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PACU v Secretary of Education previous governmental approval or permit before such person could

Judicial Determination of Sufficiency of Standards | 31 October 1955 | exercise said right, amounts to censorship of previous restraint, a
Bengzon practice abhorrent to our system of law and government
o PACU further avers that such power granted to the
Nature of Case: Original Action for Prohibition Secretary of Education is an undue delegation of legislative
power because the law did not specify the basis or the
SUMMARY: PACU assails the constitutionality of Act No. 2706 as standard upon which the Secretary must exercise said
amended by Act No. 3075 and Commonwealth Act No. 180 for (1) unduly discretion, and that the power to ban books granted to the
delegating legislative power to the Secretary of Education, (2) imposing an Secretary amounts to censorship
unlawful tax, (3) requiring previous approval prior to an opening of a ● The respondents reply arguing that (1) the matter constitutes no
private school which amounts censorship of previous restraint, and (4) justiciable controversy exhibiting unavoidable necessity of deciding
regulating the textbooks which also amounts to censorship. The Court the constitutional questions since all the petitioners are actually
ruled for the respondents and found that there is no undue delegation of operating; (2) petitioners are in estoppel to challenge the validity of
legislative power to the Secretary of Education because “adequate and the said acts; and (3) the Acts are constitutionally valid
efficient instruction” should be considered a sufficient standard. The other
arguments of the petitioners were also unmeritorious for the Supreme ISSUE/S & RATIO:
Issue: WON the power granted to the Secretary of Education constitute
DOCTRINE: Indeed, adequate and efficient instruction should be unlawful delegation of legislative power – NO
considered sufficient, in the same way as public welfare, necessary in the
interest of law and order, public interest, and justice and equity and Ratio:
substantial merits of the case have been held sufficient as legislative  Section 1 of Act No. 2706 provides that it shall be the duty of the
standards justifying delegation of authority to regulate Secretary of Public Instruction to maintain a general standard of
efficiency in all private schools and colleges of the Philippines so that
the same shall furnish adequate instruction to the public, in
FACTS: accordance with the class and grade of instruction given in them,
● The Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) and for this purpose said Secretary or his duly authorized
assailed the constitutionality of Act No. 2706 (“An Act making the representative shall have authority to advise, inspect, and regulate
inspection and recognition of private schools and colleges obligatory said schools and colleges in order to determine the efficiency of
for the Secretary of Public Instruction”) as amended by Act No. 3075 instruction given in the same.
and Commonwealth Act No. 180. o Section 6 of Act No. 2706 grants the Secretary rule making
o These laws sought to regulate the ownership of private powers in relation to Section 1
schools in the country  Petitioners argue that the statute does not say what constitutes
o It is provided by these laws that a permit should first be general standard of efficiency, adequate instruction to the public or
secured from the Secretary of Education before a person may efficiency of instruction, leaving everything to the uncontrolled
be granted the right to own and operate a private school discretion of the Secretary, effectively giving the Secretary the power
(Section 3) to fix the standard
o This also gives the Secretary of Education the discretion to  The Supreme Court however ruled that the two sections empower
ascertain standards that must be followed by private and require the Secretary of Education to prescribe rules fixing
schools, and to ban certain textbooks from being used in minimum standards of adequate and efficient instruction to be
schools observed by all such private schools and colleges
● PACU contends that the right of a citizen to own and operate a o Despite such alleged vagueness, the Secretary has fixed
school is guaranteed by the Constitution, and any law requiring standards to ensure adequate and efficient instruction and
the system of private education has, in general, been o The requirement was enacted pursuant to the findings and
satisfactorily in operation for 37 years which only shows that recommendation of the Board of Educational Survey: “There
the Legislature did and could validly rely upon the is no law or regulation in the Philippine Islands today to
educational experience and training of those in charge of the prevent a person, however disqualified by ignorance, greed,
Department of Education to ascertain and formulate or even immoral character, from opening a school to teach
minimum requirements of adequate instruction as the basis the young … The great majority of [private schools] … are
of government recognition of any private school
moneymaking devices for the profit …
 RE Sufficient Standard: Indeed, adequate and efficient instruction
o The Government in the exercise of its police power to correct
should be considered sufficient, in the same way as public welfare,
a great evil can validly establish the previous permit system
necessary in the interest of law and order, public interest, and justice
and equity and substantial merits of the case have been held o The power to regulate establishments or business
sufficient as legislative standards justifying delegation of authority occupations implies the power to require a permit or license
to regulate
 At any rate, petitioners do not show how these standards have WON the 1% levy on school receipts is an unlawful tax. – NOT FOR THIS
injured any of them or interfered with their operation COURT TO DECIDE
o No reason exists for them to assail the validity of the power  Section 11-A of Act 2706 provides that the President may authorize
nor the exercise of the power by the Secretary of Education the Secretary to levy an equitable assessment from each private
o Even if it is true, as the petitioners assert, that the Secretary educational institution equivalent to 1% of the total amount of
has issued rules and regulations whimsical and capricious tuition and other fees, and non-payment shall be sufficient cause for
and that such discretionary power has produced arrogant the cancellation of permit
inspectors who bully heads and teachers of private schools,
 The Supreme Court, however, ruled that if the 1% levy is a mere fee
their remedy is to challenge those regulations specifically,
and not a tax to finance the costs of regulating private schools, the
and/or to bring those inspectors to book, in proper
administrative or judicial proceedings, not to invalidate the exaction may be upheld, but if it is a tax it is within the original
law jurisdiction of the CFI
o This involves investigation or examination of data best
Ruling/Dispositive: For all the foregoing considerations, reserving to the carried out in the lower courts
petitioners the right to institute in the proper court, and at the proper time,
such actions as may call for decision of the issues herein presented by them, WON the Board of Textbooks’ power to regulate textbooks amounts to
this petition for prohibition will be denied. So ordered. censorship. – NO
 Section 1 of RA 139 grants the Board of Textbooks the power to
__ prohibit the use of any textbooks which it may find to be against the
Other Issues of the case:
law or to offend the dignity and honor of the government and
WON requiring permits prior to opening a private school amounts to
people of the Philippines, or which it may find to be against the
censorship of previous restraint. – NO
general policies of the government, or which it may deem
 None of the petitioners has cause to present this issue, because all of
pedagogically unsuitable
them have permits to operate and are actually operating by virtue of
 Petitioners argue that this power is censorship in its baldest form
their permits, and mere apprehension that the Secretary of Education
 The Supreme Court, however, ruled that those trained to the
might under the law withdraw the permit of one of petitioners does
investigation of constitutional issues are likely to apprehend the
not constitute a justiciable controversy (Court still discussed it)
danger to civil liberties, of possible educational dictatorship or
 The requirement of prior permit was not in the original Act 2706 but
thought control, as petitioners' counsel foresee with obvious alarm
introduced in CA 180
o Much depends, however, upon the execution and good” or “general welfare”. These render such exercise of analysis and
implementation of the statute search for standards useless. My proposition is for legislators to take these
o Not that constitutionality depends necessarily upon the standards into account, in vesting to these agencies the powers and
law's effects, but if the Board on Textbooks in its actuations prerogatives that affect the people at large.
strictly adheres to the letter of the section and wisely steers a
middle course between the Scylla of dictatorship and the
Charybdis of thought control, no cause for complaint will
arise and no occasion for judicial review will develop

NOTES from commentary/class discussion:

Question (non-verbatim): Seeing how this case was decided – again using a
liberal approach – what is your take on how the Supreme Court should
decide on the propriety of standards? Do you adhere to the liberal approach
in admitting standards?

Reply (non-verbatim): As discussed in the previous cases, there are definitely

benefits in using a liberal approach in deciding whether there is sufficient
standard in vesting a certain power to an administrative body, especially
since it gives credence to the validity of the administrative agencies’ actions.
In doing so, it is most likely the Supreme Court’s prerogative to uphold the
presumption of validity of the government’s actions, especially given the
Congress’ legislative intent.

There persists a problem with this prerogative, though, and it is evident with
the Court’s ruling in this case. The standard used by the Court here was
seemingly pulled out of thin air, using a “standard” based on reliance upon
the expertise and training of those in charge of those appointed in the Department of
Education, which only holds water because there has never been a dispute for
the past 4 decades. A standard first and foremost should give a mode of
measurement to quantify what consists proper exercise and thus,
arbitrariness or excess of the agency’s exercise of power.

Using such broad standards are, for me, problematic in this sense. I thus
advocate for stricter standards, albeit acknowledging the fact that,
historically, these standards involve overarching principles and delve into
the realm of theories. But there should be definiteness in scope of authority
vested in the agencies, and not simply motherhood statements of “common