Act No. 2307
CREATING A BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS AND PRESCRIBING ITS DUTIES AND POWERS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
By authority of the United States, be it enacted by the Philippine Legislature, that:
SECTION 1. There is hereby created the Board of Public Utility Commissioners vested with powers and duties herein specified, which said Board shall consist of three persons, residents of the Philippine Islands, each of whom shall be not under thirty years of age and who shall be appointed by the Governor-General by and with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission, and said persons so appointed shall be designated and known as the Board of Public Utility Commissioners.
SEC. 2. The Board of Public Utility Commissioners, as heretofore constituted, shall be the Board of Public Utility Commissioners under this Act until the expiration of the term of office of each of said commissioners respectively, and at the expiration of their respective terms a successor shall be appointed for the term of six years from the date of such expiration. All vacancies, except through expiration of term, shall be filled for the unexpired term only. The Governor-General may remove any commissioner for neglect of duty or misconduct in office, giving to him a copy of the charged against him and an opportunity of being publicly heard in person or by counsel on his own defense upon not less than ten days’ notice.
SEC. 3. The members of the said Board, with exception of the president who shall receive twelve thousand six hundred pesos per annum, shall each receive an annual compensation of twelve thousand pesos, to be paid in equal monthly payments by the Insular Treasurer.
SEC. 4. The commissioners and secretary and other employees of the said Board shall be entitled to received from the Government of the Philippine Islands their necessary travelling expenses while travelling on the business of the said Board, which shall be pain on proper voucher therefor, approved by the president of the said Board.
SEC. 5. The president shall be designated by the Governor-General; the Board shall appoint a secretary, counsel, and such other employees as it deem necessary, fix their duties, compensation, and terms of service: Provided, however, That for the first year a sum is hereby made available, not otherwise appropriated, and not to exceed forty thousand pesos, to pay salaries and expenses of said Board and such personnel as they may find necessary to employ: Provided, however, That the compensation of all employees of the Board, shall be fixed by the appropriation Act next passed after the organization of the Board.
SEC. 6. The secretary shall keep full and correct minutes of all the transactions and proceedings of the Board; perform such other duties as may be required of him, and shall be the official reporter of the proceedings of the Board.
SEC. 7. The Board shall furnish its secretary such of its findings and decisions as, in its judgment, may be of general public interest; the secretary shall compile the same for the purpose of publication in a series of volumes to be designated “Reports of the Board of Public Utility Commissioners of the Philippine Islands,” which shall be published in such form and manner as may be best adapted for public information and use, and such authorized publications shall be competent evidence of the reports and decisions of the commission therein contained without any further proof or authentication thereof.
SEC. 8. The Board shall purchase such materials, apparatus, and standard measuring instruments as it may deem necessary.
SEC. 9. No member or employee of said Board shall have any official or professional relation or connection with, or hold any stock or securities in, any public utility as herein defined, operating within the Philippine Islands, or hold any other office of profit or trust under the Government of the Philippine Islands or of the United States.
SEC. 10. The Board shall have an office in the City of Manila at such place as may be designated by the Governor-General and in such other place, or places as it may designate, and shall meet at such times and places, within the Philippine Islands, as it may provide by rule or otherwise, and shall be provided with all necessary furniture, stationery, maps, supplies, and office appliances.
SEC. 11. The Board shall have the power to make all needful rules of its government and other proceedings not inconsistent with this Act, and shall have and adopt a common seal.
SEC. 12. The members of the Board are hereby empowered to sit singly for the purpose of taking testimony in any proceeding. A majority vote of the Board shall be necessary to the making of any order.
SEC. 13. The Board shall report annually within thirty days after the expiration of the fiscal year, to the Governor-General, making such recommendation as it may deem proper, which report shall be laid before the next succeeding legislature.
SEC. 14. The Board shall have general supervision and regulation of, jurisdiction and control over, all public utilities, and also over their property, property rights, equipment, facilities and franchises so far as may be necessary for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act. The term “public utility” is hereby defined to include every individual, copartnership, association, corporation or joint stock company, their lessees, trustees or receivers appointed by any court whatsoever, that not or hereafter may own, operate, manage or control within the Philippine Islands any steam railroad, street railway, traction railway, canal, express, subway, pipe line, gas, electric light, heat, power, water, oil, sewer, telephone, telegraph system, plant, or equipment for public use, under privileges granted or hereafter to be granted by the Government of the Philippine Islands or by any political subdivision thereof.
SEC. 15. The Board shall have power:
(a) To investigate, upon its own initiative, or upon complaint in writing, any matter concerning any public utility as herein defined.
(b) From time to time to appraise and value the property of any public utility as herein defined, whenever in the judgment of said Board it shall be necessary to do, for the purpose of carrying out any of the provisions of the Act, and in making such valuation the Board may have access to and use any books, documents, or records in the possession of any Department, Bureau, Office or board of the Government of the Philippine Islands or any political subdivision thereof.
(c) After hearing, upon notice by order in writing, to fix just and reasonable individual rates, joint rates, tolls, charges, and schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage, and other special rates which shall be imposed, observed, and followed thereafter by any public utility as herein defined, whenever the Board shall determine any existing individual rate, joint rate, toll, charge, or schedule thereof or commutation, mileage, or other special rate to be unjust, unreasonable, insufficient, or unjustly discriminatory or preferential.
(d) To require every public utility as herein defined to file with it complete schedules of every classification employed and of every individual or joint rate, toll, fare, or charge made, charged or exacted by it for any product supplied or service rendered within the Philippine Islands, as specified in such requirement.
(e) After hearing, by order in writing, to fix just and reasonable standards, classifications, regulations, practices, measurements, or service to be furnished, imposed, observed, and followed thereafter by any public utility as herein defined.
(f) After hearing, by order in writing, to ascertain and fix adequate and serviceable standards for the measurement of quantity, quality, pressure, initial voltage, or other condition pertaining to the supply of the product or service rendered by any public utility as herein defined, and to prescribe reasonable regulations for examination and test of such product or service and for the measurement thereof.
(g) After hearing, by order in writing, to establish reasonable rules, regulations, specifications, and standards, to secure the accuracy of all meters and appliances for measurements.
(h) To provide for the examination and test of any and all appliances used for the measuring of any product or service of a public utility as herein defined.
(i) By its agents, experts, or examiners, to enter upon any premises occupied by any public utility herein defined, for the purpose of making the examinations and tests provided for in this Act and to set up and use on such premises any apparatus and appliances necessary therefor.
(j) To fix the fees to be paid by any consumer or user of any product or service of a public utility as herein defined, who may apply to said Board for such examination or test to be made, and any consumer or user may have any such appliance tested upon the payment of the fees fixed by the Board, which fees shall be repaid to the consumer or user if the appliance be found defective or incorrect to the disadvantage of the consumer or user, and in that event, paid by the public utility.
(k) After hearing, upon notice, by order in writing, to direct any railroad or street railway company to establish and maintain at any junction or point of connection or intersection with any other line of said road, or with any line of any other railroad, street railway, or traction company, such just and reasonable connections as shall be necessary to promote the convenience of shippers of property, or of passengers, and in like manner to direct any railroad, street railway, or traction company engaged in carrying merchandise to construct, maintain, and operate, upon reasonable terms, a switch connection by any shipper to connect with the railroad or street railway where, in the judgment of the Board, such connection is reasonable and practicable, and can be put in with safety, and will furnish sufficient business to justify the construction and maintenance of the same.
(l) To permit any street railway or traction company to change its existing gauge to standard steam railroad gauge, upon such terms and conditions as said Board shall prescribe.
SEC. 16. The Board shall have power, after hearing, upon notice, by order in writing, to require every public utility as herein defined:
(a) To comply with the laws of the Philippine Islands and of any provincial and municipal ordinance relating thereto and to conform to the duties imposed upon it thereby or by the provisions of its own charter, whether obtained under any general or special law of the Philippine Islands.
(b) To furnish safe, adequate, and proper service and to keep and maintain its property and equipment in such condition as to enable it to do so.
(c) To establish, construct, maintain, and operate any reasonable extension of its existing facilities, where, in the judgment of said Board, such extension is reasonable and practicable and will furnish sufficient business to justify the construction and maintenance of the same, and when the financial condition of the said public utility reasonable warrants the original expenditure required in making and operating such extension.
(d) To keep its books, records, and accounts so as to afford an intelligent understanding of the conduct of its business and to that end to require every such public utility of the same class to adopt a uniform system of accounting. Such system shall conform to any system approved and confirmed by the Auditor for the Philippine Islands.
(e) To furnish annually a detailed report of finances and operations, in such form and containing such matters as the Board may from time to time by order prescribe.
(f) To carry, whenever in the judgment of the Board it may reasonably be required, for the protection of stockholders, bondholders, or creditors, a proper and adequate depreciation account in accordance with such rules, regulations, and forms of account as the Board my prescribe. The Board shall from time to time ascertain and determine and by order in writing after hearing fix proper and adequate rates of depreciation of the property of each public utility, in accordance with such regulations or classifications, which rate shall be sufficient to provide the amounts required over and above the expense of maintenance to keep such property in a state of efficiency corresponding to the progress of the industry. Each public utility shall conform its depreciation accounts to the rates so ascertained, determined, and fixed, and shall set aside the moneys so provided for out of earnings and carry the same in a depreciation fund. The income from investments of moneys in such fund shall likewise be carried in such fund. This fund shall not be expended otherwise than for depreciation, improvements, new constructions, extensions or additions to the property of such public utility.
(g) To give such notice to the Board as the Board may, by rule, require of any and all accidents which may occur within the Philippine Islands upon the property of any public utility as herein defined or directly or indirectly arising from or connected with its maintenance or operation, and to investigate any such accident and to make such order or recommendation with respect thereto as in its judgment may be just and reasonable.
(h) When any public utility as herein defined shall increase any existing individual rates, joint rates, tolls, charges, or schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage, and other special rates, or change or alter any existing classification, the Board shall have power either upon written complaint or upon its own initiative hear and determine whether the said increase, change, or alteration is just and reasonable. The burden of proof is to show that the said increase, change, or alteration is just and reasonable and shall upon the public utility making the same. The Board shall have power pending such hearing and determination to order the suspension of the said increase, change, or alteration until the Board shall have approved said increase, change, or alteration, not exceeding three months. It shall be the duty of the said Board to approve any such increase, change, or alteration upon being satisfied that the same is just and reasonable.
SEC. 17. No public utility as herein defined shall:
(a) Make, impose, or exact any unjust or unreasonable, unjustly discriminatory or unduly preferential individual or joint rate, commutation rate, mileage, and other special rate, toll, fare, charge, or schedule for any product or service supplied or rendered by it within the Philippine Islands.
(b) Adopt or impose any unjust or unreasonable classification in the making or as the basis of any individual or joint rate, toll, fare, charge, or schedule for any product or service rendered by it within the Philippine Islands.
(c) Adopt, maintain, or enforce any regulation, practice, or measurement which shall be unjust, discriminatory, or otherwise in violation of law; nor shall any public utility as herein defined provide or maintain any service that is unsafe, improper or inadequate, or withhold or refuse any service which can reasonably be demanded and furnished when ordered by said Board.
(d) Make or give, directly or indirectly, any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any person or corporation or to any locality or to any particular description of traffic in any respect whatsoever, or subject any particular person or corporation or locality or any particular description of traffic to any prejudice or disadvantage in any respect whatsoever.
(e) Hereafter issue any stocks, stock certificates, bonds, or other evidences of indebtedness payable in amore than one year from the date thereof until it shall have first obtained authority from the Board, after hearing, to approve of any such proposed issue maturing in more than one year from the date thereof, when satisfied that the same is to be made in accordance with the law and the purpose of such issue be approved by said Board.
(f) Capitalize any franchise to be a corporation; capitalize any franchise in excess of the amount (exclusive of any tax or annual charge) actually paid to the Government of the Philippine Islands or any political subdivision thereof as the consideration of such franchise; capitalize any contract for consolidation, merger, or lease; issue any bonds or other evidence of indebtedness against or as a lien upon any contract for consolidation, merger, or lease: Provided, however, That the provisions of this section shall not prevent the issuance of stock, bonds, or other evidence of indebtedness subject to the approval of said Board by any lawfully merged or consolidated public utilities not in contravention of the provisions of this section.
(g) Hereafter give, grant, or bestow upon any local, municipal, or provincial official any discrimination, gratuity, or free service whatsoever, but nothing herein contained shall prevent the entry into any public conveyance or in or upon the property of any such public utility as herein defined of any such official in the pursuit of his public duties in connection with the particular conveyance or property so entered by him, upon exhibiting his authority so to do.
(h) Without the approval of the Board, sell, lease, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of or encumber its property, franchises, privileges, or rights, or any part thereof; nor merge or consolidate its property, franchises, privileges, or rights, or any part thereof, with that of any other public utility as herein defined. Every sale, lease, mortgage, disposition, encumbrance, merger, or consolidation made in violation of any of the provisions hereof shall be void and of no effect. Nothing herein contained shall be construed in any wise to prevent the sale, lease, or other disposition by any public utility as herein defined of any of its property in the ordinary course of its business.
SEC. 18. No public utility as herein defined incorporated under the laws of the Philippine Islands shall sell, nor shall any such public utility make or permit to be made upon its books any transfer of any share or shares of its capitals stock, to any other public utility as herein defined, unless authorized to do so by the Board. Nor shall any public utility as herein defined incorporated under the laws of the Philippine Islands sell any share or shares of its capital stock or make or permit any transfer thereof to be made upon its books, to any corporation, domestic or foreign, result of which sale or transfer in itself or in connection with other previous sales or transfers shall be to vest in such corporation a majority in interest of the outstanding capital stock of such public utility corporation unless authorized to do so by the Board. Every assignment, transfer, contract, or agreement for assignment or transfer by or through any person or corporation to any corporation in violation of any of the provisions hereof shall be void and of no effect, and no such transfer shall be made on the books of any public utility corporation. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the holding of stock heretofore lawfully acquired.
SEC. 19. No railroad company shall, without first obtaining the approval of the Board, abandon any railroad station or stop the sale of passenger tickets, or cease to maintain an agent to receive and discharge freight at any station now or hereafter established in the Philippine Islands, at which passenger tickets are now or may hereafter be regularly sold, or at which such agents is now or may hereafter be maintained.
SEC. 20. No highway shall be constructed across the tracks of any railroad company at grade, nor shall the tracks of any railroad company, street railway, or traction company be laid across any highway, so as to make a new crossing at grade, nor shall the tracks of any railroad or street railway or traction company be laid across the tracks of any other railroad or street railway or traction company without first obtaining therefor permission from the Board: Provided, however, That this section shall not apply to the replacement of lawfully existing tracks.
SEC. 21. Whenever it appears to the Board that a public highway and a railroad cross one another, or that a public highway and a street railway cross one another, or that a railroad and a street railway cross one another at the same level, and that conditions at such grade crossing make it necessary for the protection of the travelling public at such grade crossing that gates be erected or that some other reasonable provision for the protection of the travelling public at such grade crossing should be adopted, the Board may order and direct such railroad company or such street railway company, or either or both of them, to install such protective device or devices or adopt such other reasonable provision for the protection of the travelling public at such crossing as in discretion of the Board shall be necessary.
SEC. 22. Said Board shall have power to require every public utility herein defined to file with the Board a statement in writing, verified by the oaths of the president and secretary thereof, respectively, setting forth the name, title of office or position, and post-office address, and the authority, power, and duties of every officer, member of the board of directors, trustees, executive committee, superintendent, chief or head of construction and operation thereof, in such form as to disclose the source and origin of each administrative act, rule, decision, order or other action of the corporation, and shall, within ten days after any change is made in the title of, or authority, powers or duties holding the same, file with the Board a like statement, verified in like manner, setting forth such change.
SEC. 23. No privilege or franchise hereafter granted to any public utility as herein defined, by any political subdivision of the Philippine Islands, shall be valid until approved by said Board, such approval to be given when, after hearing, said Board determines that such privilege or franchise is necessary and proper for the public convenience and properly conserves the public interests, and the Board shall have power in so approving to impose such conditions as to construction, equipment, maintenance, service, or operation as the public convenience and interests may reasonably require.
SEC. 24. Every municipality operating any form of public utility service shall keep the accounts thereof in the manner prescribed by the Board for the accounting of similar public utilities, and shall file with said Board such statements thereof as it may be directed so to do by said Board.
SEC. 25. All hearings and investigations before the Board or any member thereof shall be governed by rules adopted by the Board, and in the conduct thereof neither the Board nor such member shall be bound by the technical rules of legal evidence.
SEC. 26. The Board shall have power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of tariffs, contracts, papers, books, accounts, and all other documents, and any member of the Board shall have the power to administer oaths to all witnesses who may be called before the Board or any member thereof. Subpoenas issued by the Board shall be signed by one of the members thereof and by the secretary, and may be served by any person of full age. If a person subpoenaed to attend before the Board, or a member thereof fails to obey the command of such subpoena without reasonable cause, or if a person in attendance before the Board, or a member thereof, refuses, without lawful cause, to be examined or answer a legal or pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper, when ordered so to do by the Board, or any member thereof, the Board or such member may apply to the Supreme Court or any justice thereof, who shall have power of the court for that purpose, upon proof, by affidavit of the facts, for an order returnable in not less than two nor more than ten days, directing such person to show cause before the court, or the justice thereof who made the order, or to any other justice, why he should not comply with the subpoena or order of the Board; upon the return of such order the court or justice before whom the matter shall come on for hearing, shall examine under oath such person whose testimony may be relevant, and such person shall be given an opportunity to be heard, and if the court or justice shall determine that such person refused without legal excuse to obey the command of such subpoena, or to be examined, or to answer legal or pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper which he was ordered to produce, said court or justice may order said person to comply forthwith with the subpoena, or order of the Board, any failure to obey such order of the court or justice may be punished by said court or justice as a contempt of such Supreme Court.
SEC. 27. The Board may, in any investigation or hearing, by its order in writing, cause the depositions of witnesses residing within or without the Philippine Islands to be taken in such manner as it may, by rule, prescribe.
SEC. 28. No person shall be excused from testifying or from producing any book, document, or paper in any investigation or inquiry by or upon the hearing before said Board or any member thereof, when ordered so to do by the Board or any member thereof upon the ground that the testimony or evidence, book, document, or paper required of him may tend to incriminate him or subject him to penalty or forfeiture, but no person shall be prosecuted, punished, or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any act, transaction,, matter or thing concerning which he shall, under oath, have testified or produced documentary evidence: Provided, however, That no person so testifying shall be exempt from prosecution or punishment for any perjury committed by him in his testimony. Nothing herein contained is intended to give, or shall be construed in any manner as giving, to any corporation immunity of any kind. No member or employee of the Board shall be required to give testimony in any civil suit to which the Board is not a party, with regard to information obtained by him in the discharge of his official duty.
SEC. 29. Copies of all official documents and orders filed or deposited in the office of the Board, certified by a member of the Board, or by the secretary to be true copies of the originals, under the official seal of the Board, shall be evidence in like manner as the originals in all courts of the Philippine Islands, and the Board may charge and collect for such copies twenty centavos for each folio; the fees so collected shall be paid into the Insular Treasury.
SEC. 30. The Board, at any time, may order a rehearing and extend, revoke, or modify any order made by it.
SEC. 31. Every order made by the Board shall be served upon the person or public utility, as herein defined, affected thereby, within ten days from the time said order is filed, by personal delivery or by mailing a certified true copy thereof, in a sealed package or by mailing a certified copy thereof, in a sealed package, with postage prepaid, to the person to be affected thereby, or in case of a public utility, to any officer or agent thereof, upon whom a summons may be served in accordance with the provisions of the law of the Philippine Islands. All orders of the Board to continue service or rates in effect at the time said order is made shall be immediately operative; all other orders shall become effective upon the date specified therein, which shall be at least twenty days after the date of said order.
SEC. 32. In default of compliance with any order of the Board when the same shall become effective the person or public utility affected thereby shall be subject to a penalty of two hundred pesos per day for every day during which such default continues, to be recovered in an action of debt in the name of the Government of the Philippine Islands, and observance of the orders of the Board may be enforced by mandamus or injunction in appropriate cases, or by suit in equity to compel the specific performance of the order or orders so made, or of the duties imposed by law upon such public utility.
SEC. 33. Any person who shall knowingly and wilfully perform, commit, or do, or participate in performing, committing, or doing, or who shall knowingly and wilfully cause, participate, or join with others in causing any public utility corporation or company to do, perform, or commit, or who shall advise, solicit, persuade, or knowingly and wilfully instruct, direct, or order any officer, agent, or employee of any public utility corporation or company to perform, commit, or do any act or thing forbidden or prohibited by this Act, shall be guilty of misdemeanor.
SEC. 34. Any person who shall knowingly and wilfully neglect, fail, or omit to do or perform, or who shall knowingly and wilfully cause or join or participate with others in causing any public utility corporation or company to neglect, fail, or omit to do or perform, or who shall advise, solicit, or persuade, or knowingly and wilfully instruct, direct, or order any officer, agent, or employee of any public utility corporation or company to neglect, fail, or omit to do any act or things required to be done by this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.
SEC. 35. Any public utility corporation which shall perform, commit, or do any act or thing hereby prohibited or forbidden, or which shall neglect, fail, or omit to do or perform any act or thing hereby required to be done or performed by it, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.
SEC. 36. This Act shall not have the effect to release or waive any right of action by the Board or by any person for any right, penalty, or forfeiture which may have arisen or which may arise, under any of the laws of the Philippine Islands, and any penalty or forfeiture enforceable under this Act shall not bar to or affect a recovery for a right, or affect or bar any indictment against any public utility as herein defined, or person or persons operating such public utility, its officers, directors, agents, or employees.
SEC. 37. Any order made by the Board may be reviewed on the application of any person or public utility affected thereby, by certiorari in appropriate cases, or by petition, to the Supreme Court, within thirty days from the date upon which such order becomes effective, as herein provided; said petition shall be filed with the clerk of the Supreme Court and a copy thereof served upon the secretary of the Board either personally or by leaving same at the office of the said Board in the City of Manila. The Supreme Court is hereby given jurisdiction to review said order of the Board, and to set aside such order when it clearly appears that there was no evidence before the Board to support reasonably such order, or that the same was without the jurisdiction of the Board. The evidence presented to the Board, together with the finding of the Board and any order issued thereon, shall be certified by the Board to the Supreme Court. The procedure for review, except as herein provided, shall be prescribed by rules of the Supreme Court.
SEC. 38. The allowance of a writ of certiorari or the institution of any proceeding to review any order of the Board by the Supreme Court as aforesaid, shall in no case supersede or stay the order of the Board, unless the Supreme Court, or a justice thereof, shall so direct, and the appellant may be required by the Supreme Court or a justice thereof, to give bond in such form and of such amount as the Supreme Court, or a justice thereof allowing the stay, shall require.
SEC. 39. Any proceeding in any court of the Philippine Islands directly affecting an order of the Board or to which the Board is a party, shall have preference over all other civil proceedings pending in such court.
SEC. 40. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent the issue by any steam railroad, street railway, traction, canal, express, telephone, or telegraph companies or other common carriers, of free passes or franks to their employees, officers, agents, surgeons, physicians, attorneys at law, and their families, and the interchange between said public utilities and common carriers, or passes or franks for their employees, officers, agents, surgeons, physicians, attorneys at law, and their families.
SEC. 41. If, for any reason, any section or provision of this Act shall be questioned in any court, and shall be held to be unconstitutional or invalid, no other section or provision of this Act shall be affected thereby.
SEC. 42. All the powers and duties of the Board of Rate Regulation created by Act Numbered Seventeen hundred and seventy-nine, and all subsequent amendments and additions thereto are hereby transferred to, and become a part of the duties, and powers of, the Board of Public Utility Commissioners, who shall hereafter discharge all the duties that have heretofore been required of the Board of Rate Regulation; and any Act or part of Act inconsistent with the provisions of such transfer and the provisions of this Act is hereby repealed.
SEC. 43. This Act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Enacted, December 19, 1913
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