Philippine Ports Authority v. Davao (Case Digest. G.R. No. 190324)

CASE DIGEST: [ G.R. No. 190324, June 06, 2018 ] PHILIPPINE PORTS AUTHORITY, PETITIONER, V. THE CITY OF DAVAO, SANGGUNIANG PANGLUNGSOD NG DAVAO CITY, CITY MAYOR OF DAVAO CITY, CITY TREASURER OF DAVAO CITY, CITY ASSESSOR OF DAVAO CITY, AND CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS (CBAA), RESPONDENTS. LEONEN, J.:

DOCTRINE: When a tax case is pending on appeal with the Court of Tax Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals has the exclusive jurisdiction to enjoin the levy of taxes and the auction of a taxpayer's properties in relation to that case.

FACTS: Philippine Ports Authority received a letter from the City Assessor of Davao for the assessment and collection of real property taxes against its administered properties located at Sasa Port. It appealed the assessment via registered mail to the Local Board of Assessment Appeals through the Office of the City Treasurer of Davao. Pending this appeal, Davao posted a notice of sale of delinquent real properties, including the three (3) properties subject of this case.

The LBAA dismissed the PPA's appeal for having been filed out of time, and for its lack of jurisdiction on the latter's tax exemption. Appeal to CBAA. Denied. Thus, it filed an appeal with the CTA.

PPA claimed that it did not receive any warrant of levy for the three (3) properties which were sold to Davao, or any notice that they were going to be auctioned. It was informed that it had one (1) year from the date of registration of the sale within which to redeem the properties by paying the taxes, penalties, and incidental expenses, plus interest at the rate of 2% per month on the purchase price.

PPA petitioned for certiorari in the CA, questioning the tax and the auction sale, saying there is no other speedy and adequate remedy.

Pending the petition in the CA, the CTA granted PPA's appeal, resolving in its favor the issue of its liability for the real estate tax of Sasa Port and its buildings. No appeal to SC. Final, executory.

CA dismissed the petition, saying CTA has jurisdiction. Also found PPA committed forum shopping; same facts and issues as in its CTA appeal.

PPA insists on CA's jurisdiction.

PPA argues there is no forum shopping; that the right asserted before the CA is its right to peacefully possess its ports, free from the threat of losing the properties due to tax liabilities, whereas the right asserted before the Court of Tax Appeals is its right to be exempt from real property tax, as a government instrumentality.ISSUES: 
  1. First, whether or not the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to issue the injunctive relief prayed for by petitioner Philippine Ports Authority; and
  2. Second, whether or not the petition before the Court of Appeals was properly dismissed for forum shopping.
HELD: PETITION DENIED.

FIRST ISSUE: In real property tax cases such as this, the remedy of a taxpayer depends on the stage in which the LGU is enforcing the tax. Moreover, jurisdiction is conferred by law.

Petitioner has failed to cite any law supporting its contention that the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over this case. On the other hand, Section 7, paragraph (a)(5) of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended by Republic Act No. 9282, provides that the Court of Tax Appeals has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over CBAA decisions.

The Central Board of Assessment Appeals April 7, 2005 Decision assailed by petitioner before the Court of Appeals was rendered in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over the real property tax assessment of its properties. Clearly, this falls within the above-cited provision. Indeed, there is no dispute that this CBAA decision constitutes one of the cases covered by the CTA's' exclusive jurisdiction.

PPA insists urgency as reason for CA to grant injunctive relief but urgency does not remove the CBAA decision from CTA jurisdiction. CTA can grant the injunctive relief prayed for.

In City of Manila v. Grecia-Cuerdo, the Supreme Court expressly recognized the CTA's power to determine grave abuse of discretion in cases under its jurisdiction. Here, the CTA has the power to preserve the subject of the appeal, to give effect to its final determination, and, when necessary, to control auxiliary and incidental matters and to prohibit or restrain acts which might interfere with its exercise of jurisdiction over petitioner's appeal.

The CA was correct in dismissing the petition before it. Once a court acquires jurisdiction over a case, it excludes all other courts. Thus, once the CTA acquired jurisdiction over petitioner's appeal, the CA would have been precluded from taking cognizance of the case.

SECOND ISSUE: The Supreme Court cannot reverse the finding of forum shopping because the subject petitions were not attached to the petition to the SC.

The rule against forum shopping is violated when a party institutes more than one action based on the same cause to increase its chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

However, whether or not the rights asserted and reliefs prayed for in the two (2) petitions were different would best determined from a reading of the appeal and petition themselves. The petitions were not attached to the petition to the SC.

ADDITIONAL READINGS:

[1] See City of Lapu-Lapu v. Phil. Economic Zone Authority, 748 Phil. 473 (2014) [Per J. Leonen, Second Division].
[2] Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Villa, 130 Phil. 3-7 ( 1968) [Per J. J.P. Bengzon, En Banc).
[3] 726 Phil. 9 (2014) [Per J. Peralta, En Banc].
[4] MadriƱan v. MadriƱan, 554 Phil. 363, 370 (2007) [Per Justice Corona, First Division].
[5] Dy v. Yu, 763 Phil. 491 (2015) [Per J. Perlas-Bernabe, First Division].

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