Philippine Ports Authority Board by virtue of its Resolution conducted a public bidding for the development, management and operation of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). After evaluation of the several bids, the Bidding Committee recommended the award of the contract to respondent International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI). Petitioner Rodolfo A. Albano filed the present petition as citizen and taxpayer and as a member of the House of Representatives, assailing the award of the MICT contract to the ICTSI by the PPA. The petitioner claims that since the MICT is a public utility, it needs a legislative franchise before it can legally operate as a public utility, pursuant to Article 12, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution.
Whether or not a franchise is necessary for the operation of the MICT.
Even if the MICP be considered a public utility, or a public service on the theory that it is a “wharf’ or a “dock” as contemplated under the Public Service Act, its operation would not necessarily call for a franchise from the Legislative Branch. Franchises issued by Congress are not required before each and every public utility may operate. Thus, the law has granted certain administrative agencies the power to grant licenses for or to authorize the operation of certain public utilities.
As stated earlier, E.O. No. 30 has tasked the PPA with the operation and management of the MICP, in accordance with P.D. 857 and other applicable laws and regulations. However, P.D. 857 itself authorizes the PPA to perform the service by itself, by contracting it out, or through other means. Reading E.O. No. 30 and P.D. No. 857 together, the inescapable conclusion is that the lawmaker has empowered the PPA to undertake by itself the operation and management of the MICP or to authorize its operation and management by another by contract or other means, at its option. The latter power having been delegated to the PPA, a franchise from Congress to authorize an entity other than the PPA to operate and manage the MICP becomes unnecessary.