G.R. No. 125948, 29 December 1998, 101 SCAD 1098

FACTS:

Petitioner is a grantee of a pipeline concession under Republic Act No. 387. Sometime in January 1995, petitioner applied for mayor’s permit in Batangas. However, the Treasurer required petitioner to pay a local tax based on gross receipts amounting to P956,076.04 pursuant to the Local Government Code. In order not to hamper its operations, petitioner paid the taxes for the first quarter of 1993 amounting to P239,019.01 under protest.
On January 20, 1994, petitioner filed a letter-protest to the City Treasurer, claiming that it is exempt from local tax since it is engaged in transportation business. The respondent City Treasurer denied the protest, thus, petitioner filed a complaint before the Regional Trial Court of Batangas on June 15, 1994 for tax refund. Respondents assert that pipelines are not included in the term “common carrier” which refers solely to ordinary carriers or motor vehicles. The trial court dismissed the complaint, and such was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

ISSUE:

Whether a pipeline business is included in the term “common carrier” so as to entitle the petitioner to the exemption

HELD:

Article 1732 of the Civil Code defines a “common carrier” as “any person, corporation, firm or association engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public.”
The test for determining whether a party is a common carrier of goods is:
(1) He must be engaged in the business of carrying goods for others as a public employment, and must hold himself out as ready to engage in the transportation of goods for person generally as a business and not as a casual occupation;
(2) He must undertake to carry goods of the kind to which his business is confined;
(3) He must undertake to carry by the method by which his business is conducted and over his established roads; and
(4) The transportation must be for hire.
Based on the above definitions and requirements, there is no doubt that petitioner is a common carrier. It is engaged in the business of transporting or carrying goods, i.e. petroleum products, for hire as a public employment. It undertakes to carry for all persons indifferently, that is, to all persons who choose to employ its services, and transports the goods by land and for compensation. The fact that petitioner has a limited clientele does not exclude it from the definition of a common carrier.

*Case digest by Rosemarie G. Banatanto-Baliquig, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019