G.R. No. 76633 October 18, 1988
EASTERN SHIPPING LINES, INC., petitioner,
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION (POEA), MINISTER OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, HEARING OFFICER ABDUL BASAR and KATHLEEN D. SACO, respondents.
A Chief Officer of a ship was killed in an accident in Japan. The widow filed a complaint for charges against the Eastern Shipping Lines with POEA, based on a Memorandum Circular No. 2, issued by the POEA which stipulated death benefits and burial for the family of overseas workers. ESL questioned the validity of the memorandum circular as violative of the principle of non-delegation of legislative power. It contends that no authority had been given the POEA to promulgate the said regulation; and even with such authorization, the regulation represents an exercise of legislative discretion which, under the principle, is not subject to delegation. Nevertheless, POEA assumed jurisdiction and decided the case.
Whether or not the Issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 2 is a violation of non-delegation of powers.
No. SC held that there was a valid delegation of powers.
The authority to issue the said regulation is clearly provided in Section 4(a) of Executive Order No. 797. … “The governing Board of the Administration (POEA), as hereunder provided shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to govern the exercise of the adjudicatory functions of the Administration (POEA).”
It is true that legislative discretion as to the substantive contents of the law cannot be delegated. What can be delegated is the discretion to determine how the law may be enforced, not what the law shall be. The ascertainment of the latter subject is a prerogative of the legislature. This prerogative cannot be abdicated or surrendered by the legislature to the delegate.
The reasons given above for the delegation of legislative powers in general are particularly applicable to administrative bodies. With the proliferation of specialized activities and their attendant peculiar problems, the national legislature has found it more and more necessary to entrust to administrative agencies the authority to issue rules to carry out the general provisions of the statute. This is called the “power of subordinate legislation.”
With this power, administrative bodies may implement the broad policies laid down in a statute by “filling in’ the details which the Congress may not have the opportunity or competence to provide. This is effected by their promulgation of what are known as supplementary regulations, such as the implementing rules issued by the Department of Labor on the new Labor Code. These regulations have the force and effect of law.
There are two accepted tests to determine whether or not there is a valid delegation of legislative power:
1. Completeness test – the law must be complete in all its terms and conditions when it leaves the legislature such that when it reaches the delegate the only thing he will have to do is enforce it.
2. Sufficient standard test – there must be adequate guidelines or stations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate’s authority and prevent the delegation from running riot.
Both tests are intended to prevent a total transference of legislative authority to the delegate, who is not allowed to step into the shoes of the legislature and exercise a power essentially legislative.