Further militating against petitioner’s claim is the RTC’s astute observation that being an accredited exporter recognized by the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) of the DTI seemed like a deviation from the connotation of “small scale.”
The Court notes that, to be accredited by the BETP as an exporter, there are strict standards that the enterprise must meet. Under R.A. No. 7844, the Export Development Act of 1994, an exporter is any person, natural or juridical, licensed to do business in the Philippines, engaged directly or indirectly in the production, manufacture or trade of products or services, which earns at least fifty percent (50%) of its normal operating revenues from the sale of its products or services abroad for foreign currency.
The same law provides for tax incentives to exporters, with the qualification that the incentives shall be granted only upon presentation of their BETP certification of the exporter’s eligibility. Qualified exporters applying for BETP certification must present a report of their export revenue/sales for the immediately preceding year.
DTI Administrative Order No. 3, Series of 1995, provides for the mechanisms of accreditation for exporters vis-à-vis the tax incentives granted under R.A. No. 7844. Under Procedure for Accreditation of Exporters, the following schedule of application fees was set forth:
Export Value Per Year Application Fee
$1M – 5M Max. P1,000.00
Above $1M – 5M Max. 2,000.00
Above $5M – 10M Max. 3,000.00
Above $10M – 15M Max. 4,000.00
Above $15M 5,000.00
Consequently, an exporter must be able to generate and export enough products, with an export value of $1 million per year, in order to be accredited by the BETP for tax incentives. Petitioner’s accreditation shows that it complied with this requirement.
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that petitioner cannot be considered a cottage industry. Therefore, it is not exempted from complying with the clearance requirement of the LLDA.
It is a doctrine of long-standing that factual findings of administrative bodies on technical matters within their area of expertise should be accorded not only respect but even finality if they are supported by substantial evidence even if they are not overwhelming or preponderant. Courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of the government agency entrusted with regulation of activities coming under the special and technical training and knowledge of such agency. The exercise of administrative discretion is a policy decision and a matter that is best discharged by the government agency concerned and not by the courts.
The motives of the intervenors for filing the complaint are no longer relevant. Regardless of what these motives may have been, the fact remains that the LLDA found petitioner to have violated the pertinent environmental and regulatory laws.
The Court recognizes the right of petitioner to engage in business and to profit from its industry. However, the exercise of the right must conform to the laws and regulations laid down by the competent authorities.