THE DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITY REPUBLIC VS.

SANDOVAL220 SCRA 124 (1993)
FACTS:
By reason of the Mendiola massacre, wherein 12 rallyists
died in their quest for “genuine agrarian reform”, President
Aquino issued Administrative Order No.11 which created the
Citizen’s Mendiola Commission for the purpose of
conducting an investigation for the disorders, death and
casualties that took place.
The most significant recommendation of the Commission
was for the deceased and other victims of Mendiola incident
to be compensated by the government.
Due to the recommendation, petitioners filed a formal letter
of demand for compensation from the government to which
the latter did not take heed. The group then instituted an
action for damages against the Republic of the Philippines
together with military officers and personnel involved in
Mendiola incident.
Respondent Judge Sandoval dismissed the complaint as
against the Republic of the Philippines on the basis that
there was no waver by the state. Hence, the petition for
certiorari.
ISSUE:
Whether the State by virtue of the administrative order
waived its immunity from suit?
HELD:
NO. Firstly, recommendation made by the commission does
not in any way mean that liability automatically attaches to
the state. In effect, the same shall only serve as a cause of
action on the event that any party decides to litigate his or
her claim. The commission is merely a preliminary venue.
Secondly, whatever acts or utterances that then President
Aquino may have said or done, the same are not tantamount
to the state having waived its immunity from suit.
The principle of state immunity from suit does not apply in
this case, as when the relief demanded by the suit requires
no affirmative official action on the part of the state nor the
affirmative discharge of any obligation which belongs to the
state in its political capacity, even though the officers or
agents who are made defendants claim to hold or act only by
virtue of a title of the state and as its agents and servants.

ISSUE: May defendant invoke immunity from suit?
HELD:
NO. Ordinarily, the officer or employee committing the tort is
answerable for whatever injury.
personally liable and may be sued as any other citizen and
held
THE DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITYSECTION 3,
ARTICLE XVI, 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION U.S.A
VS. GUINTO(G.R. NO. 76607 FEBRUARY 26, 1990)
CRUZ, J. FACTS:
In the first case, the private respondents are suing several
officers of the U.S. Air Force stationed in Clark Air Base in
connection with the bidding conducted by them for contracts
for barber services in the base.
In the second case, private respondents filed a complaint for
damages against private petitioners for his dismissal as cook
in the U.S. Air Force Recreation Center at the John Hay Air
Station.
In the third case, private respondent, who was employed as
a barracks boy in a U.S. Base, was arrested following a buybust operation conducted by the individual petitioners,
officers of the U.S. Air Force and special agents of the Air
Force Office of Special Investigators. He then filed a
complaint for damages against the individual petitioners
claiming that it was because of their acts that he was
removed.
In the fourth case, a complaint for damages was filed by the
private respondents against the private petitioners, for
injuries allegedly sustained by the plaintiffs as a result of the
acts of the defendants. According to the plaintiffs, the
defendants beat them up, handcuffed them and unleashed
dogs on them which bit them in several parts of their bodies
and caused extensive injuries to them.
These cases have been consolidated because they all
involve the doctrine of state immunity. The United States of
America was not impleaded in the complaints below but has
moved to dismiss on the ground that they are in effect suits
against it to which it has not consented. It is now contesting
the denial of its motions by the respondent judges.
ISSUE: Whether or not the Doctrine of State Immunity is not
applicable thereby making the State liable

The correct test for the application of State immunity is
not the conclusion of a contract by a State but the legal
nature of the act is shown in Syquia vs. Lopez, 84 Phil.
312 (1949).

HELD:

THE DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITY FESTEJO VS.
FERNANDO94 PHIL 504 (1954)

The traditional rule of immunity exempts a State from being
sued in the courts of another State without its consent or
waiver. This rule is a necessary consequence of the
principles of independence and equality of States. However,
the rules of International Law are not petrified; they are
constantly developing and evolving. And because the
activities of states have multiplied, it has been necessary to
distinguish them - between sovereign and governmental acts
(jure imperii) and private, commercial and proprietary acts
(jure gestionis). The result is that State immunity now
extends only to acts jure imperii. The restrictive application of
State immunity is now the rule in the United States, the
United Kingdom and other states in Western Europe.

FACTS:
Plaintiff Carmen Festejo filed an action against defendant
Isaias Fernando, Director of Bureau of Public Works for
unlawfully taking possession of portions of her three parcels
of land and causing the construction of irrigation canal
without obtaining right of way and without her consent or
knowledge.
The lower court ruled in favor of plaintiff Festejo. On appeal,
defendant Fernando invoked his being a public officer of the
government of the Philippines and thus, enjoys immunity
from suit and should be absolved from liability for damages.

NO. While suable, the petitioners are nevertheless not liable.
It is obvious that the claim for damages cannot be allowed
on the strength of the evidence, which have been carefully
examined.

The restrictive application of State immunity is proper

only when the proceedings arise out of commercial
transactions of the foreign sovereign, its commercial
activities or economic affairs. Stated differently, a State
may be said to have descended to the level of an individual
and can thus be deemed to have tacitly given its consent to
be sued only when it enters into business contracts. It does
not apply where the contract relates to the exercise of its
sovereign functions. In this case the projects are an integral
part of the naval base which is devoted to the defense of
both the United States and the Philippines, indisputably a
function of the government of the highest order; they are not
utilized for nor dedicated to commercial or business
purposes.
There is no question that the United States of America, like
any other state, will be deemed to have impliedly waived its
non-suability if it has entered into a contract in its proprietary
or private capacity, as in the cases at bar. It is only when the
contract involves its sovereign or governmental capacity that
no such waiver may be implied. A State may be said to have
descended to the level of an individual and can thus be
deemed to have tacitly given its consent to be sued only
when it enters into business contracts.
The private respondents invokes Article 2180 of the Civil
Code which holds the government liable if it acts through a
special agent. The argument, it would seem, is premised on
the ground that since the officers are designated "special
agents," the United States government should be liable for
their torts.
There seems to be a failure to distinguish between suability
and liability and a misconception that the two terms are
synonymous. Suability depends on the consent of the state
to be sued, liability on the applicable law and the established
facts. The circumstance that a state is suable does not
necessarily mean that it is liable; on the other hand, it can
never be held liable if it does not first consent to be sued.
Liability is not conceded by the mere fact that the state has
allowed itself to be sued. When the state does waive its
sovereign immunity, it is only giving the plaintiff the chance to
prove, if it can, that the defendant is liable.
The said article establishes a rule of liability, not
suability. The government may be held liable under this rule
only if it first allows itself to be sued through any of the
accepted forms of consent. Moreover, the agent performing
his regular functions is not a special agent even if he is so
denominated, as in the case at bar. No less important, the
said provision appears to regulate only the relations of the
local state with its inhabitants and, hence, applies only to the
Philippine government and not to foreign governments
impleaded in our courts.
The complaints against the petitioners in the court below
were aptly dismissed.
Cases:

now contesting the denial of its motions by the respondent
judges.
Issue:
Whether or not the Doctrine of State Immunity is
not applicable?
Held:
NO. While suable, the petitioners are nevertheless
not liable. It is obvious that the claim for damages cannot be
allowed on the strength of the evidence, which have been
carefully examined. The traditional rule of immunity exempts
a State from being sued in the courts of another State
without its consent or waiver. This rule is a necessary
consequence of the principles of independence and equality
of States. A state may be said to have descended to the
level of an individual and can thus be deemed to have tacitly
given its consent to be sued only when it enters into
business contracts.
Case: Meritt (Plaintiff) vs. Government of the Philippines
Islands (Defendant)
Topic: The Doctrine of State Immunity
Facts:
The plaintiff while riding his motorcycle was hit by
an ambulance owned by the Philippine General Hospital.
Act. No. 2457 was enacted by the Philippine
Legislature Authorizing the Plaintiff to bring suit against the
Government of the Philippine Islands and authorizing the
Attorney General of said Islands to appear in said suit.

Case: U.S.A vs. Guinto
Topic: The Doctrine of State Immunity
Facts:
There are four cases filed that involve the question
of the immunity of the United States from the jurisdiction of
the Philippines.
First case, the private respondents are suing
several officers of the U.S. Air Force stationed in Clark Air
Base in connection with the bidding conducted by them for
contracts for barber services in the base.
Second case, private respondents filed a
complaint for damages against private petitioners for his
dismissal as cook in the U.S. Air Force Recreation Center at
the John Hay Air Station.
Third case, private respondent, who was
employed as a barracks boy in a U.S. Base, was arrested
following a buy-bust operation conducted by the individual
petitioners, officers of the U.S. Air Force and special agents
of the Air Force Office of Special Investigators.
Fourth case, a complaint for damages was filed
by the private respondents against the private petitioners, for
injuries allegedly sustained by the plaintiffs as a result of the
acts of the defendants.
These cases have been consolidated because
they all involve the doctrine of state immunity. The United
States of America was not impleaded in the complaints
below but has moved to dismiss on the ground that they are
in effect suits against it to which it has not consented. It is

A suit was then filed before the CFI of Manila,
which fixed the responsibility for the collision solely on the
ambulance driver and determined the amount of damages to
be awarded to Merritt.
Both parties appealed from the decision, plaintiff
Merritt as to the amount of damages and defendant in
rendering the amount against the government.
Issue:
Whether or not the Government of the Philippines,
waived its immunity from suit as well as conceded its liability
when it enacted Act. No. 2457?
Held:
NO. By consenting to be sued, a state simply
waives its immunity from suit. It does not thereby concede its
liability to the plaintiff, or create any cause of action in his
favor, or extend its liability to any cause not previously
recognized. It merely gives a remedy to enforce a preexisting liability and submit itself to the jurisdiction of the
court, subject to its right to interpose any lawful defense.
The Government of the Philippines Islands is only
liable, for the acts of its agents, officers and employees
when they act as special agents. A special agent is one who
receives a definite and fixed order or commission, foreign to
the exercise of the duties of his office if he is a special
official. The special agent acts in representation of the state
and being bound to act as an agent thereof, he executes the
trust confided to him. The chauffeur of the ambulance of the
General Hospital was not such an agent.

Case: Amigable vs. Cuenca
Topic: The Doctrine of State Immunitty
Facts:
The petitioner is the registered owner of a lot
covered by a Transfer Certificate of Title, where no
annotation in favor of the government of any right or interest
in the property appears at the back of the certificate. Without
prior expropriation or negotiated sale, the government used
a portion of said lot for the construction of the Mango and
Gorordo Avenues.
Amigable's counsel wrote the President of the
Philippines, requesting payment of the portion of her lot that
had been appropriated by the government. The claim was
indorsed to the Auditor General (Nicolas Cuenca), who
disallowed it.
Amigable then filed in the court a quo a complaint
against the Republic of the Philippines and Nicolas Cuenca.
The petitioner also sought the payment of compensatory
damages for the illegal occupation of her land, moral
damages, attorney's fees and the costs of the suit. The
Government had not given its consent to be sued.
Issue:
Whether or not the appellant may properly sue the
Government?
Held:
YES. Where the government takes away property
from a private landowner for public use without going
through the legal process of expropriation or negotiated sale,
the aggrieved party may properly maintain a suit against the
government without thereby violating the doctrine of
governmental immunity from suit. This doctrine cannot be
used in perpetrating injustice to a citizen. There is no thought
then that the doctrine of immunity from suit could still be
appropriately invoked.
Thus, the plaintiff is entitles thereto in the form of
legal interest on the price of the land from the time it was
taken p to the time that payment is made by the government.
The government should pay for the attorney’s fee, the
amount of which should be fixed by the trial court.
U.S. vs. RUIZ
136 SCRA 487 (1985)
DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITY
FACTS:
The USA had a naval base in Subic, Zambales. The base
was one of those provided in the military bases agreement
between the Philippines and the US. Respondent alleges
that it won in the bidding conducted by the US for the
construction of wharves in said base that was merely
awarded to another group. For this reason, a suit for specific
performance was filed by him against the US.
ISSUE:
Whether the US naval base in bidding for said contracts
exercise governmental functions to be able to invoke state
immunity.
HELD:
The traditional role of the state immunity exempts a state
from being sued in the courts of another state without its
consent or waiver. This rule is necessary consequence of the
principle of independence and equality of states. However,
the rules of international law are not petrified; they are

continually and evolving and because the activities of states
have multiplied. It has been necessary to distinguish them
between sovereign and governmental acts and private,
commercial and proprietory acts. The result is that state
immunity now extends only to sovereign and governmental
acts.
The restrictive application of state immunity is proper only
when the proceedings arise out of commercial transactions
of the foreign sovereign. Its commercial activities of
economic affairs. A state may be descended to the level of
an individual and can thus be deemed to have tacitly given
its consent to be sued. Only when it enters into business
contracts. It does not apply where the contract relates the
exercise of its sovereign function. In this case, the project
are integral part of the naval base which is devoted to the
defense of both US and Philippines, indisputably, a function
of the government of highest order, they are not utilized for,
nor dedicated to commercial or business purposes.
REPUBLIC VS. VILLASOR, ET AL.
54 SCRA 84 (1973)
DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITY
FACTS:
On July 7, 1969, a decision was rendered in Special
Proceedings No. 2156-R in favor of respondents P.J. Kiener
Co., Ltd., Gavino Unchuan, and International Construction
Corporation and against petitioner confirming the arbitration
award in the amount of P1,712,396.40.The award is for the
satisfaction of a judgment against the Philippine
Government. On June 24, 1969, respondent Honorable
Guillermo Villasor issued an Order declaring the decision
final and executory. Villasor directed the Sheriffs of Rizal
Province, Quezon City as well as Manila to execute said
decision. The Provincial Sheriff of Rizal served Notices of
Garnishment with several Banks, specially on Philippine
Veterans Bank and PNB. The funds of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines on deposit with Philippine Veterans Bank and
PNB are public funds duly appropriated and allocated for the
payment of pensions of retirees, pay and allowances of
military and civilian personnel and for maintenance and
operations of the AFP. Petitioner, on certiorari, filed
prohibition proceedings against respondent Judge Villasor
for acting in excess of jurisdiction with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in granting the
issuance of a Writ of Execution against the properties of the
AFP, hence the notices and garnishment are null and void.
ISSUE:
Is the Writ of Execution issued by Judge Villasor valid?
HELD:
What was done by respondent Judge is not in conformity
with the dictates of the Constitution. It is a fundamental
postulate of constitutionalism flowing from the juristic
concept of sovereignty that the state as well as its
government is immune from suit unless it gives its consent. A
sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal
conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and
practical ground that there can be no legal right as against
the authority that makes the law on which the right depends.
The State may not be sued without its consent. A corollary,
both dictated by logic and sound sense from a basic concept
is that public funds cannot be the object of a garnishment
proceeding even if the consent to be sued had been
previously granted and the state liability adjudged. The
universal rule that where the State gives its consent to be
sued by private parties either by general or special law, it
may limit claimant’s action only up to the completion of
proceedings anterior to the stage of execution and that the

power of the Courts ends when the judgment is rendered,
since the government funds and properties may not be
seized under writs of execution or garnishment to satisfy
such judgments, is based on obvious considerations of
public policy. Disbursements of public funds must be covered
by the corresponding appropriation as required by law. The
functions and public services rendered by the State cannot
be allowed to be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of
public funds from their legitimate and specific objects, as
appropriated by law
PNB V. PABALAN
83 SCRA 595 (1978)
DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITY
FACTS:
Judgment was rendered against respondent Philippine
Virginia Tobacco Administration (PVTA). Judge Javier
Pabalan issued a writ of execution followed thereafter by a
notice of garnishment of the funds of PVTA. The full amount
mentioned in such writ is P12, 724.66. Philippine National
Bank allege that such funds are public in character, thus, the
doctrine of non-suability of a state is applicable.
ISSUE:
Is the respondent exempt from garnishment by virtue of the
doctrine of non-suability of a state?
HELD:
It is well-settled that when the government enters into
commercial business, it abandons its sovereign capacity and
is to be treated like any other corporation. Petitioner cannot
set bar to the garnishment for funds of public corporations
which can sue and be sued, as is the case of PVTA, are not
exempt from garnishment.
Topic: The Doctrine of State Immunity
BUREAU OF PRINTING VS. BUREAU OF PRINTING
EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
FACTS:
Bureau of Printing Employees Association filed a case
against herein petitioners Bureau of Printing, Serafin
Salvador, and Mariano Ledesma. The complaint alleged that
Salvador and Ledesma have been engaging in unfair labor
practices by interfering with, or coercing the employees of
the Bureau of Printing, particularly the members of the
complaining association, in the exercise of their right to selforganization, and by discriminating in regard to hiring and
tenure of their employment in order to discourage them from
pursuing their union activities. Answering the complaint,
Salvador and Ledesma denied the charges, and contended
that the Bureau of Printing has no juridical personality to sue
and be sued.
ISSUE:
Whether or not Bureau of Printing cannot be sued?
HELD:
NO. As a government office without any juridical
personality, the Bureau of Printing cannot be sued.
The Bureau of Printing is an instrumentality of the
government. It operates under the direct supervision of the
Executive Secretary. It is designed to meet the printing
needs of the government. It is primarily a service bureau. It
is obviously not engaged in business or occupation for
pecuniary profit. It has no corporate existence. Its
appropriations are provided for in the budget. It is not subject
to the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial Relations.
Any suit, action or proceeding against the Bureau
of Printing would actually be a suit, action or proceeding

against the government itself. The government cannot be
sued without its consent, much less over its objection.
Topic: The Doctrine of State Immunity
MOBIL PHILIPPINES EXPLORATION, INC. VS.
CUSTOMS ARRASTRE SERVICE
FACTS:
Four cases of rotary drill parts were shipped from
abroad consigned to Mobil Philippines. The Customs
Arrastre later delivered to the broker of the consignee three
cases only of the shipment. Mobil Philippines Exploration
Inc.filed suit in the Court of First Instance of Manila against
the Customs Arrastre Service and the Bureau of Customs to
recover the value of the undelivered cases plus other
damages.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint on the ground that not being a person under the
law, defendants cannot be sued. After the plaintiff opposed
the motion, the court dismissed the complaint on the ground
that neither the Customs Arrastre Service nor the Bureau of
Customs is suable. Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court
the order of dismissal and contends that not all government
entities are immune from suit and the defendant is
discharging propriety functions and as such, can be sue by
private individuals.
ISSUE:
Whether or not Customs Arrastre Service or the
Bureau of Customs be sued?
HELD:
NO. The Bureau of Customs, acting as part of the
machinery of the national government in the operations of
arrastre service, pursuant to express legislative mandate
and a necessary incident of its prime governmental function,
is immune from suit, there being no statute to the contrary.
The Bureau of Customs has no personality of its own apart
from that of the government. Its primary function is
governmental, that of assessing and collecting lawful
revenues from imported articles and all other tariff and
customs duties, fees, charges, fines, and penalties. To this
function, arrastre is a necessary incident. Although said
arrastre function is deemed proprietary, it is necessarily an
incident of the primary and governmental function of the
Bureau of Customs, so that engaging in the same does not
necessarily render said Bureau liable to suit. For otherwise,
it could not perform its governmental function without
necessarily exposing itself to suit. Sovereign immunity
granted as to the end should not be denied as to the
necessary means to that end.
Topic: The Doctrine of State Immunity
MUNICIPALITY OF SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION VS.
JUDGE FIRME
FACTS:
It was recalled that on December 16, 1965, a
collision occurred involving a passenger jeep, a gravel and
sand truck, and a dump truck of the Municipality of San
Fernando, La Union which was driven by Alfredo Bislig. Due
to the impact, several passengers of the jeep including
Banina, Sr. died. The heirs of Banina, Sr. instituted a
complaint for damages against the owner and driver of the
passenger jeep. However, the aforesaid defendant filed a
third party complaint against the petitioner and the driver of
the dump truck of the petitioner.

Thereafter, the private respondents amended the
complaint wherein the petitioner and its regular employee
Alfredo Bislig were impleaded for the first time as
defendants. Petitioner filed its answer and raised affirmative
defenses such as lack of cause of action, non-suability of the
state, prescription of cause of action, and the negligence of
the owner and driver of the passenger jeep as the proximate
cause of the collision.
The trial court rendered a decision for the plaintiffs,
and defendants Municipality of san Fernando, La Union and
Alfredo Bislig are ordered to pay jointly and severally the
plaintiffs. The complaint against the driver and the owner of
the passenger jeep was dismissed.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and for
a new trial. However, respondent judge issued another order
denying the motion for reconsideration of the order for
having been filed out of time. Hence, this petition seeks the
nullification or modification of the proceedings and orders
issued by the respondent Judge Romeo N. Firme.
ISSUE:
Whether the municipality is liable for the tort
committed by its employee?
HELD:
NO. The test of liability of the municipality depends
on whether or not the driver acting in behalf of the
municipality is performing governmental or proprietary
functions. It has already been remarked that municipal
corporations are suable because their charters grant them
the competence to sue and be sued. Nevertheless, they are
generally not liable for torts committed by them in the
discharge of governmental functions and can be held
answerable only if it can be shown that they were acting in a
proprietary capacity. In permitting such entities to be sued,
the state merely gives the claimants the right to show the
defendant was not acting in its governmental capacity when
the injury was inflicted or that the case comes under the
exceptions recognized by law. Failing this, the claimants

cannot recover.
In the case at bar, the driver of the dump truck of
the municipality insists that he was on his way to Naguilan
River to get a load of sand and gravel for the repair of the
San Fernando municipal street.In the absence of any
evidence to the contrary, the regularity of the performance of
official duty is presumed. Hence, the driver of the dump truck
was performing duties or tasks pertaining to his office.
After careful examination of existing laws and
jurisprudence, we arrive at the conclusion that the
municipality cannot be held liable for the torts committed by
its regular employee, who was then engaged in the
discharge of governmental functions. Hence, the death of
the passenger, tragic and deplorable though, it may be
imposed on the municipality no duty to pay the monetary
compensation.