Political Law

Wenceslao Pascual vs Secretary of Public Works and Communications

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G.R. No. L-10405 – 110 Phil. 331 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Legislative Department – Legislative Powers; Power of the Purse – Appropriation For Private Use Not Allowed

In 1953, Republic Act No. 920 was passed. This law appropriated P85,000.00 “for the construction, reconstruction, repair, extension and improvement of the Pasig feeder road terminals”. Wenceslao Pascual, then governor of Rizal, assailed the validity of the law. He claimed that the appropriation was actually going to be used for private use for the terminals sought to be improved were part of the Antonio Subdivision. The said Subdivision is owned by Senator Jose Zulueta who was a member of the same Senate that passed and approved the same RA. Pascual claimed that Zulueta misrepresented in Congress the fact that he owns those terminals and that his property would be unlawfully enriched at the expense of the taxpayers if the said RA would be upheld. Pascual then  prayed that the Secretary of Public Works and Communications be restrained from releasing funds for such purpose. Zulueta, on the other hand, perhaps as an afterthought, donated the said property to the City of Pasig.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appropriation is valid.

HELD: No, the appropriation is void for being an appropriation for a private purpose. The subsequent donation of the property to the government to make the property public does not cure the constitutional defect. The fact that the law was passed when the said property was still a private property cannot be ignored. “In accordance with the rule that the taxing power must be exercised for public purposes only, money raised by taxation can be expanded only for public purposes and not for the advantage of private individuals.” Inasmuch as the land on which the projected feeder roads were to be constructed belonged then to Zulueta, the result is that said appropriation sought a private purpose, and, hence, was null and void.

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