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CASE No.

2

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF DAVAO, INC., petitioner, vs. THE LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION and THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF DAVAO CITY, respondents. G.R. No. L-8451 December 20, 1957

PONENTE: FELIX, J.:

FACTS: Mateo Rodis sold his parcel of land located in Davao City to the herein petitioner, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao, Inc. on Oct. 4, 1954. Herein petitioner is a corporation sole organized and existing in accordance with Philippine Laws, with Msgr. Clovis Thibault, a Canadian citizen, as actual incumbent. Upon presentation of the deed of sale to the Register of Deeds of Davao for registration, the latter required herein petitioner to submit an affidavit declaring that 60 percent of the members thereof were Filipino citizens pursuant to similar case where the Carmelite Nuns of Davao registered a deed of donation of a parcel of land in favour of their congregation. Although willing to submit such affidavit, herein petitioner claimed that the case of the corporation sole is not similar to that of the Carmelite Nuns because a corporation sole has only one incorporator as compared to five for the Nuns and the owner of the land would be the Catholic population of Davao and not the corporation sole or the congregation. The Register of Deeds referred the matter to The Land Registration Commissioner for resolution. The Commissioner resolved, after proper hearing, that the herein petitioner corporation was not qualified to acquire private lands in the Philippines in the absence of that at least 60 per centum of the capital, property, or assets of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao, Inc., was actually owned or controlled by Filipino citizens, there being no question that the present incumbent of the corporation sole was a Canadian citizen. This is pursuant to the provisions of Section 1 and 5 of Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution. After the motion to reconsider said resolution was denied, an action for mandamus was instituted with the Supreme Court by said corporation sole, alleging that under the Corporation Law the deed of sale is actually in favor of the Catholic Church which is qualified to acquire private agricultural lands for the establishment and maintenance of places of worship, and prayed that judgment be rendered reversing and setting aside the resolution of the Land Registration Commissioner in question. ISSUE: Whether or not corporations sole is qualified to acquire lands in the Philippines in view of the provisions of section 1 and 5 of Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution. RULING:

The purposes of many of the broadly phrased constitutional limitations were the promotion of policies that do not lend themselves to definite and specific formulation . The Corporation Law and the Canon Law are explicit in their provisions that a corporation sole or "ordinary" is not the owner of the properties that he may acquire but merely the administrator thereof. let as say this year. declare that any real property donated. — In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws. The framers of the Constitution intended said provisions (Sections 1 and 5 of Article XIII) as barrier for foreigners or corporations financed by such foreigners to acquire. management or administration of the corporation sole. and practical construction by the legislative and executive departments. have to establish first that at least sixty per centum of their capital belong to Filipino citizens. The debates of constitutional convention. The courts have had to define . a unit which is not subject to expansion for the purpose of determining any percentage whatsoever. We repeat. The Canon Law also specified that church temporalities are owned by the Catholic Church as a "moral person" or by the dioceses as minor "moral persons" with the ordinary or bishop as administrator. That would be an absurdity that should not receive our sanction on the pretext that corporations sole which have no nationality and are non-stock corporations composed of only one person in the capacity of administrator. especially if long continued. (2) the corporation sole is only the administrator and not the owner of the temporalities located in the territory comprised by said corporation sole. nor effects the citizenship of the faithful connected with their respective dioceses or corporation sole. usually the head or bishop of the diocese. . The most important single factor in determining the intention of the people from whom the constitution emanated is the language in which it is expressed. saving these undeveloped wealth for our people to clear and enrich when they are already prepared and capable of doing so. (3) such temporalities are administered for and on behalf of the faithful residing in the diocese or territory of the corporation sole. and (4) the latter. has no nationality and the citizenship of the incumbent Ordinary has nothing to do with the operation. The imperfections of language as a vehicle for conveying meanings result in ambiguities that must be resolved by result to extraneous aids for discovering the intent of the framers. for. ambiguities. it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail. exploit and develop our natural resources. But that is not the case of corporations sole in the Philippines. 10. without any clear and specific provision of the Constitution. The new Civil Code even provides: ART. except that legal or technical terms are to be given their technical meaning. they are mere administrators of the "temporalities" or properties titled in their name and for the benefit of the members of their respective religion composed of an overwhelming majority of Filipinos. but not to create. . Long before the enactment of our Constitution the law authorized the corporations sole even to receive bequests or gifts of real estates and this Court could not. is composed of only one person. . could no longer be registered in the name of the corporation sole to which it was conveyed. Consideration of the consequences flowing from alternative constructions of doubtful provisions constitutes an important interpretative device . .The framers of the Constitution had not in mind the corporations sole nor intended to apply them the provisions of section 1 and 5 of said Article XIII when they passed and approved the same. as such. unlike the ordinary corporations which are formed by no less than 5 incorporators. It has been shown that: (1) the corporation sole. The words employed are to be taken in their natural sense. . . may be resorted to resolve. Among the more important of these are a consideration of the history of the times when the provision was adopted and of the purposes aimed at in its adoption. contemporaneous construction.

properties or assets of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao. as the better method of ascertaining that intent. Although the meaning or principles of a constitution remain fixed and unchanged from the time of its adoption.W. and on the basis of equity or spirit of the statute the courts rationalize a restricted meaning of the latter. 18-19).S.those policies and have often drawn on natural law and natural rights theories in doing so. herein petitioner. Accordingly. 150. 294 N. 56 N. 85 L. is actually owned or controlled by Filipino citizens. Co. There are times that when even the literal expression of legislation may be inconsistent with the general objectives of policy behind it. Inc. 3. Inc. nor intended to apply them the provisions of section 1 and 5 of said Article XIII when they passed and approved the same. 3rd ed. the respondent Register of Deeds of the City of Davao is ordered to register the deed of sale executed by Mateo L. A constitution is not intended to be a limitation on the development of a country nor an obstruction to its progress and foreign relations (Moscow Fire Ins. Russia vs. 778). an indispensable requisite prescribed by the Land Registration Act for lands covered by the Torrens system. and denying the registration of the deed of sale in the absence of proof of compliance with such requisite. S. (Vol.S. Rodis in favor of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao.. Bank of New York and Trust Co. 1368). And if it were so as We think it is. It is quite generally held that in arriving at the intent and purpose the construction should be broad or liberal or equitable. 313 U.. nor of the right to register the same in its name with the Register of Deeds of Davao. it should not receive too narrow or literal an interpretation but rather the meaning given it should be applied in such manner as to meet new or changed conditions as they arise (U. 2d 979). Inc. Wherefore. holding that in view of the provisions of sections 1 and 5 of Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution the vendee (petitioner) is not qualified to acquire lands in the Philippines in the absence of proof that at least 60 per centum of the capital. Walden. All these authorities uphold our conviction that the framers of the Constitution had not in mind the corporations sole. The interpretation of constitutions tends to respond to changing conceptions of political and social values. 745. but their influence cannot be ignored in describing the essentials of the process (Rottschaeffer on Constitutional Law. the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao. The extent to which these extraneous aids affect the judicial construction of constitutions cannot be formulated in precise rules.E.. Ed. Y. Lassic.648. 206 S. 293 N. 749). which is the subject of the present litigation . rather than technical (Great Southern Life Ins. in the words of one court. Effect should be given to the purpose indicated by a fair interpretation of the language used and that construction which effectuates. 299. the resolution of the respondent Land Registration Commission of September 21. Randolph Country vs. p. a constitution must be construed as if intended to stand for a great length of time. and it is progressive and not static. benevolent and educational purposes. vs. of Moscow. Consequently..Y. vs. rather than that which destroys a plain intent or purpose of a constitutional provision. A restricted interpretation is usually applied where the effect of literal interpretation will make for injustice and absurdity or.W. is not only favored but will be adopted (State ex rel. Co. 1954.. Sutherland on Statutory Construction. the language must be so unreasonable 'as to shock general common sense'. 1939 ed. is hereby reversed. could not be deprived of the right to acquire by purchase or donation real properties for charitable.. 2d. 243 S.). City of Austin.