378 Phil. 232
On May 21, 1993, petitioners filed an appeal with the Department of Justice assailing the constitutionality of these tax ordinances allegedly because they were promulgated without previous public hearings thereby constituting deprivation of property without due process of law.
Ordinance No. Title 87 An ordinance imposing a municipal tax of fifty percent (50%) of one percent (1%) of the gross receipt on business of printing and publication 91
An ordinance imposing a transfer tax equivalent to fifty percent (50%) of one percent (1%) of the total consideration on the sale, donation, barter or any other mode of transferring ownership or title of real property situated in San Juan, Metro Manila, or its fair market value, whichever is higher
95 An ordinance imposing fifty percent (50%) of one percent of (1%) for social housing tax on the assessed value of all real estate property in San Juan, Metro Manila in excess of P50,000.00 value as provided in the New Urban Land Reform Law, also known as R.A. 7279. 100 An ordinance imposing new rates of business taxes of the Municipality of San Juan Metro Manila 101 An ordinance levying an annual "Ad Valorem" tax on real property and an additional tax accruing to the special education fund (SEF)
"It appears that the tax ordinances in question took effect on September 24, 1992, in the case of Tax Ordinance No. 87, until October 22, 1992, in the case of Tax Ordinance Nos. 91 and 95, and until October 29, 1992, in the case of Tax Ordinance Nos. 100 and 101, or more than thirty (30) days from the effectivity thereof when the appeal was filed and received by this Department on May 21, 1993 and therefore not in accordance with the requirements provided for under Section 187 of the Local Government Code of 1991.Undaunted, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition (CA-G.R. SP No. 32473). But respondent court affirmed the decision of the Secretary. On December 8, 1994, the motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners was denied for lack of merit.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal, having been filed out of time, is hereby DISMISSED."
According to petitioners, respondent Secretary erred in declaring that they failed to file their appeal on time. Also, they assail Municipal Ordinance Nos. 87, 91, 95, 100 and 101, for alleged failure of the Municipal Council of San Juan to conduct mandatory public hearings. Because of this, they claim the ordinances are inoperative, as though they were never passed. Consequently, no prescriptive thirty-day period to question the validity of the ordinance could toll to bar their appeal to the Department of Justice.
- Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the Secretary of Justice who dismissed the prohibition suit, on the ground that it was filed out of time?
- Whether or not lack of mandatory public hearings prior to enacting Municipal Ordinance Nos. 87, 91, 95, 100 and 101 render them void on the ground of deprivation of property without due process?
- Whether or not the constitutional validity of Sec. 187 of the Local Government Code could be raised for the first time on appeal?
"Sec. 187-- Procedure for Approval and Effectivity of Tax Ordinances and Revenue Measures; Mandatory Public Hearings. -- The procedure for approval of local tax ordinances and revenue measures shall be in accordance with the provisions of this Code: Provided, That public hearings shall be conducted for the purpose prior to the enactment thereof: Provided further, That any question on the constitutionality or legality of tax ordinances or revenue measures may be raised on appeal within thirty (30) days from the effectivity thereof to the Secretary of Justice who shall render a decision within sixty (60) days from the date of receipt of the appeal: Provided, however, That such appeal shall not have the effect of suspending the effectivity of the ordinance and the accrual and payment of the tax, fee, or charge levied therein: Provided, finally , That within thirty (30) days after receipt of the decision or the lapse of the sixty-day period without the Secretary of Justice acting upon the appeal, the aggrieved party may file appropriate proceedings with a court of competent jurisdiction."Clearly, the law requires that the dissatisfied taxpayer who questions the validity or legality of a tax ordinance must file his appeal to the Secretary of Justice, within 30 days from effectivity thereof. In case the Secretary decides the appeal, a period also of 30 days is allowed for an aggrieved party to go to court. But if the Secretary does not act thereon, after the lapse of 60 days, a party could already proceed to seek relief in court. These three separate periods are clearly given for compliance as a prerequisite before seeking redress in a competent court. Such statutory periods are set to prevent delays as well as enhance the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial functions. For this reason the courts construe these provisions of statutes as mandatory.
"Petitioner is right in contending that public hearings are required to be conducted prior to the enactment of an ordinance imposing real property taxes. R.A. No. 7160, Sec. 186, provides that an ordinance levying taxes, fees, or charges `shall not be enacted without any prior public hearing conducted for the purpose.'We find Figuerres instructive. Petitioners have not proved in the case before us that the Sangguniang Bayan of San Juan failed to conduct the required public hearings before the enactment of Ordinance Nos. 87, 91, 95, 100 and 101. Although the Sanggunian had the control of records or the better means of proof regarding the facts alleged, petitioners are not relieved from the burden of proving their averments. Proof that public hearings were not held falls on petitioners' shoulders. For failing to discharge that burden, their petition was properly dismissed.
However, it is noteworthy that apart from her bare assertions, petitioner Figuerres has not presented any evidence to show that no public hearings were conducted prior to the enactment of the ordinances in question. On the other hand, the Municipality of Mandaluyong claims that public hearings were indeed conducted before the subject ordinances were adopted, although it likewise failed to submit any evidence to establish this allegation. However, in accordance with the presumption of validity in favor of an ordinance, their constitutionality or legality should be upheld in the absence of evidences showing that procedure prescribed by law was not observed in their enactment. x x x
Furthermore, the lack of a public hearing is a negative allegation essential to petitioner's cause of action in the present case. Hence, as petitioner is the party asserting it, she has the burden of proof. Since petitioner failed to rebut the presumption of validity in favor of the subject ordinances and to discharge the burden of proving that no public hearings were conducted prior to the enactment thereof, we are constrained to uphold their constitutionality or legality."