SC affirms dismissal of civil case vs SM Prime Holdings
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court in dismissing the civil case filed against SM Prime Holdings Inc. for non-payment of P76.8 million amusement tax incentive reward from 2003 to 2008.
In a decision by the high court’s first division through Associate Justice Martin Villarama, the Pasig Court’s ruling is proper and does not indicate that it is abdicating its jurisdiction over the case.
The Film Development Council of the Philippines filed the case against SM to collect the P76,836,807.08 from SM Cebu.
The civil case in Cebu, meanwhile, was filed by the Cebu City Government seeking to declare as invalid a provision of Republic Act 9167 or the law creating the Film Development Council of the Philippines which requires cities and municipalities in Metropolitan Manila and highly urbanized cities nationwide to deduct from theaters and cinemas amusement tax that will be used as reward for film producers who can make high quality films.
Cebu City government argued that the provision violates the Local Government Code specifically the provision which gives LGUs taxing power.
SM sought to dismiss the case filed in Pasig saying it has been religiously remitting amusement tax to the Cebu City government and informed the court of a similar case in Cebu, adding that its motion for intervention with the Cebu Court has been granted.
The Pasig Court granted SM’s motion to dismiss on the ground that there is a pending case in a Cebu Court.
The high court in its ruling agreed with the Pasig Court’s ruling that the Cebu Court is in the best position to rule over the case.
“A party is not allowed to vex another more than once regarding the same subject matter and for the same cause of action. This theory is ‘founded on the public policy that the same subject matter should not be the subject controversy in courts more than once, in order that possible conflicting judgments may be avoided for the sake of the stability of the rights and status of persons and also to avoid the costs and expenses incident to numerous suits,” the high court said.