Monday, March 12, 2012

Gaston vs. Republic Planters Bank

Facts: Petitioners are sugar producers and planters and millers filed a MANDAMUS to implement the privatization of Republic Planters Bank, and for the transfer of the shares in the government bank to sugar producers and planters. (because they are allegedly the true beneficial owners of the bank since they pay P1.00 per picul of sugar from the proceeds of sugar producers as STABILIZATION FEES) 

The shares are currently held by Philsucom / Sugar Regulatory Admin. 

The Solgen countered that the stabilization fees are considered government funds and that the transfer of shares to from Philsucom to the sugar producers would be irregular. 

Issue: What is the nature of the P1.00 stabilization fees collected from sugar producers? Are they funds held in trust for them, or are they public funds? Are the shares in the bank (paid using these fees) owned by the government Philsucom or privately by the different sugar planters from whom such fees were collected? 

HeldPUBLIC FUNDS. While it is true that the collected fees were used to buy shares in RPB, it did not collect said fees for the account of sugar producers. The stabilization fees were charged on sugar produced and milled which ACCRUED TO PHILSUCOM, under PD 338. 

The fees collected ARE IN THE NATURE OF A TAX., which is within the power of the state to impose FOR THE PROMOTION OF THE SUGAR INDUSTRY. They constitute sugar liens. The collections accrue to a SPECIAL FUNDS. It is levied not purely for taxation, but for regulation, to provide means TO STABILIZE THE SUGAR INDUSTRY. The levy is primarily an exercise of police powers. 

The fact that the State has taken money pursuant to law is sufficient to constitute them as STATE FUNDS, even though held for a special purpose. Having been levied for a special purpose, the revenues are treated as a special fund, administered in trust for the purpose intended. Once the purpose has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance will be transferred to the general funds of gov’t. 

It is a special fund since the funds are deposited in PNB, not in the National Treasury. 

The sugar planters are NOT BENEFICIAL OWNERS. The money is collected from them only because they it is also they who are to be benefited from the expenditure of funds derived from it. The investing of the funds in RPB is not alien to the purpose since the Bank is a commodity bank for sugar, conceived for the sugar industry’ growth and development. 

Revenues derived from taxes cannot be used purely for private purposes or for the exclusive benefit of private persons. The Stabilization Fund is to be utilized for the benefit of the ENTIRE SUGAR INDUSTRY, and all its components, stabilization of domestic and foreign markets, since the sugar industry is of vital importance to the country’s economy and national interest. 

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