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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 45889. May 5, 1939. ]

CRISPINO ENRIQUEZ, Petitioner-Appellant, v. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent-Appellee.

Rosendo Tansinsin for Petitioner.

Solicitor General Tuason for Respondent.

SYLLABUS


1. WATERS; OBSTRUCTION PLACED ON A NAVIGABLE RIVER OF PUBLIC DOMAIN; FAILURE TO REMOVE OBSTRUCTION; VIOLATION OF ACT NO. 3208. — To the orders issued by the Secretary of Public Works and Communications for the removal, by the petitioner, of the obstruction placed by him on a navigable river of public domain, said petitioner failed to comply; hence he was prosecuted and convicted for violation of section 25-A, Act No. 3208. The period of thirty days given the petitioner by the secretary’s first order was a time fixed by law which could only be extended on the grounds expressed in the law, none of which were shown in this case.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; A PETITION FOR REINVESTIGATION DOES NOT SUSPEND THE RUNNING OF PERIOD. — The petition for reinvestigation does not, ex propio vigore, suspend the running of the period, where no express statement to that effect is made by the secretary; otherwise, by repetition of such pleas, orders of removal may be ignored with impunity to the detriment of public interests, and, as aptly observed by the Court of Appeals, the execution and enforcement of the law will rest at the mercy of its violators.

3. ID; ID.; ID.; ID.; NATURE OF CASE. — Under the express provision of section 25-A of Act NO. 3208, "any natural or juridical person failing to comply with any legal order of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications for the removal of any obstacle," incurs the penal sanction of section 47 of Act No. 2162. The mere fact that the petitioner denies the closing of the Dalayap river and lays claim of ownership thereover, does not impart civil character upon an act defined as criminal in nature under the law. Such claim is a mere defense which, if sustained, may wipe out the basis of criminal liability.

4. ID, ID., ID.; ID; CHARACTER OF AUTHORITY CONFERRED UPON THE SECRETARY OF PUBLIC WORKS AND COMMUNICATION. — The authority conferred upon the Secretary of Public Works and Communications "to order the removal of any obstacle to the free course of public waters, canals, ditches, or irrigation systems which may redound to the detriment of public or private rights recognized by the Irrigation Law and its amendments," is purely executive in character.

5. ID., ID.; ID.; ID.; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. — Under the law, raises involving constitutional questions, should be appealed directly to this court from the Court of First Instance (section 138, Admn. Code, as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 3). But the appeal was taken to the Court of Appeals, and there no constitutional objection could have been interposed. As we are but reviewing the decision of the Court of Appeals, we cannot pass upon a question that has not been presented therein.


D E C I S I O N


MORAN, J.:


Petitioner, Crispino Enriquez, owns in the barrio of Dalayap, Macabebe, Pampanga, a fishpond comprising two (2) parcels of land over which he holds a certificate of title. According to the findings of the Court of Appeals, these two (2) parcels of land are separated by a portion of the Dalayap river, a navigable stream of public ownership. As the fishpond is enclosed with dikes, a portion of the Dalayap river separating the two (2) parcels is thus cut off and the free course thereof obstructed by said dikes. On March 24, 1934, the Secretary of Public Works and Communications addressed to said petitioner the following communication:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"After due investigation by the Bureau of Public Works of the Dalayap river in Macabebe, Pampanga, it was found that you and your wife, Maria Joaquin, have closed said river and appropriated a portion thereof by including it within your fishpond. It was also found that this river is of public ownership and navigable, in view of which its closing is prejudicial to public interests.

"You are therefore requested to remove the obstruction you have placed on said stream within 30 days from receipt hereof, otherwise, this office will be compelled, much to its regret, to institute judicial action against you under section 1926 of the Administrative Code."cralaw virtua1aw library

To this communication petitioner, through counsel, replied denying the basic statement contained therein; whereupon the secretary addressed to him on June 16, 1934, another letter ordering him to remove the obstruction immediately. Petitioner then requested for reinvestigation but, in the meantime, took no steps to comply with the order of removal. On August 16, 1934, the provincial fiscal of Pampanga presented in the justice of the peace court of Macabebe an information against the petitioner and his spouse Maria Joaquin, for violation of section 25-A of Act No. 3208. Judgment was there rendered sentencing the accused to pay a fine of fifty pesos (P50) with the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On appeal to the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, the defendants were sentenced to pay a fine of one hundred pesos (P100) each with similar subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The Court of Appeals, upon elevation of the case thereto, affirmed this judgment with respect to the petitioner, but acquitted his spouse. The case is now before this court on a writ of certiorari for review of the questions of law.

Petitioner here reiterates the view that the criminal action instituted against him was premature. This contention rests upon the supposed pendency of his petition for reinvestigation when the information against him was filed. The period of thirty (30) days given the petitioner by the secretary’s order of March 24, 1934, is a time fixed by law. According to section 26-A of Act No. 3208, the secretary "shall give the party concerned a period not to exceed thirty days for the removal of such obstacle" and this period cannot be extended unless "the nature of the construction or some fortuitous cause requires it." Neither of these two grounds for extension is shown here. And, as a matter of fact, no extension has been applied for on either of said grounds. And the fact that the secretary, in his letter of June 16, 1934, ordered the petitioner to remove the obstruction immediately, shows that no extension has ever been intended. The petition for reinvestigation does not, ex propio vigore, suspend the running of the period, where no express statement to that effect is made by the secretary; otherwise by repetition of such pleas, orders of removal may be ignored with impunity to the detriment of public interests, and, as aptly observed by the Court of Appeals, the execution and enforcement of the law will rest at the mercy of its violators.

It is contended that the case is purely civil in nature, for it involves question of ownership over real property. Under the express provision of section 25-A of Act No. 3208, "any natural or juridical person failing to comply with any legal order of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications for the removal of any obstacle," incurs the penal sanction of section 47 of Act No. 2152. The mere fact that the petitioner denies the closing of the Dalayap river and lays claim of ownership thereover, does not impart civil character upon an act defined as criminal in nature under the law. Such claim is a mere defense which, if sustained, may wipe out the basis of criminal liability.

Finally, it is argued that section 25-A of Act No. 3208 is an undue delegation of judicial power. This contention is completely untenable, for the authority conferred upon the Secretary of Public Works and Communications "to order the removal of any obstacle to the free course of public waters, canals, ditches, or irrigation systems which may redound to the detriment of public or private rights recognized by the Irrigation Law and its amendments purely executive in character. Besides, this question cannot be raised at this stage of the proceedings. Under the law, cases involving constitutional questions, should be appealed directly to this court from the Court of First Instance (sec. 138, Admn. Code, as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 3). But the appeal was taken to the Court of Appeals, and there no constitutional objection could have been interposed. As we are but reviewing the decision of the Court of Appeals, we cannot pass upon a question that has not been presented therein.

Judgment is affirmed, with costs against petitioner.

Avanceña, C.J., Villa-Real, Imperial, Diaz, Laurel, and Concepcion, JJ., concur.

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