Home of ChanRobles Virtual Law Library

 

Home of Chan Robles Virtual Law Library

www.chanrobles.com

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 26771. September 23, 1927. ]

RUPERTO SANTOS, Petitioner, v. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, Respondent.

Salinas & Salinas for Petitioner.

Solicitor-General Reyes for Respondent.

SYLLABUS


1. PUBLIC SERVICE LAW; COMPARISON OF THE FORMER PUBLIC UTILITY LAW, ACT No. 2307, DEFINING THE TERM "PUBLIC UTILITY" WITH THE PRESENT PUBLIC SERVICE LAW, ACT No. 3108, DEFINING THE TERM "PUBLIC SERVICE." — A comparison of the present Public Service Law, Act No. 3108, as amended by Act No. 3316, with the former Public Utility Law, Act No. 2307, as amended, discloses that the phrases "public services" and "public service" substitute and supersede the phrases "public utilities" and "public utility." While the old law in defining the term "public utility" included the phrase "for public use," these words are not to be found in the new law. The phrase "for hire or compensation" appearing in the new law does not appear in the old law.

2. ID.; ID. — Under the old law, the concurrence of two things were necessary: (1) The individual, copartnership, etc. must be a "public utility;" and (2) the business in which such individual, copartnership, etc. is engaged must be for public use. Under the new law the concurrence of two things are necessary: (1) The individual, copartnership, etc. must be a "public service;" and (2) the business in which such individual, copartnership, etc. is engaged must be for hire or compensation.

3. ID.; ID. — It is here held that within the meaning either of the old law or the new law "El Tren de Aguadas" is dedicated to the operation of a water system, and that this service is for public use or for hire or compensation. As a consequence, it is further held that "El Tren de Aguadas" comes under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission.


D E C I S I O N


MALCOLM, J.:


In this petition for review, the petitioner challenges the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission over the business known as "El Tren de Aguadas" which supplies water to ships in the Pasig River and Manila Bay. A decision on this issue depends in turn on whether or not "El Tren de Aguadas" is a "public utility" or "public service" within the meaning of those terms as defined in the Public Utility and Public Service Laws.

The record discloses that "El Tren de Aguadas" was organized in the City of Manila in 1894 as "una sociedad de cuentas en participacion." Apparently it only came under the observation of the former Public Utility Commission on May 25, 1920, when a complaint was filed against the business on the ground that it had a number of times refused to serve the motorship "Andalucia." "El Tren de Aguadas" answered this charge satisfactorily without any effort being made to avoid the authority of the Commission. On June 24th of the same year, the Commission required "El Tren de Aguadas" to submit to it a tariff of its water service in conformity with the law. To this "El Tren de Aguadas" responded by submitting its list of charges which was approved by the Commission on September 9, 1920. On October 1, 1920, "El Tren de Aguadas" proposed an amendment to its tariff which, after a further amendment, was approved by an order of the Commission on October 27, 1920. It was not until the 8th of June, 1921, that "El Tren de Aguadas" asked that it be exempted from submitting to the jurisdiction of the Commission. The matter was allowed to languish until more than five years later when a decision was handed down by the Public Utility Commission denying the petition, and, as a consequence, ordering that the business "El Tren de Aguadas" observe the regulations of the Commission, render the corresponding reports, and solicit without delay the proper Certificate of Public Convenience.

By placing the old law defining the term "public utility" side by side with the new law defining the term "public service," the differences between the two will be graphically illustrated.

Act No. 2307, section 14, Act No. 3108, section 13,

as amended by Act No. as amended by Act No.

2694, section 9, provided 3316, superseding Act No.

the following: 2307, as amended, provides

"The Public Utility Com- the following:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

mission or Commissioner "The Commission shall

shall have general supervi- have general supervision and

sion and regulation of, juris -regulation of, jurisdiction

diction and control over, all and control over, all public

public utilities, and also services, and also over their

over their property, prop- property, property rights,

erty rights, equipment, fa- equipment, facilities and

cilities and franchises so far franchises so far as may be

as may be necessary for the necessary for the purposes of

purpose of carrying out the carrying out the provisions

provisions of this Act. The of this Act. The term ’public

term ’public utility’ is service’ is hereby defined

hereby defined to include to include every individual,

every individual, copart- copartnership, association,

nership, association, corpo- corporation, or joint-stock

ration or joint stock company, whether domestic

company, whether domestic or foreign, their lessees,

or foreign, their lessees, trustees, or receivers ap-

trustees or receivers ap- pointed by any court

pointed by any court what- whatsoever, or any munic-

soever, or any municipality, ipality, province, or other

province or other depart- department of the Gov-

ment of the Government of ernment of the Philip-

the Philippine Islands, that pine Islands, that now or

now or hereafter may own, hereafter may own,

operate, manage or control operate, manage, or control within

within the Philippine Is- the Philippine Islands, for

lands any common carrier, hire or compensation, any

railroad, street railway, common carrier, railroad,

traction railway, steamboat street railway, traction rail-

or steamship line, small way, subway, freight or

water craft, such as bancas, passenger motor vehicles,

virais, lorchas, and others, with or without fixed route,

engaged in the transporta- freight or any other car

tion of passengers and service, express s e r v i c e,

cargo, line of freight and steamboat or steamship line,

passenger automobiles, ship- ferries, small water craft,

yard, marine railway, ma- such as lighters, pontines,

rine repair shop, ferry, lorchas, and others. engaged

freight or any other car in the transportation of pas-

service, public warehouse, sengers or cargo, shipyard,

public wharf or dock not marine railway, marine re-

under the jurisdiction of the pair shop, public warehouse,

Insular Collector of Cus- public wharf or dock not

toms, ice, refrigeration, cold under the jurisdiction of the

storage, canal, irrigation, Insular Collector of Cus-

express, subway, pipe line, toms, ice, refrigeration,

gas, electric light, heat, canal, irrigation, pipe line,

power, water, oil, sewer, tel- gas, electric light, heat,

ephone, wire or wireless power, water, oil, sewer, tel-

telegraph system, plant or ephone, wire or wireless

equipment, for public use: telegraph system, plant or

. . . ." equipment: . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

It will first be observed that the phrases "public services" and "public service" substitute and supersede the phrases "public utilities" and "public utility." It will next be observed that while the old law in defining the term "public utility" included the phrase "for public use," these words are not to be found in the new law. It will further be observed that the phrase "for hire or compensation" appearing in the new law does not appear in the old law. Under the old law, the concurrence of two things were necessary: (1) The individual, copartnership, etc. must be a "public utility;" and (2) the business in which such individual, copartnership, etc. is engaged must be for public use. (Villanueva, The Public Service Law, pp. 23 et seq.; U. S. v. Tan Piaco [1920], 40 Phil., 853; Iloilo Ice and Cold Storage Co. v. Public Utility Board [1923], 44 Phil., 551.) Under the new law, the concurrence of two things are necessary: (1) The individual, copartnership, etc. must be a "public service;" and (2) the business in which such individual, copartnership, etc. is engaged must be for hire or compensation. Whether the Legislature could properly provide for such a qualification by supplanting "public use" with "hire or compensation" is not touched upon in this case, and need not, therefore, be discussed.

Within the meaning either of the old law or the new law, it is indisputable that "El Tren de Aguadas" is dedicated to the operation of a water system, and that this service is for public use or for hire or compensation. Otherwise formulated, there is evidence supporting the con- elusions of the Commissioner to this effect. The following may be noted: (1) "El Tren de Aguadas" voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the Commission; (2) according to the testimony of Ruperto Santos, a former employee of the concern, "El Tren de Aguadas" appears to have sold water from its water boat to practically every person who desired to purchase it, including about forty entities; and (3) in a letter from the petitioner dated October 1, 1920, it was said: "Therefore, aside from the five shipping companies of this city with which the client has contracted for drinking water service, the preceding graduated tariff shall still be imposed upon any other private individual or juridical entity to which drinking water may be served by the launch ’El Tren de Aguadas.’"

For all the foregoing considerations, there is no escaping the conclusion that "El Tren de Aguadas" is included in the term "public utility" as formerly defined by the Public Utility Law, and in the term "public service" as now defined by the Public Service Law, and as a consequence, comes under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission.

Wherefore, the decision brought here on review is confirmed, with the costs of this instance against the petitioner.

Avanceña, C.J., Johnson, Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Top of Page