March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

COMELEC; House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal; Jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held in this case that despite recourse to it, it cannot rule on the issue of citizenship of petitioner Gonzalez.  Subsequent events showed that Gonzalez had not only been duly proclaimed, he had also taken his oath of office and assumed office as Member of the House of Representatives. Once a winning candidate has been proclaimed, taken his oath, and assumed office as a member of the House of Representatives, COMELEC’s jurisdiction over election contests relating to the candidate’s election and qualifications ends, and the HRET’s own jurisdiction begins. Fernando V. Gonzalez v. Commission on Elections, et al., G.R. No. 192856, March 8, 2011.

Equal Protection. The main issue in this case is whether or not PAGCOR is still exempt from corporate income tax and VAT with the enactment of R.A. No. 9337. The Supreme Court held that under Section 1 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 27 (c) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977, petitioner is no longer exempt from corporate income tax as it has been effectively omitted from the list of GOCCs that are exempt from it. The burden of proof rests upon the party claiming exemption to prove that it is, in fact, covered by the exemption so claimed. In this case, PAGCOR failed to prove that it is still exempt from the payment of corporate income tax, considering that Section 1 of R.A. No. 9337 amended Section 27 (c) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 by omitting PAGCOR from the exemption. PAGCOR cannot find support in the equal protection clause of the Constitution, as the legislative records of the Bicameral Conference Meeting dated October 27, 1997, of the Committee on Ways and Means, show that PAGCOR’s exemption from payment of corporate income tax, as provided in Section 27 (c) of R.A. No. 8424, or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, was not made pursuant to a valid classification based on substantial distinctions and the other requirements of  a reasonable classification by  legislative bodies, so that the law may operate only on some, and not all, without violating the equal protection clause.  The legislative records show that the basis of the grant of exemption to PAGCOR from corporate income tax was PAGCOR’s own request to be exempted. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation v. Bureau of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 172087, March 15, 2011.

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