“They can also make rules and regulations to implement a law.”
Some people think that only the courts can render decisions or resolutions; however, administrative agencies have the power to resolve disputes and controversies. This is known as the adjudicatory or quasi-judicial functions of administrative agencies such as the Civil Service Commission, Department of Agrarian Reform, and National Telecommunications Commission, among others.
This power to hear and determine questions of fact must be in accordance with the standards laid down by the law that gives such power. It is quasi-judicial when an agency performs an act that is essentially executive or administrative in nature, or necessary for the performance of its duty (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
Administrative agencies can also make rules and regulations to implement a law, and this is known as its quasi-legislative power. The power to make rules and regulations is rooted on delegated legislation, and must be within the confines of the latter (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
In simpler words, the rules, regulations, or guidelines issued by these agencies must not go beyond the policy, intent, and wording of the law. What it should provide are the necessary details in the execution or enforcement of the policy and objectives of the law.
In the case of The Chairman and Executive Director, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), et al. v. Ejercito Lim, Petitioners PCSD’s officers were tasked with the duty of executing and implementing A.O. No. 00-05 and the Notice of Violation and Show Cause Order. The PCSD is responsible for the governance, implementation, and policy direction of the Strategic Environment Plan (SEP) for Palawan (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
Respondent Lim was the operator of a domestic air carrier doing business under the name and style Bonanza Air Services, with the authority to engage in nonscheduled air taxi transportation of passengers and cargo for the public. His business operation was primarily concerned with the transportation of fish from Palawan to fish traders (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
The PCSD issued A.O. No. 00-05, requiring that the transport of live fish from Palawan would be allowed only through traders and carriers who had sought and secured accreditation from the PCSD. Thereafter, the Air Transportation Office (ATO) relayed to the PCSD that ATO-authorized carriers were considered common carriers, and as such, were exempt from the PCSD accreditation requirement (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
“¨Respondent Lim asserted that he had continued his trade without securing the PCSD required accreditation; that the PCSD Chairman had started harassing his clients by issuing Memorandum Circular No. 02, Series of 2002; and that the said Memorandum contained penal sanctions, including the cancellation of their PCSD accreditation, and perpetual disqualification from engaging in live fish trading in Palawan if they will avail of the services of unaccredited aircraft carriers (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
“¨Disregarding the prohibition, the respondent Lim continued his business operation in Palawan until a customer showed him the Notice of Violation and the Show Cause Order issued by the PCSD; and that he should explain his actuations within 15 days, otherwise, he would be sanctioned with a fine of P50,000.00 (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
With the foregoing factual antecedents, the question to be answered is whether A.O. No. 00-05, Series of 2002, Resolution No. 03-211, and the Notice of Violation and Show Cause Order are null and void for having been issued in excess of the PCSD’s authority under R.A. 7611 (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
The Supreme Court explained that the PCSD had the explicit authority to “fill in the details” for how to carry out the objectives of R.A. No. 7611 in protecting and enhancing Palawan’s natural resources consistent with the SEP. In that task, the PCSD could establish a methodology for the effective implementation of the SEP (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
Moreover, the PCSD was expressly given the authority to impose penalties and sanctions in relation to the implementation of the SEP and the provisions of R.A. No. 7611. As such, the PCSD’s issuance of A.O. No. 00-95 and Resolution No. 03-211 was well within its statutory authority (G.R. No. 183173, August 24, 2016).
In another case, the Supreme Court agreed with the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc. that the authors of the Reproductive Health (RH) Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) gravely abused their office when they redefined the meaning of “abortifacient” under the RH Law (Imbong, et al. v. Ochoa, et al., G.R. No. 204819, April 8, 2014).
An abortifacient is “any drug or device that induces abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother’s womb upon determination of the (Food and Drug Administration) FDA”. However, Section 3.0l(a) of the IRR redefined “abortifacient” by inserting the word “primarily” before the verb “induces” (G.R. No. 204819, April 8, 2014).
The addition of the word “primarily” in Sections 3.0l(a) and G) of the RH-IRR contravenes Section 4(a) of the RH Law and should, therefore, be declared invalid. There is danger that the insertion of the qualifier “primarily” may pave the way for the approval of contraceptives that may harm or destroy the life of the unborn fetus, in violation of Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution (G.R. No. 204819, April 8, 2014).
Consistent with the constitutional policy prohibiting abortion, and in line with the principle that laws should be construed in a manner in which its constitutionality is sustained, the RH Law and its implementing rules must be consistent with each other in prohibiting abortion. Thus, the word “primarily” in Section 3.0l(a) and G) of the RH-IRR should be declared void (G.R. No. 204819, April 8, 2014).
Rules and regulations issued by administrative authorities are used to construe or interpret the provisions of a law or statute to be enforced. It binds all concerned until these are changed (Nepthali Gonzalez, Administrative Law). Examples include Revenue Regulations issued by the Secretary of Finance upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; as well as the implementing rules and regulations issued by the different administrative agencies.
The construction and interpretation of the law by an administrative agency under which it acts provide a practical guide for its application. While it is given great weight, it cannot control the court’s interpretation of the law (Nepthali Gonzalez, Administrative Law).
There are also rules and regulations which are made to be dependent on the occurrence of future events or contigencies, to be determined by the executive or administrative agencies. This is not an exercise of legislative power but a determination of facts and conditions to put the law into effect (Nepthali Gonzalez, Administrative Law).
Republic Act 11494, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, provides, among others, for the “delivery of an uninterrupted immunization program against vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in children amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, including a vaccine for COVID-19” (Section 4). The administrative agency is tasked to determine the facts or conditions for the rollout of COVID vaccines for children as outlined in the implementing regulations.
The work of administrative agencies to “fill in” details in legislation, to interpret or construe the law, determine facts to implement the law, and resolve disputes are important for the optimum performance of the government. These will contribute to swift, efficient, and responsive service to the public.