502 Phil. 511
"During the period from July 1, 1980 to June 30, 1982, [CDCP] purchased from Mobil Oil Philippines, Inc. and Caltex (Philippines), Inc. quantities of manufactured mineral oil, motor fuel, diesel and fuel oil, which [CDCP] used exclusively in the expoitation (sic) and operation of its mining concession.A brief explanation of the statutory predicates is in order. Republic Act (R.A.) No. 1435, particularly Sections 1 and 2 thereof, introduced amendments to the 1939 Tax Code on the rates of specific taxes on manufactured oils, fuels, and diesel fuel oil. At the same time, Section 5 of the same law, which was invoked by CDCP, provided that whenever miners or forest concessionaires used those manufactured oils, fuels and diesel fuel oils in their operations, they were entitled to a refund of twenty-five percent (25%) of the specific tax paid thereon upon submission of proof of actual use.
On September 06, 1982, [CDCP] filed with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a claim for refund in the amount of P9,962,299.71, representing 25% of the specific taxes collected on refined and manufactured mineral oil, motor fuel and diesel fuel that [CDCP] utilized in its operations as mining concessionaire, totalling (sic) P39,849,198.47.
As there was no immediate action on the claim, to toll the prescriptive period, on October 08, 1982, [CDCP] filed with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), a petition for review of the presumed decision of the Commissioner denying such claim.
On January 2, 1984, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue actually denied [CDCP's] claim for refund.
After due trial, on August 09, 1994, the Court of Tax Appeals rendered a decision granting [CDCP's] claim for refund only in the amount of P38,461.86, without interest. The tax court ruled that [CDCP] is entitled to a refund of the specific taxes that it paid during the period September 23, 1980 to June 30, 1982, prior to which the claim had prescribed, but at the rates specified under Sections 1 and 2 of R.A. No. 1435, without interest."
The dispositive portion of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) decision reads:"WHEREFORE, the respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue is hereby ordered to refund in favor of petitioner CDCP Mining Corporation, the sum of P38,461.86 without interest, equivalent to 25% partial refund of specific taxes paid on its purchases of gasoline, oils and lubricants, diesel, fuel oils, and kerosene pursuant to the provision of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 1435, in relation to Section 142 (b) and (c) of the National Internal Revenue Code and Section 145 as prescribed under Sections 1 and 2 of R.A. 1435.[CDCP] filed a petition for review before the CA, which on November 9, 1994, rendered a decision modifying that of the CTA, to wit:
"No pronouncements as to costs.""WHEREFORE, the Court MODIFIES the appealed decision of the Court of Tax Appeals, and orders the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to refund to petitioner . . . CDCP Mining Corporation the amount of P1,598,675.25, without interest, equivalent to 25% refund of specific taxes paid on its purchases during the period September 23, 1980 to June 30, 1982, of manufactured oil and other fuel and diesel fuel oil, pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 1435, in relation to Sections 153 and 156 of the Tax Code."
The issue raised herein had already been settled by the Court en banc's ruling laid down in the recent case of Davao Gulf Lumber Corporation v. CIR and CA, where the Court said that there is no "expression of a legislative will (in R.A. 1435) authorizing a refund based on the higher rates claimed by petitioner." Although that case was not cited by the parties, it being newly promulgated at the time of the submission of their respective memorandum, yet a scrutiny of the relevant jurisprudence discussed therein and those cited by the parties in this case are the same. Said cases include: Insular Lumber, Co. v. CTA; CIR v. Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation and CTA and the resolution modifying it; the two Atlas cases of CIR v. Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., et al., and CIR v. CA and Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., et al. Applicable herein is the pronouncement in said Davao Gulf, to wit:CDCP's claim that the amendments to the 1977 NIRC under E.O. No. 672 should apply as well necessarily collapses with the application of the entrenched rule that the 1977 NIRC would not apply in the first place for the computation of the refunds due under Section 5 of R.A. No. 1435. Stare decisis et non quieta movere."When the law itself does not explicitly provide that a refund under R.A. No. 1435 may be based on higher rates which were non-existent at the time of its enactment, this Court cannot presume otherwise, [sic] A legislative lacuna cannot be filled by judicial fiat."Equally relevant herein is the following analysis in Davao Gulf with respect to the allegedly conflicting decision in the cases cited above:"Neither Insular Lumber Co. nor the first Atlas case ruled on the issue of whether the refund privilege under Section 5 should be computed based on the specific tax paid under Sections 1 and 2 of R.A. No. 1435, regardless of what was actually paid under the increased rates. Rio Tuba and the second Atlas case did.At the risk of being tautological, nothing in Section 5 of R.A. 1435 was it provided that the rate of refund shall be based on the increased rates under Section 153.
"Insular Lumber Co. decided a claim for refund on specific tax paid on petroleum products purchased in the year 1963, when the increased rates under the NIRC of 1977 were not yet in effect. Thus the issue now before us did not exist at the time, since the applicable rates were still those prescribed under Sections 1 and 2 of R.A. No. 1435.
"On the other hand, the issue raised in the Atlas case was whether the claimant was entitled to the refund under Section 5, notwithstanding its failure to pay any additional tax under a municipal or city ordinance. Although Atlas purchased petroleum products in the years 1976-1978 when the rates had already been changed, the Court did not decide or make any pronouncement on the issue in that case.
"Clearly, it is impossible for these two decisions to clash with our pronouncement in Rio Tuba and the second Atlas case, in which we ruled that the refund granted be computed on the basis of the amounts deemed paid under Sections 1 and 2 of R.A. No. 1435. In this light, we find no basis for petitioner's invocation of the constitutional proscription that no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the Court sitting en banc.
"Finally, petitioner asserts that 'equity and justice demand that the computation of the tax refunds be based on' actual amounts paid under Sections 153 and 156 of the NIRC.' We disagree. According to an eminent authority on taxation, 'there is no tax exemption solely on the ground of equity.'"
. . . [U]nder the doctrine of stare decisis, once a point of law has been established by the court, that point of law will, generally, be followed by the same court and by all courts of lower rank in subsequent cases where the same legal issue is raised. Stare decisis proceeds from the first principle of justice that, absent powerful countervailing considerations, like cases ought to be decided alike.Had a contrary rule been adopted by this Court acknowledging instead that the basis for the twenty-five percent refund be the specific tax rates in force at the time of the actual use of the manufactured oils, then this petition may have acquired merit. After all, CDCP's present arguments are consistent with the thrust of the appellate court's decision that the specific taxes actually paid by CDCP based on the rates prevailing at the time of the purchase should form the basis of the refund. Perhaps the Court of Appeals' failure to apply the new rates amending the 1977 NIRC arose from some oversight, but at any rate, the Court has already unequivocally ruled that the appellate court erred in applying the 1977 NIRC in the first place.
"The proceeds of the additional tax on the manufactured oils shall accrue to the road and bridges funds of the political subdivision for whose benefits the tax is collected; Provided, however, that whenever any oils mentioned above are used by miners or forest concessionaires in their operations, twenty-five per centum of the specific tax PAID THEREON shall be refunded by the Collector of Internal Revenue upon submission of proof of actual use of oils and under similar conditions enumerated in subparagraphs one and two of Section one hereof, amending Section one hundred forty-two of the Internal Revenue Code; Provided, further, that no new road shall be constructed unless the routes or location thereof shall have been approved by the Commissioner of Public Works and Highways after a determination that such road can be made part of an integral and articulated route in the Philippine Highway System, as required in section twenty-six of the Philippine Highway Act of 1953." (Emphasis supplied)
See also Insular Lumber Co. v. CTA, 192 Phil. 221, 225 (1981).