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G.R. No. L-630 November 15, There is no dispute as to these facts.

already been voted and the majority

1947 The real point in issue is whether or not decision was being prepared. The
an alien under our Constitution may motion for withdrawal stated no reason
ALEXANDER A. KRIVENKO, petitioner- acquire residential land. whatsoever, and the Solicitor General
appellant, was agreeable to it. While the motion
vs. It is said that the decision of the case on was pending in this Court, came the new
THE REGISTER OF DEEDS, CITY OF the merits is unnecessary, there being a circular of the Department of Justice,
MANILA, respondent and appellee. motion to withdraw the appeal which instructing all register of deeds to accept
should have been granted outright, and for registration all transfers of residential
Gibbs, Gibbs, Chuidian and Quasha of reference is made to the ruling laid down lots to aliens. The herein respondent-
petitioner-appellant. by this Court in another case to the effect appellee was naturally one of the
First Assistant Solicitor General Reyes that a court should not pass upon a registers of deeds to obey the new
and Solicitor Carreon for respondent- constitutional question if its judgment circular, as against his own stand in this
appellee. may be made to rest upon other case which had been maintained by the
Marcelino Lontok appeared as amicus grounds. There is, we believe, a trial court and firmly defended in this
curies. confusion of ideas in this reasoning. It Court by the Solicitor General. If we
cannot be denied that the constitutional grant the withdrawal, the the result would
question is unavoidable if we choose to be that petitioner-appellant Alexander A.
decide this case upon the merits. Our Krivenko wins his case, not by a decision
judgment cannot to be made to rest upon of this Court, but by the decision or
Alenxander A. Kriventor alien, bought a circular of the Department of Justice,
other grounds if we have to render any
residential lot from the Magdalena issued while this case was pending
judgment at all. And we cannot avoid our
Estate, Inc., in December of 1941, the before this Court. Whether or not this is
judgment simply because we have to
registration of which was interrupted by the reason why appellant seeks the
avoid a constitutional question. We
the war. In May, 1945, he sought to withdrawal of his appeal and why the
cannot, for instance, grant the motion
accomplish said registration but was Solicitor General readily agrees to that
withdrawing the appeal only because we
denied by the register of deeds of Manila withdrawal, is now immaterial. What is
wish to evade the constitutional; issue.
on the ground that, being an alien, he material and indeed very important, is
Whether the motion should be, or should
cannot acquire land in this jurisdiction. whether or not we should allow
not be, granted, is a question involving
Krivenko then brought the case to the interference with the regular and
different considerations now to be stated.
fourth branch of the Court of First complete exercise by this Court of its
Instance of Manila by means of constitutional functions, and whether or
a consulta, and that court rendered According to Rule 52, section 4, of the
Rules of Court, it is discretionary upon not after having held long deliberations
judgment sustaining the refusal of the and after having reached a clear and
register of deeds, from which Krivenko this Court to grant a withdrawal of appeal
after the briefs have been presented. At positive conviction as to what the
appealed to this Court. constitutional mandate is, we may still
the time the motion for withdrawal was
filed in this case, not only had the briefs allow our conviction to be silenced, and
been prensented, but the case had the constitutional mandate to be ignored
or misconceived, with all the harmful public domain, water, minerals, its language, embraces all lands of any
consequences that might be brought coal, petroleum, and other kind of the public domain, its purpose
upon the national patromony. For it is but mineral oils, all forces of potential being to establish a permanent and
natural that the new circular be taken full energy, and other natural fundamental policy for the conservation
advantage of by many, with the resources of the Philippines and utilization of all natural resources of
circumstance that perhaps the belong to the State, and their the Nation. When, therefore, this
constitutional question may never come disposition, exploitation, provision, with reference to lands of the
up again before this court, because both development, or utilization shall public domain, makes mention of only
vendors and vendees will have no be limited to citizens of the agricultural, timber and mineral lands, it
interest but to uphold the validity of their Philippines, or to corporations or means that all lands of the public domain
transactions, and very unlikely will the associations at least sixty per are classified into said three groups,
register of deeds venture to disobey the centum of the capital of which is namely, agricultural, timber and mineral.
orders of their superior. Thus, the owned by such citizens, subject And this classification finds corroboration
possibility for this court to voice its to any existing right, grant, lease, in the circumstance that at the time of
conviction in a future case may be or concession at the time of the the adoption of the Constitution, that was
remote, with the result that our inaguration of the Government the basic classification existing in the
indifference of today might signify a established uunder this public laws and judicial decisions in the
permanent offense to the Constitution. Constitution. Natural resources, Philippines, and the term "public
with the exception of public agricultural lands" under said
All thse circumstances were thoroughly agricultural land, shall not be classification had then acquired a
considered and weighted by this Court alienated, and no licence, technical meaning that was well-known
for a number of days and the legal result concession, or lease for the to the members of the Constitutional
of the last vote was a denial of the exploitation, development, or Convention who were mostly members
motion withdrawing the appeal. We are utilization of any of the natural of the legal profession.
thus confronted, at this stage of the resources shall be granted for a
proceedings, with our duty, the period exceeding twenty-five As early as 1908, in the case of Mapa
constitutional question becomes years, renewable for another vs. Insular Government (10 Phil., 175,
unavoidable. We shall then proceed to twenty-five years, except as to 182), this Court said that the phrase
decide that question. water rights for irrigation, water "agricultural public lands" as defined in
supply, fisheries, or industrial the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902,
Article XIII, section 1, of the uses other than the development which phrase is also to be found in
Constitutional is as follows: of water "power" in which cases several sections of the Public Land Act
beneficial use may be the (No. 926), means "those public lands
measure and the limit of the acquired from Spain which are neither
Article XIII. — Conservation and
grant. mineral for timber lands." This definition
utilization of natural resources.
has been followed in long line of
The scope of this constitutional decisions of this Court.
SECTION 1. All agricultural,
provision, according to its heading and (See Montano vs.Insular Government,
timber, and mineral lands of the
12 Phil., 593; Ibañez de Aldecoa vs. agricultural, the test is not only whether it employed therein shall be given
Insular Government, 13 Phil., 159; is actually agricultural, but also its the meaning which had been put
Ramos vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil., susceptibility to cultivation for agricultural upon them, and which they
175; Jocson vs. Director of Forestry, 39 purposes. But whatever the test might possessed, at the time of the
Phil., 560; Ankron vs. Government of the be, the fact remains that at the time the framing and adoption of the
Philippines, 40 Phil., 10.) And with Constitution was adopted, lands of the instrument. If a word has
respect to residential lands, it has been public domain were classified in our laws acquired a fixed, technical
held that since they are neither mineral and jurisprudence into agricultural, meaning in legal and
nor timber lands, of necessity they must mineral, and timber, and that the term constitutional history, it will be
be classified as agricultural. In Ibañez de "public agricultural lands" was construed presumed to have been
Aldecoa vs. Insular Government (13 as referring to those lands that were not employed in that sense in a
Phil., 159, 163), this Court said: timber or mineral, and as including written Constitution.
residential lands. It may safely be (McKinney vs. Barker, 180 Ky.,
Hence, any parcel of land or presumed, therefore, that what the 526; 203 S.W., 303; L.R.A., 1918
building lot is susceptible of members of the Constitutional E, 581.)
cultivation, and may be Convention had in mind when they
converted into a field, and drafted the Constitution was this well- Where words have been long
planted with all kinds of known classification and its technical used in a technical sense and
vegetation; for this reason, where meaning then prevailing. have been judicially construed to
land is not mining or forestal in its have a certain meaning, and
nature, it must necessarily be Certain expressions which have been adopted by the
included within the classification appear in Constitutions, . . . are legislature as having a certain
of agricultural land, not because obviously technical; and where meaning prior to a particular
it is actually used for the such words have been in use statute in which they are used,
purposes of agriculture, but prior to the adoption of a the rule of construction requires
because it was originally Constitution, it is presumed that that the words used in such
agricultural and may again its framers and the people who statute should be construed
become so under other ratified it have used such according to the sense in which
circumstances; besides, the Act expressions in accordance with they have been so previously
of Congress contains only three their technical meaning. (11 Am. used, although the sense may
classification, and makes no Jur., sec. 66, p. vary from strict literal meaning of
special provision with respect to 683.) AlsoCalder vs. Bull, 3 Dall. the words. (II Sutherland,
building lots or urban lands that [U.S.], 386; 1 Law. ed., 648; Statutory Construction, p. 758.)
have ceased to be agricultural Bronson vs. Syverson, 88 Wash.,
land. 264; 152 P., 1039.) Therefore, the phrase "public agricultural
lands" appearing in section 1 of Article
In other words, the Court ruled that in It is a fundamental rule that, in XIII of the Constitution must be
determining whether a parcel of land is construing constitutions, terms construed as including residential lands,
and this is in conformity with a legislative lands" for purposes of alienation or and this again is another legislative
interpretation given after the adoption of disposition, into lands that are stricly construction that the term "public
the Constitution. Well known is the rule agricultural or actually devoted to agricultural land" includes land for
that "where the Legislature has revised a cultivation for agricultural puposes; lands residence purposes.
statute after a Constitution has been that are residential; commercial;
adopted, such a revision is to be industrial; or lands for other purposes. Such legislative interpretation is also in
regarded as a legislative construction The fact that these lands are made harmony with the interpretation given by
that the statute so revised conforms to alienable or disposable under the Executive Department of the
the Constitution." (59 C.J., 1102.) Soon Commonwealth Act No. 141, in favor of Government. Way back in 1939,
after the Constitution was adopted, the Filipino citizens, is a conclusive Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos,
National Assembly revised the Public indication of their character as public in answer to a query as to "whether or
Land Law and passed Commonwealth agricultural lands under said statute and not the phrase 'public agricultural lands'
Act No. 141, and sections 58, 59 and 60 under the Constitution. in section 1 of Article XII (now XIII) of the
thereof permit the sale of residential lots Constitution may be interpreted to
to Filipino citizens or to associations or It must be observed, in this connection include residential, commercial, and
corporations controlled by such citizens, that prior to the Constitution, under industrial lands for purposes of their
which is equivalent to a solemn section 24 of Public Land Act No. 2874, disposition," rendered the following short,
declaration that residential lots are aliens could acquire public agricultural sharp and crystal-clear opinion:
considered as agricultural lands, for, lands used for industrial or residential
under the Constitution, only agricultural puposes, but after the Constitution and Section 1, Article XII (now XIII) of
lands may be alienated. under section 23 of Commonwealth Act the Constitution classifies lands
No. 141, the right of aliens to acquire of the public domain in the
It is true that in section 9 of said such kind of lands is completely stricken Philippines into agricultural,
Commonwealth Act No. 141, "alienable out, undoubtedly in pursuance of the timber and mineral. This is the
or disposable public lands" which are the constitutional limitation. And, again, prior basic classification adopted since
same "public agriculture lands" under the to the Constitution, under section 57 of the enactment of the Act of
Constitution, are classified into Public Land Act No. 2874, land of the Congress of July 1, 1902, known
agricultural, residential, commercial, public domain suitable for residence or as the Philippine Bill. At the time
industrial and for other puposes. This industrial purposes could be sold or of the adoption of the
simply means that the term "public leased to aliens, but after the Constitution of the Philippines,
agricultural lands" has both a broad and Constitution and under section 60 of the term 'agricultural public lands'
a particular meaning. Under its broad or Commonwealth Act No. 141, such land and, therefore, acquired a
general meaning, as used in the may only be leased, but not sold, to technical meaning in our public
Constitution, it embraces all lands that aliens, and the lease granted shall only laws. The Supreme Court of the
are neither timber nor mineral. This be valid while the land is used for the Philippines in the leading case
broad meaning is particularized in purposes referred to. The exclusion of of Mapa vs. Insular
section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 sale in the new Act is undoubtedly in Government, 10 Phil., 175, held
which classifies "public agricultural pursuance of the constitutional limitation, that the phrase 'agricultural
public lands' means those public This opinion is important not alone result that section 5 is included in Article
lands acquired from Spain which because it comes from a Secratary of XIII, and it reads as follows:
are neither timber nor mineral Justice who later became the Chief
lands. This definition has been Justice of this Court, but also because it Sec. 5. Save in cases of
followed by our Supreme Court in was rendered by a member of the hereditary succession, no private
many subsequent case. . . . cabinet of the late President Quezon agricultural land will be
who actively participated in the drafting transferred or assigned except to
Residential commercial, or of the constitutional provision under individuals, corporations, or
industrial lots forming part of the consideration. (2 Aruego, Framing of the associations qualified to acquire
public domain must have to be Philippine Constitution, p. 598.) And the or hold lands of the public
included in one or more of these opinion of the Quezon administration domain in the Philippines.
classes. Clearly, they are neither was reiterated by the Secretary of
timber nor mineral, of necessity, Justice under the Osmeña This constitutional provision closes the
therefore, they must be classified administration, and it was firmly only remaining avenue through which
as agricultural. maintained in this Court by the Solicitor agricultural resources may leak into
General of both administrations. aliens' hands. It would certainly be futile
Viewed from another angle, it to prohibit the alienation of public
has been held that in determining It is thus clear that the three great agricultural lands to aliens if, after all,
whether lands are agricultural or departments of the Government — they may be freely so alienated upon
not, the character of the land is judicial, legislative and executive — have their becoming private agricultural lands
the test (Odell vs. Durant, 62 always maintained that lands of the in the hands of Filipino citizens.
N.W., 524; Lorch vs. Missoula public domain are classified into Undoubtedly, as above indicated, section
Brick and Tile Co., 123 p.25). In agricultural, mineral and timber, and that 5 is intended to insure the policy of
other words, it is the agricultural lands include residential lots. nationalization contained in section 1.
susceptibility of the land to Both sections must, therefore, be read
cultivation for agricultural Under section 1 of Article XIII of the together for they have the same purpose
purposes by ordinary farming Constitution, "natural resources, with the and the same subject matter. It must be
methods which determines exception of public agricultural land, noticed that the persons against whom
whether it is agricultural or not shall not be aliented," and with respect to the prohibition is directed in section 5 are
(State vs. Stewart, 190 p. 129). public agricultural lands, their alienation the very same persons who under
is limited to Filipino citizens. But this section 1 are disqualified "to acquire or
Furthermore, as said by the constitutional purpose conserving hold lands of the public domain in the
Director of Lands, no reason is agricultural resources in the hands of Philippines." And the subject matter of
seen why a piece of land, which Filipino citizens may easily be defeated both sections is the same, namely, the
may be sold to a person if he is by the Filipino citizens themselves who non-transferability of "agricultural land" to
to devote it to agricultural, cannot may alienate their agricultural lands in aliens. Since "agricultural land" under
be sold to him if he intends to favor of aliens. It is partly to prevent this section 1 includes residential lots, the
use it as a site for his home. same technical meaning should be
attached to "agricultural land under indicated above, the prohibition as to the supplementary, as above indicated.
section 5. It is a rule of statutory alienable of public residential lots would Inasmuch as under section 1, timber and
construction that "a word or phrase become superflous if the same mineral lands can never be private, and
repeated in a statute will bear the same prohibition is not equally applied to the only lands that may become private
meaning throughout the statute, unless a private residential lots. Indeed, the are agricultural lands, the words "no land
different intention appears." (II prohibition as to private residential lands of private ownership" of the first draft can
Sutherland, Statutory Construction, p. will eventually become more important, have no other meaning than "private
758.) The only difference between for time will come when, in view of the agricultural land." And thus the change in
"agricultural land" under section 5, is that constant disposition of public lands in the final draft is merely one of words in
the former is public and the latter private. favor of private individuals, almost all, if order to make its subject matter more
But such difference refers to ownership not all, the residential lands of the public specific with a view to avoiding the
and not to the class of land. The lands domain shall have become private possible confusion of ideas that could
are the same in both sections, and, for residential lands. have arisen from the first draft.
the conservation of the national
patrimony, what is important is the It is maintained that in the first draft of If the term "private agricultural lands" is
nature or class of the property regardless section 5, the words "no land of private to be construed as not including
of whether it is owned by the State or by ownership" were used and later changed residential lots or lands not strictly
its citizens. into "no agricultural land of private agricultural, the result would be that
ownership," and lastly into "no private "aliens may freely acquire and possess
Reference is made to an opinion agricultural land" and from these not only residential lots and houses for
rendered on September 19, 1941, by the changes it is argued that the word themselves but entire subdivisions, and
Hon. Teofilo Sison, then Secretary of "agricultural" introduced in the second whole towns and cities," and that "they
Justice, to the effect that residential and final drafts was intended to limit the may validly buy and hold in their names
lands of the public domain may be meaning of the word "land" to land lands of any area for building homes,
considered as agricultural lands, actually used for agricultural purposes. factories, industrial plants, fisheries,
whereas residential lands of private The implication is not accurate. The hatcheries, schools, health and vacation
ownership cannot be so considered. No wording of the first draft was amended resorts, markets, golf courses,
reason whatsoever is given in the for no other purpose than to clarify playgrounds, airfields, and a host of
opinion for such a distinction, and no concepts and avoid uncertainties. The other uses and purposes that are not, in
valid reason can be adduced for such a words "no land" of the first draft, appellant's words, strictly agricultural."
discriminatory view, particularly having in unqualified by the word "agricultural," (Solicitor General's Brief, p. 6.) That this
mind that the purpose of the may be mistaken to include timber and is obnoxious to the conservative spirit of
constitutional provision is the mineral lands, and since under section 1, the Constitution is beyond question.
conservation of the national patrimony, this kind of lands can never be private,
and private residential lands are as much the prohibition to transfer the same One of the fundamental principles
an integral part of the national patrimony would be superfluous. Upon the other underlying the provision of Article XIII of
as the residential lands of the public hand, section 5 had to be drafted in the Constitution and which was
domain. Specially is this so where, as harmony with section 1 to which it is embodied in the report of the Committee
on Nationalization and Preservation of Our independence will be just a the provisions of this Act, nor any
Lands and other Natural Resources of mockery, for what kind of independence permanent improvement on such
the Constitutional Convention, is "that are we going to have if a part of our land, shall be encumbered,
lands, minerals, forests, and other country is not in our hands but in those alienated, or transferred, except
natural resources constitute the of foreigners?" (Emphasis ours.) to persons, corporations,
exclusive heritage of the Filipino nation. Professor Aruego says that since the associations, or partnerships who
They should, therefore, be preserved for opening days of the Constitutional may acquire lands of the public
those under the sovereign authority of Convention one of its fixed and domain under this Act; to
that nation and for their posterity." (2 dominating objectives was the corporations organized in the
Aruego, Framing of the Filipino conservation and nationalization of the Philippine Islands authorized
Constitution, p. 595.) Delegate Ledesma, natural resources of the country. (2 therefor by their charters, and,
Chairman of the Committee on Aruego, Framing of the Philippine upon express authorization by
Agricultural Development of the Constitution, p 592.) This is ratified by the Philippine Legislature, to
Constitutional Convention, in a speech the members of the Constitutional citizens of countries the laws of
delivered in connection with the national Convention who are now members of which grant to citizens of the
policy on agricultural lands, said: "The this Court, namely, Mr. Justice Perfecto, Philippine Islands the same right
exclusion of aliens from the privilege of Mr. Justice Briones, and Mr. Justice to acquire, hold, lease,
acquiring public agricultural lands and of Hontiveros. And, indeed, if under Article encumber, dispose of, or alienate
owning real estate is a necessary part of XIV, section 8, of the Constitution, an land, or permanent
the Public Land Laws of the Philippines alien may not even operate a small jitney improvements thereon, or any
to keep pace with the idea of preserving for hire, it is certainly not hard to interest therein, as to their own
the Philippines for the Filipinos." understand that neither is he allowed to citizens, only in the manner and
(Emphasis ours.) And, of the same tenor own a pieace of land. to the extent specified in such
was the speech of Delegate Montilla who laws, and while the same are in
said: "With the complete nationalization This constitutional intent is made more force but not thereafter.
of our lands and natural resources it is to patent and is strongly implemented by an
be understood that our God-given act of the National Assembly passed SEC. 121. No land originally
birthright should be one hundred per soon after the Constitution was acquired in any manner under
cent in Filipino hands . . .. Lands and approved. We are referring again to the provisions of the former
natural resources are immovables and Commonwealth Act No. 141. Prior to the Public Land Act or of any other
as such can be compared to the vital Constitution, there were in the Public Act, ordinance, royal order, royal
organs of a person's body, the lack of Land Act No. 2874 sections 120 and 121 decree, or any other provision of
possession of which may cause instant which granted aliens the right to acquire law formerly in force in the
death or the shortening of life. If we do private only by way of reciprocity. Said Philippine Islands with regard to
not completely antionalize these two of section reads as follows: public lands, terrenos baldios y
our most important belongings, I am realengos, or lands of any other
afraid that the time will come when we SEC. 120. No land originally denomination that were actually
shall be sorry for the time we were born. acquired in any manner under or presumptively of the public
domain or by royal grant or in mentioned in this section and in No. 141 was passed, sections 122 and
any other form, nor any the last preceding section being 123 of which read as follows:
permanent improvement on such transferred by judicial decree to
land, shall be encumbered, persons,corporations or SEC. 122. No land originally
alienated, or conveyed, except to associations not legally acquired in any manner under
persons, corporations, or capacitated to acquire the same the provisions of this Act, nor any
associations who may acquire under the provisions of this Act, permanent improvement on such
land of the public domain under such persons, corporations, or land, shall be encumbered,
this Act; to corporate bodies associations shall be obliged to alienated, or transferred, except
organized in the Philippine alienate said lands or to persons, corporations,
Islands whose charters may improvements to others so associations, or partnerships who
authorize them to do so, and, capacitated within the precise may acquire lands of the public
upon express authorization by period of five years, under the domain under this Act or to
the Philippine Legislature, to penalty of such property reverting corporations organized in the
citizens of the countries the laws to the Government in the Philippines authorized thereof by
of which grant to citizens of the contrary case." (Public Land Act, their charters.
Philippine Islands the same right No. 2874.)
to acquire, hold, lease, SEC. 123. No land originally
encumber, dispose of, or alienate It is to be observed that the pharase "no acquired in any manner under
land or pemanent improvements land" used in these section refers to all the provisions of any previous
thereon or any interest therein, private lands, whether strictly Act, ordinance, royal order, royal
as to their own citizens, and only agricultural, residential or otherwise, decree, or any other provision of
in the manner and to the extent there being practically no private land law formerly in force in the
specified in such laws, and while which had not been acquired by any of Philippines with regard to public
the same are in force, but not the means provided in said two sections. lands terrenos baldios y
thereafter: Provided, however, Therefore, the prohibition contained in realengos, or lands of any other
That this prohibition shall not be these two provisions was, in effect, that denomination that were actually
applicable to the conveyance or no private land could be transferred to or presumptively of the public
acquisition by reason of aliens except "upon express domain, or by royal grant or in
hereditary succession duly authorization by the Philippine any other form, nor any
acknowledged and legalized by Legislature, to citizens of Philippine permanent improvement on such
competent courts, nor to lands Islands the same right to acquire, hold, land, shall be encumbered,
and improvements acquired or lease, encumber, dispose of, or alienate alienated, or conveyed, except to
held for industrial or residence land." In other words, aliens were persons, corporations or
purposes, while used for such granted the right to acquire private land associations who may acquire
purposes: Provided, further, That merely by way of reciprocity. Then came land of the public domain under
in the event of the ownership of the Constitution and Commonwealth Act this Act or to corporate bodies
the lands and improvements organized in the Philippines
whose charters authorize them to construction carries exceptional weight, prohibition embraces the sale of private
do so: Provided, however, That for prominent members of the National lands of any kind in favor of aliens, which
this prohibition shall not be Assembly who approved the new Act is again a clear implementation and a
applicable to the conveyance or had been members of the Constitutional legislative interpretation of the
acquisition by reason of Convention. constitutional prohibition. Had the
hereditary succession duly Congress been of opinion that private
acknowledged and legalized by It is said that the lot question does not residential lands may be sold to aliens
competent courts: Provided, come within the purview of sections 122 under the Constitution, no legislative
further, That in the event of the and 123 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, measure would have been found
ownership of the lands and there being no proof that the same had necessary to authorize mortgage which
improvements mentioned in this been acquired by one of the means would have been deemed also
section and in the last preceding provided in said provisions. We are not, permissible under the Constitution. But
section being transferred by however, diciding the instant case under clearly it was the opinion of the Congress
judicial decree to persons, the provisions of the Public Land Act, that such sale is forbidden by the
corporations or associations not which have to refer to land that had been Constitution and it was such opinion that
legally capacitated to acquire the formerly of the public domain, otherwise prompted the legislative measure
same under the provisions of this their constitutionality may be doubtful. intended to clarify that mortgage is not
Act, such persons, corporations, We are deciding the instant case under within the constitutional prohibition.
or associations shall be obliged section 5 of Article XIII of the
to alienate said lands or Constitution which is more It is well to note at this juncture that in
improvements to others so comprehensive and more absolute in the the present case we have no choice. We
capacitated within the precise sense that it prohibits the transfer to are construing the Constitution as it is
period of five years; otherwise, alien of any private agricultural land and not as we may desire it to be.
such property shall revert to the including residential land whatever its Perhaps the effect of our construction is
Government. origin might have been. to preclude aliens, admitted freely into
the Philippines from owning sites where
These two sections are almost literally And, finally, on June 14, 1947, the they may build their homes. But if this is
the same as sections 120 and 121 of Act Congress approved Republic Act No. the solemn mandate of the Constitution,
No. 2874, the only difference being that 133 which allows mortgage of "private we will not attempt to compromise it even
in the new provisions, the right to real property" of any kind in favor of in the name of amity or equity. We are
reciprocity granted to aliens is aliens but with a qualification consisting satisfied, however, that aliens are not
completely stricken out. This, of expressly prohibiting aliens to bid or completely excluded by the Constitution
undoubtedly, is to conform to the take part in any sale of such real from the use of lands for residential
absolute policy contained in section 5 of property as a consequence of the purposes. Since their residence in the
Article XIII of the Constitution which, in mortgage. This prohibition makes no Philippines is temporary, they may be
prohibiting the alienation of private distinction between private lands that are granted temporary rights such as a lease
agricultural lands to aliens, grants them strictly agricultural and private lands that contract which is not forbidden by the
no right of reciprocity. This legislative are residental or commercial. The Constitution. Should they desire to
remain here forever and share our
fortunes and misfortunes, Filipino
citizenship is not impossible to acquire.

For all the foregoing, we hold that under

the Constitution aliens may not acquire
private or public agricultural lands,
including residential lands, and,
accordingly, judgment is affirmed,
without costs.