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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 92024 November 9, 1990 CONGRESSMAN ENRIQUE T.

GARCIA (Second District of Bataan), petitioner, vs. THE BOARD OF INVESTMENTS, THE DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY, LUZON PETROCHEMICAL CORPORATION, and PILIPINAS SHELL CORPORATION, respondents. Abraham C. La Vina for petitioner. Sycip, Salazar, Hernandez & Gatmaitan for Luzon Petrochemical Corporation. Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc & De los Angeles for Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.

elsewhere in the country, that the establishment of a petrochemical plant in Batangas does not violate P.D. No. 949 and P.D. No. 1803. Our resolution skirted the issue of whether the investor given the initial inducements and other circumstances surrounding its first choice of plant site may change it simply because it has the final choice on the matter. The Court merely ruled that the petitioner appears to have lost interest in the case by his failure to appear at the hearing that was set by the BOI after receipt of the decision, so he may be deemed to have waived the fruit of the judgment. On this ground, the motion for partial reconsideration was denied. A motion for reconsideration of said resolution was filed by the petitioner asking that we resolve the basic issue of whether or not the foreign investor has the right of final choice of plant site; that the non-attendance of the petitioner at the hearing was because the decision was not yet final and executory; and that the petitioner had not therefor waived the right to a hearing before the BOI. In the Court's resolution dated January 17, 1990, we stated: Does the investor have a "right of final choice" of plant site? Neither under the 1987 Constitution nor in the Omnibus Investments Code is there such a 'right of final choice.' In the first place, the investor's choice is subject to processing and approval or disapproval by the BOI (Art. 7, Chapter II, Omnibus Investments Code). By submitting its application and amended application to the BOI for approval, the investor recognizes the sovereign prerogative of our Government, through the BOI, to approve or disapprove the same after determining whether its proposed project will be feasible, desirable and beneficial to our country. By asking that his opposition to the LPC's amended application be heard by the BOI, the petitioner likewise acknowledges that the BOI, not the investor, has the last word or the "final choice" on the matter. Secondly, as this case has shown, even a choice that had been approved by the BOI may not be 'final', for supervening circumstances and changes in the conditions of a place may dictate a corresponding change in the choice of plant site in order that the project will not fail. After all, our country will benefit only when a project succeeds, not when it fails. (Rollo, pp. 538-539) Nevertheless, the motion for reconsideration of the petitioner was denied. A minority composed of Justices Melencio-Herrera, Gancayco, Sarmiento and this ponente voted to grant the motion for reconsideration stating that the hearing set by the BOI was premature as the decision of the Court was not yet final and executory; that as contended by the petitioner the Court must first rule on whether or not the investor has the right of final choice of plant site for if the ruling is in the affirmative, the hearing would be a useless exercise; that in the October 19, 1989 resolution, the Court while upholding validity of the transfer of the plant site did not rule on the issue of who has the final choice; that they agree with the observation of the majority that "the investor has no final choice either under the 1987 Constitution or in the Omnibus Investments Code and that it is the BOI who decides for the government" and that the plea of the petitioner should be granted to give him the chance to show the justness of his claim and to enable the BOI to give a second hard look at the matter. Thus, the herein petition which relies on the ruling of the Court in the resolution of January 17, 1990 in G.R. No. 88637 that the investor has no right of final choice under the 1987 Constitution and the Omnibus Investments Code.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition to annul and set aside the decision of the Board of Investments (BOI)/Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) approving the transfer of the site of the proposed petrochemical plant from Bataan to Batangas and the shift of feedstock for that plant from naphtha only to naphtha and/or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This petition is a sequel to the petition in G.R. No. 88637 entitled "Congressman Enrique T. Garcia v. the Board of Investments", September 7, 1989, where this Court issued a decision, ordering the BOI as follows: WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is granted. The Board of Investments is ordered: (1) to publish the amended application for registration of the Bataan Petrochemical Corporation, (2) to allow the petitioner to have access to its records on the original and amended applications for registration, as a petrochemical manufacturer, of the respondent Bataan Petrochemical Corporation, excluding, however, privileged papers containing its trade secrets and other business and financial information, and (3) to set for hearing the petitioner's opposition to the amended application in order that he may present at such hearing all the evidence in his possession in support of his opposition to the transfer of the site of the BPC petrochemical plant to Batangas province. The hearing shall not exceed a period of ten (10) days from the date fixed by the BOI, notice of which should be served by personal service to the petitioner through counsel, at least three (3) days in advance. The hearings may be held from day to day for a period of ten (10) days without postponements. The petition for a writ of prohibition or preliminary injunction is denied. No costs. (Rollo, pages 450-451) However, acting on the petitioner's motion for partial reconsideration asking that we rule on the import of P.D. Nos. 949 and 1803 and on the foreign investor's claim of right of final choice of plant site, in the light of the provisions of the Constitution and the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987, this Court on October 24, 1989, made the observation that P.D. Nos. 949 and 1803 "do not provide that the Limay site should be the only petrochemical zone in the country, nor prohibit the establishment of a petrochemical plant

Under P.D. No. 1803 dated January 16, 1981, 576 hectares of the public domain located in Lamao, Limay, Bataan were reserved for the Petrochemical Industrial Zone under the administration, management, and ownership of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC). The Bataan Refining Corporation (BRC) is a wholly government owned corporation, located at Bataan. It produces 60% of the national output of naphtha. Taiwanese investors in a petrochemical project formed the Bataan Petrochemical Corporation (BPC) and applied with BOI for registration as a new domestic producer of petrochemicals. Its application specified Bataan as the plant site. One of the terms and conditions for registration of the project was the use of "naphtha cracker" and "naphtha" as feedstock or fuel for its petrochemical plant. The petrochemical plant was to be a joint venture with PNOC. BPC was issued a certificate of registration on February 24, 1988 by BOI. BPC was given pioneer status and accorded fiscal and other incentives by BOI, like: (1) exemption from taxes on raw materials, (2) repatriation of the entire proceeds of liquidation investments in currency originally made and at the exchange rate obtaining at the time of repatriation; and (3) remittance of earnings on investments. As additional incentive, the House of Representatives approved a bill introduced by the petitioner eliminating the 48% ad valorem tax on naphtha if and when it is used as raw materials in the petrochemical plant. (G.R. No. 88637, September 7, 1989, pp. 2-3. Rollo, pp. 441-442) However, in February, 1989, A.T. Chong, chairman of USI Far East Corporation, the major investor in BPC, personally delivered to Trade Secretary Jose Concepcion a letter dated January 25, 1989 advising him of BPC's desire to amend the original registration certification of its project by changing the job site from Limay, Bataan, to Batangas. The reason adduced for the transfer was the insurgency and unstable labor situation, and the presence in Batangas of a huge liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) depot owned by the Philippine Shell Corporation. The petitioner vigorously opposed the proposal and no less than President Aquino expressed her preference that the plant be established in Bataan in a conference with the Taiwanese investors, the Secretary of National Defense and The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. Despite speeches in the Senate and House opposing the Transfer of the project to Batangas, BPC filed on April 11, 1989 its request for approval of the amendments. Its application is as follows: "(l) increasing the investment amount from US $220 million to US $320 million; (2) increasing the production capacity of its naphtha cracker, polythylene plant and polypropylene plant; (3) changing the feedstock from naphtha only to "naphtha and/or liquefied petroleum gas;" and (4) transferring the job site from Limay, Bataan, to Batangas. (Annex B to Petition; Rollo, p. 25) Notwithstanding opposition from any quarters and the request of the petitioner addressed to Secretary Concepcion to be furnished a copy of the proposed amendment with its attachments which was denied by the BOI on May 25, 1989, BOI approved the revision of the registration of BPC's petrochemical project. (Petition, Annex F; Rollo, p. 32; See pp. 4 to 6, Decision in G.R. No. 88637; supra.) BOI Vice-Chairman Tomas I. Alcantara testifying before the Committee on Ways and Means of the Senate asserted that: The BOI has taken a public position preferring Bataan over Batangas as the site of the petrochemical complex, as this would provide a better distribution of industries around the Metro Manila area. ... In advocating the choice of Bataan as the project site for the petrochemical complex,

the BOI, however, made it clear, and I would like to repeat this that the BOI made it clear in its view that the BOI or the government for that matter could only recomend as to where the project should be located. The BOI recognizes and respect the principle that the final chouce is still with the proponent who would in the final analysis provide the funding or risk capital for the project. (Petition, P. 13; Annex D to the petition) This position has not been denied by BOI in its pleadings in G.R. No. 88637 and in the present petition. Section 1, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution provides: SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. There is before us an actual controversy whether the petrochemical plant should remain in Bataan or should be transferred to Batangas, and whether its feedstock originally of naphtha only should be changed to naphtha and/or liquefied petroleum gas as the approved amended application of the BPC, now Luzon Petrochemical Corporation (LPC), shows. And in the light of the categorical admission of the BOI that it is the investor who has the final choice of the site and the decision on the feedstock, whether or not it constitutes a grave abuse of discretion for the BOI to yield to the wishes of the investor, national interest notwithstanding. We rule that the Court has a constitutional duty to step into this controversy and determine the paramount issue. We grant the petition. First, Bataan was the original choice as the plant site of the BOI to which the BPC agreed. That is why it organized itself into a corporation bearing the name Bataan. There is available 576 hectares of public land precisely reserved as the petrochemical zone in Limay, Bataan under P.D. No. 1803. There is no need to buy expensive real estate for the site unlike in the proposed transfer to Batangas. The site is the result of careful study long before any covetous interests intruded into the choice. The site is ideal. It is not unduly constricted and allows for expansion. The respondents have not shown nor reiterated that the alleged peace and order situation in Bataan or unstable labor situation warrant a transfer of the plant site to Batangas. Certainly, these were taken into account when the firm named itself Bataan Petrochemical Corporation. Moreover, the evidence proves the contrary. Second, the BRC, a government owned Filipino corporation, located in Bataan produces 60% of the national output of naphtha which can be used as feedstock for the plant in Bataan. It can provide the feedstock requirement of the plant. On the other hand, the country is short of LPG and there is need to import the same for use of the plant in Batangas. The local production thereof by Shell can hardly supply the needs of the consumers for cooking purposes. Scarce dollars will be diverted, unnecessarily, from vitally essential projects in order to feed the furnaces of the transferred petrochemical plant. Third, naphtha as feedstock has been exempted by law from the ad valorem tax by the approval of Republic Act No. 6767 by President Aquino but excluding LPG from exemption from ad valorem tax. The law was enacted specifically for the petrochemical industry. The

policy determination by both Congress and the President is clear. Neither BOI nor a foreign investor should disregard or contravene expressed policy by shifting the feedstock from naphtha to LPG. Fourth, under Section 10, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, it is the duty of the State to "regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within its national jurisdiction and in accordance with its national goals and priorities." The development of a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos is mandated in Section 19, Article II of the Constitution. In Article 2 of the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987 "the sound development of the national economy in consonance with the principles and objectives of economic nationalism" is the set goal of government. Fifth, with the admitted fact that the investor is raising the greater portion of the capital for the project from local sources by way of loan which led to the so-called "petroscam scandal", the capital requirements would be greatly minimized if LPC does not have to buy the land for the project and its feedstock shall be limited to naphtha which is certainly more economical, more readily available than LPG, and does not have to be imported. Sixth, if the plant site is maintained in Bataan, the PNOC shall be a partner in the venture to the great benefit and advantage of the government which shall have a participation in the management of the project instead of a firm which is a huge multinational corporation. In the light of all the clear advantages manifest in the plant's remaining in Bataan, practically nothing is shown to justify the transfer to Batangas except a near-absolute discretion given by BOI to investors not only to freely choose the site but to transfer it from their own first choice for reasons which remain murky to say the least. And this brings us to a prime consideration which the Court cannot rightly ignore. Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution provides that: xxx xxx xxx The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets. However, the State shall protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices. xxx xxx xxx Every provision of the Constitution on the national economy and patrimony is infused with the spirit of national interest. The non-alienation of natural resources, the State's full control over the development and utilization of our scarce resources, agreements with foreigners being based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country and the regulation of foreign investments in accordance with national goals and priorities are too explicit not to be noticed and understood. A petrochemical industry is not an ordinary investment opportunity. It should not be treated like a garment or embroidery firm, a shoe-making venture, or even an assembler of cars or manufacturer of computer chips, where the BOI reasoning may be accorded fuller faith and credit. The petrochemical industry is essential to the national interest. In other ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, the government superintends the industry by controlling the upstream or cracker facility. In this particular BPC venture, not only has the Government given unprecedented favors, among them:

(1) For an initial authorized capital of only P20 million, the Central Bank gave an eligible relending credit or relending facility worth US $50 million and a debt to swap arrangement for US $30 million or a total accommodation of US $80 million which at current exchange rates is around P2080 million. (2) A major part of the company's capitalization shall not come from foreign sources but from loans, initially a Pl Billion syndicated loan, to be given by both government banks and a consortium of Philippine private banks or in common parlance, a case of 'guiniguisa sa sariling manteca.' (3) Tax exemptions and privileges were given as part of its 'preferred pioneer status.' (4) Loan applications of other Philippine firms will be crowded out of the Asian Development Bank portfolio because of the petrochemical firm's massive loan request. (Taken from the proceedings before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee). but through its regulatory agency, the BOI, it surrenders even the power to make a company abide by its initial choice, a choice free from any suspicion of unscrupulous machinations and a choice which is undoubtedly in the best interests of the Filipino people. The Court, therefore, holds and finds that the BOI committed a grave abuse of discretion in approving the transfer of the petrochemical plant from Bataan to Batangas and authorizing the change of feedstock from naphtha only to naphtha and/or LPG for the main reason that the final say is in the investor all other circumstances to the contrary notwithstanding. No cogent advantage to the government has been shown by this transfer. This is a repudiation of the independent policy of the government expressed in numerous laws and the Constitution to run its own affairs the way it deems best for the national interest. One can but remember the words of a great Filipino leader who in part said he would not mind having a government run like hell by Filipinos than one subservient to foreign dictation. In this case, it is not even a foreign government but an ordinary investor whom the BOI allows to dictate what we shall do with our heritage. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted. The decision of the respondent Board of Investments approving the amendment of the certificate of registration of the Luzon Petrochemical Corporation on May 23, 1989 under its Resolution No. 193, Series of 1989, (Annex F to the Petition) is SET ASIDE as NULL and VOID. The original certificate of registration of BPC' (now LPC) of February 24, 1988 with Bataan as the plant site and naphtha as the feedstock is, therefore, ordered maintained. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

G.R. No. L-30389 December 27, 1972 PEDRO LEE HONG HOK, SIMEON LEE HONG HOK, ROSITA LEE HONG HOK and LEONCIO LEE HONG HOK, petitioners, vs. ANIANO DAVID, THE HON. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. Augusto A. Pardalis for petitioners. Luis General, Jr. for respondent Aniano David. Office of the Solicitor General for other respondents.

duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein.... Under Section 38 of Act 496 any question concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud should be raised within one year from the date of the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the certificate of title based thereon becomes indefeasible.... In this case the land in question is not a private property as the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources have always sustained the public character thereof for having been formed by reclamation.... The only remedy therefore, available to the appellants is an action for reconveyance on the ground of fraud. In this case we do not see any fraud committed by defendant-appellant Aniano David in applying for the purchase of the land involved through his Miscellaneous Sales Application No. MSA-V-26747, entered in the records of the Bureau of Lands [Miscellaneous Sales] Entry No. V-9033, because everything was done in the open. The notices regarding the auction sale of the land were published, the actual sale and award thereof to Aniano David were not clandestine but open and public official acts of an officer of the Government. The application was merely a renewal of his deceased wife's application, and the said 4 deceased occupied the land since 1938." On such finding of facts, the attempt of petitioners to elicit a different conclusion is likely to be attended with frustration. The first error assigned predicated an accretion having taken place, notwithstanding its rejection by respondent Court of Appeals, would seek to disregard what was accepted by respondent Court as to how the disputed lot came into being, namely by reclamation. It does not therefore call for any further consideration. Neither of the other two errors imputed to respondent Court, as to its holding that authoritative doctrines preclude a party other than the government to dispute the validity of a grant and the recognition of the indefeasible character of a public land patent after one year, is possessed of merit. Consequently, as set forth at the outset, there is no justification for reversal. 1. More specifically, the shaft of criticism was let loose by petitioner aimed at this legal proposition set forth in the exhaustive opinion of then Justice Salvador Esguerra of the Court of Appeals, now a member of this Court: "There is, furthermore, a fatal defect of parties to this action. Only the Government, represented by the Director of Lands, or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of title issued pursuant to a void patent (Lucas vs. Durian, 102 Phil. 1157; Director of Lands vs. Heirs of Ciriaco Carlo, G.R. No. L-12485, July 31, 1959). This was not done by said officers but by private parties like the plaintiffs, who cannot claim that the patent and title issued for the land involved are void since they are not the registered owners thereof nor had they been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings of Naga Cadastre after claiming it as their private property. The cases cited by appellants are not in point as they refer to private registered lands or public lands over which vested rights have been acquired but notwithstanding such 5 fact the Land Department subsequently granted patents to public land applicants." Petitioner ought to have known better. The above excerpt is invulnerable to attack. It 6 is a restatement of a principle that dates back to Maninang v. Consolacion, a 1908 decision. As was there categorically stated: "The fact that the grant was made by the government is undisputed. Whether the grant was in conformity with the law or not is a question which the government may raise, but until it is raised by the government and set aside, the defendant can not question it. The legality of the grant is a question 7 between the grantee and the government." The above citation was repeated 8 ipsissimis verbis in Salazar v. Court of Appeals. Bereft as petitioners were of the right of ownership in accordance with the findings of the Court of Appeals, they

FERNANDO, J.:p Petitioners in this appeal by certiorari would have us reverse a decision of respondent Court of Appeals affirming a lower court judgment dismissing their 2 complaint to have the Torrens Title of respondent Aniano David declared null and void. What makes the task for petitioners quite difficult is that their factual support for their pretension to ownership of such disputed lot through accretion was rejected by respondent Court of Appeals. Without such underpinning, they must perforce rely on a legal theory, which, to put it mildly, is distinguished by unorthodoxy and is therefore far from persuasive. A grant by the government through the appropriate public 3 officials exercising the competence duly vested in them by law is not to be set at naught on the premise, unexpressed but implied, that land not otherwise passing into private ownership may not be disposed of by the state. Such an assumption is at war with settled principles of constitutional law. It cannot receive our assent. We affirm. The decision of respondent Court of Appeals following that of the lower court makes clear that there is no legal justification for nullifying the right of respondent Aniano David to the disputed lot arising from the grant made in his favor by respondent officials. As noted in the decision under review, he "acquired lawful title thereby pursuant to his miscellaneous sales application in accordance with which an order of award and for issuance of a sales patent was made by the Director of Lands on June 18, 1958, covering Lot 2892 containing an area of 226 square meters, which is a portion of Lot 2863 of the Naga Cadastre. On the basis of the order of award of the Director of Lands the Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued on August 26, 1959, Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. V-1209 pursuant to which OCT No. 510 was issued by the Register of Deeds of Naga City to defendant-appellee Aniano David on October 21, 1959. According to the Stipulation of Facts, since the filing of the sales application of Aniano David and during all the proceedings in connection with said application, up to the actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffs-appellants did not put up any opposition or adverse claim thereto. This is fatal to them because after the registration and issuance of the certificate and
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cannot, in the language of Reyes v. Rodriguez, "question the [title] legally issued." The second assignment of error is thus disposed of.

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grant, the property is and remains part of the public domain." assignment of error is devoid of merit.

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To repeat, the second

2. As there are overtones indicative of skepticism, if not of outright rejection, of the well-known distinction in public law between the government authority possessed by the state which is appropriately embraced in the concept of sovereignty, and its capacity to own or acquire property, it is not inappropriate to pursue the matter further. The former comes under the heading of imperium and the latter of dominium. The use of this term is appropriate with reference to lands held by the state in its proprietary character. In such capacity, it may provide for the exploitation and use of lands and other natural resources, including their disposition, except as limited by the Constitution. Dean Pound did speak of the confusion that existed during the medieval era between such two concepts, but did note the existence of res publicae as a 11 corollary to dominium." As far as the Philippines was concerned, there was a 12 recognition by Justice Holmes in Cario v. Insular Government, a case of Philippine origin, that "Spain in its earlier decrees embodied the universal feudal theory that all 13 lands were held from the Crown...." That was a manifestation of the concept of jura 14 regalia, which was adopted by the present Constitution, ownership however being vested in the state as such rather than the head thereof. What was stated by Holmes served to confirm a much more extensive discussion of the matter in the leading case 15 of Valenton v. Murciano, decided in 1904. One of the royal decrees cited was 16 incorporated in the Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias in these words: "We having acquired full sovereignty over the Indies and all lands, territories, and possessions not heretofore ceded away by our royal predecessors, or by us, or in our name, still pertaining to the royal crown and patrimony, it is our will that all lands which are held without proper and true deeds of grant be restored to us according as they belong to us, in order that after reserving before all what to us or to our viceroys audiences, and governors may seem necessary for public squares, ways, pastures, and commons in those places which are peopled, taking into consideration not only their present condition, but also their future and their probable increase, and after distributing to the natives what may be necessary for tillage and pasturage, confirming them in what they now have and giving them more if necessary, all the rest of said lands may 17 remain free and unencumbered for us to dispose of as we may wish." It could therefore be affirmed in Montano v. Insular Government" that "as to the unappropriated public lands constituting the public domain the sole power of 19 legislation is vested in Congress, ..." They continue to possess that character until 20 severed therefrom by state grant. Where, as in this case, it was found by the Court of Appeals that the disputed lot was the result of reclamation, its being correctly 21 categorized as public land is undeniable. What was held in Heirs of Datu Pendatun 22 v. Director of Lands finds application. Thus: "There being no evidence whatever that the property in question was ever acquired by the applicants or their ancestors either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title or by any other means for the acquisition of public lands, the property must be 23 held to be public domain." For it is well-settled "that no public land can be acquired 24 by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the government." It is indispensable then that there be a showing of a title from the state or any other 25 mode of acquisition recognized by law. The most recent restatement of the 26 doctrine, found in an opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes, follows: "The applicant, having failed to establish his right or title over the northern portion of Lot No. 463 involved in the present controversy, and there being no showing that the same has been acquired by any private person from the Government, either by purchase or by
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3. The last error assigned would take issue with this portion of the opinion of Justice Esguerra: "According to the Stipulation of Facts, since the filing of the sales application of Aniano David and during all the proceedings in connection with said application, up to the actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffs-appellants did not put up any opposition or adverse claim thereto. This is fatal to them because after the registration and issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein ... Under Section 38 of Act 496 any question concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud should be raised within one year from the date of the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the certificate of title based 28 thereon becomes indefeasible ..." Petitioners cannot reconcile themselves to the view that respondent David's title is impressed with the quality of indefeasibility. In thus manifesting such an attitude, they railed to accord deference to controlling 29 precedents. As far back as 1919, in Aquino v. Director of Lands, Justice Malcolm, speaking for the Court, stated: "The proceedings under the Land Registration Law and under the provisions of Chapter VI of the Public Land Law are the same in that both are against the whole world, both take the nature of judicial proceedings, and for 30 both the decree of registration issued is conclusive and final." Such a view has 31 32 been followed since then. The latest case in point is Cabacug v. Lao. There is this revealing excerpt appearing in that decision: "It is said, and with reason, that a holder of a land acquired under a free patent is more favorably situated than that of an owner of registered property. Not only does a free patent have a force and effect of a Torrens Title, but in addition the person to whom it is granted has likewise in his 33 favor the right to repurchase within a period of five years." It is quite apparent, therefore, that petitioners' stand is legally indefensible. WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals of January 31, 1969 and its resolution of March 14, 1969 are affirmed. With costs against petitionersappellants.

U.S. Supreme Court CARINO v. INSULAR GOVERNMENT OF PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 212 U.S. 449 (1909) 212 U.S. 449 MATEO CARINO, Plff. in Err., v. INSULAR GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. No. 72. Argued January 13, 1909. Decided February 23, 1909. [212 U.S. 449, 450] Messrs. Frederic R. Coudert, Howard Thayer Kingsbury, Charles C. Cohn, D. R. Williams, and Paul Fuller for plaintiff in error. [212 U.S. 449, 453] Solicitor General Hoyt and Paul Charlton for defendant in error. [212 U.S. 449, 455] Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court: This was an application to the Philippine court of land registration for the registration of certain land. The application was granted by the court on March 4, 1904. An appeal was taken to the court of first instance of the province of Benguet, on behalf of the government of the Philippines, and also on behalf of the United States, those governments having taken possession of the property for public and military purposes. The court of first instance found the facts and dismissed the application upon grounds of law. This judgment was affirmed by the supreme court (7 Philippine, 132 ), and the case then was brought here by writ of error. The material facts found are very few. The applicant and plaintiff in error is an Igorot of the province of Benguet, where the land lies. For more than fifty years before the treaty of [212 U.S. 449, 456] Paris, April 11, 1899 [30 Stat. at L. 1754], as far back as the findings go, the plaintiff and his ancestors had held the land as owners. His grandfather had lived upon it, and had maintained fences sufficient for the holding of cattle, according to the custom of the country, some of the fences, it seems, having been of much earlier date. His father had cultivated parts and had used parts for pasturing cattle, and he had used it for pasture in his turn. They all had been recognized as owners by the Igorots, and he had inherited or received the land from his father, in accordance with Igorot custom. No document of title, however, had issued from the Spanish Crown, and although, in 1893-1894, and again in 1896-1897, he made application for one under the royal decrees then in force, nothing seems to have come of it, unless, perhaps, information that lands in Benguet could not be conceded until those to be occupied for a sanatorium, etc., had been designated,-a purpose that has been carried out by the Philippine government and the United States. In 1901 the plaintiff filed a petition, alleging ownership, under the mortgage law, and the

lands were registered to him, that process, however, establishing only a possessory title, it is said. Before we deal with the merits, we must dispose of a technical point. The government has spent some energy in maintaining that this case should have been brought up by appeal, and not by writ of error. We are of opinion, however, that the mode adopted was right. The proceeding for registration is likened to bills in equity to quiet title, but it is different in principle. It is a proceeding in rem under a statute of the type of the Torrens act, such as was discussed in Tyler v. Registration Ct. Judges, 175 Mass. 71, 51 L.R.A. 433, 55 N. E. 812. It is nearer to law than to equity, and is an assertion of legal title; but we think it unnecessary to put it into either pigeon hole. A writ of error is the general method of bringing cases to this court, an appeal the exception, confined to equity in the main. There is no reason for not applying the general rule to this case. Ormsby v. Webb, 134 U.S. 47, 65 , 33 S. L. ed. 805, 812, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 478; Campbell v. Porter, 162 U.S. 478 , 40 L. ed. 1044, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 871; Metropolitan R. Co. v. District of Columbia ( Metropolitan R. Co. v. Macfarland) 195 U.S. 322 , 49 L. ed. 219, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 28. [212 U.S. 449, 457] Another preliminary matter may as well be disposed of here. It is suggested that, even if the applicant have title, he cannot have it registered, because the Philippine Commission's act No. 926, of 1903, excepts the province of Benguet among others from its operation. But that act deals with the acquisition of new titles by homestead entries, purchase, etc., and the perfecting of titles begun under the Spanish law. The applicant's claim is that he now owns the land, and is entitled to registration under the Philippine Commission's act No. 496, of 1902, which established a court for that purpose with jurisdiction 'throughout the Philippine archipelago,' 2, and authorized in general terms applications to be made by persons claiming to own the legal estate in fee simple, as the applicant does. He is entitled to registration if his claim of ownership can be maintained. We come, then, to the question on which the case was decided below,- namely, whether the plaintiff owns the land. The position of the government, shortly stated, is that Spain assumed, asserted, and had title to all the land in the Philippines except so far as it saw fit to permit private titles to be acquired; that there was no prescription against the Crown, and that, if there was, a decree of June 25, 1880, required registration within a limited time to make the title good; that the plaintiff's land was not registered, and therefore became, if it was not always, public land; that the United States succeeded to the title of Spain, and so that the plaintiff has no rights that the Philippine government is bound to respect. If we suppose for the moment that the government's contention is so far correct that the Crown of Spain in form asserted a title to this land at the date of the treaty of Paris, to which the United States succeeded, it is not to be assumed without argument that the plaintiff's case is at an end. It is true that Spain, in its earlier decrees, embodied the universal feudal theory that all lands were held from the Crown, and perhaps the general attitude of conquering nations toward people not recognized as entitled to the treatment accorded to those [212 U.S. 449, 458] in the same zone of civilization with themselves. It is true, also, that, in legal theory, sovereignty is absolute, and that, as against foreign nations, the United States may assert, as Spain asserted, absolute power. But it does not

follow that, as against the inhabitants of the Philippines, the United States asserts that Spain had such power. When theory is left on one side, sovereignty is a question of strength, and may vary in degree. How far a new sovereign shall insist upon the theoretical relation of the subjects to the head in the past, and how far it shall recognize actual facts, are matters for it to decide. The province of Benguet was inhabited by a tribe that the Solicitor General, in his argument, characterized as a savage tribe that never was brought under the civil or military government of the Spanish Crown. It seems probable, if not certain, that the Spanish officials would not have granted to anyone in that province the registration to which formerly the plaintiff was entitled by the Spanish laws, and which would have made his title beyond question good. Whatever may have been the technical position of Spain, it does not follow that, in the view of the United States, he had lost all rights and was a mere trespasser when the present government seized his land. The argument to that effect seems to amount to a denial of native titles throughout an important part of the island of Luzon, at least, for the want of ceremonies which the Spaniards would not have permitted and had not the power to enforce. The acquisition of the Philippines was not like the settlement of the white race in the United States. Whatever consideration may have been shown to the North American Indians, the dominant purpose of the whites in America was to occupy the land. It is obvious that, however stated, the reason for our taking over the Philippines was different. No one, we suppose, would deny that, so far as consistent with paramount necessities, our first object in the internal administration of the islands is to do justice to the natives, not to exploit their country for private gain. By the organic act of July 1, 1902, chap. 1369, 12, 32 Stat. at L. 691, all the property and rights acquired there by the [212 U.S. 449, 459] United States are to be administered 'for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof.' It is reasonable to suppose that the attitude thus assumed by the United States with regard to what was unquestionably its own is also its attitude in deciding what it will claim for its own. The same statute made a bill of rights, embodying the safeguards of the Constitution, and, like the Constitution, extends those safeguards to all. It provides that 'no law shall be enacted in said islands which shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or deny to any person therein the equal protection of the laws.' 5. In the light of the declaration that we have quoted from 12, it is hard to believe that the United States was ready to declare in the next breath that 'any person' did not embrace the inhabitants of Benguet, or that it meant by 'property' only that which had become such by ceremonies of which presumably a large part of the inhabitants never had heard, and that it proposed to treat as public land what they, by native custom and by long association,-one of the profoundest factors in human thought,-regarded as their own. It is true that, by 14, the government of the Philippines is empowered to enact rules and prescribe terms for perfecting titles to public lands where some, but not all, Spanish conditions had been fulfilled, and to issue patents to natives for not more than 16 hectares of public lands actually occupied by the native or his ancestors before August 13, 1898. But this section perhaps might be satisfied if confined to cases where the occupation was of land admitted to be public land,

and had not continued for such a length of time and under such circumstances as to give rise to the understanding that the occupants were owners at that date. We hesitate to suppose that it was intended to declare every native who had not a paper title a trespasser, and to set the claims of all the wilder tribes afloat. It is true again that there is excepted from the provision that we have quoted as to the administration of the property and rights acquired by the United States, such land and property as shall be designated by the President for military or other reser[212 U.S. 449, 460] vations, as this land since has been. But there still remains the question what property and rights the United States asserted itself to have acquired. Whatever the law upon these points may be, and we mean to go no further than the necessities of decision demand, every presumption is and ought to be against the government in a case like the present. It might, perhaps, be proper and sufficient to say that when, as far back as testimony or memory goes, the land has been held by individuals under a claim of private ownership, it will be presumed to have been held in the same way from before the Spanish conquest, and never to have been public land. Certainly in a case like this, if there is doubt or ambiguity in the Spanish law, we ought to give the applicant the benefit of the doubt. Whether justice to the natives and the import of the organic act ought not to carry us beyond a subtle examination of ancient texts, or perhaps even beyond the attitude of Spanish law, humane though it was, it is unnecessary to decide. If, in a tacit way, it was assumed that the wild tribes of the Philippines were to be dealt with as the power and inclination of the conqueror might dictate, Congress has not yet sanctioned the same course as the proper one 'for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof.' If the applicant's case is to be tried by the law of Spain, we do not discover such clear proof that it was bad by that law as to satisfy us that he does not own the land. To begin with, the older decrees and laws cited by the counsel for the plaintiff in error seem to indicate pretty clearly that the natives were recognized as owning some lands, irrespective of any royal grant. In other words, Spain did not assume to convert all the native inhabitants of the Philippines into trespassers or even into tenants at will. For instance, Book 4, title 12, Law 14 of the Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias, cited for a contrary conclusion in Valenton v. Murciano, 3 Philippine, 537, while it commands viceroys and others, when it seems proper, to call for the exhibition of grants, directs them to confirm those who hold by good grants or justa prescripcion. It is true that it [212 U.S. 449, 461] begins by the characteristic assertion of feudal overlordship and the origin of all titles in the King or his predecessors. That was theory and discourse. The fact was that titles were admitted to exist that owed nothing to the powers of Spain beyond this recognition in their books. Prescription is mentioned again in the royal cedula of October 15, 1754, cited in 3 Philippine, 546: 'Where such possessors shall not be able to produce title deeds, it shall be sufficient if they shall show that ancient possession, as a valid title by prescription.' It may be that this means possession from before 1700; but, at all events, the principle is admitted. As prescription, even against Crown lands, was recognized by the laws of Spain, we see no sufficient reason for hesitating to

admit that it was recognized in the Philippines in regard to lands over which Spain had only a paper sovereignty. The question comes, however, on the decree of June 25, 1880, for the adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands. This begins with the usual theoretic assertion that, for private ownership, there must have been a grant by competent authority; but instantly descends to fact by providing that, for all legal effects, those who have been in possession for certain times shall be deemed owners. For cultivated land, twenty years, uninterrupted, is enough. For uncultivated, thirty. Art. 5. So that, when this decree went into effect, the applicant's father was owner of the land by the very terms of the decree. But, it is said, the object of this law was to require the adjustment or registration proceedings that it described, and in that way to require every one to get a document of title or lose his land. That purpose may have been entertained, but it does not appear clearly to have been applicable to all. The regulations purport to have been made 'for the adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals.' (We follow the translation in the government's brief.) It does not appear that this land ever was royal land or wrongfully occupied. In Article 6 it is provided that 'interested parties not included within the two preceding [212 U.S. 449, 462] articles [the articles recognizing prescription of twenty and thirty years] may legalize their possession, and thereby acquire the full ownership of the said lands, by means of adjustment proceedings, to be conducted in the following manner.' This seems, by its very terms, not to apply to those declared already to be owners by lapse of time. Article 8 provides for the case of parties not asking an adjustment of the lands of which they are unlawfully enjoying the possession, within one year, and threatens that the treasury 'will reassert the ownership of the state over the lands,' and will sell at auction such part as it does not reserve. The applicant's possession was not unlawful, and no attempt at any such proceedings against him or his father ever was made. Finally, it should be noted that the natural construction of the decree is confirmed by the report of the council of state. That report puts forward as a reason for the regulations that, in view of the condition of almost all property in the Philippines, it is important to fix its status by general rules, on the principle that the lapse of a fixed period legalizes completely all possession; recommends in two articles twenty and thirty years, as adopted in the decree; and then suggests that interested parties not included in those articles may legalize their possession and acquire ownership by adjustment at a certain price. It is true that the language of arts. 4 and 5 attributes title to those 'who may prove' possession for the necessary time, and we do not overlook the argument that this means may prove in registration proceedings. It may be that an English conveyancer would have recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but certainly it was not calculated to convey to the mind of an Igorot chief the notion that ancient family possessions were in danger, if he had read every word of it. The words 'may prove' (acrediten), as well, or better, in view of the other provisions, might be taken to mean when called upon to do so in any litigation. There are indications that registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. [212 U.S. 449, 463] The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer

title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law. The royal decree of February 13, 1894, declaring forfeited titles that were capable of adjustment under the decree of 1880, for which adjustment had not been sought, should not be construed as a confiscation, but as the withdrawal of a privilege. As a matter of fact, the applicant never was disturbed. This same decree is quoted by the court of land registration for another recognition of the common-law prescription of thirty years as still running against alienable Crown land. It will be perceived that the rights of the applicant under the Spanish law present a problem not without difficulties for courts of a different legal tradition. We have deemed it proper on that account to notice the possible effect of the change of sovereignty and the act of Congress establishing the fundamental principles now to be observed. Upon a consideration of the whole case we are of opinion that law and justice require that the applicant should be granted what he seeks, and should not be deprived of what, by the practice and belief of those among whom he lived, was his property, through a refined interpretation of an almost forgotten law of Spain. Judgment reversed.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

(1) In ruling that under the Parity Amendment American citizens and American owned and/or controlled business enterprises "are also qualified to acquire private agricultural lands" in the Philippines; and (2) In ruling that when the Parity Amendment ceases to be effective on 3 July 1974, "what must be considered to end should be the right to acquire land, and not the right to continue in ownership of land already acquired prior to that time." As a historical background, requisite to a proper understanding of the issues being litigated, it should be recalled that the Constitution as originally adopted, contained the following provisions: Article XIII CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES Section 1. All Agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water right for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant. Section 2. No private corporation or association may acquire, lease, or hold public agricultural lands in excess of one thousand and twenty-four hectares, nor may any individual acquire such lands by purchase in excess of one hundred and forty-four hectares, or by lease in excess of one thousand and twenty-four hectares, or by homestead in excess of twentyfour hectares. Lands adapted to grazing not exceeding two thousand hectares, may be leased to an individual, private corporation, or association. xxx xxx xxx Section 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines. Article XIV GENERAL PROVISIONS Section 8. No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or other entities organized under the laws of the Philippines, sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by citizens of the Philippines, nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years. No franchise or right shall be granted to any individual, firm, or corporation, except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Congress when the public interest so requires. The nationalistic spirit that pervaded these and other provisions of the Constitution are selfevident and require no further emphasis. From the Japanese occupation and the reconquest of the Archipelago, the Philippine nation emerged with its industries destroyed and its economy dislocated. It was described in this

G.R. No. L-30299 August 17, 1972 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and/or THE SOLICITOR GENERAL petitioners, vs. WILLIAM H. QUASHA, respondent. Office of the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza for petitioner. Quasha, Asperilla Blanco, Zafra & Tayag for respondent.

REYES J. B. L., J.:p This case involves a judicial determination of the scope and duration of the rights acquired by American citizens and corporations controlled by them, under the Ordinance appended to the Constitution as of 18 September 1946, or the so-called Parity Amendment. The respondent, William H. Quasha, an American citizen, had acquired by purchase on 26 November 1954 a parcel of land with the permanent improvements thereon, situated at 22 Molave Place, in Forbes Park, Municipality of Makati, Province of Rizal, with an area of 2,616 sq. m. more or less, described in and covered by T. C. T. 36862. On 19 March 1968, he filed a petition in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, docketed as its Civil Case No. 10732, wherein he (Quasha) averred the acquisition of the real estate aforesaid; that the Republic of the Philippines, through its officials, claimed that upon expiration of the Parity Amendment on 3 July 1974, rights acquired by citizens of the United States of America shall cease and be of no further force and effect; that such claims necessarily affect the rights and interest of the plaintiff, and that continued uncertainty as to the status of plaintiff's property after 3 July 1974 reduces the value thereof, and precludes further improvements being introduced thereon, for which reason plaintiff Quasha sought a declaration of his rights under the Parity Amendment, said plaintiff contending that the ownership of properties during the effectivity of the Parity Amendment continues notwithstanding the termination and effectivity of the Amendment. The then Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo (and later on his successors in office, Felix V. Makasiar and Felix Q. Antonio) contended that the land acquired by plaintiff constituted private agricultural land and that the acquisition violated section 5, Article XIII, of the Constitution of the Philippines, which prohibits the transfer of private agricultural land to non-Filipinos, except by hereditary succession; and assuming, without conceding, that Quasha's acquisition was valid, any and all rights by him so acquired "will expire ipso facto and ipso jure at the end of the day on 3 July 1974, if he continued to hold the property until then, and will be subject to escheat or reversion proceedings" by the Republic. After hearing, the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Judge Pedro A. Revilla presiding) rendered a decision, dated 6 March 1969, in favor of plaintiff, with the following dispositive portion: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring that acquisition by the plaintiff on 26 November 1954 of, the private agricultural land described in and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 36862 in his name was valid, and that plaintiff has a right to continue in ownership of the said property even beyond July 3, 1974. Defendants appealed directly to this Court on questions of law, pleading that the court below erred:

Court's opinion in Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Guerrero, et al., L-20942, 22 September 1967, 21 SCRA 181, 187, penned by Justice Enrique M. Fernando, in the following terms: It was fortunate that the Japanese Occupation ended when it did. Liberation was hailed by all, but the problems faced by the legitimate government were awesome in their immensity. The Philippine treasury was bankrupt and her economy prostrate. There were no dollar-earning export crops to speak of; commercial operations were paralyzed; and her industries were unable to produce with mills, factories and plants either destroyed or their machineries obsolete or dismantled. It was a desolate and tragic sight that greeted the victorious American and Filipino troops. Manila, particularly that portion south of the Pasig, lay in ruins, its public edifices and business buildings lying in a heap of rubble and numberless houses razed to the ground. It was in fact, next to Warsaw, the most devastated city in the expert opinion of the then General Eisenhower. There was thus a clear need of help from the United States. American aid was forthcoming but on terms proposed by her government and later on accepted by the Philippines. The foregoing description is confirmed by the 1945 Report of the Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs to the United States Congress: When the Philippines do become independent next July, they will start on the road to independence with a country whose commerce, trade and political institutions have been very, very seriously damaged. Years of rebuilding are necessary before the former physical conditions of the islands can be restored. Factories, homes, government and commercial buildings, roads, bridges, docks, harbors and the like are in need of complete reconstruction or widespread repairs. It will be quite some while before the Philippine can produce sufficient food with which to sustain themselves. The internal revenues of the country have been greatly diminished by war. Much of the assessable property basis has been destroyed. Foreign trade has vanished. Internal commerce is but a faction of what it used to be. Machinery, farming implements, ships, bus and truck lines, inter-island transportation and communications have been wrecked. Shortly thereafter, in 1946, the United States 79th Congress enacted Public Law 3721, known as the Philippine Trade Act, authorizing the President of the United States to enter into an Executive Agreement with the President of the Philippines, which should contain a provision that The disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils,; all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities shall, if open to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by United States citizens. and that: The President of the United States is not authorized ... to enter into such executive agreement unless in the agreement the Government of the Philippines ... will promptly take such steps as are necessary to secure the amendment of the Constitution of the Philippines so as to permit the taking effect as laws of the Philippines of such part of the provisions of section 1331 ... as is in conflict with such Constitution before such amendment. The Philippine Congress, by Commonwealth Act No. 733, authorized the President of the Philippines to enter into the Executive Agreement. Said Act provided, inter alia, the following:

ARTICLE VII 1. The disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, mineral, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if open to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by United States citizens, except that (for the period prior to the amendment of the Constitution of the Philippines referred to in Paragraph 2 of this Article) the Philippines shall not be required to comply with such part of the foregoing provisions of this sentence as are in conflict with such Constitution. 2. The Government of the Philippines will promptly take such steps as are necessary to secure the amendment of the constitution of the Philippines so as to permit the taking effect as laws of the Philippines of such part of the provisions of Paragraph 1 of this Article as is in conflict with such Constitution before such amendment. Thus authorized, the Executive Agreement was signed on 4 July 1946, and shortly thereafter the President of the Philippines recommended to the Philippine Congress the approval of a resolution proposing amendments to the Philippine Constitution pursuant to the Executive Agreement. Approved by the Congress in joint session, the proposed amendment was submitted to a plebiscite and was ratified in November of 1946. Generally known as the Parity Amendment, it was in the form of an Ordinance appended to the Philippine Constitution, reading as follows: Notwithstanding the provision of section one, Article Thirteen, and section eight, Article Fourteen, of the foregoing Constitution, during the effectivity of the Executive Agreement entered into by the President of the Philippines with the President of the United States on the fourth of July, nineteen hundred and forty-six, pursuant to the provisions of Commonwealth Act Numbered Seven hundred and thirty-three, but in no case to extend beyond the third of July, nineteen hundred and seventy-four, the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coals, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if OPEN to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States in the same manner as to and under the same conditions imposed upon, citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations owned or controlled by citizens of the Philippines. A revision of the 1946 Executive Agreement was authorized by the Philippines by Republic Act 1355, enacted in July 1955. The revision was duly negotiated by representatives of the Philippines and the United States, and a new agreement was concluded on 6 September 1955 to take effect on 1 January 1956, becoming known as the Laurel-Langley Agreement. This latter agreement, however, has no direct application to the case at bar, since the purchase by herein respondent Quasha of the property in question was made in 1954, more than one year prior to the effectivity of the Laurel-Langley Agreement.. I Bearing in mind the legal provisions previously quoted and their background, We turn to the first main issue posed in this appeal: whether under or by virtue of the so-called Parity Amendment to the Philippine Constitution respondent Quasha could validly acquire ownership of the private residential land in Forbes Park, Makati, Rizal, which is concededly classified private agricultural land.

Examination of the "Parity Amendment", as ratified, reveals that it only establishes an express exception to two (2) provisions of our Constitution, to wit: (a) Section 1, Article XIII, re disposition, exploitation, development and utilization of agricultural, timber and mineral lands of the public domain and other natural resources of the Philippines; and (b) Section 8, Article XIV, regarding operation of public utilities. As originally drafted by the framers of the Constitution, the privilege to acquire and exploit agricultural lands of the public domain, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and to operate public utilities, were reserved to Filipinos and entities owned or controlled by them: but the "Parity Amendment" expressly extended the privilege to citizens of the United States of America and/or to business enterprises owned or controlled by them. No other provision of our Constitution was referred to by the "Parity Amendment"; nor Section 2 of Article XIII limiting the maximum area of public agricultural lands that could be held by individuals or corporations or associations; nor Section 5 restricting the transfer or assignment of private agricultural lands to those qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain (which under the original Section 1 of Article XIII meant Filipinos exclusively), save in cases of hereditary succession. These sections 2 and 5 were therefore left untouched and allowed to continue in operation as originally intended by the Constitution's framers. Respondent Quasha argues that since the amendment permitted United States citizens or entities controlled by them to acquire agricultural lands of the public domain, then such citizens or entities became entitled to acquire private agricultural land in the Philippines, even without hereditary succession, since said section 5 of Article XIII only negates the transfer or assignment of private agricultural land to individuals or entities not qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Clearly, this argument of respondent Quasha rests not upon the text of the Constitutional Amendment but upon a mere inference therefrom. If it was ever intended to create also an exception to section 5 of Article XIII, why was mention therein made only of Section 1 of Article XIII and Section 8 of Article XIV and of no other? When the text of the Amendment was submitted for popular ratification, did the voters understand that three sections of the Constitution were to be modified, when only two sections were therein mentioned? A reading of Sections 1 and 4 of Article XIII, as originally drafted by its farmers, leaves no doubt that the policy of the Constitution was to reserve to Filipinos the disposition, exploitation development or utilization of agricultural lands, public (section 1) or private (section 5), as well as all other natural resources of the Philippines. The "Parity Amendment" created exceptions to that Constitutional Policy and in consequence to the sovereignty of the Philippines. By all canons of construction, such exceptions must be given strict interpretation; and this Court has already so ruled in Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Guerrero, et al., L-20942, 22 September 1967, 21 SCRA 181, per Justice Enrique M. Fernando: While good faith, no less than adherence to the categorical wording of the Ordinance, requires that all the rights and privileges thus granted to Americans and business enterprises owned and controlled by them be respected, anything further would not be warranted. Nothing less would suffice but anything more is not justified. The basis for the strict interpretation was given by former President of the University of the Philippines, Hon. Vicente G. Sinco (Congressional Record, House of Representatives, Volume 1, No. 26, page 561): It should be emphatically stated that the provisions of our Constitution which limit to Filipinos the rights to develop the natural resources and to operate the public utilities of the Philippines is one of the bulwarks of our national integrity. The Filipino people decided to include it in our Constitution in order that it may have the stability and permanency that its importance requires. It is written in our Constitution so that it may neither be the subject of barter nor be impaired in the give and take of politics. With our natural resources, our sources of power and energy, our public lands, and our public utilities, the material basis of the nation's existence, in the hands of aliens over whom the Philippine Government does not have complete control, the

Filipinos may soon find themselves deprived of their patrimony and living as it were, in a house that no longer belongs to them. The true extent of the Parity Amendment, as understood by its proponents in the Philippine Congress, was clearly expressed by one of its advocates, Senator Lorenzo Sumulong: It is a misconception to believe that under this amendment Americans will be able to acquire all kinds of natural resources of this country, and even after the expiration of 28 years their acquired rights cannot be divested from them. If we read carefully the language of this amendment which is taken verbatim from the Provision of the Bell Act, and, which in turn, is taken also verbatim from certain sections of the Constitution, you will find out that the equality of rights granted under this amendment refers only to two subjects. Firstly, it refers to exploitation of natural resources, and secondly, it refers to the operation of public utilities. Now, when it comes to exploitation of natural resources, it must be pointed out here that, under our Constitution and under this amendment, only public agricultural land may be acquired, may be bought, so that on the supposition that we give way to this amendment and on the further supposition that it is approved by our people, let not the mistaken belief be entertained that all kinds of natural resources may be acquired by Americans because under our Constitution forest lands cannot be bought, mineral lands cannot be bought, because by explicit provision of the Constitution they belong to the State, they belong to our Government, they belong to our people. That is why we call them rightly the patrimony of our race. Even if the Americans should so desire, they can have no further privilege than to ask for a lease of concession of forest lands and mineral lands because it is so commanded in the Constitution. And under the Constitution, such a concession is given only for a limited period. It can be extended only for 25 years, renewable for another 25. So that with respect to mineral or forest lands, all they can do is to lease it for 25 years, and after the expiration of the original 25 years they will have to extend it, and I believe it can be extended provided that it does not exceed 28 years because this agreement is to be effected only as an ordinance and for the express period of 28 years. So that it is my humble belief that there is nothing to worry about insofar as our forest and mineral lands are concerned. Now, coming to the operation of public utilities, as every member of the Congress knows, it is also for a limited period, under our Constitution, for a period not exceeding 50 years. And since this amendment is intended to endure only for 28 years, it is my humble opinion that when Americans try to operate public utilities they cannot take advantage of the maximum provided in the Constitution but only the 28 years which is expressly provided to be the life of this amendment. There remains for us to consider the case of our public agricultural lands. To be sure, they may be bought, and if we pass this amendment, Americans may buy our public agricultural lands, but the very same Constitution applying even to Filipinos, provides that the sale of public agricultural lands to a corporation can never exceed one thousand and twenty-four hectares. That is to say, if an American corporation, and American enterprise, should decide to invest its money in public agricultural lands, it will be limited to the amount of 1,024 hectares, no more than 1,024 hectares' (Emphasis supplied). No views contrary to these were ever discussion of the Proposed Amendment acquisition of private agricultural lands by American side, it is significant to observe expressed in the Philippine Legislature during the to our Constitution, nor was any reference made to non-Filipinos except by hereditary succession. On the that the draft of the Philippine Trade Act submitted to

the House of Representatives by Congressman Bell, provided in the first Portion of Section 19 the following: SEC. 19. Notwithstanding any existing provision of the constitution and statutes of the Philippine Government, citizens and corporations of the United States shall enjoy in the Philippine Islands during the period of the validity of this Act, or any extension thereof by statute or treaty, the same rights as to property, residence, and occupation as citizens of the Philippine Islands ... But as finally approved by the United States Congress, the equality as to " property residence and occupation" provided in the bill was eliminated and Section 341 of the Trade Act limited such parity to the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of lands of the public domain, and other natural resources of the Philippines (V. ante, page 5 of this opinion). Thus, whether from the Philippine or the American side, the intention was to secure parity for United States citizens, only in two matters: (1) exploitation, development and utilization of public lands, and other natural resources of the Philippines; and (2) the operation of public utilities. That and nothing else. Respondent Quasha avers that as of 1935 when the Constitution was adopted, citizens of the United States were already qualified to acquire public agricultural lands, so that the literal text of section 5 must be understood as permitting transfer or assignment of private agricultural lands to Americans even without hereditary succession. Such capacity of United States citizens could exist only during the American sovereignty over the Islands. For the Constitution of the Philippines was designed to operate even beyond the extinction of the United States sovereignty, when the Philippines would become fully independent. That is apparent from the provision of the original Ordinance appended to the Constitution as originally approved and ratified. Section 17 of said Ordinance provided that: (17) Citizens and corporations of the United States shall enjoy in the Commonwealth of the Philippines all the civil rights of the citizens and corporations, respectively, thereof. (Emphasis supplied) The import of paragraph (17) of the Ordinance was confirmed and reenforced by Section 127 of Commonwealth Act 141 (the Public Land Act of 1936) that prescribes: Sec. 127. During the existence and continuance of the Commonwealth, and before the Republic of the Philippines is established, citizens and corporations of the United States shall enjoy the same rights granted to citizens and corporations of the Philippines under this Act. thus clearly evidencing once more that equal rights of citizens and corporations of the United States to acquire agricultural lands of the Philippines vanished with the advent of the Philippine Republic. Which explains the need of introducing the "Parity Amendment" of 1946. It is then indubitable that the right of United States citizens and corporations to acquire and exploit private or public lands and other natural resources of the Philippines was intended to expire when the Commonwealth ended on 4 July 1946. Thereafter, public and private agricultural lands and natural resources of the Philippines were or became exclusively reserved by our Constitution for Filipino citizens. This situation lasted until the "Parity Amendment", ratified in November, 1946, once more reopened to United States citizens and business enterprises owned or controlled by them the lands of the public domain, the natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of the public utilities, exclusively, but not the acquisition or exploitation of private agricultural lands, about which not a word is found in the Parity Amendment..Respondent Quasha's pretenses can find no support in Article VI of the Trade Agreement of 1955, known popularly as the Laurel-Langley Agreement, establishing a sort of reciprocity rights between citizens of the Philippines and those of the United States, couched in the following terms: ARTICLE VI

2. The rights provided for in Paragraph I may be exercised, in the case of citizens of the Philippines with respect to natural resources in the United States which are subject to Federal control or regulations, only through the medium of a corporation organized under the laws of the United States or one of the States hereof and likewise, in the case of citizens of the United States with respect to natural resources in the public domain in the Philippines only through the medium of a corporation organized under the laws of the Philippines and at least 60% of the capital stock of which is owned or controlled by citizens of the United States. This provision, however, does not affect the right of citizens of the United States to acquire or own private agricultural lands in the Philippines or citizens of the Philippines to acquire or own land in the United States which is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and not within the jurisdiction of any state and which is not within the public domain. The Philippines reserves the right to dispose of the public lands in small quantities on especially favorable terms exclusively to actual settlers or other users who are its own citizens. The United States reserves the right to dispose of its public lands in small quantities on especially favorable terms exclusively to actual settlers or other users who are its own citizens or aliens who have declared their intention to become citizens. Each party reserves the right to limit the extent to which aliens may engage in fishing, or engage in enterprises which furnish communications services and air or water transport. The United States also reserves the right to limit the extent to which aliens may own land in its outlying territories and possessions, but the Philippines will extend to American nationals who are residents of any of those outlying territories and possessions only the same rights, with respect to, ownership of lands, which are granted therein to citizens of the Philippines. The rights provided for in this paragraph shall not, however, be exercised by either party so as to derogate from the rights previously acquired by citizens or corporations or associations owned or controlled by citizens of the other party. The words used in Article VI to the effect that ... This provision does not affect the right of citizen of the United States to acquire or own private agricultural lands in the Philippines , or citizens of the Philippines to acquire or own land in the United States which is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States ... must be understood as referring to rights of United States citizens to acquire or own private agricultural lands before the independence of the Philippines since the obvious purpose of the article was to establish rights of United States and Filipino citizens on a basis of reciprocity. For as already shown, no such right to acquire or own private agricultural lands in the Philippines has existed since the independent Republic was established in 1946. The quoted expressions of the Laurel-Langley Agreement could not expand the rights of United States citizens as to public agricultural lands of the Philippines to private lands, when the Parity Amendment and the Constitution authorize such United States citizens and business entities only to acquire and exploit agricultural lands of the public domain. If the reopening of only public lands to Americans required a Constitutional Amendment, how could a mere Trade Agreement, like the LaurelLangley, by itself enable United States citizens to acquire and exploit private agricultural lands, a right that ceased to exist since the independence of the Philippines by express prescription of our Constitution? We turn to the second issue involved in this appeal: On the assumption that respondent Quasha's purchase of the private agricultural land involved is valid and constitutional, will or will not his rights expire on 3 July 1974? For the solution of this problem, We again turn to the "Parity Amendment". Under it,

Notwithstanding the provision of section one, Article Thirteen, and section eight, Article Fourteen, of the foregoing Constitution, during the effectivity of the Executive Agreement entered into by the President of the Philippines with the President of the United States on the fourth of July, nineteen hundred and forty-six, pursuant to the provisions of Commonwealth Act Numbered Seven hundred and thirty-three, but in no case to extend beyond the third of July, nineteen hundred and seventy-four, the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coals, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if open to any person, be open to citizens of the United states and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States in the same manner as to, and under the same conditions imposed upon, citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations owned or controlled by citizens of the Philippines. (Emphasis supplied) It is easy to see that all exceptional rights conferred upon United States citizens and business entities owned or controlled by them, under the Amendment, are subject to one and the same resolutory term or period: they are to last "during the effectivity of the Executive Agreement entered into on 4 July 1946", "but in no case to extend beyond the, third of July, 1974 ". None of the privileges conferred by the "Parity Amendment" are excepted from this resolutory period. This limitation of time is in conformity with Article X, Section 2, of the Philippine Trade Act of 1946, as embodied in Commonwealth Act No. 733. It says: ARTICLE X 2. This Agreement shall have no effect after 3 July 1974. It may be terminated by either the United States or the Philippines at any time, upon not less than five years' written notice. It the President of the United States or the President of the Philippines determines and proclaims that the other Country has adopted or applied measures or practices which would operate to nullify or impair any right or obligation provided for in this Agreement, then the Agreement may be terminated upon not less than six months' written notice. Respondent Quasha argues that the limitative period set in the "Parity Amendment" should be understood not to be applicable to the disposition, or correlative acquisition, of alienable agricultural lands of the public domain, since such lands can be acquired in full ownership, in which event, under Article 428 of the Civil Code of Philippines ART, 428. The owner has the right to enjoy and dispose of a thing, without other limitations than those established by law. The owner has also a right of action against the holder and possessor of the thing in order to recover it. and that since any period or condition which produces the effect of loss or deprivation of valuable rights is in derogation of due process of law, there must be "a law which expressly and indubitably limits and extinguishes the ownership of non-citizens over private agricultural lands situated in the Philippines validly acquired under the law existing at the time of acquisition." Strangely enough, this argument ignores the provisions of the "Parity Amendment" prescribing that the disposition and exploitation, etc. of agricultural lands of the public domain are in no case to extend beyond the third of July 1974. This limitation already existed when Quasha in 1954 purchased the Forbes Park property, and the acquisition was subject to it. If the Philippine government can not dispose of its alienable public agricultural lands beyond that date under the "Parity Amendment", then, logically, the Constitution, as modified by the Amendment, only authorizes either of two things: (a) alienation or transfer of rights less than ownership or (b) a

resoluble ownership that will be extinguished not later than the specified period. For the Philippine government to dispose of the public agricultural land for an indefinite time would necessarily be in violation of the Constitution. There is nothing in the Civil Law of this country that is repugnant to the existence of ownership for a limited duration; thus the title of a "reservista" (ascendant inheriting from a descendant) in reserva troncal, under Article 891 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, is one such owner, holding title and dominion, although under condition subsequent; he can do anything that a genuine owner can do, until his death supervenes with "reservataries surviving", i.e., relatives within the third degree (Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 661, 695). In truth, respondent himself invokes Article 428 of the Civil Code to the effect that "the owner has the right to enjoy and dispose of a thing, without other limitations than those established by law". One such limitation is the period fixed on the "Parity Amendment", which forms part of the Constitution, the highest law of the land. How then can he complain of deprivation of due process? That the legislature has not yet determined what is to be done with the property when the respondent's rights thereto terminate on 3 July 1974 is irrelevant to the issues in this case. The law, making power has until that date full power to adopt the apposite measures, and it is expected to do so. One last point: under the "Parity Amendment" the disposition, exploitation, development and utilization of lands of the public domain, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities are open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprises owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States while under the Philippine Constitution (section 1, Article XIII, and section 8, Article XIV) utilization of such lands, natural resources and public utilities are open to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens ... It is thus apparent that American business enterprises are more favored than Philippine organization during the period of parity in that, first, they need not be owned by American citizens up to 60% of their capital; all that is required is that they be controlled by United States citizens, a control that is attained by ownership of only 51% a of the capital stock; and second, that the control by United States citizens may be direct or indirect (voting trusts, pyramiding, etc.) which indirect control is not allowed in the case of Philippine nationals. That Filipinos should be placed under the so-called Parity in a more disadvantageous position than United States citizens in the disposition, exploitation, development and utilization of the public lands, forests, mines, oils and other natural resources of their own country is certainly rank injustice and inequity that warrants a most strict interpretation of the "Parity Amendment", in order that the dishonorable inferiority in which Filipinos find themselves at present in the land of their ancestors should not be prolonged more than is absolutely necessary. FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, the appealed decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal is hereby reversed and set aside; and judgment is rendered declaring that, under the "Parity Amendment" to our Constitution, citizens of the United States and corporations and business enterprises owned or controlled by them can not acquire and own, save in cases of hereditary succession, private agricultural lands in the Philippines and that all other rights acquired by them under said amendment will expire on 3 July 1974.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-630 November 15, 1947

full advantage of by many, with the circumstance that perhaps the constitutional question may never come up again before this court, because both vendors and vendees will have no interest but to uphold the validity of their transactions, and very unlikely will the register of deeds venture to disobey the orders of their superior. Thus, the possibility for this court to voice its conviction in a future case may be remote, with the result that our indifference of today might signify a permanent offense to the Constitution. All thse circumstances were thoroughly considered and weighted by this Court for a number of days and the legal result of the last vote was a denial of the motion withdrawing the appeal. We are thus confronted, at this stage of the proceedings, with our duty, the constitutional question becomes unavoidable. We shall then proceed to decide that question. Article XIII, section 1, of the Constitutional is as follows: Article XIII. Conservation and utilization of natural resources. SECTION 1. All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, water, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inaguration of the Government established uunder this Constitution. Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no licence, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water "power" in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant. The scope of this constitutional provision, according to its heading and its language, embraces all lands of any kind of the public domain, its purpose being to establish a permanent and fundamental policy for the conservation and utilization of all natural resources of the Nation. When, therefore, this provision, with reference to lands of the public domain, makes mention of only agricultural, timber and mineral lands, it means that all lands of the public domain are classified into said three groups, namely, agricultural, timber and mineral. And this classification finds corroboration in the circumstance that at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, that was the basic classification existing in the public laws and judicial decisions in the Philippines, and the term "public agricultural lands" under said classification had then acquired a technical meaning that was well-known to the members of the Constitutional Convention who were mostly members of the legal profession. As early as 1908, in the case of Mapa vs. Insular Government (10 Phil., 175, 182), this Court said that the phrase "agricultural public lands" as defined in the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, which phrase is also to be found in several sections of the Public Land Act (No. 926), means "those public lands acquired from Spain which are neither mineral for timber lands." This definition has been followed in long line of decisions of this Court. (See Montano vs. Insular Government, 12 Phil., 593; Ibaez de Aldecoa vs. Insular Government, 13 Phil., 159; Ramos vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil., 175; Jocson vs. Director of Forestry, 39 Phil., 560; Ankron vs. Government of the Philippines, 40 Phil., 10.) And with respect to residential lands, it has been held that since they are neither mineral nor timber lands, of necessity they must be classified as agricultural. In Ibaez de Aldecoa vs. Insular Government (13 Phil., 159, 163), this Court said: Hence, any parcel of land or building lot is susceptible of cultivation, and may be converted into a field, and planted with all kinds of vegetation; for this reason, where land is not mining or forestal in its nature, it must necessarily be included within the classification of agricultural land, not because it is actually used for the purposes of agriculture, but because it was originally agricultural and may again become so under other circumstances; besides, the Act of Congress contains only three classification, and makes no special provision with respect to building lots or urban lands that have ceased to be agricultural land.

ALEXANDER A. KRIVENKO, petitioner-appellant, vs. THE REGISTER OF DEEDS, CITY OF MANILA, respondent and appellee. Gibbs, Gibbs, Chuidian and Quasha of petitioner-appellant. First Assistant Solicitor General Reyes and Solicitor Carreon for respondent-appellee. Marcelino Lontok appeared as amicus curies. MORAN, C.J.: Alenxander A. Kriventor alien, bought a residential lot from the Magdalena Estate, Inc., in December of 1941, the registration of which was interrupted by the war. In May, 1945, he sought to accomplish said registration but was denied by the register of deeds of Manila on the ground that, being an alien, he cannot acquire land in this jurisdiction. Krivenko then brought the case to the fourth branch of the Court of First Instance of Manila by means of a consulta, and that court rendered judgment sustaining the refusal of the register of deeds, from which Krivenko appealed to this Court. There is no dispute as to these facts. The real point in issue is whether or not an alien under our Constitution may acquire residential land. It is said that the decision of the case on the merits is unnecessary, there being a motion to withdraw the appeal which should have been granted outright, and reference is made to the ruling laid down by this Court in another case to the effect that a court should not pass upon a constitutional question if its judgment may be made to rest upon other grounds. There is, we believe, a confusion of ideas in this reasoning. It cannot be denied that the constitutional question is unavoidable if we choose to decide this case upon the merits. Our judgment cannot to be made to rest upon other grounds if we have to render any judgment at all. And we cannot avoid our judgment simply because we have to avoid a constitutional question. We cannot, for instance, grant the motion withdrawing the appeal only because we wish to evade the constitutional; issue. Whether the motion should be, or should not be, granted, is a question involving different considerations now to be stated. According to Rule 52, section 4, of the Rules of Court, it is discretionary upon this Court to grant a withdrawal of appeal after the briefs have been presented. At the time the motion for withdrawal was filed in this case, not only had the briefs been prensented, but the case had already been voted and the majority decision was being prepared. The motion for withdrawal stated no reason whatsoever, and the Solicitor General was agreeable to it. While the motion was pending in this Court, came the new circular of the Department of Justice, instructing all register of deeds to accept for registration all transfers of residential lots to aliens. The herein respondent-appellee was naturally one of the registers of deeds to obey the new circular, as against his own stand in this case which had been maintained by the trial court and firmly defended in this Court by the Solicitor General. If we grant the withdrawal, the the result would be that petitioner-appellant Alexander A. Krivenko wins his case, not by a decision of this Court, but by the decision or circular of the Department of Justice, issued while this case was pending before this Court. Whether or not this is the reason why appellant seeks the withdrawal of his appeal and why the Solicitor General readily agrees to that withdrawal, is now immaterial. What is material and indeed very important, is whether or not we should allow interference with the regular and complete exercise by this Court of its constitutional functions, and whether or not after having held long deliberations and after having reached a clear and positive conviction as to what the constitutional mandate is, we may still allow our conviction to be silenced, and the constitutional mandate to be ignored or misconceived, with all the harmful consequences that might be brought upon the national patromony. For it is but natural that the new circular be taken

In other words, the Court ruled that in determining whether a parcel of land is agricultural, the test is not only whether it is actually agricultural, but also its susceptibility to cultivation for agricultural purposes. But whatever the test might be, the fact remains that at the time the Constitution was adopted, lands of the public domain were classified in our laws and jurisprudence into agricultural, mineral, and timber, and that the term "public agricultural lands" was construed as referring to those lands that were not timber or mineral, and as including residential lands. It may safely be presumed, therefore, that what the members of the Constitutional Convention had in mind when they drafted the Constitution was this well-known classification and its technical meaning then prevailing. Certain expressions which appear in Constitutions, . . . are obviously technical; and where such words have been in use prior to the adoption of a Constitution, it is presumed that its framers and the people who ratified it have used such expressions in accordance with their technical meaning. (11 Am. Jur., sec. 66, p. 683.) Also Calder vs. Bull, 3 Dall. [U.S.], 386; 1 Law. ed., 648; Bronson vs. Syverson, 88 Wash., 264; 152 P., 1039.) It is a fundamental rule that, in construing constitutions, terms employed therein shall be given the meaning which had been put upon them, and which they possessed, at the time of the framing and adoption of the instrument. If a word has acquired a fixed, technical meaning in legal and constitutional history, it will be presumed to have been employed in that sense in a written Constitution. (McKinney vs. Barker, 180 Ky., 526; 203 S.W., 303; L.R.A., 1918 E, 581.) Where words have been long used in a technical sense and have been judicially construed to have a certain meaning, and have been adopted by the legislature as having a certain meaning prior to a particular statute in which they are used, the rule of construction requires that the words used in such statute should be construed according to the sense in which they have been so previously used, although the sense may vary from strict literal meaning of the words. (II Sutherland, Statutory Construction, p. 758.) Therefore, the phrase "public agricultural lands" appearing in section 1 of Article XIII of the Constitution must be construed as including residential lands, and this is in conformity with a legislative interpretation given after the adoption of the Constitution. Well known is the rule that "where the Legislature has revised a statute after a Constitution has been adopted, such a revision is to be regarded as a legislative construction that the statute so revised conforms to the Constitution." (59 C.J., 1102.) Soon after the Constitution was adopted, the National Assembly revised the Public Land Law and passed Commonwealth Act No. 141, and sections 58, 59 and 60 thereof permit the sale of residential lots to Filipino citizens or to associations or corporations controlled by such citizens, which is equivalent to a solemn declaration that residential lots are considered as agricultural lands, for, under the Constitution, only agricultural lands may be alienated. It is true that in section 9 of said Commonwealth Act No. 141, "alienable or disposable public lands" which are the same "public agriculture lands" under the Constitution, are classified into agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial and for other puposes. This simply means that the term "public agricultural lands" has both a broad and a particular meaning. Under its broad or general meaning, as used in the Constitution, it embraces all lands that are neither timber nor mineral. This broad meaning is particularized in section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 which classifies "public agricultural lands" for purposes of alienation or disposition, into lands that are stricly agricultural or actually devoted to cultivation for agricultural puposes; lands that are residential; commercial; industrial; or lands for other purposes. The fact that these lands are made alienable or disposable under Commonwealth Act No. 141, in favor of Filipino citizens, is a conclusive indication of their character as public agricultural lands under said statute and under the Constitution. It must be observed, in this connection that prior to the Constitution, under section 24 of Public Land Act No. 2874, aliens could acquire public agricultural lands used for industrial or residential puposes, but after the Constitution and under section 23 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, the

right of aliens to acquire such kind of lands is completely stricken out, undoubtedly in pursuance of the constitutional limitation. And, again, prior to the Constitution, under section 57 of Public Land Act No. 2874, land of the public domain suitable for residence or industrial purposes could be sold or leased to aliens, but after the Constitution and under section 60 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, such land may only be leased, but not sold, to aliens, and the lease granted shall only be valid while the land is used for the purposes referred to. The exclusion of sale in the new Act is undoubtedly in pursuance of the constitutional limitation, and this again is another legislative construction that the term "public agricultural land" includes land for residence purposes. Such legislative interpretation is also in harmony with the interpretation given by the Executive Department of the Government. Way back in 1939, Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos, in answer to a query as to "whether or not the phrase 'public agricultural lands' in section 1 of Article XII (now XIII) of the Constitution may be interpreted to include residential, commercial, and industrial lands for purposes of their disposition," rendered the following short, sharp and crystal-clear opinion: Section 1, Article XII (now XIII) of the Constitution classifies lands of the public domain in the Philippines into agricultural, timber and mineral. This is the basic classification adopted since the enactment of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, known as the Philippine Bill. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the Philippines, the term 'agricultural public lands' and, therefore, acquired a technical meaning in our public laws. The Supreme Court of the Philippines in the leading case of Mapa vs. Insular Government, 10 Phil., 175, held that the phrase 'agricultural public lands' means those public lands acquired from Spain which are neither timber nor mineral lands. This definition has been followed by our Supreme Court in many subsequent case. . . . Residential commercial, or industrial lots forming part of the public domain must have to be included in one or more of these classes. Clearly, they are neither timber nor mineral, of necessity, therefore, they must be classified as agricultural. Viewed from another angle, it has been held that in determining whether lands are agricultural or not, the character of the land is the test (Odell vs. Durant, 62 N.W., 524; Lorch vs. Missoula Brick and Tile Co., 123 p.25). In other words, it is the susceptibility of the land to cultivation for agricultural purposes by ordinary farming methods which determines whether it is agricultural or not (State vs. Stewart, 190 p. 129). Furthermore, as said by the Director of Lands, no reason is seen why a piece of land, which may be sold to a person if he is to devote it to agricultural, cannot be sold to him if he intends to use it as a site for his home. This opinion is important not alone because it comes from a Secratary of Justice who later became the Chief Justice of this Court, but also because it was rendered by a member of the cabinet of the late President Quezon who actively participated in the drafting of the constitutional provision under consideration. (2 Aruego, Framing of the Philippine Constitution, p. 598.) And the opinion of the Quezon administration was reiterated by the Secretary of Justice under the Osmea administration, and it was firmly maintained in this Court by the Solicitor General of both administrations. It is thus clear that the three great departments of the Government judicial, legislative and executive have always maintained that lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, mineral and timber, and that agricultural lands include residential lots. Under section 1 of Article XIII of the Constitution, "natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be aliented," and with respect to public agricultural lands, their alienation is limited to Filipino citizens. But this constitutional purpose conserving agricultural resources in the hands of Filipino citizens may easily be defeated by the Filipino citizens themselves who may alienate their agricultural lands in favor of aliens. It is partly to prevent this result that section 5 is included in Article XIII, and it reads as follows:

Sec. 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land will be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines. This constitutional provision closes the only remaining avenue through which agricultural resources may leak into aliens' hands. It would certainly be futile to prohibit the alienation of public agricultural lands to aliens if, after all, they may be freely so alienated upon their becoming private agricultural lands in the hands of Filipino citizens. Undoubtedly, as above indicated, section 5 is intended to insure the policy of nationalization contained in section 1. Both sections must, therefore, be read together for they have the same purpose and the same subject matter. It must be noticed that the persons against whom the prohibition is directed in section 5 are the very same persons who under section 1 are disqualified "to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines." And the subject matter of both sections is the same, namely, the non-transferability of "agricultural land" to aliens. Since "agricultural land" under section 1 includes residential lots, the same technical meaning should be attached to "agricultural land under section 5. It is a rule of statutory construction that "a word or phrase repeated in a statute will bear the same meaning throughout the statute, unless a different intention appears." (II Sutherland, Statutory Construction, p. 758.) The only difference between "agricultural land" under section 5, is that the former is public and the latter private. But such difference refers to ownership and not to the class of land. The lands are the same in both sections, and, for the conservation of the national patrimony, what is important is the nature or class of the property regardless of whether it is owned by the State or by its citizens. Reference is made to an opinion rendered on September 19, 1941, by the Hon. Teofilo Sison, then Secretary of Justice, to the effect that residential lands of the public domain may be considered as agricultural lands, whereas residential lands of private ownership cannot be so considered. No reason whatsoever is given in the opinion for such a distinction, and no valid reason can be adduced for such a discriminatory view, particularly having in mind that the purpose of the constitutional provision is the conservation of the national patrimony, and private residential lands are as much an integral part of the national patrimony as the residential lands of the public domain. Specially is this so where, as indicated above, the prohibition as to the alienable of public residential lots would become superflous if the same prohibition is not equally applied to private residential lots. Indeed, the prohibition as to private residential lands will eventually become more important, for time will come when, in view of the constant disposition of public lands in favor of private individuals, almost all, if not all, the residential lands of the public domain shall have become private residential lands. It is maintained that in the first draft of section 5, the words "no land of private ownership" were used and later changed into "no agricultural land of private ownership," and lastly into "no private agricultural land" and from these changes it is argued that the word "agricultural" introduced in the second and final drafts was intended to limit the meaning of the word "land" to land actually used for agricultural purposes. The implication is not accurate. The wording of the first draft was amended for no other purpose than to clarify concepts and avoid uncertainties. The words "no land" of the first draft, unqualified by the word "agricultural," may be mistaken to include timber and mineral lands, and since under section 1, this kind of lands can never be private, the prohibition to transfer the same would be superfluous. Upon the other hand, section 5 had to be drafted in harmony with section 1 to which it is supplementary, as above indicated. Inasmuch as under section 1, timber and mineral lands can never be private, and the only lands that may become private are agricultural lands, the words "no land of private ownership" of the first draft can have no other meaning than "private agricultural land." And thus the change in the final draft is merely one of words in order to make its subject matter more specific with a view to avoiding the possible confusion of ideas that could have arisen from the first draft. If the term "private agricultural lands" is to be construed as not including residential lots or lands not strictly agricultural, the result would be that "aliens may freely acquire and possess not only residential lots and houses for themselves but entire subdivisions, and whole towns and cities," and that "they may validly buy and hold in their names lands of any area for building homes, factories, industrial plants, fisheries, hatcheries, schools, health and vacation resorts, markets, golf courses, playgrounds, airfields, and a host of other uses and purposes that are not, in

appellant's words, strictly agricultural." (Solicitor General's Brief, p. 6.) That this is obnoxious to the conservative spirit of the Constitution is beyond question. One of the fundamental principles underlying the provision of Article XIII of the Constitution and which was embodied in the report of the Committee on Nationalization and Preservation of Lands and other Natural Resources of the Constitutional Convention, is "that lands, minerals, forests, and other natural resources constitute the exclusive heritage of the Filipino nation. They should, therefore, be preserved for those under the sovereign authority of that nation and for their posterity." (2 Aruego, Framing of the Filipino Constitution, p. 595.) Delegate Ledesma, Chairman of the Committee on Agricultural Development of the Constitutional Convention, in a speech delivered in connection with the national policy on agricultural lands, said: "The exclusion of aliens from the privilege of acquiring public agricultural lands and of owning real estate is a necessary part of the Public Land Laws of the Philippines to keep pace with the idea of preserving the Philippines for the Filipinos." (Emphasis ours.) And, of the same tenor was the speech of Delegate Montilla who said: "With the complete nationalization of our lands and natural resources it is to be understood that our God-given birthright should be one hundred per cent in Filipino hands . . .. Lands and natural resources are immovables and as such can be compared to the vital organs of a person's body, the lack of possession of which may cause instant death or the shortening of life. If we do not completely antionalize these two of our most important belongings, I am afraid that the time will come when we shall be sorry for the time we were born. Our independence will be just a mockery, for what kind of independence are we going to have if a part of our country is not in our hands but in those of foreigners?" (Emphasis ours.) Professor Aruego says that since the opening days of the Constitutional Convention one of its fixed and dominating objectives was the conservation and nationalization of the natural resources of the country. (2 Aruego, Framing of the Philippine Constitution, p 592.) This is ratified by the members of the Constitutional Convention who are now members of this Court, namely, Mr. Justice Perfecto, Mr. Justice Briones, and Mr. Justice Hontiveros. And, indeed, if under Article XIV, section 8, of the Constitution, an alien may not even operate a small jitney for hire, it is certainly not hard to understand that neither is he allowed to own a pieace of land. This constitutional intent is made more patent and is strongly implemented by an act of the National Assembly passed soon after the Constitution was approved. We are referring again to Commonwealth Act No. 141. Prior to the Constitution, there were in the Public Land Act No. 2874 sections 120 and 121 which granted aliens the right to acquire private only by way of reciprocity. Said section reads as follows: SEC. 120. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of this Act, nor any permanent improvement on such land, shall be encumbered, alienated, or transferred, except to persons, corporations, associations, or partnerships who may acquire lands of the public domain under this Act; to corporations organized in the Philippine Islands authorized therefor by their charters, and, upon express authorization by the Philippine Legislature, to citizens of countries the laws of which grant to citizens of the Philippine Islands the same right to acquire, hold, lease, encumber, dispose of, or alienate land, or permanent improvements thereon, or any interest therein, as to their own citizens, only in the manner and to the extent specified in such laws, and while the same are in force but not thereafter. SEC. 121. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of the former Public Land Act or of any other Act, ordinance, royal order, royal decree, or any other provision of law formerly in force in the Philippine Islands with regard to public lands, terrenos baldios y realengos, or lands of any other denomination that were actually or presumptively of the public domain or by royal grant or in any other form, nor any permanent improvement on such land, shall be encumbered, alienated, or conveyed, except to persons, corporations, or associations who may acquire land of the public domain under this Act; to corporate bodies organized in the Philippine Islands whose charters may authorize them to do so, and, upon express authorization by the Philippine Legislature, to citizens of the countries the laws of which grant to citizens of the Philippine Islands the same right to acquire, hold, lease, encumber, dispose of, or alienate land or pemanent improvements thereon or any interest therein, as to their own citizens, and only in the manner and to the extent specified in

such laws, and while the same are in force, but not thereafter: Provided, however, That this prohibition shall not be applicable to the conveyance or acquisition by reason of hereditary succession duly acknowledged and legalized by competent courts, nor to lands and improvements acquired or held for industrial or residence purposes, while used for such purposes: Provided, further, That in the event of the ownership of the lands and improvements mentioned in this section and in the last preceding section being transferred by judicial decree to persons,corporations or associations not legally capacitated to acquire the same under the provisions of this Act, such persons, corporations, or associations shall be obliged to alienate said lands or improvements to others so capacitated within the precise period of five years, under the penalty of such property reverting to the Government in the contrary case." (Public Land Act, No. 2874.) It is to be observed that the pharase "no land" used in these section refers to all private lands, whether strictly agricultural, residential or otherwise, there being practically no private land which had not been acquired by any of the means provided in said two sections. Therefore, the prohibition contained in these two provisions was, in effect, that no private land could be transferred to aliens except "upon express authorization by the Philippine Legislature, to citizens of Philippine Islands the same right to acquire, hold, lease, encumber, dispose of, or alienate land." In other words, aliens were granted the right to acquire private land merely by way of reciprocity. Then came the Constitution and Commonwealth Act No. 141 was passed, sections 122 and 123 of which read as follows: SEC. 122. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of this Act, nor any permanent improvement on such land, shall be encumbered, alienated, or transferred, except to persons, corporations, associations, or partnerships who may acquire lands of the public domain under this Act or to corporations organized in the Philippines authorized thereof by their charters. SEC. 123. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of any previous Act, ordinance, royal order, royal decree, or any other provision of law formerly in force in the Philippines with regard to public lands terrenos baldios y realengos, or lands of any other denomination that were actually or presumptively of the public domain, or by royal grant or in any other form, nor any permanent improvement on such land, shall be encumbered, alienated, or conveyed, except to persons, corporations or associations who may acquire land of the public domain under this Act or to corporate bodies organized in the Philippines whose charters authorize them to do so: Provided, however, That this prohibition shall not be applicable to the conveyance or acquisition by reason of hereditary succession duly acknowledged and legalized by competent courts: Provided, further, That in the event of the ownership of the lands and improvements mentioned in this section and in the last preceding section being transferred by judicial decree to persons, corporations or associations not legally capacitated to acquire the same under the provisions of this Act, such persons, corporations, or associations shall be obliged to alienate said lands or improvements to others so capacitated within the precise period of five years; otherwise, such property shall revert to the Government. These two sections are almost literally the same as sections 120 and 121 of Act No. 2874, the only difference being that in the new provisions, the right to reciprocity granted to aliens is completely stricken out. This, undoubtedly, is to conform to the absolute policy contained in section 5 of Article XIII of the Constitution which, in prohibiting the alienation of private agricultural lands to aliens, grants them no right of reciprocity. This legislative construction carries exceptional weight, for prominent members of the National Assembly who approved the new Act had been members of the Constitutional Convention. It is said that the lot question does not come within the purview of sections 122 and 123 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, there being no proof that the same had been acquired by one of the means provided in said provisions. We are not, however, diciding the instant case under the provisions of the Public Land Act, which have to refer to land that had been formerly of the public domain, otherwise their constitutionality may be doubtful. We are deciding the instant case under

section 5 of Article XIII of the Constitution which is more comprehensive and more absolute in the sense that it prohibits the transfer to alien of any private agricultural land including residential land whatever its origin might have been. And, finally, on June 14, 1947, the Congress approved Republic Act No. 133 which allows mortgage of "private real property" of any kind in favor of aliens but with a qualification consisting of expressly prohibiting aliens to bid or take part in any sale of such real property as a consequence of the mortgage. This prohibition makes no distinction between private lands that are strictly agricultural and private lands that are residental or commercial. The prohibition embraces the sale of private lands of any kind in favor of aliens, which is again a clear implementation and a legislative interpretation of the constitutional prohibition. Had the Congress been of opinion that private residential lands may be sold to aliens under the Constitution, no legislative measure would have been found necessary to authorize mortgage which would have been deemed also permissible under the Constitution. But clearly it was the opinion of the Congress that such sale is forbidden by the Constitution and it was such opinion that prompted the legislative measure intended to clarify that mortgage is not within the constitutional prohibition. It is well to note at this juncture that in the present case we have no choice. We are construing the Constitution as it is and not as we may desire it to be. Perhaps the effect of our construction is to preclude aliens, admitted freely into the Philippines from owning sites where they may build their homes. But if this is the solemn mandate of the Constitution, we will not attempt to compromise it even in the name of amity or equity. We are satisfied, however, that aliens are not completely excluded by the Constitution from the use of lands for residential purposes. Since their residence in the Philippines is temporary, they may be granted temporary rights such as a lease contract which is not forbidden by the Constitution. Should they desire to remain here forever and share our fortunes and misfortunes, Filipino citizenship is not impossible to acquire. For all the foregoing, we hold that under the Constitution aliens may not acquire private or public agricultural lands, including residential lands, and, accordingly, judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 164527 August 15, 2007

of the Plan to ensure compliance with environmental standards and assist DOH in the conduct of the study on hospital waste management."5 At the time MO 161-A was issued by President Aquino, Smokey Mountain was a wasteland in Balut, Tondo, Manila, where numerous Filipinos resided in subhuman conditions, collecting items that may have some monetary value from the garbage. The Smokey Mountain dumpsite is bounded on the north by the Estero Marala, on the south by the property of the National Government, on the east by the property of B and I Realty Co., and on the west by Radial Road 10 (R-10). Pursuant to MO 161-A, NHA prepared the feasibility studies of the Smokey Mountain low-cost housing project which resulted in the formulation of the "Smokey Mountain Development Plan and Reclamation of the Area Across R-10" or the Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project (SMDRP; the Project). The Project aimed to convert the Smokey Mountain dumpsite into a habitable housing project, inclusive of the reclamation of the area across R-10, adjacent to the Smokey Mountain as the enabling component of the project. 6 Once finalized, the Plan was submitted to President Aquino for her approval. On July 9, 1990, the Build-Operate-and-Transfer (BOT) Law (Republic Act No. [RA] 6957) was enacted.7 Its declared policy under Section 1 is "[t]o recognize the indispensable role of the private sector as the main engine for national growth and development and provide the most appropriate favorable incentives to mobilize private resources for the purpose." Sec. 3 authorized and empowered "[a]ll government infrastructure agencies, including governmentowned and controlled corporations and local government units x x x to enter into contract with any duly pre-qualified private contractor for the financing, construction, operation and maintenance of any financially viable infrastructure facilities through the build-operate-transfer or build and transfer scheme." RA 6957 defined "build-and-transfer" scheme as "[a] contractual arrangement whereby the contractor undertakes the construction, including financing, of a given infrastructure facility, and its turnover after the completion to the government agency or local government unit concerned which shall pay the contractor its total investment expended on the project, plus reasonable rate of return thereon." The last paragraph of Sec. 6 of the BOT Law provides that the repayment scheme in the case of "land reclamation or the building of industrial estates" may consist of "[t]he grant of a portion or percentage of the reclaimed land or industrial estate built, subject to the constitutional requirements with respect to the ownership of lands." On February 10, 1992, Joint Resolution No. 038 was passed by both houses of Congress. Sec. 1 of this resolution provided, among other things, that: Section 1. There is hereby approved the following national infrastructure projects for implementation under the provisions of Republic Act No. 6957 and its implementing rules and regulations: xxxx (d) Port infrastructure like piers, wharves, quays, storage handling, ferry service and related facilities; xxxx (k) Land reclamation, dredging and other related development facilities; (l) Industrial estates, regional industrial centers and export processing zones including steel mills, iron-making and petrochemical complexes and related infrastructure and utilities; xxxx (p) Environmental and solid waste management-related facilities such as collection equipment, composting plants, incinerators, landfill and tidal barriers, among others; and (q) Development of new townsites and communities and related facilities.

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, R-II BUILDERS, INC., R-II HOLDINGS, INC., HARBOUR CENTRE PORT TERMINAL, INC., and MR. REGHIS ROMERO II, Respondents. DECISION VELASCO, JR., J.: In this Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction under Rule 65, petitioner, in his capacity as taxpayer, seeks: to declare NULL AND VOID the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) dated March 9, 1993 between the National Housing Authority and R-II Builders, Inc. and the Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project embodied therein; the subsequent amendments to the said JVA; and all other agreements signed and executed in relation thereto including, but not limited to the Smokey Mountain Asset Pool Agreement dated 26 September 1994 and the separate agreements for Phase I and Phase II of the Project as well as all other transactions which emanated therefrom, for being UNCONSTITUTIONAL and INVALID; to enjoin respondentsparticularly respondent NHAfrom further implementing and/or enforcing the said project and other agreements related thereto, and from further deriving and/or enjoying any rights, privileges and interest therefrom x x x; and to compel respondents to disclose all documents and information relating to the project including, but not limited to, any subsequent agreements with respect to the different phases of the project, the revisions over the original plan, the additional works incurred thereon, the current financial condition of respondent R-II Builders, Inc., and the transactions made respecting the project.1 The Facts On March 1, 1988, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Memorandum Order No. (MO) 1612 approving and directing the implementation of the Comprehensive and Integrated Metropolitan Manila Waste Management Plan (the Plan). The Metro Manila Commission, in coordination with various government agencies, was tasked as the lead agency to implement the Plan as formulated by the Presidential Task Force on Waste Management created by Memorandum Circular No. 39. A day after, on March 2, 1988, MO 161-A3 was issued, containing the guidelines which prescribed the functions and responsibilities of fifteen (15) various government departments and offices tasked to implement the Plan, namely: Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Transportation and Communication, Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Philippine Constabulary Integrated National Police, Philippine Information Agency and the Local Government Unit (referring to the City of Manila), Department of Social Welfare and Development, Presidential Commission for Urban Poor, National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Education, Culture and Sports (now Department of Education), and Presidential Management Staff. Specifically, respondent NHA was ordered to "conduct feasibility studies and develop low-cost housing projects at the dumpsite and absorb scavengers in NHA resettlement/low-cost housing projects."4 On the other hand, the DENR was tasked to "review and evaluate proposed projects under the Plan with regard to their environmental impact, conduct regular monitoring of activities

This resolution complied with and conformed to Sec. 4 of the BOT Law requiring the approval of all national infrastructure projects by the Congress. On January 17, 1992, President Aquino proclaimed MO 4159 approving and directing the implementation of the SMDRP. Secs. 3 and 4 of the Memorandum Order stated: Section 3. The National Housing Authority is hereby directed to implement the Smokey Mountain Development Plan and Reclamation of the Area Across R-10 through a private sector joint venture scheme at the least cost to the government. Section 4. The land area covered by the Smokey Mountain dumpsite is hereby conveyed to the National Housing Authority as well as the area to be reclaimed across R-10. (Emphasis supplied.) In addition, the Public Estates Authority (PEA) was directed to assist in the evaluation of proposals regarding the technical feasibility of reclamation, while the DENR was directed to (1) facilitate titling of Smokey Mountain and of the area to be reclaimed and (2) assist in the technical evaluation of proposals regarding environmental impact statements. 10 In the same MO 415, President Aquino created an Executive Committee (EXECOM) to oversee the implementation of the Plan, chaired by the National Capital Region-Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (NCR-CORD) with the heads of the NHA, City of Manila, DPWH, PEA, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), DENR, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) as members.11 The NEDA subsequently became a member of the EXECOM. Notably, in a September 2, 1994 Letter,12 PEA General Manager Amado Lagdameo approved the plans for the reclamation project prepared by the NHA. In conformity with Sec. 5 of MO 415, an inter-agency technical committee (TECHCOM) was created composed of the technical representatives of the EXECOM "[t]o assist the NHA in the evaluation of the project proposals, assist in the resolution of all issues and problems in the project to ensure that all aspects of the development from squatter relocation, waste management, reclamation, environmental protection, land and house construction meet governing regulation of the region and to facilitate the completion of the project."13 Subsequently, the TECHCOM put out the Public Notice and Notice to Pre-Qualify and Bid for the right to become NHAs joint venture partner in the implementation of the SMDRP. The notices were published in newspapers of general circulation on January 23 and 26 and February 1, 14, 16, and 23, 1992, respectively. Out of the thirteen (13) contractors who responded, only five (5) contractors fully complied with the required pre-qualification documents. Based on the evaluation of the pre-qualification documents, the EXECOM declared the New San Jose Builders, Inc. and R-II Builders, Inc. (RBI) as the top two contractors.14 Thereafter, the TECHCOM evaluated the bids (which include the Pre-feasibility Study and Financing Plan) of the top two (2) contractors in this manner: (1) The DBP, as financial advisor to the Project, evaluated their Financial Proposals; (2) The DPWH, PPA, PEA and NHA evaluated the Technical Proposals for the Housing Construction and Reclamation; (3) The DENR evaluated Technical Proposals on Waste Management and Disposal by conducting the Environmental Impact Analysis; and (4) The NHA and the City of Manila evaluated the socio-economic benefits presented by the proposals. On June 30, 1992, Fidel V. Ramos assumed the Office of the President (OP) of the Philippines. On August 31, 1992, the TECHCOM submitted its recommendation to the EXECOM to approve the R-II Builders, Inc. (RBI) proposal which garnered the highest score of 88.475%. Subsequently, the EXECOM made a Project briefing to President Ramos. As a result, President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 3915 on September 9, 1992, which reads:

WHEREAS, the National Housing Authority has presented a viable conceptual plan to convert the Smokey Mountain dumpsite into a habitable housing project, inclusive of the reclamation of the area across Road Radial 10 (R-10) adjacent to the Smokey Mountain as the enabling component of the project; xxxx These parcels of land of public domain are hereby placed under the administration and disposition of the National Housing Authority to develop, subdivide and dispose to qualified beneficiaries, as well as its development for mix land use (commercial/industrial) to provide employment opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port-related activities. In order to facilitate the early development of the area for disposition, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Lands and Management Bureau, is hereby directed to approve the boundary and subdivision survey and to issue a special patent and title in the name of the National Housing Authority, subject to final survey and private rights, if any there be. (Emphasis supplied.) On October 7, 1992, President Ramos authorized NHA to enter into a Joint Venture Agreement with RBI "[s]ubject to final review and approval of the Joint Venture Agreement by the Office of the President."16 On March 19, 1993, the NHA and RBI entered into a Joint Venture Agreement 17 (JVA) for the development of the Smokey Mountain dumpsite and the reclamation of the area across R-10 based on Presidential Decree No. (PD) 75718 which mandated NHA "[t]o undertake the physical and socio-economic upgrading and development of lands of the public domain identified for housing," MO 161-A which required NHA to conduct the feasibility studies and develop a lowcost housing project at the Smokey Mountain, and MO 415 as amended by MO 415-A which approved the Conceptual Plan for Smokey Mountain and creation of the EXECOM and TECHCOM. Under the JVA, the Project "involves the clearing of Smokey Mountain for eventual development into a low cost medium rise housing complex and industrial/commercial site with the reclamation of the area directly across [R-10] to act as the enabling component of the Project."19 The JVA covered a lot in Tondo, Manila with an area of two hundred twelve thousand two hundred thirty-four (212,234) square meters and another lot to be reclaimed also in Tondo with an area of four hundred thousand (400,000) square meters. The Scope of Work of RBI under Article II of the JVA is as follows: a) To fully finance all aspects of development of Smokey Mountain and reclamation of no more than 40 hectares of Manila Bay area across Radial Road 10. b) To immediately commence on the preparation of feasibility report and detailed engineering with emphasis to the expedient acquisition of the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR. c) The construction activities will only commence after the acquisition of the ECC, and d) Final details of the contract, including construction, duration and delivery timetables, shall be based on the approved feasibility report and detailed engineering. Other obligations of RBI are as follows: 2.02 The [RBI] shall develop the PROJECT based on the Final Report and Detailed Engineering as approved by the Office of the President. All costs and expenses for hiring technical personnel, date gathering, permits, licenses, appraisals, clearances, testing and similar undertaking shall be for the account of the [RBI]. 2.03 The [RBI] shall undertake the construction of 3,500 temporary housing units complete with basic amenities such as plumbing, electrical and sewerage facilities within the temporary housing project as staging area to temporarily house the squatter families from the Smokey Mountain while development is being undertaken. These temporary housing units shall be turned over to the [NHA] for disposition.

2.04 The [RBI] shall construct 3,500 medium rise low cost permanent housing units on the leveled Smokey Mountain complete with basic utilities and amenities, in accordance with the plans and specifications set forth in the Final Report approved by the [NHA]. Completed units ready for mortgage take out shall be turned over by the [RBI] to NHA on agreed schedule. 2.05 The [RBI] shall reclaim forty (40) hectares of Manila Bay area directly across [R10] as contained in Proclamation No. 39 as the enabling component of the project and payment to the [RBI] as its asset share. 2.06 The [RBI] shall likewise furnish all labor materials and equipment necessary to complete all herein development works to be undertaken on a phase to phase basis in accordance with the work program stipulated therein. The profit sharing shall be based on the approved pre-feasibility report submitted to the EXECOM, viz: For the developer (RBI): 1. To own the forty (40) hectares of reclaimed land. 2. To own the commercial area at the Smokey Mountain area composed of 1.3 hectares, and 3. To own all the constructed units of medium rise low cost permanent housing units beyond the 3,500 units share of the [NHA]. For the NHA: 1. To own the temporary housing consisting of 3,500 units. 2. To own the cleared and fenced incinerator site consisting of 5 hectares situated at the Smokey Mountain area. 3. To own the 3,500 units of permanent housing to be constructed by [RBI] at the Smokey Mountain area to be awarded to qualified on site residents. 4. To own the Industrial Area site consisting of 3.2 hectares, and 5. To own the open spaces, roads and facilities within the Smokey Mountain area. In the event of "extraordinary increase in labor, materials, fuel and non-recoverability of total project expenses,"20 the OP, upon recommendation of the NHA, may approve a corresponding adjustment in the enabling component. The functions and responsibilities of RBI and NHA are as follows: For RBI: 4.01 Immediately commence on the preparation of the FINAL REPORT with emphasis to the expedient acquisition, with the assistance of the [NHA] of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the [DENR]. Construction shall only commence after the acquisition of the ECC. The Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) shall form part of the FINAL REPORT. The FINAL REPORT shall provide the necessary subdivision and housing plans, detailed engineering and architectural drawings, technical specifications and other related and required documents relative to the Smokey Mountain area. With respect to the 40-hectare reclamation area, the [RBI] shall have the discretion to develop the same in a manner that it deems necessary to recover the [RBIs] investment, subject to environmental and zoning rules. 4.02 Finance the total project cost for land development, housing construction and reclamation of the PROJECT.

4.03 Warrant that all developments shall be in compliance with the requirements of the FINAL REPORT. 4.04 Provide all administrative resources for the submission of project accomplishment reports to the [NHA] for proper evaluation and supervision on the actual implementation. 4.05 Negotiate and secure, with the assistance of the [NHA] the grant of rights of way to the PROJECT, from the owners of the adjacent lots for access road, water, electrical power connections and drainage facilities. 4.06 Provide temporary field office and transportation vehicles (2 units), one (1) complete set of computer and one (1) unit electric typewriter for the [NHAs] field personnel to be charged to the PROJECT. For the NHA: 4.07 The [NHA] shall be responsible for the removal and relocation of all squatters within Smokey Mountain to the Temporary Housing Complex or to other areas prepared as relocation areas with the assistance of the [RBI]. The [RBI] shall be responsible in releasing the funds allocated and committed for relocation as detailed in the FINAL REPORT. 4.08 Assist the [RBI] and shall endorse granting of exemption fees in the acquisition of all necessary permits, licenses, appraisals, clearances and accreditations for the PROJECT subject to existing laws, rules and regulations. 4.09 The [NHA] shall inspect, evaluate and monitor all works at the Smokey Mountain and Reclamation Area while the land development and construction of housing units are in progress to determine whether the development and construction works are undertaken in accordance with the FINAL REPORT. If in its judgment, the PROJECT is not pursued in accordance with the FINAL REPORT, the [NHA] shall require the [RBI] to undertake necessary remedial works. All expenses, charges and penalties incurred for such remedial, if any, shall be for the account of the [RBI]. 4.10 The [NHA] shall assist the [RBI] in the complete electrification of the PROJECT. x x x 4.11 Handle the processing and documentation of all sales transactions related to its assets shares from the venture such as the 3,500 units of permanent housing and the allotted industrial area of 3.2 hectares. 4.12 All advances outside of project costs made by the [RBI] to the [NHA] shall be deducted from the proceeds due to the [NHA]. 4.13 The [NHA] shall be responsible for the acquisition of the Mother Title for the Smokey Mountain and Reclamation Area within 90 days upon submission of Survey returns to the Land Management Sector. The land titles to the 40-hectare reclaimed land, the 1.3 hectare commercial area at the Smokey Mountain area and the constructed units of medium-rise permanent housing units beyond the 3,500 units share of the [NHA] shall be issued in the name of the [RBI] upon completion of the project. However, the [RBI] shall have the authority to presell its share as indicated in this agreement. The final details of the JVA, which will include the construction duration, costs, extent of reclamation, and delivery timetables, shall be based on the FINAL REPORT which will be contained in a Supplemental Agreement to be executed later by the parties. The JVA may be modified or revised by written agreement between the NHA and RBI specifying the clauses to be revised or modified and the corresponding amendments. If the Project is revoked or terminated by the Government through no fault of RBI or by mutual agreement, the Government shall compensate RBI for its actual expenses incurred in the Project plus a reasonable rate of return not exceeding that stated in the feasibility study and in the contract as of the date of such revocation, cancellation, or termination on a schedule to be agreed upon by both parties.

As a preliminary step in the project implementation, consultations and dialogues were conducted with the settlers of the Smokey Mountain Dumpsite Area. At the same time, DENR started processing the application for the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) of the SMDRP. As a result however of the consultative dialogues, public hearings, the report on the on-site field conditions, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) published on April 29 and May 12, 1993 as required by the Environmental Management Bureau of DENR, the evaluation of the DENR, and the recommendations from other government agencies, it was discovered that design changes and additional work have to be undertaken to successfully implement the Project. 21 Thus, on February 21, 1994, the parties entered into another agreement denominated as the Amended and Restated Joint Venture Agreement22 (ARJVA) which delineated the different phases of the Project. Phase I of the Project involves the construction of temporary housing units for the current residents of the Smokey Mountain dumpsite, the clearing and leveling-off of the dumpsite, and the construction of medium-rise low-cost housing units at the cleared and leveled dumpsite.23 Phase II of the Project involves the construction of an incineration area for the on-site disposal of the garbage at the dumpsite. 24 The enabling component or consideration for Phase I of the Project was increased from 40 hectares of reclaimed lands across R-10 to 79 hectares.25 The revision also provided for the enabling component for Phase II of 119 hectares of reclaimed lands contiguous to the 79 hectares of reclaimed lands for Phase I. 26 Furthermore, the amended contract delineated the scope of works and the terms and conditions of Phases I and II, thus: The PROJECT shall consist of Phase I and Phase II. Phase I shall involve the following: a. the construction of 2,992 units of temporary housing for the affected residents while clearing and development of Smokey Mountain [are] being undertaken b. the clearing of Smokey Mountain and the subsequent construction of 3,520 units of medium rise housing and the development of the industrial/commercial site within the Smokey Mountain area c. the reclamation and development of a 79 hectare area directly across Radial Road 10 to serve as the enabling component of Phase I Phase II shall involve the following: a. the construction and operation of an incinerator plant that will conform to the emission standards of the DENR b. the reclamation and development of 119-hectare area contiguous to that to be reclaimed under Phase I to serve as the enabling component of Phase II. Under the ARJVA, RBI shall construct 2,992 temporary housing units, a reduction from 3,500 units under the JVA.27 However, it was required to construct 3,520 medium-rise low-cost permanent housing units instead of 3,500 units under the JVA. There was a substantial change in the design of the permanent housing units such that a "loft shall be incorporated in each unit so as to increase the living space from 20 to 32 square meters. The additions and changes in the Original Project Component are as follows: ORIGINAL CHANGES/REVISIONS 1. TEMPORARY HOUSING Wood/Plywood, ga. 31 G.I. Concrete/Steel Frame Structure Sheet usable life of 3 years, gauge 26 G.I. roofing sheets future 12 SM floor area. use as permanent structures for factory and warehouses mixed 17 sm & 12 sm floor area. 2. MEDIUM RISE MASS HOUSING

Box type precast Shelter Conventional and precast component 20 square meter concrete structures, 32 square floor area with 2.4 meter meter floor area with loft floor height; bare type, 160 units/ (sleeping quarter) 3.6 m. floor building. height, painted and improved architectural faade, 80 units/building. 3. MITIGATING MEASURES 3.1 For reclamation work Use of clean dredgefill material below the MLLW and SM material mixed with dredgefill above MLLW. a. 100% use of Smokey Mountain material as dredgefill Use of Steel Sheet Piles needed for longer depth of embedment. b. Concrete Sheet Piles short depth of embedment c. Silt removal approximately Need to remove more than 3.0 1.0 meter only meters of silt after sub-soil investigation.28 These material and substantial modifications served as justifications for the increase in the share of RBI from 40 hectares to 79 hectares of reclaimed land. Under the JVA, the specific costs of the Project were not stipulated but under the ARJVA, the stipulated cost for Phase I was pegged at six billion six hundred ninetythree million three hundred eighty-seven thousand three hundred sixty-four pesos (PhP 6,693,387,364). In his February 10, 1994 Memorandum, the Chairperson of the SMDRP EXECOM submitted the ARJVA for approval by the OP. After review of said agreement, the OP directed that certain terms and conditions of the ARJVA be further clarified or amended preparatory to its approval. Pursuant to the Presidents directive, the parties reached an agreement on the clarifications and amendments required to be made on the ARJVA. On August 11, 1994, the NHA and RBI executed an Amendment To the Amended and Restated Joint Venture Agreement (AARJVA)29 clarifying certain terms and condition of the ARJVA, which was submitted to President Ramos for approval, to wit: Phase II shall involve the following: a. the construction and operation of an incinerator plant that will conform to the emission standards of the DENR b. the reclamation and development of 119-hectare area contiguous to that to be reclaimed under Phase I to serve as the enabling component of Phase II, the exact size and configuration of which shall be approved by the SMDRP Committee30 Other substantial amendments are the following: 4. Paragraph 2.05 of Article II of the ARJVA is hereby amended to read as follows: 2.05. The DEVELOPER shall reclaim seventy nine (79) hectares of the Manila Bay area directly across Radial Road 10 (R-10) to serve as payment to the DEVELOPER as its asset share for Phase I and to develop such land into commercial area with port facilities; provided, that the port plan shall be integrated with the Philippine Port Authoritys North Harbor plan for the Manila Bay area and provided further, that the final reclamation and port plan for said reclaimed area shall be submitted for approval by the Public Estates Authority and the Philippine Ports Authority, respectively: provided finally, that subject to par. 2.02 above, actual reclamation work may commence upon approval of the final reclamation plan by the Public Estates Authority.

xxxx 9. A new paragraph to be numbered 5.05 shall be added to Article V of the ARJVA, and shall read as follows: 5.05. In the event this Agreement is revoked, cancelled or terminated by the AUTHORITY through no fault of the DEVELOPER, the AUTHORITY shall compensate the DEVELOPER for the value of the completed portions of, and actual expenditures on the PROJECT plus a reasonable rate of return thereon, not exceeding that stated in the Cost Estimates of Items of Work previously approved by the SMDRP Executive Committee and the AUTHORITY and stated in this Agreement, as of the date of such revocation, cancellation, or termination, on a schedule to be agreed upon by the parties, provided that said completed portions of Phase I are in accordance with the approved FINAL REPORT. Afterwards, President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 465 dated August 31, 1994 increasing the proposed area for reclamation across R-10 from 40 hectares to 79 hectares,32 to wit: NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the law, and as recommended by the SMDRP Executive Committee, do hereby authorize the increase of the area of foreshore or submerged lands of Manila Bay to be reclaimed, as previously authorized under Proclamation No. 39 (s. 1992) and Memorandum Order No. 415 (s. 1992), from Four Hundred Thousand (400,000) square meters, more or less, to Seven Hundred Ninety Thousand (790,000) square meters, more or less. On September 1, 1994, pursuant to Proclamation No. 39, the DENR issued Special Patent No. 3591 conveying in favor of NHA an area of 211,975 square meters covering the Smokey Mountain Dumpsite. In its September 7, 1994 letter to the EXECOM, the OP through then Executive Secretary Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., approved the ARJVA as amended by the AARJVA. On September 8, 1994, the DENR issued Special Patent 3592 pursuant to Proclamation No. 39, conveying in favor of NHA a 401,485-square meter area. On September 26, 1994, the NHA, RBI, Home Insurance and Guaranty Corporation (HIGC), now known as the Home Guaranty Corporation, and the Philippine National Bank (PNB)33 executed the Smokey Mountain Asset Pool Formation Trust Agreement (Asset Pool Agreement).34 Thereafter, a Guaranty Contract was entered into by NHA, RBI, and HIGC. On June 23, 1994, the Legislature passed the Clean Air Act. 35 The Act made the establishment of an incinerator illegal and effectively barred the implementation of the planned incinerator project under Phase II. Thus, the off-site disposal of the garbage at the Smokey Mountain became necessary.36 The land reclamation was completed in August 1996.37 Sometime later in 1996, pursuant likewise to Proclamation No. 39, the DENR issued Special Patent No. 3598 conveying in favor of NHA an additional 390,000 square meter area. During the actual construction and implementation of Phase I of the SMDRP, the Inter-Agency Technical Committee found and recommended to the EXECOM on December 17, 1997 that additional works were necessary for the completion and viability of the Project. The EXECOM approved the recommendation and so, NHA instructed RBI to implement the change orders or necessary works.38 Such necessary works comprised more than 25% of the original contract price and as a result, the Asset Pool incurred direct and indirect costs. Based on C1 12 A of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of PD 1594, a supplemental agreement is required for "all change orders and extra work orders, the total aggregate cost of which being more than twenty-five (25%) of the escalated original contract price." The EXECOM requested an opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine whether a bidding was required for the change orders and/or necessary works. The DOJ, through DOJ
31

Opinion Nos. 119 and 155 dated August 26, 1993 and November 12, 1993, opined that "a rebidding, pursuant to the aforequoted provisions of the implementing rules (referring to PD 1594) would not be necessary where the change orders inseparable from the original scope of the project, in which case, a negotiation with the incumbent contractor may be allowed." Thus, on February 19, 1998, the EXECOM issued a resolution directing NHA to enter into a supplemental agreement covering said necessary works. On March 20, 1998, the NHA and RBI entered into a Supplemental Agreement covering the aforementioned necessary works and submitted it to the President on March 24, 1998 for approval. Outgoing President Ramos decided to endorse the consideration of the Supplemental Agreement to incoming President Joseph E. Estrada. On June 30, 1998, Estrada became the 13th Philippine President. However, the approval of the Supplemental Agreement was unacted upon for five months. As a result, the utilities and the road networks were constructed to cover only the 79-hectare original enabling component granted under the ARJVA. The 220-hectare extension of the 79-hectare area was no longer technically feasible. Moreover, the financial crises and unreliable real estate situation made it difficult to sell the remaining reclaimed lots. The devaluation of the peso and the increase in interest cost led to the substantial increase in the cost of reclamation. On August 1, 1998, the NHA granted RBIs request to suspend work on the SMDRP due to "the delay in the approval of the Supplemental Agreement, the consequent absence of an enabling component to cover the cost of the necessary works for the project, and the resulting inability to replenish the Asset Pool funds partially used for the completion of the necessary works." 39 As of August 1, 1998 when the project was suspended, RBI had "already accomplished a portion of the necessary works and change orders which resulted in [RBI] and the Asset Pool incurring advances for direct and indirect cost which amount can no longer be covered by the 79-hectare enabling component under the ARJVA."40 Repeated demands were made by RBI in its own capacity and on behalf of the asset pool on NHA for payment for the advances for direct and indirect costs subject to NHA validation. In November 1998, President Estrada issued Memorandum Order No. 33 reconstituting the SMDRP EXECOM and further directed it to review the Supplemental Agreement and submit its recommendation on the completion of the SMDRP. The reconstituted EXECOM conducted a review of the project and recommended the amendment of the March 20, 1998 Supplemental Agreement "to make it more feasible and to identify and provide new sources of funds for the project and provide for a new enabling component to cover the payment for the necessary works that cannot be covered by the 79hectare enabling component under the ARJVA."41 The EXECOM passed Resolution Nos. 99-16-01 and 99-16-0242 which approved the modification of the Supplemental Agreement, to wit: a) Approval of 150 hectares additional reclamation in order to make the reclamation feasible as part of the enabling component. b) The conveyance of the 15-hectare NHA Vitas property (actually 17 hectares based on surveys) to the SMDRP Asset Pool. c) The inclusion in the total development cost of other additional, necessary and indispensable infrastructure works and the revision of the original cost stated in the Supplemental Agreement dated March 20, 1998 from PhP 2,953,984,941.40 to PhP 2,969,134,053.13. d) Revision in the sharing agreement between the parties.

In the March 23, 2000 OP Memorandum, the EXECOM was authorized to proceed and complete the SMDRP subject to certain guidelines and directives. After the parties in the case at bar had complied with the March 23, 2000 Memorandum, the NHA November 9, 2000 Resolution No. 4323 approved "the conveyance of the 17-hectare Vitas property in favor of the existing or a newly created Asset Pool of the project to be developed into a mixed commercial-industrial area, subject to certain conditions." On January 20, 2001, then President Estrada was considered resigned. On the same day, President Gloria M. Arroyo took her oath as the 14th President of the Philippines. As of February 28, 2001, "the estimated total project cost of the SMDRP has reached P8.65 billion comprising of P4.78 billion in direct cost and P3.87 billion in indirect cost," 43 subject to validation by the NHA. On August 28, 2001, NHA issued Resolution No. 4436 to pay for "the various necessary works/change orders to SMDRP, to effect the corresponding enabling component consisting of the conveyance of the NHAs Vitas Property and an additional 150-hectare reclamation area" and to authorize the release by NHA of PhP 480 million "as advance to the project to make the Permanent Housing habitable, subject to reimbursement from the proceeds of the expanded enabling component."44 On November 19, 2001, the Amended Supplemental Agreement (ASA) was signed by the parties, and on February 28, 2002, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) submitted the agreement to the OP for approval. In the July 20, 2002 Cabinet Meeting, HUDCC was directed "to submit the works covered by the PhP 480 million [advance to the Project] and the ASA to public bidding."45 On August 28, 2002, the HUDCC informed RBI of the decision of the Cabinet. In its September 2, 2002 letter to the HUDCC Chairman, RBI lamented the decision of the government "to bid out the remaining works under the ASA thereby unilaterally terminating the Project with RBI and all the agreements related thereto." RBI demanded the payment of just compensation "for all accomplishments and costs incurred in developing the SMDRP plus a reasonable rate of return thereon pursuant to Section 5.05 of the ARJVA and Section 6.2 of the ASA."46 Consequently, the parties negotiated the terms of the termination of the JVA and other subsequent agreements. On August 27, 2003, the NHA and RBI executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) whereby both parties agreed to terminate the JVA and other subsequent agreements, thus: 1. TERMINATION 1.1 In compliance with the Cabinet directive dated 30 July 2002 to submit the works covered by the P480 Million and the ASA to public bidding, the following agreements executed by and between the NHA and the DEVELOPER are hereby terminated, to wit: a. Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) dated 19 March 1993 b. Amended and Restated Joint Venture Agreement (ARJVA) dated 21 February 1994 c. Amendment and Restated Joint Venture Agreement dated 11 August 1994 d. Supplemental Agreement dated 24 March 1998 e. Amended Supplemental Agreement (ASA) dated 19 November 2001. xxxx

5. SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS 5.1 Subject to the validation of the DEVELOPERs claims, the NHA hereby agrees to initially compensate the Developer for the abovementioned costs as follows: a. Direct payment to DEVELOPER of the amounts herein listed in the following manner: a.1 P250 Million in cash from the escrow account in accordance with Section 2 herewith; a.2 Conveyance of a 3 hectare portion of the Vitas Industrial area immediately after joint determination of the appraised value of the said property in accordance with the procedure herein set forth in the last paragraph of Section 5.3. For purposes of all payments to be made through conveyance of real properties, the parties shall secure from the NHA Board of Directors all documents necessary and sufficient to effect the transfer of title over the properties to be conveyed to RBI, which documents shall be issued within a reasonable period. 5.2 Any unpaid balance of the DEVELOPERS claims determined after the validation process referred to in Section 4 hereof, may be paid in cash, bonds or through the conveyance of properties or any combination thereof. The manner, terms and conditions of payment of the balance shall be specified and agreed upon later within a period of three months from the time a substantial amount representing the unpaid balance has been validated pursuant hereto including, but not limited to the programming of quarterly cash payments to be sourced by the NHA from its budget for debt servicing, from its income or from any other sources. 5.3 In any case the unpaid balance is agreed to be paid, either partially or totally through conveyance of properties, the parties shall agree on which properties shall be subject to conveyance. The NHA and DEVELOPER hereby agree to determine the valuation of the properties to be conveyed by getting the average of the appraisals to be made by two (2) mutually acceptable independent appraisers. Meanwhile, respondent Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. (HCPTI) entered into an agreement with the asset pool for the development and operations of a port in the Smokey Mountain Area which is a major component of SMDRP to provide a source of livelihood and employment for Smokey Mountain residents and spur economic growth. A Subscription Agreement was executed between the Asset Pool and HCPTI whereby the asset pool subscribed to 607 million common shares and 1,143 million preferred shares of HCPTI. The HCPTI preferred shares had a premium and penalty interest of 7.5% per annum and a mandatory redemption feature. The asset pool paid the subscription by conveying to HCPTI a 10-hectare land which it acquired from the NHA being a portion of the reclaimed land of the SMDRP. Corresponding certificates of titles were issued to HCPTI, namely: TCT Nos. 251355, 251356, 251357, and 251358. Due to HCPTIs failure to obtain a license to handle foreign containerized cargo from PPA, it suffered a net income loss of PhP 132,621,548 in 2002 and a net loss of PhP 15,540,063 in 2003. The Project Governing Board of the Asset Pool later conveyed by way of dacion en pago a number of HCPTI shares to RBI in lieu of cash payment for the latters work in SMDRP. On August 5, 2004, former Solicitor General Francisco I. Chavez, filed the instant petition which impleaded as respondents the NHA, RBI, R-II Holdings, Inc. (RHI), HCPTI, and Mr. Reghis Romero II, raising constitutional issues. The NHA reported that thirty-four (34) temporary housing structures and twenty-one (21) permanent housing structures had been turned over by respondent RBI. It claimed that 2,510 beneficiary-families belonging to the poorest of the poor had been transferred to their permanent homes and benefited from the Project.

The Issues The grounds presented in the instant petition are: I Neither respondent NHA nor respondent R-II builders may validly reclaim foreshore and submerged land because: 1. Respondent NHA and R-II builders were never granted any power and authority to reclaim lands of the public domain as this power is vested exclusively with the PEA. 2. Even assuming that respondents NHA and R-II builders were given the power and authority to reclaim foreshore and submerged land, they were never given the authority by the denr to do so. II Respondent R-II builders cannot acquire the reclaimed foreshore and submerged land areas because: 1. The reclaimed foreshore and submerged parcels of land are inalienable public lands which are beyond the commerce of man. 2. Assuming arguendo that the subject reclaimed foreshore and submerged parcels of land were already declared alienable lands of the public domain, respondent R-II builders still could not acquire the same because there was never any declaration that the said lands were no longer needed for public use. 3. Even assuming that the subject reclaimed lands are alienable and no longer needed for public use, respondent R-II builders still cannot acquire the same because there was never any law authorizing the sale thereof. 4. There was never any public bidding awarding ownership of the subject land to respondent R-II builders. 5. Assuming that all the requirements for a valid transfer of alienable public had been performed, respondent R-II Builders, being private corporation is nonetheless expresslyprohibited by the Philippine Constitution to acquire lands of the public domain. III Respondent harbour, being a private corporation whose majority stocks are owned and controlled by respondent Romeros Corporations R-II builders and R-II Holdings is disqualified from being a transferee of public land. IV Respondents must be compelled to disclose all information related to the smokey mountain development and reclamation project. The Courts Ruling Before we delve into the substantive issues raised in this petition, we will first deal with several procedural matters raised by respondents. Whether petitioner has the requisite locus standi to file this case Respondents argue that petitioner Chavez has no legal standing to file the petition. Only a person who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or entitled to the avails of the suit can file a complaint or petition. 47 Respondents claim that petitioner is not a proper party-in-interest as he was unable to show that "he has sustained or is in immediate or imminent danger of sustaining some direct and personal injury as a result of the execution and enforcement of the assailed contracts or agreements." 48 Moreover, they assert that not all

government contracts can justify a taxpayers suit especially when no public funds were utilized in contravention of the Constitution or a law. We explicated in Chavez v. PCGG49 that in cases where issues of transcendental public importance are presented, there is no necessity to show that petitioner has experienced or is in actual danger of suffering direct and personal injury as the requisite injury is assumed. We find our ruling in Chavez v. PEA50 as conclusive authority on locus standi in the case at bar since the issues raised in this petition are averred to be in breach of the fair diffusion of the countrys natural resources and the constitutional right of a citizen to information which have been declared to be matters of transcendental public importance. Moreover, the pleadings especially those of respondents readily reveal that public funds have been indirectly utilized in the Project by means of Smokey Mountain Project Participation Certificates (SMPPCs) bought by some government agencies. Hence, petitioner, as a taxpayer, is a proper party to the instant petition before the court. Whether petitioners direct recourse to this Court was proper Respondents are one in asserting that petitioner circumvents the principle of hierarchy of courts in his petition. Judicial hierarchy was made clear in the case of People v. Cuaresma, thus: There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and should also serve as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level ("inferior") courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is established policy. It is a policy that is necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Courts docket.51 x x x The OSG claims that the jurisdiction over petitions for prohibition and mandamus is concurrent with other lower courts like the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals. Respondent NHA argues that the instant petition is misfiled because it does not introduce special and important reasons or exceptional and compelling circumstances to warrant direct recourse to this Court and that the lower courts are more equipped for factual issues since this Court is not a trier of facts. Respondents RBI and RHI question the filing of the petition as this Court should not be unduly burdened with "repetitions, invocation of jurisdiction over constitutional questions it had previously resolved and settled." In the light of existing jurisprudence, we find paucity of merit in respondents postulation. While direct recourse to this Court is generally frowned upon and discouraged, we have however ruled in Santiago v. Vasquez that such resort to us may be allowed in certain situations, wherein this Court ruled that petitions for certiorari, prohibition, or mandamus, though cognizable by other courts, may directly be filed with us if "the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of [this Courts] primary jurisdic tion."521avvphi1 The instant petition challenges the constitutionality and legality of the SMDRP involving several hectares of government land and hundreds of millions of funds of several government agencies. Moreover, serious constitutional challenges are made on the different aspects of the Project which allegedly affect the right of Filipinos to the distribution of natural resources in the country and the right to information of a citizenmatters which have been considered to be of extraordinary significance and grave consequence to the public in general. These concerns in the instant action compel us to turn a blind eye to the judicial structure meant to provide an orderly dispensation of justice and consider the instant petition as a justified deviation from an established precept. Core factual matters undisputed

Respondents next challenge the projected review by this Court of the alleged factual issues intertwined in the issues propounded by petitioner. They listed a copious number of questions seemingly factual in nature which would make this Court a trier of facts. 53 We find the position of respondents bereft of merit. For one, we already gave due course to the instant petition in our January 18, 2005 Resolution.54 In said issuance, the parties were required to make clear and concise statements of established facts upon which our decision will be based. Secondly, we agree with petitioner that there is no necessity for us to make any factual findings since the facts needed to decide the instant petition are well established from the admissions of the parties in their pleadings55 and those derived from the documents appended to said submissions. Indeed, the core facts which are the subject matter of the numerous issues raised in this petition are undisputed. Now we will tackle the issues that prop up the instant petition. Since petitioner has cited our decision in PEA as basis for his postulations in a number of issues, we first resolve the queryis PEA applicable to the case at bar? A juxtaposition of the facts in the two cases constrains the Court to rule in the negative. The Court finds that PEA is not a binding precedent to the instant petition because the facts in said case are substantially different from the facts and circumstances in the case at bar, thus: (1) The reclamation project in PEA was undertaken through a JVA entered into between PEA and AMARI. The reclamation project in the instant NHA case was undertaken by the NHA, a national government agency in consultation with PEA and with the approval of two Philippine Presidents; (2) In PEA, AMARI and PEA executed a JVA to develop the Freedom Islands and reclaim submerged areas without public bidding on April 25, 1995. In the instant NHA case, the NHA and RBI executed a JVA after RBI was declared the winning bidder on August 31, 1992 as the JVA partner of the NHA in the SMDRP after compliance with the requisite public bidding. (3) In PEA, there was no law or presidential proclamation classifying the lands to be reclaimed as alienable and disposal lands of public domain. In this RBI case, MO 415 of former President Aquino and Proclamation No. 39 of then President Ramos, coupled with Special Patents Nos. 3591, 3592, and 3598, classified the reclaimed lands as alienable and disposable; (4) In PEA, the Chavez petition was filed before the amended JVA was executed by PEA and AMARI.1avvphi1 In this NHA case, the JVA and subsequent amendments were already substantially implemented. Subsequently, the Project was terminated through a MOA signed on August 27, 2003. Almost one year later on August 5, 2004, the Chavez petition was filed; (5) In PEA, AMARI was considered to be in bad faith as it signed the amended JVA after the Chavez petition was filed with the Court and after Senate Committee Report No. 560 was issued finding that the subject lands are inalienable lands of public domain. In the instant petition, RBI and other respondents are considered to have signed the agreements in good faith as the Project was terminated even before the Chavez petition was filed; (6) The PEA-AMARI JVA was executed as a result of direct negotiation between the parties and not in accordance with the BOT Law. The NHA-RBI JVA and subsequent amendments constitute a BOT contract governed by the BOT Law; and (7) In PEA, the lands to be reclaimed or already reclaimed were transferred to PEA, a government entity tasked to dispose of public lands under Executive Order No. (EO) 525.56 In the NHA case, the reclaimed lands were transferred to NHA, a government

entity NOT tasked to dispose of public land and therefore said alienable lands were converted to patrimonial lands upon their transfer to NHA. 57 Thus the PEA Decision58 cannot be considered an authority or precedent to the instant case. The principle of stare decisis59 has no application to the different factual setting of the instant case. We will now dwell on the substantive issues raised by petitioner. After a perusal of the grounds raised in this petition, we find that most of these issues are moored on our PEA Decision which, as earlier discussed, has no application to the instant petition. For this reason alone, the petition can already be rejected. Nevertheless, on the premise of the applicability of said decision to the case at bar, we will proceed to resolve said issues. First Issue: Whether respondents NHA and RBI have been granted the power and authority to reclaim lands of the public domain as this power is vested exclusively in PEA as claimed by petitioner Petitioner contends that neither respondent NHA nor respondent RBI may validly reclaim foreshore and submerged land because they were not given any power and authority to reclaim lands of the public domain as this power was delegated by law to PEA. Asserting that existing laws did not empower the NHA and RBI to reclaim lands of public domain, the Public Estates Authority (PEA), petitioner claims, is "the primary authority for the reclamation of all foreshore and submerged lands of public domain," and relies on PEA where this Court held: Moreover, Section 1 of Executive Order No. 525 provides that PEA "shall be primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government." The same section also states that "[A]ll reclamation projects shall be approved by the President upon recommendation of the PEA, and shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity; x x x." Thus, under EO No. 525, in relation to PD No. 3-A and PD No. 1084, PEA became the primary implementing agency of the National Government to reclaim foreshore and submerged lands of the public domain. EO No. 525 recognized PEA as the government entity "to undertake the reclamation of lands and ensure their maximum utilization in promoting public welfare and interests." Since large portions of these reclaimed lands would obviously be needed for public service, there must be a formal declaration segregating reclaimed lands no longer needed for public service from those still needed for public service.60 In the Smokey Mountain Project, petitioner clarifies that the reclamation was not done by PEA or through a contract executed by PEA with another person or entity but by the NHA through an agreement with respondent RBI. Therefore, he concludes that the reclamation is null and void. Petitioners contention has no merit. EO 525 reads: Section 1. The Public Estates Authority (PEA) shall be primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government. All reclamation projects shall be approved by the President upon recommendation of the PEA, and shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity; Provided, that, reclamation projects of any national government agency or entity authorized under its charter shall be undertaken in consultation with the PEA upon approval of the President. (Emphasis supplied.) The aforequoted provision points to three (3) requisites for a legal and valid reclamation project, viz: (1) approval by the President; (2) favorable recommendation of PEA; and (3) undertaken by any of the following:

a. by PEA b. by any person or entity pursuant to a contract it executed with PEA c. by the National Government agency or entity authorized under its charter to reclaim lands subject to consultation with PEA Without doubt, PEA under EO 525 was designated as the agency primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects. Primarily means "mainly, principally, mostly, generally." Thus, not all reclamation projects fall under PEAs authority of supervision, integration, and coordination. The very charter of PEA, PD 1084,61 does not mention that PEA has the exclusive and sole power and authority to reclaim lands of public domain. EO 525 even reveals the exceptionreclamation projects by a national government agency or entity authorized by its charter to reclaim land. One example is EO 405 which authorized the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to reclaim and develop submerged areas for port related purposes. Under its charter, PD 857, PPA has the power "to reclaim, excavate, enclose or raise any of the lands" vested in it. Thus, while PEA under PD 1084 has the power to reclaim land and under EO 525 is primarily responsible for integrating, directing and coordinating reclamation projects, such authority is NOT exclusive and such power to reclaim may be granted or delegated to another government agency or entity or may even be undertaken by the National Government itself, PEA being only an agency and a part of the National Government. Let us apply the legal parameters of Sec. 1, EO 525 to the reclamation phase of SMDRP. After a scrutiny of the facts culled from the records, we find that the project met all the three (3) requirements, thus: 1. There was ample approval by the President of the Philippines; as a matter of fact, two Philippine Presidents approved the same, namely: Presidents Aquino and Ramos. President Aquino sanctioned the reclamation of both the SMDRP housing and commercial-industrial sites through MO 415 (s. 1992) which approved the SMDRP under Sec. 1 and directed NHA "x x x to implement the Smokey Mountain Development Plan and Reclamation of the Area across R-10 through a private sector joint venture scheme at the least cost to government" under Section 3. For his part, then President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 39 (s. 1992) which expressly reserved the Smokey Mountain Area and the Reclamation Area for a housing project and related commercial/industrial development. Moreover, President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 465 (s. 1994) which authorized the increase of the Reclamation Area from 40 hectares of foreshore and submerged land of the Manila Bay to 79 hectares. It speaks of the reclamation of 400,000 square meters, more or less, of the foreshore and submerged lands of Manila Bay adjoining R-10 as an enabling component of the SMDRP. As a result of Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465, Special Patent No. 3591 covering 211,975 square meters of Smokey Mountain, Special Patent No. 3592 covering 401,485 square meters of reclaimed land, and Special Patent No. 3598 covering another 390,000 square meters of reclaimed land were issued by the DENR. Thus, the first requirement of presidential imprimatur on the SMDRP has been satisfied. 2. The requisite favorable endorsement of the reclamation phase was impliedly granted by PEA. President Aquino saw to it that there was coordination of the project with PEA by designating its general manager as member of the EXECOM tasked to supervise the project implementation. The assignment was made in Sec. 2 of MO 415 which provides: Section 2. An Executive Committee is hereby created to oversee the implementation of the Plan, chaired by the NCR-CORD, with the heads of the following agencies as members: The National Housing Authority, the City of Manila, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Public Estates Authority, the Philippine Ports Authority, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Development Bank of the Philippines. (Emphasis supplied.)

The favorable recommendation by PEA of the JVA and subsequent amendments were incorporated as part of the recommendations of the EXECOM created under MO 415. While there was no specific recommendation on the SMDRP emanating solely from PEA, we find that the approbation of the Project and the land reclamation as an essential component by the EXECOM of which PEA is a member, and its submission of the SMDRP and the agreements on the Project to the President for approval amply met the second requirement of EO 525. 3. The third element was also presentthe reclamation was undertaken either by PEA or any person or entity under contract with PEA or by the National Government agency or entity authorized under its charter to reclaim lands subject to consultation with PEA. It cannot be disputed that the reclamation phase was not done by PEA or any person or entity under contract with PEA. However, the reclamation was implemented by the NHA, a national government agency whose authority to reclaim lands under consultation with PEA is derived from its charterPD 727 and other pertinent lawsRA 727962 and RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718. While the authority of NHA to reclaim lands is challenged by petitioner, we find that the NHA had more than enough authority to do so under existing laws. While PD 757, the charter of NHA, does not explicitly mention "reclamation" in any of the listed powers of the agency, we rule that the NHA has an implied power to reclaim land as this is vital or incidental to effectively, logically, and successfully implement an urban land reform and housing program enunciated in Sec. 9 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution. Basic in administrative law is the doctrine that a government agency or office has express and implied powers based on its charter and other pertinent statutes. Express powers are those powers granted, allocated, and delegated to a government agency or office by express provisions of law. On the other hand, implied powers are those that can be inferred or are implicit in the wordings of the law63 or conferred by necessary or fair implication in the enabling act.64 In Angara v. Electoral Commission, the Court clarified and stressed that when a general grant of power is conferred or duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of the one or the performance of the other is also conferred by necessary implication. 65 It was also explicated that when the statute does not specify the particular method to be followed or used by a government agency in the exercise of the power vested in it by law, said agency has the authority to adopt any reasonable method to carry out its functions.66 The power to reclaim on the part of the NHA is implicit from PD 757, RA 7279, MO 415, RA 6957, and PD 3-A,67 viz: 1. NHAs power to reclaim derived from PD 757 provisions: a. Sec. 3 of PD 757 implies that reclamation may be resorted to in order to attain the goals of NHA: Section 3. Progress and Objectives. The Authority shall have the following purposes and objectives: xxxx b) To undertake housing, development, resettlement or other activities as would enhance the provision of housing to every Filipino; c) To harness and promote private participation in housing ventures in terms of capital expenditures, land, expertise, financing and other facilities for the sustained growth of the housing industry. (Emphasis supplied.) Land reclamation is an integral part of the development of resources for some of the housing requirements of the NHA. Private participation in housing projects may also take the form of land reclamation. b. Sec. 5 of PD 757 serves as proof that the NHA, as successor of the Tondo Foreshore Development Authority (TFDA), has the power to reclaim, thus: Section 5. Dissolution of Existing Housing Agencies. The People's Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC), the Presidential Assistant on Housing Resettlement Agency (PAHRA), the

Tondo Foreshore Development Authority (TFDA), the Central Institute for the Training and Relocation of Urban Squatters (CITRUS), the Presidential Committee for Housing and Urban Resettlement (PRECHUR), Sapang Palay Development Committee, Inter-Agency Task Force to Undertake the Relocation of Families in Barrio Nabacaan, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental and all other existing government housing and resettlement agencies, task forces and ad-hoc committees, are hereby dissolved. Their powers and functions, balance of appropriations, records, assets, rights, and choses in action, are transferred to, vested in, and assumed by the Authority. x x x (Emphasis supplied.) PD 570 dated October 30, 1974 created the TFDA, which defined its objectives, powers, and functions. Sec. 2 provides: Section 2. Objectives and Purposes. The Authority shall have the following purposes and objectives: a) To undertake all manner of activity, business or development projects for the establishment of harmonious, comprehensive, integrated and healthy living community in the Tondo Foreshoreland and its resettlement site; b) To undertake and promote the physical and socio-economic amelioration of the Tondo Foreshore residents in particular and the nation in general (Emphasis supplied.) The powers and functions are contained in Sec. 3, to wit: a) To develop and implement comprehensive and integrated urban renewal programs for the Tondo Foreshore and Dagat-dagatan lagoon and/or any other additional/alternative resettlement site and to formulate and enforce general and specific policies for its development which shall ensure reasonable degree of compliance with environmental standards. b) To prescribe guidelines and standards for the reservation, conservation and utilization of public lands covering the Tondo Foreshore land and its resettlement sites; c) To construct, acquire, own, lease, operate and maintain infrastructure facilities, housing complex, sites and services; d) To determine, regulate and supervise the establishment and operation of housing, sites, services and commercial and industrial complexes and any other enterprises to be constructed or established within the Tondo Foreshore and its resettlement sites; e) To undertake and develop, by itself or through joint ventures with other public or private entities, all or any of the different phases of development of the Tondo Foreshore land and its resettlement sites; f) To acquire and own property, property-rights and interests, and encumber or otherwise dispose of the same as it may deem appropriate (Emphasis supplied.) From the foregoing provisions, it is readily apparent that the TFDA has the explicit power to develop public lands covering the Tondo foreshore land and any other additional and alternative resettlement sites under letter b, Sec. 3 of PD 570. Since the additional and/or alternative sites adjacent to Tondo foreshore land cover foreshore and submerged areas, the reclamation of said areas is necessary in order to convert them into a comprehensive and integrated resettlement housing project for the slum dwellers and squatters of Tondo. Since the powers of TFDA were assumed by the NHA, then the NHA has the power to reclaim lands in the Tondo foreshore area which covers the 79-hectare land subject of Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 and Special Patents Nos. 3592 and 3598. c. Sec. 6 of PD 757 delineates the functions and powers of the NHA which embrace the authority to reclaim land, thus:

Sec. 6. Powers and functions of the Authority.The Authority shall have the following powers and functions to be exercised by the Board in accordance with its established national human settlements plan prepared by the Human Settlements Commission: (a) Develop and implement the comprehensive and integrated housing program provided for in Section hereof; xxxx (c) Prescribe guidelines and standards for the reservation, conservation and utilization of public lands identified for housing and resettlement; xxxx (e) Develop and undertake housing development and/or resettlement projects through joint ventures or other arrangements with public and private entities; xxxx (k) Enter into contracts whenever necessary under such terms and conditions as it may deem proper and reasonable; (l) Acquire property rights and interests and encumber or otherwise dispose the same as it may deem appropriate; xxxx (s) Perform such other acts not inconsistent with this Decree, as may be necessary to effect the policies and objectives herein declared. (Emphasis supplied.) The NHAs authority to reclaim land can be inferred from the aforequoted provisions. It can make use of public lands under letter (c) of Sec. 6 which includes reclaimed land as site for its comprehensive and integrated housing projects under letter (a) which can be undertaken through joint ventures with private entities under letter (e). Taken together with letter (s) which authorizes NHA to perform such other activities "necessary to effect the policies and objectives" of PD 757, it is safe to conclude that the NHAs power to reclaim lands is a power that is implied from the exercise of its explicit powers under Sec. 6 in order to effectively accomplish its policies and objectives under Sec. 3 of its charter. Thus, the reclamation of land is an indispensable component for the development and construction of the SMDRP housing facilities. 2. NHAs implied power to reclaim land is enhanced by RA 7279. PD 757 identifies NHAs mandate to "[d]evelop and undertake housing development and/or resettlement projects through joint ventures or other arrangements with public and private entities." The power of the NHA to undertake reclamation of land can be inferred from Secs. 12 and 29 of RA 7279, which provide: Section 12. Disposition of Lands for Socialized Housing.The National Housing Authority, with respect to lands belonging to the National Government, and the local government units with respect to other lands within their respective localities, shall coordinate with each other to formulate and make available various alternative schemes for the disposition of lands to the beneficiaries of the Program. These schemes shall not be limited to those involving transfer of ownership in fee simple but shall include lease, with option to purchase, usufruct or such other variations as the local government units or the National Housing Authority may deem most expedient in carrying out the purposes of this Act. xxxx Section 29. Resettlement.With two (2) years from the effectivity of this Act, the local government units, in coordination with the National Housing Authority, shall implement the relocation and resettlement of persons living in danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and in other public places as sidewalks,

roads, parks, and playgrounds. The local government unit, in coordination with the National Housing Authority, shall provide relocation or resettlement sites with basic services and facilities and access to employment and livelihood opportunities sufficient to meet the basic needs of the affected families. (Emphasis supplied.) Lands belonging to the National Government include foreshore and submerged lands which can be reclaimed to undertake housing development and resettlement projects. 3. MO 415 explains the undertaking of the NHA in SMDRP: WHEREAS, Memorandum Order No. 161-A mandated the National Housing Authority to conduct feasibility studies and develop low-cost housing projects at the dumpsites of Metro Manila; WHEREAS, the National Housing Authority has presented a viable Conceptual Plan to convert the Smokey Mountain dumpsite into a habitable housing project inclusive of the reclamation area across R-10 as enabling component of the Project; WHEREAS, the said Plan requires the coordinated and synchronized efforts of the City of Manila and other government agencies and instrumentalities to ensure effective and efficient implementation; WHEREAS, the government encourages private sector initiative in the implementation of its projects. (Emphasis supplied.) Proceeding from these "whereas" clauses, it is unequivocal that reclamation of land in the Smokey Mountain area is an essential and vital power of the NHA to effectively implement its avowed goal of developing low-cost housing units at the Smokey Mountain dumpsites. The interpretation made by no less than the President of the Philippines as Chief of the Executive Branch, of which the NHA is a part, must necessarily command respect and much weight and credit. 4. RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718the BOT Lawserves as an exception to PD 1084 and EO 525. Based on the provisions of the BOT Law and Implementing Rules and Regulations, it is unequivocal that all government infrastructure agencies like the NHA can undertake infrastructure or development projects using the contractual arrangements prescribed by the law, and land reclamation is one of the projects that can be resorted to in the BOT project implementation under the February 10, 1992 Joint Resolution No. 3 of the 8th Congress. From the foregoing considerations, we find that the NHA has ample implied authority to undertake reclamation projects. Even without an implied power to reclaim lands under NHAs charter, we rule that the authority granted to NHA, a national government agency, by the President under PD 3-A reinforced by EO 525 is more than sufficient statutory basis for the reclamation of lands under the SMDRP. PD 3-A is a law issued by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos under his martial law powers on September 23, 1972. It provided that "[t]he provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the reclamation of areas, underwater, whether foreshore or inland, shall be limited to the National Government or any person authorized by it under the proper contract." It repealed, in effect, RA 1899 which previously delegated the right to reclaim lands to municipalities and chartered cities and revested it to the National Government. 68 Under PD 3-A, "national government" can only mean the Executive Branch headed by the President. It cannot refer to Congress as it was dissolved and abolished at the time of the issuance of PD 3-A on September 23, 1972. Moreover, the Executive Branch is the only implementing arm in the government with the equipment, manpower, expertise, and capability by the very nature of its assigned powers and functions to undertake reclamation projects. Thus, under PD 3-A, the Executive Branch through the President can implement reclamation of lands through any of its departments, agencies, or offices.

Subsequently, on February 4, 1977, President Marcos issued PD 1084 creating the PEA, which was granted, among others, the power "to reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas by dredging, filling or other means or to acquire reclaimed lands." The PEAs power to reclaim is not however exclusive as can be gleaned from its charter, as the President retained his power under PD 3-A to designate another agency to reclaim lands. On February 14, 1979, EO 525 was issued. It granted PEA primary responsibility for integrating, directing, and coordinating reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government although other national government agencies can be designated by the President to reclaim lands in coordination with the PEA. Despite the issuance of EO 525, PD 3-A remained valid and subsisting. Thus, the National Government through the President still retained the power and control over all reclamation projects in the country. The power of the National Government through the President over reclamation of areas, that is, underwater whether foreshore or inland, was made clear in EO 54369 which took effect on June 24, 2006. Under EO 543, PEA was renamed the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and was granted the authority to approve reclamation projects, a power previously reposed in the President under EO 525. EO 543 reads: Section 1. The power of the President to approve reclamation projects is hereby delegated to the Philippine Reclamation Authority [formerly PEA], through its governing board, subject to compliance with existing laws and rules and subject to the condition that reclamation contracts to be executed with any person or entity go through public bidding. Section 2. Nothing in the Order shall be construed as diminishing the Presidents authority to modify, amend or nullify PRAs action. Section 3. All executive issuances inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby repealed or amended accordingly. (Emphasis supplied.) Sec. 2 of EO 543 strengthened the power of control and supervision of the President over reclamation of lands as s/he can modify, amend, or nullify the action of PEA (now PRA). From the foregoing issuances, we conclude that the P residents delegation to NHA, a national government agency, to reclaim lands under the SMDRP, is legal and valid, firmly anchored on PD 3-A buttressed by EO 525 notwithstanding the absence of any specific grant of power under its charter, PD 757. Second Issue: Whether respondents NHA and RBI were given the power and authority by DENR to reclaim foreshore and submerged lands Petitioner Chavez puts forth the view that even if the NHA and RBI were granted the authority to reclaim, they were not authorized to do so by the DENR. Again, reliance is made on our ruling in PEA where it was held that the DENRs authority is necessary in order for the government to validly reclaim foreshore and submerged lands. In PEA, we expounded in this manner: As manager, conservator and overseer of the natural resources of the State, DENR exercises "supervision and control over alienable and disposable public lands." DENR also exercises "exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain." Thus, DENR decides whether areas under water, like foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay, should be reclaimed or not. This means that PEA needs authorization from DENR before PEA can undertake reclamation projects in Manila Bay, or in any part of the country. DENR also exercises exclusive jurisdiction over the disposition of all lands of the public domain. Hence, DENR decides whether reclaimed lands of PEA should be classified as alienable under Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141. Once DENR decides that the reclaimed lands should be so classified, it then recommends to the President the issuance of a proclamation classifying the lands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain open to disposition. We note that

then DENR Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. countersigned Special Patent No. 3517 in compliance with the Revised Administrative Code and Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141. In short, DENR is vested with the power to authorize the reclamation of areas under water, while PEA is vested with the power to undertake the physical reclamation of areas under water, whether directly or through private contractors. DENR is also empowered to classify lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable lands subject to the approval of the President. On the other hand, PEA is tasked to develop, sell or lease the reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain.70 Despite our finding that PEA is not a precedent to the case at bar, we find after all that under existing laws, the NHA is still required to procure DENRs authorization before a reclamation project in Manila Bay or in any part of the Philippines can be undertaken. The requirement applies to PEA, NHA, or any other government agency or office granted with such power under the law. Notwithstanding the need for DENR permission, we nevertheless find petitioners position bereft of merit. The DENR is deemed to have granted the authority to reclaim in the Smokey Mountain Project for the following reasons: 1. Sec. 17, Art. VII of the Constitution provides that "the President shall have control of all executive departments, bureaus and offices." The President is assigned the task of seeing to it that all laws are faithfully executed. "Control," in administrative law, means "the power of an officer to alter, modify, nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer has done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter."71 As such, the President can exercise executive power motu proprio and can supplant the act or decision of a subordinate with the Presidents own. The DENR is a department in the executive branch under the President, and it is only an alter ego of the latter. Ordinarily the proposed action and the staff work are initially done by a department like the DENR and then submitted to the President for approval. However, there is nothing infirm or unconstitutional if the President decides on the implementation of a certain project or activity and requires said department to implement it. Such is a presidential prerogative as long as it involves the department or office authorized by law to supervise or execute the Project. Thus, as in this case, when the President approved and ordered the development of a housing project with the corresponding reclamation work, making DENR a member of the committee tasked to implement the project, the required authorization from the DENR to reclaim land can be deemed satisfied. It cannot be disputed that the ultimate power over alienable and disposable public lands is reposed in the President of the Philippines and not the DENR Secretary. To still require a DENR authorization on the Smokey Mountain when the President has already authorized and ordered the implementation of the Project would be a derogation of the powers of the President as the head of the executive branch. Otherwise, any department head can defy or oppose the implementation of a project approved by the head of the executive branch, which is patently illegal and unconstitutional. In Chavez v. Romulo, we stated that when a statute imposes a specific duty on the executive department, the President may act directly or order the said department to undertake an activity, thus: [A]t the apex of the entire executive officialdom is the President. Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution specifies [her] power as Chief executive departments, bureaus and offices. [She] shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed. As Chief Executive, President Arroyo holds the steering wheel that controls the course of her government. She lays down policies in the execution of her plans and programs. Whatever policy she chooses, she has her subordinates to implement them. In short, she has the power of control. Whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to her subordinate, she may act directly or merely direct the performance of a duty x x x. Such act is well within the prerogative of her office (emphasis supplied).72

Moreover, the power to order the reclamation of lands of public domain is reposed first in the Philippine President. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 grants authority to the President to reserve lands of public domain for settlement for any specific purpose, thus: Section 14. Power to Reserve Lands of the Public and Private Domain of the Government.(1) The President shall have the power to reserve for settlement or public use, and for specific public purposes, any of the lands of the public domain, the use of which is not otherwise directed by law. The reserved land shall thereafter remain subject to the specific public purpose indicated until otherwise provided by law or proclamation. (Emphasis supplied.) President Aquino reserved the area of the Smokey Mountain dumpsite for settlement and issued MO 415 authorizing the implementation of the Smokey Mountain Development Project plus the reclamation of the area across R-10. Then President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 39 covering the 21-hectare dumpsite and the 40-hectare commercial/industrial area, and Proclamation No. 465 and MO 415 increasing the area of foreshore and submerged lands of Manila Bay to be reclaimed from 40 to 79 hectares. Having supervision and control over the DENR, both Presidents directly assumed and exercised the power granted by the Revised Administrative Code to the DENR Secretary to authorize the NHA to reclaim said lands. What can be done indirectly by the DENR can be done directly by the President. It would be absurd if the power of the President cannot be exercised simply because the head of a department in the executive branch has not acted favorably on a project already approved by the President. If such arrangement is allowed then the department head will become more powerful than the President. 2. Under Sec. 2 of MO 415, the DENR is one of the members of the EXECOM chaired by the NCR-CORD to oversee the implementation of the Project. The EXECOM was the one which recommended approval of the project plan and the joint venture agreements. Clearly, the DENR retained its power of supervision and control over the laws affected by the Project since it was tasked to "facilitate the titling of the Smokey Mountain and of the area to be reclaimed," which shows that it had tacitly given its authority to the NHA to undertake the reclamation. 3. Former DENR Secretary Angel C. Alcala issued Special Patents Nos. 3591 and 3592 while then Secretary Victor O. Ramos issued Special Patent No. 3598 that embraced the areas covered by the reclamation. These patents conveyed the lands to be reclaimed to the NHA and granted to said agency the administration and disposition of said lands for subdivision and disposition to qualified beneficiaries and for development for mix land use (commercial/industrial) "to provide employment opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port related activities." Such grant of authority to administer and dispose of lands of public domain under the SMDRP is of course subject to the powers of the EXECOM of SMDRP, of which the DENR is a member. 4. The issuance of ECCs by the DENR for SMDRP is but an exercise of its power of supervision and control over the lands of public domain covered by the Project. Based on these reasons, it is clear that the DENR, through its acts and issuances, has ratified and confirmed the reclamation of the subject lands for the purposes laid down in Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465. Third Issue: Whether respondent RBI can acquire reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands considered as inalienable and outside the commerce of man Petitioner postulates that respondent RBI cannot acquire the reclaimed foreshore and submerged areas as these are inalienable public lands beyond the commerce of man based on Art. 1409 of the Civil Code which provides: Article 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning: (1) Those whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy;

xxxx (7) Those expressly prohibited or declared void by law. These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up the defense of illegality be waived. Secs. 2 and 3, Art. XII of the Constitution declare that all natural resources are owned by the State and they cannot be alienated except for alienable agricultural lands of the public domain. One of the States natural resources are lands of public domain which include reclaimed lands. Petitioner contends that for these reclaimed lands to be alienable, there must be a law or presidential proclamation officially classifying these reclaimed lands as alienable and disposable and open to disposition or concession. Absent such law or proclamation, the reclaimed lands cannot be the enabling component or consideration to be paid to RBI as these are beyond the commerce of man. We are not convinced of petitioners postulation. The reclaimed lands across R-10 were classified alienable and disposable lands of public domain of the State for the following reasons, viz: First, there were three (3) presidential proclamations classifying the reclaimed lands across R-10 as alienable or disposable hence open to disposition or concession, to wit: (1) MO 415 issued by President Aquino, of which Sec. 4 states that "[t]he land covered by the Smokey Mountain Dumpsite is hereby conveyed to the National Housing Authority as well as the area to be reclaimed across R-10." The directive to transfer the lands once reclaimed to the NHA implicitly carries with it the declaration that said lands are alienable and disposable. Otherwise, the NHA cannot effectively use them in its housing and resettlement project. (2) Proclamation No. 39 issued by then President Ramos by which the reclaimed lands were conveyed to NHA for subdivision and disposition to qualified beneficiaries and for development into a mixed land use (commercial/industrial) to provide employment opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port-related activities. Said directive carries with it the pronouncement that said lands have been transformed to alienable and disposable lands. Otherwise, there is no legal way to convey it to the beneficiaries. (3) Proclamation No. 465 likewise issued by President Ramos enlarged the reclaimed area to 79 hectares to be developed and disposed of in the implementation of the SMDRP. The authority put into the hands of the NHA to dispose of the reclaimed lands tacitly sustains the conversion to alienable and disposable lands. Secondly, Special Patents Nos. 3591, 3592, and 3598 issued by the DENR anchored on Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 issued by President Ramos, without doubt, classified the reclaimed areas as alienable and disposable. Admittedly, it cannot be said that MO 415, Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 are explicit declarations that the lands to be reclaimed are classified as alienable and disposable. We find however that such conclusion is derived and implicit from the authority given to the NHA to transfer the reclaimed lands to qualified beneficiaries. The query is, when did the declaration take effect? It did so only after the special patents covering the reclaimed areas were issued. It is only on such date that the reclaimed lands became alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. This is in line with the ruling in PEA where said issue was clarified and stressed: PD No. 1085, coupled with President Aquinos actual issuance of a special patent covering the Freedom Islands, is equivalent to an official proclamation classifying the Freedom Islands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. PD No. 1085 and President Aquinos

issuance of a land patent also constitute a declaration that the Freedom Islands are no longer needed for public service. The Freedom Islands are thus alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition or concession to qualified parties. 73 (Emphasis supplied.) Thus, MO 415 and Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 cumulatively and jointly taken together with Special Patent Nos. 3591, 3592, and 3598 more than satisfy the requirement in PEA that "[t]here must be a law or presidential proclamation officially classifying these reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable and open to disposition or concession (emphasis supplied)." 74 Apropos the requisite law categorizing reclaimed land as alienable or disposable, we find that RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718 provides ample authority for the classification of reclaimed land in the SMDRP for the repayment scheme of the BOT project as alienable and disposable lands of public domain. Sec. 6 of RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718 provides: For the financing, construction, operation and maintenance of any infrastructure projects undertaken through the build-operate-and transfer arrangement or any of its variations pursuant to the provisions of this Act, the project proponent x x x may likewise be repaid in the form of a share in the revenue of the project or other non-monetary payments, such as, but not limited to, the grant of a portion or percentage of the reclaimed land, subject to the constitutional requirements with respect to the ownership of the land. (Emphasis supplied.) While RA 6957 as modified by RA 7718 does not expressly declare that the reclaimed lands that shall serve as payment to the project proponent have become alienable and disposable lands and opened for disposition; nonetheless, this conclusion is necessarily implied, for how else can the land be used as the enabling component for the Project if such classification is not deemed made? It may be argued that the grant of authority to sell public lands, pursuant to PEA, does not convert alienable lands of public domain into private or patrimonial lands. We ruled in PEA that "alienable lands of public domain must be transferred to qualified private parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of public lands, before these lands can become private or patrimonial lands (emphasis supplied)."75 To lands reclaimed by PEA or through a contract with a private person or entity, such reclaimed lands still remain alienable lands of public domain which can be transferred only to Filipino citizens but not to a private corporation. This is because PEA under PD 1084 and EO 525 is tasked to hold and dispose of alienable lands of public domain and it is only when it is transferred to Filipino citizens that it becomes patrimonial property. On the other hand, the NHA is a government agency not tasked to dispose of public lands under its charterThe Revised Administrative Code of 1987. The NHA is an "end-user agency" authorized by law to administer and dispose of reclaimed lands. The moment titles over reclaimed lands based on the special patents are transferred to the NHA by the Register of Deeds, they are automatically converted to patrimonial properties of the State which can be sold to Filipino citizens and private corporations, 60% of which are owned by Filipinos. The reason is obvious: if the reclaimed land is not converted to patrimonial land once transferred to NHA, then it would be useless to transfer it to the NHA since it cannot legally transfer or alienate lands of public domain. More importantly, it cannot attain its avowed purposes and goals since it can only transfer patrimonial lands to qualified beneficiaries and prospective buyers to raise funds for the SMDRP. From the foregoing considerations, we find that the 79-hectare reclaimed land has been declared alienable and disposable land of the public domain; and in the hands of NHA, it has been reclassified as patrimonial property. Petitioner, however, contends that the reclaimed lands were inexistent prior to the three (3) Presidential Acts (MO 415 and Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465) and hence, the declaration that such areas are alienable and disposable land of the public domain, citing PEA, has no legal basis. Petitioners contention is not well-taken. Petitioners sole reliance on Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 without taking into consideration the special patents issued by the DENR demonstrates the inherent weakness of his proposition. As

was ruled in PEA cited by petitioner himself, "PD No. 1085, coupled with President Aquinos actual issuance of a special patent covering the Freedom Islands is equivalent to an official proclamation classifying the Freedom islands as alienable or disposable lands of public domain." In a similar vein, the combined and collective effect of Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 with Special Patents Nos. 3592 and 3598 is tantamount to and can be considered to be an official declaration that the reclaimed lots are alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands covered by Special Patents Nos. 3591, 3592, and 3598, which evidence transfer of ownership of reclaimed lands to the NHA, are official acts of the DENR Secretary in the exercise of his power of supervision and control over alienable and disposable public lands and his exclusive jurisdiction over the management and disposition of all lands of public domain under the Revised Administrative Code of 1987. Special Patent No. 3592 speaks of the transfer of Lots 1 and 2, and RI-003901-000012-D with an area of 401,485 square meters based on the survey and technical description approved by the Bureau of Lands. Lastly, Special Patent No. 3598 was issued in favor of the NHA transferring to said agency a tract of land described in Plan RL-00-000013 with an area of 390,000 square meters based on the survey and technical descriptions approved by the Bureau of Lands. The conduct of the survey, the preparation of the survey plan, the computation of the technical description, and the processing and preparation of the special patent are matters within the technical area of expertise of administrative agencies like the DENR and the Land Management Bureau and are generally accorded not only respect but at times even finality. 76 Preparation of special patents calls for technical examination and a specialized review of calculations and specific details which the courts are ill-equipped to undertake; hence, the latter defer to the administrative agency which is trained and knowledgeable on such matters.77 Subsequently, the special patents in the name of the NHA were submitted to the Register of Deeds of the City of Manila for registration, and corresponding certificates of titles over the reclaimed lots were issued based on said special patents. The issuance of certificates of titles in NHAs name automatically converts the reclaimed lands to patrimonial properties of the NHA. Otherwise, the lots would not be of use to the NHAs housing projects or as payment to the BOT contractor as the enabling component of the BOT contract. The laws of the land have to be applied and interpreted depending on the changing conditions and times. Tempora mutantur et legis mutantur in illis (time changes and laws change with it). One such law that should be treated differently is the BOT Law (RA 6957) which brought about a novel way of implementing government contracts by allowing reclaimed land as part or full payment to the contractor of a government project to satisfy the huge financial requirements of the undertaking. The NHA holds the lands covered by Special Patents Nos. 3592 and 3598 solely for the purpose of the SMDRP undertaken by authority of the BOT Law and for disposition in accordance with said special law. The lands become alienable and disposable lands of public domain upon issuance of the special patents and become patrimonial properties of the Government from the time the titles are issued to the NHA. As early as 1999, this Court in Baguio v. Republic laid down the jurisprudence that: It is true that, once a patent is registered and the corresponding certificate of title is issued, the land covered by them ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property, and the Torrens Title issued pursuant to the patent becomes indefeasible upon the expiration of one year from the date of issuance of such patent.78 The doctrine was reiterated in Republic v. Heirs of Felipe Alijaga, Sr., 79 Heirs of Carlos Alcaraz v. Republic,80 and the more recent case of Doris Chiongbian-Oliva v. Republic of the Philippines.81 Thus, the 79-hectare reclaimed land became patrimonial property after the issuance of certificates of titles to the NHA based on Special Patents Nos. 3592 and 3598. One last point. The ruling in PEA cannot even be applied retroactively to the lots covered by Special Patents Nos. 3592 (40 hectare reclaimed land) and 3598 (39-hectare reclaimed land). The reclamation of the land under SMDRP was completed in August 1996 while the PEA decision was rendered on July 9, 2002. In the meantime, subdivided lots forming parts of the reclaimed land were already sold to private corporations for value and separate titles issued to the buyers. The Project was terminated through a Memorandum of Agreement signed on August

27, 2003. The PEA decision became final through the November 11, 2003 Resolution. It is a settled precept that decisions of the Supreme Court can only be applied prospectively as they may prejudice vested rights if applied retroactively. In Benzonan v. Court of Appeals, the Court trenchantly elucidated the prospective application of its decisions based on considerations of equity and fair play, thus: At that time, the prevailing jurisprudence interpreting section 119 of R.A. 141 as amended was that enunciated in Monge and Tupas cited above. The petitioners Benzonan and respondent Pe and the DBP are bound by these decisions for pursuant to Article 8 of the Civil Code "judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws of the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines." But while our decisions form part of the law of the land, they are also subject to Article 4 of the Civil Code which provides that "laws shall have no retroactive effect unless the contrary is provided." This is expressed in the familiar legal maxim lex prospicit, non respicit, the law looks forward not backward. The rationale against retroactivity is easy to perceive. The retroactive application of a law usually divests rights that have already become vested or impairs the obligations of contract and hence, is unconstitutional. The same consideration underlies our rulings giving only prospective effect to decisions enunciating new doctrines. Thus, we emphasized in People v. Jabinal, 55 SCRA 607 [1974] "x x x when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrine and acted on the faith thereof.82 Fourth Issue: Whether respondent RBI can acquire reclaimed lands when there was no declaration that said lands are no longer needed for public use Petitioner Chavez avers that despite the declaration that the reclaimed areas are alienable lands of the public domain, still, the reclamation is flawed for there was never any declaration that said lands are no longer needed for public use. We are not moved by petitioners submission. Even if it is conceded that there was no explicit declaration that the lands are no longer needed for public use or public service, there was however an implicit executive declaration that the reclaimed areas R-10 are not necessary anymore for public use or public service when President Aquino through MO 415 conveyed the same to the NHA partly for housing project and related commercial/industrial development intended for disposition to and enjoyment of certain beneficiaries and not the public in general and partly as enabling component to finance the project. President Ramos, in issuing Proclamation No. 39, declared, though indirectly, that the reclaimed lands of the Smokey Mountain project are no longer required for public use or service, thus: These parcels of land of public domain are hereby placed under the administration and disposition of the National Housing Authority to develop, subdivide and dispose to qualified beneficiaries, as well as its development for mix land use (commercial/industrial) to provide employment opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port related activities. (Emphasis supplied.) While numerical count of the persons to be benefited is not the determinant whether the property is to be devoted to public use, the declaration in Proclamation No. 39 undeniably identifies only particular individuals as beneficiaries to whom the reclaimed lands can be sold, namelythe Smokey Mountain dwellers. The rest of the Filipinos are not qualified; hence, said lands are no longer essential for the use of the public in general. In addition, President Ramos issued on August 31, 1994 Proclamation No. 465 increasing the area to be reclaimed from forty (40) hectares to seventy-nine (79) hectares, elucidating that said lands are undoubtedly set aside for the beneficiaries of SMDRP and not the public declaring the power of NHA to dispose of land to be reclaimed, thus: "The authority to administer, develop,

or dispose lands identified and reserved by this Proclamation and Proclamation No. 39 (s.1992), in accordance with the SMDRP, as enhance, is vested with the NHA, subject to the provisions of existing laws." (Emphasis supplied.) MO 415 and Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 are declarations that proclaimed the non-use of the reclaimed areas for public use or service as the Project cannot be successfully implemented without the withdrawal of said lands from public use or service. Certainly, the devotion of the reclaimed land to public use or service conflicts with the intended use of the Smokey Mountain areas for housing and employment of the Smokey Mountain scavengers and for financing the Project because the latter cannot be accomplished without abandoning the public use of the subject land. Without doubt, the presidential proclamations on SMDRP together with the issuance of the special patents had effectively removed the reclaimed lands from public use. More decisive and not in so many words is the ruling in PEA which we earlier cited, that "PD No. 1085 and President Aquinos issuance of a land patent also constitute a declaration that the Freedom Islands are no longer needed for public service." Consequently, we ruled in that case that the reclaimed lands are "open to disposition or concession to qualified parties." 83 In a similar vein, presidential Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 jointly with the special patents have classified the reclaimed lands as alienable and disposable and open to disposition or concession as they would be devoted to units for Smokey Mountain beneficiaries. Hence, said lands are no longer intended for public use or service and shall form part of the patrimonial properties of the State under Art. 422 of the Civil Code. 84 As discussed a priori, the lands were classified as patrimonial properties of the NHA ready for disposition when the titles were registered in its name by the Register of Deeds. Moreover, reclaimed lands that are made the enabling components of a BOT infrastructure project are necessarily reclassified as alienable and disposable lands under the BOT Law; otherwise, absurd and illogical consequences would naturally result. Undoubtedly, the BOT contract will not be accepted by the BOT contractor since there will be no consideration for its contractual obligations. Since reclaimed land will be conveyed to the contractor pursuant to the BOT Law, then there is an implied declaration that such land is no longer intended for public use or public service and, hence, considered patrimonial property of the State. Fifth Issue: Whether there is a law authorizing sale of reclaimed lands Petitioner next claims that RBI cannot acquire the reclaimed lands because there was no law authorizing their sale. He argues that unlike PEA, no legislative authority was granted to the NHA to sell reclaimed land. This position is misplaced. Petitioner relies on Sec. 60 of Commonwealth Act (CA) 141 to support his view that the NHA is not empowered by any law to sell reclaimed land, thus: Section 60. Any tract of land comprised under this title may be leased or sold, as the case may be, to any person, corporation or association authorized to purchase or lease public lands for agricultural purposes. The area of the land so leased or sold shall be such as shall, in the judgment of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, be reasonably necessary for the purposes for which such sale or lease if requested and shall in no case exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares: Provided, however, That this limitation shall not apply to grants, donations, transfers, made to a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government for the purposes deemed by said entities conducive to the public interest; but the land so granted donated or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress; Provided, further, That any person, corporation, association or partnership disqualified from purchasing public land for agricultural purposes under the provisions of this Act, may lease land included under this title suitable for industrial or residential purposes, but the lease granted shall only be valid while such land is used for the purposes referred to. (Emphasis supplied.)

Reliance on said provision is incorrect as the same applies only to "a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government." The NHA is not a government unit but a government corporation performing governmental and proprietary functions. In addition, PD 757 is clear that the NHA is empowered by law to transfer properties acquired by it under the law to other parties, thus: Section 6. Powers and functions of the Authority. The Authority shall have the following powers and functions to be exercised by the Boards in accordance with the established national human settlements plan prepared by the Human Settlements Commission: xxxx (k) Enter into contracts whenever necessary under such terms and conditions as it may deem proper and reasonable; (l) Acquire property rights and interests, and encumber or otherwise dispose the same as it may deem appropriate (Emphasis supplied.) Letter (l) is emphatic that the NHA can acquire property rights and interests and encumber or otherwise dispose of them as it may deem appropriate. The transfer of the reclaimed lands by the National Government to the NHA for housing, commercial, and industrial purposes transformed them into patrimonial lands which are of course owned by the State in its private or proprietary capacity. Perforce, the NHA can sell the reclaimed lands to any Filipino citizen or qualified corporation. Sixth Issue: Whether the transfer of reclaimed lands to RBI was done by public bidding Petitioner also contends that there was no public bidding but an awarding of ownership of said reclaimed lands to RBI. Public bidding, he says, is required under Secs. 63 and 67 of CA 141 which read: Section 63. Whenever it is decided that lands covered by this chapter are not needed for public purposes, the Director of Lands shall ask the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce for authority to dispose of the same. Upon receipt of such authority, the Director of Lands shall give notice by public advertisement in the same manner as in the case of leases or sales of agricultural public land, that the Government will lease or sell, as the case may be, the lots or blocks specified in the advertisement, for the purpose stated in the notice and subject to the conditions specified in this chapter. xxxx Section 67. The lease or sale shall be made through oral bidding; and adjudication shall be made to the highest bidder. However, where an applicant has made improvements on the land by virtue of a permit issued to him by competent authority, the sale or lease shall be made by sealed bidding as prescribed in section twenty-six of this Act, the provisions of which shall be applied whenever applicable. If all or part of the lots remain unleased or unsold, the Director of Lands shall from time to time announce in the Official Gazette or in any other newspapers of general circulation, the lease of sale of those lots, if necessary. He finds that the NHA and RBI violated Secs. 63 and 67 of CA 141, as the reclaimed lands were conveyed to RBI by negotiated contract and not by public bidding as required by law. This stand is devoid of merit. There is no doubt that respondent NHA conducted a public bidding of the right to become its joint venture partner in the Smokey Mountain Project. Notices or Invitations to Bid were published in the national dailies on January 23 and 26, 1992 and February 1, 14, 16, and 23, 1992. The bidding proper was done by the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) on May 18, 1992. On August 31, 1992, the Inter-Agency Techcom made up of the NHA, PEA, DPWH, PPA, DBP,

and DENR opened the bids and evaluated them, resulting in the award of the contract to respondent RBI on October 7, 1992. On March 19, 1993, respondents NHA and RBI signed the JVA. On February 23, 1994, said JVA was amended and restated into the ARJVA. On August 11, 1994, the ARJVA was again amended. On September 7, 1994, the OP approved the ARJVA and the amendments to the ARJVA. From these factual settings, it cannot be gainsaid that there was full compliance with the laws and regulations governing public biddings involving a right, concession, or property of the government. Petitioner concedes that he does not question the public bidding on the right to be a joint venture partner of the NHA, but the absence of bidding in the sale of alienable and disposable lands of public domain pursuant to CA 141 as amended. Petitioners theory is incorrect. Secs. 63 and 67 of CA 141, as amended, are in point as they refer to government sale by the Director of Lands of alienable and disposable lands of public domain. This is not present in the case at bar. The lands reclaimed by and conveyed to the NHA are no longer lands of public domain. These lands became proprietary lands or patrimonial properties of the State upon transfer of the titles over the reclaimed lands to the NHA and hence outside the ambit of CA 141. The NHA can therefore legally transfer patrimonial land to RBI or to any other interested qualified buyer without any bidding conducted by the Director of Lands because the NHA, unlike PEA, is a government agency not tasked to sell lands of public domain. Hence, it can only hold patrimonial lands and can dispose of such lands by sale without need of public bidding. Petitioner likewise relies on Sec. 79 of PD 1445 which requires public bidding "when government property has become unserviceable for any cause or is no longer needed." It appears from the Handbook on Property and Supply Management System, Chapter 6, that reclaimed lands which have become patrimonial properties of the State, whose titles are conveyed to government agencies like the NHA, which it will use for its projects or programs, are not within the ambit of Sec. 79. We quote the determining factors in the Disposal of Unserviceable Property, thus: Determining Factors in the Disposal of Unserviceable Property

scheme is almost impossible or extremely difficult to implement considering the uncertainty of a winning bid during public auction. Moreover, the repayment scheme of a BOT contract may be in the form of non-monetary payment like the grant of a portion or percentage of reclaimed land. Even if the BOT partner participates in the public bidding, there is no assurance that he will win the bid and therefore the payment in kind as agreed to by the parties cannot be performed or the winning bid prize might be below the estimated valuation of the land. The only way to harmonize Sec. 79 of PD 1445 with Sec. 6 of RA 6957 is to consider Sec. 79 of PD 1445 as inapplicable to BOT contracts involving patrimonial lands. The law does not intend anything impossible (lex non intendit aliquid impossibile). Seventh Issue: Whether RBI, being a private corporation, is barred by the Constitution to acquire lands of public domain Petitioner maintains that RBI, being a private corporation, is expressly prohibited by the 1987 Constitution from acquiring lands of public domain. Petitioners proposition has no legal mooring for the following reasons: 1. RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718 explicitly states that a contractor can be paid "a portion as percentage of the reclaimed land" subject to the constitutional requirement that only Filipino citizens or corporations with at least 60% Filipino equity can acquire the same. It cannot be denied that RBI is a private corporation, where Filipino citizens own at least 60% of the stocks. Thus, the transfer to RBI is valid and constitutional. 2. When Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 were issued, inalienable lands covered by said proclamations were converted to alienable and disposable lands of public domain. When the titles to the reclaimed lands were transferred to the NHA, said alienable and disposable lands of public domain were automatically classified as lands of the private domain or patrimonial properties of the State because the NHA is an agency NOT tasked to dispose of alienable or disposable lands of public domain. The only way it can transfer the reclaimed land in conjunction with its projects and to attain its goals is when it is automatically converted to patrimonial properties of the State. Being patrimonial or private properties of the State, then it has the power to sell the same to any qualified personunder the Constitution, Filipino citizens as private corporations, 60% of which is owned by Filipino citizens like RBI. 3. The NHA is an end-user entity such that when alienable lands of public domain are transferred to said agency, they are automatically classified as patrimonial properties. The NHA is similarly situated as BCDA which was granted the authority to dispose of patrimonial lands of the government under RA 7227. The nature of the property holdings conveyed to BCDA is elucidated and stressed in the May 6, 2003 Resolution in Chavez v. PEA, thus: BCDA is an entirely different government entity. BCDA is authorized by law to sell specific government lands that have long been declared by presidential proclamations as military reservations for use by the different services of the armed forces under the Department of National Defense. BCDAs mandate is specific and limited in area, while PEAs mandate is general and national. BCDA holds government lands that have been granted to end-user government entitiesthe military services of the armed forces. In contrast, under Executive Order No. 525, PEA holds the reclaimed public lands, not as an end-user entity, but as the government agency "primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government." x x x Well-settled is the doctrine that public land granted to an end-user government agency for a specific public use may subsequently be withdrawn by Congress from public use and declared patrimonial property to be sold to private parties. R.A. No. 7227 creating the BCDA is a law that declares specific military reservations no longer needed for defense or military purposes and reclassifies such lands as patrimonial property for sale to private parties. Government owned lands, as long as they are patrimonial property, can be sold to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private corporations. Thus, the so-called Friar Lands

Property, which can no longer be repaired or reconditioned; Property whose maintenance costs of repair more than outweigh the benefits and services that will be derived from its continued use; Property that has become obsolete or outmoded because of changes in technology; Serviceable property that has been rendered unnecessary due to change in the agencys function or mandate; Unused supplies, materials and spare parts that were procured in excess of requirements; and Unused supplies and materials that [have] become dangerous to use because of long storage or use of which is determined to be hazardous.85

Reclaimed lands cannot be considered unserviceable properties. The reclaimed lands in question are very much needed by the NHA for the Smokey Mountain Project because without it, then the projects will not be successfully implemented. Since the reclaimed lands are not unserviceable properties and are very much needed by NHA, then Sec. 79 of PD 1445 does not apply. More importantly, Sec. 79 of PD 1445 cannot be applied to patrimonial properties like reclaimed lands transferred to a government agency like the NHA which has entered into a BOT contract with a private firm. The reason is obvious. If the patrimonial property will be subject to public bidding as the only way of disposing of said property, then Sec. 6 of RA 6957 on the repayment

acquired by the government under Act No. 1120 are patrimonial property which even private corporations can acquire by purchase. Likewise, reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain if sold or transferred to a public or municipal corporation for a monetary consideration become patrimonial property in the hands of the public or municipal corporation. Once converted to patrimonial property, the land may be sold by the public or municipal corporation to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private corporations.86 (Emphasis supplied.) The foregoing Resolution makes it clear that the SMDRP was a program adopted by the Government under Republic Act No. 6957 (An Act Authorizing the Financing, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects by the Private Sector, and For Other Purposes), as amended by RA 7718, which is a special law similar to RA 7227. Moreover, since the implementation was assigned to the NHA, an end-user agency under PD 757 and RA 7279, the reclaimed lands registered under the NHA are automatically classified as patrimonial lands ready for disposition to qualified beneficiaries. The foregoing reasons likewise apply to the contention of petitioner that HCPTI, being a private corporation, is disqualified from being a transferee of public land. What was transferred to HCPTI is a 10-hectare lot which is already classified as patrimonial property in the hands of the NHA. HCPTI, being a qualified corporation under the 1987 Constitution, the transfer of the subject lot to it is valid and constitutional. Eighth Issue: Whether respondents can be compelled to disclose all information related to the SMDRP Petitioner asserts his right to information on all documents such as contracts, reports, memoranda, and the like relative to SMDRP. Petitioner asserts that matters relative to the SMDRP have not been disclosed to the public like the current stage of the Project, the present financial capacity of RBI, the complete list of investors in the asset pool, the exact amount of investments in the asset pool and other similar important information regarding the Project. He prays that respondents be compelled to disclose all information regarding the SMDRP and furnish him with originals or at least certified true copies of all relevant documents relating to the said project including, but not limited to, the original JVA, ARJVA, AARJVA, and the Asset Pool Agreement. This relief must be granted. The right of the Filipino people to information on matters of public concern is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, thus: ARTICLE II xxxx SEC. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest. ARTICLE III SEC. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. In Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr., this Court explicated this way: [A]n essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the peoples will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the

participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit.87 In PEA, this Court elucidated the rationale behind the right to information: These twin provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-making and in the operations of the government, as well as provide the people sufficient information to exercise effectively other constitutional rights. These twin provisions are essential to the exercise of freedom of expression. If the government does not disclose its official acts, transactions and decisions to citizens, whatever citizens say, even if expressed without any restraint, will be speculative and amount to nothing. These twin provisions are also essential to hold public officials "at all times x x x accountable to the people," for unless citizens have the proper information, they cannot hold public officials accountable for anything. Armed with the right information, citizens can participate in public discussions leading to the formulation of government policies and their effective implementation. An informed citizenry is essential to the existence and proper functioning of any democracy.88 Sec. 28, Art. II compels the State and its agencies to fully disclose "all of its transactions involving public interest." Thus, the government agencies, without need of demand from anyone, must bring into public view all the steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction and the contents of the perfected contract. 89 Such information must pertain to "definite propositions of the government," meaning official recommendations or final positions reached on the different matters subject of negotiation. The government agency, however, need not disclose "intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations or communications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the exploratory stage." The limitation also covers privileged communication like information on military and diplomatic secrets; information affecting national security; information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused; information on foreign relations, intelligence, and other classified information. It is unfortunate, however, that after almost twenty (20) years from birth of the 1987 Constitution, there is still no enabling law that provides the mechanics for the compulsory duty of government agencies to disclose information on government transactions. Hopefully, the desired enabling law will finally see the light of day if and when Congress decides to approve the proposed "Freedom of Access to Information Act." In the meantime, it would suffice that government agencies post on their bulletin boards the documents incorporating the information on the steps and negotiations that produced the agreements and the agreements themselves, and if finances permit, to upload said information on their respective websites for easy access by interested parties. Without any law or regulation governing the right to disclose information, the NHA or any of the respondents cannot be faulted if they were not able to disclose information relative to the SMDRP to the public in general. The other aspect of the peoples right to know apart from the duty to disclose is the duty to allow access to information on matters of public concern under Sec. 7, Art. III of the Constitution. The gateway to information opens to the public the following: (1) official records; (2) documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions; and (3) government research data used as a basis for policy development. Thus, the duty to disclose information should be differentiated from the duty to permit access to information. There is no need to demand from the government agency disclosure of information as this is mandatory under the Constitution; failing that, legal remedies are available. On the other hand, the interested party must first request or even demand that he be allowed access to documents and papers in the particular agency. A request or demand is required; otherwise, the government office or agency will not know of the desire of the interested party to gain access to such papers and what papers are needed. The duty to disclose covers only transactions involving public interest, while the duty to allow access has a broader scope of information which embraces not only transactions involving public interest, but any matter contained in official communications and public documents of the government agency. We find that although petitioner did not make any demand on the NHA to allow access to information, we treat the petition as a written request or demand. We order the NHA to allow

petitioner access to its official records, documents, and papers relating to official acts, transactions, and decisions that are relevant to the said JVA and subsequent agreements relative to the SMDRP. Ninth Issue: Whether the operative fact doctrine applies to the instant petition Petitioner postulates that the "operative fact" doctrine is inapplicable to the present case because it is an equitable doctrine which could not be used to countenance an inequitable result that is contrary to its proper office. On the other hand, the petitioner Solicitor General argues that the existence of the various agreements implementing the SMDRP is an operative fact that can no longer be disturbed or simply ignored, citing Rieta v. People of the Philippines.90 The argument of the Solicitor General is meritorious. The "operative fact" doctrine is embodied in De Agbayani v. Court of Appeals, wherein it is stated that a legislative or executive act, prior to its being declared as unconstitutional by the courts, is valid and must be complied with, thus: As the new Civil Code puts it: "When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern. Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws of the Constitution." It is understandable why it should be so, the Constitution being supreme and paramount. Any legislative or executive act contrary to its terms cannot survive. Such a view has support in logic and possesses the merit of simplicity. It may not however be sufficiently realistic. It does not admit of doubt that prior to the declaration of nullity such challenged legislative or executive act must have been in force and had to be complied with. This is so as until after the judiciary, in an appropriate case, declares its invalidity, it is entitled to obedience and respect. Parties may have acted under it and may have changed their positions. What could be more fitting than that in a subsequent litigation regard be had to what has been done while such legislative or executive act was in operation and presumed to be valid in all respects. It is now accepted as a doctrine that prior to its being nullified, its existence as a fact must be reckoned with. This is merely to reflect awareness that precisely because the judiciary is the governmental organ which has the final say on whether or not a legislative or executive measure is valid, a period of time may have elapsed before it can exercise the power of judicial review that may lead to a declaration of nullity. It would be to deprive the law of its quality of fairness and justice then, if there be no recognition of what had transpired prior to such adjudication. In the language of an American Supreme Court decision: "The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination [of unconstitutionality], is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects, with respect to particular relations, individual and corporate, and particular conduct, private and official." This language has been quoted with approval in a resolution in Araneta v. Hill and the decision in Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores. An even more recent instance is the opinion of Justice Zaldivar speaking for the Court in Fernandez v. Cuerva and Co.91 (Emphasis supplied.) This doctrine was reiterated in the more recent case of City of Makati v. Civil Service Commission, wherein we ruled that: Moreover, we certainly cannot nullify the City Governments order of suspension, as we have no reason to do so, much less retroactively apply such nullification to deprive private respondent of a compelling and valid reason for not filing the leave application. For as we have held, a void act though in law a mere scrap of paper nonetheless confers legitimacy upon past acts or omissions done in reliance thereof. Consequently, the existence of a statute or executive order prior to its being adjudged void is an operative fact to which legal consequences are attached. It would indeed be ghastly unfair to prevent private respondent from relying upon the order of suspension in lieu of a formal leave application.92 (Emphasis supplied.)

The principle was further explicated in the case of Rieta v. People of the Philippines, thus: In similar situations in the past this Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter Bank to wit: The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the Act of Congress, having been found to be unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative, conferring no rights and imposing no duties, and hence affording no basis for the challenged decree. x x x It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to [the determination of its invalidity], is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects with respect to particular conduct, private and official. Questions of rights claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior determinations deemed to have finality and acted upon accordingly, of public policy in the light of the nature both of the statute and of its previous application, demand examination. These questions are among the most difficult of those which have engaged the attention of courts, state and federal, and it is manifest from numerous decisions that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified. In the May 6, 2003 Resolution in Chavez v. PEA,93 we ruled that De Agbayani94 is not applicable to the case considering that the prevailing law did not authorize private corporations from owning land. The prevailing law at the time was the 1935 Constitution as no statute dealt with the same issue. In the instant case, RA 6957 was the prevailing law at the time that the joint venture agreement was signed. RA 6957, entitled "An Act Authorizing The Financing, Construction, Operation And Maintenance Of Infrastructure Projects By The Private Sector And For Other Purposes," which was passed by Congress on July 24, 1989, allows repayment to the private contractor of reclaimed lands.95 Such law was relied upon by respondents, along with the above-mentioned executive issuances in pushing through with the Project. The existence of such law and issuances is an "operative fact" to which legal consequences have attached. This Court is constrained to give legal effect to the acts done in consonance with such executive and legislative acts; to do otherwise would work patent injustice on respondents. Further, in the May 6, 2003 Resolution in Chavez v. PEA, we ruled that in certain cases, the transfer of land, although illegal or unconstitutional, will not be invalidated on considerations of equity and social justice. However, in that case, we did not apply the same considering that PEA, respondent in said case, was not entitled to equity principles there being bad faith on its part, thus: There are, moreover, special circumstances that disqualify Amari from invoking equity principles. Amari cannot claim good faith because even before Amari signed the Amended JVA on March 30, 1999, petitioner had already filed the instant case on April 27, 1998 questioning precisely the qualification of Amari to acquire the Freedom Islands. Even before the filing of this petition, two Senate Committees had already approved on September 16, 1997 Senate Committee Report No. 560. This Report concluded, after a well-publicized investigation into PEAs sale of the Freedom Islands to Amari, that the Freedom Islands are inalienable lands of the public domain. Thus, Amari signed the Amended JVA knowing and assuming all the attendant risks, including the annulment of the Amended JVA.96 Such indicia of bad faith are not present in the instant case. When the ruling in PEA was rendered by this Court on July 9, 2002, the JVAs were all executed. Furthermore, when petitioner filed the instant case against respondents on August 5, 2004, the JVAs were already terminated by virtue of the MOA between the NHA and RBI. The respondents had no reason to think that their agreements were unconstitutional or even questionable, as in fact, the concurrent acts of the executive department lent validity to the implementation of the Project. The SMDRP agreements have produced vested rights in favor of the slum dwellers, the buyers of reclaimed land who were issued titles over said land, and the agencies and investors who made investments in the project or who bought SMPPCs. These properties and rights cannot be disturbed or questioned after the passage of around ten (10) years from the start of the SMDRP

implementation. Evidently, the "operative fact" principle has set in. The titles to the lands in the hands of the buyers can no longer be invalidated. The Courts Dispositions Based on the issues raised in this petition, we find that the March 19, 1993 JVA between NHA and RBI and the SMDRP embodied in the JVA, the subsequent amendments to the JVA and all other agreements signed and executed in relation to it, including, but not limited to, the September 26, 1994 Smokey Mountain Asset Pool Agreement and the agreement on Phase I of the Project as well as all other transactions which emanated from the Project, have been shown to be valid, legal, and constitutional. Phase II has been struck down by the Clean Air Act. With regard to the prayer for prohibition, enjoining respondents particularly respondent NHA from further implementing and/or enforcing the said Project and other agreements related to it, and from further deriving and/or enjoying any rights, privileges and interest from the Project, we find the same prayer meritless. Sec. 2 of Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides: Sec. 2. Petition for prohibition.When the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions, are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to desist from further proceedings in the action or matter specified therein, or otherwise granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require. It has not been shown that the NHA exercised judicial or quasi-judicial functions in relation to the SMDRP and the agreements relative to it. Likewise, it has not been shown what ministerial functions the NHA has with regard to the SMDRP. A ministerial duty is one which is so clear and specific as to leave no room for the exercise of discretion in its performance. It is a duty which an officer performs in a given state of facts in a prescribed manner in obedience to the mandate of legal authority, without regard to the exercise of his/her own judgment upon the propriety of the act done.97 Whatever is left to be done in relation to the August 27, 2003 MOA, terminating the JVA and other related agreements, certainly does not involve ministerial functions of the NHA but instead requires exercise of judgment. In fact, Item No. 4 of the MOA terminating the JVAs provides for validation of the developers (RBIs) claims arising from the termination of the SMDRP through the various government agencies.98 Such validation requires the exercise of discretion. In addition, prohibition does not lie against the NHA in view of petitioners fa ilure to avail and exhaust all administrative remedies. Clear is the rule that prohibition is only available when there is no adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. More importantly, prohibition does not lie to restrain an act which is already a fait accompli. The "operative fact" doctrine protecting vested rights bars the grant of the writ of prohibition to the case at bar. It should be remembered that petitioner was the Solicitor General at the time SMDRP was formulated and implemented. He had the opportunity to question the SMDRP and the agreements on it, but he did not. The moment to challenge the Project had passed. On the prayer for a writ of mandamus, petitioner asks the Court to compel respondents to disclose all documents and information relating to the project, including, but not limited to, any subsequent agreements with respect to the different phases of the Project, the revisions of the original plan, the additional works incurred on the Project, the current financial condition of respondent RBI, and the transactions made with respect to the project. We earlier ruled that petitioner will be allowed access to official records relative to the SMDRP. That would be adequate relief to satisfy petitioners right to the information gateway. WHEREFORE, the petition is partially granted.

The prayer for a writ of prohibition is DENIED for lack of merit. The prayer for a writ of mandamus is GRANTED. Respondent NHA is ordered to allow access to petitioner to all public documents and official records relative to the SMDRPincluding, but not limited to, the March 19, 1993 JVA between the NHA and RBI and subsequent agreements related to the JVA, the revisions over the original plan, and the additional works incurred on and the transactions made with respect to the Project. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 167707 October 8, 2008

(PTA). President Marcos later approved the issuance of PTA Circular 3-829 dated September 3, 1982, to implement Proclamation No. 1801. Claiming that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No 3-82 precluded them from filing an application for judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes, respondents-claimants Mayor Jose S. Yap, Jr., Libertad Talapian, Mila Y. Sumndad, and Aniceto Yap filed a petition for declaratory relief with the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan. In their petition, respondents-claimants alleged that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on their right to secure titles over their occupied lands. They declared that they themselves, or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June 12, 1945, or earlier since time immemorial. They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them.10 Respondents-claimants posited that Proclamation No. 1801 and its implementing Circular did not place Boracay beyond the commerce of man. Since the Island was classified as a tourist zone, it was susceptible of private ownership. Under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, they had the right to have the lots registered in their names through judicial confirmation of imperfect titles. The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the petition declaratory relief. The OSG countered that Boracay Island was an unclassified land of public domain. It formed part of the mass of lands classified as "public forest," which was available for disposition pursuant to Section 3(a) of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 or Revised Forestry Code,11 as amended. for the not the

THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DENR-REGION VI, REGIONAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU, REGION VI PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICER OF KALIBO, AKLAN, REGISTER OF DEEDS, DIRECTOR OF LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM SECRETARY, DIRECTOR OF PHILIPPINE TOURISM AUTHORITY, petitioners, vs. MAYOR JOSE S. YAP, LIBERTAD TALAPIAN, MILA Y. SUMNDAD, and ANICETO YAP, in their behalf and in behalf of all those similarly situated, respondents. x--------------------------------------------------x G.R. No. G.R. No. 173775 October 8, 2008

DR. ORLANDO SACAY and WILFREDO GELITO, joined by THE LANDOWNERS OF BORACAY SIMILARLY SITUATED NAMED IN A LIST, ANNEX "A" OF THIS PETITION, petitioners, vs. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE REGIONAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU, REGION VI, PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICER, KALIBO, AKLAN, respondents. DECISION REYES, R.T., J.: AT stake in these consolidated cases is the right of the present occupants of Boracay Island to secure titles over their occupied lands. There are two consolidated petitions. The first is G.R. No. 167707, a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming that2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Kalibo, Aklan, which granted the petition for declaratory relief filed by respondentsclaimants Mayor Jose Yap, et al. and ordered the survey of Boracay for titling purposes. The second is G.R. No. 173775, a petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No. 10645">[3] issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo classifying Boracay into reserved forest and agricultural land. The Antecedents G.R. No. 167707 Boracay Island in the Municipality of Malay, Aklan, with its powdery white sand beaches and warm crystalline waters, is reputedly a premier Philippine tourist destination. The island is also home to 12,003 inhabitants4 who live in the bone-shaped islands three barangays.5 On April 14, 1976, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) approved the National Reservation Survey of Boracay Island,6 which identified several lots as being occupied or claimed by named persons.7 On November 10, 1978, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 18018 declaring Boracay Island, among other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as tourist zones and marine reserves under the administration of the Philippine Tourism Authority

The OSG maintained that respondents-claimants reliance on PD No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 was misplaced. Their right to judicial confirmation of title was governed by CA No. 141 and PD No. 705. Since Boracay Island had not been classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into ownership. During pre-trial, respondents-claimants and the OSG stipulated on the following facts: (1) respondents-claimants were presently in possession of parcels of land in Boracay Island; (2) these parcels of land were planted with coconut trees and other natural growing trees; (3) the coconut trees had heights of more or less twenty (20) meters and were planted more or less fifty (50) years ago; and (4) respondents-claimants declared the land they were occupying for tax purposes.12 The parties also agreed that the principal issue for resolution was purely legal: whether Proclamation No. 1801 posed any legal hindrance or impediment to the titling of the lands in Boracay. They decided to forego with the trial and to submit the case for resolution upon submission of their respective memoranda.13 The RTC took judicial notice14 that certain parcels of land in Boracay Island, more particularly Lots 1 and 30, Plan PSU-5344, were covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 19502 (RO 2222) in the name of the Heirs of Ciriaco S. Tirol. These lots were involved in Civil Case Nos. 5222 and 5262 filed before the RTC of Kalibo, Aklan.15 The titles were issued on August 7, 1933.16 RTC and CA Dispositions On July 14, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondents-claimants, with a fallo reading: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court declares that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose no legal obstacle to the petitioners and those similarly situated to acquire title to their lands in Boracay, in accordance with the applicable laws and in the manner prescribed therein; and to have their lands surveyed and approved by respondent Regional

Technical Director of Lands as the approved survey does not in itself constitute a title to the land. SO ORDERED.17 The RTC upheld respondents-claimants right to have their occupied lands titled in their name. It ruled that neither Proclamation No. 1801 nor PTA Circular No. 3-82 mentioned that lands in Boracay were inalienable or could not be the subject of disposition. 18 The Circular itself recognized private ownership of lands.19 The trial court cited Sections 8720 and 5321 of the Public Land Act as basis for acknowledging private ownership of lands in Boracay and that only those forested areas in public lands were declared as part of the forest reserve. 22 The OSG moved for reconsideration but its motion was denied.23 The Republic then appealed to the CA. On December 9, 2004, the appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC decision, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered by us DENYING the appeal filed in this case and AFFIRMING the decision of the lower court. 24 The CA held that respondents-claimants could not be prejudiced by a declaration that the lands they occupied since time immemorial were part of a forest reserve. Again, the OSG sought reconsideration but it was similarly denied. 25 Hence, the present petition under Rule 45. G.R. No. 173775 On May 22, 2006, during the pendency of G.R. No. 167707, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 106426 classifying Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved forest land (protection purposes) and six hundred twenty-eight and 96/100 (628.96) hectares of agricultural land (alienable and disposable). The Proclamation likewise provided for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each side of the centerline of roads and trails, reserved for rightof-way and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land protection purposes. On August 10, 2006, petitioners-claimants Dr. Orlando Sacay,27 Wilfredo Gelito,28 and other landowners29 in Boracay filed with this Court an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No. 1064.30 They allege that the Proclamation infringed on their "prior vested rights" over portions of Boracay. They have been in continued possession of their respective lots in Boracay since time immemorial. They have also invested billions of pesos in developing their lands and building internationally renowned first class resorts on their lots.31 Petitioners-claimants contended that there is no need for a proclamation reclassifying Boracay into agricultural land. Being classified as neither mineral nor timber land, the island is deemed agricultural pursuant to the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926, known as the first Public Land Act.32 Thus, their possession in the concept of owner for the required period entitled them to judicial confirmation of imperfect title. Opposing the petition, the OSG argued that petitioners-claimants do not have a vested right over their occupied portions in the island. Boracay is an unclassified public forest land pursuant to Section 3(a) of PD No. 705. Being public forest, the claimed portions of the island are inalienable and cannot be the subject of judicial confirmation of imperfect title. It is only the executive department, not the courts, which has authority to reclassify lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable lands. There is a need for a positive government act in order to release the lots for disposition. On November 21, 2006, this Court ordered the consolidation of the two petitions as they principally involve the same issues on the land classification of Boracay Island. 33 Issues G.R. No. 167707

The OSG raises the lone issue of whether Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle for respondents, and all those similarly situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands in Boracay Island.34 G.R. No. 173775 Petitioners-claimants hoist five (5) issues, namely: I. AT THE TIME OF THE ESTABLISHED POSSESSION OF PETITIONERS IN CONCEPT OF OWNER OVER THEIR RESPECTIVE AREAS IN BORACAY, SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL OR AT THE LATEST SINCE 30 YRS. PRIOR TO THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF ON NOV. 19, 1997, WERE THE AREAS OCCUPIED BY THEM PUBLIC AGRICULTURAL LANDS AS DEFINED BY LAWS THEN ON JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLES OR PUBLIC FOREST AS DEFINED BY SEC. 3a, PD 705? II. HAVE PETITIONERS OCCUPANTS ACQUIRED PRIOR VESTED RIGHT OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OVER THEIR OCCUPIED PORTIONS OF BORACAY LAND, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE NOT APPLIED YET FOR JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLE? III. IS THE EXECUTIVE DECLARATION OF THEIR AREAS AS ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE UNDER SEC 6, CA 141 [AN] INDISPENSABLE PRE-REQUISITE FOR PETITIONERS TO OBTAIN TITLE UNDER THE TORRENS SYSTEM? IV. IS THE ISSUANCE OF PROCLAMATION 1064 ON MAY 22, 2006, VIOLATIVE OF THE PRIOR VESTED RIGHTS TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF PETITIONERS OVER THEIR LANDS IN BORACAY, PROTECTED BY THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OR IS PROCLAMATION 1064 CONTRARY TO SEC. 8, CA 141, OR SEC. 4(a) OF RA 6657. V. CAN RESPONDENTS BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO ALLOW THE SURVEY AND TO APPROVE THE SURVEY PLANS FOR PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION FOR TITLING OF THE LANDS OF PETITIONERS IN BORACAY?35 (Underscoring supplied) In capsule, the main issue is whether private claimants (respondents-claimants in G.R. No. 167707 and petitioners-claimants in G.R. No. 173775) have a right to secure titles over their occupied portions in Boracay. The twin petitions pertain to their right, if any, to judicial confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141, as amended. They do not involve their right to secure title under other pertinent laws. Our Ruling Regalian Doctrine and power of the executive to reclassify lands of the public domain Private claimants rely on three (3) laws and executive acts in their bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, namely: (a) Philippine Bill of 190236 in relation to Act No. 926, later amended and/or superseded by Act No. 2874 and CA No. 141; 37 (b) Proclamation No. 180138 issued by then President Marcos; and (c) Proclamation No. 106439 issued by President Gloria MacapagalArroyo. We shall proceed to determine their rights to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under these laws and executive acts.

But first, a peek at the Regalian principle and the power of the executive to reclassify lands of the public domain. The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or timber.40 Meanwhile, the 1973 Constitution provided the following divisions: agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or forest and grazing lands, and such other classes as may be provided by law,41 giving the government great leeway for classification. 42 Then the 1987 Constitution reverted to the 1935 Constitution classification with one addition: national parks.43 Of these, only agricultural lands may be alienated.44 Prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006, Boracay Island had never been expressly and administratively classified under any of these grand divisions. Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain. The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony.45 The doctrine has been consistently adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.46 All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State.47 Thus, all lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain. 48 Necessarily, it is up to the State to determine if lands of the public domain will be disposed of for private ownership. The government, as the agent of the state, is possessed of the plenary power as the persona in law to determine who shall be the favored recipients of public lands, as well as under what terms they may be granted such privilege, not excluding the placing of obstacles in the way of their exercise of what otherwise would be ordinary acts of ownership.49 Our present land law traces its roots to the Regalian Doctrine. Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all lands, territories and possessions in the Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown.50 The Regalian doctrine was first introduced in the Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas, which laid the foundation that "all lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain." 51 The Laws of the Indies was followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or the Mortgage Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law provided for the systematic registration of titles and deeds as well as possessory claims.52 The Royal Decree of 1894 or the Maura Law53 partly amended the Spanish Mortgage Law and the Laws of the Indies. It established possessory information as the method of legalizing possession of vacant Crown land, under certain conditions which were set forth in said decree. 54 Under Section 393 of the Maura Law, an informacion posesoria or possessory information title,55 when duly inscribed in the Registry of Property, is converted into a title of ownership only after the lapse of twenty (20) years of uninterrupted possession which must be actual, public, and adverse,56 from the date of its inscription.57 However, possessory information title had to be perfected one year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or until April 17, 1895. Otherwise, the lands would revert to the State.58 In sum, private ownership of land under the Spanish regime could only be founded on royal concessions which took various forms, namely: (1) titulo real or royal grant; (2) concesion especial or special grant; (3) composicion con el estado or adjustment title; (4) titulo de compra or title by purchase; and (5) informacion posesoria or possessory information title.59> The first law governing the disposition of public lands in the Philippines under American rule was embodied in the Philippine Bill of 1902.60 By this law, lands of the public domain in the Philippine Islands were classified into three (3) grand divisions, to wit: agricultural, mineral, and timber or forest lands.61 The act provided for, among others, the disposal of mineral lands by means of absolute grant (freehold system) and by lease (leasehold system).62 It also provided the definition by exclusion of "agricultural public lands."63 Interpreting the meaning of "agricultural lands" under the Philippine Bill of 1902, the Court declared in Mapa v. Insular Government:64

x x x In other words, that the phrase "agricultural land" as used in Act No. 926 means those public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands. x x x65 (Emphasis Ours) On February 1, 1903, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Act. The act established a system of registration by which recorded title becomes absolute, indefeasible, and imprescriptible. This is known as the Torrens system.66 Concurrently, on October 7, 1903, the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 926, which was the first Public Land Act. The Act introduced the homestead system and made provisions for judicial and administrative confirmation of imperfect titles and for the sale or lease of public lands. It permitted corporations regardless of the nationality of persons owning the controlling stock to lease or purchase lands of the public domain. 67 Under the Act, open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands for the next ten (10) years preceding July 26, 1904 was sufficient for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. 68 On November 29, 1919, Act No. 926 was superseded by Act No. 2874, otherwise known as the second Public Land Act. This new, more comprehensive law limited the exploitation of agricultural lands to Filipinos and Americans and citizens of other countries which gave Filipinos the same privileges. For judicial confirmation of title, possession and occupation en concepto dueo since time immemorial, or since July 26, 1894, was required.69 After the passage of the 1935 Constitution, CA No. 141 amended Act No. 2874 on December 1, 1936. To this day, CA No. 141, as amended, remains as the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain other than timber and mineral lands, 70 and privately owned lands which reverted to the State.71 Section 48(b) of CA No. 141 retained the requirement under Act No. 2874 of possession and occupation of lands of the public domain since time immemorial or since July 26, 1894. However, this provision was superseded by Republic Act (RA) No. 1942, 72 which provided for a simple thirty-year prescriptive period for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The provision was last amended by PD No. 1073,73 which now provides for possession and occupation of the land applied for since June 12, 1945, or earlier.74 The issuance of PD No. 89275 on February 16, 1976 discontinued the use of Spanish titles as evidence in land registration proceedings.76 Under the decree, all holders of Spanish titles or grants should apply for registration of their lands under Act No. 496 within six (6) months from the effectivity of the decree on February 16, 1976. Thereafter, the recording of all unregistered lands77 shall be governed by Section 194 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Act No. 3344. On June 11, 1978, Act No. 496 was amended and updated by PD No. 1529, known as the Property Registration Decree. It was enacted to codify the various laws relative to registration of property.78 It governs registration of lands under the Torrens system as well as unregistered lands, including chattel mortgages.79 A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. In keeping with the presumption of State ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized that there must be a positive act of the government, such as an official proclamation,80 declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. 81 In fact, Section 8 of CA No. 141 limits alienable or disposable lands only to those lands which have been "officially delimited and classified."82 The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. 83 To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the application (or claim) is alienable or disposable.84 There must still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, the applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports

of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. 85 The applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable and disposable.86 In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification was presented to the Court. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied by private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Absent such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot accept the submission that lands occupied by private claimants were already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call for proof.87 Ankron and De Aldecoa did not make the whole of Boracay Island, or portions of it, agricultural lands. Private claimants posit that Boracay was already an agricultural land pursuant to the old cases Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands (1919)88 and De Aldecoa v. The Insular Government (1909).89 These cases were decided under the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926. There is a statement in these old cases that "in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown."90 Private claimants reliance on Ankron and De Aldecoa is misplaced. These cases did not have the effect of converting the whole of Boracay Island or portions of it into agricultural lands. It should be stressed that the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926 merely provided the manner through which land registration courts would classify lands of the public domain. Whether the land would be classified as timber, mineral, or agricultural depended on proof presented in each case. Ankron and De Aldecoa were decided at a time when the President of the Philippines had no power to classify lands of the public domain into mineral, timber, and agricultural. At that time, the courts were free to make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or were vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the evidence. 91 This was the Courts ruling in Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols Vda. De Palanca v. Republic,92 in which it stated, through Justice Adolfo Azcuna, viz.: x x x Petitioners furthermore insist that a particular land need not be formally released by an act of the Executive before it can be deemed open to private ownership, citing the cases of Ramos v. Director of Lands and Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands. xxxx Petitioners reliance upon Ramos v. Director of Lands and Ankron v. Government is misplaced. These cases were decided under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the first Public Land Act No. 926 enacted by the Philippine Commission on October 7, 1926, under which there was no legal provision vesting in the Chief Executive or President of the Philippines the power to classify lands of the public domain into mineral, timber and agricultural so that the courts then were free to make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or were vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the evidence.93 To aid the courts in resolving land registration cases under Act No. 926, it was then necessary to devise a presumption on land classification. Thus evolved the dictum in Ankron that "the courts have a right to presume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown."94 But We cannot unduly expand the presumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa to an argument that all lands of the public domain had been automatically reclassified as disposable and alienable agricultural lands. By no stretch of imagination did the presumption convert all lands of the public domain into agricultural lands. If We accept the position of private claimants, the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926 would have automatically made all lands in the Philippines, except those already classified as timber or mineral land, alienable and disposable lands. That would take these lands out of State

ownership and worse, would be utterly inconsistent with and totally repugnant to the longentrenched Regalian doctrine. The presumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa attaches only to land registration cases brought under the provisions of Act No. 926, or more specifically those cases dealing with judicial and administrative confirmation of imperfect titles. The presumption applies to an applicant for judicial or administrative conformation of imperfect title under Act No. 926. It certainly cannot apply to landowners, such as private claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, who failed to avail themselves of the benefits of Act No. 926. As to them, their land remained unclassified and, by virtue of the Regalian doctrine, continued to be owned by the State. In any case, the assumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa was not absolute. Land classification was, in the end, dependent on proof. If there was proof that the land was better suited for nonagricultural uses, the courts could adjudge it as a mineral or timber land despite the presumption. In Ankron, this Court stated: In the case of Jocson vs. Director of Forestry (supra), the Attorney-General admitted in effect that whether the particular land in question belongs to one class or another is a question of fact. The mere fact that a tract of land has trees upon it or has mineral within it is not of itself sufficient to declare that one is forestry land and the other, mineral land. There must be some proof of the extent and present or future value of the forestry and of the minerals. While, as we have just said, many definitions have been given for "agriculture," "forestry," and "mineral" lands, and that in each case it is a question of fact, we think it is safe to say that in order to be forestry or mineral land the proof must show that it is more valuable for the forestry or the mineral which it contains than it is for agricultural purposes. (Sec. 7, Act No. 1148.) It is not sufficient to show that there exists some trees upon the land or that it bears some mineral. Land may be classified as forestry or mineral today, and, by reason of the exhaustion of the timber or mineral, be classified as agricultural land tomorrow. And vice-versa, by reason of the rapid growth of timber or the discovery of valuable minerals, lands classified as agricultural today may be differently classified tomorrow. Each case must be decided upon the proof in that particular case, having regard for its present or future value for one or the other purposes. We believe, however, considering the fact that it is a matter of public knowledge that a majority of the lands in the Philippine Islands are agricultural lands that the courts have a right to presume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown. Whatever the land involved in a particular land registration case is forestry or mineral land must, therefore, be a matter of proof. Its superior value for one purpose or the other is a question of fact to be settled by the proof in each particular case. The fact that the land is a manglar [mangrove swamp] is not sufficient for the courts to decide whether it is agricultural, forestry, or mineral land. It may perchance belong to one or the other of said classes of land. The Government, in the first instance, under the provisions of Act No. 1148, may, by reservation, decide for itself what portions of public land shall be considered forestry land, unless private interests have intervened before such reservation is made. In the latter case, whether the land is agricultural, forestry, or mineral, is a question of proof. Until private interests have intervened, the Government, by virtue of the terms of said Act (No. 1148), may decide for itself what portions of the "public domain" shall be set aside and reserved as forestry or mineral land. (Ramos vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 175; Jocson vs. Director of Forestry, supra)95 (Emphasis ours) Since 1919, courts were no longer free to determine the classification of lands from the facts of each case, except those that have already became private lands. 96 Act No. 2874, promulgated in 1919 and reproduced in Section 6 of CA No. 141, gave the Executive Department, through the President, the exclusive prerogative to classify or reclassify public lands into alienable or disposable, mineral or forest.96-a Since then, courts no longer had the authority, whether express or implied, to determine the classification of lands of the public domain.97 Here, private claimants, unlike the Heirs of Ciriaco Tirol who were issued their title in 1933, 98 did not present a justiciable case for determination by the land registration court of the propertys land classification. Simply put, there was no opportunity for the courts then to resolve if the land the Boracay occupants are now claiming were agricultural lands. When Act No. 926 was supplanted by Act No. 2874 in 1919, without an application for judicial confirmation having been

filed by private claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, the courts were no longer authorized to determine the propertys land classification. Hence, private claimants cannot bank on Act No. 926. We note that the RTC decision99 in G.R. No. 167707 mentioned Krivenko v. Register of Deeds of Manila,100 which was decided in 1947 when CA No. 141, vesting the Executive with the sole power to classify lands of the public domain was already in effect. Krivenko cited the old cases Mapa v. Insular Government,101 De Aldecoa v. The Insular Government,102 and Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands.103 Krivenko, however, is not controlling here because it involved a totally different issue. The pertinent issue in Krivenko was whether residential lots were included in the general classification of agricultural lands; and if so, whether an alien could acquire a residential lot. This Court ruled that as an alien, Krivenko was prohibited by the 1935 Constitution104 from acquiring agricultural land, which included residential lots. Here, the issue is whether unclassified lands of the public domain are automatically deemed agricultural. Notably, the definition of "agricultural public lands" mentioned in Krivenko relied on the old cases decided prior to the enactment of Act No. 2874, including Ankron and De Aldecoa.105 As We have already stated, those cases cannot apply here, since they were decided when the Executive did not have the authority to classify lands as agricultural, timber, or mineral. Private claimants continued possession under Act No. 926 does not create a presumption that the land is alienable. Private claimants also contend that their continued possession of portions of Boracay Island for the requisite period of ten (10) years under Act No. 926106 ipso facto converted the island into private ownership. Hence, they may apply for a title in their name. A similar argument was squarely rejected by the Court in Collado v. Court of Appeals.107 Collado, citing the separate opinion of now Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,107-a ruled: "Act No. 926, the first Public Land Act, was passed in pursuance of the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. The law governed the disposition of lands of the public domain. It prescribed rules and regulations for the homesteading, selling and leasing of portions of the public domain of the Philippine Islands, and prescribed the terms and conditions to enable persons to perfect their titles to public lands in the Islands. It also provided for the "issuance of patents to certain native settlers upon public lands," for the establishment of town sites and sale of lots therein, for the completion of imperfect titles, and for the cancellation or confirmation of Spanish concessions and grants in the Islands." In short, the Public Land Act operated on the assumption that title to public lands in the Philippine Islands remained in the government; and that the governments title to public land sprung from the Treaty of Paris and other subsequent treaties between Spain and the United States. The term "public land" referred to all lands of the public domain whose title still remained in the government and are thrown open to private appropriation and settlement, and excluded the patrimonial property of the government and the friar lands." Thus, it is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926, mere possession by private individuals of lands creates the legal presumption that the lands are alienable and disposable.108 (Emphasis Ours) Except for lands already covered by existing titles, Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain prior to Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands are considered public forest under PD No. 705. The DENR109 and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority110 certify that Boracay Island is an unclassified land of the public domain. PD No. 705 issued by President Marcos categorized all unclassified lands of the public domain as public forest. Section 3(a) of PD No. 705 defines a public forest as "a mass of lands of the public domain which has not been the subject of the present system of classification for the determination of which lands are needed for forest purpose and which are not." Applying PD No.

705, all unclassified lands, including those in Boracay Island, are ipso facto considered public forests. PD No. 705, however, respects titles already existing prior to its effectivity. The Court notes that the classification of Boracay as a forest land under PD No. 705 may seem to be out of touch with the present realities in the island. Boracay, no doubt, has been partly stripped of its forest cover to pave the way for commercial developments. As a premier tourist destination for local and foreign tourists, Boracay appears more of a commercial island resort, rather than a forest land. Nevertheless, that the occupants of Boracay have built multi-million peso beach resorts on the island;111 that the island has already been stripped of its forest cover; or that the implementation of Proclamation No. 1064 will destroy the islands tourism industry, do not negate its character as public forest. Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act and the Constitution112 classifying lands of the public domain into "agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks ," do not necessarily refer to large tracts of wooded land or expanses covered by dense growths of trees and underbrushes.113 The discussion in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of Forestry114 is particularly instructive: A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.115 (Emphasis supplied) There is a big difference between "forest" as defined in a dictionary and "forest or timber land" as a classification of lands of the public domain as appearing in our statutes. One is descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is a legal status, a classification for legal purposes.116 At any rate, the Court is tasked to determine the legal status of Boracay Island, and not look into its physical layout. Hence, even if its forest cover has been replaced by beach resorts, restaurants and other commercial establishments, it has not been automatically converted from public forest to alienable agricultural land. Private claimants cannot rely on Proclamation No. 1801 as basis for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The proclamation did not convert Boracay into an agricultural land. However, private claimants argue that Proclamation No. 1801 issued by then President Marcos in 1978 entitles them to judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The Proclamation classified Boracay, among other islands, as a tourist zone. Private claimants assert that, as a tourist spot, the island is susceptible of private ownership. Proclamation No. 1801 or PTA Circular No. 3-82 did not convert the whole of Boracay into an agricultural land. There is nothing in the law or the Circular which made Boracay Island an agricultural land. The reference in Circular No. 3-82 to "private lands"117 and "areas declared as alienable and disposable"118 does not by itself classify the entire island as agricultural. Notably, Circular No. 3-82 makes reference not only to private lands and areas but also to public forested lands. Rule VIII, Section 3 provides: No trees in forested private lands may be cut without prior authority from the PTA. All forested areas in public lands are declared forest reserves. (Emphasis supplied) Clearly, the reference in the Circular to both private and public lands merely recognizes that the island can be classified by the Executive department pursuant to its powers under CA No. 141. In fact, Section 5 of the Circular recognizes the then Bureau of Forest Developments authority to declare areas in the island as alienable and disposable when it provides:

Subsistence farming, in areas declared as alienable and disposable by the Bureau of Forest Development. Therefore, Proclamation No. 1801 cannot be deemed the positive act needed to classify Boracay Island as alienable and disposable land. If President Marcos intended to classify the island as alienable and disposable or forest, or both, he would have identified the specific limits of each, as President Arroyo did in Proclamation No. 1064. This was not done in Proclamation No. 1801. The Whereas clauses of Proclamation No. 1801 also explain the rationale behind the declaration of Boracay Island, together with other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as a tourist zone and marine reserve to be administered by the PTA to ensure the concentrated efforts of the public and private sectors in the development of the areas tourism potential with due regard for ecological balance in the marine environment. Simply put, the proclamation is aimed at administering the islands for tourism and ecological purposes. It does not address the areas alienability.119 More importantly, Proclamation No. 1801 covers not only Boracay Island, but sixty-four (64) other islands, coves, and peninsulas in the Philippines, such as Fortune and Verde Islands in Batangas, Port Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Panglao and Balicasag Islands in Bohol, Coron Island, Puerto Princesa and surrounding areas in Palawan, Camiguin Island in Cagayan de Oro, and Misamis Oriental, to name a few. If the designation of Boracay Island as tourist zone makes it alienable and disposable by virtue of Proclamation No. 1801, all the other areas mentioned would likewise be declared wide open for private disposition. That could not have been, and is clearly beyond, the intent of the proclamation. It was Proclamation No. 1064 of 2006 which positively declared part of Boracay as alienable and opened the same to private ownership. Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141120 provide that it is only the President, upon the recommendation of the proper department head, who has the authority to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands.121 In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo merely exercised the authority granted to her to classify lands of the public domain, presumably subject to existing vested rights. Classification of public lands is the exclusive prerogative of the Executive Department, through the Office of the President. Courts have no authority to do so. 122 Absent such classification, the land remains unclassified until released and rendered open to disposition.123 Proclamation No. 1064 classifies Boracay into 400 hectares of reserved forest land and 628.96 hectares of agricultural land. The Proclamation likewise provides for a 15-meter buffer zone on each side of the center line of roads and trails, which are reserved for right of way and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land protection purposes. Contrary to private claimants argument, there was nothing invalid or irregular, much less unconstitutional, about the classification of Boracay Island made by the President through Proclamation No. 1064. It was within her authority to make such classification, subject to existing vested rights. Proclamation No. 1064 does not violate the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Private claimants further assert that Proclamation No. 1064 violates the provision of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) or RA No. 6657 barring conversion of public forests into agricultural lands. They claim that since Boracay is a public forest under PD No. 705, President Arroyo can no longer convert it into an agricultural land without running afoul of Section 4(a) of RA No. 6657, thus: SEC. 4. Scope. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands as provided in Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No. 229, including other lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture.

More specifically, the following lands are covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program: (a) All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture. No reclassification of forest or mineral lands to agricultural lands shall be undertaken after the approval of this Act until Congress, taking into account ecological, developmental and equity considerations, shall have determined by law, the specific limits of the public domain. That Boracay Island was classified as a public forest under PD No. 705 did not bar the Executive from later converting it into agricultural land. Boracay Island still remained an unclassified land of the public domain despite PD No. 705. In Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols v. Republic, 124 the Court stated that unclassified lands are public forests. While it is true that the land classification map does not categorically state that the islands are public forests, the fact that they were unclassified lands leads to the same result. In the absence of the classification as mineral or timber land, the land remains unclassified land until released and rendered open to disposition.125 (Emphasis supplied) Moreover, the prohibition under the CARL applies only to a "reclassification" of land. If the land had never been previously classified, as in the case of Boracay, there can be no prohibited reclassification under the agrarian law. We agree with the opinion of the Department of Justice 126 on this point: Indeed, the key word to the correct application of the prohibition in Section 4(a) is the word "reclassification." Where there has been no previous classification of public forest [referring, we repeat, to the mass of the public domain which has not been the subject of the present system of classification for purposes of determining which are needed for forest purposes and which are not] into permanent forest or forest reserves or some other forest uses under the Revised Forestry Code, there can be no "reclassification of forest lands" to speak of within the meaning of Section 4(a). Thus, obviously, the prohibition in Section 4(a) of the CARL against the reclassification of forest lands to agricultural lands without a prior law delimiting the limits of the public domain, does not, and cannot, apply to those lands of the public domain, denominated as "public forest" under the Revised Forestry Code, which have not been previously determined, or classified, as needed for forest purposes in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Forestry Code. 127 Private claimants are not entitled to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141. Neither do they have vested rights over the occupied lands under the said law. There are two requisites for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. 141, namely: (1) open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest under a bona fide claim of ownership since time immemorial or from June 12, 1945; and (2) the classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public domain.128 As discussed, the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and Proclamation No. 1801 did not convert portions of Boracay Island into an agricultural land. The island remained an unclassified land of the public domain and, applying the Regalian doctrine, is considered State property. Private claimants bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, relying on the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and Proclamation No. 1801, must fail because of the absence of the second element of alienable and disposable land. Their entitlement to a government grant under our present Public Land Act presupposes that the land possessed and applied for is already alienable and disposable. This is clear from the wording of the law itself. 129 Where the land is not alienable and disposable, possession of the land, no matter how long, cannot confer ownership or possessory rights.130 Neither may private claimants apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Proclamation No. 1064, with respect to those lands which were classified as agricultural lands. Private

claimants failed to prove the first element of open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of their lands in Boracay since June 12, 1945. We cannot sustain the CA and RTC conclusion in the petition for declaratory relief that private claimants complied with the requisite period of possession. The tax declarations in the name of private claimants are insufficient to prove the first element of possession. We note that the earliest of the tax declarations in the name of private claimants were issued in 1993. Being of recent dates, the tax declarations are not sufficient to convince this Court that the period of possession and occupation commenced on June 12, 1945. Private claimants insist that they have a vested right in Boracay, having been in possession of the island for a long time. They have invested millions of pesos in developing the island into a tourist spot. They say their continued possession and investments give them a vested right which cannot be unilaterally rescinded by Proclamation No. 1064. The continued possession and considerable investment of private claimants do not automatically give them a vested right in Boracay. Nor do these give them a right to apply for a title to the land they are presently occupying. This Court is constitutionally bound to decide cases based on the evidence presented and the laws applicable. As the law and jurisprudence stand, private claimants are ineligible to apply for a judicial confirmation of title over their occupied portions in Boracay even with their continued possession and considerable investment in the island. One Last Note The Court is aware that millions of pesos have been invested for the development of Boracay Island, making it a by-word in the local and international tourism industry. The Court also notes that for a number of years, thousands of people have called the island their home. While the Court commiserates with private claimants plight, We are bound to apply the law strictly and judiciously. This is the law and it should prevail. Ito ang batas at ito ang dapat umiral. All is not lost, however, for private claimants. While they may not be eligible to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Section 48(b) of CA No. 141, as amended, this does not denote their automatic ouster from the residential, commercial, and other areas they possess now classified as agricultural. Neither will this mean the loss of their substantial investments on their occupied alienable lands. Lack of title does not necessarily mean lack of right to possess. For one thing, those with lawful possession may claim good faith as builders of improvements. They can take steps to preserve or protect their possession. For another, they may look into other modes of applying for original registration of title, such as by homestead 131 or sales patent,132 subject to the conditions imposed by law. More realistically, Congress may enact a law to entitle private claimants to acquire title to their occupied lots or to exempt them from certain requirements under the present land laws. There is one such bill133 now pending in the House of Representatives. Whether that bill or a similar bill will become a law is for Congress to decide. In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, the government has taken the step necessary to open up the island to private ownership. This gesture may not be sufficient to appease some sectors which view the classification of the island partially into a forest reserve as absurd. That the island is no longer overrun by trees, however, does not becloud the vision to protect its remaining forest cover and to strike a healthy balance between progress and ecology. Ecological conservation is as important as economic progress. To be sure, forest lands are fundamental to our nations survival. Their promotion and protection are not just fancy rhetoric for politicians and activists. These are needs that become more urgent as destruction of our environment gets prevalent and difficult to control. As aptly observed by Justice Conrado Sanchez in 1968 in Director of Forestry v. Munoz:134 The view this Court takes of the cases at bar is but in adherence to public policy that should be followed with respect to forest lands. Many have written much, and many more have spoken, and quite often, about the pressing need for forest preservation, conservation, protection,

development and reforestation. Not without justification. For, forests constitute a vital segment of any country's natural resources. It is of common knowledge by now that absence of the necessary green cover on our lands produces a number of adverse or ill effects of serious proportions. Without the trees, watersheds dry up; rivers and lakes which they supply are emptied of their contents. The fish disappear. Denuded areas become dust bowls. As waterfalls cease to function, so will hydroelectric plants. With the rains, the fertile topsoil is washed away; geological erosion results. With erosion come the dreaded floods that wreak havoc and destruction to property crops, livestock, houses, and highways not to mention precious human lives. Indeed, the foregoing observations should be written down in a lumbermans decalogue.135 WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows: 1. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 167707 is GRANTED and the Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 71118 REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. 2. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 173775 is DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 92013 July 25, 1990 SALVADOR H. LAUREL, petitioner, vs. RAMON GARCIA, as head of the Asset Privatization Trust, RAUL MANGLAPUS, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and CATALINO MACARAIG, as Executive Secretary, respondents. G.R. No. 92047 July 25, 1990 DIONISIO S. OJEDA, petitioner, vs. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY MACARAIG, JR., ASSETS PRIVATIZATION TRUST CHAIRMAN RAMON T. GARCIA, AMBASSADOR RAMON DEL ROSARIO, et al., as members of the PRINCIPAL AND BIDDING COMMITTEES ON THE UTILIZATION/DISPOSITION PETITION OF PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT PROPERTIES IN JAPAN, respondents. Arturo M. Tolentino for petitioner in 92013.

(2) The Kobe Commercial Property at 63 Naniwa-cho, Kobe, with an area of around 764.72 square meters and categorized as a commercial lot now being used as a warehouse and parking lot for the consulate staff; and (3) The Kobe Residential Property at 1-980-2 Obanoyama-cho, Shinohara, Nada-ku, Kobe, a residential lot which is now vacant. The properties and the capital goods and services procured from the Japanese government for national development projects are part of the indemnification to the Filipino people for their losses in life and property and their suffering during World War II. The Reparations Agreement provides that reparations valued at $550 million would be payable in twenty (20) years in accordance with annual schedules of procurements to be fixed by the Philippine and Japanese governments (Article 2, Reparations Agreement). Rep. Act No. 1789, the Reparations Law, prescribes the national policy on procurement and utilization of reparations and development loans. The procurements are divided into those for use by the government sector and those for private parties in projects as the then National Economic Council shall determine. Those intended for the private sector shall be made available by sale to Filipino citizens or to one hundred (100%) percent Filipino-owned entities in national development projects. The Roppongi property was acquired from the Japanese government under the Second Year Schedule and listed under the heading "Government Sector", through Reparations Contract No. 300 dated June 27, 1958. The Roppongi property consists of the land and building "for the Chancery of the Philippine Embassy" (Annex M-D to Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 503). As intended, it became the site of the Philippine Embassy until the latter was transferred to Nampeidai on July 22, 1976 when the Roppongi building needed major repairs. Due to the failure of our government to provide necessary funds, the Roppongi property has remained undeveloped since that time. A proposal was presented to President Corazon C. Aquino by former Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Carlos J. Valdez, to make the property the subject of a lease agreement with a Japanese firm - Kajima Corporation which shall construct two (2) buildings in Roppongi and one (1) building in Nampeidai and renovate the present Philippine Chancery in Nampeidai. The consideration of the construction would be the lease to the foreign corporation of one (1) of the buildings to be constructed in Roppongi and the two (2) buildings in Nampeidai. The other building in Roppongi shall then be used as the Philippine Embassy Chancery. At the end of the lease period, all the three leased buildings shall be occupied and used by the Philippine government. No change of ownership or title shall occur. (See Annex "B" to Reply to Comment) The Philippine government retains the title all throughout the lease period and thereafter. However, the government has not acted favorably on this proposal which is pending approval and ratification between the parties. Instead, on August 11, 1986, President Aquino created a committee to study the disposition/utilization of Philippine government properties in Tokyo and Kobe, Japan through Administrative Order No. 3, followed by Administrative Orders Numbered 3-A, B, C and D. On July 25, 1987, the President issued Executive Order No. 296 entitling non-Filipino citizens or entities to avail of separations' capital goods and services in the event of sale, lease or disposition. The four properties in Japan including the Roppongi were specifically mentioned in the first "Whereas" clause. Amidst opposition by various sectors, the Executive branch of the government has been pushing, with great vigor, its decision to sell the reparations properties starting with the Roppongi lot. The property has twice been set for bidding at a minimum floor price of $225 million. The first bidding was a failure since only one bidder qualified. The second one, after postponements, has not yet materialized. The last scheduled bidding on February 21, 1990 was restrained by his Court. Later, the rules on bidding were changed such that the $225 million floor price became merely a suggested floor price. The Court finds that each of the herein petitions raises distinct issues. The petitioner in G.R. No. 92013 objects to the alienation of the Roppongi property to anyone while the petitioner in G.R.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: These are two petitions for prohibition seeking to enjoin respondents, their representatives and agents from proceeding with the bidding for the sale of the 3,179 square meters of land at 306 Roppongi, 5-Chome Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan scheduled on February 21, 1990. We granted the prayer for a temporary restraining order effective February 20, 1990. One of the petitioners (in G.R. No. 92047) likewise prayes for a writ of mandamus to compel the respondents to fully disclose to the public the basis of their decision to push through with the sale of the Roppongi property inspire of strong public opposition and to explain the proceedings which effectively prevent the participation of Filipino citizens and entities in the bidding process. The oral arguments in G.R. No. 92013, Laurel v. Garcia, et al. were heard by the Court on March 13, 1990. After G.R. No. 92047, Ojeda v. Secretary Macaraig, et al. was filed, the respondents were required to file a comment by the Court's resolution dated February 22, 1990. The two petitions were consolidated on March 27, 1990 when the memoranda of the parties in the Laurel case were deliberated upon. The Court could not act on these cases immediately because the respondents filed a motion for an extension of thirty (30) days to file comment in G.R. No. 92047, followed by a second motion for an extension of another thirty (30) days which we granted on May 8, 1990, a third motion for extension of time granted on May 24, 1990 and a fourth motion for extension of time which we granted on June 5, 1990 but calling the attention of the respondents to the length of time the petitions have been pending. After the comment was filed, the petitioner in G.R. No. 92047 asked for thirty (30) days to file a reply. We noted his motion and resolved to decide the two (2) cases. I The subject property in this case is one of the four (4) properties in Japan acquired by the Philippine government under the Reparations Agreement entered into with Japan on May 9, 1956, the other lots being: (1) The Nampeidai Property at 11-24 Nampeidai-machi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo which has an area of approximately 2,489.96 square meters, and is at present the site of the Philippine Embassy Chancery;

No. 92047 adds as a principal objection the alleged unjustified bias of the Philippine government in favor of selling the property to non-Filipino citizens and entities. These petitions have been consolidated and are resolved at the same time for the objective is the same - to stop the sale of the Roppongi property. The petitioner in G.R. No. 92013 raises the following issues: (1) Can the Roppongi property and others of its kind be alienated by the Philippine Government?; and (2) Does the Chief Executive, her officers and agents, have the authority and jurisdiction, to sell the Roppongi property? Petitioner Dionisio Ojeda in G.R. No. 92047, apart from questioning the authority of the government to alienate the Roppongi property assails the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 296 in making the property available for sale to non-Filipino citizens and entities. He also questions the bidding procedures of the Committee on the Utilization or Disposition of Philippine Government Properties in Japan for being discriminatory against Filipino citizens and Filipinoowned entities by denying them the right to be informed about the bidding requirements. II In G.R. No. 92013, petitioner Laurel asserts that the Roppongi property and the related lots were acquired as part of the reparations from the Japanese government for diplomatic and consular use by the Philippine government. Vice-President Laurel states that the Roppongi property is classified as one of public dominion, and not of private ownership under Article 420 of the Civil Code (See infra). The petitioner submits that the Roppongi property comes under "property intended for public service" in paragraph 2 of the above provision. He states that being one of public dominion, no ownership by any one can attach to it, not even by the State. The Roppongi and related properties were acquired for "sites for chancery, diplomatic, and consular quarters, buildings and other improvements" (Second Year Reparations Schedule). The petitioner states that they continue to be intended for a necessary service. They are held by the State in anticipation of an opportune use. (Citing 3 Manresa 65-66). Hence, it cannot be appropriated, is outside the commerce of man, or to put it in more simple terms, it cannot be alienated nor be the subject matter of contracts (Citing Municipality of Cavite v. Rojas, 30 Phil. 20 [1915]). Noting the non-use of the Roppongi property at the moment, the petitioner avers that the same remains property of public dominion so long as the government has not used it for other purposes nor adopted any measure constituting a removal of its original purpose or use. The respondents, for their part, refute the petitioner's contention by saying that the subject property is not governed by our Civil Code but by the laws of Japan where the property is located. They rely upon the rule of lex situs which is used in determining the applicable law regarding the acquisition, transfer and devolution of the title to a property. They also invoke Opinion No. 21, Series of 1988, dated January 27, 1988 of the Secretary of Justice which used the lex situs in explaining the inapplicability of Philippine law regarding a property situated in Japan. The respondents add that even assuming for the sake of argument that the Civil Code is applicable, the Roppongi property has ceased to become property of public dominion. It has become patrimonial property because it has not been used for public service or for diplomatic purposes for over thirteen (13) years now (Citing Article 422, Civil Code) and because the intention by the Executive Department and the Congress to convert it to private use has been manifested by overt acts, such as, among others: (1) the transfer of the Philippine Embassy to Nampeidai (2) the issuance of administrative orders for the possibility of alienating the four government properties in Japan; (3) the issuance of Executive Order No. 296; (4) the enactment by the Congress of Rep. Act No. 6657 [the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law] on June 10, 1988 which contains a provision stating that funds may be taken from the sale of Philippine properties in foreign countries; (5) the holding of the public bidding of the Roppongi property but which failed; (6) the deferment by the Senate in Resolution No. 55 of the bidding to a future date;

thus an acknowledgment by the Senate of the government's intention to remove the Roppongi property from the public service purpose; and (7) the resolution of this Court dismissing the petition in Ojeda v. Bidding Committee, et al., G.R. No. 87478 which sought to enjoin the second bidding of the Roppongi property scheduled on March 30, 1989. III In G.R. No. 94047, petitioner Ojeda once more asks this Court to rule on the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 296. He had earlier filed a petition in G.R. No. 87478 which the Court dismissed on August 1, 1989. He now avers that the executive order contravenes the constitutional mandate to conserve and develop the national patrimony stated in the Preamble of the 1987 Constitution. It also allegedly violates: (1) The reservation of the ownership and acquisition of alienable lands of the public domain to Filipino citizens. (Sections 2 and 3, Article XII, Constitution; Sections 22 and 23 of Commonwealth Act 141).itc-asl (2) The preference for Filipino citizens in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony (Section 10, Article VI, Constitution); (3) The protection given to Filipino enterprises against unfair competition and trade practices; (4) The guarantee of the right of the people to information on all matters of public concern (Section 7, Article III, Constitution); (5) The prohibition against the sale to non-Filipino citizens or entities not wholly owned by Filipino citizens of capital goods received by the Philippines under the Reparations Act (Sections 2 and 12 of Rep. Act No. 1789); and (6) The declaration of the state policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Section 28, Article III, Constitution). Petitioner Ojeda warns that the use of public funds in the execution of an unconstitutional executive order is a misapplication of public funds He states that since the details of the bidding for the Roppongi property were never publicly disclosed until February 15, 1990 (or a few days before the scheduled bidding), the bidding guidelines are available only in Tokyo, and the accomplishment of requirements and the selection of qualified bidders should be done in Tokyo, interested Filipino citizens or entities owned by them did not have the chance to comply with Purchase Offer Requirements on the Roppongi. Worse, the Roppongi shall be sold for a minimum price of $225 million from which price capital gains tax under Japanese law of about 50 to 70% of the floor price would still be deducted. IV The petitioners and respondents in both cases do not dispute the fact that the Roppongi site and the three related properties were through reparations agreements, that these were assigned to the government sector and that the Roppongi property itself was specifically designated under the Reparations Agreement to house the Philippine Embassy. The nature of the Roppongi lot as property for public service is expressly spelled out. It is dictated by the terms of the Reparations Agreement and the corresponding contract of procurement which bind both the Philippine government and the Japanese government. There can be no doubt that it is of public dominion unless it is convincingly shown that the property has become patrimonial. This, the respondents have failed to do. As property of public dominion, the Roppongi lot is outside the commerce of man. It cannot be alienated. Its ownership is a special collective ownership for general use and enjoyment, an application to the satisfaction of collective needs, and resides in the social group. The purpose is not to serve the State as a juridical person, but the citizens; it is intended for the common and public welfare and cannot be the object of appropration. (Taken from 3 Manresa, 66-69; cited in Tolentino, Commentaries on the Civil Code of the Philippines, 1963 Edition, Vol. II, p. 26).

The applicable provisions of the Civil Code are: ART. 419. Property is either of public dominion or of private ownership. ART. 420. The following things are property of public dominion (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks shores roadsteads, and others of similar character; (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. ART. 421. All other property of the State, which is not of the character stated in the preceding article, is patrimonial property. The Roppongi property is correctly classified under paragraph 2 of Article 420 of the Civil Code as property belonging to the State and intended for some public service. Has the intention of the government regarding the use of the property been changed because the lot has been Idle for some years? Has it become patrimonial? The fact that the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy service does not automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use (Cebu Oxygen and Acetylene Co. v. Bercilles, 66 SCRA 481 [1975]). A property continues to be part of the public domain, not available for private appropriation or ownership until there is a formal declaration on the part of the government to withdraw it from being such (Ignacio v. Director of Lands, 108 Phil. 335 [1960]). The respondents enumerate various pronouncements by concerned public officials insinuating a change of intention. We emphasize, however, that an abandonment of the intention to use the Roppongi property for public service and to make it patrimonial property under Article 422 of the Civil Code must be definite Abandonment cannot be inferred from the non-use alone specially if the non-use was attributable not to the government's own deliberate and indubitable will but to a lack of financial support to repair and improve the property (See Heirs of Felino Santiago v. Lazaro, 166 SCRA 368 [1988]). Abandonment must be a certain and positive act based on correct legal premises. A mere transfer of the Philippine Embassy to Nampeidai in 1976 is not relinquishment of the Roppongi property's original purpose. Even the failure by the government to repair the building in Roppongi is not abandonment since as earlier stated, there simply was a shortage of government funds. The recent Administrative Orders authorizing a study of the status and conditions of government properties in Japan were merely directives for investigation but did not in any way signify a clear intention to dispose of the properties. Executive Order No. 296, though its title declares an "authority to sell", does not have a provision in its text expressly authorizing the sale of the four properties procured from Japan for the government sector. The executive order does not declare that the properties lost their public character. It merely intends to make the properties available to foreigners and not to Filipinos alone in case of a sale, lease or other disposition. It merely eliminates the restriction under Rep. Act No. 1789 that reparations goods may be sold only to Filipino citizens and one hundred (100%) percent Filipino-owned entities. The text of Executive Order No. 296 provides: Section 1. The provisions of Republic Act No. 1789, as amended, and of other laws to the contrary notwithstanding, the above-mentioned properties can be made available for sale, lease or any other manner of disposition to non-Filipino citizens or to entities owned by non-Filipino citizens. Executive Order No. 296 is based on the wrong premise or assumption that the Roppongi and the three other properties were earlier converted into alienable real properties. As earlier stated, Rep. Act No. 1789 differentiates the procurements for the government sector and the private sector (Sections 2 and 12, Rep. Act No. 1789). Only the private sector properties can be sold to

end-users who must be Filipinos or entities owned by Filipinos. It is this nationality provision which was amended by Executive Order No. 296. Section 63 (c) of Rep. Act No. 6657 (the CARP Law) which provides as one of the sources of funds for its implementation, the proceeds of the disposition of the properties of the Government in foreign countries, did not withdraw the Roppongi property from being classified as one of public dominion when it mentions Philippine properties abroad. Section 63 (c) refers to properties which are alienable and not to those reserved for public use or service. Rep Act No. 6657, therefore, does not authorize the Executive Department to sell the Roppongi property. It merely enumerates possible sources of future funding to augment (as and when needed) the Agrarian Reform Fund created under Executive Order No. 299. Obviously any property outside of the commerce of man cannot be tapped as a source of funds. The respondents try to get around the public dominion character of the Roppongi property by insisting that Japanese law and not our Civil Code should apply. It is exceedingly strange why our top government officials, of all people, should be the ones to insist that in the sale of extremely valuable government property, Japanese law and not Philippine law should prevail. The Japanese law - its coverage and effects, when enacted, and exceptions to its provision is not presented to the Court It is simply asserted that the lex loci rei sitae or Japanese law should apply without stating what that law provides. It is a ed on faith that Japanese law would allow the sale. We see no reason why a conflict of law rule should apply when no conflict of law situation exists. A conflict of law situation arises only when: (1) There is a dispute over the title or ownership of an immovable, such that the capacity to take and transfer immovables, the formalities of conveyance, the essential validity and effect of the transfer, or the interpretation and effect of a conveyance, are to be determined (See Salonga, Private International Law, 1981 ed., pp. 377383); and (2) A foreign law on land ownership and its conveyance is asserted to conflict with a domestic law on the same matters. Hence, the need to determine which law should apply. In the instant case, none of the above elements exists. The issues are not concerned with validity of ownership or title. There is no question that the property belongs to the Philippines. The issue is the authority of the respondent officials to validly dispose of property belonging to the State. And the validity of the procedures adopted to effect its sale. This is governed by Philippine Law. The rule of lex situs does not apply. The assertion that the opinion of the Secretary of Justice sheds light on the relevance of the lex situs rule is misplaced. The opinion does not tackle the alienability of the real properties procured through reparations nor the existence in what body of the authority to sell them. In discussing who are capable of acquiring the lots, the Secretary merely explains that it is the foreign law which should determine who can acquire the properties so that the constitutional limitation on acquisition of lands of the public domain to Filipino citizens and entities wholly owned by Filipinos is inapplicable. We see no point in belaboring whether or not this opinion is correct. Why should we discuss who can acquire the Roppongi lot when there is no showing that it can be sold? The subsequent approval on October 4, 1988 by President Aquino of the recommendation by the investigating committee to sell the Roppongi property was premature or, at the very least, conditioned on a valid change in the public character of the Roppongi property. Moreover, the approval does not have the force and effect of law since the President already lost her legislative powers. The Congress had already convened for more than a year. Assuming for the sake of argument, however, that the Roppongi property is no longer of public dominion, there is another obstacle to its sale by the respondents. There is no law authorizing its conveyance. Section 79 (f) of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 provides

Section 79 (f ) Conveyances and contracts to which the Government is a party. In cases in which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is a party to any deed or other instrument conveying the title to real estate or to any other property the value of which is in excess of one hundred thousand pesos, the respective Department Secretary shall prepare the necessary papers which, together with the proper recommendations, shall be submitted to the Congress of the Philippines for approval by the same. Such deed, instrument, or contract shall be executed and signed by the President of the Philippines on behalf of the Government of the Philippines unless the Government of the Philippines unless the authority therefor be expressly vested by law in another officer. (Emphasis supplied) The requirement has been retained in Section 48, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292). SEC. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) For property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer. (2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality. (Emphasis supplied) It is not for the President to convey valuable real property of the government on his or her own sole will. Any such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by the Congress. It requires executive and legislative concurrence. Resolution No. 55 of the Senate dated June 8, 1989, asking for the deferment of the sale of the Roppongi property does not withdraw the property from public domain much less authorize its sale. It is a mere resolution; it is not a formal declaration abandoning the public character of the Roppongi property. In fact, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is conducting hearings on Senate Resolution No. 734 which raises serious policy considerations and calls for a factfinding investigation of the circumstances behind the decision to sell the Philippine government properties in Japan. The resolution of this Court in Ojeda v. Bidding Committee, et al., supra, did not pass upon the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 296. Contrary to respondents' assertion, we did not uphold the authority of the President to sell the Roppongi property. The Court stated that the constitutionality of the executive order was not the real issue and that resolving the constitutional question was "neither necessary nor finally determinative of the case." The Court noted that "[W]hat petitioner ultimately questions is the use of the proceeds of the disposition of the Roppongi property." In emphasizing that "the decision of the Executive to dispose of the Roppongi property to finance the CARP ... cannot be questioned" in view of Section 63 (c) of Rep. Act No. 6657, the Court did not acknowledge the fact that the property became alienable nor did it indicate that the President was authorized to dispose of the Roppongi property. The resolution should be read to mean that in case the Roppongi property is re-classified to be patrimonial and alienable by authority of law, the proceeds of a sale may be used for national economic development projects including the CARP. Moreover, the sale in 1989 did not materialize. The petitions before us question the proposed 1990 sale of the Roppongi property. We are resolving the issues raised in these petitions, not the issues raised in 1989.

Having declared a need for a law or formal declaration to withdraw the Roppongi property from public domain to make it alienable and a need for legislative authority to allow the sale of the property, we see no compelling reason to tackle the constitutional issues raised by petitioner Ojeda. The Court does not ordinarily pass upon constitutional questions unless these questions are properly raised in appropriate cases and their resolution is necessary for the determination of the case (People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 [1937]). The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record if the case can be disposed of on some other ground such as the application of a statute or general law (Siler v. Louisville and Nashville R. Co., 213 U.S. 175, [1909], Railroad Commission v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496 [1941]). The petitioner in G.R. No. 92013 states why the Roppongi property should not be sold: The Roppongi property is not just like any piece of property. It was given to the Filipino people in reparation for the lives and blood of Filipinos who died and suffered during the Japanese military occupation, for the suffering of widows and orphans who lost their loved ones and kindred, for the homes and other properties lost by countless Filipinos during the war. The Tokyo properties are a monument to the bravery and sacrifice of the Filipino people in the face of an invader; like the monuments of Rizal, Quezon, and other Filipino heroes, we do not expect economic or financial benefits from them. But who would think of selling these monuments? Filipino honor and national dignity dictate that we keep our properties in Japan as memorials to the countless Filipinos who died and suffered. Even if we should become paupers we should not think of selling them. For it would be as if we sold the lives and blood and tears of our countrymen. (Rollo- G.R. No. 92013, p.147) The petitioner in G.R. No. 92047 also states: Roppongi is no ordinary property. It is one ceded by the Japanese government in atonement for its past belligerence for the valiant sacrifice of life and limb and for deaths, physical dislocation and economic devastation the whole Filipino people endured in World War II. It is for what it stands for, and for what it could never bring back to life, that its significance today remains undimmed, inspire of the lapse of 45 years since the war ended, inspire of the passage of 32 years since the property passed on to the Philippine government. Roppongi is a reminder that cannot should not be dissipated ... (Rollo92047, p. 9) It is indeed true that the Roppongi property is valuable not so much because of the inflated prices fetched by real property in Tokyo but more so because of its symbolic value to all Filipinos veterans and civilians alike. Whether or not the Roppongi and related properties will eventually be sold is a policy determination where both the President and Congress must concur. Considering the properties' importance and value, the laws on conversion and disposition of property of public dominion must be faithfully followed. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petitions are GRANTED. A writ of prohibition is issued enjoining the respondents from proceeding with the sale of the Roppongi property in Tokyo, Japan. The February 20, 1990 Temporary Restraining Order is made PERMANENT. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 133250 July 9, 2002

Million Three Hundred Eighty Two Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight (3,382,888) square meters of reclaimed areas at varying elevations above Mean Low Water Level located outside the Financial Center Area and the First Neighborhood Unit."3 On January 19, 1988, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517, granting and transferring to PEA "the parcels of land so reclaimed under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP) containing a total area of one million nine hundred fifteen thousand eight hundred ninety four (1,915,894) square meters." Subsequently, on April 9, 1988, the Register of Deeds of the Municipality of Paraaque issued Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 7309, 7311, and 7312, in the name of PEA, covering the three reclaimed islands known as the "Freedom Islands" located at the southern portion of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road, Paraaque City. The Freedom Islands have a total land area of One Million Five Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Four Hundred and Forty One (1,578,441) square meters or 157.841 hectares. On April 25, 1995, PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement ("JVA" for brevity) with AMARI, a private corporation, to develop the Freedom Islands. The JVA also required the reclamation of an additional 250 hectares of submerged areas surrounding these islands to complete the configuration in the Master Development Plan of the Southern Reclamation Project-MCCRRP. PEA and AMARI entered into the JVA through negotiation without public bidding.4 On April 28, 1995, the Board of Directors of PEA, in its Resolution No. 1245, confirmed the JVA.5 On June 8, 1995, then President Fidel V. Ramos, through then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, approved the JVA.6 On November 29, 1996, then Senate President Ernesto Maceda delivered a privilege speech in the Senate and denounced the JVA as the "grandmother of all scams." As a result, the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, and the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, conducted a joint investigation. The Senate Committees reported the results of their investigation in Senate Committee Report No. 560 dated September 16, 1997. 7 Among the conclusions of their report are: (1) the reclaimed lands PEA seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the public domain which the government has not classified as alienable lands and therefore PEA cannot alienate these lands; (2) the certificates of title covering the Freedom Islands are thus void, and (3) the JVA itself is illegal. On December 5, 1997, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Presidential Administrative Order No. 365 creating a Legal Task Force to conduct a study on the legality of the JVA in view of Senate Committee Report No. 560. The members of the Legal Task Force were the Secretary of Justice,8 the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, 9 and the Government Corporate Counsel.10 The Legal Task Force upheld the legality of the JVA, contrary to the conclusions reached by the Senate Committees. 11 On April 4 and 5, 1998, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Today published reports that there were on-going renegotiations between PEA and AMARI under an order issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos. According to these reports, PEA Director Nestor Kalaw, PEA Chairman Arsenio Yulo and retired Navy Officer Sergio Cruz composed the negotiating panel of PEA. On April 13, 1998, Antonio M. Zulueta filed before the Court a Petition for Prohibition with Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction docketed as G.R. No. 132994 seeking to nullify the JVA. The Court dismissed the petition "for unwarranted disregard of judicial hierarchy, without prejudice to the refiling of the case before the proper court."12 On April 27, 1998, petitioner Frank I. Chavez ("Petitioner" for brevity) as a taxpayer, filed the instant Petition for Mandamus with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, vs. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY and AMARI COASTAL BAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents. CARPIO, J.: This is an original Petition for Mandamus with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order. The petition seeks to compel the Public Estates Authority ("PEA" for brevity) to disclose all facts on PEA's then on-going renegotiations with Amari Coastal Bay and Development Corporation ("AMARI" for brevity) to reclaim portions of Manila Bay. The petition further seeks to enjoin PEA from signing a new agreement with AMARI involving such reclamation. The Facts On November 20, 1973, the government, through the Commissioner of Public Highways, signed a contract with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines ("CDCP" for brevity) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay. The contract also included the construction of Phases I and II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated itself to carry out all the works in consideration of fifty percent of the total reclaimed land. On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating PEA. PD No. 1084 tasked PEA "to reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas," and "to develop, improve, acquire, x x x lease and sell any and all kinds of lands."1 On the same date, then President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 transferring to PEA the "lands reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay"2 under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP). On December 29, 1981, then President Marcos issued a memorandum directing PEA to amend its contract with CDCP, so that "[A]ll future works in MCCRRP x x x shall be funded and owned by PEA." Accordingly, PEA and CDCP executed a Memorandum of Agreement dated December 29, 1981, which stated: "(i) CDCP shall undertake all reclamation, construction, and such other works in the MCCRRP as may be agreed upon by the parties, to be paid according to progress of works on a unit price/lump sum basis for items of work to be agreed upon, subject to price escalation, retention and other terms and conditions provided for in Presidential Decree No. 1594. All the financing required for such works shall be provided by PEA. xxx (iii) x x x CDCP shall give up all its development rights and hereby agrees to cede and transfer in favor of PEA, all of the rights, title, interest and participation of CDCP in and to all the areas of land reclaimed by CDCP in the MCCRRP as of December 30, 1981 which have not yet been sold, transferred or otherwise disposed of by CDCP as of said date, which areas consist of approximately Ninety-Nine Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Three (99,473) square meters in the Financial Center Area covered by land pledge No. 5 and approximately Three

Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order. Petitioner contends the government stands to lose billions of pesos in the sale by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI. Petitioner prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of any renegotiation of the JVA, invoking Section 28, Article II, and Section 7, Article III, of the 1987 Constitution on the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of lands of the public domain as a blatant violation of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting the sale of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations. Finally, petitioner asserts that he seeks to enjoin the loss of billions of pesos in properties of the State that are of public dominion. After several motions for extension of time,13 PEA and AMARI filed their Comments on October 19, 1998 and June 25, 1998, respectively. Meanwhile, on December 28, 1998, petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion: (a) to require PEA to submit the terms of the renegotiated PEA-AMARI contract; (b) for issuance of a temporary restraining order; and (c) to set the case for hearing on oral argument. Petitioner filed a Reiterative Motion for Issuance of a TRO dated May 26, 1999, which the Court denied in a Resolution dated June 22, 1999. In a Resolution dated March 23, 1999, the Court gave due course to the petition and required the parties to file their respective memoranda. On March 30, 1999, PEA and AMARI signed the Amended Joint Venture Agreement ("Amended JVA," for brevity). On May 28, 1999, the Office of the President under the administration of then President Joseph E. Estrada approved the Amended JVA. Due to the approval of the Amended JVA by the Office of the President, petitioner now prays that on "constitutional and statutory grounds the renegotiated contract be declared null and void."14 The Issues The issues raised by petitioner, PEA15 and AMARI16 are as follows: I. WHETHER THE PRINCIPAL RELIEFS PRAYED FOR IN THE PETITION ARE MOOT AND ACADEMIC BECAUSE OF SUBSEQUENT EVENTS; II. WHETHER THE PETITION MERITS DISMISSAL FOR FAILING TO OBSERVE THE PRINCIPLE GOVERNING THE HIERARCHY OF COURTS; III. WHETHER THE PETITION MERITS DISMISSAL FOR NON-EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES; IV. WHETHER PETITIONER HAS LOCUS STANDI TO BRING THIS SUIT; V. WHETHER THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO INFORMATION INCLUDES OFFICIAL INFORMATION ON ON-GOING NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE A FINAL AGREEMENT; VI. WHETHER THE STIPULATIONS IN THE AMENDED JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT FOR THE TRANSFER TO AMARI OF CERTAIN LANDS, RECLAIMED AND STILL TO BE RECLAIMED, VIOLATE THE 1987 CONSTITUTION; AND VII. WHETHER THE COURT IS THE PROPER FORUM FOR RAISING THE ISSUE OF WHETHER THE AMENDED JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT IS GROSSLY DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. The Court's Ruling First issue: whether the principal reliefs prayed for in the petition are moot and academic because of subsequent events.

The petition prays that PEA publicly disclose the "terms and conditions of the on-going negotiations for a new agreement." The petition also prays that the Court enjoin PEA from "privately entering into, perfecting and/or executing any new agreement with AMARI." PEA and AMARI claim the petition is now moot and academic because AMARI furnished petitioner on June 21, 1999 a copy of the signed Amended JVA containing the terms and conditions agreed upon in the renegotiations. Thus, PEA has satisfied petitioner's prayer for a public disclosure of the renegotiations. Likewise, petitioner's prayer to enjoin the signing of the Amended JVA is now moot because PEA and AMARI have already signed the Amended JVA on March 30, 1999. Moreover, the Office of the President has approved the Amended JVA on May 28, 1999. Petitioner counters that PEA and AMARI cannot avoid the constitutional issue by simply fast-tracking the signing and approval of the Amended JVA before the Court could act on the issue. Presidential approval does not resolve the constitutional issue or remove it from the ambit of judicial review. We rule that the signing of the Amended JVA by PEA and AMARI and its approval by the President cannot operate to moot the petition and divest the Court of its jurisdiction. PEA and AMARI have still to implement the Amended JVA. The prayer to enjoin the signing of the Amended JVA on constitutional grounds necessarily includes preventing its implementation if in the meantime PEA and AMARI have signed one in violation of the Constitution. Petitioner's principal basis in assailing the renegotiation of the JVA is its violation of Section 3, Article XII of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from alienating lands of the public domain to private corporations. If the Amended JVA indeed violates the Constitution, it is the duty of the Court to enjoin its implementation, and if already implemented, to annul the effects of such unconstitutional contract. The Amended JVA is not an ordinary commercial contract but one which seeks to transfer title and ownership to 367.5 hectares of reclaimed lands and submerged areas of Manila Bay to a single private corporation. It now becomes more compelling for the Court to resolve the issue to insure the government itself does not violate a provision of the Constitution intended to safeguard the national patrimony. Supervening events, whether intended or accidental, cannot prevent the Court from rendering a decision if there is a grave violation of the Constitution. In the instant case, if the Amended JVA runs counter to the Constitution, the Court can still prevent the transfer of title and ownership of alienable lands of the public domain in the name of AMARI. Even in cases where supervening events had made the cases moot, the Court did not hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, bar, and the public.17 Also, the instant petition is a case of first impression. All previous decisions of the Court involving Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, or its counterpart provision in the 1973 Constitution,18 covered agricultural lands sold to private corporations which acquired the lands from private parties. The transferors of the private corporations claimed or could claim the right to judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles19 under Title II of Commonwealth Act. 141 ("CA No. 141" for brevity). In the instant case, AMARI seeks to acquire from PEA, a public corporation, reclaimed lands and submerged areas for nonagricultural purposes by purchase under PD No. 1084 (charter of PEA) and Title III of CA No. 141. Certain undertakings by AMARI under the Amended JVA constitute the consideration for the purchase. Neither AMARI nor PEA can claim judicial confirmation of their titles because the lands covered by the Amended JVA are newly reclaimed or still to be reclaimed. Judicial confirmation of imperfect title requires open, continuous, exclusive and notorious occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain for at least thirty years since June 12, 1945 or earlier. Besides, the deadline for filing applications for judicial confirmation of imperfect title expired on December 31, 1987.20

Lastly, there is a need to resolve immediately the constitutional issue raised in this petition because of the possible transfer at any time by PEA to AMARI of title and ownership to portions of the reclaimed lands. Under the Amended JVA, PEA is obligated to transfer to AMARI the latter's seventy percent proportionate share in the reclaimed areas as the reclamation progresses. The Amended JVA even allows AMARI to mortgage at any time the entire reclaimed area to raise financing for the reclamation project.21 Second issue: whether the petition merits dismissal for failing to observe the principle governing the hierarchy of courts. PEA and AMARI claim petitioner ignored the judicial hierarchy by seeking relief directly from the Court. The principle of hierarchy of courts applies generally to cases involving factual questions. As it is not a trier of facts, the Court cannot entertain cases involving factual issues. The instant case, however, raises constitutional issues of transcendental importance to the public.22 The Court can resolve this case without determining any factual issue related to the case. Also, the instant case is a petition for mandamus which falls under the original jurisdiction of the Court under Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution. We resolve to exercise primary jurisdiction over the instant case. Third issue: whether the petition merits dismissal for non-exhaustion of administrative remedies. PEA faults petitioner for seeking judicial intervention in compelling PEA to disclose publicly certain information without first asking PEA the needed information. PEA claims petitioner's direct resort to the Court violates the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies. It also violates the rule that mandamus may issue only if there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. PEA distinguishes the instant case from Taada v. Tuvera 23 where the Court granted the petition for mandamus even if the petitioners there did not initially demand from the Office of the President the publication of the presidential decrees. PEA points out that in Taada, the Executive Department had an affirmative statutory duty under Article 2 of the Civil Code24 and Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 63825 to publish the presidential decrees. There was, therefore, no need for the petitioners in Taada to make an initial demand from the Office of the President. In the instant case, PEA claims it has no affirmative statutory duty to disclose publicly information about its renegotiation of the JVA. Thus, PEA asserts that the Court must apply the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies to the instant case in view of the failure of petitioner here to demand initially from PEA the needed information. The original JVA sought to dispose to AMARI public lands held by PEA, a government corporation. Under Section 79 of the Government Auditing Code, 26 the disposition of government lands to private parties requires public bidding. PEA was under a positive legal duty to disclose to the public the terms and conditions for the sale of its lands. The law obligated PEA to make this public disclosure even without demand from petitioner or from anyone. PEA failed to make this public disclosure because the original JVA, like the Amended JVA, was the result of a negotiated contract, not of a public bidding. Considering that PEA had an affirmative statutory duty to make the public disclosure, and was even in breach of this legal duty, petitioner had the right to seek direct judicial intervention. Moreover, and this alone is determinative of this issue, the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply when the issue involved is a purely legal or constitutional question.27 The principal issue in the instant case is the capacity of AMARI to acquire lands held by PEA in view of the constitutional ban prohibiting the alienation of lands of the public domain to private corporations. We rule that the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply in the instant case.

Fourth issue: whether petitioner has locus standi to bring this suit PEA argues that petitioner has no standing to institute mandamus proceedings to enforce his constitutional right to information without a showing that PEA refused to perform an affirmative duty imposed on PEA by the Constitution. PEA also claims that petitioner has not shown that he will suffer any concrete injury because of the signing or implementation of the Amended JVA. Thus, there is no actual controversy requiring the exercise of the power of judicial review. The petitioner has standing to bring this taxpayer's suit because the petition seeks to compel PEA to comply with its constitutional duties. There are two constitutional issues involved here. First is the right of citizens to information on matters of public concern. Second is the application of a constitutional provision intended to insure the equitable distribution of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipino citizens. The thrust of the first issue is to compel PEA to disclose publicly information on the sale of government lands worth billions of pesos, information which the Constitution and statutory law mandate PEA to disclose. The thrust of the second issue is to prevent PEA from alienating hundreds of hectares of alienable lands of the public domain in violation of the Constitution, compelling PEA to comply with a constitutional duty to the nation. Moreover, the petition raises matters of transcendental importance to the public. In Chavez v. PCGG,28 the Court upheld the right of a citizen to bring a taxpayer's suit on matters of transcendental importance to the public, thus "Besides, petitioner emphasizes, the matter of recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is an issue of 'transcendental importance to the public.' He asserts that ordinary taxpayers have a right to initiate and prosecute actions questioning the validity of acts or orders of government agencies or instrumentalities, if the issues raised are of 'paramount public interest,' and if they 'immediately affect the social, economic and moral well being of the people.' Moreover, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, such as in this case. He invokes several decisions of this Court which have set aside the procedural matter of locus standi, when the subject of the case involved public interest. xxx In Taada v. Tuvera, the Court asserted that when the issue concerns a public right and the object of mandamus is to obtain the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real parties in interest; and because it is sufficient that petitioner is a citizen and as such is interested in the execution of the laws, he need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result of the action. In the aforesaid case, the petitioners sought to enforce their right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right then recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, in connection with the rule that laws in order to be valid and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or otherwise effectively promulgated. In ruling for the petitioners' legal standing, the Court declared that the right they sought to be enforced 'is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land.' Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, while reiterating Taada, further declared that 'when a mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that petitioner is a citizen and, therefore, part of the general 'public' which possesses the right.'

Further, in Albano v. Reyes, we said that while expenditure of public funds may not have been involved under the questioned contract for the development, management and operation of the Manila International Container Terminal, 'public interest [was] definitely involved considering the important role [of the subject contract] . . . in the economic development of the country and the magnitude of the financial consideration involved.' We concluded that, as a consequence, the disclosure provision in the Constitution would constitute sufficient authority for upholding the petitioner's standing. Similarly, the instant petition is anchored on the right of the people to information and access to official records, documents and papers a right guaranteed under Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner, a former solicitor general, is a Filipino citizen. Because of the satisfaction of the two basic requisites laid down by decisional law to sustain petitioner's legal standing, i.e. (1) the enforcement of a public right (2) espoused by a Filipino citizen, we rule that the petition at bar should be allowed." We rule that since the instant petition, brought by a citizen, involves the enforcement of constitutional rights - to information and to the equitable diffusion of natural resources matters of transcendental public importance, the petitioner has the requisite locus standi. Fifth issue: whether the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final agreement. Section 7, Article III of the Constitution explains the people's right to information on matters of public concern in this manner: "Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law." (Emphasis supplied) The State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest reinforces the people's right to information on matters of public concern. This State policy is expressed in Section 28, Article II of the Constitution, thus: "Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest." (Emphasis supplied) These twin provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-making and in the operations of the government, as well as provide the people sufficient information to exercise effectively other constitutional rights. These twin provisions are essential to the exercise of freedom of expression. If the government does not disclose its official acts, transactions and decisions to citizens, whatever citizens say, even if expressed without any restraint, will be speculative and amount to nothing. These twin provisions are also essential to hold public officials "at all times x x x accountable to the people,"29 for unless citizens have the proper information, they cannot hold public officials accountable for anything. Armed with the right information, citizens can participate in public discussions leading to the formulation of government policies and their effective implementation. An informed citizenry is essential to the existence and proper functioning of any democracy. As explained by the Court in Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr.30 "An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained

to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit." PEA asserts, citing Chavez v. PCGG,31 that in cases of on-going negotiations the right to information is limited to "definite propositions of the government." PEA maintains the right does not include access to "intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations or communications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the 'exploratory stage'." Also, AMARI contends that petitioner cannot invoke the right at the pre-decisional stage or before the closing of the transaction. To support its contention, AMARI cites the following discussion in the 1986 Constitutional Commission: "Mr. Suarez. And when we say 'transactions' which should be distinguished from contracts, agreements, or treaties or whatever, does the Gentleman refer to the steps leading to the consummation of the contract, or does he refer to the contract itself? Mr. Ople: The 'transactions' used here, I suppose is generic and therefore, it can cover both steps leading to a contract and already a consummated contract, Mr. Presiding Officer. Mr. Suarez: This contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction. Mr. Ople: Yes, subject only to reasonable safeguards on the national interest. Mr. Suarez: Thank you."32 (Emphasis supplied) AMARI argues there must first be a consummated contract before petitioner can invoke the right. Requiring government officials to reveal their deliberations at the pre-decisional stage will degrade the quality of decision-making in government agencies. Government officials will hesitate to express their real sentiments during deliberations if there is immediate public dissemination of their discussions, putting them under all kinds of pressure before they decide. We must first distinguish between information the law on public bidding requires PEA to disclose publicly, and information the constitutional right to information requires PEA to release to the public. Before the consummation of the contract, PEA must, on its own and without demand from anyone, disclose to the public matters relating to the disposition of its property. These include the size, location, technical description and nature of the property being disposed of, the terms and conditions of the disposition, the parties qualified to bid, the minimum price and similar information. PEA must prepare all these data and disclose them to the public at the start of the disposition process, long before the consummation of the contract, because the Government Auditing Code requires public bidding. If PEA fails to make this disclosure, any citizen can demand from PEA this information at any time during the bidding process. Information, however, on on-going evaluation or review of bids or proposals being undertaken by the bidding or review committee is not immediately accessible under the right to information. While the evaluation or review is still on-going, there are no "official acts, transactions, or decisions" on the bids or proposals. However, once the committee makes its official recommendation, there arises a "definite proposition" on the part of the government. From this moment, the public's right to information attaches, and any

citizen can access all the non-proprietary information leading to such definite proposition. In Chavez v. PCGG,33 the Court ruled as follows: "Considering the intent of the framers of the Constitution, we believe that it is incumbent upon the PCGG and its officers, as well as other government representatives, to disclose sufficient public information on any proposed settlement they have decided to take up with the ostensible owners and holders of ill-gotten wealth. Such information, though, must pertain to definite propositions of the government, not necessarily to intra-agency or interagency recommendations or communications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the "exploratory" stage. There is need, of course, to observe the same restrictions on disclosure of information in general, as discussed earlier such as on matters involving national security, diplomatic or foreign relations, intelligence and other classified information." (Emphasis supplied) Contrary to AMARI's contention, the commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission understood that the right to information "contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction." Certainly, a consummated contract is not a requirement for the exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated, and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public to expose its defects. 1wphi1.nt Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the government or even illegal, becomes a fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full transparency on matters of public concern, a situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating in the public discussion of any proposed contract, effectively truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right, nor a retreat by the State of its avowed "policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest." The right covers three categories of information which are "matters of public concern," namely: (1) official records; (2) documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions and decisions; and (3) government research data used in formulating policies. The first category refers to any document that is part of the public records in the custody of government agencies or officials. The second category refers to documents and papers recording, evidencing, establishing, confirming, supporting, justifying or explaining official acts, transactions or decisions of government agencies or officials. The third category refers to research data, whether raw, collated or processed, owned by the government and used in formulating government policies. The information that petitioner may access on the renegotiation of the JVA includes evaluation reports, recommendations, legal and expert opinions, minutes of meetings, terms of reference and other documents attached to such reports or minutes, all relating to the JVA. However, the right to information does not compel PEA to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like relating to the renegotiation of the JVA. 34 The right only affords access to records, documents and papers, which means the opportunity to inspect and copy them. One who exercises the right must copy the records, documents and papers at his expense. The exercise of the right is also subject to reasonable regulations to protect the integrity of the public records and to minimize disruption to government operations, like rules specifying when and how to conduct the inspection and copying. 35 The right to information, however, does not extend to matters recognized as privileged information under the separation of powers. 36 The right does not also apply to information on military and diplomatic secrets, information affecting national security, and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the

accused, which courts have long recognized as confidential. 37 The right may also be subject to other limitations that Congress may impose by law. There is no claim by PEA that the information demanded by petitioner is privileged information rooted in the separation of powers. The information does not cover Presidential conversations, correspondences, or discussions during closed-door Cabinet meetings which, like internal deliberations of the Supreme Court and other collegiate courts, or executive sessions of either house of Congress, 38 are recognized as confidential. This kind of information cannot be pried open by a co-equal branch of government. A frank exchange of exploratory ideas and assessments, free from the glare of publicity and pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the independence of decision-making of those tasked to exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial power. 39 This is not the situation in the instant case. We rule, therefore, that the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final contract. The information, however, must constitute definite propositions by the government and should not cover recognized exceptions like privileged information, military and diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public order. 40 Congress has also prescribed other limitations on the right to information in several legislations. 41 Sixth issue: whether stipulations in the Amended JVA for the transfer to AMARI of lands, reclaimed or to be reclaimed, violate the Constitution. The Regalian Doctrine The ownership of lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas is rooted in the Regalian doctrine which holds that the State owns all lands and waters of the public domain. Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all "lands, territories and possessions" in the Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown. 42 The King, as the sovereign ruler and representative of the people, acquired and owned all lands and territories in the Philippines except those he disposed of by grant or sale to private individuals. The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions adopted the Regalian doctrine substituting, however, the State, in lieu of the King, as the owner of all lands and waters of the public domain. The Regalian doctrine is the foundation of the time-honored principle of land ownership that "all lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain."43 Article 339 of the Civil Code of 1889, which is now Article 420 of the Civil Code of 1950, incorporated the Regalian doctrine. Ownership and Disposition of Reclaimed Lands The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 was the first statutory law governing the ownership and disposition of reclaimed lands in the Philippines. On May 18, 1907, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 1654 which provided for the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to corporations and individuals. Later, on November 29, 1919, the Philippine Legislature approved Act No. 2874, the Public Land Act, which authorized the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to corporations and individuals. On November 7, 1936, the National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, which authorized the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to corporations and individuals. CA No. 141 continues to this day as the general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 and the Civil Code of 1889 Under the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, the shores, bays, coves, inlets and all waters within the maritime zone of the Spanish territory belonged to the public domain for public

use.44 The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 allowed the reclamation of the sea under Article 5, which provided as follows: "Article 5. Lands reclaimed from the sea in consequence of works constructed by the State, or by the provinces, pueblos or private persons, with proper permission, shall become the property of the party constructing such works, unless otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority." Under the Spanish Law of Waters, land reclaimed from the sea belonged to the party undertaking the reclamation, provided the government issued the necessary permit and did not reserve ownership of the reclaimed land to the State. Article 339 of the Civil Code of 1889 defined property of public dominion as follows: "Art. 339. Property of public dominion is 1. That devoted to public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, riverbanks, shores, roadsteads, and that of a similar character; 2. That belonging exclusively to the State which, without being of general public use, is employed in some public service, or in the development of the national wealth, such as walls, fortresses, and other works for the defense of the territory, and mines, until granted to private individuals." Property devoted to public use referred to property open for use by the public. In contrast, property devoted to public service referred to property used for some specific public service and open only to those authorized to use the property. Property of public dominion referred not only to property devoted to public use, but also to property not so used but employed to develop the national wealth. This class of property constituted property of public dominion although employed for some economic or commercial activity to increase the national wealth. Article 341 of the Civil Code of 1889 governed the re-classification of property of public dominion into private property, to wit: "Art. 341. Property of public dominion, when no longer devoted to public use or to the defense of the territory, shall become a part of the private property of the State." This provision, however, was not self-executing. The legislature, or the executive department pursuant to law, must declare the property no longer needed for public use or territorial defense before the government could lease or alienate the property to private parties.45 Act No. 1654 of the Philippine Commission On May 8, 1907, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 1654 which regulated the lease of reclaimed and foreshore lands. The salient provisions of this law were as follows: "Section 1. The control and disposition of the foreshore as defined in existing law, and the title to all Government or public lands made or reclaimed by the Government by dredging or filling or otherwise throughout the Philippine Islands, shall be retained by the Government without prejudice to vested rights and without prejudice to rights conceded to the City of Manila in the Luneta Extension. Section 2. (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall cause all Government or public lands made or reclaimed by the Government by dredging or filling or otherwise to be divided into lots or blocks, with the necessary streets and alleyways located

thereon, and shall cause plats and plans of such surveys to be prepared and filed with the Bureau of Lands. (b) Upon completion of such plats and plans the Governor-General shall give notice to the public that such parts of the lands so made or reclaimed as are not needed for public purposes will be leased for commercial and business purposes, x x x. xxx (e) The leases above provided for shall be disposed of to the highest and best bidder therefore, subject to such regulations and safeguards as the Governor-General may by executive order prescribe." (Emphasis supplied) Act No. 1654 mandated that the government should retain title to all lands reclaimed by the government. The Act also vested in the government control and disposition of foreshore lands. Private parties could lease lands reclaimed by the government only if these lands were no longer needed for public purpose. Act No. 1654 mandated public bidding in the lease of government reclaimed lands. Act No. 1654 made government reclaimed lands sui generis in that unlike other public lands which the government could sell to private parties, these reclaimed lands were available only for lease to private parties. Act No. 1654, however, did not repeal Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Act No. 1654 did not prohibit private parties from reclaiming parts of the sea under Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters. Lands reclaimed from the sea by private parties with government permission remained private lands. Act No. 2874 of the Philippine Legislature On November 29, 1919, the Philippine Legislature enacted Act No. 2874, the Public Land Act.46 The salient provisions of Act No. 2874, on reclaimed lands, were as follows: "Sec. 6. The Governor-General, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time classify the lands of the public domain into (a) Alienable or disposable, (b) Timber, and (c) Mineral lands, x x x. Sec. 7. For the purposes of the government and disposition of alienable or disposable public lands, the Governor-General, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time declare what lands are open to disposition or concession under this Act ." Sec. 8. Only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited or classified x x x. xxx Sec. 55. Any tract of land of the public domain which, being neither timber nor mineral land, shall be classified as suitable for residential purposes or for commercial, industrial, or other productive purposes other than agricultural purposes, and shall be open to disposition or concession, shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter, and not otherwise. Sec. 56. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows:

(a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling, or other means; (b) Foreshore; (c) Marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon the shores or banks of navigable lakes or rivers; (d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes. x x x. Sec. 58. The lands comprised in classes (a), (b), and (c) of section fifty-six shall be disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise , as soon as the Governor-General, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall declare that the same are not necessary for the public service and are open to disposition under this chapter. The lands included in class (d) may be disposed of by sale or lease under the provisions of this Act." (Emphasis supplied) Section 6 of Act No. 2874 authorized the Governor-General to "classify lands of the public domain into x x x alienable or disposable"47 lands. Section 7 of the Act empowered the Governor-General to "declare what lands are open to disposition or concession." Section 8 of the Act limited alienable or disposable lands only to those lands which have been "officially delimited and classified." Section 56 of Act No. 2874 stated that lands "disposable under this title48 shall be classified" as government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands, as well as other lands. All these lands, however, must be suitable for residential, commercial, industrial or other productive non-agricultural purposes. These provisions vested upon the GovernorGeneral the power to classify inalienable lands of the public domain into disposable lands of the public domain. These provisions also empowered the Governor-General to classify further such disposable lands of the public domain into government reclaimed, foreshore or marshy lands of the public domain, as well as other non-agricultural lands. Section 58 of Act No. 2874 categorically mandated that disposable lands of the public domain classified as government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands "shall be disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise." The GovernorGeneral, before allowing the lease of these lands to private parties, must formally declare that the lands were "not necessary for the public service." Act No. 2874 reiterated the State policy to lease and not to sell government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands of the public domain, a policy first enunciated in 1907 in Act No. 1654. Government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands remained sui generis, as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain that the government could not sell to private parties. The rationale behind this State policy is obvious. Government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy public lands for non-agricultural purposes retain their inherent potential as areas for public service. This is the reason the government prohibited the sale, and only allowed the lease, of these lands to private parties. The State always reserved these lands for some future public service. Act No. 2874 did not authorize the reclassification of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands into other non-agricultural lands under Section 56 (d). Lands falling under Section 56 (d) were the only lands for non-agricultural purposes the government could sell to private parties. Thus, under Act No. 2874, the government could not sell government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands to private parties , unless the legislature passed a law allowing their sale.49

Act No. 2874 did not prohibit private parties from reclaiming parts of the sea pursuant to Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Lands reclaimed from the sea by private parties with government permission remained private lands. Dispositions under the 1935 Constitution On May 14, 1935, the 1935 Constitution took effect upon its ratification by the Filipino people. The 1935 Constitution, in adopting the Regalian doctrine, declared in Section 1, Article XIII, that "Section 1. All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated , and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant." (Emphasis supplied) The 1935 Constitution barred the alienation of all natural resources except public agricultural lands, which were the only natural resources the State could alienate. Thus, foreshore lands, considered part of the State's natural resources, became inalienable by constitutional fiat, available only for lease for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years. The government could alienate foreshore lands only after these lands were reclaimed and classified as alienable agricultural lands of the public domain. Government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain, being neither timber nor mineral lands, fell under the classification of public agricultural lands. 50 However, government reclaimed and marshy lands, although subject to classification as disposable public agricultural lands, could only be leased and not sold to private parties because of Act No. 2874. The prohibition on private parties from acquiring ownership of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain was only a statutory prohibition and the legislature could therefore remove such prohibition. The 1935 Constitution did not prohibit individuals and corporations from acquiring government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain that were classified as agricultural lands under existing public land laws. Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution provided as follows: "Section 2. No private corporation or association may acquire, lease, or hold public agricultural lands in excess of one thousand and twenty four hectares, nor may any individual acquire such lands by purchase in excess of one hundred and forty hectares, or by lease in excess of one thousand and twenty-four hectares, or by homestead in excess of twenty-four hectares. Lands adapted to grazing, not exceeding two thousand hectares, may be leased to an individual, private corporation, or association." (Emphasis supplied) Still, after the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, the legislature did not repeal Section 58 of Act No. 2874 to open for sale to private parties government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain. On the contrary, the legislature continued the long established State policy of retaining for the government title and ownership of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain.

Commonwealth Act No. 141 of the Philippine National Assembly On November 7, 1936, the National Assembly approved Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, which compiled the then existing laws on lands of the public domain. CA No. 141, as amended, remains to this day the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain other than timber and mineral lands.51 Section 6 of CA No. 141 empowers the President to classify lands of the public domain into "alienable or disposable" 52 lands of the public domain, which prior to such classification are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. Section 7 of CA No. 141 authorizes the President to "declare what lands are open to disposition or concession." Section 8 of CA No. 141 states that the government can declare open for disposition or concession only lands that are "officially delimited and classified." Sections 6, 7 and 8 of CA No. 141 read as follows: "Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time classify the lands of the public domain into (a) Alienable or disposable, (b) Timber, and (c) Mineral lands, and may at any time and in like manner transfer such lands from one class to another,53 for the purpose of their administration and disposition. Sec. 7. For the purposes of the administration and disposition of alienable or disposable public lands, the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time declare what lands are open to disposition or concession under this Act. Sec. 8. Only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited and classified and, when practicable, surveyed, and which have not been reserved for public or quasipublic uses, nor appropriated by the Government, nor in any manner become private property, nor those on which a private right authorized and recognized by this Act or any other valid law may be claimed, or which, having been reserved or appropriated, have ceased to be so. x x x." Thus, before the government could alienate or dispose of lands of the public domain, the President must first officially classify these lands as alienable or disposable, and then declare them open to disposition or concession. There must be no law reserving these lands for public or quasi-public uses. The salient provisions of CA No. 141, on government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands of the public domain, are as follows: "Sec. 58. Any tract of land of the public domain which, being neither timber nor mineral land, is intended to be used for residential purposes or for commercial, industrial, or other productive purposes other than agricultural, and is open to disposition or concession, shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter and not otherwise. Sec. 59. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows: (a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling, or other means;

(b) Foreshore; (c) Marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon the shores or banks of navigable lakes or rivers; (d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes. Sec. 60. Any tract of land comprised under this title may be leased or sold, as the case may be, to any person, corporation, or association authorized to purchase or lease public lands for agricultural purposes. x x x. Sec. 61. The lands comprised in classes (a), (b), and (c) of section fifty-nine shall be disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise , as soon as the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture, shall declare that the same are not necessary for the public service and are open to disposition under this chapter. The lands included in class (d) may be disposed of by sale or lease under the provisions of this Act." (Emphasis supplied) Section 61 of CA No. 141 readopted, after the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, Section 58 of Act No. 2874 prohibiting the sale of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy disposable lands of the public domain. All these lands are intended for residential, commercial, industrial or other non-agricultural purposes. As before, Section 61 allowed only the lease of such lands to private parties. The government could sell to private parties only lands falling under Section 59 (d) of CA No. 141, or those lands for non-agricultural purposes not classified as government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy disposable lands of the public domain. Foreshore lands, however, became inalienable under the 1935 Constitution which only allowed the lease of these lands to qualified private parties. Section 58 of CA No. 141 expressly states that disposable lands of the public domain intended for residential, commercial, industrial or other productive purposes other than agricultural "shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter and not otherwise." Under Section 10 of CA No. 141, the term "disposition" includes lease of the land. Any disposition of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy disposable lands for non-agricultural purposes must comply with Chapter IX, Title III of CA No. 141, 54 unless a subsequent law amended or repealed these provisions. In his concurring opinion in the landmark case of Republic Real Estate Corporation v. Court of Appeals,55 Justice Reynato S. Puno summarized succinctly the law on this matter, as follows: "Foreshore lands are lands of public dominion intended for public use. So too are lands reclaimed by the government by dredging, filling, or other means. Act 1654 mandated that the control and disposition of the foreshore and lands under water remained in the national government. Said law allowed only the 'leasing' of reclaimed land. The Public Land Acts of 1919 and 1936 also declared that the foreshore and lands reclaimed by the government were to be "disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise." Before leasing, however, the Governor-General, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, had first to determine that the land reclaimed was not necessary for the public service. This requisite must have been met before the land could be disposed of. But even then, the foreshore and lands under water were not to be alienated and sold to private parties. The disposition of the reclaimed land was only by lease. The land remained property of the State." (Emphasis supplied) As observed by Justice Puno in his concurring opinion, "Commonwealth Act No. 141 has remained in effect at present."

The State policy prohibiting the sale to private parties of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain, first implemented in 1907 was thus reaffirmed in CA No. 141 after the 1935 Constitution took effect. The prohibition on the sale of foreshore lands, however, became a constitutional edict under the 1935 Constitution. Foreshore lands became inalienable as natural resources of the State, unless reclaimed by the government and classified as agricultural lands of the public domain, in which case they would fall under the classification of government reclaimed lands. After the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, government reclaimed and marshy disposable lands of the public domain continued to be only leased and not sold to private parties. 56 These lands remained sui generis, as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain the government could not sell to private parties. Since then and until now, the only way the government can sell to private parties government reclaimed and marshy disposable lands of the public domain is for the legislature to pass a law authorizing such sale. CA No. 141 does not authorize the President to reclassify government reclaimed and marshy lands into other non-agricultural lands under Section 59 (d). Lands classified under Section 59 (d) are the only alienable or disposable lands for non-agricultural purposes that the government could sell to private parties. Moreover, Section 60 of CA No. 141 expressly requires congressional authority before lands under Section 59 that the government previously transferred to government units or entities could be sold to private parties. Section 60 of CA No. 141 declares that "Sec. 60. x x x The area so leased or sold shall be such as shall, in the judgment of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, be reasonably necessary for the purposes for which such sale or lease is requested, and shall not exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares: Provided, however, That this limitation shall not apply to grants, donations, or transfers made to a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government for the purposes deemed by said entities conducive to the public interest; but the land so granted, donated, or transferred to a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress : x x x." (Emphasis supplied) The congressional authority required in Section 60 of CA No. 141 mirrors the legislative authority required in Section 56 of Act No. 2874. One reason for the congressional authority is that Section 60 of CA No. 141 exempted government units and entities from the maximum area of public lands that could be acquired from the State. These government units and entities should not just turn around and sell these lands to private parties in violation of constitutional or statutory limitations. Otherwise, the transfer of lands for non-agricultural purposes to government units and entities could be used to circumvent constitutional limitations on ownership of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. In the same manner, such transfers could also be used to evade the statutory prohibition in CA No. 141 on the sale of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain to private parties. Section 60 of CA No. 141 constitutes by operation of law a lien on these lands. 57 In case of sale or lease of disposable lands of the public domain falling under Section 59 of CA No. 141, Sections 63 and 67 require a public bidding. Sections 63 and 67 of CA No. 141 provide as follows: "Sec. 63. Whenever it is decided that lands covered by this chapter are not needed for public purposes, the Director of Lands shall ask the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce (now the Secretary of Natural Resources) for

authority to dispose of the same. Upon receipt of such authority, the Director of Lands shall give notice by public advertisement in the same manner as in the case of leases or sales of agricultural public land, x x x. Sec. 67. The lease or sale shall be made by oral bidding; and adjudication shall be made to the highest bidder. x x x." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, CA No. 141 mandates the Government to put to public auction all leases or sales of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. 58 Like Act No. 1654 and Act No. 2874 before it, CA No. 141 did not repeal Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Private parties could still reclaim portions of the sea with government permission. However, the reclaimed land could become private land only if classified as alienable agricultural land of the public domain open to disposition under CA No. 141. The 1935 Constitution prohibited the alienation of all natural resources except public agricultural lands. The Civil Code of 1950 The Civil Code of 1950 readopted substantially the definition of property of public dominion found in the Civil Code of 1889. Articles 420 and 422 of the Civil Code of 1950 state that "Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion: (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character; (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. x x x. Art. 422. Property of public dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State." Again, the government must formally declare that the property of public dominion is no longer needed for public use or public service, before the same could be classified as patrimonial property of the State.59 In the case of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain, the declaration of their being disposable, as well as the manner of their disposition, is governed by the applicable provisions of CA No. 141. Like the Civil Code of 1889, the Civil Code of 1950 included as property of public dominion those properties of the State which, without being for public use, are intended for public service or the "development of the national wealth." Thus, government reclaimed and marshy lands of the State, even if not employed for public use or public service, if developed to enhance the national wealth, are classified as property of public dominion. Dispositions under the 1973 Constitution The 1973 Constitution, which took effect on January 17, 1973, likewise adopted the Regalian doctrine. Section 8, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution stated that "Sec. 8. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, wildlife, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State. With the exception of agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, and resettlement lands of the public domain, natural resources shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twentyfive years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, except as to water

rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases, beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant." (Emphasis supplied) The 1973 Constitution prohibited the alienation of all natural resources with the exception of "agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, and resettlement lands of the public domain." In contrast, the 1935 Constitution barred the alienation of all natural resources except "public agricultural lands." However, the term "public agricultural lands" in the 1935 Constitution encompassed industrial, commercial, residential and resettlement lands of the public domain.60 If the land of public domain were neither timber nor mineral land, it would fall under the classification of agricultural land of the public domain. Both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, therefore, prohibited the alienation of all natural resources except agricultural lands of the public domain. The 1973 Constitution, however, limited the alienation of lands of the public domain to individuals who were citizens of the Philippines. Private corporations, even if wholly owned by Philippine citizens, were no longer allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain unlike in the 1935 Constitution. Section 11, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution declared that "Sec. 11. The Batasang Pambansa, taking into account conservation, ecological, and development requirements of the natural resources, shall determine by law the size of land of the public domain which may be developed, held or acquired by, or leased to, any qualified individual, corporation, or association, and the conditions therefor. No private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease not to exceed one thousand hectares in area nor may any citizen hold such lands by lease in excess of five hundred hectares or acquire by purchase, homestead or grant, in excess of twenty-four hectares. No private corporation or association may hold by lease, concession, license or permit, timber or forest lands and other timber or forest resources in excess of one hundred thousand hectares. However, such area may be increased by the Batasang Pambansa upon recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, under the 1973 Constitution, private corporations could hold alienable lands of the public domain only through lease. Only individuals could now acquire alienable lands of the public domain, and private corporations became absolutely barred from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. The constitutional ban extended to all kinds of alienable lands of the public domain, while the statutory ban under CA No. 141 applied only to government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain. PD No. 1084 Creating the Public Estates Authority On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating PEA, a wholly government owned and controlled corporation with a special charter. Sections 4 and 8 of PD No. 1084, vests PEA with the following purposes and powers: "Sec. 4. Purpose. The Authority is hereby created for the following purposes: (a) To reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas, by dredging, filling or other means, or to acquire reclaimed land; (b) To develop, improve, acquire, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose, lease and sell any and all kinds of lands, buildings, estates and other forms of real property, owned, managed, controlled and/or operated by the government;

(c) To provide for, operate or administer such service as may be necessary for the efficient, economical and beneficial utilization of the above properties. Sec. 5. Powers and functions of the Authority. The Authority shall, in carrying out the purposes for which it is created, have the following powers and functions: (a)To prescribe its by-laws. xxx (i) To hold lands of the public domain in excess of the area permitted to private corporations by statute. (j) To reclaim lands and to construct work across, or otherwise, any stream, watercourse, canal, ditch, flume x x x. xxx (o) To perform such acts and exercise such functions as may be necessary for the attainment of the purposes and objectives herein specified." (Emphasis supplied) PD No. 1084 authorizes PEA to reclaim both foreshore and submerged areas of the public domain. Foreshore areas are those covered and uncovered by the ebb and flow of the tide.61 Submerged areas are those permanently under water regardless of the ebb and flow of the tide.62 Foreshore and submerged areas indisputably belong to the public domain63 and are inalienable unless reclaimed, classified as alienable lands open to disposition, and further declared no longer needed for public service. The ban in the 1973 Constitution on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain did not apply to PEA since it was then, and until today, a fully owned government corporation. The constitutional ban applied then, as it still applies now, only to "private corporations and associations." PD No. 1084 expressly empowers PEA "to hold lands of the public domain" even "in excess of the area permitted to private corporations by statute." Thus, PEA can hold title to private lands, as well as title to lands of the public domain. In order for PEA to sell its reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain, there must be legislative authority empowering PEA to sell these lands. This legislative authority is necessary in view of Section 60 of CA No.141, which states "Sec. 60. x x x; but the land so granted, donated or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated, encumbered or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress; x x x." (Emphasis supplied) Without such legislative authority, PEA could not sell but only lease its reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain. Nevertheless, any legislative authority granted to PEA to sell its reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain would be subject to the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain. Hence, such legislative authority could only benefit private individuals. Dispositions under the 1987 Constitution The 1987 Constitution, like the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions before it, has adopted the Regalian doctrine. The 1987 Constitution declares that all natural resources are " owned by the State," and except for alienable agricultural lands of the public domain, natural resources cannot be alienated. Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution state that

"Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. x x x. Section 3. Lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks. Agricultural lands of the public domain may be further classified by law according to the uses which they may be devoted. Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and not to exceed one thousand hectares in area. Citizens of the Philippines may lease not more than five hundred hectares, or acquire not more than twelve hectares thereof by purchase, homestead, or grant. Taking into account the requirements of conservation, ecology, and development, and subject to the requirements of agrarian reform, the Congress shall determine, by law, the size of lands of the public domain which may be acquired, developed, held, or leased and the conditions therefor." (Emphasis supplied) The 1987 Constitution continues the State policy in the 1973 Constitution banning private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Like the 1973 Constitution, the 1987 Constitution allows private corporations to hold alienable lands of the public domain only through lease. As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the general law governing the lease to private corporations of reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain is still CA No. 141. The Rationale behind the Constitutional Ban The rationale behind the constitutional ban on corporations from acquiring, except through lease, alienable lands of the public domain is not well understood. During the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the commissioners probed the rationale behind this ban, thus: "FR. BERNAS: Mr. Vice-President, my questions have reference to page 3, line 5 which says: `No private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, not to exceed one thousand hectares in area.' If we recall, this provision did not exist under the 1935 Constitution, but this was introduced in the 1973 Constitution. In effect, it prohibits private corporations from acquiring alienable public lands. But it has not been very clear in jurisprudence what the reason for this is. In some of the cases decided in 1982 and 1983, it was indicated that the purpose of this is to prevent large landholdings. Is that the intent of this provision? MR. VILLEGAS: I think that is the spirit of the provision. FR. BERNAS: In existing decisions involving the Iglesia ni Cristo, there were instances where the Iglesia ni Cristo was not allowed to acquire a mere 313square meter land where a chapel stood because the Supreme Court said it would be in violation of this." (Emphasis supplied)

In Ayog v. Cusi,64 the Court explained the rationale behind this constitutional ban in this way: "Indeed, one purpose of the constitutional prohibition against purchases of public agricultural lands by private corporations is to equitably diffuse land ownership or to encourage 'owner-cultivatorship and the economic family-size farm' and to prevent a recurrence of cases like the instant case. Huge landholdings by corporations or private persons had spawned social unrest." However, if the constitutional intent is to prevent huge landholdings, the Constitution could have simply limited the size of alienable lands of the public domain that corporations could acquire. The Constitution could have followed the limitations on individuals, who could acquire not more than 24 hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the 1973 Constitution, and not more than 12 hectares under the 1987 Constitution. If the constitutional intent is to encourage economic family-size farms, placing the land in the name of a corporation would be more effective in preventing the break-up of farmlands. If the farmland is registered in the name of a corporation, upon the death of the owner, his heirs would inherit shares in the corporation instead of subdivided parcels of the farmland. This would prevent the continuing break-up of farmlands into smaller and smaller plots from one generation to the next. In actual practice, the constitutional ban strengthens the constitutional limitation on individuals from acquiring more than the allowed area of alienable lands of the public domain. Without the constitutional ban, individuals who already acquired the maximum area of alienable lands of the public domain could easily set up corporations to acquire more alienable public lands. An individual could own as many corporations as his means would allow him. An individual could even hide his ownership of a corporation by putting his nominees as stockholders of the corporation. The corporation is a convenient vehicle to circumvent the constitutional limitation on acquisition by individuals of alienable lands of the public domain. The constitutional intent, under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, is to transfer ownership of only a limited area of alienable land of the public domain to a qualified individual. This constitutional intent is safeguarded by the provision prohibiting corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain, since the vehicle to circumvent the constitutional intent is removed. The available alienable public lands are gradually decreasing in the face of an ever-growing population. The most effective way to insure faithful adherence to this constitutional intent is to grant or sell alienable lands of the public domain only to individuals. This, it would seem, is the practical benefit arising from the constitutional ban. The Amended Joint Venture Agreement The subject matter of the Amended JVA, as stated in its second Whereas clause, consists of three properties, namely: 1. "[T]hree partially reclaimed and substantially eroded islands along Emilio Aguinaldo Boulevard in Paranaque and Las Pinas, Metro Manila, with a combined titled area of 1,578,441 square meters;" 2. "[A]nother area of 2,421,559 square meters contiguous to the three islands;" and 3. "[A]t AMARI's option as approved by PEA, an additional 350 hectares more or less to regularize the configuration of the reclaimed area." 65 PEA confirms that the Amended JVA involves "the development of the Freedom Islands and further reclamation of about 250 hectares x x x," plus an option "granted to AMARI to subsequently reclaim another 350 hectares x x x."66

In short, the Amended JVA covers a reclamation area of 750 hectares. Only 157.84 hectares of the 750-hectare reclamation project have been reclaimed, and the rest of the 592.15 hectares are still submerged areas forming part of Manila Bay . Under the Amended JVA, AMARI will reimburse PEA the sum of P1,894,129,200.00 for PEA's "actual cost" in partially reclaiming the Freedom Islands. AMARI will also complete, at its own expense, the reclamation of the Freedom Islands. AMARI will further shoulder all the reclamation costs of all the other areas, totaling 592.15 hectares, still to be reclaimed. AMARI and PEA will share, in the proportion of 70 percent and 30 percent, respectively, the total net usable area which is defined in the Amended JVA as the total reclaimed area less 30 percent earmarked for common areas. Title to AMARI's share in the net usable area, totaling 367.5 hectares, will be issued in the name of AMARI. Section 5.2 (c) of the Amended JVA provides that "x x x, PEA shall have the duty to execute without delay the necessary deed of transfer or conveyance of the title pertaining to AMARI's Land share based on the Land Allocation Plan. PEA, when requested in writing by AMARI, shall then cause the issuance and delivery of the proper certificates of title covering AMARI's Land Share in the name of AMARI, x x x; provided, that if more than seventy percent (70%) of the titled area at any given time pertains to AMARI, PEA shall deliver to AMARI only seventy percent (70%) of the titles pertaining to AMARI, until such time when a corresponding proportionate area of additional land pertaining to PEA has been titled." (Emphasis supplied) Indisputably, under the Amended JVA AMARI will acquire and own a maximum of 367.5 hectares of reclaimed land which will be titled in its name. To implement the Amended JVA, PEA delegated to the unincorporated PEA-AMARI joint venture PEA's statutory authority, rights and privileges to reclaim foreshore and submerged areas in Manila Bay. Section 3.2.a of the Amended JVA states that "PEA hereby contributes to the joint venture its rights and privileges to perform Rawland Reclamation and Horizontal Development as well as own the Reclamation Area, thereby granting the Joint Venture the full and exclusive right, authority and privilege to undertake the Project in accordance with the Master Development Plan." The Amended JVA is the product of a renegotiation of the original JVA dated April 25, 1995 and its supplemental agreement dated August 9, 1995. The Threshold Issue The threshold issue is whether AMARI, a private corporation, can acquire and own under the Amended JVA 367.5 hectares of reclaimed foreshore and submerged areas in Manila Bay in view of Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which state that: "Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. x x x. xxx Section 3. x x x Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, x x x."(Emphasis supplied)

Classification of Reclaimed Foreshore and Submerged Areas PEA readily concedes that lands reclaimed from foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay are alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. In its Memorandum, 67 PEA admits that "Under the Public Land Act (CA 141, as amended), reclaimed lands are classified as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain: 'Sec. 59. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows: (a) Lands reclaimed by the government by dredging, filling, or other means; x x x.'" (Emphasis supplied) Likewise, the Legal Task Force68 constituted under Presidential Administrative Order No. 365 admitted in its Report and Recommendation to then President Fidel V. Ramos, "[R]eclaimed lands are classified as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain."69 The Legal Task Force concluded that "D. Conclusion Reclaimed lands are lands of the public domain. However, by statutory authority, the rights of ownership and disposition over reclaimed lands have been transferred to PEA, by virtue of which PEA, as owner, may validly convey the same to any qualified person without violating the Constitution or any statute. The constitutional provision prohibiting private corporations from holding public land, except by lease (Sec. 3, Art. XVII,70 1987 Constitution), does not apply to reclaimed lands whose ownership has passed on to PEA by statutory grant." Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, the foreshore and submerged areas of Manila Bay are part of the "lands of the public domain, waters x x x and other natural resources" and consequently "owned by the State." As such, foreshore and submerged areas "shall not be alienated," unless they are classified as "agricultural lands" of the public domain. The mere reclamation of these areas by PEA does not convert these inalienable natural resources of the State into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. There must be a law or presidential proclamation officially classifying these reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable and open to disposition or concession. Moreover, these reclaimed lands cannot be classified as alienable or disposable if the law has reserved them for some public or quasi-public use.71 Section 8 of CA No. 141 provides that "only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited and classified."72 The President has the authority to classify inalienable lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, pursuant to Section 6 of CA No. 141. In Laurel vs. Garcia,73 the Executive Department attempted to sell the Roppongi property in Tokyo, Japan, which was acquired by the Philippine Government for use as the Chancery of the Philippine Embassy. Although the Chancery had transferred to another location thirteen years earlier, the Court still ruled that, under Article 422 74 of the Civil Code, a property of public dominion retains such character until formally declared otherwise. The Court ruled that "The fact that the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy service does not automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use (Cebu Oxygen and Acetylene Co. v. Bercilles, 66 SCRA 481 [1975]. A property

continues to be part of the public domain, not available for private appropriation or ownership 'until there is a formal declaration on the part of the government to withdraw it from being such' (Ignacio v. Director of Lands, 108 Phil. 335 [1960]." (Emphasis supplied) PD No. 1085, issued on February 4, 1977, authorized the issuance of special land patents for lands reclaimed by PEA from the foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay. On January 19, 1988 then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517 in the name of PEA for the 157.84 hectares comprising the partially reclaimed Freedom Islands. Subsequently, on April 9, 1999 the Register of Deeds of the Municipality of Paranaque issued TCT Nos. 7309, 7311 and 7312 in the name of PEA pursuant to Section 103 of PD No. 1529 authorizing the issuance of certificates of title corresponding to land patents. To this day, these certificates of title are still in the name of PEA. PD No. 1085, coupled with President Aquino's actual issuance of a special patent covering the Freedom Islands, is equivalent to an official proclamation classifying the Freedom Islands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. PD No. 1085 and President Aquino's issuance of a land patent also constitute a declaration that the Freedom Islands are no longer needed for public service. The Freedom Islands are thus alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition or concession to qualified parties. At the time then President Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517, PEA had already reclaimed the Freedom Islands although subsequently there were partial erosions on some areas. The government had also completed the necessary surveys on these islands. Thus, the Freedom Islands were no longer part of Manila Bay but part of the land mass. Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution classifies lands of the public domain into "agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks." Being neither timber, mineral, nor national park lands, the reclaimed Freedom Islands necessarily fall under the classification of agricultural lands of the public domain. Under the 1987 Constitution, agricultural lands of the public domain are the only natural resources that the State may alienate to qualified private parties. All other natural resources, such as the seas or bays, are "waters x x x owned by the State" forming part of the public domain, and are inalienable pursuant to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. AMARI claims that the Freedom Islands are private lands because CDCP, then a private corporation, reclaimed the islands under a contract dated November 20, 1973 with the Commissioner of Public Highways. AMARI, citing Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, argues that "if the ownership of reclaimed lands may be given to the party constructing the works, then it cannot be said that reclaimed lands are lands of the public domain which the State may not alienate."75 Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters reads as follows: "Article 5. Lands reclaimed from the sea in consequence of works constructed by the State, or by the provinces, pueblos or private persons, with proper permission, shall become the property of the party constructing such works, unless otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority." (Emphasis supplied) Under Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, private parties could reclaim from the sea only with "proper permission" from the State. Private parties could own the reclaimed land only if not "otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority." This clearly meant that no one could reclaim from the sea without permission from the State because the sea is property of public dominion. It also meant that the State could grant or withhold ownership of the reclaimed land because any reclaimed land, like the sea from which it emerged, belonged to the State. Thus, a private person reclaiming from the sea without permission from the State could not acquire ownership of the reclaimed land which

would remain property of public dominion like the sea it replaced. 76 Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 adopted the time-honored principle of land ownership that "all lands that were not acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain."77 Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters must be read together with laws subsequently enacted on the disposition of public lands. In particular, CA No. 141 requires that lands of the public domain must first be classified as alienable or disposable before the government can alienate them. These lands must not be reserved for public or quasi-public purposes.78 Moreover, the contract between CDCP and the government was executed after the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution which barred private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. This contract could not have converted the Freedom Islands into private lands of a private corporation. Presidential Decree No. 3-A, issued on January 11, 1973, revoked all laws authorizing the reclamation of areas under water and revested solely in the National Government the power to reclaim lands. Section 1 of PD No. 3-A declared that "The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the reclamation of areas under water, whether foreshore or inland, shall be limited to the National Government or any person authorized by it under a proper contract. (Emphasis supplied) x x x." PD No. 3-A repealed Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 because reclamation of areas under water could now be undertaken only by the National Government or by a person contracted by the National Government. Private parties may reclaim from the sea only under a contract with the National Government, and no longer by grant or permission as provided in Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Executive Order No. 525, issued on February 14, 1979, designated PEA as the National Government's implementing arm to undertake "all reclamation projects of the government," which "shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity." Under such contract, a private party receives compensation for reclamation services rendered to PEA. Payment to the contractor may be in cash, or in kind consisting of portions of the reclaimed land, subject to the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain. The reclaimed land can be used as payment in kind only if the reclaimed land is first classified as alienable or disposable land open to disposition, and then declared no longer needed for public service. The Amended JVA covers not only the Freedom Islands, but also an additional 592.15 hectares which are still submerged and forming part of Manila Bay. There is no legislative or Presidential act classifying these submerged areas as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain open to disposition. These submerged areas are not covered by any patent or certificate of title. There can be no dispute that these submerged areas form part of the public domain, and in their present state are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. Until reclaimed from the sea, these submerged areas are, under the Constitution, "waters x x x owned by the State," forming part of the public domain and consequently inalienable. Only when actually reclaimed from the sea can these submerged areas be classified as public agricultural lands, which under the Constitution are the only natural resources that the State may alienate. Once reclaimed and transformed into public agricultural lands, the government may then officially classify these lands as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition. Thereafter, the government may declare these lands no longer needed for public service. Only then can

these reclaimed lands be considered alienable or disposable lands of the public domain and within the commerce of man. The classification of PEA's reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands into alienable or disposable lands open to disposition is necessary because PEA is tasked under its charter to undertake public services that require the use of lands of the public domain. Under Section 5 of PD No. 1084, the functions of PEA include the following: "[T]o own or operate railroads, tramways and other kinds of land transportation, x x x; [T]o construct, maintain and operate such systems of sanitary sewers as may be necessary; [T]o construct, maintain and operate such storm drains as may be necessary." PEA is empowered to issue "rules and regulations as may be necessary for the proper use by private parties of any or all of the highways, roads, utilities, buildings and/or any of its properties and to impose or collect fees or tolls for their use." Thus, part of the reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands held by the PEA would actually be needed for public use or service since many of the functions imposed on PEA by its charter constitute essential public services. Moreover, Section 1 of Executive Order No. 525 provides that PEA "shall be primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government." The same section also states that "[A]ll reclamation projects shall be approved by the President upon recommendation of the PEA, and shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity; x x x." Thus, under EO No. 525, in relation to PD No. 3-A and PD No.1084, PEA became the primary implementing agency of the National Government to reclaim foreshore and submerged lands of the public domain. EO No. 525 recognized PEA as the government entity "to undertake the reclamation of lands and ensure their maximum utilization in promoting public welfare and interests."79 Since large portions of these reclaimed lands would obviously be needed for public service, there must be a formal declaration segregating reclaimed lands no longer needed for public service from those still needed for public service.1wphi1.nt Section 3 of EO No. 525, by declaring that all lands reclaimed by PEA "shall belong to or be owned by the PEA," could not automatically operate to classify inalienable lands into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Otherwise, reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands of the public domain would automatically become alienable once reclaimed by PEA, whether or not classified as alienable or disposable. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987, a later law than either PD No. 1084 or EO No. 525, vests in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR" for brevity) the following powers and functions: "Sec. 4. Powers and Functions. The Department shall: (1) x x x xxx (4) Exercise supervision and control over forest lands, alienable and disposable public lands, mineral resources and, in the process of exercising such control, impose appropriate taxes, fees, charges, rentals and any such form of levy and collect such revenues for the exploration, development, utilization or gathering of such resources; xxx (14) Promulgate rules, regulations and guidelines on the issuance of licenses, permits, concessions, lease agreements and such other privileges concerning the development, exploration and utilization of the country's marine, freshwater, and brackish water and over all aquatic resources of the country and shall continue to oversee, supervise and

police our natural resources; cancel or cause to cancel such privileges upon failure, non-compliance or violations of any regulation, order, and for all other causes which are in furtherance of the conservation of natural resources and supportive of the national interest; (15) Exercise exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain and serve as the sole agency responsible for classification, sub-classification, surveying and titling of lands in consultation with appropriate agencies."80 (Emphasis supplied) As manager, conservator and overseer of the natural resources of the State, DENR exercises "supervision and control over alienable and disposable public lands." DENR also exercises "exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain." Thus, DENR decides whether areas under water, like foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay, should be reclaimed or not. This means that PEA needs authorization from DENR before PEA can undertake reclamation projects in Manila Bay, or in any part of the country. DENR also exercises exclusive jurisdiction over the disposition of all lands of the public domain. Hence, DENR decides whether reclaimed lands of PEA should be classified as alienable under Sections 681 and 782 of CA No. 141. Once DENR decides that the reclaimed lands should be so classified, it then recommends to the President the issuance of a proclamation classifying the lands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain open to disposition. We note that then DENR Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. countersigned Special Patent No. 3517 in compliance with the Revised Administrative Code and Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141. In short, DENR is vested with the power to authorize the reclamation of areas under water, while PEA is vested with the power to undertake the physical reclamation of areas under water, whether directly or through private contractors. DENR is also empowered to classify lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable lands subject to the approval of the President. On the other hand, PEA is tasked to develop, sell or lease the reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain. Clearly, the mere physical act of reclamation by PEA of foreshore or submerged areas does not make the reclaimed lands alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, much less patrimonial lands of PEA. Likewise, the mere transfer by the National Government of lands of the public domain to PEA does not make the lands alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, much less patrimonial lands of PEA. Absent two official acts a classification that these lands are alienable or disposable and open to disposition and a declaration that these lands are not needed for public service, lands reclaimed by PEA remain inalienable lands of the public domain. Only such an official classification and formal declaration can convert reclaimed lands into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition under the Constitution, Title I and Title III83 of CA No. 141 and other applicable laws.84 PEA's Authority to Sell Reclaimed Lands PEA, like the Legal Task Force, argues that as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, the reclaimed lands shall be disposed of in accordance with CA No. 141, the Public Land Act. PEA, citing Section 60 of CA No. 141, admits that reclaimed lands transferred to a branch or subdivision of the government "shall not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress: x x x."85 (Emphasis by PEA) In Laurel vs. Garcia,86 the Court cited Section 48 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, which states that

"Sec. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: x x x." Thus, the Court concluded that a law is needed to convey any real property belonging to the Government. The Court declared that "It is not for the President to convey real property of the government on his or her own sole will. Any such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by the Congress. It requires executive and legislative concurrence." (Emphasis supplied) PEA contends that PD No. 1085 and EO No. 525 constitute the legislative authority allowing PEA to sell its reclaimed lands. PD No. 1085, issued on February 4, 1977, provides that "The land reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore area of Manila Bay pursuant to the contract for the reclamation and construction of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road Project between the Republic of the Philippines and the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines dated November 20, 1973 and/or any other contract or reclamation covering the same area is hereby transferred, conveyed and assigned to the ownership and administration of the Public Estates Authority established pursuant to PD No. 1084; Provided, however, That the rights and interests of the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines pursuant to the aforesaid contract shall be recognized and respected. Henceforth, the Public Estates Authority shall exercise the rights and assume the obligations of the Republic of the Philippines (Department of Public Highways) arising from, or incident to, the aforesaid contract between the Republic of the Philippines and the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines. In consideration of the foregoing transfer and assignment, the Public Estates Authority shall issue in favor of the Republic of the Philippines the corresponding shares of stock in said entity with an issued value of said shares of stock (which) shall be deemed fully paid and non-assessable. The Secretary of Public Highways and the General Manager of the Public Estates Authority shall execute such contracts or agreements, including appropriate agreements with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines, as may be necessary to implement the above. Special land patent/patents shall be issued by the Secretary of Natural Resources in favor of the Public Estates Authority without prejudice to the subsequent transfer to the contractor or his assignees of such portion or portions of the land reclaimed or to be reclaimed as provided for in the above-mentioned contract. On the basis of such patents, the Land Registration Commission shall issue the corresponding certificate of title." (Emphasis supplied) On the other hand, Section 3 of EO No. 525, issued on February 14, 1979, provides that "Sec. 3. All lands reclaimed by PEA shall belong to or be owned by the PEA which shall be responsible for its administration, development, utilization or disposition in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084. Any and all income that the PEA may derive from the sale, lease or use of reclaimed lands shall be used in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084."

There is no express authority under either PD No. 1085 or EO No. 525 for PEA to sell its reclaimed lands. PD No. 1085 merely transferred "ownership and administration" of lands reclaimed from Manila Bay to PEA, while EO No. 525 declared that lands reclaimed by PEA "shall belong to or be owned by PEA." EO No. 525 expressly states that PEA should dispose of its reclaimed lands "in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084," the charter of PEA. PEA's charter, however, expressly tasks PEA "to develop, improve, acquire, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose, lease and sell any and all kinds of lands x x x owned, managed, controlled and/or operated by the government." 87 (Emphasis supplied) There is, therefore, legislative authority granted to PEA to sell its lands, whether patrimonial or alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may sell to private parties its patrimonial properties in accordance with the PEA charter free from constitutional limitations. The constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain does not apply to the sale of PEA's patrimonial lands. PEA may also sell its alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private individuals since, with the legislative authority, there is no longer any statutory prohibition against such sales and the constitutional ban does not apply to individuals. PEA, however, cannot sell any of its alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private corporations since Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution expressly prohibits such sales. The legislative authority benefits only individuals. Private corporations remain barred from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain, including government reclaimed lands. The provision in PD No. 1085 stating that portions of the reclaimed lands could be transferred by PEA to the "contractor or his assignees" (Emphasis supplied) would not apply to private corporations but only to individuals because of the constitutional ban. Otherwise, the provisions of PD No. 1085 would violate both the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. The requirement of public auction in the sale of reclaimed lands Assuming the reclaimed lands of PEA are classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition, and further declared no longer needed for public service, PEA would have to conduct a public bidding in selling or leasing these lands. PEA must observe the provisions of Sections 63 and 67 of CA No. 141 requiring public auction, in the absence of a law exempting PEA from holding a public auction. 88 Special Patent No. 3517 expressly states that the patent is issued by authority of the Constitution and PD No. 1084, "supplemented by Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended." This is an acknowledgment that the provisions of CA No. 141 apply to the disposition of reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain unless otherwise provided by law. Executive Order No. 654, 89 which authorizes PEA "to determine the kind and manner of payment for the transfer" of its assets and properties, does not exempt PEA from the requirement of public auction. EO No. 654 merely authorizes PEA to decide the mode of payment, whether in kind and in installment, but does not authorize PEA to dispense with public auction. Moreover, under Section 79 of PD No. 1445, otherwise known as the Government Auditing Code, the government is required to sell valuable government property through public bidding. Section 79 of PD No. 1445 mandates that "Section 79. When government property has become unserviceable for any cause, or is no longer needed, it shall, upon application of the officer accountable therefor, be inspected by the head of the agency or his duly authorized representative in the presence of the auditor concerned and, if found to be valueless or unsaleable, it may be destroyed in their presence. If found to be valuable, it may be sold at public auction to the highest bidder under the

supervision of the proper committee on award or similar body in the presence of the auditor concerned or other authorized representative of the Commission, after advertising by printed notice in the Official Gazette, or for not less than three consecutive days in any newspaper of general circulation , or where the value of the property does not warrant the expense of publication, by notices posted for a like period in at least three public places in the locality where the property is to be sold. In the event that the public auction fails, the property may be sold at a private sale at such price as may be fixed by the same committee or body concerned and approved by the Commission." It is only when the public auction fails that a negotiated sale is allowed, in which case the Commission on Audit must approve the selling price.90 The Commission on Audit implements Section 79 of the Government Auditing Code through Circular No. 89-29691 dated January 27, 1989. This circular emphasizes that government assets must be disposed of only through public auction, and a negotiated sale can be resorted to only in case of "failure of public auction." At the public auction sale, only Philippine citizens are qualified to bid for PEA's reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain. Private corporations are barred from bidding at the auction sale of any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA originally scheduled a public bidding for the Freedom Islands on December 10, 1991. PEA imposed a condition that the winning bidder should reclaim another 250 hectares of submerged areas to regularize the shape of the Freedom Islands, under a 60-40 sharing of the additional reclaimed areas in favor of the winning bidder. 92 No one, however, submitted a bid. On December 23, 1994, the Government Corporate Counsel advised PEA it could sell the Freedom Islands through negotiation, without need of another public bidding, because of the failure of the public bidding on December 10, 1991. 93 However, the original JVA dated April 25, 1995 covered not only the Freedom Islands and the additional 250 hectares still to be reclaimed, it also granted an option to AMARI to reclaim another 350 hectares. The original JVA, a negotiated contract, enlarged the reclamation area to 750 hectares.94 The failure of public bidding on December 10, 1991, involving only 407.84 hectares,95 is not a valid justification for a negotiated sale of 750 hectares, almost double the area publicly auctioned. Besides, the failure of public bidding happened on December 10, 1991, more than three years before the signing of the original JVA on April 25, 1995. The economic situation in the country had greatly improved during the intervening period. Reclamation under the BOT Law and the Local Government Code The constitutional prohibition in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution is absolute and clear: "Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, x x x." Even Republic Act No. 6957 ("BOT Law," for brevity), cited by PEA and AMARI as legislative authority to sell reclaimed lands to private parties, recognizes the constitutional ban. Section 6 of RA No. 6957 states "Sec. 6. Repayment Scheme. - For the financing, construction, operation and maintenance of any infrastructure projects undertaken through the build-operateand-transfer arrangement or any of its variations pursuant to the provisions of this Act, the project proponent x x x may likewise be repaid in the form of a share in the revenue of the project or other non-monetary payments, such as, but not limited to, the grant of a portion or percentage of the reclaimed land, subject to the constitutional requirements with respect to the ownership of the land : x x x." (Emphasis supplied)

A private corporation, even one that undertakes the physical reclamation of a government BOT project, cannot acquire reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain in view of the constitutional ban. Section 302 of the Local Government Code, also mentioned by PEA and AMARI, authorizes local governments in land reclamation projects to pay the contractor or developer in kind consisting of a percentage of the reclaimed land, to wit: "Section 302. Financing, Construction, Maintenance, Operation, Management of Infrastructure Projects by the Private Sector. x x x xxx In case of land reclamation or construction of industrial estates, the repayment plan may consist of the grant of a portion or percentage of the reclaimed land or the industrial estate constructed." Although Section 302 of the Local Government Code does not contain a proviso similar to that of the BOT Law, the constitutional restrictions on land ownership automatically apply even though not expressly mentioned in the Local Government Code. Thus, under either the BOT Law or the Local Government Code, the contractor or developer, if a corporate entity, can only be paid with leaseholds on portions of the reclaimed land. If the contractor or developer is an individual, portions of the reclaimed land, not exceeding 12 hectares 96 of non-agricultural lands, may be conveyed to him in ownership in view of the legislative authority allowing such conveyance. This is the only way these provisions of the BOT Law and the Local Government Code can avoid a direct collision with Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Registration of lands of the public domain Finally, PEA theorizes that the "act of conveying the ownership of the reclaimed lands to public respondent PEA transformed such lands of the public domain to private lands." This theory is echoed by AMARI which maintains that the "issuance of the special patent leading to the eventual issuance of title takes the subject land away from the land of public domain and converts the property into patrimonial or private property." In short, PEA and AMARI contend that with the issuance of Special Patent No. 3517 and the corresponding certificates of titles, the 157.84 hectares comprising the Freedom Islands have become private lands of PEA. In support of their theory, PEA and AMARI cite the following rulings of the Court: 1. Sumail v. Judge of CFI of Cotabato,97 where the Court held "Once the patent was granted and the corresponding certificate of title was issued, the land ceased to be part of the public domain and became private property over which the Director of Lands has neither control nor jurisdiction." 2. Lee Hong Hok v. David,98 where the Court declared "After the registration and issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein."3. Heirs of Gregorio Tengco v. Heirs of Jose Aliwalas ,99 where the Court ruled "While the Director of Lands has the power to review homestead patents, he may do so only so long as the land remains part of the public domain and continues to be under his exclusive control; but once the patent is registered and a certificate of title is issued, the land ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes and

private property over which the Director of Lands has neither control nor jurisdiction." 4. Manalo v. Intermediate Appellate Court,100 where the Court held "When the lots in dispute were certified as disposable on May 19, 1971, and free patents were issued covering the same in favor of the private respondents, the said lots ceased to be part of the public domain and, therefore, the Director of Lands lost jurisdiction over the same." 5.Republic v. Court of Appeals,101 where the Court stated "Proclamation No. 350, dated October 9, 1956, of President Magsaysay legally effected a land grant to the Mindanao Medical Center, Bureau of Medical Services, Department of Health, of the whole lot, validly sufficient for initial registration under the Land Registration Act. Such land grant is constitutive of a 'fee simple' title or absolute title in favor of petitioner Mindanao Medical Center. Thus, Section 122 of the Act, which governs the registration of grants or patents involving public lands, provides that 'Whenever public lands in the Philippine Islands belonging to the Government of the United States or to the Government of the Philippines are alienated, granted or conveyed to persons or to public or private corporations, the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of this Act (Land Registration Act, Act 496) and shall become registered lands.'" The first four cases cited involve petitions to cancel the land patents and the corresponding certificates of titles issued to private parties. These four cases uniformly hold that the Director of Lands has no jurisdiction over private lands or that upon issuance of the certificate of title the land automatically comes under the Torrens System. The fifth case cited involves the registration under the Torrens System of a 12.8-hectare public land granted by the National Government to Mindanao Medical Center, a government unit under the Department of Health. The National Government transferred the 12.8-hectare public land to serve as the site for the hospital buildings and other facilities of Mindanao Medical Center, which performed a public service. The Court affirmed the registration of the 12.8-hectare public land in the name of Mindanao Medical Center under Section 122 of Act No. 496. This fifth case is an example of a public land being registered under Act No. 496 without the land losing its character as a property of public dominion. In the instant case, the only patent and certificates of title issued are those in the name of PEA, a wholly government owned corporation performing public as well as proprietary functions. No patent or certificate of title has been issued to any private party. No one is asking the Director of Lands to cancel PEA's patent or certificates of title. In fact, the thrust of the instant petition is that PEA's certificates of title should remain with PEA, and the land covered by these certificates, being alienable lands of the public domain, should not be sold to a private corporation. Registration of land under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529 does not vest in the registrant private or public ownership of the land. Registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership but is merely evidence of ownership previously conferred by any of the recognized modes of acquiring ownership. Registration does not give the registrant a better right than what the registrant had prior to the registration. 102 The registration of lands of the public domain under the Torrens system, by itself, cannot convert public lands into private lands. 103 Jurisprudence holding that upon the grant of the patent or issuance of the certificate of title the alienable land of the public domain automatically becomes private land cannot apply to government units and entities like PEA. The transfer of the Freedom Islands to PEA was made subject to the provisions of CA No. 141 as expressly stated in Special Patent No. 3517 issued by then President Aquino, to wit:

"NOW, THEREFORE, KNOW YE, that by authority of the Constitution of the Philippines and in conformity with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084, supplemented by Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, there are hereby granted and conveyed unto the Public Estates Authority the aforesaid tracts of land containing a total area of one million nine hundred fifteen thousand eight hundred ninety four (1,915,894) square meters; the technical description of which are hereto attached and made an integral part hereof." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, the provisions of CA No. 141 apply to the Freedom Islands on matters not covered by PD No. 1084. Section 60 of CA No. 141 prohibits, "except when authorized by Congress," the sale of alienable lands of the public domain that are transferred to government units or entities. Section 60 of CA No. 141 constitutes, under Section 44 of PD No. 1529, a "statutory lien affecting title" of the registered land even if not annotated on the certificate of title.104 Alienable lands of the public domain held by government entities under Section 60 of CA No. 141 remain public lands because they cannot be alienated or encumbered unless Congress passes a law authorizing their disposition. Congress, however, cannot authorize the sale to private corporations of reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain because of the constitutional ban. Only individuals can benefit from such law. The grant of legislative authority to sell public lands in accordance with Section 60 of CA No. 141 does not automatically convert alienable lands of the public domain into private or patrimonial lands. The alienable lands of the public domain must be transferred to qualified private parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of public lands, before these lands can become private or patrimonial lands. Otherwise, the constitutional ban will become illusory if Congress can declare lands of the public domain as private or patrimonial lands in the hands of a government agency tasked to dispose of public lands. This will allow private corporations to acquire directly from government agencies limitless areas of lands which, prior to such law, are concededly public lands. Under EO No. 525, PEA became the central implementing agency of the National Government to reclaim foreshore and submerged areas of the public domain. Thus, EO No. 525 declares that "EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 525 Designating the Public Estates Authority as the Agency Primarily Responsible for all Reclamation Projects Whereas, there are several reclamation projects which are ongoing or being proposed to be undertaken in various parts of the country which need to be evaluated for consistency with national programs; Whereas, there is a need to give further institutional support to the Government's declared policy to provide for a coordinated, economical and efficient reclamation of lands; Whereas, Presidential Decree No. 3-A requires that all reclamation of areas shall be limited to the National Government or any person authorized by it under proper contract; Whereas, a central authority is needed to act on behalf of the National Government which shall ensure a coordinated and integrated approach in the reclamation of lands; Whereas, Presidential Decree No. 1084 creates the Public Estates Authority as a government corporation to undertake reclamation of lands and ensure their maximum utilization in promoting public welfare and interests; and

Whereas, Presidential Decree No. 1416 provides the President with continuing authority to reorganize the national government including the transfer, abolition, or merger of functions and offices. NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1416, do hereby order and direct the following: Section 1. The Public Estates Authority (PEA) shall be primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government. All reclamation projects shall be approved by the President upon recommendation of the PEA, and shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity; Provided, that, reclamation projects of any national government agency or entity authorized under its charter shall be undertaken in consultation with the PEA upon approval of the President. x x x ." As the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide, with authority to sell reclaimed lands, PEA took the place of DENR as the government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands being leased or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does not dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these lands will the lands become private lands. In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable of disposable lands of the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands. Furthermore, PEA's charter expressly states that PEA "shall hold lands of the public domain" as well as "any and all kinds of lands." PEA can hold both lands of the public domain and private lands. Thus, the mere fact that alienable lands of the public domain like the Freedom Islands are transferred to PEA and issued land patents or certificates of title in PEA's name does not automatically make such lands private. To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be transferred to PEA as private lands will sanction a gross violation of the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA will simply turn around, as PEA has now done under the Amended JVA, and transfer several hundreds of hectares of these reclaimed and still to be reclaimed lands to a single private corporation in only one transaction. This scheme will effectively nullify the constitutional ban in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which was intended to diffuse equitably the ownership of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipinos, now numbering over 80 million strong. This scheme, if allowed, can even be applied to alienable agricultural lands of the public domain since PEA can "acquire x x x any and all kinds of lands." This will open the floodgates to corporations and even individuals acquiring hundreds of hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the guise that in the hands of PEA these lands are private lands. This will result in corporations amassing huge landholdings never before seen in this country - creating the very evil that the constitutional ban was designed to prevent. This will completely reverse the clear direction of constitutional development in this country. The 1935 Constitution allowed private corporations to acquire not more than 1,024 hectares of public lands.105 The 1973 Constitution prohibited private corporations from acquiring any kind of public land, and the 1987 Constitution has unequivocally reiterated this prohibition.

The contention of PEA and AMARI that public lands, once registered under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529, automatically become private lands is contrary to existing laws. Several laws authorize lands of the public domain to be registered under the Torrens System or Act No. 496, now PD No. 1529, without losing their character as public lands. Section 122 of Act No. 496, and Section 103 of PD No. 1529, respectively, provide as follows: Act No. 496 "Sec. 122. Whenever public lands in the Philippine Islands belonging to the x x x Government of the Philippine Islands are alienated, granted, or conveyed to persons or the public or private corporations, the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of this Act and shall become registered lands." PD No. 1529 "Sec. 103. Certificate of Title to Patents. Whenever public land is by the Government alienated, granted or conveyed to any person, the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of this Decree." (Emphasis supplied) Based on its legislative history, the phrase "conveyed to any person" in Section 103 of PD No. 1529 includes conveyances of public lands to public corporations. Alienable lands of the public domain "granted, donated, or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government," as provided in Section 60 of CA No. 141, may be registered under the Torrens System pursuant to Section 103 of PD No. 1529. Such registration, however, is expressly subject to the condition in Section 60 of CA No. 141 that the land "shall not be alienated, encumbered or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress." This provision refers to government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands of the public domain that have been titled but still cannot be alienated or encumbered unless expressly authorized by Congress. The need for legislative authority prevents the registered land of the public domain from becoming private land that can be disposed of to qualified private parties. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 also recognizes that lands of the public domain may be registered under the Torrens System. Section 48, Chapter 12, Book I of the Code states "Sec. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) x x x (2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines, but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, private property purchased by the National Government for expansion of a public wharf may be titled in the name of a government corporation regulating port operations in the country. Private property purchased by the National Government for expansion of an airport may also be titled in the name of the government agency tasked to administer the airport. Private property donated to a municipality for use as a town plaza or public school site may likewise be titled in the name of the municipality. 106 All these properties become properties of the public domain, and if already registered under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529, remain registered land. There is no requirement or provision in any existing law for the de-registration of land from the Torrens System.

Private lands taken by the Government for public use under its power of eminent domain become unquestionably part of the public domain. Nevertheless, Section 85 of PD No. 1529 authorizes the Register of Deeds to issue in the name of the National Government new certificates of title covering such expropriated lands. Section 85 of PD No. 1529 states "Sec. 85. Land taken by eminent domain. Whenever any registered land, or interest therein, is expropriated or taken by eminent domain, the National Government, province, city or municipality, or any other agency or instrumentality exercising such right shall file for registration in the proper Registry a certified copy of the judgment which shall state definitely by an adequate description, the particular property or interest expropriated, the number of the certificate of title, and the nature of the public use. A memorandum of the right or interest taken shall be made on each certificate of title by the Register of Deeds, and where the fee simple is taken, a new certificate shall be issued in favor of the National Government, province, city, municipality, or any other agency or instrumentality exercising such right for the land so taken. The legal expenses incident to the memorandum of registration or issuance of a new certificate of title shall be for the account of the authority taking the land or interest therein." (Emphasis supplied) Consequently, lands registered under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529 are not exclusively private or patrimonial lands. Lands of the public domain may also be registered pursuant to existing laws. AMARI makes a parting shot that the Amended JVA is not a sale to AMARI of the Freedom Islands or of the lands to be reclaimed from submerged areas of Manila Bay. In the words of AMARI, the Amended JVA "is not a sale but a joint venture with a stipulation for reimbursement of the original cost incurred by PEA for the earlier reclamation and construction works performed by the CDCP under its 1973 contract with the Republic." Whether the Amended JVA is a sale or a joint venture, the fact remains that the Amended JVA requires PEA to "cause the issuance and delivery of the certificates of title conveying AMARI's Land Share in the name of AMARI."107 This stipulation still contravenes Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which provides that private corporations "shall not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease." The transfer of title and ownership to AMARI clearly means that AMARI will "hold" the reclaimed lands other than by lease. The transfer of title and ownership is a "disposition" of the reclaimed lands, a transaction considered a sale or alienation under CA No. 141,108 the Government Auditing Code,109 and Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. The Regalian doctrine is deeply implanted in our legal system. Foreshore and submerged areas form part of the public domain and are inalienable. Lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas also form part of the public domain and are also inalienable, unless converted pursuant to law into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Historically, lands reclaimed by the government are sui generis, not available for sale to private parties unlike other alienable public lands. Reclaimed lands retain their inherent potential as areas for public use or public service. Alienable lands of the public domain, increasingly becoming scarce natural resources, are to be distributed equitably among our ever-growing population. To insure such equitable distribution, the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions have barred private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Those who attempt to dispose of inalienable natural resources of the State, or seek to circumvent the constitutional ban on alienation of lands of the public domain to private corporations, do so at their own risk. We can now summarize our conclusions as follows:

1. The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws. 2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. 3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares110 of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. 4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares111 of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of the public domain. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409 112 of the Civil Code, contracts whose "object or purpose is contrary to law," or whose "object is outside the commerce of men," are "inexistent and void from the beginning." The Court must perform its duty to defend and uphold the Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA null and void ab initio. Seventh issue: whether the Court is the proper forum to raise the issue of whether the Amended JVA is grossly disadvantageous to the government. Considering that the Amended JVA is null and void ab initio, there is no necessity to rule on this last issue. Besides, the Court is not a trier of facts, and this last issue involves a determination of factual matters. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Public Estates Authority and Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from implementing the Amended Joint Venture Agreement which is hereby declared NULL and VOID ab initio. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 73002 December 29, 1986 THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ACME PLYWOOD & VENEER CO. INC., ETC., respondents. D. Nacion Law Office for private respondent.

seen by the Court during its ocular investigation of the land sought to be registered on September 18, 1982; 9. That the ownership and possession of the land sought to be registered by the applicant was duly recognized by the government when the Municipal Officials of Maconacon, Isabela, have negotiated for the donation of the townsite from Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., and this negotiation came to reality when the Board of Directors of the Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., had donated a part of the land bought by the Company from the Infiels for the townsite of Maconacon Isabela (Exh. 'N') on November 15, 1979, and which donation was accepted by the Municipal Government of Maconacon, Isabela (Exh. 'N-l'), during their special session on November 22, 1979. The Director of Lands takes no issue with any of these findings except as to the applicability of the 1935 Constitution to the matter at hand. Concerning this, he asserts that, the registration proceedings have been commenced only on July 17, 1981, or long after the 1973 Constitution had gone into effect, the latter is the correctly applicable law; and since section 11 of its Article XIV prohibits private corporations or associations from holding alienable lands of the public domain, except by lease not to exceed 1,000 hectares (a prohibition not found in the 1935 Constitution which was in force in 1962 when Acme purchased the lands in question from the Infiels), it was reversible error to decree registration in favor of Acme Section 48, paragraphs (b) and (c), of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, reads: SEC. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims, and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit: xxx xxx xxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. (c) Members of the National Cultural minorities who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public domain suitable to agriculture, whether disposable or not, under a bona fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights granted in subsection (b) hereof. The Petition for Review does not dispute-indeed, in view of the quoted findings of the trial court which were cited and affirmed by the Intermediate Appellate Court, it can no longer controvert before this Court-the fact that Mariano and Acer Infiel, from whom Acme purchased the lands in question on October 29, 1962, are members of the national cultural minorities who had, by themselves and through their progenitors, possessed and occupied those lands since time immemorial, or for more than the required 30-year period and were, by reason thereof, entitled to exercise the right granted in Section 48 of the Public Land Act to have their title judicially confirmed. Nor is there any pretension that Acme, as the successor-in-interest of the Infiels, is disqualified to acquire and register ownership of said lands under any provisions of the 1973 Constitution other than Section 11 of its Article XIV already referred to. Given the foregoing, the question before this Court is whether or not the title that the Infiels had transferred to Acme in 1962 could be confirmed in favor of the latter in proceedings instituted by it in 1981 when the 1973 Constitution was already in effect, having in mind the prohibition therein against private corporations holding lands of the public domain except in lease not exceeding 1,000 hectares.

NARVASA, J.: The Director of Lands has brought this appeal by certiorari from a judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court affirming a decision of the Court of First Instance of Isabela, which ordered registration in favor of Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of five parcels of land measuring 481, 390 square meters, more or less, acquired by it from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the Dumagat tribe. The registration proceedings were for confirmation of title under Section 48 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 (The Public Land Act). as amended: and the appealed judgment sums up the findings of the trial court in said proceedings in this wise: 1. That Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., represented by Mr. Rodolfo Nazario is a corporation duly organized in accordance with the laws of the Republic of the Philippines and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 23, 1959; 2. That Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., represented by Mr. Rodolfo Nazario can acquire real properties pursuant to the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation particularly on the provision of its secondary purposes (paragraph (9), Exhibit 'M-l'); 3. That the land subject of the Land Registration proceeding was ancestrally acquired by Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., on October 29, 1962, from Mariano Infiel and Acer Infiel, both members of the Dumagat tribe and as such are cultural minorities; 4. That the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines of 1935 is applicable as the sale took place on October 29, 1962; 5. That the possession of the Infiels over the land relinquished or sold to Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., dates back before the Philippines was discovered by Magellan as the ancestors of the Infiels have possessed and occupied the land from generation to generation until the same came into the possession of Mariano Infiel and Acer Infiel; 6. That the possession of the applicant Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., is continuous, adverse and public from 1962 to the present and tacking the possession of the Infiels who were granted from whom the applicant bought said land on October 29, 1962, hence the possession is already considered from time immemorial. 7. That the land sought to be registered is a private land pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 3872 granting absolute ownership to members of the non-Christian Tribes on land occupied by them or their ancestral lands, whether with the alienable or disposable public land or within the public domain; 8. That applicant Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., has introduced more than FortyFive Million (P45,000,000.00) Pesos worth of improvements, said improvements were

The question turns upon a determination of the character of the lands at the time of institution of the registration proceedings in 1981. If they were then still part of the public domain, it must be answered in the negative. If, on the other hand, they were then already private lands, the constitutional prohibition against their acquisition by private corporations or associations obviously does not apply. In this regard, attention has been invited to Manila Electric Company vs. Castro-Bartolome, et al, 1 where a similar set of facts prevailed. In that case, Manila Electric Company, a domestic corporation more than 60% of the capital stock of which is Filipino-owned, had purchased in 1947 two lots in Tanay, Rizal from the Piguing spouses. The lots had been possessed by the vendors and, before them, by their predecessor-in-interest, Olimpia Ramos, since prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941. On December 1, 1976, Meralco applied to the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Makati Branch, for confirmation of title to said lots. The court, assuming that the lots were public land, dismissed the application on the ground that Meralco, a juridical person, was not qualified to apply for registration under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act which allows only Filipino citizens or natural persons to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect titles to public land. Meralco appealed, and a majority of this Court upheld the dismissal. It was held that: ..., the said land is still public land. It would cease to be public land only upon the issuance of the certificate of title to any Filipino citizen claiming it under section 48(b). Because it is still public land and the Meralco, as a juridical person, is disqualified to apply for its registration under section 48(b), Meralco's application cannot be given due course or has to be dismissed. Finally, it may be observed that the constitutional prohibition makes no distinction between (on the one hand) alienable agricultural public lands as to which no occupant has an imperfect title and (on the other hand) alienable lands of the public domain as to which an occupant has on imperfect title subject to judicial confirmation. Since section 11 of Article XIV does not distinguish, we should not make any distinction or qualification. The prohibition applies to alienable public lands as to which a Torrens title may be secured under section 48(b). The proceeding under section 48(b) 'presupposes that the land is public' (Mindanao vs. Director of Lands, L-19535, July 30, 1967, 20 SCRA 641, 644). The present Chief Justice entered a vigorous dissent, tracing the line of cases beginning with Carino in 1909 2 thru Susi in 1925 3 down to Herico in 1980, 4 which developed, affirmed and reaffirmed the doctrine that open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land and becomes private property. That said dissent expressed what is the better and, indeed, the correct, view-becomes evident from a consideration of some of the principal rulings cited therein, The main theme was given birth, so to speak, in Carino involving the Decree/Regulations of June 25, 1880 for adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands. It was ruled that: It is true that the language of articles 4 and 5 attributes title to those 'who may prove' possession for the necessary time and we do not overlook the argument that this means may prove in registration proceedings. It may be that an English conveyancer would have recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but certainly it was not calculated to convey to the mind of an Igorot chief the notion that ancient family possessions were in danger, if he had read every word of it. The words 'may prove' (acrediten) as well or better, in view of the other provisions, might be taken to mean when called upon to do so in any litigation. There are indications that registration was expected from all but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law. ...
5

That ruling assumed a more doctrinal character because expressed in more categorical language, in Susi: .... In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the presumption juris et de jure established in paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. 2874, amending Act No. 926, that all the necessary requirements for a grant by the Government were complied with, for he has been in actual and physical possession, personally and through his predecessors, of an agricultural land of the public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and publicly since July 26, 1984, with a right to a certificate of title to said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that when Angela Razon applied for the grant in her favor, Valentin Susi had already acquired, by operation of law not only a right to a grant, but a grant of the Government, for it is not necessary that a certificate of title should be issued in order that said grant may be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefore is sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act No. 2874. If by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question by a grant of the State, it had already ceased to be of the public domain and had become private property, at least by presumption, of Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director of Lands. Consequently, in selling the land in question of Angela Razon, the Director of Lands disposed of a land over which he had no longer any title or control, and the sale thus made was void and of no effect, and Angela Razon did not thereby acquire any right. 6 Succeeding cases, of which only some need be mentioned, likeof Lacaste vs. Director of Lands, 7 Mesina vs. Vda. de Sonza, 8 Manarpac vs. Cabanatuan, 9 Miguel vs. Court of Appeals 10 and Herico vs. Dar, supra, by invoking and affirming the Susi doctrine have firmly rooted it in jurisprudence. Herico, in particular, appears to be squarely affirmative:
11

.... Secondly, under the provisions of Republic Act No. 1942, which the respondent Court held to be inapplicable to the petitioner's case, with the latter's proven occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years since 1914, by himself and by his predecessors-in-interest, title over the land has vested on petitioner so as to segregate the land from the mass of public land. Thereafter, it is no longer disposable under the Public Land Act as by free patent. .... xxx xxx xxx As interpreted in several cases, when the conditions as specified in the foregoing provision are complied with, the possessor is deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. The land, therefore, ceases to be of the public domain and beyond the authority of the Director of Lands to dispose of. The application for confirmation is mere formality, the lack of which does not affect the legal sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title to be issued upon the strength of said patent. 12 Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of considering possession of public land which is of the character and duration prescribed by statute as the equivalent of an express grant from the State than the dictum of the statute itself 13 that the possessor(s) "... shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title .... " No proof being admissible to overcome a conclusive presumption, confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the possession claimed is of the required character and length of time; and registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title already vested. The proceedings would not originally convert the land from public to private land, but only confirm such a conversion already affected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession became complete. As was so well put in Carino, "... (T)here are indications that registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law."

If it is accepted-as it must be-that the land was already private land to which the Infiels had a legally sufficient and transferable title on October 29, 1962 when Acme acquired it from said owners, it must also be conceded that Acme had a perfect right to make such acquisition, there being nothing in the 1935 Constitution then in force (or, for that matter, in the 1973 Constitution which came into effect later) prohibiting corporations from acquiring and owning private lands. Even on the proposition that the land remained technically "public" land, despite immemorial possession of the Infiels and their ancestors, until title in their favor was actually confirmed in appropriate proceedings under the Public Land Act, there can be no serious question of Acmes right to acquire the land at the time it did, there also being nothing in the 1935 Constitution that might be construed to prohibit corporations from purchasing or acquiring interests in public land to which the vendor had already acquired that type of so-called "incomplete" or "imperfect" title. The only limitation then extant was that corporations could not acquire, hold or lease public agricultural lands in excess of 1,024 hectares. The purely accidental circumstance that confirmation proceedings were brought under the aegis of the 1973 Constitution which forbids corporations from owning lands of the public domain cannot defeat a right already vested before that law came into effect, or invalidate transactions then perfectly valid and proper. This Court has already held, in analogous circumstances, that the Constitution cannot impair vested rights. We hold that the said constitutional prohibition 14 has no retroactive application to the sales application of Binan Development Co., Inc. because it had already acquired a vested right to the land applied for at the time the 1973 Constitution took effect. That vested right has to be respected. It could not be abrogated by the new Constitution. Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution allows private corporations to purchase public agricultural lands not exceeding one thousand and twenty-four hectares. Petitioner' prohibition action is barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional law. xxx xxx xxx The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of vested rights. 'A state may not impair vested rights by legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the subsequent repeal of a municipal ordinance, or by a change in the constitution of the State, except in a legitimate exercise of the police power'(16 C.J.S. 1177-78). xxx xxx xxx In the instant case, it is incontestable that prior to the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution the right of the corporation to purchase the land in question had become fixed and established and was no longer open to doubt or controversy. Its compliance with the requirements of the Public Land Law for the issuance of a patent had the effect of segregating the said land from the public domain. The corporation's right to obtain a patent for the land is protected by law. It cannot be deprived of that right without due process (Director of Lands vs. CA, 123 Phil. 919).<re||an1w> 15 The fact, therefore, that the confirmation proceedings were instituted by Acme in its own name must be regarded as simply another accidental circumstance, productive of a defect hardly more than procedural and in nowise affecting the substance and merits of the right of ownership sought to be confirmed in said proceedings, there being no doubt of Acme's entitlement to the land. As it is unquestionable that in the light of the undisputed facts, the Infiels, under either the 1935 or the 1973 Constitution, could have had title in themselves confirmed and registered, only a rigid subservience to the letter of the law would deny the same benefit to their lawful successor-in-interest by valid conveyance which violates no constitutional mandate. The Court, in the light of the foregoing, is of the view, and so holds, that the majority ruling in Meralco must be reconsidered and no longer deemed to be binding precedent. The correct rule, as enunciated in the line of cases already referred to, is that alienable public land held by a possessor, personally or through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively for the prescribed statutory period (30 years under The Public Land Act, as

amended) is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of said period, ipso jure. Following that rule and on the basis of the undisputed facts, the land subject of this appeal was already private property at the time it was acquired from the Infiels by Acme. Acme thereby acquired a registrable title, there being at the time no prohibition against said corporation's holding or owning private land. The objection that, as a juridical person, Acme is not qualified to apply for judicial confirmation of title under section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is technical, rather than substantial and, again, finds its answer in the dissent in Meralco: 6. To uphold respondent judge's denial of Meralco's application on the technicality that the Public Land Act allows only citizens of the Philippines who are natural persons to apply for confirmation of their title would be impractical and would just give rise to multiplicity of court actions. Assuming that there was a technical error not having filed the application for registration in the name of the Piguing spouses as the original owners and vendors, still it is conceded that there is no prohibition against their sale of the land to the applicant Meralco and neither is there any prohibition against the application being refiled with retroactive effect in the name of the original owners and vendors (as such natural persons) with the end result of their application being granted, because of their indisputable acquisition of ownership by operation of law and the conclusive presumption therein provided in their favor. It should not be necessary to go through all the rituals at the great cost of refiling of all such applications in their names and adding to the overcrowded court dockets when the Court can after all these years dispose of it here and now. (See Francisco vs. City of Davao) The ends of justice would best be served, therefore, by considering the applications for confirmation as amended to conform to the evidence, i.e. as filed in the names of the original persons who as natural persons are duly qualified to apply for formal confirmation of the title that they had acquired by conclusive presumption and mandate of the Public Land Act and who thereafter duly sold to the herein corporations (both admittedly Filipino corporations duly qualified to hold and own private lands) and granting the applications for confirmation of title to the private lands so acquired and sold or exchanged. There is also nothing to prevent Acme from reconveying the lands to the Infiels and the latter from themselves applying for confirmation of title and, after issuance of the certificate/s of title in their names, deeding the lands back to Acme. But this would be merely indulging in empty charades, whereas the same result is more efficaciously and speedily obtained, with no prejudice to anyone, by a liberal application of the rule on amendment to conform to the evidence suggested in the dissent in Meralco. While this opinion seemingly reverses an earlier ruling of comparatively recent vintage, in a real sense, it breaks no precedent, but only reaffirms and re-established, as it were, doctrines the soundness of which has passed the test of searching examination and inquiry in many past cases. Indeed, it is worth noting that the majority opinion, as well as the concurring opinions of Chief Justice Fernando and Justice Abad Santos, in Meralco rested chiefly on the proposition that the petitioner therein, a juridical person, was disqualified from applying for confirmation of an imperfect title to public land under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Reference to the 1973 Constitution and its Article XIV, Section 11, was only tangential limited to a brief paragraph in the main opinion, and may, in that context, be considered as essentially obiter. Meralco, in short, decided no constitutional question. WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error in the appealed judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court, the same is hereby affirmed, without costs in this instance. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC [G.R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000] ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, vs. SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN and COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, respondents. HON. JUAN M .FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, BAYANI ASCARRAGA, EDTAMI MANSAYANGAN, BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS, ALFREMO CARPIANO, LIBERATO A. GABIN, MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA M. DALUPINES, BAI KIRAM-CONNIE SATURNO, BAE MLOMO-BEATRIZ T. ABASALA, DATU BALITUNGTUNG-ANTONIO D. LUMANDONG, DATU MANTUMUKAW TEOFISTO SABASALES, DATU EDUAARDO BANDA, DATU JOEL UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN, TIMUAY JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D. SALACAO, TIMUAY EDWIN B. ENDING, DATU SAHAMPONG MALANAW VI, DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON, BAI NANAPNAY-LIZA SAWAY, BAY INAY DAYA-MELINDA S. REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA HELINITA T. PANGAN, DATU MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN SAWAY, VICKY MAKAY, LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA GASPAR, MANUEL S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE L. GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO CARINO, JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES, LYNETTE CARANTES-VIVAL, LANGLEY SEGUNDO, SATUR S. BUGNAY, CARLING DOMULOT, ANDRES MENDIOGRIN, LEOPOLDO ABUGAN, VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G. DESCAGA, LEVY ESTEVES, ODETTE G. ESTEVEZ, RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES, PEPE H. ATONG, OFELIA T. DAVI, PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO, WALTER N. TIMOL, MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR DALUNHAY, RICO O. SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA, ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB, MIRLANDO H. MANGKULINTAS, SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. LINDAHAY, ROEL S. MANSANG-CAGAN, PAQUITO S. LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY, JULIUS S. SAWAY, LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON, VENANCIO APANG, MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG MALID, MANGKATADONG AUGUSTO DIANO, JOSEPHINE M. ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO MANGCAL, FELAY DIAMILING, SALOME P. SARZA, FELIPE P. BAGON, SAMMY SALNUNGAN, ANTONIO D. EMBA, NORMA MAPANSAGONOS, ROMEO SALIGA, SR., JERSON P. GERADA, RENATO T. BAGON, JR., SARING MASALONG, SOLEDAD M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. MENDI, MORANTE S. TIWAN, DANILO M. MALUDAO, MINORS MARICEL MALID, represented by her father CORNELIO MALID, MARCELINO M. LADRA, represented by her father MONICO D. LADRA, JENNYLYN MALID, represented by her father TONY MALID, ARIEL M. EVANGELISTA, represented by her mother LINAY BALBUENA, EDWARD M. EMUY, SR., SUSAN BOLANIO, OND, PULA BATO BLAAN TRIBAL FARMERS ASSOCIATION, INTER PEOPLES EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN FORUM-WESTERN VISAYAS, intervenors. COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor. IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES, INC., intervenor. RESOLUTION PER CURIAM: Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (Implementing Rules). In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required respondents to comment.[1] In compliance, respondents Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on FOR THE

Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created under the IPRA to implement its provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to the Petition, in which they defend the constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit. On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed through the Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The Solicitor General is of the view that the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership over natural resources to indigenous peoples and prays that the petition be granted in part. On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the authors of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano Bennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the leaders and members of 112 groups of indigenous peoples (Flavier, et. al), filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in defending the constitutionality of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of the petition. On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to Intervene and/or to Appear as Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle of parens patriae and that the State has the responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of those who are at a serious disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this reason it prays that the petition be dismissed. On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a motion to Intervene with attached Comment-in-Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al. that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the petition for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed. The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and organizations were granted. Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties and intervenors filed their respective memoranda in which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings and during the hearing. Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the ground that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution: (1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and coverage of ancestral domains, and Section 3(b) which, in turn, defines ancestral lands; (2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which provides that ancestral domains including inalienable public lands, bodies of water, mineral and other resources found within ancestral domains are private but community property of the indigenous peoples; (3) Section 6 in relation to section 3(a) and 3(b) which defines the comp osition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands; (4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peop les over the ancestral domains; (5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral lands; (6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the indigenous peoples in the harvesting, extraction, development or exploration of minerals and other natural resources within the areas claimed to be their ancestral domains, and the right to enter into agreements with nonindigenous peoples for the development and utilization of natural resources therein for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years; and (7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples the r esponsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve the ancestral domains and portions thereof which are found to be

necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover or reforestation.[2] Petitioners also content that, by providing for an all-encompassing definition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands which might even include private lands found within said areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) violate the rights of private landowners.[3] In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA defining the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and making customary law applicable to the settlement of disputes involving ancestral domains and ancestral lands on the ground that these provisions violate the due process clause of the Constitution.[4] These provisions are: (1) sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process of delineation and recognition of ancestral domains and which vest on the NCIP the sole authority to delineate ancestral domains and ancestral lands; (2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon certification by the NCIP that a particular area is an ancestral domain and upon notification to the following officials, namely, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, Secretary of Justice and Commissioner of the National Development Corporation, the jurisdiction of said officials over said area terminates; (3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, traditions and practices of indigenous peoples shall be applied first with respect to property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary succession and settlement of land disputes, and that any doubt or ambiguity in the interpretation thereof shall be resolved in favor of the indigenous peoples; (4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve disputes involving indigenous peoples; and (5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of the indigenous peoples.[5] Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II, Section 1 of the NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, which provides that the administrative relationship of the NCIP to the Office of the President is characterized as a lateral but autonomous relationship for purposes of policy and program coordination. They contend that said Rule infringes upon the Presidents power of control over executive departments under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution.[6] Petitioners pray for the following: (1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[I], 57, 58, 59, 63, 65 and 66 and other related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional and invalid; (2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Chairperson and Commissioners of the NCIP to cease and desist from implementing the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371 and its Implementing Rules; (3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cease and desist from implementing Department of Environment and Natural Resources Circular No. 2, series of 1998; (4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of Budget and Management to cease and desist from disbursing public funds for the implementation of the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371; and (5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to comply with his duty of carrying out the States constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization and conservation of Philippine natural resources.[7] After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows:

Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion sustaining all challenged provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the largescale exploitation of natural resources and should be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition solely on the ground that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing to question the constitutionality of R.A. 8371. Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the constitutionality of Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific cases by those whose rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate opinions of Justices Panganiban and Vitug. As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the case was redeliberated upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED. Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, and Panganiban. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION

1. Both parties recognize the existence of the Deed of Sale over the residential house located at No. 7 Granada St., Gordon Heights, Olongapo City, which was acquired from Armando Altares on June 4, 1974 and sold by defendant Criselda Cheesman to Estelita Padilla on July 12, 1981; and 2. That the transaction regarding the transfer of their property took place during the existence of their marriage as the couple were married on December 4, 1970 and the questioned property was acquired sometime on June 4,1974. The action resulted in a judgment dated June 24, 1982, declaring void ab initio the sale executed by Criselda Cheesman in favor of Estelita M. Padilla, and ordering the delivery of the property to Thomas Cheesman as administrator of the conjugal partnership property, and the payment to him of P5,000.00 as attorney's fees and 11 expenses of litigation. The judgment was however set aside as regards Estelita Padilla on a petition for relief filed by the latter, grounded on "fraud, mistake and/or excusable negligence" which 12 had seriously impaired her right to present her case adequately. "After the petition for relief from judgment was given due course," according to petitioner, "a new judge 13 presided over the case." Estelita Padilla filed a supplemental pleading on December 20, 1982 as her own answer to the complaint, and a motion for summary judgment on May 17, 1983. Although there was initial opposition by Thomas Cheesman to the motion, the parties ultimately agreed on the rendition by the court of a summary judgment after entering into a stipulation of facts, at the hearing of the motion on June 21, 1983, the 14 stipulation being of the following tenor: (1) that the property in question was bought during the existence of the marriage between the plaintiff and the defendant Criselda P. Cheesman; (2) that the property bought during the marriage was registered in the name of Criselda Cheesman and that the Deed of Sale and Transfer of Possessory Rights executed by the former ownervendor Armando Altares in favor of Criselda Cheesman made no mention of the plaintiff; (3) that the property, subject of the proceedings, was sold by defendant Criselda Cheesman in favor of the other defendant Estelita M. Padilla, without the written consent of the plaintiff. Obviously upon the theory that no genuine issue existed any longer and there was hence no need of a trial, the parties having in fact submitted, as also stipulated, their 15 respective memoranda each praying for a favorable verdict, the Trial Court rendered a "Summary Judgment" dated August 3, 1982 declaring "the sale executed by . . . Criselda Cheesman in favor of . . . Estelita Padilla to be valid," dismissing Thomas Cheesman's complaint and ordering him "to immediately turn over the 16 possession of the house and lot subject of . . . (the) case to . . . Estelita Padilla . . ." The Trial Court found that 1) the evidence on record satisfactorily overcame the disputable presumption in Article 160 of the Civil Code that all property of the
10

G.R. No. 74833 January 21, 1991 THOMAS C. CHEESMAN, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ESTELITA PADILLA, respondents. Estanislao L. Cesa, Jr. for petitioner. Benjamin I. Fernandez for private respondent.

NARVASA, J.:p This appeal concerns the attempt by an American citizen (petitioner Thomas Cheesman) to annul for lack of consent on his part the sale by his Filipino wife (Criselda) of a residential lot and building to Estelita Padilla, also a Filipino. Thomas Cheesman and Criselda P. Cheesman were married on December 4, 1970 1 but have been separated since February 15,1981. On June 4, 1974, a "Deed of Sale and Transfer of Possessory Rights" was executed by Armando Altares conveying a parcel of unregistered land and the house thereon (at No. 7 Neptune Street, Gordon Heights, Olongapo City) in favor of "Criselda P. Cheesman, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married to Thomas Cheesman, and residing 2 at Lot No. 1, Blk. 8, Filtration Road, Sta. Rita, Olongapo City . . ." Thomas Cheesman, although aware of the deed, did not object to the transfer being made 3 only to his wife. Thereafterand again with the knowledge of Thomas Cheesman and also without any protest by himtax declarations for the property purchased were issued in the name only of Criselda Cheesman and Criselda assumed exclusive management and 4 administration of said property, leasing it to tenants. On July 1, 1981, Criselda Cheesman sold the property to Estelita M. Padilla, without the knowledge or consent 5 of Thomas Cheesman. The deed described Criselda as being" . . . of legal age, 6 married to an American citizen,. . ." Thirty days later, or on July 31, 1981, Thomas Cheesman brought suit in the Court of First Instance at Olongapo City against his wife, Criselda, and Estelita Padilla, praying for the annulment of the sale on the ground that the transaction had been executed 7 without his knowledge and consent. An answer was filed in the names of both defendants, alleging that (1) the property sold was paraphernal, having been purchased by Criselda with funds exclusively belonging to her ("her own separate money"); (2) Thomas Cheesman, being an American, was disqualified to have any interest or right of ownership in the land; and (3) Estelita Padilla was a buyer in good 8 faith. During the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed upon certain facts which were 9 subsequently set out in a pre-trial Order dated October 22, 1981, as follows:

marriage belongs to the conjugal partnership "unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife" and that the immovable in question was in truth Criselda's paraphernal property; 2) that moreover, said legal presumption in Article 160 could not apply "inasmuch as the husband-plaintiff is an American citizen and therefore disqualified under the Constitution to acquire and own real properties; and 3) that the exercise by Criselda of exclusive acts of dominion with the knowledge of her husband "had led . . . Estelita Padilla to believe that the properties were the exclusive properties of Criselda Cheesman and on the faith of such a belief she bought the properties from her and for value," and therefore, Thomas Cheesman was, under Article 1473 of the Civil Code, estopped to impugn the transfer to Estelita Padilla. Thomas Cheesman appealed to the Intermediate Appellate Court. There he assailed the Trial Court acts (1) of granting Estelita Padilla's petition for relief, and its resolution of matters not subject of said petition; (2) of declaring valid the sale to Estelita Padilla despite the lack of consent thereto by him, and the presumption of the conjugal character of the property in question pursuant to Article 160 of the Civil Code; (3) of disregarding the judgment of June 24, 1982 which, not having been set aside as against Criselda Cheesman, continued to be binding on her; and (4) of making findings of fact not supported by evidence. All of these contentions were found to be without merit by the Appellate Tribunal which, on January 7, 1986, promulgated a 17 decision (erroneously denominated, "Report") affirming the "Summary Judgment complained of," "having found no reversible error" therein. Once more, Thomas Cheesman availed of the remedy of appeal, this time to this Court. Here, he argues that it was reversible error for the Intermediate Appellate Court 1) to find that the presumption that the property in question is conjugal in accordance 18 with Article 160 had been satisfactorily overcome by Estelita Padilla; 2) to rule that Estelita Padilla was a purchaser of said property in good faith, it appearing: a) that the deed by which the property was conveyed to Criselda Cheesman described her as "married to Thomas C. Cheesman," as well as the deed by which the property was later conveyed to Estelita Padilla by Criselda Cheesman also described her as "married to an American citizen," and both said descriptions had thus "placed Estelita on knowledge of the conjugal nature of the property;" and b) that furthermore, Estelita had admitted to stating in the deed by which she acquired the property a price much lower than that actually paid "in order to avoid payment of more obligation to the 19 government;" 3) to decline to declare that the evidence did not warrant the grant of Estelita Padilla's 20 petition for relief on the ground of "fraud, mistake and/or excusable negligence;"

4) to hold that Thomas Cheesman had waived his objection to Estelita's petition for relief by failing to appeal from the order granting the same; 5) to accord to Estelita Padilla a relief other than that she had specifically prayed for in her petition for relief, ie., "the restoration of the purchase price which Estelita 21 allegedly paid to Criselda;" and 6) to fail to declare that Thomas Cheesman's citizenship is not a bar to his action to 22 recover the lot and house for the conjugal partnership. Such conclusions as that (1) fraud, mistake or excusable negligence existed in the premises justifying relief to Estelita Padilla under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, or (2) that Criselda Cheesman had used money she had brought into her marriage to Thomas Cheesman to purchase the lot and house in question, or (3) that Estelita Padilla believed in good faith that Criselda Cheesman was the exclusive owner of the property that she (Estelita) intended to and did in fact buy derived from the evidence adduced by the parties, the facts set out in the pleadings or otherwise appearing on recordare conclusions or findings of fact. As distinguished from a question of law which exists "when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts" "there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to 23 the truth or the falsehood of alleged facts;" or when the "query necessarily invites calibration of the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of witnesses, existence and relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances, their relation; to each 24 other and to the whole and the probabilities of the situation." Now, it is axiomatic that only questions of law, distinctly set forth, may be raised in a petition for the review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals presented to 25 this Court. As everyone knows or ought to know, the appellate jurisdiction of this Court is limited to reviewing errors of law, accepting as conclusive the factual findings 26 of the lower court upon its own assessment of the evidence. The creation of the Court of Appeals was precisely intended to take away from the Supreme Court the work of examining the evidence, and confine its task to the determination of questions which do not call for the reading and study of transcripts containing the testimony of 27 witnesses. The rule of conclusiveness of the factual findings or conclusions of the 28 Court of Appeals is, to be sure, subject to certain exceptions, none of which however obtains in the case at bar. It is noteworthy that both the Trial Court and the Intermediate Appellate Court reached the same conclusions on the three (3) factual matters above set forth, after assessment of the evidence and determination of the probative value thereof. Both Courts found that the facts on record adequately proved fraud, mistake or excusable negligence by which Estelita Padilla's rights had been substantially impaired; that the funds used by Criselda Cheesman was money she had earned and saved prior to her marriage to Thomas Cheesman, and that Estelita Padilla did believe in good faith that Criselda Cheesman was the sole owner of the property in question. Consequently, these determinations of fact will not be here disturbed, this Court having been cited to no reason for doing so. These considerations dispose of the first three (3) points that petitioner Cheesman seeks to make in his appeal. They also make unnecessary an extended discussion of the other issues raised by him. As to them, it should suffice to restate certain fundamental propositions. An order of a Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) granting a petition for relief under Rule 38 is interlocutory and is not appealable. Hence, the failure of the

party who opposed the petition to appeal from said order, or his participation in the proceedings subsequently had, cannot be construed as a waiver of his objection to the petition for relief so as to preclude his raising the same question on appeal from the judgment on the merits of the main case. Such a party need not repeat his objections to the petition for relief, or perform any act thereafter (e.g., take formal exception) in order to preserve his right to question the same eventually, on appeal, it being sufficient for this purpose that he has made of record "the action which he desires the court to take or his objection to the action of the court and his grounds 29 therefor." Again, the prayer in a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 is not necessarily the same prayer in the petitioner's complaint, answer or other basic pleading. This should be obvious. Equally obvious is that once a petition for relief is granted and the judgment subject thereof set aside, and further proceedings are thereafter had, the Court in its judgment on the merits may properly grant the relief sought in the petitioner's basic pleadings, although different from that stated in his petition for relief. Finally, the fundamental law prohibits the sale to aliens of residential land. Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution ordains that, " Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain ." 30 Petitioner Thomas Cheesman was, of course, charged with knowledge of this prohibition. Thus, assuming that it was his intention that the lot in question be purchased by him and his wife, he acquired no right whatever over the property by virtue of that purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land, vicariously and clandestinely, he knowingly violated the Constitution; the sale as to 31 him was null and void. In any event, he had and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent sale of the same property by his wife on the theory that in so doing he is merely exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal property. To sustain such a theory would permit indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were to be declared conjugal, this would accord to the alien husband a not insubstantial interest and right over land, as he would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the Constitution does not permit him to have. As already observed, the finding that his wife had used her own money to purchase the property cannot, and will not, at this stage of the proceedings be reviewed and overturned. But even if it were a fact that said wife had used conjugal funds to make the acquisition, the considerations just set out militate, on high constitutional grounds, against his recovering and holding the property so acquired or any part thereof. And whether in such an event, he may recover from his wife any share of the money used for the purchase or charge her with unauthorized disposition or expenditure of conjugal funds is not now inquired into; that would be, in the premises, a purely academic exercise. An equally decisive consideration is that Estelita Padilla is a purchaser in good faith, both the Trial Court and the Appellate Court having found that Cheesman's own conduct had led her to believe the property to be exclusive property of the latter's wife, freely disposable by her without his consent or intervention. An innocent buyer for value, she is entitled to the protection of the law in her purchase, particularly as against Cheesman, who would assert rights to the property denied him by both letter and spirit of the Constitution itself. WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED, with costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-27952 February 15, 1982 TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSE EUGENIO RAMIREZ, MARIA LUISA PALACIOS, Administratrix, petitioner-appellee, vs. MARCELLE D. VDA. DE RAMIREZ, ET AL., oppositors, JORGE and ROBERTO RAMIREZ, legatees, oppositors- appellants.

VALOR LIQUIDO........................................... P507,976.97 The testamentary dispositions are as follows: A.En nuda propiedad, a D. Roberto y D. Jorge Ramirez, ambas menores de edad, residentes en Manila, I.F., calle 'Alright, No. 1818, Malate, hijos de su sobrino D. Jose Ma. Ramirez, con sustitucion vulgar a favor de sus respectivos descendientes, y, en su defecto, con sustitucion vulgar reciprocal entre ambos. El precedente legado en nuda propiedad de la participacion indivisa de la finca Santa Cruz Building, lo ordena el testador a favor de los legatarios nombrados, en atencion a que dicha propiedad fue creacion del querido padre del otorgante y por ser aquellos continuadores del apellido Ramirez, B.Y en usufructo a saber: a. En cuanto a una tercera parte, a favor de la esposa del testador, Da. Marcelle Ramirez, domiciliada en IE PECO, calle del General Gallieni No. 33, Seine Francia, con sustitucion vulgar u fideicomisaria a favor de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski, de Palma de Mallorca, Son Rapina Avenida de los Reyes 13, b.Y en cuanto a las dos terceras partes restantes, a favor de la nombrada Da. Wanda de Nrobleski con sustitucion vulgar v fideicomisaria a saber: En cuanto a la mitad de dichas dos terceras partes, a favor de D. Juan Pablo Jankowski, de Son Rapina Palma de Mallorca; y encuanto a la mitad restante, a favor de su sobrino, D. Horace V. Ramirez, San Luis Building, Florida St. Ermita, Manila, I.F. A pesar de las sustituciones fideiconiisarias precedentemente ordinadas, las usufiructuarias nombradas conjuntamente con los nudo propietarios, podran en cualquier memento vender a tercero los bienes objeto delegado, sin intervencion alguna de los titulares fideicomisaarios. On June 23, 1966, the administratrix submitted a project of partition as follows: the property of the deceased is to be divided into two parts. One part shall go to the widow 'en pleno dominio" in satisfaction of her legitime; the other part or "free portion" shall go to Jorge and Roberto Ramirez "en nuda propriedad." Furthermore, one third (1/3) of the free portion is charged with the widow's usufruct and the remaining two-thirds (2/3) with a usufruct in favor of Wanda. Jorge and Roberto opposed the project of partition on the grounds: (a) that the provisions for vulgar substitution in favor of Wanda de Wrobleski with respect to the widow's usufruct and in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horacio V. Ramirez, with respect to Wanda's usufruct are invalid because the first heirs Marcelle and Wanda) survived the testator; (b) that the provisions for fideicommissary substitutions are also invalid because the first heirs are not related to the second heirs or substitutes within the first degree, as provided in Article 863 of the Civil Code; (c) that the grant of a usufruct over real property in the Philippines in favor of Wanda Wrobleski, who is an alien, violates Section 5, Article III of the Philippine Constitution; and that (d) the proposed partition of the testator's interest in the Santa Cruz (Escolta) Building between the widow Marcelle and the appellants, violates the testator's express win to give this property to them Nonetheless, the lower court approved the project of partition in its order dated May 3, 1967. It is this order which Jorge and Roberto have appealed to this Court. 1. The widow's legitime. The appellant's do not question the legality of giving Marcelle one-half of the estate in full ownership. They admit that the testator's dispositions impaired his widow's legitime. Indeed, under Art. 900 of the Civil Code "If the only survivor is the widow or widower, she or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate." And since Marcelle alone survived the deceased,

ABAD SANTOS, J.: The main issue in this appeal is the manner of partitioning the testate estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez among the principal beneficiaries, namely: his widow Marcelle Demoron de Ramirez; his two grandnephews Roberto and Jorge Ramirez; and his companion Wanda de Wrobleski. The task is not trouble-free because the widow Marcelle is a French who lives in Paris, while the companion Wanda is an Austrian who lives in Spain. Moreover, the testator provided for substitutions. Jose Eugenio Ramirez, a Filipino national, died in Spain on December 11, 1964, with only his widow as compulsory heir. His will was admitted to probate by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, on July 27, 1965. Maria Luisa Palacios was appointed administratrix of the estate. In due time she submitted an inventory of the estate as follows: INVENTARIO Una sexta parte (1/6) proindiviso de un te rreno, con sus mejoras y edificaciones, situadoen la Escolta, Manila............................................................. P500,000.00 Una sexta parte (1/6) proindiviso de dos parcelas de terreno situadas en Antipolo, Rizal................... 658.34 Cuatrocientos noventa y uno (491) acciones de la 'Central Azucarera de la Carlota a P17.00 por accion ................................................................................8,347.00 Diez mil ochocientos seize (10,806) acciones de la 'Central Luzon Milling Co.', disuelta y en liquidacion a P0.15 por accion ..............................................1,620.90 Cuenta de Ahorros en el Philippine Trust Co.............................................................................................. 2,350.73 TOTAL.............................................................. P512,976.97 MENOS: Deuda al Banco de las Islas Filipinas, garantizada con prenda de las acciones de La Carlota ......... P 5,000,00

she is entitled to one-half of his estate over which he could impose no burden, encumbrance, condition or substitution of any kind whatsoever. (Art. 904, par. 2, Civil Code.) It is the one-third usufruct over the free portion which the appellants question and justifiably so. It appears that the court a quo approved the usufruct in favor of Marcelle because the testament provides for a usufruct in her favor of one-third of the estate. The court a quo erred for Marcelle who is entitled to one-half of the estate "en pleno dominio" as her legitime and which is more than what she is given under the will is not entitled to have any additional share in the estate. To give Marcelle more than her legitime will run counter to the testator's intention for as stated above his dispositions even impaired her legitime and tended to favor Wanda. 2. The substitutions. It may be useful to recall that "Substitution is the appoint- judgment of another heir so that he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted." (Art. 857, Civil Code. And that there are several kinds of substitutions, namely: simple or common, brief or compendious, reciprocal, and fideicommissary (Art. 858, Civil Code.) According to Tolentino, "Although the Code enumerates four classes, there are really only two principal classes of substitutions: the simple and the fideicommissary. The others are merely variations of these two." (111 Civil Code, p. 185 [1973].) The simple or vulgar is that provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code which reads: ART. 859. The testator may designate one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such heir or heirs should die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance. A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it refers, shall comprise the three mentioned in the preceding paragraph, unless the testator has otherwise provided. The fideicommissary substitution is described in the Civil Code as follows: ART. 863. A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect, provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted, and provided further that the fiduciary or first heir and the second heir are living at time of the death of the testator. It will be noted that the testator provided for a vulgar substitution in respect of the legacies of Roberto and Jorge Ramirez, the appellants, thus: con sustitucion vulgar a favor de sus respectivos descendientes, y, en su defecto, con substitution vulgar reciprocal entre ambos. The appellants do not question the legality of the substitution so provided. The appellants question the sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria a favor de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski" in connection with the one-third usufruct over the estate given to the widow Marcelle However, this question has become moot because as We have ruled above, the widow is not entitled to any usufruct. The appellants also question the sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria in connection with Wanda's usufruct over two thirds of the estate in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace v. Ramirez. They allege that the substitution in its vulgar aspect as void because Wanda survived the testator or stated differently because she did not predecease the testator. But dying before the testator is not the only case for vulgar substitution for it also includes refusal or incapacity to accept the inheritance as provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code, supra. Hence, the vulgar substitution is valid. As regards the substitution in its fideicommissary aspect, the appellants are correct in their claim that it is void for the following reasons:

(a) The substitutes (Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez) are not related to Wanda, the heir originally instituted. Art. 863 of the Civil Code validates a fideicommissary substitution "provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted." What is meant by "one degree" from the first heir is explained by Tolentino as follows: Scaevola Maura, and Traviesas construe "degree" as designation, substitution, or transmission. The Supreme Court of Spain has decidedly adopted this construction. From this point of view, there can be only one tranmission or substitution, and the substitute need not be related to the first heir. Manresa, Morell and Sanchez Roman, however, construe the word "degree" as generation, and the present Code has obviously followed this interpretation. by providing that the substitution shall not go beyond one degree "from the heir originally instituted." The Code thus clearly indicates that the second heir must be related to and be one generation from the first heir. From this, it follows that the fideicommissary can only be either a child or a parent of the first heir. These are the only relatives who are one generation or degree from the fiduciary (Op. cit., pp. 193-194.) (b) There is no absolute duty imposed on Wanda to transmit the usufruct to the substitutes as required by Arts. 865 and 867 of the Civil Code. In fact, the appellee admits "that the testator contradicts the establishment of a fideicommissary substitution when he permits the properties subject of the usufruct to be sold upon mutual agreement of the usufructuaries and the naked owners." (Brief, p. 26.) 3. The usufruct of Wanda. The appellants claim that the usufruct over real properties of the estate in favor of Wanda is void because it violates the constitutional prohibition against the acquisition of lands by aliens. The 1935 Constitution which is controlling provides as follows: SEC. 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines. (Art. XIII.) The court a quo upheld the validity of the usufruct given to Wanda on the ground that the Constitution covers not only succession by operation of law but also testamentary succession. We are of the opinion that the Constitutional provision which enables aliens to acquire private lands does not extend to testamentary succession for otherwise the prohibition will be for naught and meaningless. Any alien would be able to circumvent the prohibition by paying money to a Philippine landowner in exchange for a devise of a piece of land. This opinion notwithstanding, We uphold the usufruct in favor of Wanda because a usufruct, albeit a real right, does not vest title to the land in the usufructuary and it is the vesting of title to land in favor of aliens which is proscribed by the Constitution. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez is hereby ordered distributed as follows: One-half (1/2) thereof to his widow as her legitime; One-half (1/2) thereof which is the free portion to Roberto and Jorge Ramirez in naked ownership and the usufruct to Wanda de Wrobleski with a simple substitution in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez. The distribution herein ordered supersedes that of the court a quo. No special pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 156364 September 3, 2007

Prohibition, the levy made by the Sheriff was set aside, requiring the Sheriff to levy first on respondent's personal properties.6 Sheriff Jaime B. Ozaeta (Sheriff) tried to implement the writ as directed but the writ was returned unsatisfied. 7 On January 26, 1999, upon petitioner's motion, the HLURB Arbiter issued an Alias Writ of Execution.8 On March 23, 1999, the Sheriff levied on respondent's 15 parcels of land covered by 13 Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT)9 in Barangay Niyugan, Laurel, Batangas.10 In a Notice of Sale dated March 27, 2000, the Sheriff set the public auction of the levied properties on April 28, 2000 at 10:00 a.m.. 11 Two days before the scheduled public auction or on April 26, 2000, respondent filed an Urgent Motion to Quash Writ of Levy with the HLURB on the ground that the Sheriff made an overlevy since the aggregate appraised value of the levied properties at P6,500.00 per sq m is P83,616,000.00, based on the Appraisal Report 12 of Henry Hunter Bayne Co., Inc. dated December 11, 1996, which is over and above the judgment award. 13 At 10:15 a.m. of the scheduled auction date of April 28, 2000, respondent's counsel objected to the conduct of the public auction on the ground that respondent's Urgent Motion to Quash Writ of Levy was pending resolution. Absent any restraining order from the HLURB, the Sheriff proceeded to sell the 15 parcels of land. Holly Properties Realty Corporation was the winning bidder for all 15 parcels of land for the total amount of P5,450,653.33. The sum of P5,313,040.00 was turned over to the petitioner in satisfaction of the judgment award after deducting the legal fees. 14 At 4:15 p.m. of the same day, while the Sheriff was at the HLURB office to remit the legal fees relative to the auction sale and to submit the Certificates of Sale 15 for the signature of HLURB Director Belen G. Ceniza (HLURB Director), he received the Order dated April 28, 2000 issued by the HLURB Arbiter to suspend the proceedings on the matter. 16 Four months later, or on August 28, 2000, the HLURB Arbiter and HLURB Director issued an Order setting aside the sheriff's levy on respondent's real properties, 17 reasoning as follows: While we are not making a ruling that the fair market value of the levied properties is PhP6,500.00 per square meter (or an aggregate value of PhP83,616,000.00) as indicated in the Hunter Baynes Appraisal Report, we definitely cannot agree with the position of the Complainants and the Sheriff that the aggregate value of the 12,864.00-square meter levied properties is only around PhP6,000,000.00. The disparity between the two valuations are [sic] so egregious that the Sheriff should have looked into the matter first before proceeding with the execution sale of the said properties, especially when the auction sale proceedings was seasonably objected by Respondent's counsel, Atty. Noel Mingoa. However, instead of resolving first the objection timely posed by Atty. Mingoa, Sheriff Ozaete totally disregarded the objection raised and, posthaste, issued the corresponding Certificate of Sale even prior to the payment of the legal fees (pars. 7 & 8, Sheriff's Return). While we agree with the Complainants that what is material in an execution sale proceeding is the amount for which the properties were bidded and sold during the public auction and that, mere inadequacy of the price is not a sufficient ground to annul the sale, the court is justified to intervene where the inadequacy of the price shocks the conscience (Barrozo vs. Macaraeg, 83 Phil. 378). The difference between PhP83,616,000.00 and Php6,000,000.00 is PhP77,616,000.00 and it definitely invites our attention to look into the proceedings had especially so when there was only one bidder, the HOLLY

JACOBUS BERNHARD HULST, petitioner, vs. PR BUILDERS, INC., respondent. DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the Decision1 dated October 30, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 60981. The facts: Jacobus Bernhard Hulst (petitioner) and his spouse Ida Johanna Hulst-Van Ijzeren (Ida), Dutch nationals, entered into a Contract to Sell with PR Builders, Inc. (respondent), for the purchase of a 210-sq m residential unit in respondent's townhouse project in Barangay Niyugan, Laurel, Batangas. When respondent failed to comply with its verbal promise to complete the project by June 1995, the spouses Hulst filed before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) a complaint for rescission of contract with interest, damages and attorney's fees, docketed as HLRB Case No. IV6-071196-0618. On April 22, 1997, HLURB Arbiter Ma. Perpetua Y. Aquino (HLURB Arbiter) rendered a Decision2 in favor of spouses Hulst, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the complainant, rescinding the Contract to Sell and ordering respondent to: 1) Reimburse complainant the sum of P3,187,500.00, representing the purchase price paid by the complainants to P.R. Builders, plus interest thereon at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum from the time complaint was filed; 2) Pay complainant the sum of P297,000.00 as actual damages; 3) Pay complainant the sum of P100,000.00 by way of moral damages; 4) Pay complainant the sum of P150,000.00 as exemplary damages; 5) P50,000.00 as attorney's fees and for other litigation expenses; and 6) Cost of suit. SO ORDERED.3 Meanwhile, spouses Hulst divorced. Ida assigned her rights over the purchased property to petitioner.4 From then on, petitioner alone pursued the case. On August 21, 1997, the HLURB Arbiter issued a Writ of Execution addressed to the ExOfficio Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Tanauan, Batangas directing the latter to execute its judgment.5 On April 13, 1998, the Ex-Officio Sheriff proceeded to implement the Writ of Execution. However, upon complaint of respondent with the CA on a Petition for Certiorari and

PROPERTIES REALTY CORPORATION represented by Ma, Chandra Cacho (par. 7, Sheriff's Return) and the auction sale proceedings was timely objected by Respondent's counsel (par. 6, Sheriff's Return) due to the pendency of the Urgent Motion to Quash the Writ of Levy which was filed prior to the execution sale. Besides, what is at issue is not the value of the subject properties as determined during the auction sale, but the determination of the value of the properties levied upon by the Sheriff taking into consideration Section 9(b) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure x x x. xxxx It is very clear from the foregoing that, even during levy, the Sheriff has to consider the fair market value of the properties levied upon to determine whether they are sufficient to satisfy the judgment, and any levy in excess of the judgment award is void (Buan v. Court of Appeals, 235 SCRA 424). x x x x18 (Emphasis supplied). The dispositive portion of the Order reads: WHEREFORE, the levy on the subject properties made by the Ex-Officio Sheriff of the RTC of Tanauan, Batangas, is hereby SET ASIDE and the said Sheriff is hereby directed to levy instead Respondent's real properties that are reasonably sufficient to enforce its final and executory judgment, this time, taking into consideration not only the value of the properties as indicated in their respective tax declarations, but also all the other determinants at arriving at a fair market value, namely: the cost of acquisition, the current value of like properties, its actual or potential uses, and in the particular case of lands, their size, shape or location, and the tax declarations thereon. SO ORDERED.19 A motion for reconsideration being a prohibited pleading under Section 1(h), Rule IV of the 1996 HLURB Rules and Procedure, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with the CA on September 27, 2000. On October 30, 2002, the CA rendered herein assailed Decision 20 dismissing the petition. The CA held that petitioner's insistence that Barrozo v. Macaraeg21 does not apply since said case stated that "when there is a right to redeem inadequacy of price should not be material" holds no water as what is obtaining in this case is not "mere inadequacy," but an inadequacy that shocks the senses; that Buan v. Court of Appeals22 properly applies since the questioned levy covered 15 parcels of land posited to have an aggregate value of P83,616,000.00 which shockingly exceeded the judgment debt of only around P6,000,000.00. Without filing a motion for reconsideration, 23 petitioner took the present recourse on the sole ground that: THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE ARBITER'S ORDER SETTING ASIDE THE LEVY MADE BY THE SHERIFF ON THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES.24 Before resolving the question whether the CA erred in affirming the Order of the HLURB setting aside the levy made by the sheriff, it behooves this Court to address a matter of public and national importance which completely escaped the attention of the HLURB Arbiter and the CA: petitioner and his wife are foreign nationals who are disqualified under the Constitution from owning real property in their names.

Section 7 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution provides: Sec. 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. (Emphasis supplied). The capacity to acquire private land is made dependent upon the capacity to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Private land may be transferred or conveyed only to individuals or entities "qualified to acquire lands of the public domain." The 1987 Constitution reserved the right to participate in the disposition, exploitation, development and utilization of lands of the public domain for Filipino citizens 25 or corporations at least 60 percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos. 26 Aliens, whether individuals or corporations, have been disqualified from acquiring public lands; hence, they have also been disqualified from acquiring private lands.27 Since petitioner and his wife, being Dutch nationals, are proscribed under the Constitution from acquiring and owning real property, it is unequivocal that the Contract to Sell entered into by petitioner together with his wife and respondent is void. Under Article 1409 (1) and (7) of the Civil Code, all contracts whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law or public policy and those expressly prohibited or declared void by law are inexistent and void from the beginning. Article 1410 of the same Code provides that the action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe. A void contract is equivalent to nothing; it produces no civil effect.28 It does not create, modify or extinguish a juridical relation.29 Generally, parties to a void agreement cannot expect the aid of the law; the courts leave them as they are, because they are deemed in pari delicto or "in equal fault."30 In pari delicto is "a universal doctrine which holds that no action arises, in equity or at law, from an illegal contract; no suit can be maintained for its specific performance, or to recover the property agreed to be sold or delivered, or the money agreed to be paid, or damages for its violation; and where the parties are in pari delicto, no affirmative relief of any kind will be given to one against the other."31 This rule, however, is subject to exceptions 32 that permit the return of that which may have been given under a void contract to: (a) the innocent party (Arts. 1411-1412, Civil Code);33 (b) the debtor who pays usurious interest (Art. 1413, Civil Code);34 (c) the party repudiating the void contract before the illegal purpose is accomplished or before damage is caused to a third person and if public interest is subserved by allowing recovery (Art. 1414, Civil Code);35 (d) the incapacitated party if the interest of justice so demands (Art. 1415, Civil Code);36 (e) the party for whose protection the prohibition by law is intended if the agreement is not illegal per se but merely prohibited and if public policy would be enhanced by permitting recovery (Art. 1416, Civil Code); 37 and (f) the party for whose benefit the law has been intended such as in price ceiling laws (Art. 1417, Civil Code)38 and labor laws (Arts. 1418-1419, Civil Code).39 It is significant to note that the agreement executed by the parties in this case is a Contract to Sell and not a contract of sale. A distinction between the two is material in the determination of when ownership is deemed to have been transferred to the buyer or vendee and, ultimately, the resolution of the question on whether the constitutional proscription has been breached. In a contract of sale, the title passes to the buyer upon the delivery of the thing sold. The vendor has lost and cannot recover the ownership of the property until and unless the contract of sale is itself resolved and set aside. 40 On the other hand, a contract to sell is akin to a conditional sale where the efficacy or obligatory force of the vendor's obligation to transfer title is subordinated to the happening of a future and uncertain event, so that if the suspensive condition does not take place, the parties would stand as if the conditional

obligation had never existed.41 In other words, in a contract to sell, the prospective seller agrees to transfer ownership of the property to the buyer upon the happening of an event, which normally is the full payment of the purchase price. But even upon the fulfillment of the suspensive condition, ownership does not automatically transfer to the buyer. The prospective seller still has to convey title to the prospective buyer by executing a contract of absolute sale.42 Since the contract involved here is a Contract to Sell, ownership has not yet transferred to the petitioner when he filed the suit for rescission. While the intent to circumvent the constitutional proscription on aliens owning real property was evident by virtue of the execution of the Contract to Sell, such violation of the law did not materialize because petitioner caused the rescission of the contract before the execution of the final deed transferring ownership. Thus, exception (c) finds application in this case. Under Article 1414, one who repudiates the agreement and demands his money before the illegal act has taken place is entitled to recover. Petitioner is therefore entitled to recover what he has paid, although the basis of his claim for rescission, which was granted by the HLURB, was not the fact that he is not allowed to acquire private land under the Philippine Constitution. But petitioner is entitled to the recovery only of the amount of P3,187,500.00, representing the purchase price paid to respondent. No damages may be recovered on the basis of a void contract; being nonexistent, the agreement produces no juridical tie between the parties involved. 43 Further, petitioner is not entitled to actual as well as interests thereon,44 moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees. The Court takes into consideration the fact that the HLURB Decision dated April 22, 1997 has long been final and executory. Nothing is more settled in the law than that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it was made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land.45 The only recognized exceptions to the general rule are the correction of clerical errors, the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision rendering its execution unjust and inequitable. 46 None of the exceptions is present in this case. The HLURB decision cannot be considered a void judgment, as it was rendered by a tribunal with jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint.47 Ineluctably, the HLURB Decision resulted in the unjust enrichment of petitioner at the expense of respondent. Petitioner received more than what he is entitled to recover under the circumstances. Article 22 of the Civil Code which embodies the maxim, nemo ex alterius incommode debet lecupletari (no man ought to be made rich out of another's injury), states: Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him. The above-quoted article is part of the chapter of the Civil Code on Human Relations, the provisions of which were formulated as basic principles to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social order; designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience; guides for human conduct that should run as golden threads through society to the end that law may approach its supreme ideal which is the sway and dominance of justice. 48 There is unjust enrichment when a person unjustly retains a benefit at the loss of another, or when a person retains money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience.49

A sense of justice and fairness demands that petitioner should not be allowed to benefit from his act of entering into a contract to sell that violates the constitutional proscription. This is not a case of equity overruling or supplanting a positive provision of law or judicial rule. Rather, equity is exercised in this case "as the complement of legal jurisdiction [that] seeks to reach and to complete justice where courts of law, through the inflexibility of their rules and want of power to adapt their judgments to the special circumstances of cases, are incompetent to do so."50 The purpose of the exercise of equity jurisdiction in this case is to prevent unjust enrichment and to ensure restitution. Equity jurisdiction aims to do complete justice in cases where a court of law is unable to adapt its judgments to the special circumstances of a case because of the inflexibility of its statutory or legal jurisdiction. 51 The sheriff delivered to petitioner the amount of P5,313,040.00 representing the net proceeds (bidded amount is P5,450,653.33) of the auction sale after deducting the legal fees in the amount of P137,613.33.52 Petitioner is only entitled to P3,187,500.00, the amount of the purchase price of the real property paid by petitioner to respondent under the Contract to Sell. Thus, the Court in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction may validly order petitioner to return the excess amount of P2,125,540.00. The Court shall now proceed to resolve the single issue raised in the present petition: whether the CA seriously erred in affirming the HLURB Order setting aside the levy made by the Sheriff on the subject properties. Petitioner avers that the HLURB Arbiter and Director had no factual basis for pegging the fair market value of the levied properties at P6,500.00 per sq m or P83,616,000.00; that reliance on the appraisal report was misplaced since the appraisal was based on the value of land in neighboring developed subdivisions and on the assumption that the residential unit appraised had already been built; that the Sheriff need not determine the fair market value of the subject properties before levying on the same since what is material is the amount for which the properties were bidded and sold during the public auction; that the pendency of any motion is not a valid ground for the Sheriff to suspend the execution proceedings and, by itself, does not have the effect of restraining the Sheriff from proceeding with the execution. Respondent, on the other hand, contends that while it is true that the HLURB Arbiter and Director did not categorically state the exact value of the levied properties, said properties cannot just amount to P6,000,000.00; that the HLURB Arbiter and Director correctly held that the value indicated in the tax declaration is not the sole determinant of the value of the property. The petition is impressed with merit. If the judgment is for money, the sheriff or other authorized officer must execute the same pursuant to the provisions of Section 9, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court, viz: Sec. 9. Execution of judgments for money, how enforced. (a) Immediate payment on demand. - The officer shall enforce an execution of a judgment for money by demanding from the judgment obligor the immediate payment of the full amount stated in the writ of execution and all lawful fees. x x x (b) Satisfaction by levy. - If the judgment obligor cannot pay all or part of the obligation in cash, certified bank check or other mode of payment acceptable to the judgment obligee, the officer shall levy upon the properties of the judgment obligor of every kind and nature whatsoever which may be disposed of for value and not otherwise exempt from execution, giving the latter the option to immediately choose which property or part thereof may be

levied upon, sufficient to satisfy the judgment. If the judgment obligor does not exercise the option, the officer shall first levy on the personal properties, if any, and then on the real properties if the personal properties are insufficient to answer for the judgment. The sheriff shall sell only a sufficient portion of the personal or real property of the judgment obligor which has been levied upon. When there is more property of the judgment obligor than is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and lawful fees, he must sell only so much of the personal or real property as is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and lawful fees. Real property, stocks, shares, debts, credits, and other personal property, or any interest in either real or personal property, may be levied upon in like manner and with like effect as under a writ of attachment (Emphasis supplied).53 Thus, under Rule 39, in executing a money judgment against the property of the judgment debtor, the sheriff shall levy on all property belonging to the judgment debtor as is amply sufficient to satisfy the judgment and costs, and sell the same paying to the judgment creditor so much of the proceeds as will satisfy the amount of the judgment debt and costs. Any excess in the proceeds shall be delivered to the judgment debtor unless otherwise directed by the judgment or order of the court. 54 Clearly, there are two stages in the execution of money judgments. First, the levy and then the execution sale. Levy has been defined as the act or acts by which an officer sets apart or appropriates a part or the whole of a judgment debtor's property for the purpose of satisfying the command of the writ of execution.55 The object of a levy is to take property into the custody of the law, and thereby render it liable to the lien of the execution, and put it out of the power of the judgment debtor to divert it to any other use or purpose. 56 On the other hand, an execution sale is a sale by a sheriff or other ministerial officer under the authority of a writ of execution of the levied property of the debtor. 57 In the present case, the HLURB Arbiter and Director gravely abused their discretion in setting aside the levy conducted by the Sheriff for the reason that the auction sale conducted by the sheriff rendered moot and academic the motion to quash the levy. The HLURB Arbiter lost jurisdiction to act on the motion to quash the levy by virtue of the consummation of the auction sale. Absent any order from the HLURB suspending the auction sale, the sheriff rightfully proceeded with the auction sale. The winning bidder had already paid the winning bid. The legal fees had already been remitted to the HLURB. The judgment award had already been turned over to the judgment creditor. What was left to be done was only the issuance of the corresponding certificates of sale to the winning bidder. In fact, only the signature of the HLURB Director for that purpose was needed 58 a purely ministerial act. A purely ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard for or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion nor judgment.59 In the present case, all the requirements of auction sale under the Rules have been fully complied with to warrant the issuance of the corresponding certificates of sale.

And even if the Court should go into the merits of the assailed Order, the petition is meritorious on the following grounds: Firstly, the reliance of the HLURB Arbiter and Director, as well as the CA, on Barrozo v. Macaraeg60 and Buan v. Court of Appeals61 is misplaced. The HLURB and the CA misconstrued the Court's pronouncements in Barrozo. Barrozo involved a judgment debtor who wanted to repurchase properties sold at execution beyond the one-year redemption period. The statement of the Court in Barrozo, that "only where such inadequacy shocks the conscience the courts will intervene," is at best a mere obiter dictum. This declaration should be taken in the context of the other declarations of the Court in Barrozo, to wit: Another point raised by appellant is that the price paid at the auction sale was so inadequate as to shock the conscience of the court. Supposing that this issue is open even after the one-year period has expired and after the properties have passed into the hands of third persons who may have paid a price higher than the auction sale money, the first thing to consider is that the stipulation contains no statement of the reasonable value of the properties; and although defendant' answer avers that the assessed value was P3,960 it also avers that their real market value was P2,000 only. Anyway, mere inadequacy of price which was the complaint' allegation is not sufficient ground to annul the sale. It is only where such inadequacy shocks the conscience that the courts will intervene. x x x Another consideration is that the assessed value being P3,960 and the purchase price being in effect P1,864 (P464 sale price plus P1,400 mortgage lien which had to be discharged) the conscience is not shocked upon examining the prices paid in the sales in National Bank v. Gonzales, 45 Phil., 693 and Guerrero v. Guerrero, 57 Phil., 445, sales which were left undisturbed by this Court. Furthermore, where there is the right to redeem as in this case inadequacy of price should not be material because the judgment debtor may re-acquire the property or else sell his right to redeem and thus recover any loss he claims to have suffered by reason of the price obtained at the execution sale. x x x x (Emphasis supplied).62 In other words, gross inadequacy of price does not nullify an execution sale. In an ordinary sale, for reason of equity, a transaction may be invalidated on the ground of inadequacy of price, or when such inadequacy shocks one's conscience as to justify the courts to interfere; such does not follow when the law gives the owner the right to redeem as when a sale is made at public auction,63 upon the theory that the lesser the price, the easier it is for the owner to effect redemption.64 When there is a right to redeem, inadequacy of price should not be material because the judgment debtor may re-acquire the property or else sell his right to redeem and thus recover any loss he claims to have suffered by reason of the price obtained at the execution sale. 65 Thus, respondent stood to gain rather than be harmed by the low sale value of the auctioned properties because it possesses the right of redemption. More importantly, the subject matter in Barrozo is the auction sale, not the levy made by the Sheriff. The Court does not sanction the piecemeal interpretation of a decision. To get the true intent and meaning of a decision, no specific portion thereof should be isolated and resorted to, but the decision must be considered in its entirety. 66 As regards Buan, it is cast under an entirely different factual milieu. It involved the levy on two parcels of land owned by the judgment debtor; and the sale at public auction of one was sufficient to fully satisfy the judgment, such that the levy and attempted execution of

the second parcel of land was declared void for being in excess of and beyond the original judgment award granted in favor of the judgment creditor. In the present case, the Sheriff complied with the mandate of Section 9, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court, to "sell only a sufficient portion" of the levied properties "as is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and the lawful fees." Each of the 15 levied properties was successively bidded upon and sold, one after the other until the judgment debt and the lawful fees were fully satisfied. Holly Properties Realty Corporation successively bidded upon and bought each of the levied properties for the total amount of P5,450,653.33 in full satisfaction of the judgment award and legal fees.67 Secondly, the Rules of Court do not require that the value of the property levied be exactly the same as the judgment debt; it can be less or more than the amount of debt. This is the contingency addressed by Section 9, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. In the levy of property, the Sheriff does not determine the exact valuation of the levied property. Under Section 9, Rule 39, in conjunction with Section 7, Rule 57 of the Rules of Court, the sheriff is required to do only two specific things to effect a levy upon a realty: (a) file with the register of deeds a copy of the order of execution, together with the description of the levied property and notice of execution; and (b) leave with the occupant of the property copy of the same order, description and notice.68 Records do not show that respondent alleged noncompliance by the Sheriff of said requisites. Thirdly, in determining what amount of property is sufficient out of which to secure satisfaction of the execution, the Sheriff is left to his own judgment. He may exercise a reasonable discretion, and must exercise the care which a reasonably prudent person would exercise under like conditions and circumstances, endeavoring on the one hand to obtain sufficient property to satisfy the purposes of the writ, and on the other hand not to make an unreasonable and unnecessary levy. 69 Because it is impossible to know the precise quantity of land or other property necessary to satisfy an execution, the Sheriff should be allowed a reasonable margin between the value of the property levied upon and the amount of the execution; the fact that the Sheriff levies upon a little more than is necessary to satisfy the execution does not render his actions improper.70 Section 9, Rule 39, provides adequate safeguards against excessive levying. The Sheriff is mandated to sell so much only of such real property as is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and lawful fees. In the absence of a restraining order, no error, much less abuse of discretion, can be imputed to the Sheriff in proceeding with the auction sale despite the pending motion to quash the levy filed by the respondents with the HLURB. It is elementary that sheriffs, as officers charged with the delicate task of the enforcement and/or implementation of judgments, must, in the absence of a restraining order, act with considerable dispatch so as not to unduly delay the administration of justice; otherwise, the decisions, orders, or other processes of the courts of justice and the like would be futile. 71 It is not within the jurisdiction of the Sheriff to consider, much less resolve, respondent's objection to the continuation of the conduct of the auction sale. The Sheriff has no authority, on his own, to suspend the auction sale. His duty being ministerial, he has no discretion to postpone the conduct of the auction sale. Finally, one who attacks a levy on the ground of excessiveness carries the burden of sustaining that contention.72 In the determination of whether a levy of execution is excessive, it is proper to take into consideration encumbrances upon the property, as well as the fact that a forced sale usually results in a sacrifice; that is, the price demanded for the property upon a private sale is not the standard for determining the excessiveness of the levy.73 Here, the HLURB Arbiter and Director had no sufficient factual basis to determine the value of the levied property. Respondent only submitted an Appraisal Report, based

merely on surmises. The Report was based on the projected value of the townhouse project after it shall have been fully developed, that is, on the assumption that the residential units appraised had already been built. The Appraiser in fact made this qualification in its Appraisal Report: "[t]he property subject of this appraisal has not been constructed. The basis of the appraiser is on the existing model units."74 Since it is undisputed that the townhouse project did not push through, the projected value did not become a reality. Thus, the appraisal value cannot be equated with the fair market value. The Appraisal Report is not the best proof to accurately show the value of the levied properties as it is clearly self-serving. Therefore, the Order dated August 28, 2000 of HLURB Arbiter Aquino and Director Ceniza in HLRB Case No. IV6-071196-0618 which set aside the sheriff's levy on respondent's real properties, was clearly issued with grave abuse of discretion. The CA erred in affirming said Order. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated October 30, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 60981 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Order dated August 28, 2000 of HLURB Arbiter Ma. Perpetua Y. Aquino and Director Belen G. Ceniza in HLRB Case No. IV6-071196-0618 is declared NULL and VOID. HLURB Arbiter Aquino and Director Ceniza are directed to issue the corresponding certificates of sale in favor of the winning bidder, Holly Properties Realty Corporation. Petitioner is ordered to return to respondent the amount of P2,125,540.00, without interest, in excess of the proceeds of the auction sale delivered to petitioner. After the finality of herein judgment, the amount of P2,125,540.00 shall earn 6% interest until fully paid. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 124293 January 31, 2005

latter's right of first refusal under the JVA be "exchanged" for the right to top by five percent (5%) the highest bid for the said shares. They further agreed that KAWASAKI would be entitled to name a company in which it was a stockholder, which could exercise the right to top. On September 7, 1990, KAWASAKI informed APT that Philyards Holdings, Inc. (PHI) 1 would exercise its right to top. At the pre-bidding conference held on September 18, 1993, interested bidders were given copies of the JVA between NIDC and KAWASAKI, and of the Asset Specific Bidding Rules (ASBR) drafted for the National Government's 87.6% equity share in PHILSECO. The provisions of the ASBR were explained to the interested bidders who were notified that the bidding would be held on December 2, 1993. A portion of the ASBR reads: 1.0 The subject of this Asset Privatization Trust (APT) sale through public bidding is the National Government's equity in PHILSECO consisting of 896,869,942 shares of stock (representing 87.67% of PHILSECO's outstanding capital stock), which will be sold as a whole block in accordance with the rules herein enumerated. xxx xxx xxx 2.0 The highest bid, as well as the buyer, shall be subject to the final approval of both the APT Board of Trustees and the Committee on Privatization (COP). 2.1 APT reserves the right in its sole discretion, to reject any or all bids. 3.0 This public bidding shall be on an Indicative Price Bidding basis. The Indicative price set for the National Government's 87.67% equity in PHILSECO is PESOS: ONE BILLION THREE HUNDRED MILLION (P1,300,000,000.00). xxx xxx xxx 6.0 The highest qualified bid will be submitted to the APT Board of Trustees at its regular meeting following the bidding, for the purpose of determining whether or not it should be endorsed by the APT Board of Trustees to the COP, and the latter approves the same. The APT shall advise Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or its nominee, [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc., that the highest bid is acceptable to the National Government. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. shall then have a period of thirty (30) calendar days from the date of receipt of such advice from APT within which to exercise their "Option to Top the Highest Bid" by offering a bid equivalent to the highest bid plus five (5%) percent thereof. 6.1 Should Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. exercise their "Option to Top the Highest Bid," they shall so notify the APT about such exercise of their option and deposit with APT the amount equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the highest bid plus five percent (5%) thereof within the thirty (30)-day period mentioned in paragraph 6.0 above. APT will then serve notice upon Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. declaring them as the preferred bidder and they shall have a period of ninety (90) days from the receipt of the APT's notice within which to pay the balance of their bid price. 6.2 Should Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. fail to exercise their "Option to Top the Highest Bid" within the thirty (30)-day period, APT will declare the highest bidder as the winning bidder. xxx xxx xxx 12.0 The bidder shall be solely responsible for examining with appropriate care these rules, the official bid forms, including any addenda or amendments thereto issued during the bidding period. The bidder shall likewise be responsible for informing itself with respect to any and all conditions concerning the PHILSECO Shares which may, in any manner,

J.G. SUMMIT HOLDINGS, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS; COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION, its Chairman and Members; ASSET PRIVATIZATION TRUST; and PHILYARDS HOLDINGS, INC., respondents. RESOLUTION PUNO, J.: For resolution before this Court are two motions filed by the petitioner, J.G. Summit Holdings, Inc. for reconsideration of our Resolution dated September 24, 2003 and to elevate this case to the Court En Banc. The petitioner questions the Resolution which reversed our Decision of November 20, 2000, which in turn reversed and set aside a Decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on July 18, 1995. I. Facts The undisputed facts of the case, as set forth in our Resolution of September 24, 2003, are as follows: On January 27, 1997, the National Investment and Development Corporation (NIDC), a government corporation, entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. of Kobe, Japan (KAWASAKI) for the construction, operation and management of the Subic National Shipyard, Inc. (SNS) which subsequently became the Philippine Shipyard and Engineering Corporation (PHILSECO). Under the JVA, the NIDC and KAWASAKI will contribute P330 million for the capitalization of PHILSECO in the proportion of 60%-40% respectively. One of its salient features is the grant to the parties of the right of first refusal should either of them decide to sell, assign or transfer its interest in the joint venture, viz: 1.4 Neither party shall sell, transfer or assign all or any part of its interest in SNS [PHILSECO] to any third party without giving the other under the same terms the right of first refusal. This provision shall not apply if the transferee is a corporation owned or controlled by the GOVERNMENT or by a KAWASAKI affiliate. On November 25, 1986, NIDC transferred all its rights, title and interest in PHILSECO to the Philippine National Bank (PNB). Such interests were subsequently transferred to the National Government pursuant to Administrative Order No. 14. On December 8, 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 50 establishing the Committee on Privatization (COP) and the Asset Privatization Trust (APT) to take title to, and possession of, conserve, manage and dispose of non-performing assets of the National Government. Thereafter, on February 27, 1987, a trust agreement was entered into between the National Government and the APT wherein the latter was named the trustee of the National Government's share in PHILSECO. In 1989, as a result of a quasi-reorganization of PHILSECO to settle its huge obligations to PNB, the National Government's shareholdings in PHILSECO increased to 97.41% thereby reducing KAWASAKI's shareholdings to 2.59%. In the interest of the national economy and the government, the COP and the APT deemed it best to sell the National Government's share in PHILSECO to private entities. After a series of negotiations between the APT and KAWASAKI, they agreed that the

affect the bidder's proposal. Failure on the part of the bidder to so examine and inform itself shall be its sole risk and no relief for error or omission will be given by APT or COP. . .. At the public bidding on the said date, petitioner J.G. Summit Holdings, Inc. 2 submitted a bid of Two Billion and Thirty Million Pesos (P2,030,000,000.00) with an acknowledgment of KAWASAKI/[PHILYARDS'] right to top, viz: 4. I/We understand that the Committee on Privatization (COP) has up to thirty (30) days to act on APT's recommendation based on the result of this bidding. Should the COP approve the highest bid, APT shall advise Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or its nominee, [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. that the highest bid is acceptable to the National Government. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc. and/or [PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. shall then have a period of thirty (30) calendar days from the date of receipt of such advice from APT within which to exercise their "Option to Top the Highest Bid" by offering a bid equivalent to the highest bid plus five (5%) percent thereof. As petitioner was declared the highest bidder, the COP approved the sale on December 3, 1993 "subject to the right of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Inc./[PHILYARDS] Holdings, Inc. to top JGSMI's bid by 5% as specified in the bidding rules." On December 29, 1993, petitioner informed APT that it was protesting the offer of PHI to top its bid on the grounds that: (a) the KAWASAKI/PHI consortium composed of KAWASAKI, [PHILYARDS], Mitsui, Keppel, SM Group, ICTSI and Insular Life violated the ASBR because the last four (4) companies were the losing bidders thereby circumventing the law and prejudicing the weak winning bidder; (b) only KAWASAKI could exercise the right to top; (c) giving the same option to top to PHI constituted unwarranted benefit to a third party; (d) no right of first refusal can be exercised in a public bidding or auction sale; and (e) the JG Summit consortium was not estopped from questioning the proceedings. On February 2, 1994, petitioner was notified that PHI had fully paid the balance of the purchase price of the subject bidding. On February 7, 1994, the APT notified petitioner that PHI had exercised its option to top the highest bid and that the COP had approved the same on January 6, 1994. On February 24, 1994, the APT and PHI executed a Stock Purchase Agreement. Consequently, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for Mandamus under G.R. No. 114057. On May 11, 1994, said petition was referred to the Court of Appeals. On July 18, 1995, the Court of Appeals denied the same for lack of merit. It ruled that the petition for mandamus was not the proper remedy to question the constitutionality or legality of the right of first refusal and the right to top that was exercised by KAWASAKI/PHI, and that the matter must be brought "by the proper party in the proper forum at the proper time and threshed out in a full blown trial." The Court of Appeals further ruled that the right of first refusal and the right to top are prima facie legal and that the petitioner, "by participating in the public bidding, with full knowledge of the right to top granted to KAWASAKI/[PHILYARDS] isestopped from questioning the validity of the award given to [PHILYARDS] after the latter exercised the right to top and had paid in full the purchase price of the subject shares, pursuant to the ASBR." Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said Decision which was denied on March 15, 1996. Petitioner thus filed a Petition for Certiorari with this Court alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the appellate court. On November 20, 2000, this Court rendered x x x [a] Decision ruling among others that the Court of Appeals erred when it dismissed the petition on the sole ground of the impropriety of the special civil action of mandamus because the petition was also one of certiorari. It further ruled that a shipyard like PHILSECO is a public utility whose capitalization must be sixty percent (60%) Filipino-owned. Consequently, the right to top granted to KAWASAKI under the Asset Specific Bidding Rules (ASBR) drafted for the sale of the 87.67% equity of the National Government in PHILSECO is illegal not only because it violates the rules

on competitive bidding but more so, because it allows foreign corporations to own more than 40% equity in the shipyard. It also held that "although the petitioner had the opportunity to examine the ASBR before it participated in the bidding, it cannot be estopped from questioning the unconstitutional, illegal and inequitable provisions thereof." Thus, this Court voided the transfer of the national government's 87.67% share in PHILSECO to Philyard[s] Holdings, Inc., and upheld the right of JG Summit, as the highest bidder, to take title to the said shares, viz: WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner is ordered to pay to APT its bid price of Two Billion Thirty Million Pesos (P2,030,000,000.00), less its bid deposit plus interests upon the finality of this Decision. In turn, APT is ordered to: (a) accept the said amount of P2,030,000,000.00 less bid deposit and interests from petitioner; (b) execute a Stock Purchase Agreement with petitioner; (c) cause the issuance in favor of petitioner of the certificates of stocks representing 87.6% of PHILSECO's total capitalization; (d) return to private respondent PHGI the amount of Two Billion One Hundred Thirty-One Million Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P2,131,500,000.00); and (e) cause the cancellation of the stock certificates issued to PHI. SO ORDERED. In separate Motions for Reconsideration, respondents submit[ted] three basic issues for x x x resolution: (1) Whether PHILSECO is a public utility; (2) Whether under the 1977 JVA, KAWASAKI can exercise its right of first refusal only up to 40% of the total capitalization of PHILSECO; and (3) Whether the right to top granted to KAWASAKI violates the principles of competitive bidding.3 (citations omitted) In a Resolution dated September 24, 2003, this Court ruled in favor of the respondents. On the first issue, we held that Philippine Shipyard and Engineering Corporation (PHILSECO) is not a public utility, as by nature, a shipyard is not a public utility 4 and that no law declares a shipyard to be a public utility. 5 On the second issue, we found nothing in the 1977 Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) which prevents Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. of Kobe, Japan (KAWASAKI) from acquiring more than 40% of PHILSECOs total capitalization.6 On the final issue, we held that the right to top granted to KAWASAKI in exchange for its right of first refusal did not violate the principles of competitive bidding.7 On October 20, 2003, the petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration 8 and a Motion to Elevate This Case to the Court En Banc.9 Public respondents Committee on Privatization (COP) and Asset Privatization Trust (APT), and private respondent Philyards Holdings, Inc. (PHILYARDS) filed their Comments on J.G. Summit Holdings, Inc.s (JG Summits) Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Elevate This Case to the Court En Banc on January 29, 2004 and February 3, 2004, respectively. II. Issues Based on the foregoing, the relevant issues to resolve to end this litigation are the following: 1. Whether there are sufficient bases to elevate the case at bar to the Court en banc.

2. Whether the motion for reconsideration raises any new matter or cogent reason to warrant a reconsideration of this Courts Resolution of September 24, 2003. Motion to Elevate this Case to the Court En Banc The petitioner prays for the elevation of the case to the Court en banc on the following grounds: 1. The main issue of the propriety of the bidding process involved in the present case has been confused with the policy issue of the supposed fate of the shipping industry which has never been an issue that is determinative of this case.10 2. The present case may be considered under the Supreme Court Resolution dated February 23, 1984 which included among en banc cases those involving a novel question of law and those where a doctrine or principle laid down by the Court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed. 11 3. There was clear executive interference in the judicial functions of the Court when the Honorable Jose Isidro Camacho, Secretary of Finance, forwarded to Chief Justice Davide, a memorandum dated November 5, 2001, attaching a copy of the Foreign Chambers Report dated October 17, 2001, which matter was placed in the agenda of the Court and noted by it in a formal resolution dated November 28, 2001.12 Opposing J.G. Summits motion to elevat e the case en banc, PHILYARDS points out the petitioners inconsistency in previously opposing PHILYARDS Motion to Refer the Case to the Court En Banc. PHILYARDS contends that J.G. Summit should now be estopped from asking that the case be referred to the Court en banc. PHILYARDS further contends that the Supreme Court en banc is not an appellate court to which decisions or resolutions of its divisions may be appealed citing Supreme Court Circular No. 2-89 dated February 7, 1989.13 PHILYARDS also alleges that there is no novel question of law involved in the present case as the assailed Resolution was based on well-settled jurisprudence. Likewise, PHILYARDS stresses that the Resolution was merely an outcome of the motions for reconsideration filed by it and the COP and APT and is "consistent with the inherent power of courts to amend and control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice. (Rule 135, sec. 5)"14 Private respondent belittles the petitioners allegations regarding the change in ponente and the alleged executive interference as shown by former Secretary of Finance Jose Isidro Camachos memorandum dated November 5, 2001 arguing that these do not justify a referral of the present case to the Court en banc. In insisting that its Motion to Elevate This Case to the Court En Banc should be granted, J.G. Summit further argued that: its Opposition to the Office of the Solicitor Generals Motion to Refer is different from its own Motion to Elevate; different grounds are invoked by the two motions; there was unwarranted "executive interference"; and the change in ponente is merely noted in asserting that this case should be decided by the Court en banc.15 We find no merit in petitioners content ion that the propriety of the bidding process involved in the present case has been confused with the policy issue of the fate of the shipping industry which, petitioner maintains, has never been an issue that is determinative of this case. The Courts Resolution of September 24, 2003 reveals a clear and definitive ruling on the propriety of the bidding process. In discussing whether the right to top granted to KAWASAKI in exchange for its right of first refusal violates the principles of competitive

bidding, we made an exhaustive discourse on the rules and principles of public bidding and whether they were complied with in the case at bar. 16 This Court categorically ruled on the petitioners argument that PHILSECO, as a shipyard, is a public utility which should maintain a 60%-40% Filipino-foreign equity ratio, as it was a pivotal issue. In doing so, we recognized the impact of our ruling on the shipbuilding industry which was beyond avoidance.17 We reject petitioners argument that the present case may be considered under the Supreme Court Resolution dated February 23, 1984 which included among en banc cases those involving a novel question of law and those where a doctrine or principle laid down by the court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed. The case was resolved based on basic principles of the right of first refusal in commercial law and estoppel in civil law. Contractual obligations arising from rights of first refusal are not new in this jurisdiction and have been recognized in numerous cases.18 Estoppel is too known a civil law concept to require an elongated discussion. Fundamental principles on public bidding were likewise used to resolve the issues raised by the petitioner. To be sure, petitioner leans on the right to top in a public bidding in arguing that the case at bar involves a novel issue. We are not swayed. The right to top was merely a condition or a reservation made in the bidding rules which was fully disclosed to all bidding parties. In Bureau Veritas, represented by Theodor H. Hunermann v. Office of the President, et al ., 19 we dealt with this conditionality, viz: x x x It must be stressed, as held in the case of A.C. Esguerra & Sons v. Aytona, et al., (L18751, 28 April 1962, 4 SCRA 1245), that in an "invitation to bid, there is a condition imposed upon the bidders to the effect that the bidding shall be subject to the right of the government to reject any and all bids subject to its discretion. In the case at bar, the government has made its choice and unless an unfairness or injustice is shown, the losing bidders have no cause to complain nor right to dispute that choice. This is a well-settled doctrine in this jurisdiction and elsewhere." The discretion to accept or reject a bid and award contracts is vested in the Government agencies entrusted with that function. The discretion given to the authorities on this matter is of such wide latitude that the Courts will not interfere therewith, unless it is apparent that it is used as a shield to a fraudulent award (Jalandoni v. NARRA, 108 Phil. 486 [1960]). x x x The exercise of this discretion is a policy decision that necessitates prior inquiry, investigation, comparison, evaluation, and deliberation. This task can best be discharged by the Government agencies concerned, not by the Courts. The role of the Courts is to ascertain whether a branch or instrumentality of the Government has transgressed its constitutional boundaries. But the Courts will not interfere with executive or legislative discretion exercised within those boundaries. Otherwise, it strays into the realm of policy decision-making. It is only upon a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion that the Courts will set aside the award of a contract made by a government entity. Grave abuse of discretion implies a capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power (Filinvest Credit Corp. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, No. 65935, 30 September 1988, 166 SCRA 155). The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, as to act at all in contemplation of law, where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility (Litton Mills, Inc. v. Galleon Trader, Inc., et al[.], L-40867, 26 July 1988, 163 SCRA 489). The facts in this case do not indicate any such grave abuse of discretion on the part of public respondents when they awarded the CISS contract to Respondent SGS. In the "Invitation to Prequalify and Bid" (Annex "C," supra), the CISS Committee made an express reservation of the right of the Government to "reject any or all bids or any part thereof or waive any defects contained thereon and accept an offer most

advantageous to the Government." It is a well-settled rule that where such reservation is made in an Invitation to Bid, the highest or lowest bidder, as the case may be, is not entitled to an award as a matter of right (C & C Commercial Corp. v. Menor, L-28360, 27 January 1983, 120 SCRA 112). Even the lowest Bid or any Bid may be rejected or, in the exercise of sound discretion, the award may be made to another than the lowest bidder (A.C. Esguerra & Sons v. Aytona, supra, citing 43 Am. Jur., 788). (emphases supplied)1awphi1.nt Like the condition in the Bureau Veritas case, the right to top was a condition imposed by the government in the bidding rules which was made known to all parties. It was a condition imposed on all bidders equally, based on the APTs exercise of its discretion in deciding on how best to privatize the governments shares i n PHILSECO. It was not a whimsical or arbitrary condition plucked from the ether and inserted in the bidding rules but a condition which the APT approved as the best way the government could comply with its contractual obligations to KAWASAKI under the JVA and its mandate of getting the most advantageous deal for the government. The right to top had its history in the mutual right of first refusal in the JVA and was reached by agreement of the government and KAWASAKI. Further, there is no "executive interference" in the functions of this Court by the mere filing of a memorandum by Secretary of Finance Jose Isidro Camacho. The memorandum was merely "noted" to acknowledge its filing. It had no further legal significance. Notably too, the assailed Resolution dated September 24, 2003 was decided unanimously by the Special First Division in favor of the respondents. Again, we emphasize that a decision or resolution of a Division is that of the Supreme Court20 and the Court en banc is not an appellate court to which decisions or resolutions of a Division may be appealed.21 For all the foregoing reasons, we find no basis to elevate this case to the Court en banc. Motion for Reconsideration Three principal arguments were raised in the petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. First, that a fair resolution of the case should be based on contract law, not on policy considerations; the contracts do not authorize the right to top to be derived from the right of first refusal.22 Second, that neither the right of first refusal nor the right to top can be legally exercised by the consortium which is not the proper party granted such right under either the JVA or the Asset Specific Bidding Rules (ASBR).23 Third, that the maintenance of the 60%-40% relationship between the National Investment and Development Corporation (NIDC) and KAWASAKI arises from contract and from the Constitution because PHILSECO is a landholding corporation and need not be a public utility to be bound by the 60%-40% constitutional limitation.24 On the other hand, private respondent PHILYARDS asserts that J.G. Summit has not been able to show compelling reasons to warrant a reconsideration of the Decision of the Court.25 PHILYARDS denies that the Decision is based mainly on policy considerations and points out that it is premised on principles governing obligations and contracts and corporate law such as the rule requiring respect for contractual stipulations, upholding rights of first refusal, and recognizing the assignable nature of contracts rights. 26 Also, the ruling that shipyards are not public utilities relies on established case law and fundamental rules of statutory construction. PHILYARDS stresses that KAWASAKIs right of first refusal or even the right to top is not limited to the 40% equity of the latter.27 On the landholding issue raised by J.G. Summit, PHILYARDS emphasizes that this is a non-issue and even involves a question of fact. Even assuming that this Court can take cognizance of such question of fact even without the benefit of a trial, PHILYARDS opines that landholding by PHILSECO at the time of the bidding is irrelevant because what is essential is that

ultimately a qualified entity would eventually hold PHILSECOs real estate properties. 28 Further, given the assignable nature of the right of first refusal, any applicable nationality restrictions, including landholding limitations, would not affect the right of first refusal itself, but only the manner of its exercise.29 Also, PHILYARDS argues that if this Court takes cognizance of J.G. Summits allegations of fact regarding PHILSECOs landholding, it must also recognize PHILYARDS assertions that PHILSECOs landholdings were sold to another corporation.30 As regards the right of first refusal, private respondent explains that KAWASAKIs reduced shareholdings (from 40% to 2.59%) did not translate to a deprivation or loss of its contractually granted right of first refusal.31 Also, the bidding was valid because PHILYARDS exercised the right to top and it was of no moment that losing bidders later joined PHILYARDS in raising the purchase price.32 In cadence with the private respondent PHILYARDS, public respondents COP and APT contend: 1. The conversion of the right of first refusal into a right to top by 5% does not violate any provision in the JVA between NIDC and KAWASAKI. 2. PHILSECO is not a public utility and therefore not governed by the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership. 3. The petitioner is legally estopped from assailing the validity of the proceedings of the public bidding as it voluntarily submitted itself to the terms of the ASBR which included the provision on the right to top. 4. The right to top was exercised by PHILYARDS as the nominee of KAWASAKI and the fact that PHILYARDS formed a consortium to raise the required amount to exercise the right to top the highest bid by 5% does not violate the JVA or the ASBR. 5. The 60%-40% Filipino-foreign constitutional requirement for the acquisition of lands does not apply to PHILSECO because as admitted by petitioner itself, PHILSECO no longer owns real property. 6. Petitioners motion to elevate the case to the Court en banc is baseless and would only delay the termination of this case.33 In a Consolidated Comment dated March 8, 2004, J.G. Summit countered the arguments of the public and private respondents in this wise: 1. The award by the APT of 87.67% shares of PHILSECO to PHILYARDS with losing bidders through the exercise of a right to top, which is contrary to law and the constitution is null and void for being violative of substantive due process and the abuse of right provision in the Civil Code. a. The bidders[] right to top was actually exercised by losing bidders. b. The right to top or the right of first refusal cannot co-exist with a genuine competitive bidding. c. The benefits derived from the right to top were unwarranted. 2. The landholding issue has been a legitimate issue since the start of this case but is shamelessly ignored by the respondents. a. The landholding issue is not a non-issue. b. The landholding issue does not pose questions of fact. c. That PHILSECO owned land at the time that the right of first refusal was agreed upon and at the time of the bidding are most relevant.

d. Whether a shipyard is a public utility is not the core issue in this case. 3. Fraud and bad faith attend the alleged conversion of an inexistent right of first refusal to the right to top. a. The history behind the birth of the right to top shows fraud and bad faith. b. The right of first refusal was, indeed, "effectively useless." 4. Petitioner is not legally estopped to challenge the right to top in this case. a. Estoppel is unavailing as it would stamp validity to an act that is prohibited by law or against public policy. b. Deception was patent; the right to top was an attractive nuisance. c. The 10% bid deposit was placed in escrow. J.G. Summits insistence that the right to top cannot be sourced from the right of first refusal is not new and we have already ruled on the issue in our Resolution of September 24, 2003. We upheld the mutual right of first refusal in the JVA. 34 We also ruled that nothing in the JVA prevents KAWASAKI from acquiring more than 40% of PHILSECOs total capitalization.35 Likewise, nothing in the JVA or ASBR bars the conversion of the right of first refusal to the right to top. In sum, nothing new and of significance in the petitioners pleading warrants a reconsideration of our ruling. Likewise, we already disposed of the argument that neither the right of first refusal nor the right to top can legally be exercised by the consortium which is not the proper party granted such right under either the JVA or the ASBR. Thus, we held: The fact that the losing bidder, Keppel Consortium (composed of Keppel, SM Group, Insular Life Assurance, Mitsui and ICTSI), has joined PHILYARDS in the latter's effort to raise P2.131 billion necessary in exercising the right to top is not contrary to law, public policy or public morals. There is nothing in the ASBR that bars the losing bidders from joining either the winning bidder (should the right to top is not exercised) or KAWASAKI/PHI (should it exercise its right to top as it did), to raise the purchase price. The petitioner did not allege, nor was it shown by competent evidence, that the participation of the losing bidders in the public bidding was done with fraudulent intent. Absent any proof of fraud, the formation by [PHILYARDS] of a consortium is legitimate in a free enterprise system. The appellate court is thus correct in holding the petitioner estopped from questioning the validity of the transfer of the National Government's shares in PHILSECO to respondent.36 Further, we see no inherent illegality on PHILYARDS act in seeking funding from parties who were losing bidders. This is a purely commercial decision over which the State should not interfere absent any legal infirmity. It is emphasized that the case at bar involves the disposition of shares in a corporation which the government sought to privatize. As such, the persons with whom PHILYARDS desired to enter into business with in order to raise funds to purchase the shares are basically its business. This is in contrast to a case involving a contract for the operation of or construction of a government infrastructure where the identity of the buyer/bidder or financier constitutes an important consideration. In such cases, the government would have to take utmost precaution to protect public interest by ensuring that the parties with which it is contracting have the ability to satisfactorily construct or operate the infrastructure. On the landholding issue, J.G. Summit submits that since PHILSECO is a landholding company, KAWASAKI could exercise its right of first refusal only up to 40% of the shares

of PHILSECO due to the constitutional prohibition on landholding by corporations with more than 40% foreign-owned equity. It further argues that since KAWASAKI already held at least 40% equity in PHILSECO, the right of first refusal was inutile and as such, could not subsequently be converted into the right to top. 37 Petitioner also asserts that, at present, PHILSECO continues to violate the constitutional provision on landholdings as its shares are more than 40% foreign-owned.38 PHILYARDS admits that it may have previously held land but had already divested such landholdings. 39 It contends, however, that even if PHILSECO owned land, this would not affect the right of first refusal but only the exercise thereof. If the land is retained, the right of first refusal, being a property right, could be assigned to a qualified party. In the alternative, the land could be divested before the exercise of the right of first refusal. In the case at bar, respondents assert that since the right of first refusal was validly converted into a right to top, which was exercised not by KAWASAKI, but by PHILYARDS which is a Filipino corporation (i.e., 60% of its shares are owned by Filipinos), then there is no violation of the Constitution. 40 At first, it would seem that questions of fact beyond cognizance by this Court were involved in the issue. However, the records show that PHILYARDS admits it had owned land up until the time of the bidding.41 Hence, the only issue is whether KAWASAKI had a valid right of first refusal over PHILSECO shares under the JVA considering that PHILSECO owned land until the time of the bidding and KAWASAKI already held 40% of PHILSECOs equity. We uphold the validity of the mutual rights of first refusal under the JVA between KAWASAKI and NIDC. First of all, the right of first refusal is a property right of PHILSECO shareholders, KAWASAKI and NIDC, under the terms of their JVA. This right allows them to purchase the shares of their co-shareholder before they are offered to a third party. The agreement of co-shareholders to mutually grant this right to each other, by itself, does not constitute a violation of the provisions of the Constitution limiting land ownership to Filipinos and Filipino corporations. As PHILYARDS correctly puts it, if PHILSECO still owns land, the right of first refusal can be validly assigned to a qualified Filipino entity in order to maintain the 60%-40% ratio. This transfer, by itself, does not amount to a violation of the Anti-Dummy Laws, absent proof of any fraudulent intent. The transfer could be made either to a nominee or such other party which the holder of the right of first refusal feels it can comfortably do business with. Alternatively, PHILSECO may divest of its landholdings, in which case KAWASAKI, in exercising its right of first refusal, can exceed 40% of PHILSECOs equity. In fact, it can even be said that if the foreign shareholdings of a landholding corporation exceeds 40%, it is not the foreign stockholders ownership of the shares which is adversely affected but the capacity of the corporation to own land that is, the corporation becomes disqualified to own land. This finds support under the basic corporate law principle that the corporation and its stockholders are separate juridical entities. In this vein, the right of first refusal over shares pertains to the shareholders whereas the capacity to own land pertains to the corporation. Hence, the fact that PHILSECO owns land cannot deprive stockholders of their right of first refusal. No law disqualifies a person from purchasing shares in a landholding corporation even if the latter will exceed the allowed foreign equity, what the law disqualifies is the corporation from owning land. This is the clear import of the following provisions in the Constitution: Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years,

renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant. xxx xxx xxx Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.42 (emphases supplied) The petitioner further argues that "an option to buy land is void in itself (Philippine Banking Corporation v. Lui She, 21 SCRA 52 [1967]). The right of first refusal granted to KAWASAKI, a Japanese corporation, is similarly void. Hence, the right to top, sourced from the right of first refusal, is also void." 43 Contrary to the contention of petitioner, the case of Lui She did not that say "an option to buy land is void in itself," for we ruled as follows: x x x To be sure, a lease to an alien for a reasonable period is valid. So is an option giving an alien the right to buy real property on condition that he is granted Philippine citizenship. As this Court said in Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds: [A]liens are not completely excluded by the Constitution from the use of lands for residential purposes. Since their residence in the Philippines is temporary, they may be granted temporary rights such as a lease contract which is not forbidden by the Constitution. Should they desire to remain here forever and share our fortunes and misfortunes, Filipino citizenship is not impossible to acquire. But if an alien is given not only a lease of, but also an option to buy, a piece of land, by virtue of which the Filipino owner cannot sell or otherwise dispose of his property, this to last for 50 years, then it becomes clear that the arrangement is a virtual transfer of ownership whereby the owner divests himself in stages not only of the right to enjoy the land (jus possidendi, jus utendi, jus fruendi and jus abutendi) but also of the right to dispose of it (jus disponendi) rights the sum total of which make up ownership. It is just as if today the possession is transferred, tomorrow, the use, the next day, the disposition, and so on, until ultimately all the rights of which ownership is made up are consolidated in an alien. And yet this is just exactly what the parties in this case did within this pace of one year, with the result that Justina Santos'[s] ownership of her property was reduced to a hollow concept. If this can be done, then the Constitutional ban against alien landholding in the Philippines, as announced in Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds, is indeed in grave peril.44 (emphases supplied; Citations omitted) In Lui She, the option to buy was invalidated because it amounted to a virtual transfer of ownership as the owner could not sell or dispose of his properties. The contract in Lui She prohibited the owner of the land from selling, donating, mortgaging, or encumbering the property during the 50-year period of the option to buy. This is not so in the case at bar where the mutual right of first refusal in favor of NIDC and KAWASAKI does not amount to a virtual transfer of land to a non-Filipino. In fact, the case at bar involves a right of first refusal over shares of stock while the Lui She case involves an option to buy the land itself. As discussed earlier, there is a distinction between the shareholders ownership of shares and the corporations ownership of land aris ing from the separate juridical personalities of the corporation and its shareholders. We note that in its Motion for Reconsideration, J.G. Summit alleges that PHILSECO continues to violate the Constitution as its foreign equity is above 40% and yet owns longterm leasehold rights which are real rights.45 It cites Article 415 of the Civil Code which includes in the definition of immovable property, "contracts for public works, and servitudes

and other real rights over immovable property."46 Any existing landholding, however, is denied by PHILYARDS citing its recent financial statements.47 First, these are questions of fact, the veracity of which would require introduction of evidence. The Court needs to validate these factual allegations based on competent and reliable evidence. As such, the Court cannot resolve the questions they pose. Second, J.G. Summit misreads the provisions of the Constitution cited in its own pleadings, to wit: 29.2 Petitioner has consistently pointed out in the past that private respondent is not a 60%-40% corporation, and this violates the Constitution x x x The violation continues to this day because under the law, it continues to own real property xxx xxx xxx 32. To review the constitutional provisions involved, Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution (the JVA was signed in 1977), provided: "Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain." 32.1 This provision is the same as Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. 32.2 Under the Public Land Act, corporations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain are corporations at least 60% of which is owned by Filipino citizens (Sec. 22, Commonwealth Act 141, as amended). (emphases supplied) As correctly observed by the public respondents, the prohibition in the Constitution applies only to ownership of land.48 It does not extend to immovable or real property as defined under Article 415 of the Civil Code. Otherwise, we would have a strange situation where the ownership of immovable property such as trees, plants and growing fruit attached to the land49 would be limited to Filipinos and Filipino corporations only. III. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petitioners Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED WITH FINALITY and the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. The Motion to Elevate This Case to the Court En Banc is likewise DENIED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-17587 September 12, 1967

however, that this application for naturalization was withdrawn when it was discovered that he was not a resident of Rizal. On October 28, 1958 she filed a petition to adopt him and his children on the erroneous belief that adoption would confer on them Philippine citizenship. The error was discovered and the proceedings were abandoned. On November 18, 1958 she executed two other contracts, one (Plff Exh. 5) extending the term of the lease to 99 years, and another (Plff Exh. 6) fixing the term of the option of 50 years. Both contracts are written in Tagalog. In two wills executed on August 24 and 29, 1959 (Def Exhs. 285 & 279), she bade her legatees to respect the contracts she had entered into with Wong, but in a codicil (Plff Exh. 17) of a later date (November 4, 1959) she appears to have a change of heart. Claiming that the various contracts were made by her because of machinations and inducements practiced by him, she now directed her executor to secure the annulment of the contracts. On November 18 the present action was filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila. The complaint alleged that the contracts were obtained by Wong "through fraud, misrepresentation, inequitable conduct, undue influence and abuse of confidence and trust of and (by) taking advantage of the helplessness of the plaintiff and were made to circumvent the constitutional provision prohibiting aliens from acquiring lands in the Philippines and also of the Philippine Naturalization Laws." The court was asked to direct the Register of Deeds of Manila to cancel the registration of the contracts and to order Wong to pay Justina Santos the additional rent of P3,120 a month from November 15, 1957 on the allegation that the reasonable rental of the leased premises was P6,240 a month. In his answer, Wong admitted that he enjoyed her trust and confidence as proof of which he volunteered the information that, in addition to the sum of P3,000 which he said she had delivered to him for safekeeping, another sum of P22,000 had been deposited in a joint account which he had with one of her maids. But he denied having taken advantage of her trust in order to secure the execution of the contracts in question. As counterclaim he sought the recovery of P9,210.49 which he said she owed him for advances. Wong's admission of the receipt of P22,000 and P3,000 was the cue for the filing of an amended complaint. Thus on June 9, 1960, aside from the nullity of the contracts, the collection of various amounts allegedly delivered on different occasions was sought. These amounts and the dates of their delivery are P33,724.27 (Nov. 4, 1957); P7,344.42 (Dec. 1, 1957); P10,000 (Dec. 6, 1957); P22,000 and P3,000 (as admitted in his answer). An accounting of the rentals from the Ongpin and Rizal Avenue properties was also demanded. In the meantime as a result of a petition for guardianship filed in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, the Security Bank & Trust Co. was appointed guardian of the properties of Justina Santos, while Ephraim G. Gochangco was appointed guardian of her person. In his answer, Wong insisted that the various contracts were freely and voluntarily entered into by the parties. He likewise disclaimed knowledge of the sum of P33,724.27, admitted receipt of P7,344.42 and P10,000, but contended that these amounts had been spent in accordance with the instructions of Justina Santos; he expressed readiness to comply with any order that the court might make with respect to the sums of P22,000 in the bank and P3,000 in his possession. The case was heard, after which the lower court rendered judgment as follows: [A]ll the documents mentioned in the first cause of action, with the exception of the first which is the lease contract of 15 November 1957, are

PHILIPPINE BANKING CORPORATION, representing the estate of JUSTINA SANTOS Y CANON FAUSTINO, deceased, plaintiff-appellant, vs. LUI SHE in her own behalf and as administratrix of the intestate estate of Wong Heng, deceased, defendant-appellant. Nicanor S. Sison for plaintiff-appellant. Ozaeta, Gibbs & Ozaeta for defendant-appellant.

CASTRO, J.: Justina Santos y Canon Faustino and her sister Lorenzo were the owners in common of a piece of land in Manila. This parcel, with an area of 2,582.30 square meters, is located on Rizal Avenue and opens into Florentino Torres street at the back and Katubusan street on one side. In it are two residential houses with entrance on Florentino Torres street and the Hen Wah Restaurant with entrance on Rizal Avenue. The sisters lived in one of the houses, while Wong Heng, a Chinese, lived with his family in the restaurant. Wong had been a long-time lessee of a portion of the property, paying a monthly rental of P2,620. On September 22, 1957 Justina Santos became the owner of the entire property as her sister died with no other heir. Then already well advanced in years, being at the time 90 years old, blind, crippled and an invalid, she was left with no other relative to live with. Her only companions in the house were her 17 dogs and 8 maids. Her otherwise dreary existence was brightened now and then by the visits of Wong's four children who had become the joy of her life. Wong himself was the trusted man to whom she delivered various amounts for safekeeping, including rentals from her property at the corner of Ongpin and Salazar streets and the rentals which Wong himself paid as lessee of a part of the Rizal Avenue property. Wong also took care of the payment; in her behalf, of taxes, lawyers' fees, funeral expenses, masses, salaries of maids and security guard, and her household expenses. "In grateful acknowledgment of the personal services of the lessee to her," Justina Santos executed on November 15, 1957 a contract of lease (Plff Exh. 3) in favor of Wong, covering the portion then already leased to him and another portion fronting Florentino Torres street. The lease was for 50 years, although the lessee was given the right to withdraw at any time from the agreement; the monthly rental was P3,120. The contract covered an area of 1,124 square meters. Ten days later (November 25), the contract was amended (Plff Exh. 4) so as to make it cover the entire property, including the portion on which the house of Justina Santos stood, at an additional monthly rental of P360. For his part Wong undertook to pay, out of the rental due from him, an amount not exceeding P1,000 a month for the food of her dogs and the salaries of her maids. On December 21 she executed another contract (Plff Exh. 7) giving Wong the option to buy the leased premises for P120,000, payable within ten years at a monthly installment of P1,000. The option, written in Tagalog, imposed on him the obligation to pay for the food of the dogs and the salaries of the maids in her household, the charge not to exceed P1,800 a month. The option was conditioned on his obtaining Philippine citizenship, a petition for which was then pending in the Court of First Instance of Rizal. It appears,

declared null and void; Wong Heng is condemned to pay unto plaintiff thru guardian of her property the sum of P55,554.25 with legal interest from the date of the filing of the amended complaint; he is also ordered to pay the sum of P3,120.00 for every month of his occupation as lessee under the document of lease herein sustained, from 15 November 1959, and the moneys he has consigned since then shall be imputed to that; costs against Wong Heng. From this judgment both parties appealed directly to this Court. After the case was submitted for decision, both parties died, Wong Heng on October 21, 1962 and Justina Santos on December 28, 1964. Wong was substituted by his wife, Lui She, the other defendant in this case, while Justina Santos was substituted by the Philippine Banking Corporation. Justina Santos maintained now reiterated by the Philippine Banking Corporation that the lease contract (Plff Exh. 3) should have been annulled along with the four other contracts (Plff Exhs. 4-7) because it lacks mutuality; because it included a portion which, at the time, was in custodia legis; because the contract was obtained in violation of the fiduciary relations of the parties; because her consent was obtained through undue influence, fraud and misrepresentation; and because the lease contract, like the rest of the contracts, is absolutely simulated. Paragraph 5 of the lease contract states that "The lessee may at any time withdraw from this agreement." It is claimed that this stipulation offends article 1308 of the Civil Code which provides that "the contract must bind both contracting parties; its validity or compliance cannot be left to the will of one of them." We have had occasion to delineate the scope and application of article 1308 in the early case of Taylor v. Uy Tieng Piao.1 We said in that case: Article 1256 [now art. 1308] of the Civil Code in our opinion creates no impediment to the insertion in a contract for personal service of a resolutory condition permitting the cancellation of the contract by one of the parties. Such a stipulation, as can be readily seen, does not make either the validity or the fulfillment of the contract dependent upon the will of the party to whom is conceded the privilege of cancellation; for where the contracting parties have agreed that such option shall exist, the exercise of the option is as much in the fulfillment of the contract as any other act which may have been the subject of agreement. Indeed, the cancellation of a contract in accordance with conditions agreed upon beforehand is fulfillment.2 And so it was held in Melencio v. Dy Tiao Lay 3 that a "provision in a lease contract that the lessee, at any time before he erected any building on the land, might rescind the lease, can hardly be regarded as a violation of article 1256 [now art. 1308] of the Civil Code." The case of Singson Encarnacion v. Baldomar cannot be cited in support of the claim of want of mutuality, because of a difference in factual setting. In that case, the lessees argued that they could occupy the premises as long as they paid the rent. This is of course untenable, for as this Court said, "If this defense were to be allowed, so long as defendants elected to continue the lease by continuing the payment of the rentals, the owner would never be able to discontinue it; conversely, although the owner should desire the lease to continue the lessees could effectively thwart his purpose if they should prefer to terminate the contract by the simple expedient of stopping payment of the rentals." Here, in contrast, the right of the lessee to continue the lease or to terminate it is so circumscribed by the term of the contract that it cannot be said that the continuance of the lease depends upon his will. At any rate, even if no term had been fixed in the agreement, this case would at most justify the fixing of a period5 but not the annulment of the contract.
4

Nor is there merit in the claim that as the portion of the property formerly owned by the sister of Justina Santos was still in the process of settlement in the probate court at the time it was leased, the lease is invalid as to such portion. Justina Santos became the owner of the entire property upon the death of her sister Lorenzo on September 22, 1957 by force of article 777 of the Civil Code. Hence, when she leased the property on November 15, she did so already as owner thereof. As this Court explained in upholding the sale made by an heir of a property under judicial administration: That the land could not ordinarily be levied upon while in custodia legis does not mean that one of the heirs may not sell the right, interest or participation which he has or might have in the lands under administration. The ordinary execution of property in custodia legis is prohibited in order to avoid interference with the possession by the court. But the sale made by an heir of his share in an inheritance, subject to the result of the pending administration, in no wise stands in the way of such administration.6 It is next contended that the lease contract was obtained by Wong in violation of his fiduciary relationship with Justina Santos, contrary to article 1646, in relation to article 1941 of the Civil Code, which disqualifies "agents (from leasing) the property whose administration or sale may have been entrusted to them." But Wong was never an agent of Justina Santos. The relationship of the parties, although admittedly close and confidential, did not amount to an agency so as to bring the case within the prohibition of the law. Just the same, it is argued that Wong so completely dominated her life and affairs that the contracts express not her will but only his. Counsel for Justina Santos cites the testimony of Atty. Tomas S. Yumol who said that he prepared the lease contract on the basis of data given to him by Wong and that she told him that "whatever Mr. Wong wants must be followed."7 The testimony of Atty. Yumol cannot be read out of context in order to warrant a finding that Wong practically dictated the terms of the contract. What this witness said was: Q Did you explain carefully to your client, Doa Justina, the contents of this document before she signed it? A I explained to her each and every one of these conditions and I also told her these conditions were quite onerous for her, I don't really know if I have expressed my opinion, but I told her that we would rather not execute any contract anymore, but to hold it as it was before, on a verbal month to month contract of lease. Q But, she did not follow your advice, and she went with the contract just the same? A She agreed first . . . Q Agreed what? A Agreed with my objectives that it is really onerous and that I was really right, but after that, I was called again by her and she told me to follow the wishes of Mr. Wong Heng. xxx xxx xxx

Q So, as far as consent is concerned, you were satisfied that this document was perfectly proper? xxx xxx xxx

A Your Honor, if I have to express my personal opinion, I would say she is not, because, as I said before, she told me "Whatever Mr. Wong wants must be followed."8 Wong might indeed have supplied the data which Atty. Yumol embodied in the lease contract, but to say this is not to detract from the binding force of the contract. For the contract was fully explained to Justina Santos by her own lawyer. One incident, related by the same witness, makes clear that she voluntarily consented to the lease contract. This witness said that the original term fixed for the lease was 99 years but that as he doubted the validity of a lease to an alien for that length of time, he tried to persuade her to enter instead into a lease on a month-to-month basis. She was, however, firm and unyielding. Instead of heeding the advice of the lawyer, she ordered him, "Just follow Mr. Wong Heng."9 Recounting the incident, Atty. Yumol declared on cross examination: Considering her age, ninety (90) years old at the time and her condition, she is a wealthy woman, it is just natural when she said " This is what I want and this will be done." In particular reference to this contract of lease, when I said "This is not proper," she said "You just go ahead, you prepare that, I am the owner, and if there is any illegality, I am the only one that can question the illegality."10 Atty. Yumol further testified that she signed the lease contract in the presence of her close friend, Hermenegilda Lao, and her maid, Natividad Luna, who was constantly by her side.11 Any of them could have testified on the undue influence that Wong supposedly wielded over Justina Santos, but neither of them was presented as a witness. The truth is that even after giving his client time to think the matter over, the lawyer could not make her change her mind. This persuaded the lower court to uphold the validity of the lease contract against the claim that it was procured through undue influence. Indeed, the charge of undue influence in this case rests on a mere inference 12 drawn from the fact that Justina Santos could not read (as she was blind) and did not understand the English language in which the contract is written, but that inference has been overcome by her own evidence. Nor is there merit in the claim that her consent to the lease contract, as well as to the rest of the contracts in question, was given out of a mistaken sense of gratitude to Wong who, she was made to believe, had saved her and her sister from a fire that destroyed their house during the liberation of Manila. For while a witness claimed that the sisters were saved by other persons (the brothers Edilberto and Mariano Sta. Ana) 13 it was Justina Santos herself who, according to her own witness, Benjamin C. Alonzo, said "very emphatically" that she and her sister would have perished in the fire had it not been for Wong.14 Hence the recital in the deed of conditional option (Plff Exh. 7) that "[I]tong si Wong Heng ang siyang nagligtas sa aming dalawang magkapatid sa halos ay tiyak na kamatayan", and the equally emphatic avowal of gratitude in the lease contract (Plff Exh. 3). As it was with the lease contract (Plff Exh. 3), so it was with the rest of the contracts (Plff Exhs. 4-7) the consent of Justina Santos was given freely and voluntarily. As Atty. Alonzo, testifying for her, said: [I]n nearly all documents, it was either Mr. Wong Heng or Judge Torres and/or both. When we had conferences, they used to tell me what the documents should contain. But, as I said, I would always ask the old woman about them and invariably the old woman used to tell me: "That's okay. It's all right." 15 But the lower court set aside all the contracts, with the exception of the lease contract of November 15, 1957, on the ground that they are contrary to the expressed wish of Justina Santos and that their considerations are fictitious. Wong stated in his deposition

that he did not pay P360 a month for the additional premises leased to him, because she did not want him to, but the trial court did not believe him. Neither did it believe his statement that he paid P1,000 as consideration for each of the contracts (namely, the option to buy the leased premises, the extension of the lease to 99 years, and the fixing of the term of the option at 50 years), but that the amount was returned to him by her for safekeeping. Instead, the court relied on the testimony of Atty. Alonzo in reaching the conclusion that the contracts are void for want of consideration. Atty. Alonzo declared that he saw no money paid at the time of the execution of the documents, but his negative testimony does not rule out the possibility that the considerations were paid at some other time as the contracts in fact recite. What is more, the consideration need not pass from one party to the other at the time a contract is executed because the promise of one is the consideration for the other. 16 With respect to the lower court's finding that in all probability Justina Santos could not have intended to part with her property while she was alive nor even to lease it in its entirety as her house was built on it, suffice it to quote the testimony of her own witness and lawyer who prepared the contracts (Plff Exhs. 4-7) in question, Atty. Alonzo: The ambition of the old woman, before her death, according to her revelation to me, was to see to it that these properties be enjoyed, even to own them, by Wong Heng because Doa Justina told me that she did not have any relatives, near or far, and she considered Wong Heng as a son and his children her grandchildren; especially her consolation in life was when she would hear the children reciting prayers in Tagalog.17 She was very emphatic in the care of the seventeen (17) dogs and of the maids who helped her much, and she told me to see to it that no one could disturb Wong Heng from those properties. That is why we thought of the ninetynine (99) years lease; we thought of adoption, believing that thru adoption Wong Heng might acquire Filipino citizenship; being the adopted child of a Filipino citizen.18 This is not to say, however, that the contracts (Plff Exhs. 3-7) are valid. For the testimony just quoted, while dispelling doubt as to the intention of Justina Santos, at the same time gives the clue to what we view as a scheme to circumvent the Constitutional prohibition against the transfer of lands to aliens. "The illicit purpose then becomes the illegal causa"19 rendering the contracts void. Taken singly, the contracts show nothing that is necessarily illegal, but considered collectively, they reveal an insidious pattern to subvert by indirection what the Constitution directly prohibits. To be sure, a lease to an alien for a reasonable period is valid. So is an option giving an alien the right to buy real property on condition that he is granted Philippine citizenship. As this Court said in Krivenko v. Register of Deeds:20 [A]liens are not completely excluded by the Constitution from the use of lands for residential purposes. Since their residence in the Philippines is temporary, they may be granted temporary rights such as a lease contract which is not forbidden by the Constitution. Should they desire to remain here forever and share our fortunes and misfortunes, Filipino citizenship is not impossible to acquire. But if an alien is given not only a lease of, but also an option to buy, a piece of land, by virtue of which the Filipino owner cannot sell or otherwise dispose of his property, 21 this to last for 50 years, then it becomes clear that the arrangement is a virtual transfer of ownership whereby the owner divests himself in stages not only of the right to enjoy the land ( jus possidendi, jus utendi, jus fruendi and jus abutendi) but also of the right to dispose of it ( jus disponendi) rights the sum total of which make up ownership. It is just

as if today the possession is transferred, tomorrow, the use, the next day, the disposition, and so on, until ultimately all the rights of which ownership is made up are consolidated in an alien. And yet this is just exactly what the parties in this case did within the space of one year, with the result that Justina Santos' ownership of her property was reduced to a hollow concept. If this can be done, then the Constitutional ban against alien landholding in the Philippines, as announced in Krivenko v. Register of Deeds,22 is indeed in grave peril. It does not follow from what has been said, however, that because the parties are in pari delicto they will be left where they are, without relief. For one thing, the original parties who were guilty of a violation of the fundamental charter have died and have since been substituted by their administrators to whom it would be unjust to impute their guilt. 23 For another thing, and this is not only cogent but also important, article 1416 of the Civil Code provides, as an exception to the rule on pari delicto, that "When the agreement is not illegal per se but is merely prohibited, and the prohibition by law is designed for the protection of the plaintiff, he may, if public policy is thereby enhanced, recover what he has paid or delivered." The Constitutional provision that "Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines"24 is an expression of public policy to conserve lands for the Filipinos. As this Court said in Krivenko: It is well to note at this juncture that in the present case we have no choice. We are construing the Constitution as it is and not as we may desire it to be. Perhaps the effect of our construction is to preclude aliens admitted freely into the Philippines from owning sites where they may build their homes. But if this is the solemn mandate of the Constitution, we will not attempt to compromise it even in the name of amity or equity . . . . For all the foregoing, we hold that under the Constitution aliens may not acquire private or public agricultural lands, including residential lands, and, accordingly, judgment is affirmed, without costs.25 That policy would be defeated and its continued violation sanctioned if, instead of setting the contracts aside and ordering the restoration of the land to the estate of the deceased Justina Santos, this Court should apply the general rule of pari delicto. To the extent that our ruling in this case conflicts with that laid down in Rellosa v. Gaw Chee Hun 26 and subsequent similar cases, the latter must be considered as pro tanto qualified. The claim for increased rentals and attorney's fees, made in behalf of Justina Santos, must be denied for lack of merit. And what of the various amounts which Wong received in trust from her? It appears that he kept two classes of accounts, one pertaining to amount which she entrusted to him from time to time, and another pertaining to rentals from the Ongpin property and from the Rizal Avenue property, which he himself was leasing. With respect to the first account, the evidence shows that he received P33,724.27 on November 8, 1957 (Plff Exh. 16); P7,354.42 on December 1, 1957 (Plff Exh. 13); P10,000 on December 6, 1957 (Plff Exh. 14) ; and P18,928.50 on August 26, 1959 (Def. Exh. 246), or a total of P70,007.19. He claims, however, that he settled his accounts and that the last amount of P18,928.50 was in fact payment to him of what in the liquidation was found to be due to him. He made disbursements from this account to discharge Justina Santos' obligations for taxes, attorneys' fees, funeral services and security guard services, but the checks (Def Exhs. 247-278) drawn by him for this purpose amount to only P38,442.84. 27 Besides, if he had really settled his accounts with her on August 26, 1959, we cannot understand why he still had P22,000 in the bank and P3,000 in his possession, or a total of P25,000. In his

answer, he offered to pay this amount if the court so directed him. On these two grounds, therefore, his claim of liquidation and settlement of accounts must be rejected. After subtracting P38,442.84 (expenditures) from P70,007.19 (receipts), there is a difference of P31,564 which, added to the amount of P25,000, leaves a balance of P56,564.3528 in favor of Justina Santos. As to the second account, the evidence shows that the monthly income from the Ongpin property until its sale in Rizal Avenue July, 1959 was P1,000, and that from the Rizal Avenue property, of which Wong was the lessee, was P3,120. Against this account the household expenses and disbursements for the care of the 17 dogs and the salaries of the 8 maids of Justina Santos were charged. This account is contained in a notebook (Def. Exh. 6) which shows a balance of P9,210.49 in favor of Wong. But it is claimed that the rental from both the Ongpin and Rizal Avenue properties was more than enough to pay for her monthly expenses and that, as a matter of fact, there should be a balance in her favor. The lower court did not allow either party to recover against the other. Said the court: [T]he documents bear the earmarks of genuineness; the trouble is that they were made only by Francisco Wong and Antonia Matias, nick-named Toning, which was the way she signed the loose sheets, and there is no clear proof that Doa Justina had authorized these two to act for her in such liquidation; on the contrary if the result of that was a deficit as alleged and sought to be there shown, of P9,210.49, that was not what Doa Justina apparently understood for as the Court understands her statement to the Honorable Judge of the Juvenile Court . . . the reason why she preferred to stay in her home was because there she did not incur in any debts . . . this being the case, . . . the Court will not adjudicate in favor of Wong Heng on his counterclaim; on the other hand, while it is claimed that the expenses were much less than the rentals and there in fact should be a superavit, . . . this Court must concede that daily expenses are not easy to compute, for this reason, the Court faced with the choice of the two alternatives will choose the middle course which after all is permitted by the rules of proof, Sec. 69, Rule 123 for in the ordinary course of things, a person will live within his income so that the conclusion of the Court will be that there is neither deficit nor superavit and will let the matter rest here. Both parties on appeal reiterate their respective claims but we agree with the lower court that both claims should be denied. Aside from the reasons given by the court, we think that the claim of Justina Santos totalling P37,235, as rentals due to her after deducting various expenses, should be rejected as the evidence is none too clear about the amounts spent by Wong for food29 masses30 and salaries of her maids.31 His claim for P9,210.49 must likewise be rejected as his averment of liquidation is belied by his own admission that even as late as 1960 he still had P22,000 in the bank and P3,000 in his possession. ACCORDINGLY, the contracts in question (Plff Exhs. 3-7) are annulled and set aside; the land subject-matter of the contracts is ordered returned to the estate of Justina Santos as represented by the Philippine Banking Corporation; Wong Heng (as substituted by the defendant-appellant Lui She) is ordered to pay the Philippine Banking Corporation the sum of P56,564.35, with legal interest from the date of the filing of the amended complaint; and the amounts consigned in court by Wong Heng shall be applied to the payment of rental from November 15, 1959 until the premises shall have been vacated by his heirs. Costs against the defendant-appellant.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

K. DECLARATION OF THE WINNING BIDDER/STRATEGIC PARTNER The Highest Bidder will be declared the Winning Bidder/Strategic Partner after the following conditions are met: a. Execution of the necessary contracts with GSIS/MHC not later than October 23, 1995 (reset to November 3, 1995); and b. Requisite approvals from the GSIS/MHC and COP (Committee on Privatization)/OGCC (Office of the Government Corporate Counsel) are obtained. 3 Pending the declaration of Renong Berhad as the winning bidder/strategic partner and the execution of the necessary contracts, petitioner in a letter to respondent GSIS dated 28 September 1995 matched the bid price of P44.00 per share tendered by Renong Berhad. 4 In a subsequent letter dated 10 October 1995 petitioner sent a manager's check issued by Philtrust Bank for Thirty-three Million Pesos (P33.000.000.00) as Bid Security to match the bid of the Malaysian Group, Messrs . Renong Berhad . . . 5 which respondent GSIS refused to accept. On 17 October 1995, perhaps apprehensive that respondent GSIS has disregarded the tender of the matching bid and that the sale of 51% of the MHC may be hastened by respondent GSIS and consummated with Renong Berhad, petitioner came to this Court on prohibition and mandamus. On 18 October 1995 the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining respondents from perfecting and consummating the sale to the Malaysian firm. On 10 September 1996 the instant case was accepted by the Court En Banc after it was referred to it by the First Division. The case was then set for oral arguments with former Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., as amici curiae. In the main, petitioner invokes Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution and submits that the Manila Hotel has been identified with the Filipino nation and has practically become a historical monument which reflects the vibrancy of Philippine heritage and culture. It is a proud legacy of an earlier generation of Filipinos who believed in the nobility and sacredness of independence and its power and capacity to release the full potential of the Filipino people. To all intents and purposes, it has become a part of the national patrimony. 6 Petitioner also argues that since 51% of the shares of the MHC carries with it the ownership of the business of the hotel which is owned by respondent GSIS, a government-owned and controlled corporation, the hotel business of respondent GSIS being a part of the tourism industry is unquestionably a part of the national economy. Thus, any transaction involving 51% of the shares of stock of the MHC is clearly covered by the term national economy, to which Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, 1987 Constitution, applies. 7 It is also the thesis of petitioner that since Manila Hotel is part of the national patrimony and its business also unquestionably part of the national economy petitioner should be preferred after it has matched the bid offer of the Malaysian firm. For the bidding rules mandate that if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share.
8

G.R. No. 122156 February 3, 1997 MANILA PRINCE HOTEL petitioner, vs. GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL, respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J.: The FiIipino First Policy enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, i.e., in the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos , 1 is in oked by petitioner in its bid to acquire 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation (MHC) which owns the historic Manila Hotel. Opposing, respondents maintain that the provision is not self-executing but requires an implementing legislation for its enforcement. Corollarily, they ask whether the 51% shares form part of the national economy and patrimony covered by the protective mantle of the Constitution. The controversy arose when respondent Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), pursuant to the privatization program of the Philippine Government under Proclamation No. 50 dated 8 December 1986, decided to sell through public bidding 30% to 51% of the issued and outstanding shares of respondent MHC. The winning bidder, or the eventual "strategic partner," is to provide management expertise and/or an international marketing/reservation system, and financial support to strengthen the profitability and performance of the Manila Hotel . 2 In a close bidding held on 18 September 1995 only two (2) bidders participated: petitioner Manila Prince Hotel Corporation, a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy 51% of the MHC or 15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per share, and Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel operator, which bid for the same number of shares at P44.00 per share, or P2.42 more than the bid of petitioner. Pertinent provisions of the bidding rules prepared by respondent GSIS state I. EXECUTION OF THE CONTRACTS WITH GSIS/MHC NECESSARY

1. The Highest Bidder must comply with the conditions set forth below by October 23, 1995 (reset to November 3, 1995) or the Highest Bidder will lose the right to purchase the Block of Shares and GSIS will instead offer the Block of Shares to the other Qualified Bidders: a. The Highest Bidder must negotiate and execute with the GSIS/MHC the Management Contract, International Marketing/Reservation System Contract or other type of contract specified by the Highest Bidder in its strategic plan for the Manila Hotel. . . . b. The Highest Bidder must execute the Stock Purchase and Sale Agreement with GSIS . . . .

Respondents except. They maintain that: First, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is merely a statement of principle and policy since it is not a self-executing provision and requires implementing legislation(s) . . . Thus, for the said provision to

Operate, there must be existing laws "to lay down conditions under which business may be done." 9 Second, granting that this provision is self-executing, Manila Hotel does not fall under the term national patrimony which only refers to lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna and all marine wealth in its territorial sea, and exclusive marine zone as cited in the first and second paragraphs of Sec. 2, Art. XII, 1987 Constitution. According to respondents, while petitioner speaks of the guests who have slept in the hotel and the events that have transpired therein which make the hotel historic, these alone do not make the hotel fall under the patrimony of the nation. What is more, the mandate of the Constitution is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which possesses a personality of its own separate and distinct from the Philippines as a State. Third, granting that the Manila Hotel forms part of the national patrimony, the constitutional provision invoked is still inapplicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the hotel building nor the land upon which the building stands. Certainly, 51% of the equity of the MHC cannot be considered part of the national patrimony. Moreover, if the disposition of the shares of the MHC is really contrary to the Constitution, petitioner should have questioned it right from the beginning and not after it had lost in the bidding. Fourth, the reliance by petitioner on par. V., subpar. J. 1., of the bidding rules which provides that if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share , is misplaced. Respondents postulate that the privilege of submitting a matching bid has not yet arisen since it only takes place if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares. Thus the submission by petitioner of a matching bid is premature since Renong Berhad could still very well be awarded the block of shares and the condition giving rise to the exercise of the privilege to submit a matching bid had not yet taken place. Finally, the prayer for prohibition grounded on grave abuse of discretion should fail since respondent GSIS did not exercise its discretion in a capricious, whimsical manner, and if ever it did abuse its discretion it was not so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law. Similarly, the petition for mandamus should fail as petitioner has no clear legal right to what it demands and respondents do not have an imperative duty to perform the act required of them by petitioner. We now resolve. A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and paramount law of the nation. 10 It prescribes the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to the different departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. 11 Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.

Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their provisions command the legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish an outline of government providing for the different departments of the governmental machinery and securing certain fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens. 12 A provision which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in itself and becomes operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for action. 13 As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of a legislative body. Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing If the constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law. 14 This can be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is, as it has always been, that . . . in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered selfexecuting rather than non-self-executing . . . . Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to the will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing to pass the needed implementing statute. 15 Respondents argue that Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is clearly not self-executing, as they quote from discussions on the floor of the 1986 Constitutional Commission MR. RODRIGO. Madam President, I am asking this question as the Chairman of the Committee on Style. If the wording of "PREFERENCE" is given to QUALIFIED FILIPINOS," can it be understood as a preference to qualified Filipinos vis-a-vis Filipinos who are not qualified. So, why do we not make it clear? To qualified Filipinos as against aliens? THE PRESIDENT. What is the question of Commissioner Rodrigo? Is it to remove the word "QUALIFIED?". MR. RODRIGO. No, no, but say definitely "TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" as against whom? As against aliens or over aliens? MR. NOLLEDO. Madam President, I think that is understood. We use the word "QUALIFIED" because the existing laws or prospective laws will

always lay down conditions under which business may be done. For example, qualifications on the setting up of other financial structures, et cetera (emphasis supplied by respondents) MR. RODRIGO. It is just a matter of style. MR. NOLLEDO Yes, 16 Quite apparently, Sec. 10, second par., of Art XII is couched in such a way as not to make it appear that it is non-self-executing but simply for purposes of style. But, certainly, the legislature is not precluded from enacting other further laws to enforce the constitutional provision so long as the contemplated statute squares with the Constitution. Minor details may be left to the legislature without impairing the self-executing nature of constitutional provisions. In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the exercise of powers directly granted by the constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a practice to be used for its enforcement, provide a convenient remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the determination thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact that legislation may supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional provision does not render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a constitution of any express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust legislative power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the exercise of constitutional right and make it more available. 17 Subsequent legislation however does not necessarily mean that the subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable. Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied from the tenor of the first and third paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not self-executing. 18 The argument is flawed. If the first and third paragraphs are not self-executing because Congress is still to enact measures to encourage the formation and operation of enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as in the first paragraph, and the State still needs legislation to regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within its national jurisdiction, as in the third paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second paragraph can only be self-executing as it does not by its language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony. A constitutional provision may be self-executing in one part and non-self-executing in another. 19 Even the cases cited by respondents holding that certain constitutional provisions are merely statements of principles and policies, which are basically not self-executing and only placed in the Constitution as moral incentives to legislation, not as judicially enforceable rights are simply not in point. Basco v. Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation 20 speaks of constitutional provisions on personal dignity, 21 the sanctity of family life, 22 the vital role of the youth in nation-building 23 the promotion of social justice, 24 and the values of education. 25 Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance 26 refers to the constitutional provisions on social justice and human rights 27 and on education. 28 Lastly, Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato 29 cites provisions on the promotion of general welfare, 30 the sanctity of family life, 31 the vital role of the youth in nation-building 32 and the promotion of total human liberation and development. 33 A reading of these provisions indeed clearly shows that they are not judicially enforceable constitutional rights but merely guidelines for

legislation. The very terms of the provisions manifest that they are only principles upon which the legislations must be based. Res ipsa loquitur. On the other hand, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the of the 1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its enforcement. From its very words the provision does not require any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially enforceable When our Constitution mandates that [i]n the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it means just that qualified Filipinos shall be preferred. And when our Constitution declares that a right exists in certain specified circumstances an action may be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence of any legislation on the subject; consequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such constitutional right, such right enforces itself by its own inherent potency and puissance, and from which all legislations must take their bearings. Where there is a right there is a remedy. Ubi jus ibi remedium. As regards our national patrimony, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission explains
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The patrimony of the Nation that should be conserved and developed refers not only to out rich natural resources but also to the cultural heritage of out race. It also refers to our intelligence in arts, sciences and letters. Therefore, we should develop not only our lands, forests, mines and other natural resources but also the mental ability or faculty of our people. We agree. In its plain and ordinary meaning, the term patrimony pertains to heritage. 35 When the Constitution speaks of national patrimony, it refers not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the Constitution could have very well used the term natural resources, but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos. Manila Hotel has become a landmark a living testimonial of Philippine heritage. While it was restrictively an American hotel when it first opened in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino, Formerly a concourse for the elite, it has since then become the venue of various significant events which have shaped Philippine history. It was called the Cultural Center of the 1930's. It was the site of the festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth. Dubbed as the Official Guest House of the Philippine Government. it plays host to dignitaries and official visitors who are accorded the traditional Philippine hospitality. 36 The history of the hotel has been chronicled in the book The Manila Hotel: The Heart and Memory of a City. 37 During World War II the hotel was converted by the Japanese Military Administration into a military headquarters. When the American forces returned to recapture Manila the hotel was selected by the Japanese together with Intramuros as the two (2) places fro their final stand. Thereafter, in the 1950's and 1960's, the hotel became the center of political activities, playing host to almost every political convention. In 1970 the hotel reopened after a renovation and reaped numerous international recognitions, an acknowledgment of the Filipino talent and ingenuity. In 1986 the hotel was the site of a failed coup d' etat where an aspirant for vice-president was "proclaimed" President of the Philippine Republic. For more than eight (8) decades Manila Hotel has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and frustrations of the Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our struggle for sovereignty, independence and nationhood. Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national economy and patrimony. For sure, 51% of the equity of the MHC comes within the purview of the constitutional

shelter for it comprises the majority and controlling stock, so that anyone who acquires or owns the 51% will have actual control and management of the hotel. In this instance, 51% of the MHC cannot be disassociated from the hotel and the land on which the hotel edifice stands. Consequently, we cannot sustain respondents' claim that the Filipino First Policy provision is not applicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the Hotel building nor the land upon which the building stands. 38 The argument is pure sophistry. The term qualified Filipinos as used in Our Constitution also includes corporations at least 60% of which is owned by Filipinos. This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized. MR. DAVIDE. I would like to introduce an amendment to the Nolledo amendment. And the amendment would consist in substituting the words "QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" with the following: "CITIZENS OF THE PHILIPPINES OR CORPORATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS WHOSE CAPITAL OR CONTROLLING STOCK IS WHOLLY OWNED BY SUCH CITIZENS. xxx xxx xxx MR. MONSOD. Madam President, apparently the proponent is agreeable, but we have to raise a question. Suppose it is a corporation that is 80percent Filipino, do we not give it preference? MR. DAVIDE. The Nolledo amendment would refer to an individual Filipino. What about a corporation wholly owned by Filipino citizens? MR. MONSOD. At least 60 percent, Madam President. MR. DAVIDE. Is that the intention? MR. MONSOD. Yes, because, in fact, we would be limiting it if we say that the preference should only be 100-percent Filipino. MR: DAVIDE. I want to get that meaning clear because "QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" may refer only to individuals and not to juridical personalities or entities. MR. MONSOD. We agree, Madam President. xxx xxx xxx MR. RODRIGO. Before we vote, may I request that the amendment be read again. MR. NOLLEDO. The amendment will read: "IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS."
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And the word "Filipinos" here, as intended by the proponents, will include not only individual Filipinos but also Filipino-controlled entities or entities fullycontrolled by Filipinos. 40 The phrase preference to qualified Filipinos was explained thus MR. FOZ. Madam President, I would like to request Commissioner Nolledo to please restate his amendment so that I can ask a question. MR. NOLLEDO. "IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS." MR FOZ. In connection with that amendment, if a foreign enterprise is qualified and a Filipino enterprise is also qualified, will the Filipino enterprise still be given a preference? MR. NOLLEDO. Obviously. MR. FOZ. If the foreigner is more qualified in some aspects than the Filipino enterprise, will the Filipino still be preferred? MR. NOLLEDO. The answer is "yes." MR. FOZ. Thank you, 41 Expounding further on the Filipino First Policy provision Commissioner Nolledo continues MR. NOLLEDO. Yes, Madam President. Instead of "MUST," it will be "SHALL THE STATE SHALL GlVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS. This embodies the so-called "Filipino First" policy. That means that Filipinos should be given preference in the grant of concessions, privileges and rights covering the national patrimony. 42 The exchange of views in the sessions of the Constitutional Commission regarding the subject provision was still further clarified by Commissioner Nolledo 43 Paragraph 2 of Section 10 explicitly mandates the "Pro-Filipino" bias in all economic concerns. It is better known as the FILIPINO FIRST Policy . . . This provision was never found in previous Constitutions . . . . The term "qualified Filipinos" simply means that preference shall be given to those citizens who can make a viable contribution to the common good, because of credible competence and efficiency. It certainly does NOT mandate the pampering and preferential treatment to Filipino citizens or organizations that are incompetent or inefficient, since such an indiscriminate preference would be counter productive and inimical to the common good. In the granting of economic rights, privileges, and concessions, when a choice has to be made between a "qualified foreigner" end a "qualified Filipino," the latter shall be chosen over the former."

Lastly, the word qualified is also determinable. Petitioner was so considered by respondent GSIS and selected as one of the qualified bidders. It was pre-qualified by respondent GSIS in accordance with its own guidelines so that the sole inference here is that petitioner has been found to be possessed of proven management expertise in the hotel industry, or it has significant equity ownership in another hotel company, or it has an overall management and marketing proficiency to successfully operate the Manila Hotel. 44 The penchant to try to whittle away the mandate of the Constitution by arguing that the subject provision is not self-executory and requires implementing legislation is quite disturbing. The attempt to violate a clear constitutional provision by the government itself is only too distressing. To adopt such a line of reasoning is to renounce the duty to ensure faithfulness to the Constitution. For, even some of the provisions of the Constitution which evidently need implementing legislation have juridical life of their own and can be the source of a judicial remedy. We cannot simply afford the government a defense that arises out of the failure to enact further enabling, implementing or guiding legislation. In fine, the discourse of Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., on constitutional government is apt The executive department has a constitutional duty to implement laws, including the Constitution, even before Congress acts provided that there are discoverable legal standards for executive action. When the executive acts, it must be guided by its own understanding of the constitutional command and of applicable laws. The responsibility for reading and understanding the Constitution and the laws is not the sole prerogative of Congress. If it were, the executive would have to ask Congress, or perhaps the Court, for an interpretation every time the executive is confronted by a constitutional command. That is not how constitutional government operates. 45 Respondents further argue that the constitutional provision is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which by itself possesses a separate and distinct personality. This argument again is at best specious. It is undisputed that the sale of 51% of the MHC could only be carried out with the prior approval of the State acting through respondent Committee on Privatization. As correctly pointed out by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., this fact alone makes the sale of the assets of respondents GSIS and MHC a " state action." In constitutional jurisprudence, the acts of persons distinct from the government are considered "state action" covered by the Constitution (1) when the activity it engages in is a "public function;" (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the private actor as to make the government responsible for his action; and, (3) when the government has approved or authorized the action. It is evident that the act of respondent GSIS in selling 51% of its share in respondent MHC comes under the second and third categories of "state action." Without doubt therefore the transaction. although entered into by respondent GSIS, is in fact a transaction of the State and therefore subject to the constitutional command. 46 When the Constitution addresses the State it refers not only to the people but also to the government as elements of the State. After all, government is composed of three (3) divisions of power legislative, executive and judicial. Accordingly, a constitutional mandate directed to the State is correspondingly directed to the three(3) branches of government. It is undeniable that in this case the subject constitutional injunction is addressed among others to the Executive Department and respondent GSIS, a government instrumentality deriving its authority from the State. It should be stressed that while the Malaysian firm offered the higher bid it is not yet the winning bidder. The bidding rules expressly provide that the highest bidder shall only be declared the winning bidder after it has negotiated and executed the necessary contracts, and secured the requisite approvals. Since the " Filipino First Policy provision of the Constitution bestows preference on qualified Filipinos the mere tending of the highest bid

is not an assurance that the highest bidder will be declared the winning bidder. Resultantly, respondents are not bound to make the award yet, nor are they under obligation to enter into one with the highest bidder. For in choosing the awardee respondents are mandated to abide by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution the provisions of which are presumed to be known to all the bidders and other interested parties. Adhering to the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, the subject constitutional provision is, as it should be, impliedly written in the bidding rules issued by respondent GSIS, lest the bidding rules be nullified for being violative of the Constitution. It is a basic principle in constitutional law that all laws and contracts must conform with the fundamental law of the land. Those which violate the Constitution lose their reason for being. Paragraph V. J. 1 of the bidding rules provides that [if] for any reason the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share. 47 Certainly, the constitutional mandate itself is reason enough not to award the block of shares immediately to the foreign bidder notwithstanding its submission of a higher, or even the highest, bid. In fact, we cannot conceive of a stronger reason than the constitutional injunction itself. In the instant case, where a foreign firm submits the highest bid in a public bidding concerning the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, thereby exceeding the bid of a Filipino, there is no question that the Filipino will have to be allowed to match the bid of the foreign entity. And if the Filipino matches the bid of a foreign firm the award should go to the Filipino. It must be so if we are to give life and meaning to the Filipino First Policy provision of the 1987 Constitution. For, while this may neither be expressly stated nor contemplated in the bidding rules, the constitutional fiat is, omnipresent to be simply disregarded. To ignore it would be to sanction a perilous skirting of the basic law. This Court does not discount the apprehension that this policy may discourage foreign investors. But the Constitution and laws of the Philippines are understood to be always open to public scrutiny. These are given factors which investors must consider when venturing into business in a foreign jurisdiction. Any person therefore desiring to do business in the Philippines or with any of its agencies or instrumentalities is presumed to know his rights and obligations under the Constitution and the laws of the forum. The argument of respondents that petitioner is now estopped from questioning the sale to Renong Berhad since petitioner was well aware from the beginning that a foreigner could participate in the bidding is meritless. Undoubtedly, Filipinos and foreigners alike were invited to the bidding. But foreigners may be awarded the sale only if no Filipino qualifies, or if the qualified Filipino fails to match the highest bid tendered by the foreign entity. In the case before us, while petitioner was already preferred at the inception of the bidding because of the constitutional mandate, petitioner had not yet matched the bid offered by Renong Berhad. Thus it did not have the right or personality then to compel respondent GSIS to accept its earlier bid. Rightly, only after it had matched the bid of the foreign firm and the apparent disregard by respondent GSIS of petitioner's matching bid did the latter have a cause of action. Besides, there is no time frame for invoking the constitutional safeguard unless perhaps the award has been finally made. To insist on selling the Manila Hotel to foreigners when there is a Filipino group willing to match the bid of the foreign group is to insist that government be treated as any other ordinary market player, and bound by its mistakes or gross errors of judgment, regardless of the consequences to the Filipino people. The miscomprehension of the Constitution is regrettable. Thus we would rather remedy the indiscretion while there is still an opportunity to do so than let the government develop the

habit of forgetting that the Constitution lays down the basic conditions and parameters for its actions. Since petitioner has already matched the bid price tendered by Renong Berhad pursuant to the bidding rules, respondent GSIS is left with no alternative but to award to petitioner the block of shares of MHC and to execute the necessary agreements and documents to effect the sale in accordance not only with the bidding guidelines and procedures but with the Constitution as well. The refusal of respondent GSIS to execute the corresponding documents with petitioner as provided in the bidding rules after the latter has matched the bid of the Malaysian firm clearly constitutes grave abuse of discretion. The Filipino First Policy is a product of Philippine nationalism. It is embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely to be used as a guideline for future legislation but primarily to be enforced; so must it be enforced. This Court as the ultimate guardian of the Constitution will never shun, under any reasonable circumstance, the duty of upholding the majesty of the Constitution which it is tasked to defend. It is worth emphasizing that it is not the intention of this Court to impede and diminish, much less undermine, the influx of foreign investments. Far from it, the Court encourages and welcomes more business opportunities but avowedly sanctions the preference for Filipinos whenever such preference is ordained by the Constitution. The position of the Court on this matter could have not been more appropriately articulated by Chief Justice Narvasa As scrupulously as it has tried to observe that it is not its function to substitute its judgment for that of the legislature or the executive about the wisdom and feasibility of legislation economic in nature, the Supreme Court has not been spared criticism for decisions perceived as obstacles to economic progress and development . . . in connection with a temporary injunction issued by the Court's First Division against the sale of the Manila Hotel to a Malaysian Firm and its partner, certain statements were published in a major daily to the effect that injunction "again demonstrates that the Philippine legal system can be a major obstacle to doing business here. Let it be stated for the record once again that while it is no business of the Court to intervene in contracts of the kind referred to or set itself up as the judge of whether they are viable or attainable, it is its bounden duty to make sure that they do not violate the Constitution or the laws, or are not adopted or implemented with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It will never shirk that duty, no matter how buffeted by winds of unfair and ill-informed criticism. 48 Privatization of a business asset for purposes of enhancing its business viability and preventing further losses, regardless of the character of the asset, should not take precedence over non-material values. A commercial, nay even a budgetary, objective should not be pursued at the expense of national pride and dignity. For the Constitution enshrines higher and nobler non-material values. Indeed, the Court will always defer to the Constitution in the proper governance of a free society; after all, there is nothing so sacrosanct in any economic policy as to draw itself beyond judicial review when the Constitution is involved. 49 Nationalism is inherent, in the very concept of the Philippines being a democratic and republican state, with sovereignty residing in the Filipino people and from whom all government authority emanates. In nationalism, the happiness and welfare of the people must be the goal. The nation-state can have no higher purpose. Any interpretation of any constitutional provision must adhere to such basic concept. Protection of foreign investments, while laudible, is merely a policy. It cannot override the demands of nationalism. 50

The Manila Hotel or, for that matter, 51% of the MHC, is not just any commodity to be sold to the highest bidder solely for the sake of privatization. We are not talking about an ordinary piece of property in a commercial district. We are talking about a historic relic that has hosted many of the most important events in the short history of the Philippines as a nation. We are talking about a hotel where heads of states would prefer to be housed as a strong manifestation of their desire to cloak the dignity of the highest state function to their official visits to the Philippines. Thus the Manila Hotel has played and continues to play a significant role as an authentic repository of twentieth century Philippine history and culture. In this sense, it has become truly a reflection of the Filipino soul a place with a history of grandeur; a most historical setting that has played a part in the shaping of a country. 51 This Court cannot extract rhyme nor reason from the determined efforts of respondents to sell the historical landmark this Grand Old Dame of hotels in Asia to a total stranger. For, indeed, the conveyance of this epic exponent of the Filipino psyche to alien hands cannot be less than mephistophelian for it is, in whatever manner viewed, a veritable alienation of a nation's soul for some pieces of foreign silver. And so we ask: What advantage, which cannot be equally drawn from a qualified Filipino, can be gained by the Filipinos Manila Hotel and all that it stands for is sold to a non-Filipino? How much of national pride will vanish if the nation's cultural heritage is entrusted to a foreign entity? On the other hand, how much dignity will be preserved and realized if the national patrimony is safekept in the hands of a qualified, zealous and well-meaning Filipino? This is the plain and simple meaning of the Filipino First Policy provision of the Philippine Constitution. And this Court, heeding the clarion call of the Constitution and accepting the duty of being the elderly watchman of the nation, will continue to respect and protect the sanctity of the Constitution. WHEREFORE, respondents GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL are directed to CEASE and DESIST from selling 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation to RENONG BERHAD, and to ACCEPT the matching bid of petitioner MANILA PRINCE HOTEL CORPORATION to purchase the subject 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation at P44.00 per share and thereafter to execute the necessary clearances and to do such other acts and deeds as may be necessary for purpose. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 127882 January 27, 2004

LA BUGAL-B'LAAN TRIBAL ASSOCIATION, INC., represented by its Chairman F'LONG MIGUEL M. LUMAYONG, WIGBERTO E. TAADA, PONCIANO BENNAGEN, JAIME TADEO, RENATO R. CONSTANTINO, JR., F'LONG AGUSTIN M. DABIE, ROBERTO P. AMLOY, RAQIM L. DABIE, SIMEON H. DOLOJO, IMELDA M. GANDON, LENY B. GUSANAN, MARCELO L. GUSANAN, QUINTOL A. LABUAYAN, LOMINGGES D. LAWAY, BENITA P. TACUAYAN, minors JOLY L. BUGOY, represented by his father UNDERO D. BUGOY, ROGER M. DADING, represented by his father ANTONIO L. DADING, ROMY M. LAGARO, represented by his father TOTING A. LAGARO, MIKENY JONG B. LUMAYONG, represented by his father MIGUEL M. LUMAYONG, RENE T. MIGUEL, represented by his mother EDITHA T. MIGUEL, ALDEMAR L. SAL, represented by his father DANNY M. SAL, DAISY RECARSE, represented by her mother LYDIA S. SANTOS, EDWARD M. EMUY, ALAN P. MAMPARAIR, MARIO L. MANGCAL, ALDEN S. TUSAN, AMPARO S. YAP, VIRGILIO CULAR, MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN, JULIA REGINA CULAR, GIAN CARLO CULAR, VIRGILIO CULAR, JR., represented by their father VIRGILIO CULAR, PAUL ANTONIO P. VILLAMOR, represented by his parents JOSE VILLAMOR and ELIZABETH PUAVILLAMOR, ANA GININA R. TALJA, represented by her father MARIO JOSE B. TALJA, SHARMAINE R. CUNANAN, represented by her father ALFREDO M. CUNANAN, ANTONIO JOSE A. VITUG III, represented by his mother ANNALIZA A. VITUG, LEAN D. NARVADEZ, represented by his father MANUEL E. NARVADEZ, JR., ROSERIO MARALAG LINGATING, represented by her father RIO OLIMPIO A. LINGATING, MARIO JOSE B. TALJA, DAVID E. DE VERA, MARIA MILAGROS L. SAN JOSE, SR., SUSAN O. BOLANIO, OND, LOLITA G. DEMONTEVERDE, BENJIE L. NEQUINTO,1 ROSE LILIA S. ROMANO, ROBERTO S. VERZOLA, EDUARDO AURELIO C. REYES, LEAN LOUEL A. PERIA, represented by his father ELPIDIO V. PERIA,2 GREEN FORUM PHILIPPINES, GREEN FORUM WESTERN VISAYAS, (GF-WV), ENVIRONMETAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE CENTER (ELAC), PHILIPPINE KAISAHAN TUNGO SA KAUNLARAN NG KANAYUNAN AT REPORMANG PANSAKAHAN (KAISAHAN),3 KAISAHAN TUNGO SA KAUNLARAN NG KANAYUNAN AT REPORMANG PANSAKAHAN (KAISAHAN), PARTNERSHIP FOR AGRARIAN REFORM and RURAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, INC. (PARRDS), PHILIPPINE PART`NERSHIP FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES IN THE RURAL AREAS, INC. (PHILDHRRA), WOMEN'S LEGAL BUREAU (WLB), CENTER FOR ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES, INC. (CADI), UPLAND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE (UDI), KINAIYAHAN FOUNDATION, INC., SENTRO NG ALTERNATIBONG LINGAP PANLIGAL (SALIGAN), LEGAL RIGHTS AND NATURAL RESOURCES CENTER, INC. (LRC), petitioners, vs. VICTOR O. RAMOS, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), HORACIO RAMOS, DIRECTOR, MINES AND GEOSCIENCES BUREAU (MGB-DENR), RUBEN TORRES, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, and WMC (PHILIPPINES), INC.4 respondents. DECISION CARPIO-MORALES, J.: The present petition for mandamus and prohibition assails the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7942,5 otherwise known as the PHILIPPINE MINING ACT OF 1995, along with the Implementing Rules and Regulations issued pursuant thereto, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 96-40, and of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) entered into on March 30, 1995 by the Republic of the Philippines and WMC (Philippines), Inc. (WMCP), a corporation organized under Philippine laws. On July 25, 1987, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order (E.O.) No. 279 6 authorizing the DENR Secretary to accept, consider and evaluate proposals from foreign-owned

corporations or foreign investors for contracts or agreements involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, which, upon appropriate recommendation of the Secretary, the President may execute with the foreign proponent. In entering into such proposals, the President shall consider the real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country that will be realized, as well as the development and use of local scientific and technical resources that will be promoted by the proposed contract or agreement. Until Congress shall determine otherwise, large-scale mining, for purpose of this Section, shall mean those proposals for contracts or agreements for mineral resources exploration, development, and utilization involving a committed capital investment in a single mining unit project of at least Fifty Million Dollars in United States Currency (US $50,000,000.00).7 On March 3, 1995, then President Fidel V. Ramos approved R.A. No. 7942 to "govern the exploration, development, utilization and processing of all mineral resources." 8 R.A. No. 7942 defines the modes of mineral agreements for mining operations,9 outlines the procedure for their filing and approval,10 assignment/transfer11 and withdrawal,12 and fixes their terms.13 Similar provisions govern financial or technical assistance agreements. 14 The law prescribes the qualifications of contractors15 and grants them certain rights, including timber,16 water17 and easement18 rights, and the right to possess explosives.19 Surface owners, occupants, or concessionaires are forbidden from preventing holders of mining rights from entering private lands and concession areas.20 A procedure for the settlement of conflicts is likewise provided for.21 The Act restricts the conditions for exploration,22 quarry23 and other24 permits. It regulates the transport, sale and processing of minerals,25 and promotes the development of mining communities, science and mining technology,26 and safety and environmental protection.27 The government's share in the agreements is spelled out and allocated, 28 taxes and fees are imposed,29 incentives granted.30 Aside from penalizing certain acts,31 the law likewise specifies grounds for the cancellation, revocation and termination of agreements and permits. 32 On April 9, 1995, 30 days following its publication on March 10, 1995 in Malaya and Manila Times, two newspapers of general circulation, R.A. No. 7942 took effect. 33 Shortly before the effectivity of R.A. No. 7942, however, or on March 30, 1995, the President entered into an FTAA with WMCP covering 99,387 hectares of land in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.34 On August 15, 1995, then DENR Secretary Victor O. Ramos issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 95-23, s. 1995, otherwise known as the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 7942. This was later repealed by DAO No. 96-40, s. 1996 which was adopted on December 20, 1996. On January 10, 1997, counsels for petitioners sent a letter to the DENR Secretary demanding that the DENR stop the implementation of R.A. No. 7942 and DAO No. 96-40,35 giving the DENR fifteen days from receipt36 to act thereon. The DENR, however, has yet to respond or act on petitioners' letter.37 Petitioners thus filed the present petition for prohibition and mandamus, with a prayer for a temporary restraining order. They allege that at the time of the filing of the petition, 100 FTAA applications had already been filed, covering an area of 8.4 million hectares, 38 64 of which applications are by fully foreign-owned corporations covering a total of 5.8 million hectares, and at least one by a fully foreign-owned mining company over offshore areas.39 Petitioners claim that the DENR Secretary acted without or in excess of jurisdiction: I x x x in signing and promulgating DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 implementing Republic Act No. 7942, the latter being unconstitutional in that it allows fully foreign owned corporations to explore, develop, utilize and exploit mineral resources in a manner contrary to Section 2, paragraph 4, Article XII of the Constitution;

II x x x in signing and promulgating DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 implementing Republic Act No. 7942, the latter being unconstitutional in that it allows the taking of private property without the determination of public use and for just compensation; III x x x in signing and promulgating DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 implementing Republic Act No. 7942, the latter being unconstitutional in that it violates Sec. 1, Art. III of the Constitution; IV x x x in signing and promulgating DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 implementing Republic Act No. 7942, the latter being unconstitutional in that it allows enjoyment by foreign citizens as well as fully foreign owned corporations of the nation's marine wealth contrary to Section 2, paragraph 2 of Article XII of the Constitution; V x x x in signing and promulgating DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 implementing Republic Act No. 7942, the latter being unconstitutional in that it allows priority to foreign and fully foreign owned corporations in the exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources contrary to Article XII of the Constitution; VI x x x in signing and promulgating DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 implementing Republic Act No. 7942, the latter being unconstitutional in that it allows the inequitable sharing of wealth contrary to Sections [sic] 1, paragraph 1, and Section 2, paragraph 4[,] [Article XII] of the Constitution; VII x x x in recommending approval of and implementing the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement between the President of the Republic of the Philippines and Western Mining Corporation Philippines Inc. because the same is illegal and unconstitutional. 40 They pray that the Court issue an order: (a) Permanently enjoining respondents from acting on any application for Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements; (b) Declaring the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 7942 as unconstitutional and null and void; (c) Declaring the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Philippine Mining Act contained in DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 and all other similar administrative issuances as unconstitutional and null and void; and (d) Cancelling the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement issued to Western Mining Philippines, Inc. as unconstitutional, illegal and null and void.41 Impleaded as public respondents are Ruben Torres, the then Executive Secretary, Victor O. Ramos, the then DENR Secretary, and Horacio Ramos, Director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR. Also impleaded is private respondent WMCP, which entered into the assailed FTAA with the Philippine Government. WMCP is owned by WMC Resources International Pty., Ltd. (WMC), "a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Mining Corporation Holdings Limited, a publicly listed major Australian mining and exploration company."42 By WMCP's information, "it is a 100% owned subsidiary of WMC LIMITED." 43 Respondents, aside from meeting petitioners' contentions, argue that the requisites for judicial inquiry have not been met and that the petition does not comply with the criteria for prohibition

and mandamus. Additionally, respondent WMCP argues that there has been a violation of the rule on hierarchy of courts. After petitioners filed their reply, this Court granted due course to the petition. The parties have since filed their respective memoranda. WMCP subsequently filed a Manifestation dated September 25, 2002 alleging that on January 23, 2001, WMC sold all its shares in WMCP to Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (Sagittarius), a corporation organized under Philippine laws.44 WMCP was subsequently renamed "Tampakan Mineral Resources Corporation."45 WMCP claims that at least 60% of the equity of Sagittarius is owned by Filipinos and/or Filipino-owned corporations while about 40% is owned by Indophil Resources NL, an Australian company.46 It further claims that by such sale and transfer of shares, "WMCP has ceased to be connected in any way with WMC."47 By virtue of such sale and transfer, the DENR Secretary, by Order of December 18, 2001, 48 approved the transfer and registration of the subject FTAA from WMCP to Sagittarius. Said Order, however, was appealed by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. (Lepanto) to the Office of the President which upheld it by Decision of July 23, 2002. 49 Its motion for reconsideration having been denied by the Office of the President by Resolution of November 12, 2002, 50 Lepanto filed a petition for review51 before the Court of Appeals. Incidentally, two other petitions for review related to the approval of the transfer and registration of the FTAA to Sagittarius were recently resolved by this Court.52 It bears stressing that this case has not been rendered moot either by the transfer and registration of the FTAA to a Filipino-owned corporation or by the non-issuance of a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction to stay the above-said July 23, 2002 decision of the Office of the President.53 The validity of the transfer remains in dispute and awaits final judicial determination. This assumes, of course, that such transfer cures the FTAA's alleged unconstitutionality, on which question judgment is reserved. WMCP also points out that the original claimowners of the major mineralized areas included in the WMCP FTAA, namely, Sagittarius, Tampakan Mining Corporation, and Southcot Mining Corporation, are all Filipino-owned corporations,54 each of which was a holder of an approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreement awarded in 1994, albeit their respective mineral claims were subsumed in the WMCP FTAA;55 and that these three companies are the same companies that consolidated their interests in Sagittarius to whom WMC sold its 100% equity in WMCP. 56 WMCP concludes that in the event that the FTAA is invalidated, the MPSAs of the three corporations would be revived and the mineral claims would revert to their original claimants.57 These circumstances, while informative, are hardly significant in the resolution of this case, it involving the validity of the FTAA, not the possible consequences of its invalidation. Of the above-enumerated seven grounds cited by petitioners, as will be shown later, only the first and the last need be delved into; in the latter, the discussion shall dwell only insofar as it questions the effectivity of E. O. No. 279 by virtue of which order the questioned FTAA was forged. I Before going into the substantive issues, the procedural questions posed by respondents shall first be tackled. REQUISITES FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW When an issue of constitutionality is raised, this Court can exercise its power of judicial review only if the following requisites are present: (1) The existence of an actual and appropriate case; (2) A personal and substantial interest of the party raising the constitutional question; (3) The exercise of judicial review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity; and

(4) The constitutional question is the lis mota of the case. Respondents claim that the first three requisites are not present.

58

issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions." (Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 7 L.Ed.2d 633 [1962].) As earlier stated, petitioners meet this requirement. The challenge against the constitutionality of R.A. No. 7942 and DAO No. 96-40 likewise fulfills the requisites of justiciability. Although these laws were not in force when the subject FTAA was entered into, the question as to their validity is ripe for adjudication. The WMCP FTAA provides: 14.3 Future Legislation Any term and condition more favourable to Financial &Technical Assistance Agreement contractors resulting from repeal or amendment of any existing law or regulation or from the enactment of a law, regulation or administrative order shall be considered a part of this Agreement. It is undisputed that R.A. No. 7942 and DAO No. 96-40 contain provisions that are more favorable to WMCP, hence, these laws, to the extent that they are favorable to WMCP, govern the FTAA. In addition, R.A. No. 7942 explicitly makes certain provisions apply to pre-existing agreements. SEC. 112. Non-impairment of Existing Mining/Quarrying Rights. x x x That the provisions of Chapter XIV on government share in mineral production-sharing agreement and of Chapter XVI on incentives of this Act shall immediately govern and apply to a mining lessee or contractor unless the mining lessee or contractor indicates his intention to the secretary, in writing, not to avail of said provisions x x x Provided, finally, That such leases, production-sharing agreements, financial or technical assistance agreements shall comply with the applicable provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations. As there is no suggestion that WMCP has indicated its intention not to avail of the provisions of Chapter XVI of R.A. No. 7942, it can safely be presumed that they apply to the WMCP FTAA. Misconstruing the application of the third requisite for judicial review that the exercise of the review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity WMCP points out that the petition was filed only almost two years after the execution of the FTAA, hence, not raised at the earliest opportunity. The third requisite should not be taken to mean that the question of constitutionality must be raised immediately after the execution of the state action complained of. That the question of constitutionality has not been raised before is not a valid reason for refusing to allow it to be raised later.73 A contrary rule would mean that a law, otherwise unconstitutional, would lapse into constitutionality by the mere failure of the proper party to promptly file a case to challenge the same. PROPRIETY OF PROHIBITION AND MANDAMUS Before the effectivity in July 1997 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, Section 2 of Rule 65 read: SEC. 2. Petition for prohibition. When the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, or person, whether exercising functions judicial or ministerial, are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the defendant to desist from further proceeding in the action or matter specified therein. Prohibition is a preventive remedy.74 It seeks a judgment ordering the defendant to desist from continuing with the commission of an act perceived to be illegal. 75 The petition for prohibition at bar is thus an appropriate remedy. While the execution of the contract itself may be fait accompli, its implementation is not. Public respondents, in behalf of the

Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that "(j)udicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable." The power of judicial review, therefore, is limited to the determination of actual cases and controversies.59 An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory,60 lest the decision of the court would amount to an advisory opinion.61 The power does not extend to hypothetical questions62 since any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities.63 "Legal standing" or locus standi has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged,64 alleging more than a generalized grievance.65 The gist of the question of standing is whether a party alleges "such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions." 66 Unless a person is injuriously affected in any of his constitutional rights by the operation of statute or ordinance, he has no standing.67 Petitioners traverse a wide range of sectors. Among them are La Bugal B'laan Tribal Association, Inc., a farmers and indigenous people's cooperative organized under Philippine laws representing a community actually affected by the mining activities of WMCP, members of said cooperative,68 as well as other residents of areas also affected by the mining activities of WMCP.69 These petitioners have standing to raise the constitutionality of the questioned FTAA as they allege a personal and substantial injury. They claim that they would suffer "irremediable displacement"70 as a result of the implementation of the FTAA allowing WMCP to conduct mining activities in their area of residence. They thus meet the appropriate case requirement as they assert an interest adverse to that of respondents who, on the other hand, insist on the FTAA's validity. In view of the alleged impending injury, petitioners also have standing to assail the validity of E.O. No. 279, by authority of which the FTAA was executed. Public respondents maintain that petitioners, being strangers to the FTAA, cannot sue either or both contracting parties to annul it.71 In other words, they contend that petitioners are not real parties in interest in an action for the annulment of contract. Public respondents' contention fails. The present action is not merely one for annulment of contract but for prohibition and mandamus. Petitioners allege that public respondents acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in implementing the FTAA, which they submit is unconstitutional. As the case involves constitutional questions, this Court is not concerned with whether petitioners are real parties in interest, but with whether they have legal standing. As held in Kilosbayan v. Morato:72 x x x. "It is important to note . . . that standing because of its constitutional and public policy underpinnings, is very different from questions relating to whether a particular plaintiff is the real party in interest or has capacity to sue. Although all three requirements are directed towards ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an action, standing restrictions require a partial consideration of the merits, as well as broader policy concerns relating to the proper role of the judiciary in certain areas.["] (FRIEDENTHAL, KANE AND MILLER, CIVIL PROCEDURE 328 [1985]) Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in some cases suits are brought not by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or by official action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest. Hence, the question in standing is whether such parties have "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of

Government, have obligations to fulfill under said contract. Petitioners seek to prevent them from fulfilling such obligations on the theory that the contract is unconstitutional and, therefore, void. The propriety of a petition for prohibition being upheld, discussion of the propriety of the mandamus aspect of the petition is rendered unnecessary. HIERARCHY OF COURTS The contention that the filing of this petition violated the rule on hierarchy of courts does not likewise lie. The rule has been explained thus: Between two courts of concurrent original jurisdiction, it is the lower court that should initially pass upon the issues of a case. That way, as a particular case goes through the hierarchy of courts, it is shorn of all but the important legal issues or those of first impression, which are the proper subject of attention of the appellate court. This is a procedural rule borne of experience and adopted to improve the administration of justice. This Court has consistently enjoined litigants to respect the hierarchy of courts. Although this Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give a party unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. The resort to this Court's primary jurisdiction to issue said writs shall be allowed only where the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify such invocation. We held in People v. Cuaresma that: A becoming regard for judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level ("inferior") courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only where there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is established policy. It is a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Court's time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Court's docket x x x.76 [Emphasis supplied.] The repercussions of the issues in this case on the Philippine mining industry, if not the national economy, as well as the novelty thereof, constitute exceptional and compelling circumstances to justify resort to this Court in the first instance. In all events, this Court has the discretion to take cognizance of a suit which does not satisfy the requirements of an actual case or legal standing when paramount public interest is involved. 77 When the issues raised are of paramount importance to the public, this Court may brush aside technicalities of procedure.78 II Petitioners contend that E.O. No. 279 did not take effect because its supposed date of effectivity came after President Aquino had already lost her legislative powers under the Provisional Constitution. And they likewise claim that the WMC FTAA, which was entered into pursuant to E.O. No. 279, violates Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution because, among other reasons: (1) It allows foreign-owned companies to extend more than mere financial or technical assistance to the State in the exploitation, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils, and even permits foreign owned companies to "operate and manage mining activities." (2) It allows foreign-owned companies to extend both technical and financial assistance, instead of "either technical or financial assistance." To appreciate the import of these issues, a visit to the history of the pertinent constitutional provision, the concepts contained therein, and the laws enacted pursuant thereto, is in order.

Section 2, Article XII reads in full: Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant. The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution. THE SPANISH REGIME AND THE REGALIAN DOCTRINE The first sentence of Section 2 embodies the Regalian doctrine or jura regalia. Introduced by Spain into these Islands, this feudal concept is based on the State's power of dominium, which is the capacity of the State to own or acquire property.79 In its broad sense, the term "jura regalia" refers to royal rights, or those rights which the King has by virtue of his prerogatives. In Spanish law, it refers to a right which the sovereign has over anything in which a subject has a right of property or propriedad. These were rights enjoyed during feudal times by the king as the sovereign. The theory of the feudal system was that title to all lands was originally held by the King, and while the use of lands was granted out to others who were permitted to hold them under certain conditions, the King theoretically retained the title. By fiction of law, the King was regarded as the original proprietor of all lands, and the true and only source of title, and from him all lands were held. The theory of jura regalia was therefore nothing more than a natural fruit of conquest.80 The Philippines having passed to Spain by virtue of discovery and conquest, 81 earlier Spanish decrees declared that "all lands were held from the Crown."82 The Regalian doctrine extends not only to land but also to "all natural wealth that may be found in the bowels of the earth."83 Spain, in particular, recognized the unique value of natural resources, viewing them, especially minerals, as an abundant source of revenue to finance its wars against other nations.84 Mining laws during the Spanish regime reflected this perspective.85 THE AMERICAN OCCUPATION AND THE CONCESSION REGIME By the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898, Spain ceded "the archipelago known as the Philippine Islands" to the United States. The Philippines was hence governed by means of organic acts that were in the nature of charters serving as a Constitution of the occupied territory

from 1900 to 1935.86 Among the principal organic acts of the Philippines was the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, more commonly known as the Philippine Bill of 1902, through which the United States Congress assumed the administration of the Philippine Islands.87 Section 20 of said Bill reserved the disposition of mineral lands of the public domain from sale. Section 21 thereof allowed the free and open exploration, occupation and purchase of mineral deposits not only to citizens of the Philippine Islands but to those of the United States as well: Sec. 21. That all valuable mineral deposits in public lands in the Philippine Islands, both surveyed and unsurveyed, are hereby declared to be free and open to exploration, occupation and purchase, and the land in which they are found, to occupation and purchase, by citizens of the United States or of said Islands: Provided, That when on any lands in said Islands entered and occupied as agricultural lands under the provisions of this Act, but not patented, mineral deposits have been found, the working of such mineral deposits is forbidden until the person, association, or corporation who or which has entered and is occupying such lands shall have paid to the Government of said Islands such additional sum or sums as will make the total amount paid for the mineral claim or claims in which said deposits are located equal to the amount charged by the Government for the same as mineral claims. Unlike Spain, the United States considered natural resources as a source of wealth for its nationals and saw fit to allow both Filipino and American citizens to explore and exploit minerals in public lands, and to grant patents to private mineral lands.88 A person who acquired ownership over a parcel of private mineral land pursuant to the laws then prevailing could exclude other persons, even the State, from exploiting minerals within his property. 89 Thus, earlier jurisprudence90 held that: A valid and subsisting location of mineral land, made and kept up in accordance with the provisions of the statutes of the United States, has the effect of a grant by the United States of the present and exclusive possession of the lands located, and this exclusive right of possession and enjoyment continues during the entire life of the location. x x x. x x x. The discovery of minerals in the ground by one who has a valid mineral location perfects his claim and his location not only against third persons, but also against the Government. x x x. [Italics in the original.] The Regalian doctrine and the American system, therefore, differ in one essential respect. Under the Regalian theory, mineral rights are not included in a grant of land by the state; under the American doctrine, mineral rights are included in a grant of land by the government.91 Section 21 also made possible the concession (frequently styled "permit", license" or "lease") 92 system.93 This was the traditional regime imposed by the colonial administrators for the exploitation of natural resources in the extractive sector (petroleum, hard minerals, timber, etc.).94 Under the concession system, the concessionaire makes a direct equity investment for the purpose of exploiting a particular natural resource within a given area. 95 Thus, the concession amounts to complete control by the concessionaire over the country's natural resource, for it is given exclusive and plenary rights to exploit a particular resource at the point of extraction. 96 In consideration for the right to exploit a natural resource, the concessionaire either pays rent or royalty, which is a fixed percentage of the gross proceeds.97 Later statutory enactments by the legislative bodies set up in the Philippines adopted the contractual framework of the concession.98 For instance, Act No. 2932,99 approved on August 31, 1920, which provided for the exploration, location, and lease of lands containing petroleum and other mineral oils and gas in the Philippines, and Act No. 2719, 100 approved on May 14, 1917, which provided for the leasing and development of coal lands in the Philippines, both utilized the concession system.101 THE 1935 CONSTITUTION AND THE NATIONALIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

By the Act of United States Congress of March 24, 1934, popularly known as the TydingsMcDuffie Law, the People of the Philippine Islands were authorized to adopt a constitution.102 On July 30, 1934, the Constitutional Convention met for the purpose of drafting a constitution, and the Constitution subsequently drafted was approved by the Convention on February 8, 1935. 103 The Constitution was submitted to the President of the United States on March 18, 1935. 104 On March 23, 1935, the President of the United States certified that the Constitution conformed substantially with the provisions of the Act of Congress approved on March 24, 1934. 105 On May 14, 1935, the Constitution was ratified by the Filipino people.106 The 1935 Constitution adopted the Regalian doctrine, declaring all natural resources of the Philippines, including mineral lands and minerals, to be property belonging to the State. 107 As adopted in a republican system, the medieval concept of jura regalia is stripped of royal overtones and ownership of the land is vested in the State.108 Section 1, Article XIII, on Conservation and Utilization of Natural Resources, of the 1935 Constitution provided: SECTION 1. All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant. The nationalization and conservation of the natural resources of the country was one of the fixed and dominating objectives of the 1935 Constitutional Convention.109 One delegate relates: There was an overwhelming sentiment in the Convention in favor of the principle of state ownership of natural resources and the adoption of the Regalian doctrine. State ownership of natural resources was seen as a necessary starting point to secure recognition of the state's power to control their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization. The delegates of the Constitutional Convention very well knew that the concept of State ownership of land and natural resources was introduced by the Spaniards, however, they were not certain whether it was continued and applied by the Americans. To remove all doubts, the Convention approved the provision in the Constitution affirming the Regalian doctrine. The adoption of the principle of state ownership of the natural resources and of the Regalian doctrine was considered to be a necessary starting point for the plan of nationalizing and conserving the natural resources of the country. For with the establishment of the principle of state ownership of the natural resources, it would not be hard to secure the recognition of the power of the State to control their disposition, exploitation, development or utilization. 110 The nationalization of the natural resources was intended (1) to insure their conservation for Filipino posterity; (2) to serve as an instrument of national defense, helping prevent the extension to the country of foreign control through peaceful economic penetration; and (3) to avoid making the Philippines a source of international conflicts with the consequent danger to its internal security and independence.111 The same Section 1, Article XIII also adopted the concession system, expressly permitting the State to grant licenses, concessions, or leases for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources. Grants, however, were limited to Filipinos or entities at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos.lawph!l.ne+

The swell of nationalism that suffused the 1935 Constitution was radically diluted when on November 1946, the Parity Amendment, which came in the form of an "Ordinance Appended to the Constitution," was ratified in a plebiscite. 112 The Amendment extended, from July 4, 1946 to July 3, 1974, the right to utilize and exploit our natural resources to citizens of the United States and business enterprises owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States:113 Notwithstanding the provision of section one, Article Thirteen, and section eight, Article Fourteen, of the foregoing Constitution, during the effectivity of the Executive Agreement entered into by the President of the Philippines with the President of the United States on the fourth of July, nineteen hundred and forty-six, pursuant to the provisions of Commonwealth Act Numbered Seven hundred and thirty-three, but in no case to extend beyond the third of July, nineteen hundred and seventy-four, the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coals, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if open to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States in the same manner as to, and under the same conditions imposed upon, citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations owned or controlled by citizens of the Philippines. The Parity Amendment was subsequently modified by the 1954 Revised Trade Agreement, also known as the Laurel-Langley Agreement, embodied in Republic Act No. 1355.114 THE PETROLEUM ACT OF 1949 AND THE CONCESSION SYSTEM In the meantime, Republic Act No. 387,115 also known as the Petroleum Act of 1949, was approved on June 18, 1949. The Petroleum Act of 1949 employed the concession system for the exploitation of the nation's petroleum resources. Among the kinds of concessions it sanctioned were exploration and exploitation concessions, which respectively granted to the concessionaire the exclusive right to explore for116 or develop117 petroleum within specified areas. Concessions may be granted only to duly qualified persons118 who have sufficient finances, organization, resources, technical competence, and skills necessary to conduct the operations to be undertaken.119 Nevertheless, the Government reserved the right to undertake such work itself. 120 This proceeded from the theory that all natural deposits or occurrences of petroleum or natural gas in public and/or private lands in the Philippines belong to the State. 121 Exploration and exploitation concessions did not confer upon the concessionaire ownership over the petroleum lands and petroleum deposits.122 However, they did grant concessionaires the right to explore, develop, exploit, and utilize them for the period and under the conditions determined by the law. 123 Concessions were granted at the complete risk of the concessionaire; the Government did not guarantee the existence of petroleum or undertake, in any case, title warranty. 124 Concessionaires were required to submit information as maybe required by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, including reports of geological and geophysical examinations, as well as production reports.125 Exploration126 and exploitation127 concessionaires were also required to submit work programs.lavvphi1.net Exploitation concessionaires, in particular, were obliged to pay an annual exploitation tax,128 the object of which is to induce the concessionaire to actually produce petroleum, and not simply to sit on the concession without developing or exploiting it.129 These concessionaires were also bound to pay the Government royalty, which was not less than 12% of the petroleum produced and saved, less that consumed in the operations of the concessionaire. 130 Under Article 66, R.A. No. 387, the exploitation tax may be credited against the royalties so that if the concessionaire shall be actually producing enough oil, it would not actually be paying the exploitation tax. 131

Failure to pay the annual exploitation tax for two consecutive years, 132 or the royalty due to the Government within one year from the date it becomes due,133 constituted grounds for the cancellation of the concession. In case of delay in the payment of the taxes or royalty imposed by the law or by the concession, a surcharge of 1% per month is exacted until the same are paid.134 As a rule, title rights to all equipment and structures that the concessionaire placed on the land belong to the exploration or exploitation concessionaire.135 Upon termination of such concession, the concessionaire had a right to remove the same.136 The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources was tasked with carrying out the provisions of the law, through the Director of Mines, who acted under the Secretary's immediate supervision and control.137 The Act granted the Secretary the authority to inspect any operation of the concessionaire and to examine all the books and accounts pertaining to operations or conditions related to payment of taxes and royalties.138 The same law authorized the Secretary to create an Administration Unit and a Technical Board.139 The Administration Unit was charged, inter alia, with the enforcement of the provisions of the law.140 The Technical Board had, among other functions, the duty to check on the performance of concessionaires and to determine whether the obligations imposed by the Act and its implementing regulations were being complied with.141 Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, Chief Legal Officer of the Bureau of Energy Development, analyzed the benefits and drawbacks of the concession system insofar as it applied to the petroleum industry: Advantages of Concession. Whether it emphasizes income tax or royalty, the most positive aspect of the concession system is that the State's financial involvement is virtually risk free and administration is simple and comparatively low in cost. Furthermore, if there is a competitive allocation of the resource leading to substantial bonuses and/or greater royalty coupled with a relatively high level of taxation, revenue accruing to the State under the concession system may compare favorably with other financial arrangements. Disadvantages of Concession. There are, however, major negative aspects to this system. Because the Government's role in the traditional concession is passive, it is at a distinct disadvantage in managing and developing policy for the nation's petroleum resource. This is true for several reasons. First, even though most concession agreements contain covenants requiring diligence in operations and production, this establishes only an indirect and passive control of the host country in resource development. Second, and more importantly, the fact that the host country does not directly participate in resource management decisions inhibits its ability to train and employ its nationals in petroleum development. This factor could delay or prevent the country from effectively engaging in the development of its resources. Lastly, a direct role in management is usually necessary in order to obtain a knowledge of the international petroleum industry which is important to an appreciation of the host country's resources in relation to those of other countries.142 Other liabilities of the system have also been noted: x x x there are functional implications which give the concessionaire great economic power arising from its exclusive equity holding. This includes, first, appropriation of the returns of the undertaking, subject to a modest royalty; second, exclusive management of the project; third, control of production of the natural resource, such as volume of production, expansion, research and development; and fourth, exclusive responsibility for downstream operations, like processing, marketing, and distribution. In short, even if nominally, the state is the sovereign and owner of the natural resource being exploited, it has been shorn of all elements of control over such natural resource because of the exclusive nature of the contractual regime of the concession. The concession system, investing as it does ownership of natural resources, constitutes a consistent inconsistency with the principle embodied in our Constitution that natural resources belong to the state and shall not be alienated, not to mention the fact that the concession was the bedrock of the colonial system in the exploitation of natural resources. 143

Eventually, the concession system failed for reasons explained by Dimagiba: Notwithstanding the good intentions of the Petroleum Act of 1949, the concession system could not have properly spurred sustained oil exploration activities in the country, since it assumed that such a capital-intensive, high risk venture could be successfully undertaken by a single individual or a small company. In effect, concessionaires' funds were easily exhausted. Moreover, since the concession system practically closed its doors to interested foreign investors, local capital was stretched to the limits. The old system also failed to consider the highly sophisticated technology and expertise required, which would be available only to multinational companies.144 A shift to a new regime for the development of natural resources thus seemed imminent. PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 87, THE 1973 CONSTITUTION AND THE SERVICE CONTRACT SYSTEM The promulgation on December 31, 1972 of Presidential Decree No. 87, 145 otherwise known as The Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972 signaled such a transformation. P.D. No. 87 permitted the government to explore for and produce indigenous petroleum through "service contracts."146 "Service contracts" is a term that assumes varying meanings to different people, and it has carried many names in different countries, like "work contracts" in Indonesia, "concession agreements" in Africa, "production-sharing agreements" in the Middle East, and "participation agreements" in Latin America.147 A functional definition of "service contracts" in the Philippines is provided as follows: A service contract is a contractual arrangement for engaging in the exploitation and development of petroleum, mineral, energy, land and other natural resources by which a government or its agency, or a private person granted a right or privilege by the government authorizes the other party (service contractor) to engage or participate in the exercise of such right or the enjoyment of the privilege, in that the latter provides financial or technical resources, undertakes the exploitation or production of a given resource, or directly manages the productive enterprise, operations of the exploration and exploitation of the resources or the disposition of marketing or resources.148 In a service contract under P.D. No. 87, service and technology are furnished by the service contractor for which it shall be entitled to the stipulated service fee. 149 The contractor must be technically competent and financially capable to undertake the operations required in the contract.150 Financing is supposed to be provided by the Government to which all petroleum produced belongs.151 In case the Government is unable to finance petroleum exploration operations, the contractor may furnish services, technology and financing, and the proceeds of sale of the petroleum produced under the contract shall be the source of funds for payment of the service fee and the operating expenses due the contractor. 152 The contractor shall undertake, manage and execute petroleum operations, subject to the government overseeing the management of the operations.153 The contractor provides all necessary services and technology and the requisite financing, performs the exploration work obligations, and assumes all exploration risks such that if no petroleum is produced, it will not be entitled to reimbursement. 154 Once petroleum in commercial quantity is discovered, the contractor shall operate the field on behalf of the government.155 P.D. No. 87 prescribed minimum terms and conditions for every service contract. 156 It also granted the contractor certain privileges, including exemption from taxes and payment of tariff duties,157 and permitted the repatriation of capital and retention of profits abroad. 158 Ostensibly, the service contract system had certain advantages over the concession regime. 159 It has been opined, though, that, in the Philippines, our concept of a service contract, at least in the petroleum industry, was basically a concession regime with a production-sharing element.160

On January 17, 1973, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos proclaimed the ratification of a new Constitution.161 Article XIV on the National Economy and Patrimony contained provisions similar to the 1935 Constitution with regard to Filipino participation in the nation's natural resources. Section 8, Article XIV thereof provides: Sec. 8. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, wildlife, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State. With the exception of agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential and resettlement lands of the public domain, natural resources shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant. While Section 9 of the same Article maintained the Filipino-only policy in the enjoyment of natural resources, it also allowed Filipinos, upon authority of the Batasang Pambansa, to enter into service contracts with any person or entity for the exploration or utilization of natural resources. Sec. 9. The disposition, exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural resources of the Philippines shall be limited to citizens, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of which is owned by such citizens. The Batasang Pambansa, in the national interest, may allow such citizens, corporations or associations to enter into service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance with any person or entity for the exploration, or utilization of any of the natural resources. Existing valid and binding service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance are hereby recognized as such. [Emphasis supplied.] The concept of service contracts, according to one delegate, was borrowed from the methods followed by India, Pakistan and especially Indonesia in the exploration of petroleum and mineral oils.162 The provision allowing such contracts, according to another, was intended to "enhance the proper development of our natural resources since Filipino citizens lack the needed capital and technical know-how which are essential in the proper exploration, development and exploitation of the natural resources of the country."163 The original idea was to authorize the government, not private entities, to enter into service contracts with foreign entities.164 As finally approved, however, a citizen or private entity could be allowed by the National Assembly to enter into such service contract.165 The prior approval of the National Assembly was deemed sufficient to protect the national interest. 166 Notably, none of the laws allowing service contracts were passed by the Batasang Pambansa. Indeed, all of them were enacted by presidential decree. On March 13, 1973, shortly after the ratification of the new Constitution, the President promulgated Presidential Decree No. 151.167 The law allowed Filipino citizens or entities which have acquired lands of the public domain or which own, hold or control such lands to enter into service contracts for financial, technical, management or other forms of assistance with any foreign persons or entity for the exploration, development, exploitation or utilization of said lands.168 Presidential Decree No. 463,169 also known as The Mineral Resources Development Decree of 1974, was enacted on May 17, 1974. Section 44 of the decree, as amended, provided that a lessee of a mining claim may enter into a service contract with a qualified domestic or foreign contractor for the exploration, development and exploitation of his claims and the processing and marketing of the product thereof. Presidential Decree No. 704170 (The Fisheries Decree of 1975), approved on May 16, 1975, allowed Filipinos engaged in commercial fishing to enter into contracts for financial, technical or other forms of assistance with any foreign person, corporation or entity for the production, storage, marketing and processing of fish and fishery/aquatic products.171

Presidential Decree No. 705172 (The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines), approved on May 19, 1975, allowed "forest products licensees, lessees, or permitees to enter into service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance . . . with any foreign person or entity for the exploration, development, exploitation or utilization of the forest resources."173 Yet another law allowing service contracts, this time for geothermal resources, was Presidential Decree No. 1442,174 which was signed into law on June 11, 1978. Section 1 thereof authorized the Government to enter into service contracts for the exploration, exploitation and development of geothermal resources with a foreign contractor who must be technically and financially capable of undertaking the operations required in the service contract. Thus, virtually the entire range of the country's natural resources from petroleum and minerals to geothermal energy, from public lands and forest resources to fishery products was well covered by apparent legal authority to engage in the direct participation or involvement of foreign persons or corporations (otherwise disqualified) in the exploration and utilization of natural resources through service contracts.175 THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND TECHNICAL OR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AGREEMENTS After the February 1986 Edsa Revolution, Corazon C. Aquino took the reins of power under a revolutionary government. On March 25, 1986, President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 3,176 promulgating the Provisional Constitution, more popularly referred to as the Freedom Constitution. By authority of the same Proclamation, the President created a Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) to draft a new constitution, which took effect on the date of its ratification on February 2, 1987.177 The 1987 Constitution retained the Regalian doctrine. The first sentence of Section 2, Article XII states: "All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State." Like the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions before it, the 1987 Constitution, in the second sentence of the same provision, prohibits the alienation of natural resources, except agricultural lands. The third sentence of the same paragraph is new: "The exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State." The constitutional policy of the State's "full control and supervision" over natural resources proceeds from the concept of jura regalia, as well as the recognition of the importance of the country's natural resources, not only for national economic development, but also for its security and national defense.178 Under this provision, the State assumes "a more dynamic role" in the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources.179 Conspicuously absent in Section 2 is the provision in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions authorizing the State to grant licenses, concessions, or leases for the exploration, exploitation, development, or utilization of natural resources. By such omission, the utilization of inalienable lands of public domain through "license, concession or lease" is no longer allowed under the 1987 Constitution.180 Having omitted the provision on the concession system, Section 2 proceeded to introduce "unfamiliar language":181 The State may directly undertake such activities or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Consonant with the State's "full supervision and control" over natural resources, Section 2 offers the State two "options."182 One, the State may directly undertake these activities itself; or two, it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or entities at least 60% of whose capital is owned by such citizens. A third option is found in the third paragraph of the same section:

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. While the second and third options are limited only to Filipino citizens or, in the case of the former, to corporations or associations at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos, a fourth allows the participation of foreign-owned corporations. The fourth and fifth paragraphs of Section 2 provide: The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution. Although Section 2 sanctions the participation of foreign-owned corporations in the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources, it imposes certain limitations or conditions to agreements with such corporations. First, the parties to FTAAs. Only the President, in behalf of the State, may enter into these agreements, and only with corporations. By contrast, under the 1973 Constitution, a Filipino citizen, corporation or association may enter into a service contract with a "foreign person or entity." Second, the size of the activities: only large-scale exploration, development, and utilization is allowed. The term "large-scale usually refers to very capital-intensive activities."183 Third, the natural resources subject of the activities is restricted to minerals, petroleum and other mineral oils, the intent being to limit service contracts to those areas where Filipino capital may not be sufficient.184 Fourth, consistency with the provisions of statute. The agreements must be in accordance with the terms and conditions provided by law. Fifth, Section 2 prescribes certain standards for entering into such agreements. The agreements must be based on real contributions to economic growth and general welfare of the country. Sixth, the agreements must contain rudimentary stipulations for the promotion of the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. Seventh, the notification requirement. The President shall notify Congress of every financial or technical assistance agreement entered into within thirty days from its execution. Finally, the scope of the agreements. While the 1973 Constitution referred to "service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance" the 1987 Constitution provides for "agreements. . . involving either financial or technical assistance." It bears noting that the phrases "service contracts" and "management or other forms of assistance" in the earlier constitution have been omitted. By virtue of her legislative powers under the Provisional Constitution, 185 President Aquino, on July 10, 1987, signed into law E.O. No. 211 prescribing the interim procedures in the processing and approval of applications for the exploration, development and utilization of minerals. The omission in the 1987 Constitution of the term "service contracts" notwithstanding, the said E.O. still referred to them in Section 2 thereof:

Sec. 2. Applications for the exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources, including renewal applications and applications for approval of operating agreements and mining service contracts, shall be accepted and processed and may be approved x x x. [Emphasis supplied.] The same law provided in its Section 3 that the "processing, evaluation and approval of all mining applications . . . operating agreements and service contracts . . . shall be governed by Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended, other existing mining laws, and their implementing rules and regulations. . . ." As earlier stated, on the 25th also of July 1987, the President issued E.O. No. 279 by authority of which the subject WMCP FTAA was executed on March 30, 1995. On March 3, 1995, President Ramos signed into law R.A. No. 7942. Section 15 thereof declares that the Act "shall govern the exploration, development, utilization, and processing of all mineral resources." Such declaration notwithstanding, R.A. No. 7942 does not actually cover all the modes through which the State may undertake the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources. The State, being the owner of the natural resources, is accorded the primary power and responsibility in the exploration, development and utilization thereof. As such, it may undertake these activities through four modes: The State may directly undertake such activities. (2) The State may enter into co-production, joint venture or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens or qualified corporations. (3) Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens. (4) For the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of minerals, petroleum and other mineral oils, the President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving technical or financial assistance.186 Except to charge the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR with performing researches and surveys,187 and a passing mention of government-owned or controlled corporations,188 R.A. No. 7942 does not specify how the State should go about the first mode. The third mode, on the other hand, is governed by Republic Act No. 7076189 (the People's Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991) and other pertinent laws.190 R.A. No. 7942 primarily concerns itself with the second and fourth modes. Mineral production sharing, co-production and joint venture agreements are collectively classified by R.A. No. 7942 as "mineral agreements."191 The Government participates the least in a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA). In an MPSA, the Government grants the contractor192 the exclusive right to conduct mining operations within a contract area 193 and shares in the gross output.194 The MPSA contractor provides the financing, technology, management and personnel necessary for the agreement's implementation. 195 The total government share in an MPSA is the excise tax on mineral products under Republic Act No. 7729,196 amending Section 151(a) of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended. 197 In a co-production agreement (CA),198 the Government provides inputs to the mining operations other than the mineral resource,199 while in a joint venture agreement (JVA), where the Government enjoys the greatest participation, the Government and the JVA contractor organize a company with both parties having equity shares.200 Aside from earnings in equity, the Government in a JVA is also entitled to a share in the gross output. 201 The Government may enter into a CA202 or JVA203 with one or more contractors. The Government's share in a CA or JVA is set out in Section 81 of the law: The share of the Government in co-production and joint venture agreements shall be negotiated by the Government and the contractor taking into consideration the: (a) capital investment of the project, (b) the risks involved, (c) contribution of the project to the economy, and (d) other factors

that will provide for a fair and equitable sharing between the Government and the contractor. The Government shall also be entitled to compensations for its other contributions which shall be agreed upon by the parties, and shall consist, among other things, the contractor's income tax, excise tax, special allowance, withholding tax due from the contractor's foreign stockholders arising from dividend or interest payments to the said foreign stockholders, in case of a foreign national and all such other taxes, duties and fees as provided for under existing laws. All mineral agreements grant the respective contractors the exclusive right to conduct mining operations and to extract all mineral resources found in the contract area. 204 A "qualified person" may enter into any of the mineral agreements with the Government.205 A "qualified person" is any citizen of the Philippines with capacity to contract, or a corporation, partnership, association, or cooperative organized or authorized for the purpose of engaging in mining, with technical and financial capability to undertake mineral resources development and duly registered in accordance with law at least sixty per centum (60%) of the capital of which is owned by citizens of the Philippines x x x.206 The fourth mode involves "financial or technical assistance agreements." An FTAA is defined as "a contract involving financial or technical assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources."207 Any qualified person with technical and financial capability to undertake large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources in the Philippines may enter into such agreement directly with the Government through the DENR.208 For the purpose of granting an FTAA, a legally organized foreign-owned corporation (any corporation, partnership, association, or cooperative duly registered in accordance with law in which less than 50% of the capital is owned by Filipino citizens) 209 is deemed a "qualified person."210 Other than the difference in contractors' qualifications, the principal distinction between mineral agreements and FTAAs is the maximum contract area to which a qualified person may hold or be granted.211 "Large-scale" under R.A. No. 7942 is determined by the size of the contract area, as opposed to the amount invested (US $50,000,000.00), which was the standard under E.O. 279. Like a CA or a JVA, an FTAA is subject to negotiation.212 The Government's contributions, in the form of taxes, in an FTAA is identical to its contributions in the two mineral agreements, save that in an FTAA: The collection of Government share in financial or technical assistance agreement shall commence after the financial or technical assistance agreement contractor has fully recovered its pre-operating expenses, exploration, and development expenditures, inclusive. 213 III Having examined the history of the constitutional provision and statutes enacted pursuant thereto, a consideration of the substantive issues presented by the petition is now in order. THE EFFECTIVITY OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 279 Petitioners argue that E.O. No. 279, the law in force when the WMC FTAA was executed, did not come into effect. E.O. No. 279 was signed into law by then President Aquino on July 25, 1987, two days before the opening of Congress on July 27, 1987.214 Section 8 of the E.O. states that the same "shall take effect immediately." This provision, according to petitioners, runs counter to Section 1 of E.O. No. 200,215 which provides: SECTION 1. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided.216 [Emphasis supplied.] On that premise, petitioners contend that E.O. No. 279 could have only taken effect fifteen days after its publication at which time Congress had already convened and the President's power to legislate had ceased.

Respondents, on the other hand, counter that the validity of E.O. No. 279 was settled in Miners Association of the Philippines v. Factoran, supra. This is of course incorrect for the issue in Miners Association was not the validity of E.O. No. 279 but that of DAO Nos. 57 and 82 which were issued pursuant thereto. Nevertheless, petitioners' contentions have no merit. It bears noting that there is nothing in E.O. No. 200 that prevents a law from taking effect on a date other than even before the 15-day period after its publication. Where a law provides for its own date of effectivity, such date prevails over that prescribed by E.O. No. 200. Indeed, this is the very essence of the phrase "unless it is otherwise provided" in Section 1 thereof. Section 1, E.O. No. 200, therefore, applies only when a statute does not provide for its own date of effectivity. What is mandatory under E.O. No. 200, and what due process requires, as this Court held in Taada v. Tuvera,217 is the publication of the law for without such notice and publication, there would be no basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis n[eminem] excusat." It would be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the transgression of a law of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one. While the effectivity clause of E.O. No. 279 does not require its publication, it is not a ground for its invalidation since the Constitution, being "the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation," is deemed written in the law.218 Hence, the due process clause,219 which, so Taada held, mandates the publication of statutes, is read into Section 8 of E.O. No. 279. Additionally, Section 1 of E.O. No. 200 which provides for publication "either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines," finds suppletory application. It is significant to note that E.O. No. 279 was actually published in the Official Gazette220 on August 3, 1987. From a reading then of Section 8 of E.O. No. 279, Section 1 of E.O. No. 200, and Taada v. Tuvera, this Court holds that E.O. No. 279 became effective immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette on August 3, 1987. That such effectivity took place after the convening of the first Congress is irrelevant. At the time President Aquino issued E.O. No. 279 on July 25, 1987, she was still validly exercising legislative powers under the Provisional Constitution.221 Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution explicitly states: Sec. 6. The incumbent President shall continue to exercise legislative powers until the first Congress is convened. The convening of the first Congress merely precluded the exercise of legislative powers by President Aquino; it did not prevent the effectivity of laws she had previously enacted. There can be no question, therefore, that E.O. No. 279 is an effective, and a validly enacted, statute. THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE WMCP FTAA Petitioners submit that, in accordance with the text of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, FTAAs should be limited to "technical or financial assistance" only. They observe, however, that, contrary to the language of the Constitution, the WMCP FTAA allows WMCP, a fully foreignowned mining corporation, to extend more than mere financial or technical assistance to the State, for it permits WMCP to manage and operate every aspect of the mining activity. 222 Petitioners' submission is well-taken. It is a cardinal rule in the interpretation of constitutions that the instrument must be so construed as to give effect to the intention of the people who adopted it.223 This intention is to be sought in the constitution itself, and the apparent meaning of the words is to be taken as expressing it, except in cases where that assumption would lead to absurdity, ambiguity, or contradiction.224 What the Constitution says according to the text of the provision, therefore, compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean what they say. 225 Accordingly, following the literal text of the Constitution, assistance accorded by foreign-owned corporations in the

large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of petroleum, minerals and mineral oils should be limited to "technical" or "financial" assistance only. WMCP nevertheless submits that the word "technical" in the fourth paragraph of Section 2 of E.O. No. 279 encompasses a "broad number of possible services," perhaps, "scientific and/or technological in basis."226 It thus posits that it may also well include "the area of management or operations . . . so long as such assistance requires specialized knowledge or skills, and are related to the exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources." 227 This Court is not persuaded. As priorly pointed out, the phrase "management or other forms of assistance" in the 1973 Constitution was deleted in the 1987 Constitution, which allows only "technical or financial assistance." Casus omisus pro omisso habendus est. A person, object or thing omitted from an enumeration must be held to have been omitted intentionally.228 As will be shown later, the management or operation of mining activities by foreign contractors, which is the primary feature of service contracts, was precisely the evil that the drafters of the 1987 Constitution sought to eradicate. Respondents insist that "agreements involving technical or financial assistance" is just another term for service contracts. They contend that the proceedings of the CONCOM indicate "that although the terminology 'service contract' was avoided [by the Constitution], the concept it represented was not." They add that "[t]he concept is embodied in the phrase 'agreements involving financial or technical assistance.'"229 And point out how members of the CONCOM referred to these agreements as "service contracts." For instance: SR. TAN. Am I correct in thinking that the only difference between these future service contracts and the past service contracts under Mr. Marcos is the general law to be enacted by the legislature and the notification of Congress by the President? That is the only difference, is it not? MR. VILLEGAS. That is right. SR. TAN. So those are the safeguards[?] MR. VILLEGAS. Yes. There was no law at all governing service contracts before. SR. TAN. Thank you, Madam President.230 [Emphasis supplied.] WMCP also cites the following statements of Commissioners Gascon, Garcia, Nolledo and Tadeo who alluded to service contracts as they explained their respective votes in the approval of the draft Article: MR. GASCON. Mr. Presiding Officer, I vote no primarily because of two reasons: One, the provision on service contracts. I felt that if we would constitutionalize any provision on service contracts, this should always be with the concurrence of Congress and not guided only by a general law to be promulgated by Congress. x x x.231 [Emphasis supplied.] x x x. MR. GARCIA. Thank you. I vote no. x x x. Service contracts are given constitutional legitimization in Section 3, even when they have been proven to be inimical to the interests of the nation, providing as they do the legal loophole for the exploitation of our natural resources for the benefit of foreign interests. They constitute a serious negation of Filipino control on the use and disposition of the nation's natural resources, especially with regard to those which are nonrenewable.232 [Emphasis supplied.] xxx MR. NOLLEDO. While there are objectionable provisions in the Article on National Economy and Patrimony, going over said provisions meticulously, setting aside

prejudice and personalities will reveal that the article contains a balanced set of provisions. I hope the forthcoming Congress will implement such provisions taking into account that Filipinos should have real control over our economy and patrimony, and if foreign equity is permitted, the same must be subordinated to the imperative demands of the national interest. x x x. It is also my understanding that service contracts involving foreign corporations or entities are resorted to only when no Filipino enterprise or Filipino-controlled enterprise could possibly undertake the exploration or exploitation of our natural resources and that compensation under such contracts cannot and should not equal what should pertain to ownership of capital. In other words, the service contract should not be an instrument to circumvent the basic provision, that the exploration and exploitation of natural resources should be truly for the benefit of Filipinos. Thank you, and I vote yes.233 [Emphasis supplied.] x x x. MR. TADEO. Nais ko lamang ipaliwanag ang aking boto. Matapos suriin ang kalagayan ng Pilipinas, ang saligang suliranin, pangunahin ang salitang "imperyalismo." Ang ibig sabihin nito ay ang sistema ng lipunang pinaghaharian ng iilang monopolyong kapitalista at ang salitang "imperyalismo" ay buhay na buhay sa National Economy and Patrimony na nating ginawa. Sa pamamagitan ng salitang "based on," naroroon na ang free trade sapagkat tayo ay mananatiling tagapagluwas ng hilaw na sangkap at tagaangkat ng yaring produkto. Pangalawa, naroroon pa rin ang parity rights, ang service contract, ang 60-40 equity sa natural resources. Habang naghihirap ang sambayanang Pilipino, ginagalugad naman ng mga dayuhan ang ating likas na yaman. Kailan man ang Article on National Economy and Patrimony ay hindi nagpaalis sa pagkaalipin ng ating ekonomiya sa kamay ng mga dayuhan. Ang solusyon sa suliranin ng bansa ay dalawa lamang: ang pagpapatupad ng tunay na reporma sa lupa at ang national industrialization. Ito ang tinatawag naming pagsikat ng araw sa Silangan. Ngunit ang mga landlords and big businessmen at ang mga komprador ay nagsasabi na ang free trade na ito, ang kahulugan para sa amin, ay ipinipilit sa ating sambayanan na ang araw ay sisikat sa Kanluran. Kailan man hindi puwedeng sumikat ang araw sa Kanluran. I vote no. 234 [Emphasis supplied.] This Court is likewise not persuaded. As earlier noted, the phrase "service contracts" has been deleted in the 1987 Constitution's Article on National Economy and Patrimony. If the CONCOM intended to retain the concept of service contracts under the 1973 Constitution, it could have simply adopted the old terminology ("service contracts") instead of employing new and unfamiliar terms ("agreements . . . involving either technical or financial assistance"). Such a difference between the language of a provision in a revised constitution and that of a similar provision in the preceding constitution is viewed as indicative of a difference in purpose.235 If, as respondents suggest, the concept of "technical or financial assistance" agreements is identical to that of "service contracts," the CONCOM would not have bothered to fit the same dog with a new collar. To uphold respondents' theory would reduce the first to a mere euphemism for the second and render the change in phraseology meaningless. An examination of the reason behind the change confirms that technical or financial assistance agreements are not synonymous to service contracts. [T]he Court in construing a Constitution should bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought to be prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be examined in light of the history of the times, and the condition and circumstances under which the Constitution was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the particular provision and the purpose

sought to be accomplished thereby, in order to construe the whole as to make the words consonant to that reason and calculated to effect that purpose. 236 As the following question of Commissioner Quesada and Commissioner Villegas' answer shows the drafters intended to do away with service contracts which were used to circumvent the capitalization (60%-40%) requirement: MS. QUESADA. The 1973 Constitution used the words "service contracts." In this particular Section 3, is there a safeguard against the possible control of foreign interests if the Filipinos go into coproduction with them? MR. VILLEGAS. Yes. In fact, the deletion of the phrase "service contracts" was our first attempt to avoid some of the abuses in the past regime in the use of service contracts to go around the 60-40 arrangement. The safeguard that has been introduced and this, of course can be refined is found in Section 3, lines 25 to 30, where Congress will have to concur with the President on any agreement entered into between a foreign-owned corporation and the government involving technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development and utilization of natural resources.237 [Emphasis supplied.] In a subsequent discussion, Commissioner Villegas allayed the fears of Commissioner Quesada regarding the participation of foreign interests in Philippine natural resources, which was supposed to be restricted to Filipinos. MS. QUESADA. Another point of clarification is the phrase "and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State." In the 1973 Constitution, this was limited to citizens of the Philippines; but it was removed and substituted by "shall be under the full control and supervision of the State." Was the concept changed so that these particular resources would be limited to citizens of the Philippines? Or would these resources only be under the full control and supervision of the State; meaning, noncitizens would have access to these natural resources? Is that the understanding? MR. VILLEGAS. No, Mr. Vice-President, if the Commissioner reads the next sentence, it states: Such activities may be directly undertaken by the State, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens. So we are still limiting it only to Filipino citizens. x x x. MS. QUESADA. Going back to Section 3, the section suggests that: The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources may be directly undertaken by the State, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture or production-sharing agreement with . . . corporations or associations at least sixty per cent of whose voting stock or controlling interest is owned by such citizens. Lines 25 to 30, on the other hand, suggest that in the large-scale exploration, development and utilization of natural resources, the President with the concurrence of Congress may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations even for technical or financial assistance. I wonder if this part of Section 3 contradicts the second part. I am raising this point for fear that foreign investors will use their enormous capital resources to facilitate the actual exploitation or exploration, development and effective disposition of our natural resources to the detriment of Filipino investors. I am not saying that we should not consider borrowing money from foreign sources. What I refer to is that foreign interest should be allowed to participate only to the extent that they lend us money and give us technical assistance with the appropriate government permit. In this way, we can insure the enjoyment of our natural resources by our own people.

MR. VILLEGAS. Actually, the second provision about the President does not permit foreign investors to participate. It is only technical or financial assistance they do not own anything but on conditions that have to be determined by law with the concurrence of Congress. So, it is very restrictive. If the Commissioner will remember, this removes the possibility for service contracts which we said yesterday were avenues used in the previous regime to go around the 60-40 requirement.238 [Emphasis supplied.] The present Chief Justice, then a member of the CONCOM, also referred to this limitation in scope in proposing an amendment to the 60-40 requirement: MR. DAVIDE. May I be allowed to explain the proposal? MR. MAAMBONG. Subject to the three-minute rule, Madam President. MR. DAVIDE. It will not take three minutes. The Commission had just approved the Preamble. In the Preamble we clearly stated that the Filipino people are sovereign and that one of the objectives for the creation or establishment of a government is to conserve and develop the national patrimony. The implication is that the national patrimony or our natural resources are exclusively reserved for the Filipino people. No alien must be allowed to enjoy, exploit and develop our natural resources. As a matter of fact, that principle proceeds from the fact that our natural resources are gifts from God to the Filipino people and it would be a breach of that special blessing from God if we will allow aliens to exploit our natural resources. I voted in favor of the Jamir proposal because it is not really exploitation that we granted to the alien corporations but only for them to render financial or technical assistance. It is not for them to enjoy our natural resources. Madam President, our natural resources are depleting; our population is increasing by leaps and bounds. Fifty years from now, if we will allow these aliens to exploit our natural resources, there will be no more natural resources for the next generations of Filipinos. It may last long if we will begin now. Since 1935 the aliens have been allowed to enjoy to a certain extent the exploitation of our natural resources, and we became victims of foreign dominance and control. The aliens are interested in coming to the Philippines because they would like to enjoy the bounty of nature exclusively intended for Filipinos by God. And so I appeal to all, for the sake of the future generations, that if we have to pray in the Preamble "to preserve and develop the national patrimony for the sovereign Filipino people and for the generations to come," we must at this time decide once and for all that our natural resources must be reserved only to Filipino citizens. Thank you.239 [Emphasis supplied.] The opinion of another member of the CONCOM is persuasive240 and leaves no doubt as to the intention of the framers to eliminate service contracts altogether. He writes: Paragraph 4 of Section 2 specifies large-scale, capital-intensive, highly technological undertakings for which the President may enter into contracts with foreign-owned corporations, and enunciates strict conditions that should govern such contracts. x x x. This provision balances the need for foreign capital and technology with the need to maintain the national sovereignty. It recognizes the fact that as long as Filipinos can formulate their own terms in their own territory, there is no danger of relinquishing sovereignty to foreign interests. Are service contracts allowed under the new Constitution? No. Under the new Constitution, foreign investors (fully alien-owned) can NOT participate in Filipino enterprises except to provide: (1) Technical Assistance for highly technical enterprises; and (2) Financial Assistance for large-scale enterprises. The intent of this provision, as well as other provisions on foreign investments, is to prevent the practice (prevalent in the Marcos government) of skirting the 60/40 equation using the cover of service contracts.241 [Emphasis supplied.]

Furthermore, it appears that Proposed Resolution No. 496, 242 which was the draft Article on National Economy and Patrimony, adopted the concept of "agreements . . . involving either technical or financial assistance" contained in the "Draft of the 1986 U.P. Law Constitution Project" (U.P. Law draft) which was taken into consideration during the deliberation of the CONCOM.243 The former, as well as Article XII, as adopted, employed the same terminology, as the comparative table below shows:

DRAFT OF THE UP LAW CONSTITUTION PROJECT

PROPOSED RESOLUTION NO. 496 OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION

ARTICLE XII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION

Sec. 1. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, flora and fauna and other natural resources of the Philippines are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. Such activities may be directly undertaken by the state, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, production sharing agreements with Filipino citizens or corporations or associations sixty per cent of whose voting stock or controlling interest is owned by such citizens for a period of not more than twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In case as to water rights for

Sec. 3. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. Such activities may be directly undertaken by the State, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, productionsharing agreements with Filipino citizens or corporations or associations at least sixty per cent of whose voting stock or controlling interest is owned by such citizens. Such agreements shall be for a period of twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such term and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for

Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities or it may enter into coproduction, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In case of water rights for irrigation, water supply,

irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant. The National Assembly may by law allow small scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens. The National Assembly, may, by two-thirds vote of all its members by special law provide the terms and conditions under which a foreign-owned corporation may enter into agreements with the government involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, or utilization of natural resources. [Emphasis supplied.]

irrigation, water supply, fisheries or industrial uses other than the development for water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant. The Congress may by law allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. The President with the concurrence of Congress, by special law, shall provide the terms and conditions under which a foreign-owned corporation may enter into agreements with the government involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources. [Emphasis supplied.]

fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant. The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. [Emphasis supplied.] The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this

provision, within thirty days from its execution.

The insights of the proponents of the U.P. Law draft are, therefore, instructive in interpreting the phrase "technical or financial assistance." In his position paper entitled Service Contracts: Old Wine in New Bottles?, Professor Pacifico A. Agabin, who was a member of the working group that prepared the U.P. Law draft, criticized service contracts for they "lodge exclusive management and control of the enterprise to the service contractor, which is reminiscent of the old concession regime. Thus, notwithstanding the provision of the Constitution that natural resources belong to the State, and that these shall not be alienated, the service contract system renders nugatory the constitutional provisions cited." 244 He elaborates: Looking at the Philippine model, we can discern the following vestiges of the concession regime, thus: 1. Bidding of a selected area, or leasing the choice of the area to the interested party and then negotiating the terms and conditions of the contract; (Sec. 5, P.D. 87) 2. Management of the enterprise vested on the contractor, including operation of the field if petroleum is discovered; (Sec. 8, P.D. 87) 3. Control of production and other matters such as expansion and development; (Sec. 8) 4. Responsibility for downstream operations marketing, distribution, and processing may be with the contractor (Sec. 8); 5. Ownership of equipment, machinery, fixed assets, and other properties remain with contractor (Sec. 12, P.D. 87); 6. Repatriation of capital and retention of profits abroad guaranteed to the contractor (Sec. 13, P.D. 87); and 7. While title to the petroleum discovered may nominally be in the name of the government, the contractor has almost unfettered control over its disposition and sale, and even the domestic requirements of the country is relegated to a pro rata basis (Sec. 8). In short, our version of the service contract is just a rehash of the old concession regime x x x. Some people have pulled an old rabbit out of a magician's hat, and foisted it upon us as a new and different animal. The service contract as we know it here is antithetical to the principle of sovereignty over our natural resources restated in the same article of the [1973] Constitution containing the provision for service contracts. If the service contractor happens to be a foreign corporation, the contract would also run counter to the constitutional provision on nationalization or Filipinization, of the exploitation of our natural resources.245 [Emphasis supplied. Underscoring in the original.] Professor Merlin M. Magallona, also a member of the working group, was harsher in his reproach of the system: x x x the nationalistic phraseology of the 1935 [Constitution] was retained by the [1973] Charter, but the essence of nationalism was reduced to hollow rhetoric. The 1973 Charter still provided that the exploitation or development of the country's natural resources be limited to Filipino citizens or corporations owned or controlled by them. However, the martial-law Constitution allowed them, once these resources are in their name, to enter into service contracts with foreign investors for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance. Since foreign investors have the capital resources, the actual exploitation and development, as well as

the effective disposition, of the country's natural resources, would be under their direction, and control, relegating the Filipino investors to the role of second-rate partners in joint ventures. Through the instrumentality of the service contract, the 1973 Constitution had legitimized at the highest level of state policy that which was prohibited under the 1973 Constitution, namely: the exploitation of the country's natural resources by foreign nationals. The drastic impact of [this] constitutional change becomes more pronounced when it is considered that the active party to any service contract may be a corporation wholly owned by foreign interests. In such a case, the citizenship requirement is completely set aside, permitting foreign corporations to obtain actual possession, control, and [enjoyment] of the country's natural resources. 246 [Emphasis supplied.] Accordingly, Professor Agabin recommends that: Recognizing the service contract for what it is, we have to expunge it from the Constitution and reaffirm ownership over our natural resources. That is the only way we can exercise effective control over our natural resources. This should not mean complete isolation of the country's natural resources from foreign investment. Other contract forms which are less derogatory to our sovereignty and control over natural resources like technical assistance agreements, financial assistance [agreements], coproduction agreements, joint ventures, production-sharing could still be utilized and adopted without violating constitutional provisions. In other words, we can adopt contract forms which recognize and assert our sovereignty and ownership over natural resources, and where the foreign entity is just a pure contractor instead of the beneficial owner of our economic resources.247 [Emphasis supplied.] Still another member of the working group, Professor Eduardo Labitag, proposed that: 2. Service contracts as practiced under the 1973 Constitution should be discouraged, instead the government may be allowed, subject to authorization by special law passed by an extraordinary majority to enter into either technical or financial assistance. This is justified by the fact that as presently worded in the 1973 Constitution, a service contract gives full control over the contract area to the service contractor, for him to work, manage and dispose of the proceeds or production. It was a subterfuge to get around the nationality requirement of the constitution. 248 [Emphasis supplied.] In the annotations on the proposed Article on National Economy and Patrimony, the U.P. Law draft summarized the rationale therefor, thus: 5. The last paragraph is a modification of the service contract provision found in Section 9, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution as amended. This 1973 provision shattered the framework of nationalism in our fundamental law (see Magallona, "Nationalism and its Subversion in the Constitution"). Through the service contract, the 1973 Constitution had legitimized that which was prohibited under the 1935 constitutionthe exploitation of the country's natural resources by foreign nationals. Through the service contract, acts prohibited by the Anti-Dummy Law were recognized as legitimate arrangements. Service contracts lodge exclusive management and control of the enterprise to the service contractor, not unlike the old concession regime where the concessionaire had complete control over the country's natural resources, having been given exclusive and plenary rights to exploit a particular resource and, in effect, having been assured of ownership of that resource at the point of extraction (see Agabin, "Service Contracts: Old Wine in New Bottles"). Service contracts, hence, are antithetical to the principle of sovereignty over our natural resources, as well as the constitutional provision on nationalization or Filipinization of the exploitation of our natural resources. Under the proposed provision, only technical assistance or financial assistance agreements may be entered into, and only for large-scale activities. These are contract forms which recognize and assert our sovereignty and ownership over natural resources since the foreign entity is just a pure contractor and not a beneficial owner of our economic resources. The proposal recognizes the need for capital and technology to develop our natural resources without sacrificing our sovereignty and control over such resources by the safeguard of a special law which requires two-thirds vote of all the members of the Legislature. This will ensure that such agreements will

be debated upon exhaustively and thoroughly in the National Assembly to avert prejudice to the nation.249 [Emphasis supplied.] The U.P. Law draft proponents viewed service contracts under the 1973 Constitution as grants of beneficial ownership of the country's natural resources to foreign owned corporations. While, in theory, the State owns these natural resources and Filipino citizens, their beneficiaries service contracts actually vested foreigners with the right to dispose, explore for, develop, exploit, and utilize the same. Foreigners, not Filipinos, became the beneficiaries of Philippine natural resources. This arrangement is clearly incompatible with the constitutional ideal of nationalization of natural resources, with the Regalian doctrine, and on a broader perspective, with Philippine sovereignty. The proponents nevertheless acknowledged the need for capital and technical know-how in the large-scale exploitation, development and utilization of natural resources the second paragraph of the proposed draft itself being an admission of such scarcity. Hence, they recommended a compromise to reconcile the nationalistic provisions dating back to the 1935 Constitution, which reserved all natural resources exclusively to Filipinos, and the more liberal 1973 Constitution, which allowed foreigners to participate in these resources through service contracts. Such a compromise called for the adoption of a new system in the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources in the form of technical agreements or financial agreements which, necessarily, are distinct concepts from service contracts. The replacement of "service contracts" with "agreements involving either technical or financial assistance," as well as the deletion of the phrase "management or other forms of assistance," assumes greater significance when note is taken that the U.P. Law draft proposed other equally crucial changes that were obviously heeded by the CONCOM. These include the abrogation of the concession system and the adoption of new "options" for the State in the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources. The proponents deemed these changes to be more consistent with the State's ownership of, and its "full control and supervision" (a phrase also employed by the framers) over, such resources. The Project explained: 3. In line with the State ownership of natural resources, the State should take a more active role in the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources, than the present practice of granting licenses, concessions, or leases hence the provision that said activities shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. There are three major schemes by which the State could undertake these activities: first, directly by itself; second, by virtue of co-production, joint venture, production sharing agreements with Filipino citizens or corporations or associations sixty per cent (60%) of the voting stock or controlling interests of which are owned by such citizens; or third, with a foreign-owned corporation, in cases of large-scale exploration, development, or utilization of natural resources through agreements involving either technical or financial assistance only. x x x. At present, under the licensing concession or lease schemes, the government benefits from such benefits only through fees, charges, ad valorem taxes and income taxes of the exploiters of our natural resources. Such benefits are very minimal compared with the enormous profits reaped by theses licensees, grantees, concessionaires. Moreover, some of them disregard the conservation of natural resources and do not protect the environment from degradation. The proposed role of the State will enable it to a greater share in the profits it can also actively husband its natural resources and engage in developmental programs that will be beneficial to them. 4. Aside from the three major schemes for the exploration, development, and utilization of our natural resources, the State may, by law, allow Filipino citizens to explore, develop, utilize natural resources in small-scale. This is in recognition of the plight of marginal fishermen, forest dwellers, gold panners, and others similarly situated who exploit our natural resources for their daily sustenance and survival.250 Professor Agabin, in particular, after taking pains to illustrate the similarities between the two systems, concluded that the service contract regime was but a "rehash" of the concession system. "Old wine in new bottles," as he put it. The rejection of the service contract regime, therefore, is in consonance with the abolition of the concession system.

In light of the deliberations of the CONCOM, the text of the Constitution, and the adoption of other proposed changes, there is no doubt that the framers considered and shared the intent of the U.P. Law proponents in employing the phrase "agreements . . . involving either technical or financial assistance." While certain commissioners may have mentioned the term "service contracts" during the CONCOM deliberations, they may not have been necessarily referring to the concept of service contracts under the 1973 Constitution. As noted earlier, "service contracts" is a term that assumes different meanings to different people.251 The commissioners may have been using the term loosely, and not in its technical and legal sense, to refer, in general, to agreements concerning natural resources entered into by the Government with foreign corporations. These loose statements do not necessarily translate to the adoption of the 1973 Constitution provision allowing service contracts. It is true that, as shown in the earlier quoted portions of the proceedings in CONCOM, in response to Sr. Tan's question, Commissioner Villegas commented that, other than congressional notification, the only difference between "future" and "past" "service contracts" is the requirement of a general law as there were no laws previously authorizing the same. 252 However, such remark is far outweighed by his more categorical statement in his exchange with Commissioner Quesada that the draft article "does not permit foreign investors to participate" in the nation's natural resources which was exactly what service contracts did except to provide "technical or financial assistance."253 In the case of the other commissioners, Commissioner Nolledo himself clarified in his work that the present charter prohibits service contracts. 254 Commissioner Gascon was not totally averse to foreign participation, but favored stricter restrictions in the form of majority congressional concurrence.255 On the other hand, Commissioners Garcia and Tadeo may have veered to the extreme side of the spectrum and their objections may be interpreted as votes against any foreign participation in our natural resources whatsoever. WMCP cites Opinion No. 75, s. 1987,256 and Opinion No. 175, s. 1990257 of the Secretary of Justice, expressing the view that a financial or technical assistance agreement "is no different in concept" from the service contract allowed under the 1973 Constitution. This Court is not, however, bound by this interpretation. When an administrative or executive agency renders an opinion or issues a statement of policy, it merely interprets a pre-existing law; and the administrative interpretation of the law is at best advisory, for it is the courts that finally determine what the law means.258 In any case, the constitutional provision allowing the President to enter into FTAAs with foreignowned corporations is an exception to the rule that participation in the nation's natural resources is reserved exclusively to Filipinos. Accordingly, such provision must be construed strictly against their enjoyment by non-Filipinos. As Commissioner Villegas emphasized, the provision is "very restrictive."259 Commissioner Nolledo also remarked that "entering into service contracts is an exception to the rule on protection of natural resources for the interest of the nation and, therefore, being an exception, it should be subject, whenever possible, to stringent rules." 260 Indeed, exceptions should be strictly but reasonably construed; they extend only so far as their language fairly warrants and all doubts should be resolved in favor of the general provision rather than the exception.261 With the foregoing discussion in mind, this Court finds that R.A. No. 7942 is invalid insofar as said Act authorizes service contracts. Although the statute employs the phrase "financial and technical agreements" in accordance with the 1987 Constitution, it actually treats these agreements as service contracts that grant beneficial ownership to foreign contractors contrary to the fundamental law. Section 33, which is found under Chapter VI (Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement) of R.A. No. 7942 states: SEC. 33. Eligibility.Any qualified person with technical and financial capability to undertake large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of mineral resources in the Philippines may

enter into a financial or technical assistance agreement directly with the Government through the Department. [Emphasis supplied.] "Exploration," as defined by R.A. No. 7942, means the searching or prospecting for mineral resources by geological, geochemical or geophysical surveys, remote sensing, test pitting, trending, drilling, shaft sinking, tunneling or any other means for the purpose of determining the existence, extent, quantity and quality thereof and the feasibility of mining them for profit.262 A legally organized foreign-owned corporation may be granted an exploration permit, 263 which vests it with the right to conduct exploration for all minerals in specified areas, 264 i.e., to enter, occupy and explore the same.265 Eventually, the foreign-owned corporation, as such permittee, may apply for a financial and technical assistance agreement. 266 "Development" is the work undertaken to explore and prepare an ore body or a mineral deposit for mining, including the construction of necessary infrastructure and related facilities. 267 "Utilization" "means the extraction or disposition of minerals." 268 A stipulation that the proponent shall dispose of the minerals and byproducts produced at the highest price and more advantageous terms and conditions as provided for under the implementing rules and regulations is required to be incorporated in every FTAA.269 A foreign-owned/-controlled corporation may likewise be granted a mineral processing permit. 270 "Mineral processing" is the milling, beneficiation or upgrading of ores or minerals and rocks or by similar means to convert the same into marketable products. 271 An FTAA contractor makes a warranty that the mining operations shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of R.A. No. 7942 and its implementing rules 272 and for work programs and minimum expenditures and commitments.273 And it obliges itself to furnish the Government records of geologic, accounting, and other relevant data for its mining operation. 274 "Mining operation," as the law defines it, means mining activities involving exploration, feasibility, development, utilization, and processing.275 The underlying assumption in all these provisions is that the foreign contractor manages the mineral resources, just like the foreign contractor in a service contract. Furthermore, Chapter XII of the Act grants foreign contractors in FTAAs the same auxiliary mining rights that it grants contractors in mineral agreements (MPSA, CA and JV). 276 Parenthetically, Sections 72 to 75 use the term "contractor," without distinguishing between FTAA and mineral agreement contractors. And so does "holders of mining rights" in Section 76. A foreign contractor may even convert its FTAA into a mineral agreement if the economic viability of the contract area is found to be inadequate to justify large-scale mining operations,277 provided that it reduces its equity in the corporation, partnership, association or cooperative to forty percent (40%).278 Finally, under the Act, an FTAA contractor warrants that it "has or has access to all the financing, managerial, and technical expertise. . . ." 279 This suggests that an FTAA contractor is bound to provide some management assistance a form of assistance that has been eliminated and, therefore, proscribed by the present Charter. By allowing foreign contractors to manage or operate all the aspects of the mining operation, the above-cited provisions of R.A. No. 7942 have in effect conveyed beneficial ownership over the nation's mineral resources to these contractors, leaving the State with nothing but bare title thereto. Moreover, the same provisions, whether by design or inadvertence, permit a circumvention of the constitutionally ordained 60%-40% capitalization requirement for corporations or associations engaged in the exploitation, development and utilization of Philippine natural resources.

In sum, the Court finds the following provisions of R.A. No. 7942 to be violative of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution: (1) The proviso in Section 3 (aq), which defines "qualified person," to wit: Provided, That a legally organized foreign-owned corporation shall be deemed a qualified person for purposes of granting an exploration permit, financial or technical assistance agreement or mineral processing permit. (2) Section 23, which specifies the rights and obligations of an exploration permittee, insofar as said section applies to a financial or technical assistance agreement, (3) Section 33, which prescribes the eligibility of a contractor in a financial or technical assistance agreement; (4) Section 35,281 which enumerates the terms and conditions for every financial or technical assistance agreement; (5) Section 39,282 which allows the contractor in a financial and technical assistance agreement to convert the same into a mineral production-sharing agreement; (6) Section 56,283 which authorizes the issuance of a mineral processing permit to a contractor in a financial and technical assistance agreement; The following provisions of the same Act are likewise void as they are dependent on the foregoing provisions and cannot stand on their own: (1) Section 3 (g),284 which defines the term "contractor," insofar as it applies to a financial or technical assistance agreement. Section 34,285 which prescribes the maximum contract area in a financial or technical assistance agreements; Section 36,286 which allows negotiations for financial or technical assistance agreements; Section 37,287 which prescribes the procedure for filing and evaluation of financial or technical assistance agreement proposals; Section 38,288 which limits the term of financial or technical assistance agreements; Section 40,289 which allows the assignment or transfer of financial or technical assistance agreements; Section 41,290 which allows the withdrawal of the contractor in an FTAA; The second and third paragraphs of Section 81,291 which provide for the Government's share in a financial and technical assistance agreement; and Section 90,292 which provides for incentives to contractors in FTAAs insofar as it applies to said contractors; When the parts of the statute are so mutually dependent and connected as conditions, considerations, inducements, or compensations for each other, as to warrant a belief that the legislature intended them as a whole, and that if all could not be carried into effect, the legislature would not pass the residue independently, then, if some parts are unconstitutional, all the provisions which are thus dependent, conditional, or connected, must fall with them. 293 There can be little doubt that the WMCP FTAA itself is a service contract. Section 1.3 of the WMCP FTAA grants WMCP "the exclusive right to explore, exploit, utilise[,] process and dispose of all Minerals products and by-products thereof that may be produced from the Contract Area."294 The FTAA also imbues WMCP with the following rights:
280

(b) to extract and carry away any Mineral samples from the Contract area for the purpose of conducting tests and studies in respect thereof; (c) to determine the mining and treatment processes to be utilised during the Development/Operating Period and the project facilities to be constructed during the Development and Construction Period; (d) have the right of possession of the Contract Area, with full right of ingress and egress and the right to occupy the same, subject to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 512 (if applicable) and not be prevented from entry into private ands by surface owners and/or occupants thereof when prospecting, exploring and exploiting for minerals therein; xxx (f) to construct roadways, mining, drainage, power generation and transmission facilities and all other types of works on the Contract Area; (g) to erect, install or place any type of improvements, supplies, machinery and other equipment relating to the Mining Operations and to use, sell or otherwise dispose of, modify, remove or diminish any and all parts thereof; (h) enjoy, subject to pertinent laws, rules and regulations and the rights of third Parties, easement rights and the use of timber, sand, clay, stone, water and other natural resources in the Contract Area without cost for the purposes of the Mining Operations; xxx (i) have the right to mortgage, charge or encumber all or part of its interest and obligations under this Agreement, the plant, equipment and infrastructure and the Minerals produced from the Mining Operations; x x x. 295 All materials, equipment, plant and other installations erected or placed on the Contract Area remain the property of WMCP, which has the right to deal with and remove such items within twelve months from the termination of the FTAA.296 Pursuant to Section 1.2 of the FTAA, WMCP shall provide "[all] financing, technology, management and personnel necessary for the Mining Operations." The mining company binds itself to "perform all Mining Operations . . . providing all necessary services, technology and financing in connection therewith,"297 and to "furnish all materials, labour, equipment and other installations that may be required for carrying on all Mining Operations." 298> WMCP may make expansions, improvements and replacements of the mining facilities and may add such new facilities as it considers necessary for the mining operations. 299 These contractual stipulations, taken together, grant WMCP beneficial ownership over natural resources that properly belong to the State and are intended for the benefit of its citizens. These stipulations are abhorrent to the 1987 Constitution. They are precisely the vices that the fundamental law seeks to avoid, the evils that it aims to suppress. Consequently, the contract from which they spring must be struck down. In arguing against the annulment of the FTAA, WMCP invokes the Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments between the Philippine and Australian Governments, which was signed in Manila on January 25, 1995 and which entered into force on December 8, 1995. x x x. Article 2 (1) of said treaty states that it applies to investments whenever made and thus the fact that [WMCP's] FTAA was entered into prior to the entry into force of the treaty does not preclude the Philippine Government from protecting [WMCP's] investment in [that] FTAA. Likewise, Article 3 (1) of the treaty provides that "Each Party shall encourage and promote investments in its area by investors of the other Party and shall [admit] such investments in accordance with its Constitution, Laws, regulations and investment policies" and in Article 3 (2),

it states that "Each Party shall ensure that investments are accorded fair and equitable treatment." The latter stipulation indicates that it was intended to impose an obligation upon a Party to afford fair and equitable treatment to the investments of the other Party and that a failure to provide such treatment by or under the laws of the Party may constitute a breach of the treaty. Simply stated, the Philippines could not, under said treaty, rely upon the inadequacies of its own laws to deprive an Australian investor (like [WMCP]) of fair and equitable treatment by invalidating [WMCP's] FTAA without likewise nullifying the service contracts entered into before the enactment of RA 7942 such as those mentioned in PD 87 or EO 279. This becomes more significant in the light of the fact that [WMCP's] FTAA was executed not by a mere Filipino citizen, but by the Philippine Government itself, through its President no less, which, in entering into said treaty is assumed to be aware of the existing Philippine laws on service contracts over the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. The execution of the FTAA by the Philippine Government assures the Australian Government that the FTAA is in accordance with existing Philippine laws.300 [Emphasis and italics by private respondents.] The invalidation of the subject FTAA, it is argued, would constitute a breach of said treaty which, in turn, would amount to a violation of Section 3, Article II of the Constitution adopting the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. One of these generally accepted principles is pacta sunt servanda, which requires the performance in good faith of treaty obligations. Even assuming arguendo that WMCP is correct in its interpretation of the treaty and its assertion that "the Philippines could not . . . deprive an Australian investor (like [WMCP]) of fair and equitable treatment by invalidating [WMCP's] FTAA without likewise nullifying the service contracts entered into before the enactment of RA 7942 . . .," the annulment of the FTAA would not constitute a breach of the treaty invoked. For this decision herein invalidating the subject FTAA forms part of the legal system of the Philippines.301 The equal protection clause302 guarantees that such decision shall apply to all contracts belonging to the same class, hence, upholding rather than violating, the "fair and equitable treatment" stipulation in said treaty. One other matter requires clarification. Petitioners contend that, consistent with the provisions of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, the President may enter into agreements involving "either technical or financial assistance" only. The agreement in question, however, is a technical and financial assistance agreement. Petitioners' contention does not lie. To adhere to the literal language of the Constitution would lead to absurd consequences.303 As WMCP correctly put it: x x x such a theory of petitioners would compel the government (through the President) to enter into contract with two (2) foreign-owned corporations, one for financial assistance agreement and with the other, for technical assistance over one and the same mining area or land; or to execute two (2) contracts with only one foreign-owned corporation which has the capability to provide both financial and technical assistance, one for financial assistance and another for technical assistance, over the same mining area. Such an absurd result is definitely not sanctioned under the canons of constitutional construction. 304 [Underscoring in the original.] Surely, the framers of the 1987 Charter did not contemplate such an absurd result from their use of "either/or." A constitution is not to be interpreted as demanding the impossible or the impracticable; and unreasonable or absurd consequences, if possible, should be avoided. 305 Courts are not to give words a meaning that would lead to absurd or unreasonable consequences and a literal interpretation is to be rejected if it would be unjust or lead to absurd results.306 That is a strong argument against its adoption.307 Accordingly, petitioners' interpretation must be rejected. The foregoing discussion has rendered unnecessary the resolution of the other issues raised by the petition. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court hereby declares unconstitutional and void: (1) The following provisions of Republic Act No. 7942:

(a) The proviso in Section 3 (aq), (b) Section 23, (c) Section 33 to 41, (d) Section 56, (e) The second and third paragraphs of Section 81, and (f) Section 90. (2) All provisions of Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 96-40, s. 1996 which are not in conformity with this Decision, and (3) The Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and WMC Philippines, Inc. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 162215 July 30, 2007

security of tenure as Director III of the Commission on Audit despite the absence of a CES eligibility. Accordingly and consistent with the provision of Section 22(2), please be advised that the Office of the Ombudsman has established the qualification standards for the positions of Director II of the Central Administrative Service and Finance Management Service as follows: Education : Bachelors degree 3 years of supervisory experience None required. Career Service Professional/ Relevant Eligibility for Second Level Position

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, Petitioner, vs. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Respondent. DECISION CORONA, J.: This Court is once again called upon to settle a controversy between two independent constitutional bodies and delineate the limits of their respective powers. In the exercise of its mandate, this Court reaffirms its commitment to constitutionalism and the rule of law. This controversy traces its roots to Ombudsman Simeon V. Marcelos letter dated July 28, 2003 to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) requesting the approval of the amendment of qualification standards for Director II positions in the Central Administrative Service and Finance and Management Service of the Office of the Ombudsman. The letter read: This is in relation to the career positions of Director II of the Central Administrative Service and the Finance and Management Service of this Office. The qualification standards set for said Director II positions pursuant to Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 1 dated January 24, 1997 are as follows: Education : Bachelors degree 3 years of supervisory experience None required. Career Service Executive Eligibility (CSEE)/Career Executive Service (CES)
1

Experience : Training Eligibility : :

In view of the foregoing, it is respectfully requested that the Commission approve the 2 qualification standards for the above positions. Acting thereon, the CSC issued Opinion No. 44, s. 2004 dated January 23, 2004 disapproving the request. This refers to [the Office of the Ombudsmans] proposed qualification standards (QS) for Director II position in the Central Administrative Service and Finance Management Service, Office of the Ombudsman, which was forwarded to this Office by Director Agnes Padilla of CSC-NCR. Invoking the Decision of the Court of Appeals in the Inok case, that Office established the QS for the position of Director II of the Central Administrative Service and Finance Management [Service], as follows: Education : Bachelors degree 3 years of supervisory experience None required. Career Service Professional/ Relevant Eligibility for Second Level position
3

Experience : Training Eligibility : :

Experience : Training Eligibility : :

The requirement for a Civil Service Executive Eligibility (CSEE)/Career Executive Service (CES) eligibility presupposes that the Director II position belongs to the third level and positions therein are covered by the Career Executive Service. However, in the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated January 18, 2001 on CA-G.R. SP No. 49699 as affirmed by the Supreme Court with finality on July 2, 2002 in G.R. No. 148782 entitled "Khem N. Inok vs. Civil Service Commission", it is stated in said Decision that the letter and intent of the law is to circumscribe the Career Executive Service (CES) to CES positions in the Executive Branch of Government, and that the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Human Rights are not covered by the CES governed by the Career Executive Service Board. Said Decision effectively granted the petition of Mr. Inok for

Under the 1997 Revised Qualification Standards Manual, the qualification requirements for Director II positions are as follows: Education : Bachelors degree 3 years of supervisory experience

Experience :

Training Eligibility

: :

None required. Career Service Executive Eligibility (CSEE)/Career Executive Service (CES)

and supervise its own officials and personnel, including the authority to administer competitive examinations and prescribe reasonable qualification standards for its own officials, cannot be curtailed by the general power of the CSC to administer the civil service system. Any unwarranted and unreasonable restriction on its discretionary authority, such as what the CSC did when it issued Opinion No. 44, s. 2004, is constitutionally and legally infirm. We agree with the Office of the Ombudsman. The CSCs opinion that the Director II positions in the Central Administrative Service and the Finance and Management Service of the Office of the Ombudsman are 7 covered by the CES is wrong. Book V, Title I, Subtitle A, Chapter 2, Section 7 of EO 292, otherwise known as "The Administrative Code of 1987," provides: SECTION 7. Career Service. The Career Service shall be characterized by (1) entrance based on merit and fitness to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examination, or based on highly technical qualifications; (2) opportunity for advancement to higher career positions; and (3) security of tenure. The Career Service shall include: (1) Open Career positions for appointment to which prior qualification in an appropriate examination is required; (2) Closed Career positions which are scientific, or highly technical in nature; these include the faculty and academic staff of state colleges and universities, and scientific and technical positions in scientific or research institutions which shall establish and maintain their own merit systems; (3) Positions in the Career Executive Service; namely, Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary, Bureau Director, Assistant Bureau Director, Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director, Chief of Department Service and other officers of equivalent rank as may be identified by the Career Executive Service Board, all of whom are appointed by the President; xxx xxx x x x (emphasis supplied)

The Commission strictly subscribes to the policy that Director II position being third 4 level eligibility and [is] covered by the Career Executive Service. In CSC Resolution No. 030919 dated August 28, 2003, the Commission rule[d] as follows: "The pronouncement of the Court of Appeals in the Inok case cannot be made the basis for changing the employment status of De Jesus. Let it be stressed that nowhere in the aforesaid decision states that the Office of the Ombudsman or other constitutional agencies mentioned therein are exempt or are not covered by Civil Service Law and Rules. On the contrary, the same decision declares that these bodies are covered by the civil service system. Basic is the rule that all appointments in the government service, particularly the career service, must be in accordance with the qualification requirements as laid down under existing civil service rules and regulations. x x x" The Commission, as the central personnel agency of the government, is mandated by the Constitution to administer all levels in the civil service, including that of the third level. The Administrative Code enumerated the powers and functions of the Commission, worthy to mention are the following: "Section 12. Powers and Functions. The Commission shall have the following powers and functions: (1) Administer and enforce the constitutional and statutory provisions on the merit system for all levels and ranks in the Civil Service; xxx (4) Formulate policies and regulations for the administration, maintenance and implementation of position classification and compensation and set standards for the establishment, allocation and reallocation of pay scales, classes and positions; x x x" The Ombudsman and other constitutional offices are covered by the civil service system. To set aside the authority of the Commission to require third level eligibilities to said offices would be to nullify and strike down the very core of the civil service, that is, the promotion of merit and fitness principle in all aspects of personnel administration including the establishment of qualification standards for all levels and ranks in the government. In view of the foregoing, we regret that [the Office of the Om budsmans] request for approval of the qualification standards for the position of Director II at the Central Administrative Service and Finance Management Service, Office of the Ombudsman, 5 cannot be granted. The Office of the Ombudsman, claiming that its constitutional and statutory powers were unduly curtailed, now seeks to set aside and nullify CSC Opinion No. 44, s. 6 2004 via this petition for certiorari. The Office of the Ombudsman asserts that its specific, exclusive and discretionary constitutional and statutory power as an independent constitutional body to administer

Thus, the CES covers presidential appointees only. As this Court ruled in Office of the 8 Ombudsman v. CSC: From the above-quoted provision of the Administrative Code, persons occupying positions in the CES are presidential appointees. x x x (emphasis supplied) Under the Constitution, the Ombudsman is the appointing authority for all officials and 9 employees of the Office of the Ombudsman, except the Deputy Ombudsmen. Thus, a person occupying the position of Director II in the Central Administrative Service or Finance and Management Service of the Office of the Ombudsman is appointed by the Ombudsman, not by the President. As such, he is neither embraced in the CES 10 nor does he need to possess CES eligibility. To classify the positions of Director II in the Central Administrative Service and the Finance and Management Service of the Office of the Ombudsman as covered by the 11 CES and require appointees thereto to acquire CES or CSE eligibility before acquiring security of tenure will lead to unconstitutional and unlawful consequences. It will result either in (1) vesting the appointing power for said position in the President, in violation of the Constitution or (2) including in the CES a position not held by a 12 presidential appointee, contrary to the Administrative Code.

Section 6, Article XI of the Constitution provides: Sec. 6. The officials and employees of the Office of the Ombudsman, other than the Deputies, shall be appointed by the Ombudsman according to the Civil Service Law. This is complemented by RA 6770, otherwise known as "The Ombudsman Act of 1989." Section 11 thereof states: Sec. 11. Structural Organization. The authority and responsibility for the exercise of the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman and for the discharge of its power and functions shall be vested in the Ombudsman, who shall have supervision and control of the said Office. (1) The Office of the Ombudsman may organize such directorates for administration and allied services as may be necessary for the effective discharge of its functions. Those appointed as directors or heads shall have the rank and salary of line bureau directors. xxx xxx xxx
13

successful performance. The degree of qualifications of an officer or employee shall be determined by the appointing authority on the basis of the qualification standard for the particular position. Qualification standards shall be used as basis for civil service examinations for positions in the career service, as guides in appointment and other personnel actions, in the adjudication of protested appointments, in determining training needs, and as aid in the inspection and audit of the agencies personnel work programs. It shall be administered in such manner as to continually provide incentives to officers and employees towards professional growth and foster the career system in the government service. (2) The establishment, administration and maintenance of qualification standards shall be the responsibility of the department or agency, with the assistance and approval of the Civil Service Commission and in consultation with the Wage and Position Classification Office. (emphasis supplied) Since the responsibility for the establishment, administration and maintenance of qualification standards lies with the concerned department or agency, the role of the CSC is limited to assisting the department or agency with respect to these qualification standards and approving them. The CSC cannot substitute its own standards for those of the department or agency, specially in a case like this in which an independent constitutional body is involved. Accordingly, the petition is hereby GRANTED and Opinion No. 44, s. 2004 dated January 23, 2004 of the Civil Service Commission is SET ASIDE. The Civil Service Commission is hereby ordered to approve the amended qualification standards for Director II positions in the Central Administrative Service and the Finance and Management Service of the Office of the Ombudsman. No costs. SO ORDERED.

(5) The position structure and staffing pattern of the Office of the Ombudsman, including the Office of the Special Prosecutor, shall be approved and prescribed by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman shall appoint all officers and employees of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, in accordance with the civil service law, rules and regulations. (emphasis supplied) Under the Constitution, the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent body. As a guaranty of this independence, the Ombudsman has the power to appoint all officials 15 and employees of the Office of the Ombudsman, except his deputies. This power necessarily includes the power of setting, prescribing and administering the standards for the officials and personnel of the Office. To further ensure its independence, the Ombudsman has been vested with the power of administrative control and supervision of the Office. This includes the authority to organize such directorates for administration and allied services as may be necessary for the effective discharge of the functions of the Office, as well as to prescribe and approve its position structure and staffing pattern. Necessarily, it also includes the authority to determine and establish the qualifications, duties, functions and responsibilities of the various directorates and allied services of the Office. This must be so if the constitutional intent to establish an independent Office of the Ombudsman is to remain meaningful and significant. Qualification standards are used as guides in appointment and other personnel actions, in determining training needs and as aid in the inspection and audit of the 16 personnel work programs. They are intimately connected to the power to appoint as well as to the power of administrative supervision. Thus, as a corollary to the Ombudsmans appointing and supervisory powers, he possesses the authority to establish reasonable qualification standards for the personnel of the Office of the Ombudsman.1avvphil In this connection, Book V, Title I, Subtitle A, Chapter 5, Section 22 Administrative Code provides:
17 14

of the

SEC. 22. Qualification Standards. (1) A qualification standard expresses the minimum requirements for a class of positions in terms of education, training and experience, civil service eligibility, physical fitness, and other qualities required for

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 180700 March 4, 2008

GERARDO R. VILLASEOR and RODEL A. MESA, Petitioners, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (5th Division) and LOUELLA MAE OCO-PESQUERRA (Office of the Special Prosecutor, Ombudsman), Respondents. RESOLUTION REYES, R.T., J.: DOES preventive suspension in an administrative proceeding bar preventive suspension in a criminal case founded on the same facts and circumstances? The question is posed in this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of 1 Civil Procedure. Petitioners seek to annul and set aside the Sandiganbayan 2 Resolution of July 3, 2007 in Criminal Case No. 27756 for violation of Section 3, 3 Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, as amended, suspending them pendente lite. Also 4 assailed is the October 10, 2007 Resolution denying their motion for reconsideration. Factual Antecedents On August 18, 2001, disaster struck. In the wee hours of the morning, the Quezon City Manor Hotel went ablaze resulting in the death of seventy-four (74) people and injuries to scores of others. Investigation into the tragedy revealed that the hotel was a veritable fire trap. Petitioners, together with other officials of the City Engineering Office of Quezon City, are presently facing criminal charges before the 5th Division of the Sandiganbayan for the crime of multiple homicide through reckless imprudence and for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019. They were also charged administratively with gross negligence, gross misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service in connection with the Manor Hotel inferno. In two separate Orders dated August 29, 2001 and September 7, 2001 in the administrative case, petitioners Villaseor and Mesa were preventively suspended for a period of six (6) months, effective upon receipt of the suspension order. On September 20, 2006, during the pendency of the criminal case, respondent special prosecutor Louella Mae Oco-Pesquera filed a motion for suspension 7 pendente lite of petitioners. Petitioners opposed the motion, contending that they had already been suspended for six (6) months relative to the administrative case, based on the same facts and circumstances. They posited that any preventive suspension that may be warranted in the criminal case was already absorbed by the preventive suspension in the administrative case because both the criminal and administrative cases were anchored on the same set of facts. In the assailed Resolution of July 3, 2007, respondent court granted the prosecutions motion for suspension. It ordered the suspension of petitioners for a period of ninety (90) days. The dispositive portion reads, thus:
9 8 5 6

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, accused Romeo M. Montallana, Romualdo C. Santos, Gerardo R. Villaseor, and Rodel A. Mesa are hereby suspended from their respective public positions as earlier enumerated, and from any other public office which they may now or hereafter be holding for a period of ninety (90) days from receipt of this resolution, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed. While the prosecution sought to suspend accused Alfredo N. Macapugay, it appears, however, that he was already dismissed from the service, hence, he can no longer be subjected to this suspension order. Let a copy of this resolution be furnished Honorable Feliciano Belmonte, Quezon City Mayor for implementation of this suspension. He is hereby requested to inform this Court of his action thereon within five (5) days from receipt of this resolution. The suspension of the accused shall be automatically lifted upon the expiration of the ninety-day period from the time of the implementation of this resolution. SO ORDERED.
10 11

In the equally assailed Resolution of October 10, 2007, petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of merit. Issue Petitioners have resorted to the present recourse, hoisting the lone issue of "WHETHER OR NOT THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT ACTED IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION AND/OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN ORDERING THE SUSPENSION PENDENTE LITE OF HEREIN PETITIONERS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY HAD ALREADY BEEN PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED ADMINISTRATIVELY BASED ON THE SAME FACTS 12 AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Our Ruling Mandatory nature of preventive suspension It is well-settled that preventive suspension under Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 is mandatory. It is evident from the very wording of the law: Suspension and loss of benefits. Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon the government or public funds or property, whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of the execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. x x x (Underscoring supplied) A whole slew of cases reinforce this provision of law. In Luciano v. Provincial 13 Governor, the Court pronounced that suspension of a public officer under Section 14 13 of R.A. No. 3019 is mandatory. This was reiterated in Luciano v. Mariano, People 15 16 17 v. Albano, Gonzaga v. Sandiganbayan and Bunye v. Escareal. In the last mentioned case, the Court said: Adverting to this Courts observation in Ganzon v. CA, 200 SCRA 271, 272, that the sole objective of an administrative suspension is "to prevent the accused from hampering the normal course of the investigation with his influence and authority over possible witnesses or to keep him off the records and other evidence" and "to assist prosecutors in firming up a case, if any, against an erring official," the petitioners insist

that as no such reason for their suspension exists, then the order suspending them should be set aside as a grave abuse of the courts disc retion. xxxx The Court finds no merit in those arguments. Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, unequivocally provides that the accused public officials " shall be suspended from office" while the criminal prosecution is pending in court. In Gonzaga v. Sandiganbayan, 201 SCRA 417, 422, 426, this Court ruled that such 18 preventive suspension is mandatory; there are no ifs and buts about it. (Underscoring supplied) Again, in Bolastig v. Sandiganbayan, preventive suspension as follows:
19

Socrates v. Sandiganbayan, citing the Courts pronouncements in Luciano v. 27 Provincial Governor, recounted: The Court then hastened to clarify that such a view may not be taken as an encroachment upon the power of suspension given other officials, reiterating in the process that a line should be drawn between administrative proceedings and criminal 28 actions in court, that one is apart from the other. x x x (Underscoring supplied) Based on the foregoing, criminal actions will not preclude administrative proceedings, and vice-versa, insofar as the application of the law on preventive suspension is concerned. Preventive suspension not a penalty Imposed during the pendency of proceedings, preventive suspension is not a penalty in itself. It is merely a measure of precaution so that the employee who is charged may be separated, for obvious reasons, from office. Thus, preventive suspension is distinct from the penalty. While the former may be imposed on a respondent during the investigation of the charges against him, the latter may be meted out to him at the 29 final disposition of the case. The Courts discussion in Quimbo v. Gervacio
30

26

the Court stressed the mandatory nature of

x x x It is now settled that Sec. 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 makes it mandatory for the Sandiganbayan to suspend any public official against whom a valid information charging violation of that law, Book II, Title 7 of the Revised Penal Code, or any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property is filed. The court trying a case has neither discretion nor duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continuing committing malfeasance in office. The presumption is that unless the accused is suspended he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both, in the same way that upon a finding that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof, the law requires the judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused. The law does not require the court to determine whether the accused is likely to escape or evade the jurisdiction of the 20 court. (Underscoring supplied) Clearly, there can be no doubt as to the validity of the Sandiganbayans suspension of petitioners in connection with the pending criminal case before it. It was merely doing what was required of it by law. Criminal and administrative cases separate and distinct Significantly, there are three kinds of remedies that are available against a public officer for impropriety in the performance of his powers and the discharge of his duties: (1) civil, (2) criminal, and (3) administrative. These remedies may be invoked separately, alternately, simultaneously or successively. Sometimes, the same offense 21 may be the subject of all three kinds of remedies. Defeat of any of the three remedies will not necessarily preclude resort to other remedies or affect decisions reached thereunder, as different degrees of evidence are required in these several actions. In criminal cases, proof beyond reasonable doubt is 22 needed whereas a mere preponderance of evidence will suffice in civil cases. In administrative proceedings, only substantial evidence is required. It is clear, then, that criminal and administrative cases are distinct from each other. The settled rule is that criminal and civil cases are altogether different from administrative matters, such that the first two will not inevitably govern or affect the 24 third and vice versa. Verily, administrative cases may proceed independently of 25 criminal proceedings.
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is enlightening:

Jurisprudential law establishes a clear-cut distinction between suspension as preventive measure and suspension as penalty. The distinction, by considering the purpose aspect of the suspensions, is readily cognizable as they have different ends sought to be achieved. Preventive suspension is merely a preventive measure, a preliminary step in an administrative investigation. The purpose of the suspension order is to prevent the accused from using his position and the powers and prerogatives of his office to influence potential witnesses or tamper with records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against him. If after such investigation, the charge is established and the person investigated is found guilty of acts warranting his suspension or removal, then he is suspended, removed or dismissed. This is the penalty.1avvphi1 That preventive suspension is not a penalty is in fact explicitly provided by Section 24 of Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292) and other Pertinent Civil Service Laws. Sec. 24. Preventive suspension is not a punishment or penalty for misconduct in 31 office but is considered to be a preventive measure. The accused public officers whose culpability remains to be proven are entitled to the 32 constitutional presumption of innocence. The law itself provides for the reinstatement of the public officer concerned and payment to him of the salaries and benefits for the duration of the suspension in the event of an acquittal: Suspension and loss of benefits. Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon the government or public funds or property, whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of the execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement and gratuity benefits under the law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be

entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings have been 33 filed against him. (Underscoring supplied) Sec. 13 of R.A. No. 3019 not a penal provision but a procedural one It is petitioners contention that as a penal statute, the provision on preventive suspension should be strictly construed against the State and liberally in their favor. We cannot agree. Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 on preventive suspension is not a penal provision. It is procedural in nature. Hence, the strict construction rule finds no 34 application. The Court expounded on this point in Buenaseda v. Flavier: Penal statutes are strictly construed while procedural statutes are liberally construed (Crawford, Statutory Construction, Interpretation of Laws, pp. 460-461; Lacson v. Romero, 92 Phil. 456 [1953]). The test in determining if a statute is penal is whether a penalty is imposed for the punishment of a wrong to the public or for the redress of an injury to an individual (59 Corpuz Juris, Sec. 658; Crawford, Statutory Construction, pp. 496-497). A Code prescribing the procedure in criminal cases is not a penal statute and is to be interpreted liberally (People v. Adler, 140 N.Y. 331; 35 N.E. 35 644). (Underlining supplied) As We have already established, preventive suspension is not, in actual fact, a penalty at all. It is a procedural rule. Automatic lift of suspension after ninety (90) days It must be borne in mind that the preventive suspension of petitioners will only last ninety (90) days, not the entire duration of the criminal case like petitioners seem to think. Indeed, it would be constitutionally proscribed if the suspension were to be of an indefinite duration or for an unreasonable length of time. The Court has thus laid down the rule that preventive suspension may not exceed the maximum period of 36 ninety (90) days, in consonance with Presidential Decree No. 807, now Section 52 37 of the Administrative Code of 1987. Even the dispositive portion itself of the assailed July 3, 2007 Resolution be any clearer: WHEREFORE, x x x. xxxx The suspension of the accused shall be automatically lifted upon the expiration of the ninety-day period from the time of the implementation of this resolution. SO ORDERED.
39 38

could not

In fine, the preventive suspension against petitioners must be upheld, as the Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.