Act No. 1779

 

 

AN ACT

TO CREATE A BOARD FOR THE REGULATION OF RATES CHARGEABLE BY PUBLIC-SERVICE CORPORATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

 

By authority of the United States, be it enacted by the Philippine Commission, that:
 

SECTION 1.  A board is hereby created and established, to be known as the “Board of Rate Regulation,” which shall be composed of the Governor-General, the Secretary of Commerce and Police, and one other person to be appointed by the Governor-General, with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission.  The Governor-General shall he the chairman of the Board.  The said Board shall have a secretary, who shall he appointed by the Governor-General, with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission, at a salary not to exceed four thousand pesos per annum, and who need not be subject to the Civil Service Law and rules.  The secretary shall perform such duties as may be required of him by the Board.

 

SEC. 2.  The said Board shall have an office in the City of Manila for the transaction of its business, but it may at any time meet at any other place in the Philippine Islands as its duties may require.  The Board may conduct its proceedings in such a manner as may best conduce to the proper dispatch of business and to the ends of justice.

 

SEC. 3.  The said Board shall have a seal with the words “Board of Rate Regulation” around the margin thereof, and with such design in the center as it may select; and all orders, acts, and certificates of the Board shall be authenticated by its seal and judicial notice shall be taken of such seal.

 

SEC. 4.  A majority of the members of said Board shall constitute a quorum for any purpose; but an investigation or hearing may be undertaken or held before any one or more members of the Board, and such hearing shall be as valid as if held by the whole Board, and any order made by one or more members of the Board, when approved and confirmed by the Board, shall be deemed to be the order of the Board.

 

SEC. 5.  The said Board shall exercise a watchful and careful supervision over the rates of every public-service corporation, and the said Board shall have the power and it shall be its duty to fix, revise,  regulate, reduce, or increase the said rates from time to time as justice to the public and the corporation may require.  The Board shall have the power, and it shall be its duty, to examine into and keep informed as to the compliance of public-service corporations with the orders of the Board and with all provisions of law and of their charters and franchises as to rates.

 

SEC. 6.  The said Board is hereby authorized to demand and require from every public-service corporation all information which it may deem necessary to enable it intelligently to discharge its duties:  and it shall be the duty of every public-service corporation to make lull and complete reports to the said Board upon all matters required by the Board, and, at the request of said Board, to furnish it with all information necessary to enable the Board to perform its duties and carry out the purposes of this Act; such reports shall be under oath, if so required by the Board, and shall be made at such times as may be fixed by the Board, on blank forms prescribed and furnished by it; and if any public-service corporation subject to the provisions of this Act shall fail to make and file such reports within the time specified by the Board, it shall forfeit for the Government of the Philippine Islands the sum of two hundred pesos for each and every day it shall continue to be in default with respect thereto.

 

The forfeitures provided for in this section shall be recoverable in the manner hereinafter provided for the recovery of forfeitures under the provisions of this Act.

 

SEC. 7.  The several members of said Board, in the discharge of their duties, may examine witnesses under oath, and for this purpose the members may administer oaths to witnesses and take affidavits on any bearing, investigation, or inquiry as to rates required in the performance of their duties under this Act.  In making examination of witnesses the members of the Board shall not be obliged to observe the technical rules of evidence.  Any person who shall testily falsely or make any false affidavit or oath before the Board or before any of its members shall be guilty of perjury, and, upon conviction thereof in a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be punished as provided by law.

 

SEC. 8.  The said Board, or any member thereof, may issue subpoenas and subpeona duces tecum for witnesses in any matter or inquiry pending before the Board, and require the production of all hooks, papers, tariffs, contracts, agreements, and documents which the Board or any member thereof may deem necessary in any proceeding.  Such process shall be issued under the seal of the Board and shall be executed and returned by any officer authorized by law to serve the process of Courts of First Instance, and under like penalty of law for failure to execute or return the process of such courts.

 

SEC. 9.  In case of disobedience to a subpoena, the Board may invoke the aid of any court of the Philippine Islands in requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of hooks, papers, and documents under the provisions of this Act; and any Court of First Instance of the Philippine Islands within the jurisdiction of which such inquiry is carried on may, in case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any public-service corporation subject to the provisions of this Act, or to any other person, issue an order requiring such public-service corporation or other person to appear before the Board (and produce books and papers if so ordered) and give evidence touching the matter in question; and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof.

 

SEC. 10.  Upon the application of any member of said Board to any Court of First Instance, or to any judge of the Supreme Court, a subpoena may lie issued directing any person in the Philippine Islands to appear as a witness before said Board and to produce for the inspection of the Board, or any member thereof, any books, papers, documents, hitters, or other records or things in his possession.  Any witness failing to obey such subpoena shall be liable to punishment by the Supreme Court, or the Court of First Instance, as the case may be, in the same manner and to the same extent as if he had disobeyed a subpoena issued out of the Supreme Court or the Court of First Instance in a matter pending before either of said courts.

 

SEC. 11.  Witnesses appearing before said Board in obedience to a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum shall be entitled to receive the same fees and mileage allowance as witnesses attending Courts of First Instance in civil cases; witnesses summoned on behalf of the Board shall be paid by the Insular Government under regulations prescribed by the Insular Auditor, and witnesses summoned on behalf of any public-service corporation shall be paid by such corporation.

 

SEC. 12.  The said Board may also order testimony to be taken by deposition in any proceeding or investigation.  Such depositions may be taken in the manner provided in the Code of Civil Procedure.

 

SEC. 13.  In any proceeding had before said Board or in any civil or criminal proceeding in any court in the Philippine Islands, growing out of any alleged violation of law or regulation under the provisions of this Act, concerning any public-service corporation, no person shall be excused from appearing and testifying as a witness or from producing before said Board, or any member thereof, or any court, any books, papers, tariffs, contracts, agreements, or other document or filings called for by the Board, or any member thereof, or by any court, upon the ground or for the reason that the evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him may tend to criminate him or subject him to a penalty or forfeiture; but no such person shall be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter, or thing concerning which lie may testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, before said Board or any member thereof, or any court:  Provided, however, That no such person so testifying shall be exempt from prosecution or punishment for perjury committed in the course of any proceeding or investigation before such Board or any member thereof, or any court:  And provided further, That such immunity shall extend only to a natural person who in obedience to a subpoena gives testimony under oath or produces evidence, documentary or otherwise, under oath.

 

SEC. 14.  Any person who shall neglect or refuse to attend and testify or to answer any lawful inquiry, or to produce before the Board, or any member thereof, books, papers, tariffs, contracts, agreements, and documents, or other thing called for by said Board, or any member thereof, if in his power to do so, in obedience to the subpoena or lawful requirement of the Board, shall be guilty of an offense, and, upon conviction thereof by a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred pesos nor more than ten thousand pesos, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

 

SEC. 15.  Any person who shall obstruct the Board, or any one of its members, in the discharge of official duty, or who conduct himself in a rude, disrespectful, or disorderly manner the Board, or any member thereof, while engaged in the official duty, shall for each offense, upon conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction, be punished by a fine, not exceeding one thousand pesos or by imprisonment not exceeding or by both such line and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

 

SEC. 16.  The said Board is authorized and empowered and it shall be its duty whenever, after full hearing, it shall be of the opinion that any of the rates charged by any public server corporation subject to the provisions of this Act for any service rendered or to be rendered, or that any regulations or practices whatever of such public-service corporation affecting such rates, are unjust or unreasonable, or unjustly administrative, or unduly preferential or prejudicial, or otherwise in violation of any of the provisions of this Act, the Board shall determine what will be the just and reasonable rate or rates to be thereafter observed in such case, and what regulations or practices in respect to such service are just fair, and reasonable to be thereafter followed; and to make an order that the said public-service corporation shall cease and desist from such violation, to the extent to which the Board finds the same to exist, and shall thereafter publish, demand, or collect any rate of such service rendered in excess of the rate so prescribed and shall conform to the regulations or practices so prescribed.

 

The forgoing enumeration of powers shall not exclude any power which the Board would otherwise have in the making of in order under the provisions of this Act.

 

SEC. 17.  The determinations of the said Board shall be expressed in written orders, and proof thereof may be made by a copy of the same duly certified under the seal of the Board, by the secretary of the Board, or by any member of the Board designated for this purpose by the Board; and whenever any matter or preceding has certified as herein provided, shall be received in the courts and by every officer thereof in civil cases as prima facie evidence that such determination was legally made and was just right, proper and reasonable.

 

All orders of the Board shall take effect within such reasonable time, not less than thirty days, and shall continue in force such period of time, not exceeding two years, as shall be prescribed in the order of the Board, unless the same shall be suspended or modified or set aside by the Board, or be suspended or set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.

 

SEC. 18.  Every order of the Board shall be served upon every public-service corporation to be affected thereby, either by personnel delivery of a certified copy thereof or by mailing to any one of the principal officers or agents of the public-service corporation, at his usual place of business, a copy thereof; and, in case such certified copy is sent by registered mail, the registry mail receipt shall be prima facie evidence of the receipt of such order by the public-service corporation in due course of mail.

 

The Board shall be authorized to suspend or modify its orders upon such notice and in such manner as it shall deem proper.  It shall be the duty of every public-service corporation, its agents and employees, to observe and comply with such orders so long as the same shall remain in effect.

 

SEC. 19.  Any public-service corporation, and any officer, representative, receiver, trustee, lessee, or agent thereof, who knowingly fails or neglects to obey any order made under the provisions of section sixteen of this Act shall forfeit to the Government of the Philippine Islands the sum of not less than two thousand nor more than ten thousand pesos for each offense; every distinct violation shall be a separate offense.  And in case of a continuing violation each day shall be deemed a separate offense:  Provided, however, That the court shall take and consideration the number and amount of previous forfeitures resulting from the same cause.

 

SEC. 20.  After an order or requirement has-been made by the Board in any proceeding any interested party may at any time make application for rehearing of the same, or of any matter determined therein, and it shall lie lawful for the Board in its discretion to grant such a rehearing if sufficient reason therefor be made to appear.  Applications for rehearing shall be governed by such general rules as the Board may establish.  No such application shall excuse any public-service corporation from complying with or obeying any order or requirement of the Board, or operate in any manner to stay or postpone the enforcement thereof, without the special order of the Board.  In case a rehearing is granted the proceedings thereupon shall, conform as nearly as may be to the proceedings in an original hearing, except as the Board may otherwise direct; and if, in its judgment, after such rehearing and the consideration of all fads, including those arising since the former hearing, it shall appear that the original order or requirement is in any respect, unjust or unwarranted, the Board may reverse, change, or modifying the same accordingly.  Any order or requirement made after such rehearing, reversing, changing, or modifying the original determination shall be subject to the same provisions as an original order.

 

SEC. 21.  Any public-service corporation which shall violate any of the provisions of:  this Act, or shall fail to comply with any lawful order of said Board, or shall fail to conform to any of its reasonable rules and regulations, or shall demand or receive a greater sum for its services than that authorized by law, shall forfeit to the Government of the Philippine Islands a sum not to exceed ten thousand pesos for every such violation, failure, or overcharge not otherwise punishable by penalty or forfeiture under the provisions of this Act; such forfeiture or any other forfeiture under the provisions of this Act shall be recoverable by action in the name of the Government of the Philippine Islands in any province or municipality in which such corporation may maintain an office or agency:  Provided, That in all such cases it may be shown in defense that the rate, rule, regulation, or order of said Board was unjust or unreasonable.  In addition to any penalty or forfeiture which may he imposed or adjudged by the court on or against any public-service corporation, any officer, manager, agent, or servant of such public-service corporation directing or assisting, or aiding or abetting the acts or doings prohibited by this Act shall, upon conviction by the court, be punished by a fine of not exceeding two thousand pesos or by imprisonment not exceeding five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court:  Provided, however, That in fixing the amount of a fine or forfeiture under this section the court shall take into consideration the number and amount of previous fines or forfeitures resulting from the same cause.

 

In all judicial proceedings under the provisions of this Act it shall be the duty of the Attorney-General to represent the Government of the Philippine Islands and said Board.


SEC. 22.  In all judicial proceedings in which any public-service corporation alleges that any rate, regulation, order, or act of the said Board is unjust or unreasonable, the burden of proof of such allegation shall rest upon the public-service corporation, and it must show by clear, credible, and satisfactory evidence that the rates, regulations, orders, or acts complained of are unreasonable or unjust to such corporation.

 

SEC. 23.  The said Board shall submit to the Philippine Legislature an annual report containing copies of all orders issued, as well as any other information which it may deem of value to the Legislature and to the people, accompanied by recommendations as to any new legislation which it may deem wise or necessary in the public interest.

 

SEC. 24.  The expenses incurred by the Board or its members or by the employees thereof, under proper orders, in making any investigations or transacting any official business shall be allowed and paid out of the appropriation therefor, upon presentation of itemized vouchers approved by the Governor-General.

 

SEC. 25.  The provisions of this Act shall apply to all public-service corporations, whether domestic or foreign, doing business in the Philippine Islands, and the term “public-service corporation” or “public-service corporations,” as used in this Act, shall include any person, association or corporation, receiver, or trustee owning, leasing, or operating for hire any railroad, street-railway, steamboat, or steamship line, freight or any other car service, or any other common carrier; and also any person, association, corporation, receiver, or trustee owning, leasing, or operating for hire any telegraph or telephone line, or any other means of transmitting messages by electricity, and all gas, electric-light, heat, power, irrigation, and water-supply works, plants, and systems rendering service to the public, and all persons, associations, or corporations authorized to exercise the right of eminent domain, or who render public service and use or occupy any street, alley, or public highway, whether along, over, or under the same, in a manner not permitted to the general public:  Provided, however, That the term “public-service corporation” or “public-service corporations” shall not include municipal corporations or public institutions owned or controlled by the Government of the Philippine Islands.

 

The term “rate” or “rates” as used in this Act shall include rates, fares, charges, tolls, and compensation for any service rendered or to lie rendered by any public-service corporation.


SEC. 26.  Nothing in any of the provisions of this Act shall be construed to affect or impair any right or rights reserved to the Government of the Philippine Islands in any franchise or franchises heretofore or hereafter granted.

 

SEC .27.  The public good requiring the speedy enactment of this bill, the passage of the same is hereby expedited in accordance with section two of “An Act prescribing the order of procedure by the Commission in the enactment of laws,” passed September twenty-sixth, nineteen hundred.


SEC. 28.  This Act shall take effect on its passage.

 

Enacted, October 12, 1907

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