 
P540
   
10. BRIFARIO PABILONA:     
   
Date
Amount
   
April 3, 1952
P100.00
   
11. 'PEDRO RODRIGUEZ:      
   
Date
Amount
   
July 23, 1952
P168.00
July 23, 1952
140.00
July 29, 1952
134.00
 
___________
GRAND TOTAL
P6,700.00;
that the so-called "inspection fee"  imposed by said ordinances in reality partook of the nature of an export tax which under Section 2287 of the Administrative Code a municipal council it   cannot impose;    that for this reason and  in virtue  of the Department of Finance provincial circular dated April 17,  1947, implementing the aforesaid  section of the Administrative Code, the Undersecretary of Finance,  in answer to a query by one  of the petitioners, rendered an opinion holding that the fees thus collected were  illegal and  same must be refunded to the taxpayers;   ''that notwithstanding the fact that this view was subscribed to by the City Treasurer and City Attorney of Tacloban, respondents failed to refund  the  same  to petitioners. Petitioners, therefore,  prayed that the ordinances  in question be declared null and void;    that respondents be ordered to refund to petitioners the respective amounts due them;    that every petitioner be awarded moral damages  in the amount of P5,000.00 and attorney's fees  in the  sum of P3,000.00;   for costs and for such other relief as may be deemed  just and equitable in the premises.

On April 6,  1954, respondents filed a motion to dismiss contending that an action for mandamus was not proper  in the case at bar for although administrative  officials as  the Secretary of Finance,   the City Treasurer and the City Attorney formed opinions that the collections made  in accordance with the ordinances were null and void,  still unless the same were declared illegal by the courts,  petitioners acquired no specific, clear and certain legal rights which could be enforced by a special civil action,  and  that petitioners  could have prosecuted the same by means  of an ordinary civil case.

This motion was denied by the lower Court on the ground that the Supreme Court had ruled that the question of the constitutionality of a law or order could be entertained in a mandamus proceedings and respondents were thus required to answer the petition in five days from receipt of the order of denial.

Within the prescribed period, respondents filed their answer contending, among other things, that petitioners had not exhausted all the administrative and judicial remedies in the ordinary course of law before resorting to a special civil action; that respondents were willing to make a refund of the amounts collected from petitioners when ordered by the Court to do so, and that the Municipal Board of the City of Tacloban was an indispensable party to the action which should be made a party respondent.

The records show that the parties entered into a stipulation of facts which reads as follows:
  1. That the parties-petitioners are all of age and residents of the City of Tacloban, represented by Atty. Antonio C. Veloso, and the respondents are the City of Tacloban, represented by the City Mayor, and the City Treasurer, both represented by the City Attorney;

  2. That the collection of the alleged illegal taxes has been collected and effected by the defunct municipality of Tacloban through the Municipal Treasurer of said municipality, which amounted to P6,700.00, all, supported, by official receipts and (showing) the respective dates of issuance thereof;

  3. That a demand has been made by the petitioners in person and through their counsel asking for the refund of the alleged illegal taxes, but which the City Treasurer could not properly effect such refund for lack of appropriation;

  4. That the City Treasurer and the City Mayor, in line with their respective duties enjoined upon them by law which is to approve and effect the refund up to the present the Municipal Board of the City of Tacloban has not appropriated an amount to cover up the refund of the claim of the petitioners and for which reason no refund up to the present has been made;

  5. That the parties through their respective counsel are willing to submit to the court the determination of the legality of municipal ordinances Nos. 18 and 135 both series of 1952, municipal ordinance No.34,  series of 1949,  and municipal ordinance No.  42 series of 1949,  and the latest ordinance on the matter Which is ordinance No.  18,  series of 1952, approved on March 25,  1952,  on the basis of the pleadings and the supporting papers thereto,  copies of which are hereto attached as Annexes "A",  "B", "C", and "D".

  6. That the parties-petitioners are willing to forego all claims for damages and attorney's fees as  contained in paragraph 8 of the petition."
Based.on the foregoing stipulation the  trial Court rendered decision dated May 27,  1954, declaring the ordinances in question, as last amended by Ordinance No.  18,  series of 1952, illegal because  they contravened the provisions of Section 2287 of the Revised Administrative Code and,  consequently, ordered respondents to provide for the necessary funds with ¬¶which to reimburse petitioners of the amounts collected from them.

After their motion for reconsideration was denied,  respondents brought the matter on appeal to the Court of Appeals but the latter certified  the  case  to Us  on the  ground  that as it involves the validity of Ordinances Nos.  34, 42,  13 and 18 of the City of Tacloban,  the appeal should properly be taken to this Court pursuant to Section 14( 1)  of the Judiciary Act of 1948.

Ordinance No.  18,   the latest amendment to Ordinance No. 34 (s-1949)  of the City of Tacloban which was approved  on March 25, 1952,  reads as follows:
MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 18

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES NOS. 34 and 42, SERIES OF 1949, AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 13, SERIES OF 1952, IMPOSING  INSPECTION FEES OF TWO PESOS FOR EACH HOG,  TEN PESOS FOR EACH CATTLE AND TWENTY PESOS FOR EACH CARABAO TRANSPORTED TO OTHER PLACES AND PENALTIES FOR THE VIOLATION THEREFOR.
Be it ordained by authority of the Municipal Council of Tacloban, that:
Section 1. No person, commercial firm or corporation shall transport, ship, carry or transfer cattle, carabao, or carabaos, and hog or hogs to any other places from the Port of Tacloban or from any place "within the jurisdiction of the municipality of Tacloban, without first submitting said animals for inspection by the Municipal Mayor or his authorized representative of Tacloban and the Veterinary Officer or Inspector, showing the number of cattle, carabaos or hogs, males or females, their corresponding weights, age and condition and the place where same are to be transported.

Section 2. There will be collected an "inspection fee" of ten pesos for each head of cattle, twenty pesos for each head of carabao and two pesos for each head of hog by the Municipal Treasurer of Tacloban, or his legal representative to be transported, shipped, carried or transferred to other places for which the inspection certificate is issued.

Section 3. Any person, firm or corporation who violates any of the provisions hereof, shall be punished upon, conviction by a fine of not exceeding two hundred pesos., or imprisonment of not exceeding three months, or both, at the discretion of the Court.  In the case of  a firm or corporation, the President or Manager, or the person in charge shall be held personally liable and criminally responsible for the violation of this ordinance.

Section 4. This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon its,approval.

APPROVED, March 25, 1952.
Section 2287 of the Revised Administrative Code prescribes:
SEC. 2287.  FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES GOVERNING MUNICIPAL TAXATION. -  x    x    x.
It shall not be in the power of the municipal council to impose a tax in any form whatever upon goods and merchandise carried into the municipality, or out of the Same;  and any attempt to impose an import or export tax upon such goods  in the guise  of an unreasonable charge for wharfage, use  of bridges or otherwise, shall be void. x x.
Considering the provisions of  this  section,  the  issue in the instant case  is whether the municipal council of Tacloban, which became a  city in June,  1952,  can impose an "inspection fee"  on certain animals  shipped or transported from said place  to another,  and consequently whether or not * the ordinances  imposing such "inspection fee" are valid.

Respondents-appellants,   treating the amounts collected in the case at bar as license fees,  assert that in the determination of the reasonableness,  of a license fee,   it must be remembered that there are 3 classes  of licenses,  each with distinct  characteristics:     (1)  licenses for the regulation of useful occupations or enterprises;   (2)  licenses for the regulation or restriction of non-useful occupations or enterprises;    and  (3)  licenses for revenue   (purposes)  only.    The first 2 classes are based on the exercise  of police power and although there are conflict of authority on this point,   the better rule on the matter  seems to be that the  conferred power to regulate and  to  issue  such licenses  carries with it the fc   right to fix a   license fee  (Cu Unjieng vs.  Patstone,  42 Phil.  818).    Respondents maintain that the fees  in question fall under the first class of licenses they being required purely as a regulatory measure enacted  in the exercise of the police power of the municipal corporation,  and the most that the courts can do is merely to reduce the amount of fees  if they are deemed excessive,  but not to declare  the same as  illegal.

Granting arguendo that the respondent City enacted  the questioned ordinances  in virtue of its police power and that in the exercise of the  same a municipal corporation has  the right to grant licenses and  impose license fees  (City of Birmingham vs. Hood-McPherson Realty Co.,  172 So.  114  108 ALR 1140), yet such power may be restricted by statutory provisions, and nowhere in the Charter of the City of Tacloban (Republic Act No. 760, enacted long after the effectivity of the Revised Administrative Code),  can be found; any specific provision bestowing on the Municipal Board  the power to impose  tax or fees of any kind on goods,  merchandise  or commodities destined to be exported from that City to other parts of the country. Therefore,  Section 2287 of the Revised Administrative Code aforequoted, which takes away from the municipal council  (or board)  the power to impose export taxes,  remains to be the rule on the matter.    While  it is true  that Section 14 (e)  of Republic Act No. 760 confers  on the Municipal Board the power
(e) To fix the tariff of fees and charges for all services rendered by the city, or any of its department, branches or officials, 
a close scrutiny of the ordinances complained of reveals  that the fees therein imposed are not by reason of the  services performed by the Mayor or the Veterinary Officer, but as an imposition on every head of the specified animals to be transported.    The fact that the ordinances  in question make no reference to the purpose for which they were enacted,  and  that such purpose was  to preserve  the public health or welfare  of the residents.and people of the City of Tacloban is a  clear indication that leads Us  to believe  that the fees exacted were not as "a regulatory measure  in the: exercise of its police power, but for the purpose of raising revenue under the guise of license or inspection fees.

In order that an act or ordinance  imposing an excise or license tax may be sustained as a valid exercise of the police .power, it must be intended  to promote or be  sufficiently related to the public health, morals,   safety or welfare.    An act or ordinance  imposing a license or license tax under the police power as a means of regulation .is valid only when it  is within the limits of  such power and  is  intended for regula- tion, otherwise,  it is invalid as where the license or tax is unnecessarily imposed on an occupation or business not inherently subject to police regulation  (Southwest Utility Ice Co. vs. Liebmann,  52 P.  2d 349),  for an act' or ordinance  imposing a license  or license  tax for revenue purposes,  under the guise of a police or regulatory measure,   is invalid  (Southern Fruit Co. vs. Porter,  199 S.E.  537).

WHEREFORE and on the  strength of  the foregoing considerations, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Paras,  C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes,  J.B.L., and Endencia, JJ., concur.

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