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Joya, et al. vs. PCGG GR No. 96541. August 24, 1993 Ponente: Bellosillo, J.

Facts: Mateo Caparas, then Chairman of the PCGG, through the authority granted by then Pres. Aquino, signed a Consignment Agreement allowing Christies of New York to auction off Old Masters Paintings and the 18th and 19th century silverware alleged to be part of the ill-gotten wealth of Pres. Marcos, his relatives, and cronies, for and in behalf of RP. 35 petitioners in this Special Civil Action for Prohibition and Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and/or Restraining Order sought to enjoin PCGG from proceeding with the auction sale which nevertheless proceeded on schedule. Petitioners claim that, as Filipino citizens, taxpayers, and artists deeply concerned with the preservation and protection of the countrys artistic wealth and that the paintings and silverware are public properties collectively owned by them and the people in general to view and enjoy as great works of art alleging that they have been deprived of their right to public property without due process of law, they have the legal personality to restrain the respondents who are acting contrary to their public duty to conserve the artistic creations as mandated by Sec. 14-18 of Art. XIV of the Constitution and RA 4846. Issue: Whether the petition complies with the legal requisites for the Court to exercise its power of judicial review over this case. Held: NO. Petitioners failed to show that they have the legal standing, i.e. a personal and substantial interest in the case such that they have sustained or would sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged, because they are not the legal owners of the artworks/silverwares or that the valued pieces have become publicly owned since such artworks are in fact owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Manila Foundation, a non-profit, non-stock corporation established to promote non-Philippine arts and the silverwares were in fact gifts to the Marcos couple on their silver wedding anniversary. The mandamus suit cannot prosper because what the petitioners seek is the enjoining of an official act because it is constitutionally infirmed not because they are after the fulfilment of a positive duty required of the respondent public officials which is the only ground for a writ of mandamus to be issued. The taxpayers suit cannot prosper as well since the items in question were acquired from private sources and not with public money.

For a court to exercise its power of adjudication, there must be an actual controversy one which involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution; the case must not be moot or academic or based on extra-legal or other similar considerations not cognizable by a court of justice. A case becomes moot and academic when its purpose has become stale, such as this case. Since the purpose of this petition for prohibition is to enjoin the respondents from holding the auction sale of the artworks on a particular date which had long past, the issues raised have become moot and academic. Nevertheless, the 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. However, there is no such justification in this petition. Petition dismissed.