Press Releases

Statement on the pronouncements against the Public Service Act amendments (RA 11659)

April 12th, 2024

Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda

As the first author of the PSA amendments in the 17th Congress and its principal author in the 18th Congress, I feel the accusation to be bizarre that the Public Service Act amendments was approved by Congress because then-President Duterte threatened us. It’s bizarre especially coming from a retired Senior Associate Justice who knows well that these accusations will have little bearing on how the Court rules.

There were even opposition members who were also principal authors: Kit Belmonte in the 17th Congress and Stella Quimbo in the 18th. The President could not do much to compel them one way or another – they were already openly in the opposition party.

It’s especially bizarre when you consider that the Congress has the power of the purse and decides the budget as a Constitutional power.

All sorts of accusations can be thrown into the wind, but the Supreme Court will thankfully rule on the facts. And the Supreme Court has wisely been restrained about invalidating economic policy after the 1987 Constitution.

Well-entrenched is the doctrine of limited judicial review. It is settled doctrine that “Courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the government.”

The fact is that the Supreme Court has already granted the distinction between a public service and a public utility in the J.G. Summit ruling; and that a service that is not devoted to public use cannot be considered a public utility. A similar criteria in the Public Service Act amendments under RA 11659 is included: that a service is only a public utility if the “commodity or service is obligated to provide adequate service to the public on demand (amended Section 13 (e) of the Public Service Act).

We took guidance from the Supreme Court’s rulings on the matter and I am confident that the Court will find that indeed, we are consistent with the Constitution and with settled jurisprudence.

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