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[G.R. No. 126232.

November 27, 1998]

THE PROVINCE OF BULACAN, ROBERTO M. PAGDANGANAN, FLORENCE CHAVEZ, and MANUEL DJ SIAYNGCO in their capacity as PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR, PROVINCIAL TREASURER, PROVINCIAL LEGAL ADVISE, respectively, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER SPECIAL 12TH DIVISION), PUBLIC CEMENT CORPORATION, respondents. DECISION ROMERO, J.: Before us is a petition for certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 27, 1995 declaring petitioner without authority to levy taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from private lands, as well as the August 26, 1996 resolution of the appellate court denying its motion for reconsideration. The facts are as follows: On June 26, 1992, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bulacan passed Provincial Ordinance No. 3, known as "An ordinance Enacting the Revenue Code of the Bulacan Province," which was to take effect on July 1, 1992, section 21 of the ordinance provides as follows: Section 21. Imposition of Tax. There is hereby levied and collected a tax of 10% of the fair market value in the locality per cubic meter of ordinary stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources, such, but not limited to marble, granite, volcanic cinders, basalt, tuff and rock phosphate, extracted from public lands or from beds of seas, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks and other public waters within its territorial jurisdiction. (Italics ours) Pursuant thereto, the Provincial Treasurer of Bulacan, in a letter dated November 11, 1993, assessed private respondent Republic Cement Corporation (hereafter Republic Cement) P2,524,692.13 for extracting limestone, shale and silica from several parcels of private land in the province during the third quarter of 1992 until the second quarter of 1993. Believing that the province, on the basis of above-said ordinance, had no authority to impose taxes on quarry resources extracted from private lands, Republic Cement formally contested the same on December 23, 1993. The same was, however, denied by the Provincial Treasurer on January 17, 1994. Republic Cement, consequently filed a petition for declaratory relief with the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan on February 14, 1994. The province filed a motion to dismiss Republic Cement's petition, which was granted by the trial court on May 13, 1993, which ruled that declaratory relief was improper, allegedly because a breach of the ordinance had been committed by Republic Cement. On July 11, 1994, Republic Cement filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court seeking to reverse the trial court's dismissal of their petition. The Court, in a resolution dated

July 27, 1994, referred the same to the Court of Appeals, where it was docketed as CA G.R. SP No. 34915. The appellate court required petitioners to file a comment, which they did on September 7, 1994. In the interim, the Province of Bulacan issued a warrant of levy against Republic Cement, allegedly because of its unpaid tax liabilities. Negotiations between Republic Cement and petitioners resulted in an agreement and modus vivendi on December 12, 1994, whereby Republic Cement agreed to pay under protest P1,262,346.00, 50% of the tax assessed by petitioner, in exchange for the lifting of the warrant of levy. Furthermore, Republic Cement and petitioners agreed to limit the issue for resolution by the Court of Appeals to the question as to whether or not the provincial government could impose and/or assess taxes on quarry resources extracted by Republic Cement from private lands pursuant to Section 21 of the Provincial Ordinance No. 3. This agreement and modus vivendi were embodied in a joint manifestation and motion signed by Governor Roberto Pagdanganan, on behalf of the Province of Bulacan, by Provincial Treasurer Florence Chavez, and by Provincial Legal Officer Manuel Siayngco, as petitioner's counsel and filed with the Court of Appeals on December 13, 1994. In a resolution dated December 29, 1994, the appellate court approved the same and limited the issue to be resolved to the question whether or not the provincial government could impose taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from private lands. After due trial, the Court of Appeals, on September 27, 1995, rendered the following judgment: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the Province of Bulacan under its Provincial Ordinance No. 3 entitled "An Ordinance Enacting the Revenue Code of Bulacan Province" to be without legal authority to impose and assess taxes on quarry resources extracted by RCC from private lands, hence the interpretation of Respondent Treasurer of Chapter II, Article D, Section 21 of the Ordinance, and the assessment made by the Province of Bulacan against RCC is null and void. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration, as well as their supplemental motion for reconsideration, was denied by the appellate court on august 26, 1996, hence this appeal. Petitioner's claim that the Court of Appeals erred in: 1. NOT HAVING OUTRIGHTLY DISMISSED THE SUBJECT PETITION ON THE GROUND THAT THE SAME IS NOT THE APPROPRIATE REMEDY FROM THE TRIAL COURT'S GRANT OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' (HEREIN PETITIONER) MOTION TO DISMISS; NOT DISMISSING THE SUBJECT PETITION FOR BEING VIOLATIVE OF CIRCULAR 2-90 ISSUED BY THE SUPREME COURT; NOT DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR REVIEW ON THE GROUND THAT THE TRIAL COURT'S ORDER OF MAY 13, 1994 HAD LONG BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY; GOING BEYOND THE PARAMETERS OF ITS APPELLATE JURISDICTION IN RENDERING THE SEPTEMBER 27, 1995 DECISION;

2. 3.

4.

5.

HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT (HEREIN PETITIONER) ARE ESTOPPED FROM RAISING THE PROCEDURAL ISSUE IN THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION; THE INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 134 OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE AS STATED IN THE SECOND TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF PAGE 5 OF ITS SEPTEMBER 27, 1995 DECISION; SUSTAINING THE ALLEGATIONS OF HEREIN RESPONDENT WHICH UNJUSTLY DEPRIVED PETITIONER THE POWER TO CREATE ITS OWN SOURCES OF REVENUE; DECLARING THAT THE ASSESSMENT MADE BY THE PROVINCE OF BULACAN AGAINST RCC AS NULL AND VOID WHICH IN EFFECT IS A COLLATERAL ATTACK ON PROVINCIAL ORDINANCE NO. 3; AND FAILING TO CONSIDER THE REGALIAN DOCTRINE IN FAVOR OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT.

6.

7.

8.

9.

The issues raised by petitioners are devoid of merit. The number and diversity of errors raised by appellants impel us, however, to discuss the points raised seriatim. In their first assignment of error, petitioners contend that instead of filing a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, Republic Cement should have appealed from the order of the trial court dismissing their petition. Citing Martinez vs. CA,[1] they allege that a motion to dismiss is a final order, the remedy against which is not a petition for certiorari, but an appeal, regardless of the questions sought to be raised on appeal, whether of fact or of law, whether involving jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion of the trial court. Petitioners' argument is misleading. While it is true that the remedy against a final order is an appeal, and not a petition for certiorari, the petition referred to is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. As stated in Martinez, the party aggrieved does not have the option to substitute the special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 for the remedy of appeal. The existence and availability of the right of appeal are antithetical to the availment of the special civil action for certiorari. Republic Cement did not, however, file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, but an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45. Even law students know that certiorari under Rule 45 is a mode of appeal, an appeal from the Regional Trial Court being taken in either of two ways (a) by writ of error (involving questions of fact and law) and (b) by certiorari (limited only to issues of law), with an appeal by certioraribeing brought to the Supreme Court, there being no provision of law for taking appeals by certiorari to the Court of Appeals.[2] It is thus clearly apparent that Republic Cement correctly contested the trial court's order of dismissal by filing an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45. In fact, petitioners, in their second assignment of error, admit that a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 is available to a party aggrieved by an order granting a motion to dismiss.[3] They claim, however, that Republic Cement could not avail of the same allegedly because the latter raised issues of fact, which is prohibited, Rule 45 providing that "(t)he petition shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth."[4] In this

respect, petitioners claim that Republic Cement's petition should have been dismissed by the appellate court, Circular 2-90 providing: 4. Erroneous Appeals. - An appeal taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals by the wrong or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed. xxx xxx xxx

d) No transfer of appeals erroneously taken. -- No transfers of appeals erroneously taken to the Supreme Court or to the Court of Appeals to whichever of these Tribunals has appropriate appellate jurisdiction will be allowed; continued ignorance or wilful disregard of the law on appeals will not be tolerated. Petitioners even fault the Court for referring Republic Cement's petition to the Court of Appeals, claiming that the same should have been dismissed pursuant to Circular 290. Petitioners conveniently overlook the other provisions of Circular 2-90, specifically 4b) thereof, which provides: b) Raising factual issues in appeal by certiorari. - Although submission of issues of fact in an appeal by certiorari taken to the Supreme Court from the regional trial court is ordinarily proscribed, the Supreme Court nonetheless retains the option, in the exercise of its sound discretion and considering the attendant circumstances, either itself to take cognizance of and decide such issues or to refer them to the Court of Appeals for determination. As can be clearly adduced from the foregoing, when an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 erroneously raises factual issues, the Court has the option to refer the petition to the Court of Appeals. The exercise by the Court of this option may not now be questioned by petitioners. As the trial court's order was properly appealed by Republic Cement, the trial court's May 13, 1994 order never became final and executory, rendering petitioner's third assignment of error moot and academic. Petitioners' fourth and fifth assignment of errors are likewise without merit. Petitioners assert that the Court of Appeals could only rule on the propriety of the trial court's dismissal of Republic Cement's petition for declaratory relief, allegedly because that was the sole relief sought by the latter in its petition for certiorari. Petitioners claim that the appellate court overstepped its jurisdiction when it declared null and void the assessment made by the Province of Bulacan against Republic Cement. Petitioners gloss over the fact that, during the proceedings before the Court of Appeals, they entered into an agreement and modus vivendi whereby they limited the issue for resolution to the question as to whether or not the provincial government could impose and/or assess taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted by Republic Cement from private lands. This agreement andmodus vivendi were approved by the appellate court on December 29, 1994. All throughout the proceedings, petitioners never questioned the authority of the Court of Appeals to decide this issue, an issue which it brought itself within the purview of the appellate court. Only when an adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals did petitioners question the jurisdiction of the former.

Petitioners are barred by the doctrine of estoppel from contesting the authority of the Court of Appeals to decide the instant case, as this Court has consistently held that "(a) party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction."[5] The Supreme Court frowns upon the undesirable practice of a party submitting his case for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction when adverse.[6] In a desperate attempt to ward off defeat, petitioners now repudiate the above-mentioned agreement and modus vivendi, claiming that the same was not binding in the Province of Bulacan, not having been authorized by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bulacan. While it is true that the Provincial Governor can enter into contract and obligate the province only upon authority of the sangguniang panlalawigan,[7] the same is inapplicable to the case at bar. The agreement and modus vivendi may have been signed by petitioner Roberto Pagdanganan, as Governor of the Province of Bulacan, without authorization from the sangguniang panlalawigan, but it was also signed by Manuel Siayngco, the Provincial Legal Officer, in his capacity as such, and as counsel of petitioners. It is a well-settled rule that all proceedings in court to enforce a remedy, to bring a claim, demand, cause of action or subject matter of a suit to hearing, trial, determination, judgment and execution are within the exclusive control of the attorney.[8] With respect to such matters of ordinary judicial procedure, the attorney needs no special authority to bind his client.[9] Such questions as what action or pleading to file, where and when to file it, what are its formal requirements, what should be the theory of the case, what defenses to raise, how may the claim or defense be proved, when to rest the case, as well as those affecting the competency of a witness, the sufficiency, relevancy, materiality or immateriality of certain evidence and the burden of proof are within the authority of the attorney to decide.[10] Whatever decision an attorney makes on any of these procedural questions, even if it adversely affects a client's case, will generally bind a client. The agreement and modus vivendi signed by petitioner's counsel is binding upon petitioners, even if the Sanggunian had not authorized the same, limitation of issues being a procedural question falling within the exclusive authority of the attorney to decide. In any case, the remaining issues raised by petitioner are likewise devoid of merit, a province having no authority to impose taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from private lands. The pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code are as follows: Sec. 134. Scope of Taxing Powers. - Except as otherwise provided in this Code, the province may levy only the taxes, fees, and charges as provided in this Article. Sec. 138. Tax on Sand, Gravel and Other Quarry Resources. - The province may levy and collect not more than ten percent (10%) of fair market value in the locality per cubic meter of ordinary stones, sand, gravel, earth, and other quarry resources, as defined under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, extracted from public lands or from the beds of seas, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and other public waters within its territorial jurisdiction. xxx xxx x x x (Italics supplied)

The appellate court, on the basis of Section 134, ruled that a province was empowered to impose taxes only on sand, gravel, and other quarry resources extracted from public lands, its authority to tax being limited by said provision only to those taxes, fees and charges provided in Article One, Chapter 2, Title One of Book II of the Local Government Code.[11] On the other hand, petitioners claim that Sections 129[12] and 186[13] of the Local Government Code authorizes the province to impose taxes other than those specifically enumerated under the Local Government Code. The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that a province can impose only the taxes specifically mentioned under the Local Government Code. As correctly pointed out by petitioners, Section 186 allows a province to levy taxes other than those specifically enumerated under the Code, subject to the conditions specified therein. This finding, nevertheless, affords cold comfort to petitioners as they are still prohibited from imposing taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from private lands. The tax imposed by the Province of Bulacan is an excise tax, being a tax upon the performance, carrying on, or exercise of an activity.[14] The Local Government Code provides: Section 133. - Common Limitations on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units. - Unless otherwise provided herein, the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays shall not extend to the levy of the following: xxx xxx xxx

(h) Excise taxes on articles enumerated under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and taxes, fees or charges on petroleum products; xxx xxx xxx

A province may not, therefore, levy excise taxes on articles already taxed by the National Internal Revenue Code. Unfortunately for petitioners, the National Internal Revenue Code provides: Section 151. - Mineral Products. (A) Rates of Tax. - There shall be levied, assessed and collected on minerals, mineral products and quarry resources, excise tax as follows: xxx xxx xxx

(2) On all nonmetallic minerals and quarry resources, a tax of two percent (2%) based on the actual market value of the gross output thereof at the time of removal, in case of those locally extracted or produced; or the values used by the Bureau of Customs in determining tariff and customs duties, net of excise tax and value-added tax, in the case of importation. xxx xxx xxx

(B) [Definition of Terms]. - For purposes of this Section, the term-

xxx

xxx

xxx

(4) Quarry resources shall mean any common stone or other common mineral substances as the Director of the Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences may declare to be quarry resources such as, but not restricted to, marl, marble, granite, volcanic cinders, basalt, tuff and rock phosphate; Provided, That they contain no metal or metals or other valuable minerals in economically workable quantities. It is clearly apparent from the above provision that the National Internal Revenue Code levies a tax on all quarry resources, regardless of origin, whether extracted from public or private land. Thus, a province may not ordinarily impose taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources, as the same are already taxed under the National Internal Revenue Code. The province can, however, impose a tax on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from public land because it is expressly empowered to do so under the Local Government Code. As to stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from private land, however, it may not do so, because of the limitation provided by Section 133 of the Code in relation to Section 151 of the National Internal Revenue Code. Given the above disquisition, petitioners cannot claim that the appellate court unjustly deprived them of the power to create their sources of revenue, their assessment of taxes against Republic Cement being ultra vires, traversing as it does the limitations set by the Local Government Code. Petitioners likewise aver that the appellate court's declaration of nullity of its assessment against Republic Cement is a collateral attack on Provincial Ordinance No. 3, which is prohibited by public policy.[15] Contrary to petitioners' claim, the legality of the ordinance was never questioned by the Court of Appeals. Rather, what the appellate court questioned was petitioners' assessment of taxes on Republic Cement on the basis of Provincial Ordinance No. 3, not the ordinance itself. Furthermore, Section 21 of Provincial Ordinance No. 3 is practically only a reproduction of Section 138 of the Local Government Code. A cursory reading of both would show that both refer to ordinary sand, stone, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from public lands. Even if we disregard the limitation set by Section 133 of the Local Government Code, petitioners may not impose taxes on stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from private lands on the basis of Section 21 of Provincial Ordinance No. 3 as the latter clearly applies only to quarry resources extracted from public lands. Petitioners may not invoke the Regalian doctrine to extend the coverage of their ordinance to quarry resources extracted from private lands, for taxes, being burdens, are not to be presumed beyond what the applicable statute expressly and clearly declares, tax statutes being construed strictissimi juris against the government.[16] WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit and the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J. (Chairman), Kapunan, Purisima, and Pardo, JJ., concur.

PALMA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner, MALANGAS, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, respondent. DECISION PANGANIBAN, J.:

vs. MUNICIPALITY

OF

In accordance with the Local Government Code of 1991, a municipal ordinance imposing fees on goods that pass through the issuing municipalitys territory is null and void.

The Case The Petition for Review[1] before us assails the August 31, 2001 Decision[2] and the February 6, 2002 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 56477. Thedispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads as follows: UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THIS CASE, THUS, the assailed Decision is VACATED and SET ASIDE, and this case is ordered REMANDED to the court a quo for the reception of evidence of the parties on the matter or point delineated in the final sentence above-stated.[4] The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

The Facts The facts are undisputed. Petitioner Palma Development Corporation is engaged in milling and selling rice and corn to wholesalers in Zamboanga City. It uses the municipal portof Malangas, Zamboanga del Sur as transshipment point for its goods. The port, as well as the surrounding roads leading to it, belong to and are maintained by the Municipality ofMalangas, Zamboanga del Sur. On January 16, 1994, the municipality passed Municipal Revenue Code No. 09, Series of 1993, which was subsequently approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ofZamboanga del Sur in Resolution No. 1330 dated August 4, 1994. Section 5G.01 of the ordinance reads: Section 5G.01. Imposition of fees. There shall be collected service fee for its use of the municipal road[s] or streets leading to the wharf and to any point along the shorelines within the jurisdiction of the municipality and for police surveillance on all goods and all equipment harbored or sheltered in the premises of the wharf and other within the jurisdiction of this municipality in the following schedule:

a) Vehicles and Equipment: 1. Automatic per unit 2. Ford Fiera 3. Trucks xxx

rate of fee P10.00 P10.00 P10.00 xxx xxx

b) Other Goods, Construction Material products: 1. Bamboo craft 2. Bangus/Kilo xxx 41. Rice and corn grits/sack P20.00 0.30 xxx 0.50[5] xxx

Accordingly, the service fees imposed by Section 5G.01 of the ordinance was paid by petitioner under protest. It contended that under Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, municipal governments did not have the authority to tax goods and vehicles that passed through their jurisdictions. Thereafter, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pagadian City, petitioner filed against the Municipality of Malangas on November 20, 1995, an action for declaratory relief assailing the validity of Section 5G.01 of the municipal ordinance. On the premise that the case involved the validity of a municipal ordinance, the RTC directed respondent to secure the opinion of the Office of the Solicitor General. The trial court likewise ordered that the opinions of the Departments of Finance and of Justice be sought. As these opinions were still unavailable as of October 17, 1996, petitioners counsel filed, without objection from respondent, a Manifestation seeking the submission of the case for the RTCs decision on a pure question of law. In due time, the trial court rendered its November 13, 1996 Decision declaring the entire Municipal Revenue Code No. 09 as ultra vires and, hence, null and void.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals The CA held that local government units already had revenue-raising powers as provided for under Sections 153 and 155 of RA No. 7160. It ruled as well that within the purview of these provisions -- and therefore valid -- is Section 5G.01, which provides for a service fee for the use of the municipal road or streets leading to the wharf and to any point along the shorelines within the jurisdiction of the municipality and for police surveillance on all goods and all equipment

harbored or sheltered in the premises of the wharf and other within the jurisdiction of this municipality. However, since both parties had submitted the case to the trial court for decision on a pure question of law without a full-blown trial on the merits, the CA could not determine whether the facts of the case were within the ambit of the aforecited sections of RA No. 7160. The appellate court ruled that petitioner still had to adduce evidence to substantiate its allegations that the assailed ordinance had imposed fees on the movement of goods within the Municipality of Malangas in the guise of a toll fee for the use of municipal roads and a service fee for police surveillance. Thus, the CA held that the absence of such evidence necessitated the remand of the case to the trial court. Hence, this Petition.[6]

Issues Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration: 1. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred when it ordered that the extant case be remanded to the lower court for reception of evidence. 2. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred when it ruled that a full blown trial on the merits is necessary and that plaintiff-appellee, now petitioner, has to adduce evidence to substantiate its thesis that the assailed municipal ordinance, in fact, imposes fees on the movement of goods within the jurisdiction of the defendant and that this imposition is merely in the guise of a toll fee for the use of municipal roads and service fee for police surveillance. 3. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred when it did not rule that the questioned municipal ordinance is contrary to the provisions of R.A. No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines.[7] In brief, the issues boil down to the following: 1) whether Section 5G.01 of Municipal Revenue Code No. 09 is valid; and 2) whether the remand of the case to the trial court is necessary. The Courts Ruling The Petition is meritorious.

First Issue: Validity of the Imposed Fees

Petitioner argues that while respondent has the power to tax or impose fees on vehicles using its roads, it cannot tax the goods that are transported by the vehicles. The provision of the ordinance imposing a service fee for police surveillance on goods is allegedly contrary to Section 133(e) of RA No. 7160, which reads: Section 133. Common Limitations on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units. Unless otherwise provided herein, the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, andbarangays shall not extend to the levy of the following: xxx xxx xxx

e) Taxes, fees and charges and other impositions upon goods carried into and out of, or passing through, the territorial jurisdictions of local government units in the guise of charges for wharfage, tolls for bridges or otherwise, or other taxes, fees or charges in any form whatsoever upon such goods or merchandise; On the other hand, respondent maintains that the subject fees are intended for services rendered, the use of municipal roads and police surveillance. The fees are supposedly not covered by the prohibited impositions under Section 133(e) of RA No. 7160. [8] It further contends that it was empowered by the express mandate of Sections 153 and 155 of RA No. 7160 to enact Section 5G.01 of the ordinance. The pertinent provisions of this statute read as follows: Section 153. Service Fees and Charges. -- Local government units may impose and collect such reasonable fees and charges for services rendered. xxx xxx xxx

Section 155. Toll Fees or Charges. -- The sanggunian concerned may prescribe the terms and conditions and fix the rates for the imposition of toll fees or charges for the use of any public road, pier or wharf, waterway, bridge, ferry or telecommunication system funded and constructed by the local government unit concerned: Provided, That no such toll fees or charges shall be collected from officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and members of the Philippine National Police on mission, post office personnel delivering mail, physicallyhandicapped, and disabled citizens who are sixty-five (65) years or older. When public safety and welfare so requires, the sanggunian concerned may discontinue the collection of the tolls, and thereafter the said facility shall be free and open for public use. Respondent claims that there is no proof that the P0.50 fee for every sack of rice or corn is a fraudulent legislation enacted to subvert the limitation imposed by Section 133(e) of RA No. 7160. Moreover, it argues that allowing petitioner to use its roads without paying the P0.50 fee for every sack of rice or corn would contravene the principle of unjust enrichment. By express language of Sections 153 and 155 of RA No. 7160, local government units, through their Sanggunian, may prescribe the terms and conditions for the imposition of toll fees or charges for the use of any public road, pier or wharf funded and constructed by them. A

service fee imposed on vehicles using municipal roads leading to the wharf is thus valid. However, Section 133(e) of RA No. 7160 prohibits the imposition, in the guise of wharfage, of fees -- as well as all other taxes or charges in any form whatsoever -- on goods or merchandise. It is therefore irrelevant if the fees imposed are actually for police surveillance on the goods, because any other form of imposition on goods passing through the territorial jurisdiction of the municipality is clearly prohibited by Section 133(e). Under Section 131(y) of RA No. 7160, wharfage is defined as a fee assessed against the cargo of a vessel engaged in foreign or domestic trade based on quantity, weight, or measure received and/or discharged by vessel. It is apparent that a wharfage does not lose its basic character by being labeled as a service fee for police surveillance on all goods. Unpersuasive is the contention of respondent that petitioner would unjustly be enriched at the formers expense. Though the rules thereon apply equally well to the government,[9] for unjust enrichment to be deemed present, two conditions must generally concur: (a) a person is unjustly benefited, and (b) such benefit is derived at anothers expense or damage.[10] In the instant case, the benefits from the use of the municipal roads and the wharf were not unjustly derived by petitioner. Those benefits resulted from the infrastructure that the municipality was mandated by law to provide.[11] There is no unjust enrichment where the one receiving the benefit has a legal right or entitlement thereto, or when there is no causal relation between ones enrichment and the others impoverishment.[12]

Second Issue: Remand of the Case Petitioner asserts that the remand of the case to the trial court for further reception of evidence is unnecessary, because the facts are undisputed by both parties. It has already been clearly established, without need for further evidence, that petitioner transports rice and corn on board trucks that pass through the municipal roads leading to the wharf. Under protest, it paid the service fees, a fact that respondent has readily admitted without qualification. Respondent, on the other hand, is silent on the issue of the remand of the case to the trial court. The former merely defends the validity of the ordinance, arguing neither for nor against the remand. We rule against the remand. Not only is it frowned upon by the Rules of Court; [13] it is also unnecessary on the basis of the facts established by the admissions of the parties. Besides, the fact sought to be established with the reception of additional evidence is irrelevant to the due settlement of the case. The pertinent portion of the assailed CA Decision reads: To be stressed is the fact that local government units now have the following common revenue raising powers under the Local Government Code: Section 153. Service Fees and Charges. -- Local government units may impose and collect such reasonable fees and charges for services rendered.

xxx xxx

xxx

Section 155. Toll Fees or Charges. -- The Sanggunian concerned may prescribe the terms and conditions and fix the rates for the imposition of toll fees or charges for the use of any public road, pier or wharf, waterway, bridge, ferry or telecommunication system funded and constructed by the local government unit concerned: Provided, That no such toll fees or charges shall be collected from officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and members of the Philippine National Police on mission, post office personnel delivering mail, physically-handicapped, and disabled citizens who are sixty-five (65) years or older. When public safety and welfare so requires, the Sanggunian concerned may discontinue the collection of the tolls, and thereafter the said facility shall be free and open for public use. x x x As we see it, the disputed municipal ordinance, which provides for a service fee for the use of the municipal road or streets leading to the wharf and to any point along the shorelines within the jurisdiction of the municipality and for police surveillance on all goods and all equipment harbored or sheltered in the premises of the wharf and other within the jurisdiction of this municipality, seems to fall within the compass of the above cited provisions of R.A. No. 7160. As elsewhere indicated, the parties in this case, nonetheless, chose to submit the issue to the Trial Court on a pure question of law, without a full-blown trial on the merits: consequently, we are not prepared to say, at this juncture, that the facts of the case inevitably call for the application, and/or that these make out a clear-cut case within the ambit and purview, of the aforecited section. The plaintiff, thus, has to adduce evidence to substantiate its thesis that the assailed municipal ordinance, in fact, imposes fees on the movement of goods within the jurisdiction of the defendant, and that this imposition is merely in the guise of a toll fee for the use of municipal roads and service fee for police surveillance. Competent evidence upon this score must, thus, be presented.[14] We note that Section 5G.01 imposes two types of service fees: 1) one for the use of the municipal roads and 2) another for police surveillance on all goods and equipment sheltered in the premises of the wharf. The amount of service fees, however, is based on the type of vehicle that passes through the road and the type of goods being transported. While both parties admit that the service fees imposed are for the use of the municipal roads, petitioner maintains that the service fee for police surveillance on goods harbored on the wharf is in the guise of a wharfage,[15] a prohibited imposition under Section 133(e) of RA No. 7160. Thus, the CA held that the case should be remanded to the trial court in order to resolve this factual dispute. The appellate court noted that under Section 155 of RA No. 7160, municipalities apparently now have the power to impose fees for the use of municipal roads. Nevertheless, a remand is still unnecessary even if the service fee charged against the goods are for police surveillance, because Section 133(e) of RA No. 7160 expressly prohibits the imposition of all other taxes, fees or charges in any form whatsoever upon the merchandise or goods that pass through the territorial jurisdiction of local government units. It is therefore immaterial to the instant case whether the service fee on the goods is for police surveillance or not, since the subject provision of the revenue ordinance is invalid. Reception of further evidence to establish this fact would not legalize the imposition of such fee in any way.

Furthermore, neither party disputes any of the other material facts of the case. From their respective Briefs before the CA and their Memoranda before this Court, they do not dispute the fact that petitioner, from its principal place of business, transports rice and corn on board trucks bound for respondents wharf. The trucks traverse the municipal roads en route to the wharf, where the sacks of rice and corn are manually loaded into marine vessels bound for Zamboanga City. Likewise undisputed is the fact that respondent imposed and collected fees under the ordinance from petitioner. The former admits that it has been collecting, in addition to the fees on vehicles, P0.50 for every sack of rice or corn that the latter has been shipping through the wharf.[16] The foregoing allegations are formal judicial admissions that are conclusive upon the parties making them. They require no further proof in accordance with Section 4 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court, which reads: SEC. 4. Judicial admissions. An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made. Judicial admissions made by parties in the pleadings, in the course of the trial, or in other proceedings in the same case are conclusive. No further evidence is required to prove them. Moreover, they cannot be contradicted unless it is shown that they have been made through palpable mistake, or that they have not been made at all.[17] WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby SET ASIDE. The imposition of a service fee for police surveillance on all goods harbored or sheltered in the premises of the municipal port of Malangas under Sec. 5G.01 of the Malangas Municipal Revenue Code No. 09, series of 1993, is declared NULL AND VOID for being violative of Republic Act No. 7160. SO ORDERED. Puno, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur. Corona, J., on leave.

G.R. No. 90776 June 3, 1991 PHILIPPINE PETROLEUM CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. MUNICIPALITY OF PILILLA, RIZAL, Represented by MAYOR NICOMEDES F. PATENIA, respondent. Quiason, Makalintal, Barot, Torres & Ibarra for petitioner.

PARAS, J.:p

This is a petition for certiorari seeking to annul and set aside: (a) the March 17, 1989 decision * of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 80, Tanay, Rizal in Civil Case No. 057-T entitled, "Municipality of Pililla, Rizal, represented by Mayor Nicomedes F. Patenia vs. Philippine Petroleum Corporation", (PPC for short) upholding the legality of the taxes, fees and charges being imposed in Pililla under Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 1 and directing the herein petitioner to pay the amount of said taxes, fees and charges due the respondent: and (b) the November 2, 1989 resolution of the same court denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the said decision. The undisputed facts of the case are: Petitioner, Philippine Petroleum Corporation (PPC for short) is a business enterprise engaged in the manufacture of lubricated oil basestock which is a petroleum product, with its refinery plant situated at Malaya, Pililla, Rizal, conducting its business activities within the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Pililla, Rizal and is in continuous operation up to the present (Rollo p. 60). PPC owns and maintains an oil refinery including forty-nine storage tanks for its petroleum products in Malaya, Pililla, Rizal (Rollo, p. 12). Under Section 142 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1939, manufactured oils and other fuels are subject to specific tax. On June 28, 1973, Presidential Decree No. 231, otherwise known as the Local Tax Code was issued by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos governing the exercise by provinces, cities, municipalities and barrios of their taxing and other revenue-raising powers. Sections 19 and 19 (a) thereof, provide among others, that the municipality may impose taxes on business, except on those for which fixed taxes are provided on manufacturers, importers or producers of any article of commerce of whatever kind or nature, including brewers, distillers, rectifiers, repackers, and compounders of liquors, distilled spirits and/or wines in accordance with the schedule listed therein. The Secretary of Finance issued Provincial Circular No. 26-73 dated December 27, 1973, directed to all provincial, city and municipal treasurers to refrain from collecting any local tax imposed in old or new tax ordinances in the business of manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, or dealing in petroleum products subject to the specific tax under the National Internal Revenue Code (Rollo, p. 76). Likewise, Provincial Circular No. 26 A-73 dated January 9, 1973 was issued by the Secretary of Finance instructing all City Treasurers to refrain from collecting any local tax imposed in tax ordinances enacted before or after the effectivity of the Local Tax Code on July 1, 1973, on the businesses of manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, or dealing in, petroleum products subject to the specific tax under the National Internal Revenue Code (Rollo, p. 79). Respondent Municipality of Pililla, Rizal, through Municipal Council Resolution No. 25, S-1974 enacted Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 1, S-1974 otherwise known as "The Pililla Tax Code of 1974" on June 14, 1974, which took effect on July 1, 1974 (Rollo, pp. 181-182). Sections 9 and 10 of the said ordinance imposed a tax on business, except for those for which fixed taxes are

provided in the Local Tax Code on manufacturers, importers, or producers of any article of commerce of whatever kind or nature, including brewers, distillers, rectifiers, repackers, and compounders of liquors, distilled spirits and/or wines in accordance with the schedule found in the Local Tax Code, as well as mayor's permit, sanitary inspection fee and storage permit fee for flammable, combustible or explosive substances (Rollo, pp. 183-187), while Section 139 of the disputed ordinance imposed surcharges and interests on unpaid taxes, fees or charges (Ibid., p. 193). On March 30, 1974, Presidential Decree No. 426 was issued amending certain provisions of P.D. 231 but retaining Sections 19 and 19 (a) with adjusted rates and 22(b). On April 13, 1974, P.D. 436 was promulgated increasing the specific tax on lubricating oils, gasoline, bunker fuel oil, diesel fuel oil and other similar petroleum products levied under Sections 142, 144 and 145 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and granting provinces, cities and municipalities certain shares in the specific tax on such products in lieu of local taxes imposed on petroleum products. The questioned Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 1 was reviewed and approved by the Provincial Treasurer of Rizal on January 13, 1975 (Rollo, p. 143), but was not implemented and/or enforced by the Municipality of Pililla because of its having been suspended up to now in view of Provincial Circular Nos. 26-73 and 26 A-73. Provincial Circular No. 6-77 dated March 13, 1977 was also issued directing all city and municipal treasurers to refrain from collecting the so-called storage fee on flammable or combustible materials imposed under the local tax ordinance of their respective locality, said fee partaking of the nature of a strictly revenue measure or service charge. On June 3, 1977, P.D. 1158 otherwise known as the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 was enacted, Section 153 of which specifically imposes specific tax on refined and manufactured mineral oils and motor fuels. Enforcing the provisions of the above-mentioned ordinance, the respondent filed a complaint on April 4, 1986 docketed as Civil Case No. 057-T against PPC for the collection of the business tax from 1979 to 1986; storage permit fees from 1975 to 1986; mayor's permit and sanitary inspection fees from 1975 to 1984. PPC, however, have already paid the last-named fees starting 1985 (Rollo, p. 74). After PPC filed its answer, a pre-trial conference was held on August 24, 1988 where the parties thru their respective counsel, after coming up with certain admissions and stipulations agreed to the submission of the case for decision based on documentary evidence offered with their respective comments (Rollo, p. 41). On March 17, 1987, the trial court rendered a decision against the petitioner, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby renders judgment in favor of the plaintiffs as against the defendants thereby directing the defendants to 1) pay the plaintiffs the amount of P5,301,385.00 representing the Tax on Business due from the defendants under Sec. 9 (A) of the Municipal Tax Ordinance of the plaintiffs for the period from 1979 to 1983 inclusive plus such amount of tax that may accrue until final determination of case; 2) to pay storage permit fee in the amount of P3,321,730.00 due from the defendants under Sec. 10, par. z (13) (b) (1 C) of the Municipal Tax Ordinance of the plaintiffs for the period from 1975 to 1986 inclusive plus such amount of fee that may accrue until final determination of case; 3) to pay Mayor's Permit Fee due from the defendants under Sec. 10, par. (P) (2) of the Municipal Tax Ordinance of the plaintiffs from 1975 to 1984 inclusive in the amount of P12,120.00 plus such amount of fee that may accrue until final determination of the case; and 4) to pay sanitary inspection fee in the amount of P1,010.00 for the period from 1975 to 1984 plus such amount that may accrue until final determination of case and 5) to pay the costs of suit. SO ORDERED. (Rollo, pp. 49-50) PPC moved for reconsideration of the decision, but this was denied by the lower court in a resolution of November 2, 1989, hence, the instant petition. The Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required both parties to submit simultaneous memoranda (June 21, 1990 Resolution; Rollo, p. 305). PPC assigns the following alleged errors: 1. THE RTC ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF THE BUSINESS TAX UNDER SECTION 9 (A) OF THE TAX ORDINANCE IN THE LIGHT OF PROVINCIAL CIRCULARS NOS. 26-73 AND 26 A-73;. 2. THE RTC ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER WAS LIABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF STORAGE PERMIT FEE UNDER SECTION 10 Z (13) (b) (1-c) OF THE TAX ORDINANCE CONSIDERING THE ISSUANCE OF PROVINCIAL CIRCULAR NO. 6-77; 3. THE RTC ERRED IN FAILING TO HOLD THAT RESPONDENTS COMPUTATION OF TAX LIABILITY HAS ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS; 4. THE RTC ERRED IN ORDERING THE PAYMENT OF MAYOR'S PERMIT AND SANITARY INSPECTION FEES CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME HAS BEEN VALIDLY AND LEGALLY WAIVED BY THE MAYOR; 5. THE RTC ERRED IN FAILING TO HOLD THAT THE TAXES AND DUTIES NOT COLLECTED FROM PETITIONER PRIOR TO THE FIVE (5) YEAR PERIOD FROM THE FILING OF THIS CASE ON APRIL 4, 1986 HAS ALREADY PRESCRIBED.

The crucial issue in this case is whether or not petitioner PPC whose oil products are subject to specific tax under the NIRC, is still liable to pay (a) tax on business and (b) storage fees, considering Provincial Circular No. 6-77; and mayor's permit and sanitary inspection fee unto the respondent Municipality of Pililla, Rizal, based on Municipal Ordinance No. 1. Petitioner PPC contends that: (a) Provincial Circular No. 2673 declared as contrary to national economic policy the imposition of local taxes on the manufacture of petroleum products as they are already subject to specific tax under the National Internal Revenue Code; (b) the above declaration covers not only old tax ordinances but new ones, as well as those which may be enacted in the future; (c) both Provincial Circulars (PC) 26-73 and 26 A-73 are still effective, hence, unless and until revoked, any effort on the part of the respondent to collect the suspended tax on business from the petitioner would be illegal and unauthorized; and (d) Section 2 of P.D. 436 prohibits the imposition of local taxes on petroleum products. PC No. 26-73 and PC No. 26 A-73 suspended the effectivity of local tax ordinances imposing a tax on business under Section 19 (a) of the Local Tax Code (P.D. No. 231), with regard to manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers or dealers in petroleum products subject to the specific tax under the National Internal Revenue Code NIRC, in view of Section 22 (b) of the Code regarding non-imposition by municipalities of taxes on articles, subject to specific tax under the provisions of the NIRC. There is no question that Pililla's Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 1 imposing the assailed taxes, fees and charges is valid especially Section 9 (A) which according to the trial court "was lifted in toto and/or is a literal reproduction of Section 19 (a) of the Local Tax Code as amended by P.D. No. 426." It conforms with the mandate of said law. But P.D. No. 426 amending the Local Tax Code is deemed to have repealed Provincial Circular Nos. 26-73 and 26 A-73 issued by the Secretary of Finance when Sections 19 and 19 (a), were carried over into P.D. No. 426 and no exemptions were given to manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, or dealers in petroleum products. Well-settled is the rule that administrative regulations must be in harmony with the provisions of the law. In case of discrepancy between the basic law and an implementing rule or regulation, the former prevails (Shell Philippines, Inc. v. Central Bank of the Philippines, 162 SCRA 628 [1988]). As aptly held by the court a quo: Necessarily, there could not be any other logical conclusion than that the framers of P.D. No. 426 really and actually intended to terminate the effectivity and/or enforceability of Provincial Circulars Nos. 26-73 and 26 A-73 inasmuch as clearly these circulars are in contravention with Sec. 19 (a) of P.D. 426-the amendatory law to P.D. No. 231. That intention to terminate is very apparent and in fact it is expressed in clear and unequivocal terms in the effectivity and repealing clause of P.D. 426 . . . Furthermore, while Section 2 of P.D. 436 prohibits the imposition of local taxes on petroleum products, said decree did not amend Sections 19 and 19 (a) of P.D. 231 as amended by P.D. 426,

wherein the municipality is granted the right to levy taxes on business of manufacturers, importers, producers of any article of commerce of whatever kind or nature. A tax on business is distinct from a tax on the article itself. Thus, if the imposition of tax on business of manufacturers, etc. in petroleum products contravenes a declared national policy, it should have been expressly stated in P.D. No. 436. The exercise by local governments of the power to tax is ordained by the present Constitution. To allow the continuous effectivity of the prohibition set forth in PC No. 26-73 (1) would be tantamount to restricting their power to tax by mere administrative issuances. Under Section 5, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, only guidelines and limitations that may be established by Congress can define and limit such power of local governments. Thus: Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy . . . Provincial Circular No. 6-77 enjoining all city and municipal treasurers to refrain from collecting the so-called storage fee on flammable or combustible materials imposed in the local tax ordinance of their respective locality frees petitioner PPC from the payment of storage permit fee. The storage permit fee being imposed by Pililla's tax ordinance is a fee for the installation and keeping in storage of any flammable, combustible or explosive substances. Inasmuch as said storage makes use of tanks owned not by the municipality of Pililla, but by petitioner PPC, same is obviously not a charge for any service rendered by the municipality as what is envisioned in Section 37 of the same Code. Section 10 (z) (13) of Pililla's Municipal Tax Ordinance No. 1 prescribing a permit fee is a permit fee allowed under Section 36 of the amended Code. As to the authority of the mayor to waive payment of the mayor's permit and sanitary inspection fees, the trial court did not err in holding that "since the power to tax includes the power to exempt thereof which is essentially a legislative prerogative, it follows that a municipal mayor who is an executive officer may not unilaterally withdraw such an expression of a policy thru the enactment of a tax." The waiver partakes of the nature of an exemption. It is an ancient rule that exemptions from taxation are construed in strictissimi juris against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the taxing authority (Esso Standard Eastern, Inc. v. Acting Commissioner of Customs, 18 SCRA 488 [1966]). Tax exemptions are looked upon with disfavor (Western Minolco Corp. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 124 SCRA 121 [1983]). Thus, in the absence of a clear and express exemption from the payment of said fees, the waiver cannot be recognized. As already stated, it is the law-making body, and not an executive like the mayor, who can make an exemption. Under Section 36 of the Code, a permit fee like the mayor's permit, shall be required before any individual or juridical entity shall engage in any business or occupation under the provisions of the Code.

However, since the Local Tax Code does not provide the prescriptive period for collection of local taxes, Article 1143 of the Civil Code applies. Said law provides that an action upon an obligation created by law prescribes within ten (10) years from the time the right of action accrues. The Municipality of Pililla can therefore enforce the collection of the tax on business of petitioner PPC due from 1976 to 1986, and NOT the tax that had accrued prior to 1976. PREMISES CONSIDERED, with the MODIFICATION that business taxes accruing PRIOR to 1976 are not to be paid by PPC (because the same have prescribed) and that storage fees are not also to be paid by PPC (for the storage tanks are owned by PPC and not by the municipality, and therefore cannot be a charge for service by the municipality), the assailed DECISION is hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur. Sarmiento, J., is on leave.