Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation vs Jose Luis Alcuaz

G.R. No. 84818 – 180 SCRA 218 – Political Law – basic Prcinciples; Separation of Powers – Delegation of Power; Undue Delegation of Legislative Power – Sufficient Standard Test

By virtue of Republic Act No. 5514, the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (PHILCOMSAT) was granted the authority to “construct and operate such ground facilities as needed to deliver telecommunications services from the communications satellite system and ground terminal or terminals” in the Philippines. PHILCOMSAT provides satellite services to companies like Globe Mackay (now Globe) and PLDT.

Under Section 5 of the same law, PHILCOMSAT was exempt from the jurisdiction, control and regulation of the Public Service Commission later known as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). However, Executive Order No. 196 was later promulgated and the same has placed PHILCOMSAT under the jurisdiction of the NTC. Consequently, PHILCOMSAT has to acquire permit to operate from the NTC in order to continue operating its existing satellites. NTC gave the necessary permit but it directed PHILCOMSAT to reduce its current rates by 15%. NTC based its power to fix the rates on EO 546.

PHILCOMSAT now sues NTC and its commissioner (Jose Luis Alcuaz).PHILCOMSAT assailed the said directive and holds that EO 546, empowering NTC to fix rates for public service communications, does not provide the necessary standards which were constitutionally required, hence, there is an undue delegation of legislative power, particularly the adjudicatory powers of NTC. PHILCOMSAT  asserts that nowhere in the provisions of EO 546, providing for the creation of NTC and granting its rate-fixing powers, nor the provision placing PHILCOMSAT under the jurisdiction of NTC, can it be inferred that NTC is guided by any standard in the exercise of its rate-fixing and adjudicatory powers. PHILCOMSAT subsequently clarified its said submission to mean that the order mandating a reduction of certain rates is undue delegation not of legislative but of quasi-judicial power to NTC, the exercise of which allegedly requires an express conferment by the legislative body.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is an undue delegation of power.

HELD: No. There is no undue delegation. The power of the NTC to fix rates is limited by the requirements of public safety, public interest, reasonable feasibility and reasonable rates, which conjointly more than satisfy the requirements of a valid delegation of legislative power. Fundamental is the rule that delegation of legislative power may be sustained only upon the ground that some standard for its exercise is provided and that the legislature in making the delegation has prescribed the manner of the exercise of the delegated power.

Therefore, when the administrative agency concerned, NTC in this case, establishes a rate, its act must both be non-confiscatory and must have been established in the manner prescribed by the legislature; otherwise, in the absence of a fixed standard, the delegation of power becomes unconstitutional. In case of a delegation of rate-fixing power, the only standard which the legislature is required to prescribe for the guidance of the administrative authority is that the rate be reasonable and just. However, it has been held that even in the absence of an express requirement as to reasonableness, this standard may be implied.

However, in this case, it appears that the manner of fixing the rates was done without due process since no hearing was made in ascertaining the rate imposed upon PHILCOMSAT.

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