Friday, February 03, 2012

Reyes vs. CA, G.R. 118233, December 10, 1999

Facts: The Sangguniang Bayan of San Juan implemented several tax ordinances on printing and publication, on the sale or transfer of real property, for social housing, imposed new rates of business tax and an annual Ad valorem tax on real property. These ordinances were alleged to be unconstitutional by petitioners because they were promulgated without previous public hearing thereby constituting deprivation of property without due process of law. The appeal was dismissed for being filed out of time or more than 30 days after the effectivity of the ordinances. Their petition having been denied, they filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition which affirmed the Secretary of Justice.

(1) Whether or not the CA erred in affirming the decision of the Secretary of Justice who dismissed the prohibition suit, on the ground that it was filed out of time

(2) Whether or not the lack of mandatory public hearings prior to the enactment of the ordinances render them void on the grounds of deprivation of property without due process

(1) The law clearly requires that the dissatisfied taxpayer who questions the validity or legality of a tax ordinance must file his appeal to the Secretary of Justice, within 30 days from effectivity thereof. In case the Secretary of Justice decides the appeal, a period of 30 days is allowed for an aggrieved party to go to court. But if the Secretary does not act thereon, after the lapse of 60 days, a party could already proceed to court to seek relief. These 3 separate periods are given for compliance as a prerequisite before seeking redress in court. For this reason, the courts construe these provisions as mandatory.

(2) In accordance with the presumption of validity in favor of an ordinance, their constitutionality or legality should be upheld in the absence of evidences showing that procedure prescribed by law was not observed in their enactment. In this case, petitioners have not proved that the Sangguniang Bayan of San Juan failed to conduct the required public hearings before enacting said ordinances.

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