Case Digest: Tawang Multi-Purpose v. La Trinidad Water

G.R. No. 166471: March 22, 2011

TAWANG MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE Petitioner,v. LA TRINIDAD WATER DISTRICT, Respondent.

CARPIO,J.:


FACTS:

Tawang Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TMPC) is a cooperative, organized to provide domestic water services in Barangay Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet. La Trinidad Water District (LTWD) is a local water utility created under Section 47 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 198, as amended. It is authorized to supply water for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes within the municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet.

TMPC filed with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) an application for a certificate of public convenience (CPC) to operate and maintain a waterworks system in Barangay Tawang. LTWD opposed TMPCs application, arguing that its franchise is exclusive as provided under PD 198. A CPC is however granted. LTWD filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied by NWRB. LTWD then appealed to the RTC where it court set aside the NWRB decision. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition may be granted

HELD: Yes. RTC Decision Set Aside.

Political Law- No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines, at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens,nor shall such franchise, certificate or authorizationbe exclusive in characteror for a longer period than fifty years.

Plain words do not require explanation. The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions are clear franchises for the operation of a public utility cannot be exclusive in character. The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions expressly and clearly state that,"nor shall such franchise x x x be exclusive in character."There is no exception.

When the law is clear, there is nothing for the courts to do but to apply it. The duty of the Court is to apply the law the way it is worded. What cannot be legally done directly cannot be done indirectly. This rule is basic and, to a reasonable mind, does not need explanation. Indeed, if acts that cannot be legally done directly can be done indirectly, then all laws would be illusory.

Indeed, the President, Congress and the Court cannot create directly franchises that are exclusive in character. What the President, Congress and the Court cannot legally do directly they cannot do indirectly. Thus, the President, Congress and the Court cannot create indirectly.

In PD No. 198, as amended, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos (President Marcos) created indirectly franchises that are exclusive in character by allowing the BOD of LTWD and the LWUA to create directly franchises that are exclusive in character.

In case of conflict between the Constitution and a statute, the Constitution always prevails because the Constitution is the basic law to which all other laws must conform to. The duty of the Court is to uphold the Constitution and to declare void all laws that do not conform to it.

Petition Granted. Section 47 of PD 198 is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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