, as Presiding Judge of
te Regiona! Tria! "ourt of #a$ati, Bran% &' and STARBRI(HT SALES
(.R. No. ')'*+* ,e%e-.er ', '**+
/A"TS0 Petitioner is the Holy See who exercises sovereignty over the Vatican City in
Rome, Italy, and is represented in the Philippines by the Papal Nuncio Private
respondent, Starbright Sales !nterprises, Inc", is a domestic corporation engaged in
the real estate business"
#his petition arose $rom a controversy over a parcel o$ land consisting o$ %,&&&
s'uare meters located in the (unicipality o$ Parana'ue registered in the name o$
petitioner" Said lot was contiguous with two other lots registered in the name o$ the
Philippine Realty Corporation )PRC*"
#he three lots were sold to Ramon +icup, through (sgr" ,omingo -" Cirilos, .r",
acting as agent to the sellers" +ater, +icup assigned his rights to the sale to private
In view o$ the re$usal o$ the s'uatters to vacate the lots sold to private respondent,
a dispute arose as to who o$ the parties has the responsibility o$ evicting and
clearing the land o$ s'uatters" Complicating the relations o$ the parties was the sale
by petitioner o$ +ot /0- to #ropicana Properties and ,evelopment Corporation
private respondent 1led a complaint with the Regional #rial Court, 2ranch %3,
(a4ati, (etro (anila $or annulment o$ the sale o$ the three parcels o$ land, and
speci1c per$ormance and damages against petitioner, represented by the Papal
Nuncio, and three other de$endants5 namely, (sgr" ,omingo -" Cirilos, .r", the PRC
and #ropicana
petitioner and (sgr" Cirilos separately moved to dismiss the complaint 6 petitioner
$or lac4 o$ 7urisdiction based on sovereign immunity $rom suit, and (sgr" Cirilos $or
being an improper party" -n opposition to the motion was 1led by private
the trial court issued an order denying, among others, petitioner8s motion to dismiss
a$ter 1nding that petitioner 9shed o: ;its< sovereign immunity by entering into the
business contract in 'uestion= Petitioner $orthwith elevated the matter to us" In its
petition, petitioner invo4es the privilege o$ sovereign immunity only on its own
behal$ and on behal$ o$ its o>cial representative, the Papal Nuncio"
?hether the Holy See is immune $rom suit inso$ar as its business relations regarding
selling a lot to a private entity
#he Republic o$ the Philippines has accorded the Holy See the status o$ a $oreign
sovereign" #he Holy See, through its -mbassador, the Papal Nuncio, has had
diplomatic representations with the Philippine government since 3@/A )Rollo, p" BA*"
#his appears to be the universal practice in international relations"
#here are two conCicting concepts o$ sovereign immunity, each widely held and
1rmly established" -ccording to the classical or absolute theory, a sovereign cannot,
without its consent, be made a respondent in the courts o$ another sovereign"
-ccording to the newer or restrictive theory, the immunity o$ the sovereign is
recogniDed only with regard to public acts or acts 7ure imperii o$ a state, but not with
regard to private acts or acts 7ure gestionis
I$ the act is in pursuit o$ a sovereign activity, or an incident thereo$, then it is an act
7ure imperii, especially when it is not underta4en $or gain or pro1t"
In the case at bench, i$ petitioner has bought and sold lands in the ordinary course
o$ a real estate business, surely the said transaction can be categoriDed as an act
7ure gestionis" However, petitioner has denied that the ac'uisition and subse'uent
disposal o$ +ot /0- were made $or pro1t but claimed that it ac'uired said property
$or the site o$ its mission or the -postolic Nunciature in the Philippines" Private
respondent $ailed to dispute said claim"
+ot /0- was ac'uired by petitioner as a donation $rom the -rchdiocese o$ (anila"
#he donation was made not $or commercial purpose, but $or the use o$ petitioner to
construct thereon the o>cial place o$ residence o$ the Papal Nuncio" #he right o$ a
$oreign sovereign to ac'uire property, real or personal, in a receiving state,
necessary $or the creation and maintenance o$ its diplomatic mission, is recogniDed
in the 3@%3 Vienna Convention on ,iplomatic Relations )-rts" E&0EE*" #his treaty
was concurred in by the Philippine Senate and entered into $orce in the Philippines
on November 3/, 3@%/"
#he decision to trans$er the property and the subse'uent disposal thereo$ are
li4ewise clothed with a governmental character" Petitioner did not sell +ot /0- $or
pro1t or gain" It merely wanted to dispose o: the same because the s'uatters living
thereon made it almost impossible $or petitioner to use it $or the purpose o$ the
donation" #he $act that s'uatters have occupied and are still occupying the lot, and
that they stubbornly re$use to leave the premises, has been admitted by private
respondent in its complaint
Private respondent is not le$t without any legal remedy $or the redress o$ its
grievances" Fnder both Public International +aw and #ransnational +aw, a person
who $eels aggrieved by the acts o$ a $oreign sovereign can as4 his own government
to espouse his cause through diplomatic channels"
Private respondent can as4 the Philippine government, through the Goreign H>ce,
to espouse its claims against the Holy See" Its 1rst tas4 is to persuade the Philippine
government to ta4e up with the Holy See the validity o$ its claims" H$ course, the
Goreign H>ce shall 1rst ma4e a determination o$ the impact o$ its espousal on the
relations between the Philippine government and the Holy See )Ioung, Remedies o$
Private Claimants -gainst Goreign States, Selected Readings on Protection by +aw o$
Private Goreign Investments @&/, @3@ ;3@%J<*" Hnce the Philippine government
decides to espouse the claim, the latter ceases to be a private cause"
?H!R!GHR!, the petition $or certiorari is KR-N#!, and the complaint in Civil Case
No" @&03BL against petitioner is ,IS(ISS!,"
GRH( -##I" 2-I-NIMM

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