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US v. Reyes 219 SCRA 192 (1993) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA vs.

REYES Petition for Certiorari to Annul & Set Aside RTC Cavite Branch 22 Resolution, 1993 FACTS:

Respondent Nelia Montoya, an American Citizen, worked as an ID checker at the US Navy Exchange (NEX) at the US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) headquarters in Quezon City. Shes married to Edgardo Montoya, a Filipino-American serviceman employed by the US Navy & stationed in San Francisco. Petitioner Maxine is an American Citizen employed at the JUSMAG headquarters as the activity exchange manager. Jan. 22, 1987 Montoya bought some items from the retail store Bradford managed, where she had purchasing privileges. After shopping & while she was already at the parking lot, Mrs. Yong Kennedy, a fellow ID checker approached her & told her that she needed to search her bags upon Bradfords instruction. Montoya approached Bradford to protest the search but she was told that it was to be made on all JUSMAG employees on that day. Mrs. Kennedy then performed the search on her person, bags & car in front of Bradford & other curious onlookers. Nothing irregular was found thus she was allowed to leave afterwards. Montoya learned that she was the only person subjected to such search that day & she was informed by NEX Security Manager Roynon that NEX JUSMAG employees are not searched outside the store unless there is a strong evidence of a wrong-doing. Montoya cant recall any circumstance that would trigger suspicion of a wrong-doing on her part. She is aware of Bradfords propensity to suspect Filipinos for theft and/or shoplifting. Montoya filed a formal protest w/Mr. Roynon but no action was taken. Montoya filed a suit against Bradford for damages due to the oppressive & discriminatory acts committed by petitioner in excess of her authority as store manager. She claims that she has been exposed to contempt & ridicule causing her undue embarrassment & indignity. She further claims that the act was not motivated by any other reason aside from racial discrimination in our own land w/c is a blow to our national pride & dignity. She seeks for moral damages of P500k and exemplary damages of P100k. May 13, 1987 Summons & complaint were served on Bradford but instead of filing an

answer, she along with USA government filed a motion to dismiss on grounds that: (1) this is a suit against US w/c is a foreign sovereign immune from suit w/o its consent and (2) Bradford is immune from suit for acts done in the performance of her official functions under Phil-US Military Assistance Agreement of 1947 & Military Bases Agreement of 1947. They claim that US has rights, power & authority w/in the bases, necessary for the establishment, use & operation & defense thereof. It will also use facilities & areas w/in bases & will have effective command over the facilities, US personnel, employees, equipment & material. They further claim that checking of purchases at NEX is a routine procedure observed at base retail outlets to protect & safeguard merchandise, cash & equipment pursuant to par. 2 & 4(b) of NAVRESALEACT SUBIC INST. 5500.1. July 6, 1987 Montoya filed a motion for preliminary attachment claiming that Bradford was about to leave the country & was removing & disposing her properties w/intent to defraud her creditors. Motion granted by RTC. July 14, 1987 Montoya opposed Bradfords motion to dismiss. She claims that: (1) search was outside NEX JUSMAG store thus its improper, unlawful & highly-discriminatory and beyond Bradfords authority; (2) due to excess in authority and since her liability is personal, Bradford cant rely on sovereign immunity; (3) Bradfords act was committed outside the military base thus under the jurisdiction of Philippine courts; (4) the Court can inquire into the factual circumstances of case to determine WON Bradford acted w/in or outside her authority. RTC granted Montoyas motion for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment and later on issued writ of attachment opposed by Bradford. Montoya allowed to present evidence & Bradford declared in default for failure to file an answer. RTC ruled in favor of Montoya claiming that search was unreasonable, reckless, oppressive & against Montoyas liberty guaranteed by Consti. She was awarded P300k for moral damages, P100k for exemplary damages & P50k for actual expenses. Bradford filed a Petition for Restraining Order. SC granted TRO enjoining RTC from enforcing decision. Montoya claims that Bradford was acting as a civilian employee thus not performing governmental functions. Even if she were performing governmental acts, she would still not be covered by the immunity since she was acting outside the scope of her authority. She claims that criminal acts of a public officer/employee are his private acts & he alone is liable for such acts. She believes that this case is under RP courts jurisdiction because act was done outside the territorial control of the US Military Bases, it does not fall under offenses where US has been given right to exercise its jurisdiction and Bradford does not possess diplomatic immunity.

She further claims that RP courts can inquire into the factual circumstances & determine WON Bradford is immune. ISSUES/RATIO:

1. WON the case is under the RTCs jurisdiction - YES Intervention of a third party is discretionary upon the Court. US did not obtain leave of court (something like asking for Courts permission) to intervene in the present case. Technically, it should not be allowed to intervene but since RTC entertained its motion to dismiss, it is deemed to have allowed US to intervene. By voluntarily appearing, US must be deemed to have subjected itself to RTCs jurisdiction. 2. WON RTC committed a grave abuse of discretion in denying Bradfords motion to dismiss. NO Petitioners failed to specify any grounds for a motion to dismiss enumerated in Sec. 1, Rule 16, Rules of Court. Thus, it actually lacks cause of action. A cause of action is necessary so that Court would be able to render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the complaint. A motion to dismiss w/c fails to state a cause of action hypothetically admits the truth of the allegations in the complaint. RTC should have deferred the resolution instead of denying it for lack of merit. But this is immaterial at this time since petitioners have already brought this petition to the SC. 3. WON case at bar is a suit against the State. - NO Doctrine of state immunity is expressed in Art. XVI, Sec. 3 of the 1987 Constitution. This immunity also applies to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly performed by them in discharge of their duties since it will require the state to perform an affirmative act such as appropriation of amount to pay damages. This will be regarded as a case against the state even if it has not be formally impleaded. But this is not all encompassing. Its a different matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such for acts

contrary to law & injurious to rights of plaintiff. State authorizes only legal acts by its officers. Action against officials by one whose rights have been violated by such acts is not a suit against the State w/in the rule of immunity of the State from suit. The doctrine of state immunity cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice. It will not apply & may not be invoked where the public official is being sued in his private & personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. This usually arises where the public official acts w/o authority or in excess of the powers vested in him. A public official is liable if he acted w/malice & in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdiction. (Shauf vs. CA) Also, USA vs. Guinto declared that USA is not conferred with blanket immunity for all acts done by it or its agents in the Philippines merely because they have acted as agents of the US in the discharge of their official functions. In this case, Bradford was sued in her private/personal capacity for acts done beyond the scope & place of her official function, thus, it falls w/in the exception to the doctrine of state immunity. 4. WON Bradford enjoys diplomatic immunity. - NO First of all, she is not among those granted diplomatic immunity under Art. 16(b) of the 1953 Military Assistance Agreement creating the JUSMAG. Second, even diplomatic agents who enjoy immunity are liable if they perform acts outside their official functions (Art. 31, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations). HELD: Petition denied. TRO lifted.