Republika ng Pilipinas
KAGAWARAN NG KATARUNGAN
Department of Justice
Opinion No. 149, Series of 1998
11 December 1998
Chairman Melinda L. Ocampo
Energy Regulatory Board
Philcomcen Bldg., Ortigas Avenue
In a letter to this Office dated September 30, 1998, opinion is requested on the effect of the full implementation of Republic Act No. 8479, otherwise known as “An Act Deregulating the Downstream Oil Industry and for Other Purposes”, on the petroleum cases still pending with the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB).
Specifically, opinion is requested on “whether the ERB can continue to exercise jurisdiction over cases involving petroleum which have remained pending upon full deregulation of the oil industry on July 12, 1998.”
It is stated that upon full deregulation of the oil industry, “[i]t would thus appear that the ERB has already been divested of its power and jurisdiction over cases involving the petroleum industry, particularly those still pending at the moment, as the full implementation of the said Act has already rendered the said cases moot and academic.”, that “[m]orevoer, the said Act does not contain a provision’ which purports to transfer the jurisdiction of the ERB over the petroleum industry to any other body or tribunal; that it is the Board’s position that it is “[n]ot unmindful of the principle that jurisdiction is determined by the statute in force at the time of the commencement of the action and that jurisdiction, once acquired, continues until the case is finally decided”; that this principle applies only where the law in question is still subsisting or has merely been amended or altered but not where it has altogether been repealed; and that the repealing Act of R.A. No. 8479 ‘contains no clause sparing the pending applications of the oil companies from .operation of the repeal.”
The Department, however, regrets that it is unable to render the opinion requested as it involves a justiciable issue considering that it affects the substantive rights of private parties. Opinions of the Secretary of Justice are merely advisory in nature, and have no binding effect upon the party or parties whose substantive rights may be affected by the opinion and who may, in all probability, contest the opinion before the courts. By established policy and precedents, this Department does not render opinion or give legal advice on a matter which is justiciable in nature or which may be the subject of judicial controversy. (Ibid., Op. No. 24, current series; No. 85, s. 1997; No. 182, s. 1990; No. 36, 1984; No. 73, s . 1983; No. 43, s , 1979; No. 128, s. 1977 and No. 92. s. 1971)
Very truly yours,
JUSTICE SERAFIN R. CUEVAS
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