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CHAVEZ VS.

NHA
G.R. No. 164527 August 15, 2007
Facts:
On March 19, 1993, the National Housing Authority (NHA) and R-II Builders,
Inc. (RBI) entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) for the development of
the Smokey Mountain dumpsite and reclamation area to be converted into a
low cost medium rise housing complex and industrial/commercial site.
The Project will involve 79 hectares of reclaimed land (it was initially
40hectares but the JVA was amended). The JVA also provides that as part of
the consideration for the Project, NHA will convey a portion of the reclaimed
lands to RBI.
The reclamation of the area was made; and subsequently, Special Patents
were issued conveying the reclaimed land to NHA.
On August 5, 2004, former Solicitor General Francisco I. Chavez filed this
Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus seeking to declare NULL and VOID the
Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) and the Smokey Mountain Development and
Reclamation Project, and all other agreements in relation thereto, for being
Unconstitutional and Invalid.
Issue:
1. Whether or not 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.
2. Whether or not the reclaimed lands are classified as alienable and disposable
lands of the public domain.
Held:
1. Executive Order 525 reads that the PEA shall be primarily responsible for
integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on
behalf of the National Government. This does not mean that it shall be
responsible for all. The requisites for a valid and legal reclamation project are
approval by the President (which were provided for by MOs), favourable
recommendation of PEA (which were seen as a part of its recommendations
to the EXECOM), and undertaken either by PEA or entity under contract of
PEA or by the National Government Agency (NHA is a government agency
whose authority to reclaim lands under consultation with PEA is derived
under PD 727 and RA 7279).
2. YES. When Proclamations Nos. 39 (placed the lands under the administration
and disposition of the NHA) and 465 (increased the reclamation area from 40
hectares to 79 hectares) were issued, the inalienable lands covered by said
proclamations were converted to alienable and disposable lands of public
domain. Furthermore, when the titles to such 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. 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 will not be able to transfer such lands
to qualified entities and thus, it will not achieve its purpose