Bacani vs. National Coconut Corp

G.R. No. L-9657, November 29, 1956.

FACTS

Plaintiffs herein are court stenographers. National Coconut Corporation, Assistant Corporate Counsel Federico Alikpala requested the stenographers for copies of the transcript of the stenographic notes taken by them during the hearing of Civil Case No. 2293 entitled Francisco Sycip vs. National Coconut Corporation. Plaintiffs complied with the request and thereafter submitted to him their bills for the payment of their fees amounting to P714.00.

The Auditor General required the plaintiffs to reimburse said amounts on the strength of a circular of the Department of Justice wherein the opinion was expressed that the National Coconut Corporation, being a government entity, was exempt from the payment of the fees in question. The Auditor General issued an order directing the Cashier of the Department of Justice to deduct from the salary of plaintiffs the subject amounts. To prevent deduction of these fees from their salaries and secure a judicial ruling that the National Coconut Corporation is not a government entity within the purview of section 16, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. 

Under section 16, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, the Government of the Philippines is exempt from paying the legal fees provided for therein, and among these fees are those which stenographers may charge for the transcript of notes taken by them that may be requested by any interested person (section 8). The fees in question are for the transcript of notes taken during the hearing of a case in which the National Coconut Corporation is interested, and the transcript was requested by its assistant corporate counsel for the use of said corporation.

On the other hand, section 2 of the Revised Administrative Code defines the scope of the term “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” as follows:

“‘The Government of the Philippine Islands’ is a term which refers to the corporate governmental entity through which the functions of government are exercised throughout the Philippine Islands, including, save as the contrary appears from the context, the various arms through which political authority is made effective in said Islands, whether pertaining to the central Government or to the provincial or municipal branches or other form of local government.”

ISSUE

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whether the National Coconut Corporation may be considered as included in the term “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” for the purposes of the exemption of the legal fees provided for in Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.

HELD

NO. GOCC’s  do not acquire that status for the simple reason that they do not come under the classification of municipal or public corporation. 

While it was organized with the purpose of “adjusting the coconut industry to a position independent of trade preferences in the United States” and of providing “Facilities for the better curing of copra products and the proper utilization of coconut by-products”, a function which our government has chosen to exercise to promote the coconut industry, however, it was given a corporate power separate and distinct from our government, for it was made subject to the provisions of our Corporation Law in so far as its corporate existence and the powers that it may exercise are concerned (sections 2 and 4, Commonwealth Act No. 518). It may sue and be sued in the same manner as any other private corporations, and in this sense it is an entity different from our government. As this Court has aptly said, “The mere fact that the Government happens to be a majority stockholder does not make it a public corporation.”

NOTES

The term “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” refers to a government entity through which the functions of government are exercised, including the various arms through which political authority is made effective in the Philippines, whether pertaining to the central government or to the provincial or municipal branches or other form of local government. 

“Government” may be defined as “that institution or aggregate of institutions by which an independent society makes and carries out those rules of action which are necessary to enable men to live in a social state, or which are imposed upon the people forming that society by those who possess the power or authority of prescribing them”

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