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FACTS: In 1904, Congress, through a law (Act No. 1136), authorized the
Collector of Customs to regulate the business of lighterage. Lighterage is a
business involving the shipping of goods by use of lighters or cascos (small
ships/boats). The said law also provides that the Collector may promulgate
such rules to implement Act No. 1136. Further, Act No. 1136 provides that in
case a fine is to be imposed, it should not exceed one hundred dollars.
Pursuant to this, the Collector promulgated Circular No. 397. Meanwhile,
Aniceto Barrias was caught navigating the Pasig River using a lighter which is
manually powered by bamboo poles (sagwan). Such is a violation of Circular
No. 397 because under said Circular, only steam powered ships should be
allowed to navigate the Pasig River. However, in the information against
Barrias, it was alleged that the imposable penalty against him should be a
fine not exceeding P500.00 at the discretion of the court this was pursuant
to Circular No. 397 which provides: For the violation of any part of the
foregoing regulations, the persons offending shall be liable to a fine of not
less than P5 and not more than P500, in the discretion of the court. Barrias
now challenged the validity of such provision of the Circular as it is entirely
different from the penal provision of Act. No. 1136 which only provided a
penalty of not exceeding $100.00 (Note at that time the peso-dollar
exchange was more or less equal).
ISSUE: Whether or not the collector of customs is allowed to fix the penalty
of law
HELD: No. The Commissioner cannot impose a different range of penalty
different from that specified by Congress. If the Collector is allowed to do so,
then in effect, it is as if he is being delegated the power to legislate
penalties. It would constitute an illegal delegation of legislative power. One of
the settled maxims in constitutional law is, that the power conferred upon
the legislature to make laws cannot be delegated by that department to
anybody or authority. Where the sovereign power of the State has located
the authority, there it must remain; only by the constitutional agency alone
the laws must be made until the constitution itself is changed. The power to
whose judgment, wisdom, and patriotism this high prerogative has been
entrusted can not relieve itself of the responsibility by choosing other
agencies upon which the power shall be developed, nor can its substitutes
the judgment, wisdom, and patriotism and of any other body for those to
which alone the people have seen fit to confide this sovereign trust. This
doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such a delegated power

constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate by

the instrumentality of his own judgment acting immediately upon the matter
of legislation and not through the intervening mind of another. The Collector
cannot exercise a power exclusively lodged in Congress. Hence, Barrias
should be penalized in accordance to the penalty being imposed by Act No.
1136. In this case, the Supreme Court determined that the proper fine is
A taxpayers class suit was filed by minors Juan Antonio Oposa, et al.,
representing their generation and generations yet unborn, and represented
by their parents against Fulgencio Factoran Jr. who was being substituted by
Alcala, Secretary of DENR, to cancel existing timber license agreements in
the country and to stop issuance of new ones. It was claimed that the
resultant deforestation and damage to the environment violated their
constitutional rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health
(Sections 16 and 15, Article II of the Constitution).
They prayed that judgment be rendered ordering the defendant, his agents,
representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to:

Cancel all existing Timber Licensing Agreements (TLA) in the

Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing,
renewing, or appraising new TLAs;
and granting the plaintiffs such other reliefs just and equitable under the
premises. They alleged that they have a clear and constitutional right to a
balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in
its capacity as parens patriae. Furthermore, they claim that the act of the
defendant in allowing TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forests
constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resources
property he holds in trust for the benefit of the plaintiff minors and
succeeding generations.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the following
Plaintiffs have no cause of action against him;
The issues raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which
properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of the government.
The RTC Judge sustained the motion to dismiss, further ruling that granting of
the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is
prohibited by the Constitution.

Plaintiffs (petitioners) thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari
and asked the court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the
ground that the respondent RTC Judge gravely abused his discretion in
dismissing the action.
(1) Whether or not the plaintiffs have a cause of action.
(2) Whether or not the complaint raises a political issue.
(3) Whether or not the original prayer of the plaintiffs result in the
impairment of contracts.
First Issue: Cause of Action.
Respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a
specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief
is provided by law. The Court did not agree with this. The complaint focuses
on one fundamental legal right -- the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology which is incorporated in Section 16 Article II of the Constitution. The
said right carries with it the duty to refrain from impairing the environment
and implies, among many other things, the judicious management and
conservation of the country's forests. Section 4 of E.O. 192 expressly
mandates the DENR to be the primary government agency responsible for
the governing and supervising the exploration, utilization, development and
conservation of the country's natural resources. The policy declaration of
E.O. 192 is also substantially re-stated in Title XIV Book IV of the
Administrative Code of 1987. Both E.O. 192 and Administrative Code of 1987
have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for policy formation,
and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR. Thus, right of the
petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology
is as clear as DENR's duty to protect and advance the said right.
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the correlative duty or
obligation to respect or protect or respect the same gives rise to a cause of
action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLA, which they claim
was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balance and
healthful ecology. Hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further
TLAs should be renewed or granted.
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, the Court finds it to
be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their
Second Issue: Political Issue.

Second paragraph, Section 1 of Article VIII of the constitution provides for the
expanded jurisdiction vested upon the Supreme Court. It allows the Court to
rule upon even on the wisdom of the decision of the Executive and
Legislature and to declare their acts as invalid for lack or excess of
jurisdiction because it is tainted with grave abuse of discretion.
Third Issue: Violation of the non-impairment clause.
The Court held that the Timber License Agreement is an instrument by which
the state regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the
end that public welfare is promoted. It is not a contract within the purview of
the due process clause thus, the non-impairment clause cannot be invoked.
It can be validly withdraw whenever dictated by public interest or public
welfare as in this case. The granting of license does not create irrevocable
rights, neither is it property or property rights.
Moreover, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of
contract is limit by the exercise by the police power of the State, in the
interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare. In short, the nonimpairment clause must yield to the police power of the State.
The instant petition, being impressed with merit, is hereby GRANTED and the
RTC decision is SET ASIDE.
The petitioners are member of the Independence Commission for more than
six months. They are actually a member of the Philippine Legislature. The
petitioners being a citizens and taxpayers are persons interested in knowing
how the public funds are expended. They alleged that as members of the
Legislature they are entrusted with the honest investment, disposition, and
administration of the public funds of the Government; that as members of
the Independence Commission they are legally obliged to prevent the funds
of said Commission from being squandered, and to prevent any investments
and illicit expenses in open contravention of the purposes of the law; that the
petitioners have verbally and by writing requested the respondents many
times to exhibit to them and to permit them to see and examine the
vouchers and other documentary proofs relating to the expenditures and
payments made out of the funds appropriated for the use of the
Independence Commission. However, respondent Paciano Dizon, as Acting
Insular Auditor, under the control and authority of the respondent Leonard
Wood as Governor-General have denied to permit the petitioners from
examining said vouchers and documentary proofs of the expenditures of the

funds of said Independence Commission. The Supreme Court by the

petitioners issued a writ of mandamus compelling the respondents to exhibit
to the petitioners and to permit them to examine all the vouchers and other
documentary proofs in their possession, showing the disbursements and
expenditures made by them out of the funds of the Independence
Whether or not the judicial department of the Government has a jurisdiction
or authority to direct either or both of the other departments of the
Government to do or to perform any duty which pertains particularly to those
departments of the Government.
NO. The Government of the United State in the Philippine Islands is divided
under its charter or constitution (the Organic Act) into three great, separate,
distinct, and independent departments; the executive, the legislative, and
the judicial. The duties of each department are well defined and limited to
certain fields of governmental operation. The executive and legislative
departments of the government are frequently called upon to deal with what
are known as political questions, with which the judicial department of the
government has no intervention. In all such questions, in the first instance
the courts have uniformally refused to intervene for the purpose of directing
or controlling the actions of the other departments. Such questions are many
times reserved to those departments in the organic law of the state.
The legislative department, being a coordinate and independent branch of
the government, its action within its own sphere cannot be revised or
controlled by mandamus by the judicial department, without a gross
usurpation of power upon the part of the latter. When the legislative
department of the government imposes upon its officers the performance of
certain duties which are not prohibited by the organic law of the land, the
performance, the non-performance, or the manner of the performance is
under the direct control of the legislature, and such officers are not subject to
the direction of the courts.
In interference by the judicial department of the government with the
workings and operations of the committee of the legislative department
would be tantamount to an interference with the workings and operations of
the legislative department itself.