Chavez v Public Estate AuthorityGR No. 133250, July 9, 2002Facts:On November 20, 1973, the government through the Commissioner of Public Highways signeda contract with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) toreclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay. The contract also included theconstruction of Phases I and II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated itself tocarry out all the works in consideration of fifty percent of the total reclaimed land.On April 25, 1995 the PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with AMARI todevelop the Freedom Islands. This JVA was entered into through negotiation without publicbidding.The Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, and theCommittee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, conducted a jointinvestigation. Among the conclusion are: that the reclaimed lands PEA seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the public domain which the government has not classifiedas alienable lands and therefore PEA cannot alienate these lands, the certificates of the titlecovering the Freedom Islands are thus void, and the JVA itself is illegal.On December 5, 1997, President Ramos created a Legal Task Force to conduct a study on thelegality of the JVA. The Task Force upheld the legality of the JVA, contrary to the conclusions of the Senate Committees.On April 27, 1998, Petitioner as taxpayer filed the instant petition for mandamus with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and TRO. Petitioner contends the governmentstands 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. Furthermore,petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of lands of the public domains as blatant violation of Sec 3, Art XII of the Constitution prohibiting the sale of alienable lands of the public domain to privatecorporations. Petitioner assert that he seeks to enjoin the loss of billion of pesos in properties of the State that are of public dominion.Issue:Whether or not the petitioner has legal standing to bring the suit.Ratio Decidendi:The petitioner has standing to bring the taxpayer¶s suit because the petition seeks to compelPEA to comply with its constitutional duties. This duties are particularly in answer of the right of citizens to information on matters of public concern, and of a constitutional provision intended toinsure the equitable distribution of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipino citizens.Furthermore, the court considered that the petition raised matters of transcendental importancetot eh public. The mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personalinterest when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right. Also, ordinary taxpayershave a right to initiate and prosecute actions questioning the validity of acts or orders of government agencies or instrumentalities if the issues raise are of paramount public interest andif they immediately affect the social, economic and moral well being of the people.The amended JVA does not make the issue moot and academic since this compels the court toinsure the government itself does not violate a provision of the Constitution intended tosafeguard the national patrimony. The content of the amended JVA seeks to transfer title andownership of reclaimed lands to a single corporation. The court does not hesitate to resolve thelegal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, bar and the public.