Department of Transportation v. Philippine Petroleum Sea Transport Association

      Department of Transportation v. Philippine Petroleum Sea Transport Association, 

G.R. No. 230107, 

July 24, 2018

*RA 9483. Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007


After repeated oil spills in the Philippines, and noting the lack of a proper response strategy, the

absence of the necessary equipment for containing, cleaning up, and removing spilled oil, and the

difficulty in pinning liability on oil companies, Congress passed a law implementing the CLC 1969 and

the Fund Convention 1992. The CLC 1969 was later amended by the 1992 Protocol (the CLC 1992). On

2 June 2007, RA 9483, entitled 'An Act Providing For The Implementation of the Provisions of the 1992

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the 1992 International

Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage,

Providing Penalties for Violations thereof, and for Other Purposes', or simply the Oil Pollution

Compensation Act 2007, was signed into law.

The respondents filed a petition for declaratory relief (with a prayer for the issuance of a

temporary restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary injunction), contesting the establishment of the

OPMF. The petition was heard by the regional trial Court, Branch 216, Quezon City (RTC). The

respondents argued that the obligation to contribute to the OPMF solely imposed upon the owners and

operators of oil/petroleum tankers and barges violated their right to equal protection of the law; that the

10c impost was confiscatory and, thus, violated their right to due process; that s 22(a) was a prohibited

rider; and, finally, that the provision provided an undue delegation of legislative power. The RTC granted

the prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and enjoined the implementation of the


The petitioners now seek review on certiorari before the Supreme Court, arguing that the RTC

erred in declaring s 22(a) of RA 9483 and its implementing rule unconstitutional, given that the

respondents' petition for declaratory relief questioned the wisdom behind them and was, thus, beyond the

RTC's jurisdiction. The petitioners further argue that the provision is reasonable and just, and does not

violate the equal protection clause. The petitioners maintain that public interest in protecting the marine

wealth of the country warrants the imposition of the 10c impost. Finally, the petitioners insist that the

creation of the OPMF is relevant to the subject matter of RA 9483.

The respondents argue that since RA 9483 was passed to implement the CLC 1992 and the Fund

Convention 1992, the creation of the OPMF must be found in these Conventions for it to be validly

included in RA 9483. Otherwise, according to the respondents, its inclusion in the law is constitutionally

infirm for being a proscribed rider.


Whether or not is RA 9483 constitutional?


Yes. The respective subject matters of the two Conventions are as follows: The CLC 1992

governs the liability of shipowners for oil pollution damage. The Convention lays down the principle of

strict liability for shipowners and creates a system of compulsory liability insurance. The shipowner is

normally entitled to limit its liability to an amount which is linked to the tonnage of its ship. The Fund

Convention 1992, which is supplementary to the CLC 1992, establishes a regime for compensating

victims when the compensation under the applicable CLC is inadequate. The International Oil Pollution

Compensation Fund 1992, generally referred to as the 1992 Fund, was set up under the Fund Convention

1992. The 1992 Fund is a worldwide intergovernmental organization, established for the purpose of

administering the regime of compensation created by the 1992 Fund Convention. By becoming Party to

the Fund Convention 1992, a State becomes a member of the 1992 Fund. The Fund headquarters is based

in London.

As argued by the respondents, the thrust of the CLC 1992 and the Fund Convention 1992 is to

impose upon covered shipowners strict liability for pollution damage arising from oil spills and to provide

compensation for victims. On the other hand, the OPMF governs the immediate containment, removal,

and clean-up operations in oil pollution cases and provides for the conduct of research, enforcement, and

monitoring activities of relevant agencies. On this basis, it would appear that the Conventions and the

OPMF cover two different subject matters - that is, providing compensation versus pollution containment

and clean-up - as asserted by the respondents. However, this simplistic, if not myopic, view is not the

proper measure to determine whether a provision of law should be declared as unconstitutional. All that

can reasonably be required is that the title shall not be made to cover legislation incongruous in itself, and

which by no fair intendment can be considered as having a necessary or proper connection.

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