Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1966 > January 1966 Decisions > G.R. No. L-20803 January 31, 1966 CHAN KIAN v. COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF MANILA:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-20803. January 31, 1966.]

CHAN KIAN, doing business under the firm name of SHANGHAI TING TING SOY FACTORY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF MANILA, Defendant-Appellant.

Solicitor General for the defendant and Appellant.

Ignacio M. Orendain for the plaintiff and appellee.


SYLLABUS


1. COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS; DECISION ORDERING FORFEITURE OF IMPORTED MERCHANDIZE FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH CENTRAL BANK CIRCULARS 44 AND 45 UPHELD. — Appellee’s contention that Central Bank Circulars 44 and 45 on which the Collector of Customs’ decision of seizure and forfeiture of his merchandize was based is untenable. Reason: the same issue had been raised previously in his appeal to the Commissioner. The dismissal of the appeal by the latter was subsequently affirmed by both the Tax Court and the Supreme Court. The matter has become res judicata and that in any event, the circulars being assailed had been held valid in several decisions of the Supreme Court.

2. COURTS OF TAX APPEALS; REVIEW OF DECISIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS. — Section 7(2) of Republic Act No. 1125 provides that the decision of the Commissioner of Customs on seizure and forfeiture cases is reviewable exclusively by the Court of Tax Appeals not by the Court of First Instance hence, the latter court cannot restrain the Collector of Customs from ordering the seizure and forfeiture of goods imported in violation of Central Bank Circulars Nos. 44 and 45.


D E C I S I O N


MAKALINTAL, J.:


The Collector of Customs appeals from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila enjoining him from enforcing his decision which ordered the seizure of several bundles of newspaper imported by appellees.

The appealed decision was rendered on the following stipulated facts: Appellee Chan Kian, doing business under the name "Shanghai Ting Ting Soy Factory," imported "2,000 bales old newspapers, 1,666 bales old newspapers, 2,000 bundles old newspapers and 1,500 bundles old newspapers." The goods were seized by the Bureau of Customs for failure to comply with Central Bank Circulars 44 and 45 in relation to Section 1363 (f) of the Revised Administrative Code. (Seizure Identification Nos. 1428, 1462, 1463 and 1584). Specifically, the violations consisted in that the goods covered by Seizure Identification Nos. 1462 and 1463 were not provided at all with Central Bank release certificates, while those covered by Seizure Identification Nos. 1428 and 1584 did not tally with the goods described in the release certificates presented for them. On September 19, 1955 the Collector of Customs ordered the goods forfeited, but because they had been delivered under bonds to appellee, he ordered appellee and his sureties to pay jointly and severally to the Bureau the sum of P65,104.00, the aggregate sum for which the bonds had been issued. Appellee appealed from the Collector’s decision but his appeal was dismissed by the Commissioner of Customs for being out of time. This dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Tax Appeals and later by this Court (Chan Kian v. Court of Tax Appeals, Et Al., 105 Phil. 904). The Collector then wrote appellee and his sureties demanding payment, with a threat to the administrative remedies upon their failure to do so.

Instead of paying, appellee filed in the court below a petition for prohibition to enjoin the Collector from enforcing his decision, contending that Circulars Nos. 44 and 45 on which the Collector’s decision was based are null and void. The Collector answered that the same contention had been raised previously in petitioner’s appeal to the Commissioner, and that since the dismissal of the appeal by the latter was subsequently affirmed by both the Tax Court and this Court, the matter was already res judicata; and that in any event the circulars being assailed had been held valid in several decisions of this Court.

The Court a quo declared Circulars Nos. 44 and 45 null and void, and rendered judgment for appellee, making permanent the preliminary injunction it had previously issued.

In the case of Bombay Department Store v. Commissioner of Customs, L-20460, Sept. 30, 1965, we said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"With respect to Central Bank Circulars Nos. 44 and 45, we have repeatedly upheld the authority of the Central Bank to issue the same and the legality thereof (Commissioner of Customs v. Santos, Et Al., L-11911, March 30, 1962; Commissioner of Customs, Et. Al. v. Eastern Sea Trading, L-14279, October 31, 1961; Acting Commissioner of Customs v. Leuterio, L-9142, October 17, 1959; Tong Tek v. Commissioner of Customs, L-11947, June 30, 1959; Pascual v. Commissioner of Customs, L-10979, June 30, 1959; People v. Lim Ho, L-12091 & L-12092, January 28, 1960; People v. Poliffe, L-9553, May 13, 1959; People v. Henderson, L-10830, May 29, 1959; People v. Koh, L-12407, May 29, 1959).

"As regards the alleged repeal by implication of said circulars by Central Bank Circular No. 133, suffice it to say that the latter, like Circular No. 44, authorizes the release of imported goods upon ‘presentation of a release certificate issued by the Central Bank’ and, accordingly, reiterates the policy set forth in said Circular No. 44 in connection therewith. Indeed, Circulars Nos. 44 and 45 have been incorporated and made integral parts of Circular No. 133, for Section 8 thereof provides that ‘all existing circulars, rules, regulations and conditions governing transactions in foreign exchange not inconsistent with the provisions of this Circular are deemed incorporated hereto and made integral parts hereof by reference.’"

"‘Again, we have already held (Roxas v. Sayoc, L-8502, November 29, 1956, and Golay-Buchell & Cie v. Commissioner of Customs, L-10994 & L-11012) that the expiration of Republic Act No. 650 did not have the effect of depriving the Commissioner of Customs of the jurisdiction, acquired by him prior thereto, to act on cases of forfeiture pending before him, which are in the nature of proceedings in rem (U.S. v. Two Bales of Rugs, 167 Fed. 689; 17 C. J., p. 678; Origet v. United States, 125 U.S. 240, 31 L. ed. 743; 37 C.J.S., Forfeiture, Sec. 5, pp. 15-16; Almeda, Sr., Et. Al. v. Hon. Jesus Y. Perez, etc., Et Al., L-18428, August 30, 1962).

"Moreover, the merchandise in question acquired, in view of its importation in violation of Central Bank Circulars Nos. 44 and 45, the status of ‘merchandise of prohibited importations’, as this expression is used in Section 1363(f) and (m) and 4 of the Revised Administrative Code, and, consequently, became subject to the forfeiture proceedings prescribed in said section (Tong Tek v. Commissioner of Customs, L-11947, June 30, 1959; People v. Que Po Lay, 50 Off. Gaz., 4850)."cralaw virtua1aw library

It is thus clear that the Collector acted within his powers in ordering the forfeiture of the importations made by appellee for which reason we consider it unnecessary to pass upon the issue concerning the jurisdiction of the lower court to take cognizance of the basic petition in view of the provision of Section 7 (2) of Republic Act No. 1125, which makes decisions of the Commissioner of Customs on seizures cases reviewable exclusively by the Court of Tax Appeals.

Wherefore, the decision appealed from is reversed and appellee’s petition for prohibition is dismissed, with costs.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.BL., Dizon, Regala, Bengzon, J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.

Barrera, J., took no part.




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