Friday, August 20, 2010

Gonzales v. Hechanova

Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!

G.R. No. L-21897 October 22, 1963

RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioner,
RUFINO G. HECHANOVA, as Executive Secretary, MACARIO PERALTA, JR., as Secretary of Defense, PEDRO GIMENEZ, as Auditor General, CORNELIO BALMACEDA, as Secretary of Commerce and Industry, and SALVADOR MARINO, Secretary of Justice, respondents.


It is not disputed that on September 22, 1963, respondent Executive Secretary authorized the importation of 67,000 tons of foreign rice to be purchased from private sources, and created a rice procurement committee composed of the other respondents for the implementation of said proposed importation.

On September 25, 1963, petitioner Ramon A. Gonzales — a rice planter, and president of the Iloilo Palay and Corn Planters Association, whose members are, likewise, engaged in the production of rice and corn — filed the petition herein, averring that, in making or attempting to make said importation of foreign rice, the aforementioned respondents "are acting without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction", because Republic Act No. 3452 which allegedly repeals or amends Republic Act No. 220 — explicitly prohibits the importation of rice and corn "the Rice and Corn Administration or any other government agency;" that petitioner has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law; and that a preliminary injunction is necessary for the preservation of the rights of the parties during the pendency this case and to prevent the judgment therein from coming ineffectual. Petitioner prayed, therefore, that said petition be given due course; that a writ of preliminary injunction be forthwith issued restraining respondent their agents or representatives from implementing the decision of the Executive Secretary to import the aforementioned foreign rice; and that, after due hearing, judgment be rendered making said injunction permanent.

The contracts with Vietnam and Burma

It is lastly contended that the Government of the Philippines has already entered into two (2) contracts for the Purchase of rice, one with the Republic of Vietnam, and another with the Government of Burma; that these contracts constitute valid executive agreements under international law; that such agreements became binding effective upon the signing thereof by representatives the parties thereto; that in case of conflict between Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452 on the one hand, and aforementioned contracts, on the other, the latter should prevail, because, if a treaty and a statute are inconsistent with each other, the conflict must be resolved — under the American jurisprudence — in favor of the one which is latest in point of time; that petitioner herein assails the validity of acts of the Executive relative to foreign relations in the conduct of which the Supreme Court cannot interfere; and the aforementioned contracts have already been consummated, the Government of the Philippines having already paid the price of the rice involved therein through irrevocable letters of credit in favor of the sell of the said commodity. We find no merit in this pretense.


W/N the sufficiency of petitioner's cause of action upon the theory that the proposed importation in question is not governed by Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452, but was authorized by the President as Commander-in-Chief "for military stock pile purposes" in the exercise of his alleged authority under Section 2 of Commonwealth Act No. 1?


This theory is devoid of merit. The Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as respondents herein, and each and every officer and employee of our Government, our government agencies and/or agents.

In the contracts with Vietnam and Burma, the Court is not satisfied that the status of said tracts as alleged executive agreements has been sufficiently established. The parties to said contracts do not pear to have regarded the same as executive agreements. But, even assuming that said contracts may properly considered as executive agreements, the same are unlawful, as well as null and void, from a constitutional viewpoint, said agreements being inconsistent with the provisions of Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452. Although the President may, under the American constitutional system enter into executive agreements without previous legislative authority, he may not, by executive agreement, enter into a transaction which is prohibited by statutes enacted prior thereto. Under the Constitution, the main function of the Executive is to enforce laws enacted by Congress. The former may not interfere in the performance of the legislative powers of the latter, except in the exercise of his veto power. He may not defeat legislative enactments that have acquired the status of law, by indirectly repealing the same through an executive agreement providing for the performance of the very act prohibited by said laws.

The writ of preliminary injunction

The members of the Court have divergent opinions on the question whether or not respondents herein should be enjoined from implementing the aforementioned proposed importation. However, the majority favors the negative view, for which reason the injunction prayed for cannot be granted.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring that respondent Executive Secretary had and has no power to authorize the importation in question; that he exceeded his jurisdiction in granting said authority; said importation is not sanctioned by law and is contrary to its provisions; and that, for lack of the requisite majority, the injunction prayed for must be and is, accordingly denied. It is so ordered.

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