Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1998 > June 1998 Decisions > G.R. No. 132593 June 25, 1998 - PHIL. INTERNATIONAL TRADING CORP. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 132593. June 25, 1999.]

PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL TRADING CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT, Respondent.


D E C I S I O N


GONZAGA-REYES, J.:


This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 64 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure to annul Decision No. 2447 dated July 27, 1992 of the Commission on Audit (COA) denying Philippine International Trading Corporation’s (PITC) appeal from the disallowances made by the resident COA auditor on PITC’s car plan benefits; and Decision No. 98-048 dated January 27, 1998 of the COA denying PITC’s motion for reconsideration.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

The following facts are undisputed:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The PITC is a government-owned and controlled corporation created under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 252 on July 21, 1973 1 , primarily for the purpose of promoting and developing Philippine trade in pursuance of national economic development. On October 19, 1988, the PITC Board of Directors approved a Car Plan Program for qualified PITC officers. 2 Under such car plan program, an eligible officer is entitled to purchase a vehicle, fifty percent (50%) of the value of which shall be shouldered by PITC while the remaining fifty percent (50%) will be shouldered by the officer through salary deduction over a period of five (5) years. Maximum value of the vehicle to be purchased ranges from Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) to Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pesos (P350,000.00), depending on the position of the officer in the corporation. In addition, PITC will reimburse the officer concerned fifty percent (50%) of the annual car registration, insurance premiums and costs of registration of the chattel mortgage over the car for a period of five (5) years from the date the vehicle was purchased. The terms and conditions of the car plan are embodied in a ‘Car Loan Agreement’. 3 Per PITC’s car plan guidelines, the purpose of the plan is to provide financial assistance to qualified employees in purchasing their own transportation facilities in the performance of their work, for representation, and personal use. 4 The plan is envisioned to facilitate greater mobility during official trips especially within Metro Manila or the employee’s principal place of assignment, without having to rely on PITC vehicles, taxis or cars for hire. 5

On July 1, 1989, Republic Act No. 6758 (RA 6758), entitled "An Act Prescribing a Revised Compensation and Position Classification System in the Government and For Other Purposes", took effect. Section 12 of said law provides for the consolidation of allowances and additional compensation into standardized salary rates save for certain additional compensation such as representation and transportation allowances which were exempted from consolidation into the standardized rate. Said section likewise provides that other additional compensation being received by incumbents as of July 1, 1989 not integrated into the standardized salary rates shall continue to be authorized.

Section 12, RA 6758, reads —

"SECTION 12. Consolidation of All Allowances and Compensation. — All allowances, except for representation and transportation allowances; clothing and laundry allowances; subsistence allowance of marine officers and crew on board government vessels and hospital personnel; hazard pay; allowances of foreign service personnel stationed abroad; and such other additional compensation not otherwise specified herein as may be determined by the DBM, shall be deemed included in the standardized salary rates herein prescribed. Such other additional compensation, whether in cash or in kind, being received by incumbents only as of July 1, 1989 not integrated into the standardized salary rates shall continue to be authorized."cralaw virtua1aw library

To implement RA 6758, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued Corporate Compensation Circular No. 10 (DBM-CCC No. 10). Paragraph 5.6 of DBM-CCC No. 10 discontinued effective November 1, 1989, all allowances and fringe benefits granted on top of basic salary, not otherwise enumerated under paragraphs 5.4 and 5.5 thereof.

Paragraph 5.6 of DBM-CCC No. 10 provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"5.6 Payment of other allowances/fringe benefits and all other forms of compensation granted on top of basic salary, whether in cash or in kind, not mentioned in Sub-paragraphs 5.4 and 5.5 6 above shall be discontinued effective November 1, 1989. Payment made for such allowance/fringe benefits after said date shall be considered as illegal disbursement of public funds."cralaw virtua1aw library

On post audit, the payment/reimbursement of the above-mentioned expenses (50% of the yearly car registration and insurance premiums and 50% of the costs of registration of the chattel mortgage over the car) made after November 1, 1989 was disallowed by the resident COA auditor. The disallowance was made on the ground that the subject car plan benefits were not one of the fringe benefits or form of compensation allowed to be continued after said date under the aforequoted paragraph 5.6 of DBM-CCC No. 10 7 , in relation to paragraphs 5.4 and 5.5 thereof.

PITC, on its behalf, and that of the affected PITC officials, appealed the decision of the resident COA auditor to the COA. On July 27, 1992, COA denied PITC’s appeal and affirmed the disallowance of the said car plan expenses in the assailed Decision No. 2447 dated July 27, 1992. Relevant portions of the decision read thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Upon circumspect evaluation thereof, this Commission finds the instant appeal to be devoid of merit. It should be noted that the reimbursement/payment of expenses in question is based on the Car Plan benefit granted under Board Resolution No. 10-88-03 adopted by the PITC Board of Directors on October 19, 1988. The Car Plan is undeniably a fringe benefit as appearing in PITC’s "Compensation Policy under the heading "3. Other Fringe Benefits", particularly Item No. 3.13 thereof. Inasmuch as PITC is a government-owned and/or controlled corporation, the grant of the Car Plan (being a fringe benefit) should be governed by the provisions of Corporate Compensation Circular No. 10, implementing RA 6758. Under sub-paragraph 5.6 of said Circular, it explicitly provides:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

x       x       x


Since the Car Plan benefit is not one of those fringe benefits or other forms of compensation mentioned in Sub-paragraphs 5.4 and 5.5 of CCC No. 10, consequently the reimbursement of the 50% share of PITC in the yearly registration and insurance premium of the cars purchased under said Car Plan benefit should not be allowed. . . ." 8

PITC’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the COA in its Resolution dated January 27, 1998. 9

Hence, the instant petition on the following grounds:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. That the legislature did not intend to revoke existing benefits being received by incumbent government employees as of July 1, 1989 (including subject car plan benefits) when RA 6758 was passed;

2. That the Car Loan Agreements signed between PITC and its officers pursuant to PITC’s Car Plan Program, including the Car Loan Agreements, duly executed prior to the effectivity of RA 6758, constitute the law between the parties and as such, protected by Section 10, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which prohibits the impairment of contracts; and

3. Finally, that the provisions of PD 985 do not apply to PITC inasmuch as under its Revised Charter, PD 1071, as amended by E.O. 756 and E.O. 1067, PITC is not only expressly exempted from OCPC rules and regulations but its Board of Directors was expressly authorized to adopt compensation policies and other related benefits to its officers/employees without need for further approval thereof by any government office, agency or authority. 10"

The petition is meritorious.

First of all, we must mention that this Court has confirmed in Philippine Ports Authority v. Commission on Audit 11 the legislative intent to protect incumbents who are receiving salaries and/or allowances over and above those authorized by RA 6758 to continue to receive the same even after RA 6758 took effect. In reserving the benefit to incumbents, the legislature has manifested its intent to gradually phase out this privilege without upsetting the policy of non-diminution of pay and consistent with the rule that laws should only be applied prospectively in the spirit of fairness and justice. 12 Addressing the issue as to whether the petitioners-officials may still receive their representation and transportation allowance (RATA) at the higher rates provided by Letter of Implementation (LOI) No. 97 in light of Section 12, RA 6758, this Court said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Now, under the second sentence of Section 12, first paragraph, the RATA enjoyed by these PPA officials shall continue to be authorized only if they are "being received by incumbents only as of July 1, 1989." RA 6758 has therefore, to this extent, amended LOI No. 97. By limiting the benefit of the RATA granted by LOI No. 97 to incumbents, Congress has manifested its intent to gradually phase out this privilege without upsetting its policy of non-diminution of pay."cralaw virtua1aw library

"The legislature has similarly adhered to this policy of non-diminution of pay when it provided for the transition allowance under Section 17 of RA 6758 which reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

SECTION 17. Salaries of Incumbents. — Incumbents of position presently receiving salaries and additional compensation/fringe benefits including those absorbed from local government units and other emoluments, the aggregate of which exceeds the standardized salary rate as herein prescribed, shall continue to receive such excess compensation, which shall be referred to as transition allowance. The transition allowance shall be reduced by the amount of salary adjustment that the incumbent shall receive in the future."cralaw virtua1aw library

While Section 12 refers to allowances that are not integrated into the standardized salaries whereas Section 17 refers to salaries and additional compensation or fringe benefits, both sections are intended to protect incumbents who are receiving said salaries and/or allowances at the time RA 6758 took effect." 13 (Emphasis supplied.)

Based on the foregoing pronouncement, petitioner correctly pointed out that there was no intention on the part of the legislature to revoke existing benefits being enjoyed by incumbents of government positions at the time of the passage of RA 6758 by virtue of Sections 12 and 17 thereof. There is no dispute that the PITC officials who availed of the subject car plan benefits were incumbents of their positions as of July 1, 1989. Thus, it was legal and proper for them to continue enjoying said benefits within the five year period from date of purchase of the vehicle allowed by their Car Loan Agreements with PITC.

Further, we see the rationale for the corporation’s fifty percent (50%) participation and contribution to the subject expenses. As to the insurance premium, PITC, at least, up to the extent of 50% of the value of the vehicle, has an insurable interest in said vehicle in case of loss or damage thereto. As to the costs of registration of the vehicle in the employee’s name and of the chattel mortgage in favor of PITC, this is to secure PITC of the repayment of the `Car Loan Agreement’ and the fulfillment of the other obligations contained therein by the employee.

Still further, the vehicle being utilized by the officer is actually being used for corporate purposes because the officer concerned is no longer entitled to utilize company-owned vehicles for official business once he/she has availed of a car plan. Neither is said officer allowed to reimburse the costs of other land transportation used within his principal place of assignment (i.e. Metro Manila) as the vehicle is presumed to be his official vehicle. 14 In the event that the employee resigns, retires or is separated from the company without cause prior to the completion of the 60-month car plan, the employee shall be given the privilege to buy the car provided he pays the remaining installments of the loan and the amount equivalent to that portion of the company’s contribution corresponding to the unexpired period of the car plan. On the other hand, if the employee has been separated from the company for cause, the company has the other option aside from the foregoing to repossess the car from the employee, in which case, the company shall pay back to the employee all amortizations already made by the employee to the company, interest free. 15

Secondly, COA relied on DBM-CCC No. 10 16 as basis for the disallowance of the subject car plan benefits. DBM-CCC No. 10 which was issued by the DBM pursuant to Section 23 17 of RA 6758 mandating the said agency to issue the necessary guidelines to implement RA 6758 has been declared by this Court in De Jesus, Et. Al. v. Commission on Audit, Et. Al. 18 as of no force and effect due to the absence of publication thereof in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. Salient portions of said decision read:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"On the need for publication of subject DBM-CCC No. 10, we rule in the affirmative. Following the doctrine enunciated in Tanada, 19 publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines is required since DBM-CCC No. 10 is in the nature of an administrative circular the purpose of which is to enforce or implement an existing law. Stated differently, to be effective and enforceable, DBM-CCC No. 10 must go through the requisite publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.

In the present case under scrutiny, it is decisively clear that DBM-CCC No. 10, which completely disallows payment of allowances and other additional compensation to government officials and employees, starting November 1, 1989, is not a mere interpretative or internal regulation. It is something more than that. And why not, when it tends to deprive government workers of their allowances and additional compensation sorely needed to keep body and soul together. At the very least, before the said circular under attack may be permitted to substantially reduce their income, the government officials and employees concerned should be apprised and alerted by the publication of said circular in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines – to the end that they be given amplest opportunity to voice out whatever opposition they may have, and to ventilate their stance on the matter. This approach is more in keeping with democratic precepts and rudiments of fairness and transparency." 20

In the case at bar, the disallowance of the subject car plan benefits would hamper the officials in the performance of their functions to promote and develop trade which requires mobility in the performance of official business. Indeed, the car plan benefits are supportive of the implementation of the objectives and mission of the agency relative to the nature of its operation and responsive to the exigencies of the service.chanroblesvirtual|awlibrary

It has come to our knowledge that DBM-CCC No. 10 has been re-issued in its entirety and submitted for publication in the Official Gazette per letter to the National Printing Office dated March 9, 1999. Would the subsequent publication thereof cure the defect and retroact to the time that the above-mentioned items were disallowed in audit?

The answer is in the negative, precisely, for the reason that publication is required as a condition precedent to the effectivity of a law to inform the public of the contents of the law or rules and regulations before their rights and interests are affected by the same. From the time the COA disallowed the expenses in audit up to the filing of herein petition the subject circular remained in legal limbo due to its non-publication. As was stated in Tanada v. Tuvera 21 , "prior publication of laws before they become effective cannot be dispensed with, for the reason that such omission would offend due process insofar as it would deny the public knowledge of the laws that are supposed to govern it."cralaw virtua1aw library

In view of the nullity of DBM-CCC No. 10 relied upon by the COA as basis for the disallowance of the subject car plan benefits, we deem it unnecessary to discuss the second issue raised in the instant petition.

We deem it necessary though to resolve the third issue as to whether PITC is exempt from RA 985 22 as subsequently amended by RA 6758. According to petitioner, PITC’s Revised Charter, PD 1071 dated January 25, 1977, as amended by EO 756 dated December 29, 1981, and further amended by EO 1067 dated November 25, 1985, expressly exempted PITC from the Office of the Compensation and Position Classification (OCPC) rules and regulations. Petitioner cites Section 28 of P.D. 1071 23; Section 6 of EO 756 24; and Section 3 of EO 1067.25cralaw:red

According to the COA in its Decision No. 98-048 dated January 27, 1998, the exemption granted to the PITC has been repealed and revoked by the repealing provisions of RA 6758, particularly Section 16 thereof which provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SECTION 16. Repeal of Special Salary Laws and Regulations. — All laws, decrees, executive orders, corporate charters, and other issuances or parts thereof, that exempt agencies from the coverage of the System, or that authorize and fix position classifications, salaries, pay rates or allowances of specified positions, or groups of officials, and employees or of agencies, which are inconsistent with the System, including the proviso under Section 2 and Section 16 of PD No. 985 are hereby repealed."cralaw virtua1aw library

To this, petitioner argues that RA 6758 which is a law of general application cannot repeal provisions of the Revised Charter of PITC and its amendatory laws expressly exempting PITC from OCPC coverage being special laws. Our rules on statutory construction provide that a special law cannot be repealed, amended or altered by a subsequent general law by mere implication 26; that a statute, general in character as to its terms and application, is not to be construed as repealing a special or specific enactment, unless the legislative purpose to do so is manifested 27; that if repeal of particular or specific law or laws is intended, the proper step is to so express it. 28

In the case at bar, the repeal by Section 16 of RA 6758 of "all corporate charters that exempt agencies from the coverage of the System" was clear and expressed necessarily to achieve the purposes for which the law was enacted, that is, the standardization of salaries of all employees in government owned and/or controlled corporations to achieve "equal pay for substantially equal work." Henceforth, PITC should now be considered as covered by laws prescribing a compensation and position classification system in the government including RA 6758. This is without prejudice, however, as discussed above, to the non-diminution of pay of incumbents as of July 1, 1989 as provided in Sections 12 and 17 of said law.chanrobles law library

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED, the assailed Decisions of the Commission on Audit are SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

Panganiban and Buena, JJ., are on leave.

Endnotes:



1. Amended by PD 1071 on January 19, 1977, later by Executive Order (EO) No. 756 on December 29, 1981, and EO No. 1067 on November 25, 1985.

2. Resolution No. 10-88-03.

3. Rollo, p. 53.

4. Ibid., p. 43.

5. Id.

6. 5.4 The rates of the following allowances/fringe benefits which are not integrated into the basic salary and which are allowed to be continued after June 30, 1989 shall be subject to the condition that the grant of such benefits is covered by statutory authority:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

5.4.1 Representation and Transportation Allowances (RATA) of incumbent of the position authorized to receive the same at the highest amount legally authorized as of June 30, 1989 for the level of his position within the particular GOCC/GFI;

5.4.2 Uniform and Clothing Allowance at a rate as previously authorized;

5.4.3 Hazard pay as authorized by law;

5.4.4 Honoraria/additional compensation for employees on detail with special projects or inter-agency undertakings;

5.4.5 Honoraria for services rendered by researchers, experts and specialists who are of acknowledged authorities in their fields of specialization;

5.4.6 Honoraria for lecturers and resource persons/speakers;

5.4.7 Overtime pay in accordance to Memorandum Order No. 228;

5.4.8 Clothing/laundry allowances and subsistence allowance of marine officers and crew on board GOCCs/GFIs owned vessels and used in their operations, and of hospital personnel who attend directly to patients and who by nature of their duties are required to wear uniforms;

5.4.9 Quarters Allowance of officials and employees who are presently entitled to the same;

5.4.10 Overseas, Living Quarters and other allowances presently authorized for personnel stationed abroad;

5.4.11 Night Differential of personnel on night duty;

5.4.12 Per Diems of members of the governing Boards of GOCCs/GFIs at the rate as prescribed in their respective Charters;

5.4.13 Flying Pay of personnel undertaking serial flights;

5.4.14 Per Diems/Allowances of Chairman and Members/Staff of collegial bodies and Committee; and,

5.4.15 Per Diems/Allowances of officials and employees on official foreign and local travel outside of their official station.

5.5 Other allowances/fringe benefits not likewise integrated into the basic salary and allowed to be continued only for incumbents as of June 30, 1989 subject to the condition that the grant of same is with appropriate authorization either from the DBM, Office of the President or legislative issuances are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

5.5.1 Rice Subsidy

5.5.2 Sugar Subsidy

5.5.3 Death Benefits other than those granted by the GSIS;

5.5.4 Medical/dental/optical allowances/benefits;

5.5.5 Children’s allowance;

5.5.6 Special Duty Pay/Allowance;

5.5.7 Meal Subsidy;

5.5.8 Longevity Pay; and

5.5.9 Teller’s Allowance

7. Rollo, p. 31.

8. Id., pp. 30-31.

9. Id., p. 23.

10. Id., p. 8.

11. 214 SCRA 653.

12. Erectors, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 256 SCRA 629.

13. See note 11, p. 660.

14. Rollo, p. 39.

15. Ibid., pp. 49-50.

16. Rules and Regulations for the Implementation of the Revised Compensation and Position Classification System Prescribed Under R.A. No. 6758 for Government Owned And/Or Controlled Corporations (GOCC’s) and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs)

17. Sec. 23. Effectivity. — This Act shall take effect July 1, 1989. The DBM shall within sixty (60) days after its approval allocate all positions in their appropriate position titles and salary grades and prepare and issue the necessary guidelines to implement the same.

18. G.R. No. 109023, August 12, 1998.

19. Referring to Tanada v. Tuvera, 146 SCRA 453.

20. Supra, at pp. 7-8.

21. supra.

22. "A Decree Revising The Position Classification and Compensation Systems In The National Government, And Integrating The Same" issued on August 22, 1976, to standardize the compensation of government officials and employees, including those in government-owned and/or controlled corporations.

23. Section 28. Personnel Recruitment. — The corporation shall adopt a special recruitment and employment scheme that is responsive to the commercial nature of its operations. Further, the corporation is hereby authorized to extend permanent appointment to, or contract the services of, trained and experienced persons, even without civil eligibility, for its manpower building as a competing trading firm. In view of the pioneering nature of its operation, the Corporation shall continue to be exempt from the OCPC rules and regulations.

24. Section 6. Exemption from OCPC. — In recognition of the special nature of its operations, the Corporation shall continue to be exempt from the application of the rules and regulations of the Office of the Compensation and Position Classification or any other similar agencies that may be established hereafter as provided under Presidential Decree 1071. . . .

25. Section 3. Compensation Policies. — The compensation policies including allowances, merit increases and other employee benefits for all officers and employees adopted by the Board of Directors are hereby approved in accordance with P.D. Nos. 1177 and 1597. Any future changes approved by the Board that may be deemed necessary shall not require any referral to or approval of any other authority, agency or office.

26. Laguna Lake Development Authority v. Court of Appeals, 251 SCRA 42.

27. Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Court of Appeals, 207 SCRA 487.

28. Agujetas v. Court of Appeals, 258 SCRA 17.




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  • G.R. No. 105912 June 28, 1998 - TEOFILO C. VILLARICO, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 110855-56 June 28, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DEWING V. CAÑETA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112451 June 28, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOSE BITOON, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124005 June 28, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TOMAS ABLOG

  • G.R. No. 125212 June 28, 1998 - EUGENIO BALUGO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 130421 June 28, 1998 - AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE CO. v. ANTONIO CHUA

  • A.M. No. P-96-1183 June 29, 1998 - LUCINA L. REGALADO v. LILIA S. BUENA

  • A.M. Nos. RTJ-96-1347 & RTJ-96-1348 June 29, 1998 - LEO C. TABAO v. PEDRO S. ESPINA

  • G.R. No. 95405 June 29, 1998 - SEMIRARA COAL CORP. v. SECRETARY OF LABOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 121205-09 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR LARENA

  • G.R. Nos. 124449-51 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MANUEL ALITAGTAG

  • G.R. No. 125465 June 29, 1998 - AUGUSTO HONTIVEROS, ET AL. v. GREGORIO HONTIVEROS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125473 June 29, 1998 - CONSTANCIO ESPIRITU v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127356 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DAVID SILVANO

  • G.R. No. 128315 June 29, 1998 - COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE v. PASCOR REALTY AND DEV’T. CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128384 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REYNALDO SAHOR BAÑAGO

  • G.R. No. 129449 June 29, 1998 - CISELL A. KIAMCO v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129691 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOSE LOMBOY

  • G.R. No. 130800 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GUILLERMO NEPOMUCENO

  • G.R. No. 131109 June 29, 1998 - INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 132369 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REMEGIO RUIZ

  • G.R. No. 133317 June 29, 1998 - ANTONIO R. AGRA, ET AL. v. PNB

  • G.R. No. 119974 June 30, 1998 - RUPERTO L. VILORIA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124049 June 30, 1998 - RODOLFO P. VELASQUEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.