CASE 2016- 0031: COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF THE PORT OF BATANGAS, AND THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS VS. PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM CORPORATION (PSPC), WILLIE J. SARMIENTO, PSPC VICE– PRESIDENT FOR FINANCE AND TREASURER AND ATTY. CIPRIANO U. ASILO (G.R. NO. 205002; 20 APRIL 2016; DEL CASTILLO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: FORUM SHOPPING) (BRIEF TITLE: COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS ET AL. VS. PILIPINAS SHELL ET AL.)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision dated June 11, 2012 and the Resolution dated August 28, 2012 of the Court of Tax Appeals in C.T.A. EB Case No. 744 are hereby AFFIRMED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:       

 

SUPPOSE A PARTY SUBMITS A FALSE CERTIFICATION ON NON-FORUM SHOPPING.  WHAT IS THE OFFENSE COMMITTED?

 

EITHER INDIRECT CONTEMPT OR DIRECT CONTEMPT.

 

BASIS IS SECTION 5. RULE 7 OF THE RULES OF COURT.

 

WHEN WILL IT CONSTITUTE DIRECT CONTEMPT?

 

WHEN THERE IS WILLFUL AND DELIBERATE COMMISSION OF FORUM SHOPPING.

 

HOW IS FORUM SHOPPING COMMITTED?

 

IN THREE WAYS:

 

(1) BY FILING MULTIPLE CASES BASED ON THE SAME CAUSE OF ACTION AND WITH THE SAME PRAYER, THE PREVIOUS CASE NOT HAVING BEEN RESOLVED YET (LITIS PENDENTIA);

  

(2)  BY FILING MULTIPLE CASES BASED ON THE SAME CAUSE OF ACTION AND [WITH] THE SAME PRAYER, THE PREVIOUS CASE HAVING BEEN FINALLY RESOLVED (RES JUDICATA); OR  

 

(3)  BY FILING MULTIPLE CASES BASED ON THE SAME CAUSE OF ACTION BUT WITH DIFFERENT PRAYERS (SPLITTING OF CAUSES OF ACTION, WHERE THE GROUND FOR DISMISSAL IS ALSO EITHER LITIS PENDENTIA OR RES JUDICATA).52  

 

ARE THERE OTHER WAYS WHEN FORUM SHOPPING IS COMMITTED?

 

 YES, COROLLARILY WHEN:

 

A)  A PARTY SEEKS A FAVORABLE OPINION IN ANOTHER FORUM, OTHER THAN BY AN APPEAL OR BY CERTIORARI, AS A RESULT OF AN ADVERSE OPINION IN ONE FORUM;

 

B)  OR WHEN HE INSTITUTES TWO OR MORE ACTIONS OR PROCEEDINGS GROUNDED ON THE SAME CAUSE, HOPING THAT ONE OR THE OTHER COURT WOULD MAKE A FAVORABLE DISPOSITION ON HIS CASE.53

 

C) WHEN A PARTY REPEATEDLY AVAILS HIMSELF OF SEVERAL JUDICIAL REMEDIES IN DIFFERENT COURTS, [EITHER] SIMULTANEOUSLY OR SUCCESSIVELY, ALL [OF WHICH ARE] SUBSTANTIALLY FOUNDED ON THE SAME TRANSACTIONS AND THE SAME ESSENTIAL FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, AND ALL RAISING SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME ISSUES EITHER PENDING IN OR ALREADY RESOLVED ADVERSELY BY SOME OTHER COURT.”54

 

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF FORUM SHOPPING?

 

 (1) IDENTITY OF THE PARTIES OR, AT LEAST, OF THE PARTIES WHO REPRESENT THE SAME INTEREST IN BOTH ACTIONS;  

 

(2) IDENTITY OF THE RIGHTS ASSERTED AND RELIEF PRAYED FOR, AS THE LATTER IS FOUNDED ON THE SAME SET OF FACTS; AND  

 

(3) IDENTITY OF THE TWO PRECEDING PARTICULARS, SUCH THAT ANY JUDGMENT RENDERED IN THE OTHER ACTION WILL AMOUNT TO RES JUDICATA IN THE ACTION UNDER CONSIDERATION OR WILL CONSTITUTE LITIS PENDENTIA.

 

IN THIS CASE AT HAND WHY IS THERE NO FORUM SHOPPING?

 

NONE BECAUSE THE THE SUBJECT MATTER, THE CAUSE OF ACTION, THE ISSUES INVOLVED, AND THE RELIEFS PRAYED FOR ARE NOT THE SAME.

 

SAID THE COURT:

 

“In this case, a careful reading of the Verified Motion in the CTA case vis-àvis the Complaint for Injunction filed with the RTC of Batangas reveals that although both cases have the same parties, originated from the same factual antecedents, and involve Section 1508 of the TCCP, the subject matter, the cause of action, the issues involved, and the reliefs prayed for are not the same.  

 

The subject matter and the causes of action are not the same. 

 

The subject matter in the CTA case is the alleged unpaid taxes of respondent PSPC on its importation of CCG and LCCG for the years 2006 to 2008 in the total amount of P21,419,603,310.00, which is sought to be collected by petitioners.  On the other hand, the subject matter of the Batangas injunction case is the 13 importations/shipments of respondent PSPC for the period January to February 2010, which respondent PSPC claims are threatened to be seized by petitioners pursuant to the Memorandum dated February 9, 2010 issued by petitioner District Collector.  

 

Also, the cause of action in the CTA case is based on the Letter-Decisions of petitioner COC, finding respondent PSPC liable for excise taxes and VAT; while the cause of action in the Batangas injunction case is the Memorandum dated February 9, 2010, ordering the personnel of petitioner BOC in the Port of Batangas to hold the delivery of all import shipments of respondent PSPC. 

 

The issues raised are not the same. 

 

Furthermore, the issues raised are not the same. Respondent PSPC filed the CTA case to assail the Letter-Decisions of petitioner COC, finding it liable to pay excise taxes and VAT on its importation of CCG and LCCG. Thus, in the Petition for Review, the main issue involved is the validity of the Letter-Decisions; while in the Verified Motion, the issue raised is respondent PSPC’s entitlement to a suspension order pending the resolution of the validity of the Letter-Decisions. 

 

On the other hand, respondent PSPC filed the Batangas injunction case to question the validity of the Memorandum dated February 9, 2010 and to oppose the seizure of the 13 importations/shipments on the ground that petitioners no longer have jurisdiction over the subject importations/shipments as these have been discharged and placed in its Batangas refinery since 90% of the import duties due on the said shipments have been paid. To support its case, respondent PSPC interposed that Section 1508 of the TCCP is available only if petitioner BOC has actual physical custody of the goods sought to be held, a situation not present in the case of the said importations/shipments; that petitioners have no reason to seize the 13 importations/shipments, as only two were CCG and only one was LCCG;

 

and that the Memorandum dated February 9, 2010 deprives respondent PSPC of its property without due process of law. From the arguments interposed by respondent PSPC in the Batangas injunction case, it is clear that the issue to be resolved by the RTC is limited to the validity of the Memorandum dated February 9, 2010. 

 

The reliefs prayed for are not the same. 

 

Likewise, a comparison of prayers in the CTA case and Batangas injunction case shows that the reliefs prayed for are not the same.”

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2016-0031-PILIPINAS SHELL

 

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