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Lopez vs Commissioner of Customs, 68 SCRA 320 (1975)
Sometime in 1964, the petitioner and Reparations Commission entered into a conditional contract, subject to the condition that the title to and ownership of the vessel shall remain with the Commission until full payment. Later on, petitioner entered into a contract with one Tomas Velasco, authorizing the latter to supervise and manage the M/V JOLO LEMA. The vessel however was however apprehended, searched and then seized by the Collector of Customs. A Seizure Identification proceeding was instituted against said vessel for smuggling into the Philippines 1,408 sacks of Indonesian copra and 86 sacks of Indonesian coffee beans, in violation of Section 2530 (a) and (k) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.
This appeal taken by Lopez directly to the Supreme Court, upon the ground that only questions of law would be taken up therein.
Whether or not the Court of First Instance of Manila has jurisdiction to interfere with the Seizure Identification proceeding No. 25/66 pending before the Commissioner of Customs, on account of the Indonesian agricultural products smuggles into the Philippines through the use of M/V JOLO LEMA
Lopez maintains that whatever powers the Commissioner of Customs had, prior thereto, over seizure identification proceedings had been transferred to the Philippine Fisheries Commission. The Supreme Court said that this pretense is manifestly devoid of merit. Said section 5 of Republic Act No. 3512 merely transfers to the Philippine Fisheries Commission the powers, functions and duties of the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Constabulary over fishing vessels and fishery matters. Such transfer should be construed in the light of section 1 of said Republic Act No. 3512, reading.
It is clear that the powers transferred to the Philippine Fisheries Commission by Republic Act No. 3512 are limited to those relating to the "development, improvement, management and conservation of our fishery resources." All other matters, such as those concerning smuggling, particularly of agricultural products, into the Philippines, are absolutely foreign to the object and purpose of said Act and could not have been and were not transferred to the aforementioned Commission. Seizure Identification proceeding No. 25/66 for the smuggling of Indonesian agricultural products into the Philippines is certainly beyond the jurisdiction of the Philippine Fisheries Commission.
The M/V JOLO LEMA is not subject to forfeiture, inasmuch as Davao is a port of entry. This is neither the time nor the place to pass upon the merits of this contention. Suffice it to say that, if petitioner feels it is a good defense, the proper place to set it up is in Seizure Identification proceeding No. 25/66. If the Commissioner of Customs overrules such defense and decrees the forfeiture of the vessel, Lopez may appeal to the Court of Tax Appeals, whose decision may, in turn, be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Lastly, petitioner argues that the Reparations Commission may not unilaterally rescind its conditional contract of purchase and sale in his favor and that the Commission must first seek a judicial declaration of rescission of said contract. Well-settled is, however, the rule that a judicial action for the rescission of a contract is not necessary where the contract provides that it may be revoked and cancelled for violation of any of its terms and conditions.
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