PELIZLOY REALTY CORPORATION, represented herein by its President, GREGORY K. LOY, Petitioner, vs. THE PROVINCE OF BENGUET, Respondent.
G.R. No. 183137, 10 April 2013.
Petitioner Pelizloy Realty Corporation owns Palm Grove Resort in Tuba, Benguet, which has facilities like swimming pools, a spa and function halls.
In 2005, the Provincial Board of Benguet approved its Revenue Code of 2005. Section 59, the tax ordinance levied a 10% amusement tax on gross receipts from admissions to "resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs and tourist spots."
Pelizloy's posits that amusement tax is an ultra vires act. Thus, it filed an appeal/petition before the Secretary of Justice. Upon the Secretary’s failure to decide on the appeal within sixty days, Pelizloy filed a Petition for Declaratory Relief and Injunction before the RTC.
Pelizloy argued that the imposition was in violation of the limitation on the taxing powers of local government units under Section 133 (i) of the Local Government Code, which provides that the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays shall not extend to the levy of percentage or value-added tax (VAT) on sales, barters or exchanges or similar transactions on goods or services except as otherwise provided.
The Province of Benguet assailed the that the phrase ‘other places of amusement’ in Section 140 (a) of the LGC encompasses resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs, and tourist spots since Article 131 (b) of the LGC defines "amusement" as "pleasurable diversion and entertainment synonymous to relaxation, avocation, pastime, or fun."
RTC rendered a Decision assailed Decision dismissing the Petition for Declaratory Relief and Injunction for lack of merit. Procedurally, the RTC ruled that Declaratory Relief was a proper remedy. However, it gave credence to the Province of Benguet's assertion that resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs, and tourist spots are encompassed by the phrase ‘other places of amusement’ in Section 140 of the LGC.
ISSUE: W/N provinces are authorized to impose amusement taxes on admission fees to resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs, and tourist spots for being "amusement places" under the LGC.
Amusement taxes are percentage taxes. However, provinces are not barred from levying amusement taxes even if amusement taxes are a form of percentage taxes. The levying of percentage taxes is prohibited "except as otherwise provided" by the LGC. Section 140 provides such exception.
Section 140 expressly allows for the imposition by provinces of amusement taxes on "the proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters, cinemas, concert halls, circuses, boxing stadia, and other places of amusement."
However, resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs, and tourist spots are not among those places expressly mentioned by Section 140 of the LGC as being subject to amusement taxes. Thus, the determination of whether amusement taxes may be levied on admissions to these places hinges on whether the phrase ‘other places of amusement’ encompasses resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs, and tourist spots.
Under the principle of ejusdem generis, "where a general word or phrase follows an enumeration of particular and specific words of the same class or where the latter follow the former, the general word or phrase is to be construed to include, or to be restricted to persons, things or cases akin to, resembling, or of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned."
Section 131 (c) of the LGC already provides a clear definition: "Amusement Places" include theaters, cinemas, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement where one seeks admission to entertain oneself by seeing or viewing the show or performances.
As defined in The New Oxford American Dictionary, ‘show’ means "a spectacle or display of something, typically an impressive one"; while ‘performance’ means "an act of staging or presenting a play, a concert, or other form of entertainment." As such, the ordinary definitions of the words ‘show’ and ‘performance’ denote not only visual engagement (i.e., the seeing or viewing of things) but also active doing (e.g., displaying, staging or presenting) such that actions are manifested to, and (correspondingly) perceived by an audience.
Considering these, it is clear that resorts, swimming pools, bath houses, hot springs and tourist spots cannot be considered venues primarily "where one seeks admission to entertain oneself by seeing or viewing the show or performances". While it is true that they may be venues where people are visually engaged, they are not primarily venues for their proprietors or operators to actively display, stage or present shows and/or performances.