MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE 2) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed into law Republic Act 9503 expanding the organizational structure of the Court of Tax Appeals.
The new law also added three more members to the CTA -- currently composed of six associate judges now renamed associate justices -- to be appointed by President Arroyo, and one more division.
Republic Act 9503 "shall be on the same level as the Court of Appeals, possessing all the inherent powers of a Court of Justice, and shall consist of a Presiding Justice and the eight Associate Justices."
Under RA 9503 (An Act Enlarging the Organizational Structure of the Court of Tax Appeals, Amending for the Purpose Certain Sections of the Law Creating the Court of Tax Appeals, and for Other Purposes), the CTA may now sit en banc or in three Divisions, each consisting of three Justices.
"Five Justices shall constitute a quorum for sessions en banc and two Justices for sessions of a Division: Provided, That when the required quorum cannot be constituted due to any vacancy, disqualification, inhibition, disability, or any other lawful cause, the Presiding Justice shall designate any Justice of other Divisions of the Court to sit temporarily therein," RA 9503 provides.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, chairman of the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives, said the law would expedite disposition of tax-evasion cases and increase revenues for government to fund social services, food, oil and education subsidies and infrastructure.
Under the new RA, the CTA will also be given a budget of P20M "necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act" to be taken from whatever source available in the National Treasury.
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, Senate President Manuel B. Villar, Jr., Speaker Prospero C. Nograles, CTA Presiding Justice Ernesto D. Acosta and the CTA associate justices, and the legislators who authored the bill were present to witness the signing of the law at the Supreme Court's en banc session hall.
Then Under RA 1125, the CTA had jurisdiction ?only on decisions, judgment, rulings or inaction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, the Commissioner of Customs, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Trade and Industry, or the Secretary of Agriculture, involving the National Internal Revenue Code and the Tariff and Customs Code on civil matters.?
Then, through RA 9282, jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals and regional trial courts over matters involving criminal violation and collection of revenues under the National Internal Revenue Code and Tariff and Customs Code were transferred to the CTA.
In addition, the CTA also acquired jurisdiction over cases involving local and real property taxes which used to be under the regional trial court and Court of Appeals.
Established in 1954 pursuant to RA 1125, the CTA's membership consisted only of a presiding justice and two associate justices, all appointed by the President. RA 1125 was subsequently amended by RA 9282 under which the CTA was made to sit en banc and in two divisions of three justices each.
At present, the members of the CTA are Presiding Justice Acosta and Associate Justices Juanito C. Castañeda, Jr., Lovell R. Bautista, Erlinda P. Uy, Caesar A. Casanova, and Olga Palanca-Enriquez. Presiding Justice Acosta chairs the 1st Division with Justices Bautista and Casanova as members, while Justice Castañeda chairs the 2nd Division with Justices Uy and Palanca-Enriquez as members.