The grant of the rule-making power to administrative agencies is a relaxation of the principle of separation of powers and is an exception to the non-delegation of legislative powers.

Finally, petitioner argues that there has been undue delegation of legislative power, as PD 1986 does not provide for the range of imposable penalties that may be applied with respect to violations of the provisions of the law.

          The argument is without merit.

In Edu v. Ericta, the Court discussed the matter of undue delegation of legislative power in the following wise:

It is a fundamental principle flowing from the doctrine of separation of powers that Congress may not delegate its legislative power to the two other branches of the government, subject to the exception that local governments may over local affairs participate in its exercise.  What cannot be delegated is the authority under the Constitution to make laws and to alter and repeal them; the test is the completeness of the statute in all its term and provisions when it leaves the hands of the legislature.  To determine whether or not there is an undue delegation of legislative power, the inquiry must be directed to the scope and definiteness of the measure enacted.  The legislature does not abdicate its functions when it describes what job must be done, who is to do it, and what is the scope of his authority.  For a complex economy, that may indeed be the only way in which the legislative process can go forward.  A distinction  has rightfully been made between delegation of power to make laws which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, which constitutionally may not be done, and delegation of authority or discretion as to its execution to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law, to which no valid objection can be made.  The Constitution is thus not to be regarded as denying the legislature the necessary resources of flexibility and practicability.

To avoid the taint of unlawful delegation, there must be a standard, which implies at the very least that the legislature itself determines matters of principle and lays down fundamental policy.  Otherwise, the charge of complete abdication may be hard to repel.  A standard thus defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it.  It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative command is to be effected.  It is the criterion by which legislative purpose may be carried out.  Thereafter, the executive or administrative office designated may in pursuance of the above guidelines promulgate supplemental rules and regulations.[67]

Based on the foregoing pronouncements and analyzing the law in question, petitioner’s protestation about undue delegation of legislative power for the sole reason that PD 1986 does not provide for a range of penalties for violation of the law is untenable.  His thesis is that MTRCB, in promulgating the IRR of PD 1986, prescribing a schedule of penalties for violation of the provisions of the decree, went beyond the terms of the law.

          Petitioner’s posture is flawed by the erroneous assumptions holding it together, the first assumption being that PD 1986 does not prescribe the imposition of, or authorize the MTRCB to impose, penalties for violators of PD 1986. As earlier indicated, however, the MTRCB, by express and direct conferment of power and functions, is charged with supervising and regulating, granting, denying, or canceling permits for the exhibition and/or television broadcast of all motion pictures, television programs, and publicity materials to the end that no such objectionable pictures, programs, and materials shall be exhibited and/or broadcast by television. Complementing this provision is Sec. 3(k) of the decree authorizing the MTRCB “to exercise such powers and functions as may be necessary or incidental to the attainment of the purpose and objectives of [the law].” As earlier explained, the investiture of supervisory, regulatory, and disciplinary power would surely be a meaningless grant if it did not carry with it the power to penalize the supervised or the regulated as may be proportionate to the offense committed, charged, and proved.  As the Court said in Chavez v. National Housing Authority:

x x x [W]hen a general grant of power is conferred or duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of the one or the performance of the other is also conferred. x x x [W]hen the statute does not specify the particular method to be followed or used by a government agency in the exercise of the power vested in it by law, said agency has the authority to adopt any reasonable method to carry out its function.[68]

          Given the foregoing perspective, it stands to reason that the power of the MTRCB to regulate and supervise the exhibition of TV programs carries with it or necessarily implies the authority to take effective punitive action for violation of the law sought to be enforced.  And would it not be logical too to say that the power to deny or cancel a permit for the exhibition of a TV program or broadcast necessarily includes the lesser power to suspend?

          The MTRCB promulgated the IRR of PD 1986 in accordance with Sec. 3(a) which, for reference, provides that agency with the power “[to] promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary or proper for the implementation of this Act, and the accomplishment of its purposes and objectives x x x.” And Chapter XIII, Sec. 1 of the IRR providing:

Section 1. VIOLATIONS AND ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS.––Without prejudice to the immediate filing of the appropriate criminal action and the immediate seizure of the pertinent articles pursuant to Section 13, any violation of PD 1986 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations governing motion pictures, television programs, and related promotional materials shall be penalized with suspension or cancellation of permits and/or licenses issued by the Board and/or with the imposition of fines and other administrative penalty/penalties.  The Board recognizes the existing Table of Administrative Penalties attached without prejudice to the power of the Board to amend it when the need arises.  In the meantime the existing revised Table of Administrative Penalties shall be enforced. (Emphasis added.)

          This is, in the final analysis, no more than a measure to specifically implement the aforequoted provisions of Sec. 3(d) and (k). Contrary to what petitioner implies, the IRR does not expand the mandate of the MTRCB under the law or partake of the nature of an unauthorized administrative legislation. The MTRCB cannot shirk its responsibility to regulate the public airwaves and employ such means as it can as a guardian of the public.

In Sec. 3(c), one can already find the permissible actions of the MTRCB, along with the standards to be applied to determine whether there have been statutory breaches.  The MTRCB may evaluate motion pictures, television programs, and publicity materials “applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard,” and, from there, determine whether these audio and video materials “are objectionable for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, [etc.] x x x” and apply the sanctions it deems proper.   The lawmaking body cannot possibly provide for all the details in the enforcement of a particular statute.[69]   The grant of the rule-making power to administrative agencies is a relaxation of the principle of separation of powers and is an exception to the non-delegation of legislative powers.[70]  Administrative regulations or “subordinate legislation” calculated to promote the public interest are necessary because of “the growing complexity of modern life, the multiplication of the subjects of governmental regulations, and the increased difficulty of administering the law.”[71]  Allowing the MTRCB some reasonable elbow-room in its operations and, in the exercise of its statutory disciplinary functions, according it ample latitude in fixing, by way of an appropriate issuance, administrative penalties with due regard for the severity of the offense and attending mitigating or aggravating circumstances, as the case may be, would be consistent with its mandate to effectively and efficiently regulate the movie and television industry.

But even as we uphold the power of the MTRCB to review and impose sanctions for violations of PD 1986, its decision to suspend petitioner must be modified, for nowhere in that issuance, particularly the power-defining Sec. 3 nor in the MTRCB Schedule of Administrative Penalties effective January 1, 1999 is the Board empowered to suspend the program host or even to prevent certain people from appearing in television programs. The MTRCB, to be sure, may prohibit the broadcast of such television programs or cancel permits for exhibition, but it may not suspend television personalities, for such would be beyond its jurisdiction.  The MTRCB cannot extend its exercise of regulation beyond what the law provides. Only persons, offenses, and penalties clearly falling clearly within the letter and spirit of PD 1986 will be considered to be within the decree’s penal or disciplinary operation. And when it exists, the reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the person charged with violating the statute and for whom the penalty is sought. Thus, the MTRCB’s decision in Administrative Case No. 01-04 dated September 27, 2004 and the subsequent order issued pursuant to said decision must be modified.  The suspension should cover only the television program on which petitioner appeared and uttered the offensive and obscene language, which sanction is what the law and the facts obtaining call for.

In ending, what petitioner obviously advocates is an unrestricted speech paradigm in which absolute permissiveness is the norm.  Petitioner’s flawed belief that he may simply utter gutter profanity on television without adverse consequences, under the guise of free speech, does not lend itself to acceptance in this jurisdiction.  We repeat: freedoms of speech and expression are not absolute freedoms.  To say “any act that restrains speech should be greeted with furrowed brows” is not to say that any act that restrains or regulates speech or expression is per se invalid.  This only recognizes the importance of freedoms of speech and expression, and indicates the necessity to carefully scrutinize acts that may restrain or regulate speech.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Administrative Agencies, Congress, Constitutional Law, MTRCB, Separation of Power and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The grant of the rule-making power to administrative agencies is a relaxation of the principle of separation of powers and is an exception to the non-delegation of legislative powers.

  1. Pingback: STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION COURSE OUTLINE | Atty. Alvin Claridades


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