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CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, SECRETARY OF FINANCE AND COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, defendantsappellants. Fortugaleza, Lood, Sarmiento, M .T . Yap & Associates for plaintiff-appellee. Solicitor General for defendant-appellant. SYLLABUS 1.SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS; DECLARATORY RELIEF; CONVERSION INTO AN ORDINARY ACTION. — Assuming that the law had already been violated and that plaintiff sought to give it coercive effect, sec. 6 of Rule 64 of the Rules of Court authorizes the conversion of a petition for declaratory relief into an ordinary action. 2.MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS; EXTENT OF CONGRESSIONAL CONTROL OVER MUNICIPAL PROPERTY. — The principle is this: If the property is owned by the municipal corporation or municipality in its public and governmental capacity, the property is public and Congress has absolute control over it; if the property is owned in its private or proprietary capacity, then it is patrimonial and Congress has no absolute control, in which case, the municipality cannot be deprived of it without due process and payment of just compensation. 3.ID.; ID.; SUBJECT TO TWO NORMS PROVIDED BY THE CIVIL CODE AND THE LAW OF MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS. — The capacity in which the property is held is dependent on the use to which it is intended and devoted. There are two norms, i.e., of the Civil Code and of the law of Municipal Corporations in classifying whether municipal properties are patrimonial or public. 4.ID.; ID.; UNDER CIVIL CODE, ALL MUNICIPAL PROPERTIES EXCEPT THOSE ENUMERATED IN ART. 424 ARE PATRIMONIAL. — The Civil Code classification is found in articles 423 and 424 of the same Code. Under Art. 424, property for public, use, consists of provincial roads, city streets, municipal streets, the squares, fountains, public waters, promenades and public works for public service paid for by said municipal corporations. All other property possessed by any of them is patrimonial and is governed by the Code without prejudice to provisions of special laws. Under this classification, all the properties in question save two lots used as High School playgrounds are patrimonial properties of Zamboanga Province; this includes the capitol site, the hospital and leprosarium sites, and the school sites which are patrimonial as they are not for public use. They fall outside the phrase "public works for public service" because under the ejusdem generis rule, such public works must be for free and for the indiscriminate use by anyone. 5.ID.; ID.; CLASSIFICATION OF MUNICIPAL PROPERTIES UNDER MUNICIPAL CORPORATION LAW. — Under the norm provided for by the law of Municipal Corporations, all those properties which are devoted to public service are deemed public; the rest remain patrimonial. Under this norm, to be considered public, it is enough that the property be held and devoted for governmental purposes like local administration, public education, public health, etc. 6.ID.; ID.; BUILDINGS EXISTING ON LOTS PARTAKE OF NATURE OF THE LATTER. — Although the records do not show whether the buildings on the lots in question were constructed at the expense of the municipal corporation, since said buildings were constructed even before the enactment of Commonwealth Act 39 in 1936 and the provinces then had no power to authorize construction of buildings at their own expense, it is presumed that the buildings were erected by national funds, In this case, Congress could dispose of said buildings in the same manner as it did with the lots in question. And even assuming that provincial funds were used in their construction, the buildings are mere accessories to the lands which are public, and so they follow the nature of the lands, i.e., public. Moreover, although located in the city, the buildings are not for the exclusive use and benefit of city residents but also for provincial residents, wherefore the province is not really deprived of its benefits.
P. they can be acquired thru adverse possession . when the Cabinet transferred the properties for free to Zamboanga City. Zamboanga del Norte obtained a reconsideration of the cabinet resolution of 1959 and in fact partial payments were later made.. J. CLASSIFICATION OF PROPERTIES UNDER CIVIL CODE.. the Municipality of Zamboanga used to be the provincial capital of the then Zamboanga Province. 50.to the detriment of the local community. As far as can be gleaned from the records 1 said properties were being utilized as follows — No. 8. — Under Commonwealth Act No. — The fact that the lots used for government purposes are registered is of no significance since registration cannot convert public property to private.ID.ID. DECISION BENGZON. Province — than along that of Civil Law. 10.. they can be levied upon and attached. In 1951. MUNICIPAL PROPERTY HELD AND DEVOTED TO PUBLIC SERVICE IS NOT IN THE SAME CATEGORY AS ORDINARY PRIVATE PROPERTY. On October 12." Hence. 9. As ordinary private properties. It was only after the enactment of Republic Act 3039 in 1961 that the present controversy arose and since plaintiff brought suit in 1962 all these facts negative laches. the cause of action in favor of the defunct province of Zamboanga arose only in 1948 when the Auditor General fixed the value of the properties in issue. REGISTRATION CANNOT CONVERT PUBLIC PROPERTY INTO PRIVATE PROPERTY. sec. The Court is not inclined to hold that municipal property held and devoted to public service is in the same category as ordinary private property.ID. Sec. In 1952. 39. 1936. a reconsideration thereof was sought on time.ID. 50 of the Act also provided that — "Buildings and properties which the province shall abandon upon the transfer of the capital to another place will be acquired and paid for by the City of Zamboanga at a price to be fixed by the Auditor General. of LotsUse 1Capitol Site 3School Site 3Hospital Site 3Leprosarium 1Curuan School . J p: Prior to its incorporation as a chartered city.7. the classification of municipal property devoted for distinctly governmental purposes as public should prevail over the Civil Code classification in this particular case. WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO PROVISIONS OF LAW ON MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS. Commonwealth Act 39 was approved converting the Municipality of Zamboanga into Zamboanga City. 424 of the Civil Code is without prejudice to provisions of special laws.... — The controversy is more along the domains of the law of Municipal Corporations — State vs. the law of Municipal Corporations is considered as "special laws.. For purposes of this article. NO LACHES UNDER FACTS OF THE CASE. located in the City of Zamboanga and covered individually by Torrens certificates of title in the name of Zamboanga Province. ID.. ID. the consequences are dire." The properties and buildings referred to consisted of 50 lots and some buildings constructed thereon. Else. the old province was dissolved and as successor-in-interest to over half of the properties. ID. — The classification of properties other than those for public use in the municipalities as patrimonial under art.
50 of Commonwealth Act 39. or on June 16.00. by order of the President. On March 17. the Appraisal Committee formed by the Auditor General.39% for Zamboanga del Norte and 45.61% for Zamboanga del Sur. However. 1960.00.05 due it. and is entitled to the price thereof. 3 On June 6. Zamboanga del Norte therefore became entitled to 54. pursuant to Commonwealth Act 39. The deductions.46 was credited to the province of Zamboanga del Norte. 50 of Commonwealth Act 39 by providing that — "All buildings. in partial payment of the P704. 1959. the funds. 6 of the law provided: "Upon the approval of this Act. 1952. effective as of 1945. or P704. The Secretary of Finance then authorized the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to deduct an amount equal to 25% of the regular internal revenue allotment for the City of Zamboanga for the quarter ending March 31. Republic Act 286 was approved creating the municipality of Molave and making it the capital of Zamboanga Province. on June 17." Pursuant thereto. the total value of the lots and buildings in question.294. fixed the value of the properties and buildings in question left by Zamboanga Province in Zamboanga City at P1.294. the Auditor General." (Stressed for emphasis) . issued a ruling 4 holding that Zamboanga del Norte had a vested right as owner (should be co-owner pro-indiviso) of the properties mentioned in Sec. This ruling revoked the previous Cabinet Resolution of July 13. properties and assets belonging to the former province of Zamboanga and located within the City of Zamboanga are hereby transferred.1Trade School 2Burleigh School 2High School Playground 9Burleighs 1Hydro-Electric Site (Magay) 1San Roque 23vacant It appears that in 1945. 1948.220. in favor of the said City of Zamboanga. As to how the assets and obligations of the old province were to be divided between the two new ones. 1949.39% of P1.373. upon the recommendation of the Auditor General. Sec. on January 11. apportioned the assets and obligations of the defunct Province of Zamboanga as follows: 54. then for the quarter ending June 30. 1961. payable by Zamboanga City. assets and other properties and the obligations of the province of Zamboanga shall be divided equitably between the Province of Zamboanga del Norte and the Province of Zamboanga del Sur by the President of the Philippines. 1951 conveying all the said 50 lots and buildings thereon to Zamboanga City for P220.127.116.11. 1955. when the provincial capital of the then Zamboanga Province was transferred to Dipolog. Republic Act 3039 was approved amending Sec. all aggregating P57. the capital of Zamboanga Province was transferred to Dipolog 2 Subsequently. free of charge. 1960. the Executive Secretary. Republic Act 711 was approved dividing the province of Zamboanga into two (2): Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.05 payable by Zamboanga City. On May 26.00. and again for the first quarter of the fiscal year 1960-1961.
373.030." Subsequently. ordering plaintiff Zamboanga del Norte to execute through its proper officials the corresponding public instrument deeding to defendant City of Zamboanga the 50 parcels of land and the improvements thereon under the certificates of tide (Exhibits 'A' to 'A-49') upon payment by the latter of the aforesaid sum of P704. consisting of 50 parcels of land and the improvements thereon under certificates of titles (Exhibits 'A' to 'A-49') in the name of the defunct province of Zamboanga. Over defendants' opposition. pursuant to the order of the Court dated June 47 1962.373.220. This constrained plaintiff-appellee Zamboanga del Norte to file on March 5. the lower court ordered the issuance of preliminary injunction as prayed for. and declaring permanent the preliminary mandatory injunction issued on June 8. P43.05. trial was held. of which a province is one. the Secretary of Finance. 3039 unconstitutional in so far as it deprives plaintiff Zamboanga del Norte of its private properties. No costs are assessed against the defendant.46 has already been returned to it. (c) The Secretary of Finance and the Internal Revenue Commissioner be enjoined from reimbursing the sum of 57. The defendants then brought the case before Us on appeal. since assuming the same to be true. the lower court granted plaintiff province motion.220.00 shall have been fully paid. the Rules anyway authorize the conversion of the proceedings to an ordinary action.220.373. (b) Plaintiff's nights and obligations under said law be declared.220. After defendants filed their respective answers. 1962. The principle itself is simple: If the property is owned by the municipality (meaning municipal corporation) in its public and governmental capacity. plaintiff province fled a motion to reconsider praying that Zamboanga City be ordered instead to pay the P704. on July 12. the matter involved here is the extent of legislative control over the properties of a municipal corporation. dismissing the counterclaim of defendant City of Zamboanga. a complaint entitled "Declaratory Relief with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction" in the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del Norte against defendants-appellants Zamboanga City.46 taken from it out of the internal revenue allotment of Zamboanga del Norte.05 in quarterly installments of 25% of its internal revenue allotments. payment thereof to be deducted from its regular quarterly internal revenue allotment equivalent to 25% thereof every quarter until said amount shall have been fully paid. judgment was rendered. 1963. the property is public and Congress has absolute control over it. 5 We proceed to the more important and principal question of the validity of Republic Act 3039. "It is SO ORDERED.Consequently. judgment is hereby rendered declaring Republic Act No. The municipality cannot be deprived of it without due process and payment of just compensation. But if the property is owned in its private or proprietary capacity. 1962. It was prayed that: (a) Republic Act 3039 be declared unconstitutional for depriving plaintiff province of property without due process and just compensation.11 of the P57. 1961.05 in lump sum with 6% interest per annum. the Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. ordering defendant Secretary of Finance to direct defendant Commissioner of Internal Revenue to deduct 25% from the regular quarterly internal revenue allotment for defendant City of Zamboanga and to remit the same to plaintiff Zamboanga del Norte until said sum of P704.220. 6 . The validity of the law ultimately depends on the nature of the 50 lots and buildings thereon in question. and (d) The latter be ordered to continue paying the balance of P704. On August 12. the dispositive portion of which reads: "WHEREFORE. but prior to the perfection of defendants' appeal. Brushing aside the procedural point concerning the propriety of declaratory relief filed in the lower court on the assertion that the law had already been violated and that plaintiff sought to give it coercive effect. then it is patrimonial and Congress has no absolute control.00 in full. On June 4. ordered the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to stop from effecting further payments to Zamboanga del Norte and to return to Zamboanga City the sum of P57. Zamboanga City admits that since the enactment of Republic Act 3039. 1967.46 to defendant City. For. ordering defendant City of Zamboanga to pay to the plaintiff the sum of P704.
424. Assuming then the Civil Code classification to be the chosen norm. and public works for public service paid for by said provinces. dependent on the use to which it is intended and devoted. Now. consists of the provincial roads. unlike in the classification regarding State properties. without prejudice to the provisions of special laws. the police patrol automobile. i. And it cannot be said that its actuation was without jurisprudential precedent for in Municipality of Catbalogan v. the auto trucks used by the municipality for street sprinkling. however. public waters. promenades. On the other hand. 8 and in Municipality of Tacloban v. to be considered public. Director of Lands. Thus. This was the norm applied by the lower court. however.. Director of Lands. such public works must be for free and indiscriminate use by anyone. 7 The playgrounds. the squares. all those of the 50 properties in question which are devoted to public service are deemed public. presume a grant from the State in favor of the municipality. the hospital and leprosarium sites. it is enough that the property be held and devoted for governmental purposes like local administration. . hospital and leprosarium sites and the high school playground sites — a total of 24 lots — since these were held by the former Zamboanga province in its governmental capacity and therefore are subject to the absolute control of Congress. the rest remain patrimonial. that rule may be invoked only as to property which is used distinctly for public purposes . but. This result is understandable because. that of the Civil Code or that obtaining under the law of Municipal Corporations. which of two norms. city streets. etc." (Stressed for emphasis) Applying the above cited norm. where the municipality has occupied lands distinctly for public purposes. Under this norm.e. 423. police stations and concrete structures with the corresponding lots used as markets were declared exempt from execution and attachment since they were not patrimonial properties. all the properties in question. would fit into this category. could be considered as patrimonial properties of the former Zamboanga province. 9 it was held that the capitol site and the school sites in municipalities constitute their patrimonial properties." (2) Viuda de Tantoco v. Following this classification. They would not fall under the phrase "public works for public service" for it has been held that under the ejusdem generis rule. cities and municipalities.The property of provinces. 11 where it was stated that ". in the provinces. 13 held squarely that a municipal lot which had always been devoted to school purposes is one dedicated to public use and is not patrimonial property of a municipality. Even the capitol site. the public market.Property for public use. public education. such as for the municipal court house. (3) Municipality of Batangas v. cities. school sites and its grounds. in the absence of proof to the contrary. Said lots considered as public property are the following: TCT NumberLot NumberUse 22204-BCapitol Site 2816149School Site 32811224Hospital Site 32821226Hospital Site . just like the preceding enumerated properties in the first paragraph of Art. Director of Lands. the lower court must be affirmed except with regard to the two (2) lots used as playgrounds. municipal streets. applying the norm obtaining under the principles constituting the law of Municipal Corporations. must be used in classifying the properties in question? The Civil Code classification is embodied in its Arts. or other necessary municipal building. Cantos. . we will. is divided into property for public use and patrimonial properly. and the school sites will be considered patrimonial for they are not for public use. "All other property possessed by any of them is patrimonial and shall be governed by this Code. Municipal Council of Iloilo 12 held that municipal properties necessary for governmental purposes are public in nature.The capacity in which the property is held is. 424. 10 Supporting jurisprudence are found in the following cases: (1) Hinunangan v. properties for public service in the municipalities are not classified as public. and municipalities." "ART. 423 and 424 which provide. as indicated by the wording. the public school. "ART. fountains. Republic Act 3039 is valid insofar as it affects the lots used as capitol site. except the two (2) lots used as High School playgrounds. public health. cities. or municipalities. . .
e. which are public in nature. said buildings. Considering however the fact that said buildings must have been erected even before 1936 when Commonwealth Act 39 was enacted and the further fact that provinces then had no power to authorize construction of buildings such as those in the case at bar at their own expense. Congress could very well dispose of said buildings in the same manner that it did with the lots in question. the records do not disclose whether they were constructed at the expense of the former Province of Zamboanga.mentioned.. But even assuming that provincial funds were used. Magay 13198127-DSan Roque 5569169Burleigh 15 5558175Vacant 5559188" 5560183" 5561186" 5563191" 5566176" 5568179" . and so. The province then — and its successors-in-interest — are not really deprived of the benefits thereof. there is sufficient basis for holding that said eight lots constitute-the the appurtenant grounds of the Burleigh schools and partake of the nature of the same. still the buildings constitute mere accessories to the lands.T. But Republic Act 3039 cannot be applied to deprive Zamboanga del Norte of its share in the value of the rest of the 26 remaining lots which are patrimonial properties since they are not being utilized for distinctly governmental purposes. i. 14 it can be assumed that said buildings were erected by the National Government.C. Said lots are: TCT NumberLot NumberUse 5577177Mydro.32831225Hospital Site 3748434-A-1School Site 5406171School Site 5564168High School Playground 5567157 & 158Trade School 15583167High School Playground 6181(O. those located in the city. Regarding the several buildings existing on the lots above.)Curuan School 11942926Leprosarium 11943927Leprosarium 11944925Leprosarium 5557170Burleigh School 5562180Burleigh School 5565172-BBurleigh 5570171-ABurleigh 5571172-CBurleigh 5572174Burleigh 5573178Burleigh 5585171-BBurleigh 5586173Burleigh 5587172-ABurleigh We noticed that the eight Burleigh lots above described are adjoining each other and in turn are between the two lots wherein the Burleigh schools arc built as per records appearing herein and in the Bureau of Lands. Hence. public Moreover. they follow the nature of said lands. using national funds. will not be for the exclusive use and benefit of city residents for they could be availed of also by the provincial residents. Hence.
It results then that Zamboanga del Norte is still entitled to collect from the City of Zamboanga the former's 54. partial payments were effected subsequently and it was only after the passage of Republic Act 3039 in 1961 that the present controversy arose. this Court is not inclined to hold that municipal property held and devoted to public service is in the same category as ordinary private property. and not in lump sum. . . Zamboanga del Norte was able to get a reconsideration of the Cabinet Resolution in 1959. 50. read together with pars.46 had already been made.030. 10 and 11 of the first cause of action recited in the complaint 17 clearly shows that the relief sought was merely the continuance of the quarterly payments from the internal revenue allotments of defendant City." For purposes of this article. dated March 26. All the foregoing. Plaintiff's share. Art. On the other hand. the fact that these 26 lots are registered strengthens the proposition that they are truly private in nature. Moreover. without prejudice to the provisions of special laws. a reconsideration thereof was seasonably sought. 16 We are more inclined to uphold this latter view. 5 and 6. In fact. Defendants' claim that plaintiff and its predecessor-in-interest are guilty of laches is without merit. the Cabinet resolved to transfer said properties practically for free to Zamboanga City. The consequences are dire. 1169 of the Civil Code on reciprocal obligations invoked by plaintiff to justify lump sum payment is inapplicable since there has been so far in legal contemplation no complete delivery of the lots in question. While in 1951. it could not have validly affected a completed act. of the Appraisal Committee formed by the Auditor General. . 1949. The return of said amount to defendant was without legal basis. the amount of P43.5574196" 5575181-A" 5576181-B" 5578182" 5579197" 5580195" 5581159-B" 5582194" 5584190" 5588184" 5589187" 5590189" 5591192" 5592193" 5593185" 73794147" Moreover. The controversy here is more along the domains of the Law of Municipal Corporations — State v. In 1952. As ordinary private properties. particularly pars. the principles obtaining under the Law of Municipal Corporations can be considered as "special laws". Hence. in the amount of plaintiff's 54.11 already returned to defendant City. The titles to the registered lots are not yet in the name of defendant Zamboanga City. 424 of the Civil Code is ". As successor-in-interest to more than half of the properties involved. They can even be acquired thru adverse possession — all these to the detriment of the local community.373. Plaintiff brought suit in 1962. however. Since the law did not provide for retroactivity.11 should be immediately returned by defendant City to plaintiff province. 1961 after a partial payment of P57. Province — than along that of Civil Law. The remaining balance. negative laches. the cause of action in favor of the defunct Zamboanga Province arose only in 1949 after the Auditor General fixed the value of the properties in question. they can be levied upon and attached. that the 24 lots used for governmental purposes are also registered is of no significance since registration cannot convert public property to private. Hence. Lastly. if any. Under Commonwealth Act 39. Plaintiff's prayer. the old province was dissolved. 7. Republic Act 3039 took effect only on June 17. said share to be computed on the basis of the valuation of said 26 properties as contained in Resolution No.030. except as to the P43.39% share in the 26 lots should then be paid by defendant City in the same manner originally adopted by the Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. the classification of municipal property devoted for governmental purposes as public should prevail over the Civil Code classification in this particular case.39% share in the 26 properties which are patrimonial in nature. the classification of properties other than those for public use in the municipalities as patrimonial under Art. cannot be paid in lump sum. Sec.
C .. Makalintal. Sanchez. Actg. is on leave. 1949 of the Appraisal Committee formed by the Auditor General. No costs... Reyes. Zaldivar. (1)Defendant Zamboanga City is hereby ordered to return to plaintiff Zamboanga del Norte in lump sum the amount of P43. Castro. J. J . concur. .46. Angeles and Fernando.373.373. Concepcion.39% share in the 26 patrimonial properties. in the manner originally adopted by the Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. after deducting therefrom the sum of P57. JJ . by way of quarterly payments from the allotments of defendant City.11 which the former took back from the latter out of the sum of P57.46 previously paid to the latter.L.B. 7 dated March 26.WHEREFORE. the decision appealed from is hereby set aside and another judgment is hereby entered as follows:. J . C . Dizon..030. and (2)Defendants are hereby ordered to effect payments in favor of plaintiff of whatever balance remains of plaintiff's 54. So ordered. on the basis of Resolution No.
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