Board of Assessment Appeals QC v MERALCO

Board of Assessment Appeals, Q.C. vs Meralco
10 SCRA 68
GR No. L-15334
January 31, 1964

FACTS
On November 15, 1955, the QC City Assessor declared the MERALCO's steel towers subject to real property tax. After the denial of MERALCO's petition to cancel these declarations, an appeal was taken to the QC Board of Assessment Appeals, which required respondent to pay P11,651.86 as real property tax on the said steel towers for the years 1952 to 1956.
MERALCO paid the amount under protest, and filed a petition for review in the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) which rendered a decision ordering the cancellation of the said tax declarations and the refunding to MERALCO by the QC City Treasurer of P11,651.86.

ISSUE
Are the steel towers or poles of the MERALCO considered real or personal properties?

HELD
Pole – long, comparatively slender, usually cylindrical piece of wood, timber, object of metal or the like; an upright standard to the top of which something is affixed or by which something is supported.

MERALCO's steel supports consists of a framework of 4 steel bars/strips which are bound by steel cross-arms atop of which are cross-arms supporting 5 high-voltage transmission wires, and their sole function is to support/carry such wires. The exemption granted to poles as quoted from Part II, Par.9 of respondent's franchise is determined by the use to which such poles are dedicated.

It is evident that the word “poles”, as used in Act No. 484 and incorporated in the petitioner's franchise, should not be given a restrictive and narrow interpretation, as to defeat the very object for which the franchise was granted. The poles should be taken and understood as part of MERALCO's electric power system for the conveyance of electric current to its consumers.

Art. 415 of the NCC classifies the following as immovable property:

    (1) Lands, buildings, roads and constructions of all kinds adhered to the soil;

    xxx

    (3) Everything attached to an immovable in a fixed manner, in such a way that it cannot be separated therefrom without breaking the material or deterioration of the object;

    xxx

    (5) Machinery, receptacles, instruments or implements intended by the owner pf the tenement for an industry ot works which may be carried on in a building or on a piece of land, and which tend directly to meet the needs of the said industry or works;

Following these classifications, MERALCO's steel towers should be considered personal property. It should be noted that the steel towers:

    (a) are neither buildings or constructions adhered to the soil;

    (b) are not attached to an immovable in a fixed manner – they can be separated without breaking the material or deterioration of the object;

    © are not machineries, receptacles or instruments, and even if they are, they are not intended for an industry to be carried on in the premises.

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