Arturo Tolentino vs Secretary of Finance
235 SCRA 630 (1994) – 249 SCRA 635 (1995) – Political Law – Origination of Revenue Bills – EVAT – Amendment by Substitution
Arturo Tolentino et al are questioning the constitutionality of RA 7716 otherwise known as the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) Law. Tolentino averred that this revenue bill did not exclusively originate from the House of Representatives as required by Section 24, Article 6 of the Constitution. Even though RA 7716 originated as HB 11197 and that it passed the 3 readings in the HoR, the same did not complete the 3 readings in Senate for after the 1st reading it was referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee thereafter Senate passed its own version known as Senate Bill 1630. Tolentino averred that what Senate could have done is amend HB 11197 by striking out its text and substituting it with the text of SB 1630 in that way “the bill remains a House Bill and the Senate version just becomes the text (only the text) of the HB”. (It’s ironic however to note that Tolentino and co-petitioner Raul Roco even signed the said Senate Bill.)
ISSUE: Whether or not the EVAT law is procedurally infirm.
HELD: No. By a 9-6 vote, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge, holding that such consolidation was consistent with the power of the Senate to propose or concur with amendments to the version originated in the HoR. What the Constitution simply means, according to the 9 justices, is that the initiative must come from the HoR. Note also that there were several instances before where Senate passed its own version rather than having the HoR version as far as revenue and other such bills are concerned. This practice of amendment by substitution has always been accepted. The proposition of Tolentino concerns a mere matter of form. There is no showing that it would make a significant difference if Senate were to adopt his over what has been done.