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[ GR No. 45230, Oct 31, 1936 ]



63 Phil. 768

[ G. R. No. 45230, October 31, 1936 ]




This is a  petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the respondent, as Collector of Customs for the Port of Manila, to allow the importation free of duty of five (5) bags of rice from Hongkong, and to  release  the same to the herein petitioners.

The petition alleges that on April 23, 1936, the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines issued Proclamation No. 58, declaring therein that a state of  emergency exists  in view of the serious shortage of rice in  the Philippines; that by virtue of the said proclamation and of Customs Administrative Order No. 317, the petitioners, being distressed individuals directly affected by the aforesaid rice shortage,  imported five bags of rice from  Hongkong, for their  own use and that of their  respective families; that the petitioners filed  with the Bureau of Customs the import entry covering the  aforesaid importation,  together with their respective affidavits, as required by Customs Administrative Order  No. 317,  declaring the said  rice to be free of duty under paragraph 354 of the Philippine Tariff Act of 1909, as amended by Act No. 4198 of the  Philippine Legislature; that the respondent  has refused  and still refuses to admit the aforesaid importation free of duty under the aforesaid  paragraph 354 of the Philippine Tariff Act of 1909 as amended; that the petitioners have no plain, speedy and adequate remedy to have the aforesaid importation  admitted into this port free  of duty  other than this action.

In his answer the respondent alleges that the petitioners are well-to-do persons and  are not distressed individuals within the meaning of paragraph 354 of the Philippine Tariff Act of 1909, as amended by Act No. 4198; that Act No. 4198, which amends paragraph 354 of the Philippine Tariff Act of 1909, has for its object to prevent the monopoly and hoarding of, and speculation in, food materials, during the  existence of an emergency by reason  of the causes therein  provided, and contemplates the creation of a government agency to carry out its provisions and accomplish its purpose;  that  pursuant  to  the provisions of' Act No. 4198, and in order to prevent monopoly of,  and speculation in, rice, His  Excellency, the President of  the Philippines, by a  Proclamation  No. 58, of April 23, 1936, designated the National  Rice and  Corn   Corporation, an  organization operated not for profit, as a  relief organization for the purpose of importing  rice, free of duty, in such quantities as may  be necessary to relieve the situation thereby precluding other entities and  individuals from importing rice, free of duty, under the provisions of Act No. 4198,  that the consignment of five bags of rice  imported by the petitioners are of the growth and produce  of  the Republic of China, and are subject to the payment of import duties under paragraph 215 of the Philippine Tariff Act of 1909, as amended by Act  No. 3918;  that the  petitioners refused to pay the import duties assessed  under paragraph 215 of the Philippine  Tariff Act of 1909, as  amended by Act  No.  3918,  on the shipment of rice referred to in the petition;  that the petitioners have an ordinary action at law  to  enforce their claim pursuant to sections  1370, 1371, 1380  and 1383  of the Administrative Code; and that the adjudication of the controverted  issues raised in this  proceeding involves the taking of  evidence and the making of findings touching  on controverted facts, and the petition should, therefore, have been presented in the Court of First Instance  of Manila.

The first question presented for our  determination  is whether, upon the facts  alleged in the petition, the writ of mandamus is  the proper remedy available to the petitioner.

The circumstances and conditions under which the writ of mandamus will issue in this jurisdiction are well denned by statute.   (Code of Civil Procedure, sections  222, 515.) The remedy is available only where there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The right to appeal from the decision of a subordinate officer to a superior one  within the executive  department of the government has been held to constitute a plain, speedy and  adequate remedy  within the  meaning of the statute. Where such remedy is afforded, the writ of mandamus will not  issue.   "When a plain, adequate  and speedy remedy is afforded by and within the executive department of the government, the courts will not interfere until at least that remedy has been  exhausted."  (Lamb vs. Phipps, 22 Phil., 456, 491V)

The decision of the respondent requiring the payment of import  duties on the  rice sought to be imported  by the petitioners was not final but appealable to the Secretary of Finance who has the power to reverse  or modify the same. (Revised Administrative Code, section  79  [c].)

Without  passing upon the merits of the other questions raised by the pleadings, we conclude  that the petitioners are not entitled to the relief sought by them, because they have  another plain, speedy and adequate  remedy  in the ordinary course of law. So ordered.

Avanceña, C. J., Villa-Real, Imperial, Diaz, and Laurel, JJ., concur.