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Gonzales vs.

Hechanova
9 SCRA 230
FACTS: Respondent Executive Secretary authorized the importation of 67,000 tons of foreign rice to be purchased
from private sources. Thereupon, herein petitioner, Ramon A. Gonzales, a rice planter, and president of the Iloilo Palay
and Corn Planters Association, filed the petition herein, averring that, in making or attempting to make said
importation of foreign rice, the aforementioned respondents “are acting without jurisdiction or in excess of
jurisdiction,” because Republic Act No. 2207, explicitly, prohibits the importation of rice and corn by the “Rice and Corn
Administration or any other government agency.”
ISSUE: Whether an international agreement may be invalidated by our courts.
HELD: The Constitution of the Philippines has clearly settled in the affirmative by providing in Section 2 of Article VIII
thereof, that the Supreme Court may not be deprived “of its jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on
appeal, certiorari, or writ of error as the law or the rules of court may provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior
courts in all cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, law, ordinance, or executive order, or
regulation is in question.” In other words, our Constitution authorizes the nullification of a treaty, not only when it
conflicts with the fundamental law, but also, when it runs counter to an act of Congress.
The alleged consummation of the aforementioned contracts with Vietnam and Burma does not render this case
academic. Republic Act No. 2207 enjoins our government not from entering into contracts for the purchase of rice, but
from entering rice, except under the conditions prescribed in said Act.
A judicial declaration of illegality of the proposed importation would not compel our Government to default in the
performance of such obligations as it may have contracted with the sellers of rice in question because aside from the
fact that said obligations may be complied without importing the said commodity into the Philippines, the proposed
importation may still be legalized by complying with the provisions of the aforementioned laws.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-21897

October 22, 1963

RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioner,
vs.
RUFINO G. HECHANOVA, as Executive Secretary, MACARIO PERALTA, JR., as Secretary of Defense, PEDRO
GIMENEZ, as Auditor General, CORNELIO BALMACEDA, as Secretary of Commerce and Industry, and
SALVADOR MARINO, Secretary of Justice, respondents.
Ramon A. Gonzales in his own behalf as petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General and Estanislao Fernandez for respondents.
CONCEPCION, J.:
This is an original action for prohibition with preliminary injunction.
It is not disputed that on September 22, 1963, respondent Executive Secretary authorized the importation of 67,000
tons of foreign rice to be purchased from private sources, and created a rice procurement committee composed of the
other respondents herein1 for the implementation of said proposed importation. Thereupon, or September 25, 1963,
herein petitioner, Ramon A. Gonzales — a rice planter, and president of the Iloilo Palay and Corn Planters Association,
whose members are, likewise, engaged in the production of rice and corn — filed the petition herein, averring that, in
making or attempting to make said importation of foreign rice, the aforementioned respondents "are acting without
jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction", because Republic Act No. 3452 which allegedly repeals or amends Republic Act
No. 220 — explicitly prohibits the importation of rice and corn "the Rice and Corn Administration or any other
government agency;" that petitioner has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law;
and that a preliminary injunction is necessary for the preservation of the rights of the parties during the pendency this
case and to prevent the judgment therein from coming ineffectual. Petitioner prayed, therefore, that said petition be
given due course; that a writ of preliminary injunction be forthwith issued restraining respondent their agents or
representatives from implementing the decision of the Executive Secretary to import the aforementioned foreign rice;
and that, after due hearing, judgment be rendered making said injunction permanent.
Forthwith, respondents were required to file their answer to the petition which they did, and petitioner's pray for a writ
of preliminary injunction was set for hearing at which both parties appeared and argued orally. Moreover, a
memorandum was filed, shortly thereafter, by the respondents. Considering, later on, that the resolution said incident
may require some pronouncements that would be more appropriate in a decision on the merits of the case, the same
was set for hearing on the merits thereafter. The parties, however, waived the right to argue orally, although counsel
for respondents filed their memoranda.
I. Sufficiency of petitioner's interest.

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agencies.. 2 | Page .8 that in cases of necessity." Pursuant to this provision. "it shall be unlawful for any person. producers and landowners in the Philippines who wish to dispose of their products at a price that will afford them a fair and just return for their labor and capital investment.on which our view need not be expressed — we are unanimously of the opinion . that said provisions of Republic Act Nos. 3452 explicitly enjoins "the Rice and Corn Administration or any government agency" from importing rice and corn. Merits of petitioner's cause of action.000. untenable. 2207 is to be authorized by the "President of the Philippines" and. Aside from prescribing a fine not exceeding P10.assuming that said Republic Act No. Section 3 thereof provides a similar additional penalty for any "officer or employee of the Government" who "violates. and as a rice producer and landowner petitioner must necessarily be a taxpayer. Similarly. as a planter with a rice land of substantial proportion. as such.. is the conditions prescribed in Section 2 of said Act are present. distinct and separate from that of the Government. 2. Pursuant to Republic Act No. 2207 and 3452. prohibiting the importation of rice and corn by any "government agency". Hence. Hence. 3452 adds "that the importation of rice and corn is left to private parties upon payment of the corresponding taxes". This theory is devoid of merit. 3452 or any rule and regulation promulgated pursuant thereto. and each and every officer and employee of our Government. commissions. Apart from prohibiting the importation of rice and corn "by the Rice and Corn Administration or any other government agency".00 and imprisonment of not more than five (5) years for those who shall violate any provision of Republic Act No." Pursuant to Section 1 thereof: The Purchase and Equipment Division of the Government of the Philippines and other officers and employees of the municipal and provincial governments and the Government of the Philippines and of chartered cities. that the principle requiring the previous exhaustion of administrative remedies is not applicable where the question in dispute is purely a legal one". The Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Moreover. the restrictions imposed in said Republic Acts are merely additional to those prescribed in Commonwealth Act No. 2207 is still in force — that the two Acts are applicable to the proposed importation in question because the language of said laws is such as to include within the purview thereof all importations of rice and corn into the Philippines". the intent to apply the same to transactions made by the very government is patent. Immediately after enjoining the Rice and Corn administration and any other government agency from importing rice and corn. farmers. . Indeed. departments. do not apply to importations "made by the Government itself". The applicability of said laws even to importations by the Government as such. that "the policy of the Government" is to "engage in the purchase of these basic foods directly from those tenants. The importation permitted in Republic Act No. by way of exception. branches. and bodies of any description. "the President .. 3452 repeals Republic Act No. III. 2207. and 3. becomes more apparent when we consider that: 1. even more explicit.5 unless actually disapproved by him. although.Respondents maintain that the status of petitioner as a rice planter does not give him sufficient interest to file the petition herein and secure the relief therein prayed for. Respondents assail petitioner's right to the reliefs prayed for because he "has not exhausted all administrative remedies available to him before coming to court".6 or where there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention. Respondents allege. thus indicating that only "private parties" may import rice under its provisions. Respondents' contention is. entitled "An Act to give native products and domestic entities the preference in the purchase of articles for the Government. as well as respondents herein. the President "or his subordinates may take such preventive measure for the restoration of good order and maintenance of peace". growers. We have already held. but was authorized by the President as Commander-inChief "for military stock pile purposes" in the exercise of his alleged authority under Section 2 of Commonwealth Act No. hence. since the purchase of said commodity will have to be effected with public funds mainly raised by taxation.. unlike those of a government instrumentality which may have a personality of its own. 138. 1. however. association. . it follows that he has sufficient personality and interest to seek judicial assistance with a view to restraining what he believes to be an attempt to unlawfully disburse said funds. whose acts as an alter-ego of the President bear the implied or assumed approval of the latter. offices. 4 or where the respondent is a department secretary. II. 3 or where the controverted act is "patently illegal" or was performed without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction. because the latter is not a "government agency". The provisions of Republic Act No. however. Respondents question the sufficiency of petitioner's cause of action upon the theory that the proposed importation in question is not governed by Republic Acts Nos. the duly authorized acts of the former are those of the Government. 2207. 2207 and 3452. corporation or government agency to import rice and corn into any point in the Philippines". by or on behalf of the Government of the Philippines. 2207 are. Regardless of whether Republic Act No. boards. 3452 declares. and that. as contended by petitioner herein . Section 15 of said Act provides that "if the offender is a public official and/or employees". he shall be subject to the additional penalty specified therein. as distinguished from officers or employees of instrumentalities of the Government. therefore. A public official is an officer of the Government itself. Republic Act No. 7 The case at bar fails under each one of the foregoing exceptions to the general rule. Republic Act No. our government agencies and/or agents. petitioner. Section 10 of Republic Act No. is duty-bound to prepare for the challenge of threats of war or emergency without waiting for any special authority". Exhaustion of administrative remedies. bureaus. it adds. in Section 1 thereof. in this respect. as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces. We find no merit in this pretense. 2 is entitled to a chance to sell to the Government the rice it now seeks to buy abroad. that "the President of the Philippines may authorize the importation of these commodities through any government agency that he may designate". abets or tolerates the violation of any provision" of said Act.

and Commonwealth Act No. Section 5 thereof specifies the manner in which resources necessary for our national defense may be secured by the Government of the Philippines.) Under this provision. in the Philippines or in the United States. be impaired if the importation were so made as to discourage our farmers from engaging in the production of rice. the Government of the Philippines having already paid the price of the rice involved therein through irrevocable letters of credit in favor of the sell of the said commodity. if a treaty and a statute are inconsistent with each other... 2207 and 3452 on the one hand. would. 3452. And then. The means for the attainment of those objectives are subject to congressional legislation. Insofar as rice and corn are concerned. those laws permit importation — but under certain conditions. be permitted because "it redounds to the benefit of the people". That idea must be rejected . The contracts with Vietnam and Burma — It is lastly contended that the Government of the Philippines has already entered into two (2) contracts for the Purchase of rice. and another with the Government of Burma. the conflict must be resolved — under the American jurisprudence — in favor of the one which is latest in point of time. the provisions of Section 2 of Commonwealth Act No.and the alleged powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces in the Philippines. Respondents cite Corwin in support of their pretense. (Emphasis applied. "the people" are either producers or consumers. but only "during a national mobilization". An examination of the work cited 10 shows that Corwin referred to the powers of the President during "war time"11 or when he has placed the country or a part thereof under "martial law". materials. 4 and 51 to 88 of said Commonwealth Act No. i. are not selfexecutory. it ordains that "the buffer stocks held as a national reserve . And the importation is avowedly for stockpile of the Army — not the civilian population.. as indicated in said Section 2. the latter should prevail. 2207 and 3452 were approved by the Legislature for the benefit of producers and consumers. in effect. place the Philippines under martial law. and adopt means or ways to set those Acts at naught.e. and aforementioned contracts. Thus.including government-owned companies. he is at liberty to disregard it. 2207 and 3452. the latter would. the conditions under which the services of citizens. it should. as officials of this Government. 1.. one with the Republic of Vietnam. in all purchases by the Government. 2207 and 3452. may be availed of.. Even if the intent in importing goods in anticipation of such emergency were to bolster up that ability. produced . that in case of conflict between Republic Acts Nos. and should be complied with. Similarly. including those made by and/or for the armed forces. instead. and the aforementioned contracts have already been consummated. They merely outline the general objectives of said legislation. be deposited by the administration throughout the country under the proper dispersal plans . public buildings.. even 3 | Page . But let us follow the respondents' trend of thought. but in vain. and "the recent tension created by the Malaysia problem" . It has a more serious implication that appears on the surface. and to domestic entities. upon which respondents rely so much. The parties to said contracts do not pear to have regarded the same as executive agreements. preference shall be given to materials produced in the Philippines. have expressly affirmed again and again that there is no rice shortage. that petitioner herein assails the validity of acts of the Executive relative to foreign relations in the conduct of which the Supreme Court cannot interfere.. said work merely proves that respondents' theory. Section 3 thereof expressly authorizes the Rice and Corn Administration "to accumulate stocks as a national reserve in such quantities as it may deem proper and necessary to meet any contingencies". nevertheless. authorized to requisition.. or contract or make disbursements for articles. the stockpiling of rice and corn for purpose of national security and/or national emergency is within the purview of Republic Act No. Besides. that such agreements became binding effective upon the signing thereof by representatives the parties thereto.9 which does not exist. and supplies for public use. Moreover. IV.we still live under a rule of law. it would keep us perpetually under martial law. if accepted. 1. But the respondents. and may be released only upon the occurrence of calamities or emergencies .12 Since neither condition obtains in the case at bar. in the absence of a national mobilization. It implies that if an executive officer believes that compliance with a certain statute will not benefit the people. on the other. 138 are such laws. the people. We find no merit in this pretense. aside from the provisions of Republic Acts Nos. overlooks the fact that the protection of local planters of rice and corn in a manner that would foster and accelerate self-sufficiency in the local production of said commodities constitutes a factor that is vital to our ability to meet possible national emergency. purchase.. Now — as respondents explicitly admit — Republic Acts Nos. Inferentially. without a declaration of the Executive to that effect. (Emphasis supplied. Salus populi est suprema lex. What is worse. under Section 2 of the National Defense Act (Commonwealth Act No. because. Republic Acts Nos. It has been suggested that even if the proposed importation violated Republic Acts Nos. subject to the conditions hereinbelow specified. The Court is not satisfied that the status of said tracts as alleged executive agreements has been sufficiently established. The attempt to justify the proposed importation by invoking reasons of national security — predicated upon the "worsening situation in Laos and Vietnam". said resources shall be produced in such manner as Congress may by other laws provide from time to time. therefore. it must follow that the welfare of the people lies precisely in the compliance with said Acts. it is said. or public works shall give preference to materials .. that these contracts constitute valid executive agreements under international law. the argument might have some value. 2207 and 3452. 1). are provided for in Sections 3. The importation involved in the case at bar violates this general policy of our Government. It is not for respondent executive officers now to set their own opinions against that of the Legislature. which have not been. If there were a local shortage of rice.) Again. But.". Anyway..

or affirm on appeal. but from importing rice. or writ of error as the law or the rules of court may provide.. growers or landowners. JJ.L. Although the President may. reverse. hence. Bengzon. judgment is hereby rendered declaring that respondent Executive Secretary had and has no power to authorize the importation in question. revise. but. Labrador. suffice it to say that the Constitution of the Philippines has clearly settled it in the affirmative. by indirectly repealing the same through an executive agreement providing for the performance of the very act prohibited by said laws. from a constitutional viewpoint. also insist that the contracts adverted to are not treaties. Upon the other hand. V. when it runs counter to an act of Congress. a judicial declaration of illegality of the proposed importation would not compel our Government to default in the performance of such obligations as it may have contracted with the sellers of the rice in question. for which reason the injunction prayed for cannot be granted. 3452 has two (2) main features. that he exceeded his jurisdiction in granting said authority. the majority favors the negative view. ordinance. by executive agreement. Padilla. In other words.. The pivotal issue in this case is whether the proposed importation — which has not been consummated as yet — is legally feasible. the same are unlawful. The members of the Court have divergent opinions on the question whether or not respondents herein should be enjoined from implementing the aforementioned proposed importation. concur. Said theory may be justified upon the ground that treaties to which the United States is signatory require the advice and consent of its Senate. but. except under the conditions Prescribed in said Act. or executive order or regulation is in question". as well as null and void. by providing. our Constitution authorizes the nullification of a treaty. The alleged consummation of the aforementioned contracts with Vietnam and Burma does not render this case academic. modify. also. Dizon and Makalintal. No such justification can be given as regards executive agreements not authorized by previous legislation. concur in the result. law. said importation is not sanctioned by law and is contrary to its provisions. the main function of the Executive is to enforce laws enacted by Congress. under the American constitutional system enter into executive agreements without previous legislative authority. except in the exercise of his veto power. It is so ordered. without completely upsetting the principle of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances which are fundamental in our constitutional set up and that of the United States. the one which is latest in point of time shall prevail. final judgments and decrees of inferior courts in — (1) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty. that the Supreme Court may not be deprived "of its jurisdiction to review. As regards the question whether an international agreement may be invalidated by our courts. Paredes and Regala. not only when it conflicts with the fundamental law. The writ of preliminary injunction. for respondents not only admit. The former may not interfere in the performance of the legislative powers of the latter. He may not defeat legislative enactments that have acquired the status of law. However. 2207 enjoins our Government not from entering into contracts for the purchase of rice.assuming that said contracts may properly considered as executive agreements. for lack of the requisite majority. in the event of conflict between a treaty and a statute. JJ. Under the Constitution. and leaves such importations to private parties. accordingly denied. said agreements being inconsistent with the provisions of Republic Acts Nos. Lastly. he may not. in Section 2 of Article VIII thereof. and (b) it prohibits importations of rice by the Government. Republic Act No. namely: (a) it requires the Government to purchase rice and corn directly from our local planters. 2207 and 3452. the injunction prayed for must be and is. enter into a transaction which is prohibited by statutes enacted prior thereto. is not applicable to the case at bar. 4 | Page . certiorari. Reyes. because. and. J. and that. aside from the fact that said obligations may be complied with without importing the commodity into the Philippines. the proposed importation may still be legalized by complying with the provisions of the aforementioned laws. WHEREFORE. CJ. Republic Act No.. The American theory to the effect that.B. of a branch of the legislative department.