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Basco vs PAGCOR
Municipal Corporation – Local Autonomy – imperium in imperio
On July 11, 1983, PAGCOR was created under PD 1869 to enable the Government to regulate and centralize all games of chance authorized by existing franchise or permitted by law. Basco and four others (all lawyers) assailed the validity of the law creating PAGCOR on constitutional grounds among others particularly citing that the PAGCOR’s charter is against the constitutional provision on local autonomy.
Basco et al contend that P.D. 1869 constitutes a waiver of the right of the City of Manila to impose taxes and legal fees; that Section 13 par. (2) of P.D. 1869 which exempts PAGCOR, as the franchise holder from paying any “tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise, as well as fees, charges or levies of whatever nature, whether National or Local” is violative of the local autonomy principle.
ISSUE: Whether or not PAGCOR’s charter is violative of the principle of local autonomy.
HELD: NO. Section 5, Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own source of revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and other charges subject to such guidelines and limitation as the congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy on local autonomy. Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local government.
A close reading of the above provision does not violate local autonomy (particularly on taxing powers) as it was clearly stated that the taxing power of LGUs are subject to such guidelines and limitation as Congress may provide.
Further, the City of Manila, being a mere Municipal corporation has no inherent right to impose taxes. The Charter of the City of Manila is subject to control by Congress. It should be stressed that “municipal corporations are mere creatures of Congress” which has the power to “create and abolish municipal corporations” due to its “general legislative powers”. Congress, therefore, has the power of control over Local governments. And if Congress can grant the City of Manila the power to tax certain matters, it can also provide for exemptions or even take back the power.
Further still, local governments have no power to tax instrumentalities of the National Government. PAGCOR is a government owned or controlled corporation with an original charter, PD 1869. All of its shares of stocks are owned by the National Government. Otherwise, its operation might be burdened, impeded or subjected to control by a mere Local government.
This doctrine emanates from the “supremacy” of the National Government over local governments.
Read another version of this digest here: Equal Protection
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