Philippine Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals vs Commission on Audit
G.R. No. 169752
September 25, 2007
PSPCA was incorporated as a juridical entity by virtue of Act No. 1285 by the Philippine Commission in order to enforce laws relating to the cruelty inflicted upon animals and for the protection of and to perform all things which may tend to alleviate the suffering of animals and promote their welfare.
In order to enhance its powers, PSPCA was initially imbued with (1) power to apprehend violators of animal welfare laws and (2) share 50% of the fines imposed and collected through its efforts pursuant to the violations of related laws.
However, Commonwealth Act No. 148 recalled the said powers. President Quezon then issued Executive Order No. 63 directing the Commission of Public Safety, Provost Marshal General as head of the Constabulary Division of the Philippine Army, Mayors of chartered cities and every municipal president to detail and organize special officers to watch, capture, and prosecute offenders of criminal-cruelty laws.
On December 1, 2003, an audit team from the Commission on Audit visited petitioner’s office to conduct a survey. PSPCA demurred on the ground that it was a private entity and not under the CoA’s jurisdiction, citing Sec .2(1), Art. IX of the Constitution.
WON the PSPCA is subject to CoA’s Audit Authority.
The charter test cannot be applied. It is predicated on the legal regime established by the 1935 Constitution, Sec.7, Art. XIII. Since the underpinnings of the charter test had been introduced by the 1935 Constitution and not earlier, the test cannot be applied to PSPCA which was incorporated on January 19, 1905. Laws, generally, have no retroactive effect unless the contrary is provided. There are a few exceptions: (1) when expressly provided; (2) remedial statutes; (3) curative statutes; and (4) laws interpreting others.
None of the exceptions apply in the instant case.
The mere fact that a corporation has been created by a special law doesn’t necessarily qualify it as a public corporation. At the time PSPCA was formed, the Philippine Bill of 1902 was the applicable law and no proscription similar to the charter test can be found therein. There was no restriction on the legislature to create private corporations in 1903. The amendments introduced by CA 148 made it clear that PSPCA was a private corporation, not a government agency.
PSPCA’s charter shows that it is not subject to control or supervision by any agency of the State. Like all private corporations, the successors of its members are determined voluntarily and solely by the petitioner, and may exercise powers generally accorded to private corporations.
PSPCA’s employees are registered and covered by the SSS at the latter’s initiative and not through the GSIS.
The fact that a private corporation is impressed with public interest does not make the entity a public corporation. They may be considered quasi-public corporations which are private corporations that render public service, supply public wants and pursue other exemplary objectives. The true criterion to determine whether a corporation is public or private is found in the totality of the relation of the corporate to the State. It is public if it is created by the latter’s own agency or instrumentality, otherwise, it is private.