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Constitutional Law 1 (Case Digest 4) Doctrine of State Immunity

Constitutional Law 1 (Case Digest 4) Doctrine of State Immunity

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Published by: Anthony Rupac Escasinas on Sep 19, 2012
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*some of the case digests are not mine (sources are linked), I will specify if the digests are mine ornot :)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Basis
G.R. No. 79253 March 1, 1993
HON. LUIS R. REYES, as Presiding Judge of Branch 22, Regional Trial Court of Cavite, andNELIA T. MONTOYA, respondents.
Private respondent, hereinafter referred to as Montoya, is an American citizen who, at thetime material to this case, was employed as an identification (I.D.) checker at the U.S. NavyExchange (NEX) at the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) headquarters inQuezon City. She is married to one Edgardo H. Montoya, a Filipino-American serviceman employedby the U.S. Navy and stationed in San Francisco, California. Petitioner Maxine Bradford, hereinafterreferred to as Bradford, is likewise an American citizen who was the activity exchange manager atthe said JUSMAG Headquarters.As a consequence of an incident which occurred on 22 January 1987 whereby her body andbelongings were searched after she had bought some items from the retail store of the NEXJUSMAG, where she had purchasing privileges, and while she was already at the parking area,Montoya filed on7 May 1987 a complaint 1 with the Regional Trial Court of her place of residence
 against Bradford for damages due to the oppressive and discriminatory acts committed by the latterin excess of her authority as store manager of the NEX JUSMAG.In support of the motion, the petitioners claimed that JUSMAG, composed of an Army, Navy and AirGroup, had been established under the Philippine-United States Military Assistance Agreemententered into on 21 March 1947 to implement the United States' program of rendering militaryassistance to the Philippines. Its headquarters in Quezon City is considered a temporary installationunder the provisions of Article XXI of the Military Bases Agreement of 1947. Thereunder, "it ismutually agreed that the United States shall have the rights, power and authority within the baseswhich are necessary for the establishment, use and operation and defense thereof or appropriate forthe control thereof." The 1979 amendment of the Military Bases Agreement made it clear that theUnited States shall have "the use of certain facilities and areas within the bases and shall haveeffective command and control over such facilities and over United States personnel, employees,equipment and material." JUSMAG maintains, at its Quezon City headquarters, a Navy Exchangereferred to as the NEX-JUSMAG. Checking of purchases at the NEX is a routine procedureobserved at base retail outlets to protect and safeguard merchandise, cash and equipment pursuantto paragraphs 2 and 4(b) of NAVRESALEACT SUBIC INST. 5500.1. 7 Thus, Bradford's order tohave purchases of all employees checked on 22 January 1987 was made in the exercise of herduties as Manager of the NEX-JUSMAG.
whether or not the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in denying the motion todismiss based on the following grounds:(a) the complaint in Civil Case No. 224-87 is in effect a suit against the public petitioner, a foreignsovereign immune from suit which has not given consent to such suit and(b) Bradford is immune from suit for acts done by her in the performance of her official functions asmanager of the U.S. Navy Exchange of JUSMAG pursuant to the Philippines-United States MilitaryAssistance Agreement of 1947 and the Military Bases Agreement of 1947, as amended.
The petition was DENIED for lack of merit. There can be no doubt that on the basis of theallegations in the complaint, Montoya has a sufficient and viable cause of action. Bradford'spurported non-suability on the ground of state immunity is then a defense which may be pleaded inthe answer and proven at the trial.Since Bradford did not file her Answer within the reglementary period, the trial court correctlydeclared her in default upon motion of the private respondent. The judgment then rendered againsther on 10 September 1987 after the ex parte reception of the evidence for the private respondentand before this Court issued the Temporary Restraining Order on 7 December 1987 cannot beimpugned. The filing of the instant petition and the knowledge thereof by the trial court did notprevent the latter from proceeding with Civil Case No.224-87. "It is elementary that the mere pendency of a special civil action for certiorari, commenced inrelation to a case pending before a lower Court, does not interrupt the course of the latter whenthere is no writ of injunction restraining it."
Doctrine of State Immunity
sometimes called
“the royal prerogative of dishonesty”
as declaredin the Constitution affirms,
“The state may not be sued without its consent".
 This provision is merely recognition of the sovereign character of the state andan express affirmationof the unwritten rule insulating it from the jurisdiction of the courtsof justice.According to JusticeHolmes the doctrine of non-suability is based not on any formalconception or obsolete theory but onthe logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right against the authority, which makesthe law on which the right depends. Another justification is the practical consideration that thedemands and inconveniences of litigation will divert the time and resources of the state from themore pressing matters demanding its attention, to the prejudice of the public welfare.The doctrine is also available to foreign states insofar as they are sought to be sued in the courts ofthe local state. The added basis in this case is the principle of the sovereignequality of states, underwhichone state cannot assert jurisdiction over another inviolation of the maxim
par in parem non habet imperium. To do so would “unduly vex the peace of nations."
Exemption: Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations admits ofexceptions. It reads:
 1. A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State.He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction except in the case of:xxx xxx xxx(c) an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic
agent in the receiving State outside his official functions (Emphasis supplied).How may consent of the State to be sued given?The consent of the state to be sued may be given expressly or impliedly. Express consent may bemanifested either through a general law or a special law. Implied consent is given when the Stateitself commences litigation or when it enters into a contract. The general law providing for thestanding consent of the State to be sued is Act No.3083, declaring that
“the Government of the
Philippine Islands hereby consents and submits to be sued upon any moneyed claim involvingliability arising from contract,express or implied, which could serve as a basis of civil action between
private parties.”
 Under C.A. No. 327 as amended by P.D. No. 1445, a claim against the government mustfirst be filedwith the Commission on Audit, which must act upon it within sixty (60)days. Rejection of the claimwill authorize the claimant to elevate the matter to theSupreme Court on certiorari and in effect suethe state with its consent.The express consent of the State to be sued must be embodied in a dulyenacted statute and may not be given by a mere counsel of the government.It should also beobserved that when the State gives its consent to be sued, it does not thereby also to the executionof the judgment against it. Such execution will require another waiver, lacking which the decisioncannot be enforced against the State.When is a suit against a public official deemed to be a suit against the State?Because actions are rarely instituted directly against the Republic of the Philippines, theusualpractice is to file such claims not against the State itself but against the officer of the governmentwho is supposed to discharge the responsibility or grant the redresseddemanded. It is importantthen, to determine if the State is the real party in interest, thatis, that the claim if proved will be adirect liability of the State and not merely of theofficer impleaded. If this is shown, the action can bedismissed as a suit against the Stateunless its immunity had been previously waived.There are many instances when a public officer may be sued in his official capacitywithout thenecessity of first obtaining the consent of the State to be sued. A publicofficer may be impleaded torequire him to do a duty required by law, or to restrain himfrom doing an act alleged to beunconstitutional or illegal, or to recover from him taxesunlawfully assessed or collected.It has been held also that where an action is filed againsta public officer for recovery only of title orpossession of property claimed to be held byhim in his official capacity, the said action is not a suitagainst the State for which prior waiver of immunity is required. But it is different where there is anaddition a claim for recovery of damages, such as accrued rentals, inasmuch as it allowance wouldrequire thegovernment to appropriate the necessary amount for the satisfaction of the judgment.Assuming the decision is rendered against the public officer impleaded,enforcementthereof will require an affirmative act from the State, such as the appropriation oftheneeded amount to satisfy the judgment. If it does, the suit is one against the State anditsinclusion as party defendant is necessary. If on the other hand, the officer impleaded may byhimself alone comply with the decision of the court without the necessity o involvingthe State, thenthe suit can prosper against him and will not be considered a claim againstthe State. Lastly, when apublic officer acts without or in excess of jurisdiction, any injurycaused by him is his own personalliability and cannot be imputed to the State.

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