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Padua v. Ranada
G.R. No. 141949
The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) issued Resolution No. 2001-89 authorizing provisional toll rate adjustments on November 9, 2001, at the Metro Manila Skyway, effective January 1, 2002. For its implementation starting January 1, 2002 after its publication once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation and that said Provisional Toll Rate Increase shall remain in effect until such time that the TRB Board has determined otherwise: On December 17, 24 and 31, 2001, the above Resolution approving provisional toll rate adjustments was published in the newspapers of general circulation. Tracing back the events that led to the issuance of the said Resolution, it appears that on February 27, 2001 the Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corporation (CITRA) filed with the TRB an application for an interim adjustment of the toll rates at the Metro Manila Skyway Project – Stage 1. CITRA moored its petition on the provisions of the (STOA)"Supplemental Toll Operation Agreement" , authorizing it, as the investor, to apply for and if warranted, to be granted an interim adjustment of toll rates in the event of a "significant currency devaluation." Claiming that the peso exchange rate to a U.S. dollar had devaluated from P26.1671 in 1995 to P48.00 in 2000, CITRA alleged that there was a compelling need for the increase of the toll rates to meet the loan obligations of the Project and the substantial increase in debt-service burden.
On October 30, 2001, CITRA moved to withdraw its "Urgent Motion for Provisional Approval" without prejudice to its right to seek or be granted provisional relief under the above-quoted provisions of the TRB Rules of Procedure, obviously, referring to the power of the Board to act on its own initiative. On November 9, 2001, TRB granted CITRA’s motion to withdraw the Urgent Motion for Provisional Approval and, at the same time, issued Resolution No. 2001-89, earlier quoted. Hence, petitioners Ceferino Padua and Eduardo Zialcita assail before this Court the validity and legality of TRB Resolution No. 2001-89.
Whether or not Resolution No. 2001-89 issued by the Toll Regulatory Board valid.
For one, it is not true that the provisional toll rate adjustments were not published prior to its implementation on January 1, 2002. Records show that they were published on December 17, 24 and 31, 2001 in three newspapers of general circulation, particularly the Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Manila Bulletin. Surely, such publications sufficiently complied with Section 5 of P.D. No. 1112 which mandates that "no new rates shall be collected unless published in a newspaper of general publication at least once a week for three consecutive weeks." At any rate, it must be pointed out that under Letter of Instruction No. 1334-A, the TRB may grant and issue ex-parte to any petitioner, without need of notice, publication or hearing, provisional authority to collect, pending hearing and decision on the merits of the petition, the increase in rates prayed for or such lesser amount as the TRB may in its discretion provisionally grant. That LOI No. 1334-A has the force and effect of law finds support in a catena of cases decreeing that "all proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, and acts promulgated, issued, or done by the former President (Ferdinand E. Marcos) are part of the law of the land, and shall remain valid, legal, binding, and effective, unless modified, revoked or superseded by subsequent proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, or other acts of the President. It may be recalled that Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos promulgated P.D. No. 1112 creating the TRB on March 31, 1977. The end in view was to authorize the collection of toll fees for the use of certain public improvements in order to attract private sector investment in the government infrastructure projects. The TRB was tasked to supervise the collection of toll fees and the operation of toll facilities. One of its powers is to "issue, modify and promulgate from time to time the rates of toll that will be charged the direct users of toll facilities and upon notice and hearing, to approve or disapprove petitions for the increase thereof. To clarify the intent of P.D. No. 1112 as to the extent of the TRB’s power, Former President Marcos further issued LOI No. 1334-A expressly allowing the TRB to grant ex-parte provisional or temporary increase in toll rates