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Congress: Salaries, Privileges & Disqualifications Salaries

Constitutional Law 1

G.R. No. L-34676 April 30, 1974 BENJAMIN T. LIGOT, Petitioner, vs. ISMAEL MATHAY, Auditor General and JOSE V. VELASCO, Auditor, Congress of the Philippines, Respondents. FACTS: Petitioner, Benjamin Ligot, served as a member of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the Philippines for three consecutive four-year terms covering a twelve-year span from December 30, 1957 to December 30, 1969. On July 1, 1964, R.A. 4134 "fixing the salaries of constitutional officials and certain other officials of the national government" took effect increasing the salary of the members of Congress from P7,200 to P32,000. The Act expressly provided that the increases "shall take effect in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution." When Ligot was elected for his third four-year term, he was not entitled to the salary increase by virtue of the Courts unanimous decision in Philconsa v. Mathay:
"that the increased compensation provided by Republic Act No. 4134 is not operative until December 30, 1969 when the full term of all members of the Senate and House that approved it on June 20, 1964 will have expired" by virtue of the constitutional mandate in Section 14, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution...

Ligot lost in the 1969 elections and filed a claim for retirement under Commonwealth Act 186, section 12 (c) as amended by Republic Act 4968 which provided for retirement gratuity. On May 8, 1970, the House of Representatives issued a treasury warrant in the sum of P122,429.86 in Ligot's favor as his retirement gratuity, using the increased salary of P32,000.00 per annum of members of Congress. Respondent Velasco as Congress Auditor did not sign the warrant due to a pending resolution by the Auditor General of a similar claim filed by former Representative Melanio T. Singson, whose term as Congressman also expired on December 30, 1969. On July 22, 1970, respondent auditor Velasco formally requested petitioner to return the warrant and its supporting papers for a recomputation of his retirement claim by virtue of the AuditorGenerals adverse decision to Singsons claim. On January 20, 1972, the Auditor General through Velasco denied Ligots request for reconsideration. Ligot then filed a petition for review appealing the decision of the Auditor-General alleging that at the time of his retirement, the salary for members of Congess as provided by law was already P32,000 per annum, so, he should receive his retirement gratuity based on that salary increase. ISSUE/S: Whether or not Ligot is entitled to retirement benefits based on the salary increase of the member of Congress HELD: The petition was dismissed. Ratio Decidendi: There is no question that Ligot is entitled to a retirement gratuity based on Commonwealth Act 186, secrtion 12 as amended by RA4968. The issue is whether or not he can claim in based on the P32,000 per annum salary of the members of Congress. The Court decided that to grant retirement gratuity to members of Congress whose terms expired on December 30, 1969 computed on the basis of an increased salary of P32,000.00 per annum (which they were prohibited by the Constitution from receiving during their term of office) would be to pay them more than what is constitutionally allowed. Section 14, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution provides that: No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives approving such increase.

Jocelyn H. Baylon