Wills 1: G.R. No.

L-23678

June 6, 1967

TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased. PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor. MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants, vs. EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees.

Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors appellants. Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al. Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al. J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company. Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman.

BENGZON, J.P., J.:

This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, approving the project of partition filed by the executor in Civil Case No. 37089 therein.
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The facts of the case are as follows: Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States." By his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman; by his second wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis. On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he directed that after all taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid for, his distributable estate should be divided, in trust, in the following order and manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) P120,000.00 to his three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been satisfied, the remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in equal shares.
1äwphï1.ñët

Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. His will was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of Manila on September 15, 1958. The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the bequests therein including the amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total of P120,000.00, which it released from time to time according as the lower court approved and allowed the various motions or petitions filed by the latter three requesting partial advances on account of their respective legacies. On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor submitted and filed its "Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and Project of Partition" wherein it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting to $240,000.00, and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis in the amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of partition, the executor — pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will and Testament — divided the residuary estate into seven equal portions for the benefit of the testator's seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages. On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their respective oppositions to the project of partition on the ground that they were deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs of the deceased. Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of which is evidenced by the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the executor.1 After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other pertinent pleadings, the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued an order overruling the oppositions and approving the executor's final account, report and administration and project of partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the national law of the decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes. Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court on June 11, 1964, oppositors-appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of which law must apply — Texas law or Philippine law. In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine of renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L16749, January 31, 1963. Said doctrine is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not disputed that the decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the time of his death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but would still refer to Texas law. Nonetheless, if Texas has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae) calling for the application of the law of the place where the properties are situated, renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in the Philippines. In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should not be presumed different from ours. 3Appellants' position is therefore not rested on the doctrine of renvoi. As stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to Article 16 of the Civil Code. Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They provide that —

ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may he the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. ART. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent. Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph three, of the Civil Code, stating that — Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country. prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is not correct. Precisely, Congressdeleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the provisions of this and the next preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code, while reproducing without substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of the old Civil Code as Art. 16 in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph of Art. 16 a specific provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate succession. As further indication of this legislative intent, Congress added a new provision, under Art. 1039, which decrees that capacity to succeed is to be governed by the national law of the decedent. It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our System of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills — one to govern his Texas estate and the other his Philippine estate — arguing from this that he intended Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that such was the decedent's intention in executing a separate Philippine will, it would not alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 — now Article 16 — of the Civil Code states said national law should govern. The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis. Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs against appellants. So ordered.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.

Wills 2: G.R. No. L-54919 May 30, 1984

POLLY CAYETANO, petitioner, vs. HON. TOMAS T. LEONIDAS, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of Branch XXXVIII, Court of First Instance of Manila and NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA, respondents.

Ermelo P. Guzman for petitioner.

Armando Z. Gonzales for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari, seeking to annul the order of the respondent judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXXVIII, which admitted to and allowed the probate of the last will and testament of Adoracion C. Campos, after an ex-parte presentation of evidence by herein private respondent. On January 31, 1977, Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes Campos and her sisters, private respondent Nenita C. Paguia, Remedios C. Lopez and Marieta C. Medina as the surviving heirs. As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he executed an Affidavit of Adjudication under Rule 74, Section I of the Rules of Court whereby he adjudicated unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the deceased Adoracion Campos. Eleven months after, on November 25, 1977, Nenita C. Paguia filed a petition for the reprobate of a will of the deceased, Adoracion Campos, which was allegedly executed in the United States and for her appointment as administratrix of the estate of the deceased testatrix. In her petition, Nenita alleged that the testatrix was an American citizen at the time of her death and was a permanent resident of 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; that the testatrix died in Manila on January 31, 1977 while temporarily residing with her sister at 2167 Leveriza, Malate, Manila; that during her lifetime, the testatrix made her last wig and testament on July 10, 1975, according to the laws of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., nominating Wilfredo Barzaga of New Jersey as executor; that after the testatrix death, her last will and testament was presented, probated, allowed, and registered with the Registry of Wins at the County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., that Clement L. McLaughlin, the administrator who was appointed after Dr. Barzaga had declined and waived his appointment as executor in favor of the former, is also a resident of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and that therefore, there is an urgent need for the appointment of an administratrix to administer and eventually distribute the properties of the estate located in the Philippines. On January 11, 1978, an opposition to the reprobate of the will was filed by herein petitioner alleging among other things, that he has every reason to believe that the will in question is a forgery; that the intrinsic provisions of the will are null and void; and that even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could not apply inasmuch as they would work injustice and injury to him. On December 1, 1978, however, the petitioner through his counsel, Atty. Franco Loyola, filed a Motion to Dismiss Opposition (With Waiver of Rights or Interests) stating that he "has been able to verify the veracity thereof (of the will) and now confirms the same to be truly the probated will of his daughter Adoracion." Hence, an ex-partepresentation of evidence for the reprobate of the questioned will was made. On January 10, 1979, the respondent judge issued an order, to wit: At the hearing, it has been satisfactorily established that Adoracion C. Campos, in her lifetime, was a citizen of the United States of America with a permanent residence at 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124, (Exhibit D) that when alive, Adoracion C. Campos executed a Last Will and Testament in the county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., according to the laws thereat (Exhibits E-3 to E-3-b) that while in temporary sojourn in the Philippines, Adoracion C. Campos died in the City of Manila (Exhibit C) leaving property both in the Philippines and in the United States of America; that the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos was admitted and granted probate by the Orphan's Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas, the probate court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and letters of administration were issued in favor of Clement J. McLaughlin all in accordance with the laws of the said foreign country on procedure and allowance of wills (Exhibits E to E-10); and that the petitioner is not suffering from any disqualification which would render her unfit as administratrix of the estate in the Philippines of the late Adoracion C. Campos. WHEREFORE, the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos is hereby admitted to and allowed probate in the Philippines, and Nenita Campos Paguia is hereby appointed Administratrix of the estate of said decedent; let Letters of Administration with the Will annexed issue in favor of said Administratrix upon her filing of a bond in the amount of P5,000.00 conditioned under the provisions of Section I, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court. Another manifestation was filed by the petitioner on April 14, 1979, confirming the withdrawal of his opposition, acknowledging the same to be his voluntary act and deed. On May 25, 1979, Hermogenes Campos filed a petition for relief, praying that the order allowing the will be set aside on the ground that the withdrawal of his opposition to the same was secured through fraudulent means. According to him, the "Motion to Dismiss Opposition" was inserted among the papers which he signed in connection with two Deeds of Conditional Sales which he executed with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP). He also alleged that the lawyer who filed the withdrawal of the opposition was not his counsel-of-record in the special proceedings case.

The petition for relief was set for hearing but the petitioner failed to appear. He made several motions for postponement until the hearing was set on May 29, 1980. On May 18, 1980, petitioner filed another motion entitled "Motion to Vacate and/or Set Aside the Order of January 10, 1979, and/or dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. In this motion, the notice of hearing provided: Please include this motion in your calendar for hearing on May 29, 1980 at 8:30 in the morning for submission for reconsideration and resolution of the Honorable Court. Until this Motion is resolved, may I also request for the future setting of the case for hearing on the Oppositor's motion to set aside previously filed. The hearing of May 29, 1980 was re-set by the court for June 19, 1980. When the case was called for hearing on this date, the counsel for petitioner tried to argue his motion to vacate instead of adducing evidence in support of the petition for relief. Thus, the respondent judge issued an order dismissing the petition for relief for failure to present evidence in support thereof. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. In the same order, respondent judge also denied the motion to vacate for lack of merit. Hence, this petition. Meanwhile, on June 6,1982, petitioner Hermogenes Campos died and left a will, which, incidentally has been questioned by the respondent, his children and forced heirs as, on its face, patently null and void, and a fabrication, appointing Polly Cayetano as the executrix of his last will and testament. Cayetano, therefore, filed a motion to substitute herself as petitioner in the instant case which was granted by the court on September 13, 1982. A motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the rights of the petitioner Hermogenes Campos merged upon his death with the rights of the respondent and her sisters, only remaining children and forced heirs was denied on September 12, 1983. Petitioner Cayetano persists with the allegations that the respondent judge acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction when: 1) He ruled the petitioner lost his standing in court deprived the Right to Notice (sic) upon the filing of the Motion to Dismiss opposition with waiver of rights or interests against the estate of deceased Adoracion C. Campos, thus, paving the way for the hearing ex-parte of the petition for the probate of decedent will. 2) He ruled that petitioner can waive, renounce or repudiate (not made in a public or authenticated instrument), or by way of a petition presented to the court but by way of a motion presented prior to an order for the distribution of the estate-the law especially providing that repudiation of an inheritance must be presented, within 30 days after it has issued an order for the distribution of the estate in accordance with the rules of Court. 3) He ruled that the right of a forced heir to his legitime can be divested by a decree admitting a will to probate in which no provision is made for the forced heir in complete disregard of Law of Succession 4) He denied petitioner's petition for Relief on the ground that no evidence was adduced to support the Petition for Relief when no Notice nor hearing was set to afford petitioner to prove the merit of his petition — a denial of the due process and a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. 5) He acquired no jurisdiction over the testate case, the fact that the Testator at the time of death was a usual resident of Dasmariñas, Cavite, consequently Cavite Court of First Instance has exclusive jurisdiction over the case (De Borja vs. Tan, G.R. No. L-7792, July 1955). The first two issues raised by the petitioner are anchored on the allegation that the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion when he allowed the withdrawal of the petitioner's opposition to the reprobate of the will. We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judge. No proof was adduced to support petitioner's contention that the motion to withdraw was secured through fraudulent means and that Atty. Franco Loyola was not his counsel of record. The records show that after the firing of the contested motion, the petitioner at a later date, filed a manifestation wherein he confirmed that the Motion to Dismiss Opposition was his voluntary act and deed. Moreover, at the time the motion was filed, the petitioner's former counsel, Atty. Jose P. Lagrosa had long withdrawn from the case and had been substituted by Atty. Franco Loyola who in turn filed the motion. The present petitioner cannot, therefore, maintain that the old man's attorney of record was Atty. Lagrosa at the time of filing the motion. Since the withdrawal was in order, the respondent judge acted correctly in hearing the probate of the will ex-parte, there being no other opposition to the same. The third issue raised deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. As a general rule, the probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testatrix's testamentary capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will normally comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue. (Maninang vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478). In the case at bar, the petitioner maintains that since the respondent judge allowed the reprobate of Adoracion's will, Hermogenes C. Campos was divested of his legitime which was reserved by the law for him. This contention is without merit. Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the respondent judge should have denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at the time of her death, an American citizen and a permanent resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Therefore, under Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide:

Art. 16 par. (2). xxx xxx xxx However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. Art. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent. the law which governs Adoracion Campo's will is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the national law of the decedent. Although the parties admit that the Pennsylvania law does not provide for legitimes and that all the estate may be given away by the testatrix to a complete stranger, the petitioner argues that such law should not apply because it would be contrary to the sound and established public policy and would run counter to the specific provisions of Philippine Law. It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will, as provided for by Article 16(2) and 1039 of the Civil Code, the national law of the decedent must apply. This was squarely applied in the case ofBellis v. Bellis (20 SCRA 358) wherein we ruled: It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. xxx xxx xxx The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and under the law of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the Philippine Law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis. As regards the alleged absence of notice of hearing for the petition for relief, the records wig bear the fact that what was repeatedly scheduled for hearing on separate dates until June 19, 1980 was the petitioner's petition for relief and not his motion to vacate the order of January 10, 1979. There is no reason why the petitioner should have been led to believe otherwise. The court even admonished the petitioner's failing to adduce evidence when his petition for relief was repeatedly set for hearing. There was no denial of due process. The fact that he requested "for the future setting of the case for hearing . . ." did not mean that at the next hearing, the motion to vacate would be heard and given preference in lieu of the petition for relief. Furthermore, such request should be embodied in a motion and not in a mere notice of hearing. Finally, we find the contention of the petition as to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of merit. Under Rule 73, Section 1, of the Rules of Court, it is provided that: SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. — If the decedent is an inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. Therefore, the settlement of the estate of Adoracion Campos was correctly filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila where she had an estate since it was alleged and proven that Adoracion at the time of her death was a citizen and permanent resident of Pennsylvania, United States of America and not a "usual resident of Cavite" as alleged by the petitioner. Moreover, petitioner is now estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the probate court in the petition for relief. It is a settled rule that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief, against his opponent and after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction. (See Saulog Transit, Inc. vs. Hon. Manuel Lazaro, et al., G. R. No. 63 284, April 4, 1984). WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is hereby dismissed for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, J., (Chairman), took no part.

Wills 3: G.R. No. L-23145

November 29, 1968

TESTATE ESTATE OF IDONAH SLADE PERKINS, deceased. RENATO D. TAYAG, ancillary administrator-appellee, vs. BENGUET CONSOLIDATED, INC., oppositor-appellant.

Cirilo F. Asperillo, Jr., for ancillary administrator-appellee. Ross, Salcedo, Del Rosario, Bito and Misa for oppositor-appellant.

FERNANDO, J.:

Confronted by an obstinate and adamant refusal of the domiciliary administrator, the County Trust Company of New York, United States of America, of the estate of the deceased Idonah Slade Perkins, who died in New York City on March 27, 1960, to surrender to the ancillary administrator in the Philippines the stock certificates owned by her in a Philippine corporation, Benguet Consolidated, Inc., to satisfy the legitimate claims of local creditors, the lower court, then presided by the Honorable Arsenio Santos, now retired, issued on May 18, 1964, an order of this tenor: "After considering the motion of the ancillary administrator, dated February 11, 1964, as well as the opposition filed by the Benguet Consolidated, Inc., the Court hereby (1) considers as lost for all purposes in connection with the administration and liquidation of the Philippine estate of Idonah Slade Perkins the stock certificates covering the 33,002 shares of stock standing in her name in the books of the Benguet Consolidated, Inc., (2) orders said certificates cancelled, and (3) directs said corporation to issue new certificates in lieu thereof, the same to be delivered by said corporation to either the incumbent ancillary administrator or to the Probate Division of this Court."1 From such an order, an appeal was taken to this Court not by the domiciliary administrator, the County Trust Company of New York, but by the Philippine corporation, the Benguet Consolidated, Inc. The appeal cannot possibly prosper. The challenged order represents a response and expresses a policy, to paraphrase Frankfurter, arising out of a specific problem, addressed to the attainment of specific ends by the use of specific remedies, with full and ample support from legal doctrines of weight and significance. The facts will explain why. As set forth in the brief of appellant Benguet Consolidated, Inc., Idonah Slade Perkins, who died on March 27, 1960 in New York City, left among others, two stock certificates covering 33,002 shares of appellant, the certificates being in the possession of the County Trust Company of New York, which as noted, is the domiciliary administrator of the estate of the deceased.2 Then came this portion of the appellant's brief: "On August 12, 1960, Prospero Sanidad instituted ancillary administration proceedings in the Court of First Instance of Manila; Lazaro A. Marquez was appointed ancillary administrator, and on January 22, 1963, he was substituted by the appellee Renato D. Tayag. A dispute arose between the domiciary administrator in New York and the ancillary administrator in the Philippines as to which of them was entitled to the possession of the stock certificates in question. On January 27, 1964, the Court of First Instance of Manila ordered the domiciliary administrator, County Trust Company, to "produce and deposit" them with the ancillary administrator or with the Clerk of Court. The domiciliary administrator did not comply with the order, and on February 11, 1964, the ancillary administrator petitioned the court to "issue an order declaring the certificate or certificates of stocks covering the 33,002 shares issued in the name of Idonah Slade Perkins by Benguet Consolidated, Inc., be declared [or] considered as lost."3 It is to be noted further that appellant Benguet Consolidated, Inc. admits that "it is immaterial" as far as it is concerned as to "who is entitled to the possession of the stock certificates in question; appellant opposed the petition of the ancillary administrator because the said stock certificates are in existence, they are today in the possession of the domiciliary administrator, the County Trust Company, in New York, U.S.A...."4 It is its view, therefore, that under the circumstances, the stock certificates cannot be declared or considered as lost. Moreover, it would allege that there was a failure to observe certain requirements of its by-laws before new stock certificates could be issued. Hence, its appeal. As was made clear at the outset of this opinion, the appeal lacks merit. The challenged order constitutes an emphatic affirmation of judicial authority sought to be emasculated by the wilful conduct of the domiciliary administrator in refusing to accord obedience to a court decree. How, then, can this order be stigmatized as illegal? As is true of many problems confronting the judiciary, such a response was called for by the realities of the situation. What cannot be ignored is that conduct bordering on wilful defiance, if it had not actually reached it, cannot without undue loss of judicial prestige, be condoned or tolerated. For the law is not so lacking in flexibility and resourcefulness as to preclude such a solution, the more so as deeper reflection would make clear its being buttressed by indisputable principles and supported by the strongest policy considerations. It can truly be said then that the result arrived at upheld and vindicated the honor of the judiciary no less than that of the country. Through this challenged order, there is thus dispelled the atmosphere of contingent frustration brought about by the persistence of the domiciliary administrator to hold on to the stock certificates after it had, as admitted, voluntarily submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the lower court by entering its appearance through counsel on June 27, 1963, and filing a petition for relief from a previous order of March 15, 1963. Thus did the lower court, in the order now on appeal, impart vitality and effectiveness to what was decreed. For without it, what it had been decided would be set at naught and nullified. Unless such a blatant disregard by the domiciliary administrator, with residence abroad, of what was previously ordained by a court order could be thus remedied, it would have entailed, insofar as this matter was concerned, not a partial but a well-nigh complete paralysis of judicial authority. 1. Appellant Benguet Consolidated, Inc. did not dispute the power of the appellee ancillary administrator to gain control and possession of all assets of the decedent within the jurisdiction of the Philippines. Nor could it. Such a power is inherent in his duty to settle her estate and satisfy the claims of local creditors.5 As Justice Tuason speaking for this Court made clear, it is a "general rule universally recognized" that administration, whether principal or ancillary, certainly "extends to the assets of a decedent found within the state or country where it was granted," the corollary being "that an administrator appointed in one state or country has no power over property in another state or country."6 It is to be noted that the scope of the power of the ancillary administrator was, in an earlier case, set forth by Justice Malcolm. Thus: "It is often necessary to have more than one administration of an estate. When a person dies intestate owning property in the country of his domicile as well as in a foreign country, administration is had in both countries. That which is granted in the jurisdiction of decedent's last domicile is termed the principal

administration, while any other administration is termed the ancillary administration. The reason for the latter is because a grant of administration does not ex proprio vigore have any effect beyond the limits of the country in which it is granted. Hence, an administrator appointed in a foreign state has no authority in the [Philippines]. The ancillary administration is proper, whenever a person dies, leaving in a country other than that of his last domicile, property to be administered in the nature of assets of the deceased liable for his individual debts or to be distributed among his heirs."7 It would follow then that the authority of the probate court to require that ancillary administrator's right to "the stock certificates covering the 33,002 shares ... standing in her name in the books of [appellant] Benguet Consolidated, Inc...." be respected is equally beyond question. For appellant is a Philippine corporation owing full allegiance and subject to the unrestricted jurisdiction of local courts. Its shares of stock cannot therefore be considered in any wise as immune from lawful court orders. Our holding in Wells Fargo Bank and Union v. Collector of Internal Revenue8 finds application. "In the instant case, the actual situs of the shares of stock is in the Philippines, the corporation being domiciled [here]." To the force of the above undeniable proposition, not even appellant is insensible. It does not dispute it. Nor could it successfully do so even if it were so minded. 2. In the face of such incontrovertible doctrines that argue in a rather conclusive fashion for the legality of the challenged order, how does appellant, Benguet Consolidated, Inc. propose to carry the extremely heavy burden of persuasion of precisely demonstrating the contrary? It would assign as the basic error allegedly committed by the lower court its "considering as lost the stock certificates covering 33,002 shares of Benguet belonging to the deceased Idonah Slade Perkins, ..."9 More specifically, appellant would stress that the "lower court could not "consider as lost" the stock certificates in question when, as a matter of fact, his Honor the trial Judge knew, and does know, and it is admitted by the appellee, that the said stock certificates are in existence and are today in the possession of the domiciliary administrator in New York."10 There may be an element of fiction in the above view of the lower court. That certainly does not suffice to call for the reversal of the appealed order. Since there is a refusal, persistently adhered to by the domiciliary administrator in New York, to deliver the shares of stocks of appellant corporation owned by the decedent to the ancillary administrator in the Philippines, there was nothing unreasonable or arbitrary in considering them as lost and requiring the appellant to issue new certificates in lieu thereof. Thereby, the task incumbent under the law on the ancillary administrator could be discharged and his responsibility fulfilled. Any other view would result in the compliance to a valid judicial order being made to depend on the uncontrolled discretion of the party or entity, in this case domiciled abroad, which thus far has shown the utmost persistence in refusing to yield obedience. Certainly, appellant would not be heard to contend in all seriousness that a judicial decree could be treated as a mere scrap of paper, the court issuing it being powerless to remedy its flagrant disregard. It may be admitted of course that such alleged loss as found by the lower court did not correspond exactly with the facts. To be more blunt, the quality of truth may be lacking in such a conclusion arrived at. It is to be remembered however, again to borrow from Frankfurter, "that fictions which the law may rely upon in the pursuit of legitimate ends have played an important part in its development."11 Speaking of the common law in its earlier period, Cardozo could state fictions "were devices to advance the ends of justice, [even if] clumsy and at times offensive."12 Some of them have persisted even to the present, that eminent jurist, noting "the quasi contract, the adopted child, the constructive trust, all of flourishing vitality, to attest the empire of "as if" today."13 He likewise noted "a class of fictions of another order, the fiction which is a working tool of thought, but which at times hides itself from view till reflection and analysis have brought it to the light."14 What cannot be disputed, therefore, is the at times indispensable role that fictions as such played in the law. There should be then on the part of the appellant a further refinement in the catholicity of its condemnation of such judicial technique. If ever an occasion did call for the employment of a legal fiction to put an end to the anomalous situation of a valid judicial order being disregarded with apparent impunity, this is it. What is thus most obvious is that this particular alleged error does not carry persuasion. 3. Appellant Benguet Consolidated, Inc. would seek to bolster the above contention by its invoking one of the provisions of its by-laws which would set forth the procedure to be followed in case of a lost, stolen or destroyed stock certificate; it would stress that in the event of a contest or the pendency of an action regarding ownership of such certificate or certificates of stock allegedly lost, stolen or destroyed, the issuance of a new certificate or certificates would await the "final decision by [a] court regarding the ownership [thereof]."15 Such reliance is misplaced. In the first place, there is no such occasion to apply such by-law. It is admitted that the foreign domiciliary administrator did not appeal from the order now in question. Moreover, there is likewise the express admission of appellant that as far as it is concerned, "it is immaterial ... who is entitled to the possession of the stock certificates ..." Even if such were not the case, it would be a legal absurdity to impart to such a provision conclusiveness and finality. Assuming that a contrariety exists between the above by-law and the command of a court decree, the latter is to be followed. It is understandable, as Cardozo pointed out, that the Constitution overrides a statute, to which, however, the judiciary must yield deference, when appropriately invoked and deemed applicable. It would be most highly unorthodox, however, if a corporate by-law would be accorded such a high estate in the jural order that a court must not only take note of it but yield to its alleged controlling force. The fear of appellant of a contingent liability with which it could be saddled unless the appealed order be set aside for its inconsistency with one of its bylaws does not impress us. Its obedience to a lawful court order certainly constitutes a valid defense, assuming that such apprehension of a possible court action against it could possibly materialize. Thus far, nothing in the circumstances as they have developed gives substance to such a fear. Gossamer possibilities of a future prejudice to appellant do not suffice to nullify the lawful exercise of judicial authority. 4. What is more the view adopted by appellant Benguet Consolidated, Inc. is fraught with implications at war with the basic postulates of corporate theory.

We start with the undeniable premise that, "a corporation is an artificial being created by operation of law...."16 It owes its life to the state, its birth being purely dependent on its will. As Berle so aptly stated: "Classically, a corporation was conceived as an artificial person, owing its existence through creation by a sovereign power."17As a matter of fact, the statutory language employed owes much to Chief Justice Marshall, who in the Dartmouth College decision defined a corporation precisely as "an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law."18 The well-known authority Fletcher could summarize the matter thus: "A corporation is not in fact and in reality a person, but the law treats it as though it were a person by process of fiction, or by regarding it as an artificial person distinct and separate from its individual stockholders.... It owes its existence to law. It is an artificial person created by law for certain specific purposes, the extent of whose existence, powers and liberties is fixed by its charter."19 Dean Pound's terse summary, a juristic person, resulting from an association of human beings granted legal personality by the state, puts the matter neatly.20 There is thus a rejection of Gierke's genossenchaft theory, the basic theme of which to quote from Friedmann, "is the reality of the group as a social and legal entity, independent of state recognition and concession."21 A corporation as known to Philippine jurisprudence is a creature without any existence until it has received the imprimatur of the state according to law. It is logically inconceivable therefore that it will have rights and privileges of a higher priority than that of its creator. More than that, it cannot legitimately refuse to yield obedience to acts of its state organs, certainly not excluding the judiciary, whenever called upon to do so. As a matter of fact, a corporation once it comes into being, following American law still of persuasive authority in our jurisdiction, comes more often within the ken of the judiciary than the other two coordinate branches. It institutes the appropriate court action to enforce its right. Correlatively, it is not immune from judicial control in those instances, where a duty under the law as ascertained in an appropriate legal proceeding is cast upon it. To assert that it can choose which court order to follow and which to disregard is to confer upon it not autonomy which may be conceded but license which cannot be tolerated. It is to argue that it may, when so minded, overrule the state, the source of its very existence; it is to contend that what any of its governmental organs may lawfully require could be ignored at will. So extravagant a claim cannot possibly merit approval. 5. One last point. In Viloria v. Administrator of Veterans Affairs,22 it was shown that in a guardianship proceedings then pending in a lower court, the United States Veterans Administration filed a motion for the refund of a certain sum of money paid to the minor under guardianship, alleging that the lower court had previously granted its petition to consider the deceased father as not entitled to guerilla benefits according to a determination arrived at by its main office in the United States. The motion was denied. In seeking a reconsideration of such order, the Administrator relied on an American federal statute making his decisions "final and conclusive on all questions of law or fact" precluding any other American official to examine the matter anew, "except a judge or judges of the United States court."23 Reconsideration was denied, and the Administrator appealed. In an opinion by Justice J.B.L. Reyes, we sustained the lower court. Thus: "We are of the opinion that the appeal should be rejected. The provisions of the U.S. Code, invoked by the appellant, make the decisions of the U.S. Veterans' Administrator final and conclusive when made on claims property submitted to him for resolution; but they are not applicable to the present case, where the Administrator is not acting as a judge but as a litigant. There is a great difference between actions against the Administrator (which must be filed strictly in accordance with the conditions that are imposed by the Veterans' Act, including the exclusive review by United States courts), and those actions where the Veterans' Administrator seeks a remedy from our courts and submits to their jurisdiction by filing actions therein. Our attention has not been called to any law or treaty that would make the findings of the Veterans' Administrator, in actions where he is a party, conclusive on our courts. That, in effect, would deprive our tribunals of judicial discretion and render them mere subordinate instrumentalities of the Veterans' Administrator." It is bad enough as the Viloria decision made patent for our judiciary to accept as final and conclusive, determinations made by foreign governmental agencies. It is infinitely worse if through the absence of any coercive power by our courts over juridical persons within our jurisdiction, the force and effectivity of their orders could be made to depend on the whim or caprice of alien entities. It is difficult to imagine of a situation more offensive to the dignity of the bench or the honor of the country. Yet that would be the effect, even if unintended, of the proposition to which appellant Benguet Consolidated seems to be firmly committed as shown by its failure to accept the validity of the order complained of; it seeks its reversal. Certainly we must at all pains see to it that it does not succeed. The deplorable consequences attendant on appellant prevailing attest to the necessity of negative response from us. That is what appellant will get. That is all then that this case presents. It is obvious why the appeal cannot succeed. It is always easy to conjure extreme and even oppressive possibilities. That is not decisive. It does not settle the issue. What carries weight and conviction is the result arrived at, the just solution obtained, grounded in the soundest of legal doctrines and distinguished by its correspondence with what a sense of realism requires. For through the appealed order, the imperative requirement of justice according to law is satisfied and national dignity and honor maintained. WHEREFORE, the appealed order of the Honorable Arsenio Santos, the Judge of the Court of First Instance, dated May 18, 1964, is affirmed. With costs against oppositor-appelant Benguet Consolidated, Inc.
Makalintal, Zaldivar and Capistrano, JJ., concur. Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur in the result.

Wills 4: G.R. No. L-12105

January 30, 1960

TESTATE ESTATE OF C. O. BOHANAN, deceased. PHILIPPINE TRUST CO., executor-appellee, vs. MAGDALENA C. BOHANAN, EDWARD C. BOHANAN, and MARY LYDIA BOHANAN, oppositors-appellants.

Jose D. Cortes for appellants. Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita for appellee.

LABRADOR, J.:

Appeal against an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Hon. Ramon San Jose, presiding, dismissing the objections filed by Magdalena C. Bohanan, Mary Bohanan and Edward Bohanan to the project of partition submitted by the executor and approving the said project. On April 24, 195 0, the Court of First Instance of Manila, Hon. Rafael Amparo, presiding, admitted to probate a last will and testament of C. O. Bohanan, executed by him on April 23, 1944 in Manila. In the said order, the court made the following findings: According to the evidence of the opponents the testator was born in Nebraska and therefore a citizen of that state, or at least a citizen of California where some of his properties are located. This contention in untenable. Notwithstanding the long residence of the decedent in the Philippines, his stay here was merely temporary, and he continued and remained to be a citizen of the United States and of the state of his pertinent residence to spend the rest of his days in that state. His permanent residence or domicile in the United States depended upon his personal intent or desire, and he selected Nevada as his homicide and therefore at the time of his death, he was a citizen of that state. Nobody can choose his domicile or permanent residence for him. That is his exclusive personal right. Wherefore, the court finds that the testator C. O. Bohanan was at the time of his death a citizen of the United States and of the State of Nevada and declares that his will and testament, Exhibit A, is fully in accordance with the laws of the state of Nevada and admits the same to probate. Accordingly, the Philippine Trust Company, named as the executor of the will, is hereby appointed to such executor and upon the filing of a bond in the sum of P10,000.00, let letters testamentary be issued and after taking the prescribed oath, it may enter upon the execution and performance of its trust. (pp. 26-27, R.O.A.). It does not appear that the order granting probate was ever questions on appeal. The executor filed a project of partition dated January 24, 1956, making, in accordance with the provisions of the will, the following adjudications: (1) one-half of the residuary estate, to the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. in trust only for the benefit of testator's grandson Edward George Bohanan, which consists of several mining companies; (2) the other half of the residuary estate to the testator's brother, F.L. Bohanan, and his sister, Mrs. M. B. Galbraith, share and share alike. This consist in the same amount of cash and of shares of mining stock similar to those given to testator's grandson; (3) legacies of P6,000 each to his (testator) son, Edward Gilbert Bohana, and his daughter, Mary Lydia Bohanan, to be paid in three yearly installments; (4) legacies to Clara Daen, in the amount of P10,000.00; Katherine Woodward, P2,000; Beulah Fox, P4,000; and Elizabeth Hastings, P2,000; It will be seen from the above that out of the total estate (after deducting administration expenses) of P211,639.33 in cash, the testator gave his grandson P90,819.67 and one-half of all shares of stock of several mining companies and to his brother and sister the same amount. To his children he gave a legacy of only P6,000 each, or a total of P12,000. The wife Magadalena C. Bohanan and her two children question the validity of the testamentary provisions disposing of the estate in the manner above indicated, claiming that they have been deprived of the legitimate that the laws of the form concede to them. The first question refers to the share that the wife of the testator, Magdalena C. Bohanan, should be entitled to received. The will has not given her any share in the estate left by the testator. It is argued that it was error for the trial court to have recognized the Reno divorce secured by the testator from his Filipino wife Magdalena C. Bohanan, and that said divorce should be declared a nullity in this jurisdiction, citing the case of Querubin vs.Querubin, 87 Phil., 124, 47 Off. Gaz., (Sup, 12) 315, Cousins Hiz vs. Fluemer, 55 Phil., 852, Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil., 855 and Gorayeb vs. Hashim, 50 Phil., 22. The court below refused to recognize the claim of the widow on the ground that the laws of Nevada, of which the deceased was a citizen, allow him to dispose of all of his properties without requiring him to leave any portion of his estate to his wife. Section 9905 of Nevada Compiled Laws of 1925 provides: Every person over the age of eighteen years, of sound mind, may, by last will, dispose of all his or her estate, real and personal, the same being chargeable with the payment of the testator's debts. Besides, the right of the former wife of the testator, Magdalena C. Bohanan, to a share in the testator's estafa had already been passed upon adversely against her in an order dated June 19, 1955, (pp. 155-159, Vol II Records, Court of First Instance), which had become final, as Magdalena C. Bohanan does not appear to have appealed therefrom to question its validity. On December 16, 1953, the said former wife filed a motion to withdraw the sum of P20,000 from the funds of the estate, chargeable against her share in the conjugal property, (See pp. 294-297, Vol. I, Record, Court of First Instance), and the court in its said error found that there exists no community property owned by the decedent and his former wife at the time the decree of divorce was issued. As already and Magdalena C. Bohanan may no longer question the fact contained therein, i.e. that there was no community property acquired by the testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan during their converture. Moreover, the court below had found that the testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan were married on January 30, 1909, and that divorce was granted to him on May 20, 1922; that sometime in 1925, Magdalena C. Bohanan married Carl Aaron and this marriage was subsisting at the time of the death of the testator. Since no right to share in the inheritance in favor of a divorced wife exists in the State of Nevada and since the court below had already found that there was no conjugal property between the testator and Magdalena C. Bohanan, the latter can now have no longer claim to pay portion of the estate left by the testator.

The most important issue is the claim of the testator's children, Edward and Mary Lydia, who had received legacies in the amount of P6,000 each only, and, therefore, have not been given their shares in the estate which, in accordance with the laws of the forum, should be two-thirds of the estate left by the testator. Is the failure old the testator to give his children two-thirds of the estate left by him at the time of his death, in accordance with the laws of the forum valid? The old Civil Code, which is applicable to this case because the testator died in 1944, expressly provides that successional rights to personal property are to be earned by the national law of the person whose succession is in question. Says the law on this point: Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in respect to the order of succession as well as to the extent of the successional rights and the intrinsic validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is in question, whatever may be the nature of the property and the country in which it is found. (par. 2, Art. 10, old Civil Code, which is the same as par. 2 Art. 16, new Civil Code.) In the proceedings for the probate of the will, it was found out and it was decided that the testator was a citizen of the State of Nevada because he had selected this as his domicile and his permanent residence. (See Decision dated April 24, 1950, supra). So the question at issue is whether the estementary dispositions, especially hose for the children which are short of the legitime given them by the Civil Code of the Philippines, are valid. It is not disputed that the laws of Nevada allow a testator to dispose of all his properties by will (Sec. 9905, Complied Nevada Laws of 1925, supra). It does not appear that at time of the hearing of the project of partition, the above-quoted provision was introduced in evidence, as it was the executor's duly to do. The law of Nevada, being a foreign law can only be proved in our courts in the form and manner provided for by our Rules, which are as follows: SEC. 41. Proof of public or official record. — An official record or an entry therein, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy tested by the officer having the legal custody of he record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. . . . (Rule 123). We have, however, consulted the records of the case in the court below and we have found that during the hearing on October 4, 1954 of the motion of Magdalena C. Bohanan for withdrawal of P20,000 as her share, the foreign law, especially Section 9905, Compiled Nevada Laws. was introduced in evidence by appellant's (herein) counsel as Exhibits "2" (See pp. 77-79, VOL. II, and t.s.n. pp. 24-44, Records, Court of First Instance). Again said laws presented by the counsel for the executor and admitted by the Court as Exhibit "B" during the hearing of the case on January 23, 1950 before Judge Rafael Amparo (se Records, Court of First Instance, Vol. 1). In addition, the other appellants, children of the testator, do not dispute the above-quoted provision of the laws of the State of Nevada. Under all the above circumstances, we are constrained to hold that the pertinent law of Nevada, especially Section 9905 of the Compiled Nevada Laws of 1925, can be taken judicial notice of by us, without proof of such law having been offered at the hearing of the project of partition. As in accordance with Article 10 of the old Civil Code, the validity of testamentary dispositions are to be governed by the national law of the testator, and as it has been decided and it is not disputed that the national law of the testator is that of the State of Nevada, already indicated above, which allows a testator to dispose of all his property according to his will, as in the case at bar, the order of the court approving the project of partition made in accordance with the testamentary provisions, must be, as it is hereby affirmed, with costs against appellants.
Paras, Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo and Endencia, JJ., concur. Barrera, J., concurs in the result.

Wills 5: G.R. No. 124862 December 22, 1998

FE D. QUITA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and BLANDINA DANDAN, * respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J.:

FE D. QUITA and Arturo T. Padlan, both Filipinos, were married in the Philippines on 18 May 1941. They were not however blessed with children. Somewhere along the way their relationship soured. Eventually Fe sued Arturo for divorce in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. She submitted in the divorce proceedings a private writing dated 19 July 1950 evidencing their agreement to live separately from each other and a settlement of their conjugal properties. On 23 July 1954 she obtained a final judgment of divorce. Three (3) weeks thereafter she married a certain Felix Tupaz in the same locality but their relationship also ended in a divorce. Still in the U.S.A., she married for the third time, to a certain Wernimont. On 16 April 1972 Arturo died. He left no will. On 31 August 1972 Lino Javier Inciong filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for issuance of letters of administration concerning the estate of Arturo in favor of the Philippine Trust Company. Respondent Blandina Dandan (also referred to as Blandina Padlan), claiming to be the surviving spouse of Arturo Padlan, and Claro, Alexis, Ricardo, Emmanuel, Zenaida and Yolanda, all surnamed Padlan, named in the children of Arturo Padlan opposed the petition and prayed for the appointment instead of Atty. Leonardo Casaba, which was resolved in favor of the latter. Upon motion of the oppositors themselves, Atty. Cabasal was later replaced by Higino Castillon. On 30 April 1973 the oppositors (Blandina and Padlan children) submitted certified photocopies of the 19 July 1950 private writing and the final judgment of divorce between petitioner and Arturo. Later Ruperto T. Padlan, claiming to be the sole surviving brother of the deceased Arturo, intervened. On 7 October 1987 petitioner moved for the immediate declaration of heirs of the decedent and the distribution of his estate. At the scheduled hearing on 23 October 1987, private respondent as well as the six (6) Padlan children and Ruperto failed to appear despite due notice. On the same day, the trial court required the submission of the records of birth of the Padlan children within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, after which, with or without the documents, the issue on the declaration of heirs would be considered submitted for resolution. The prescribed period lapsed without the required documents being submitted. The trial court invoking Tenchavez v. Escaño 1 which held that "a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens sought and decreed after the effectivity of the present Civil Code (Rep. Act 386) was not entitled to recognition as valid in this jurisdiction," 2 disregarded the divorce between petitioner and Arturo. Consecuently, it expressed the view that their marriage subsisted until the death of Arturo in 1972. Neither did it consider valid their extrajudicial settlement of conjugal properties due to lack of judicial approval. 3 On the other hand, it opined that there was no showing that marriage existed between private respondent and Arturo, much less was it shown that the alleged Padlan children had been acknowledged by the deceased as his children with her. As regards Ruperto, it found that he was a brother of Arturo. On 27 November 1987 4 only petitioner and Ruperto were declared the intestate heirs of Arturo. Accordingly, equal adjudication of the net hereditary estate was ordered in favor of the two intestate heirs.5 On motion for reconsideration, Blandina and the Padlan children were allowed to present proofs that the recognition of the children by the deceased as his legitimate children, except Alexis who was recognized as his illegitimate child, had been made in their respective records of birth. Thus on 15 February 1988 6 partial reconsideration was granted declaring the Padlan children, with the exception of Alexis, entitled to one-half of the estate to the exclusion of Ruperto Padlan, and petitioner to the other half. 7 Private respondent was not declared an heir. Although it was stated in the aforementioned records of birth that she and Arturo were married on 22 April 1947, their marriage was clearly void since it was celebrated during the existence of his previous marriage to petitioner. In their appeal to the Court of Appeals, Blandina and her children assigned as one of the errors allegedly committed by the trial court the circumstance that the case was decided without a hearing, in violation of Sec. 1, Rule 90, of the Rules of Court, which provides that if there is a controversy before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases. Respondent appellate court found this ground alone sufficient to sustain the appeal; hence, on 11 September 1995 it declared null and void the 27 November 1987 decision and 15 February 1988 order of the trial court, and directed the remand of the case to the trial court for further proceedings. 8 On 18 April 1996 it denied reconsideration. 9 Should this case be remanded to the lower court for further proceedings? Petitioner insists that there is no need because, first, no legal or factual issue obtains for resolution either as to the heirship of the Padlan children or as to the decedent; and, second, the issue as to who between petitioner and private respondent is the proper hier of the decedent is one of law which can be resolved in the present petition based on establish facts and admissions of the parties. We cannot sustain petitioner. The provision relied upon by respondent court is clear: If there is a controversybefore the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases. We agree with petitioner that no dispute exists either as to the right of the six (6) Padlan children to inherit from the decedent because there are proofs that they have been duly acknowledged by him and petitioner herself even recognizes them as heirs of Arturo Padlan; 10 nor as to their respective hereditary shares. But controversy remains as to who is the legitimate surviving spouse of Arturo. The trial court, after the parties other than petitioner failed to appear during the scheduled hearing on 23 October 1987 of the motion for immediate declaration of heirs and distribution of estate, simply issued an order requiring the submission of the records of birth of the Padlan children within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, after which, with or without the documents, the issue on declaration of heirs would be deemed submitted for resolution. We note that in her comment to petitioner's motion private respondent raised, among others, the issue as to whether petitioner was still entitled to inherit from the decedent considering that she had secured a divorce in the U.S.A. and in fact had twice remarried. She also invoked the above quoted procedural rule. 11 To this, petitioner replied that Arturo was a Filipino and as such remained legally married to her in spite of the divorce they

obtained.12 Reading between the lines, the implication is that petitioner was no longer a Filipino citizen at the time of her divorce from Arturo. This should have prompted the trial court to conduct a hearing to establish her citizenship. The purpose of a hearing is to ascertain the truth of the matters in issue with the aid of documentary and testimonial evidence as well as the arguments of the parties either supporting or opposing the evidence. Instead, the lower court perfunctorily settled her claim in her favor by merely applying the ruling in Tenchavez v. Escaño. Then in private respondent's motion to set aside and/or reconsider the lower court's decision she stressed that the citizenship of petitioner was relevant in the light of the ruling in Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. 13 that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. She prayed therefore that the case be set for hearing. 14 Petitioner opposed the motion but failed to squarely address the issue on her citizenship. 15 The trial court did not grant private respondent's prayer for a hearing but proceeded to resolve her motion with the finding that both petitioner and Arturo were "Filipino citizens and were married in the Philippines." 16 It maintained that their divorce obtained in 1954 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A., was not valid in Philippine jurisdiction. We deduce that the finding on their citizenship pertained solely to the time of their marriage as the trial court was not supplied with a basis to determine petitioner's citizenship at the time of their divorce. The doubt persisted as to whether she was still a Filipino citizen when their divorce was decreed. The trial court must have overlooked the materiality of this aspect. Once proved that she was no longer a Filipino citizen at the time of their divorce, Van Dorn would become applicable and petitioner could very well lose her right to inherit from Arturo. Respondent again raised in her appeal the issue on petitioner's citizenship; 17 it did not merit enlightenment however from petitioner. 18 In the present proceeding, petitioner's citizenship is brought anew to the fore by private respondent. She even furnishes the Court with the transcript of stenographic notes taken on 5 May 1995 during the hearing for the reconstitution of the original of a certain transfer certificate title as well as the issuance of new owner's duplicate copy thereof before another trial court. When asked whether she was an American citizen petitioner answered that she was since 1954. 19 Significantly, the decree of divorce of petitioner and Arturo was obtained in the same year. Petitioner however did not bother to file a reply memorandum to erase the uncertainty about her citizenship at the time of their divorce, a factual issue requiring hearings to be conducted by the trial court. Consequently, respondent appellate court did not err in ordering the case returned to the trial court for further proceedings. We emphasize however that the question to be determined by the trial court should be limited only to the right of petitioner to inherit from Arturo as his surviving spouse. Private respondent's claim to heirship was already resolved by the trial court. She and Arturo were married on 22 April 1947 while the prior marriage of petitioner and Arturo was subsisting thereby resulting in a bigamous marriage considered void from the beginning under Arts. 80 and 83 of the Civil Code. Consequently, she is not a surviving spouse that can inherit from him as this status presupposes a legitimate relationship. 20 As regards the motion of private respondent for petitioner and a her counsel to be declared in contempt of court and that the present petition be dismissed for forum shopping, 21 the same lacks merit. For forum shopping to exist the actions must involve the same transactions and same essential facts and circumstances. There must also be identical causes of action, subject matter and issue. 22 The present petition deals with declaration of heirship while the subsequent petitions filed before the three (3) trial courts concern the issuance of new owner's duplicate copies of titles of certain properties belonging to the estate of Arturo. Obviously, there is no reason to declare the existence of forum shopping. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision of respondent Court of Appeals ordering the remand of the case to the court of origin for further proceedings and declaring null and void its decision holding petitioner Fe D. Quita and Ruperto T. Padlan as intestate heirs is AFFIRMED. The order of the appellate court modifying its previous decision by granting one-half (1/2) of the net hereditary estate to the Padlan children, namely, Claro, Ricardo, Emmanuel, Zenaida and Yolanda, with the exception of Alexis, all surnamed Padlan, instead of Arturo's brother Ruperto Padlan, is likewise AFFIRMED. The Court however emphasizes that the reception of evidence by the trial court should he limited to the hereditary rights of petitioner as the surviving spouse of Arturo Padlan. The motion to declare petitioner and her counsel in contempt of court and to dismiss the present petition for forum shopping is DENIED. SO ORDERED.
Puno, Mendoza and Martinez, JJ., concur.

Property 1: G.R. No. 92013 July 25, 1990

SALVADOR H. LAUREL, petitioner, vs. RAMON GARCIA, as head of the Asset Privatization Trust, RAUL MANGLAPUS, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and CATALINO MACARAIG, as Executive Secretary, respondents.

G.R. No. 92047 July 25, 1990

DIONISIO S. OJEDA, petitioner, vs. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY MACARAIG, JR., ASSETS PRIVATIZATION TRUST CHAIRMAN RAMON T. GARCIA, AMBASSADOR RAMON DEL ROSARIO, et al., as members of the PRINCIPAL AND BIDDING COMMITTEES ON THE UTILIZATION/DISPOSITION PETITION OF PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT PROPERTIES IN JAPAN,respondents.

Arturo M. Tolentino for petitioner in 92013.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

These are two petitions for prohibition seeking to enjoin respondents, their representatives and agents from proceeding with the bidding for the sale of the 3,179 square meters of land at 306 Roppongi, 5-Chome Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan scheduled on February 21, 1990. We granted the prayer for a temporary restraining order effective February 20, 1990. One of the petitioners (in G.R. No. 92047) likewise prayes for a writ of mandamus to compel the respondents to fully disclose to the public the basis of their decision to push through with the sale of the Roppongi property inspire of strong public opposition and to explain the proceedings which effectively prevent the participation of Filipino citizens and entities in the bidding process. The oral arguments in G.R. No. 92013, Laurel v. Garcia, et al. were heard by the Court on March 13, 1990. After G.R. No. 92047, Ojeda v. Secretary Macaraig, et al. was filed, the respondents were required to file a comment by the Court's resolution dated February 22, 1990. The two petitions were consolidated on March 27, 1990 when the memoranda of the parties in the Laurel case were deliberated upon. The Court could not act on these cases immediately because the respondents filed a motion for an extension of thirty (30) days to file comment in G.R. No. 92047, followed by a second motion for an extension of another thirty (30) days which we granted on May 8, 1990, a third motion for extension of time granted on May 24, 1990 and a fourth motion for extension of time which we granted on June 5, 1990 but calling the attention of the respondents to the length of time the petitions have been pending. After the comment was filed, the petitioner in G.R. No. 92047 asked for thirty (30) days to file a reply. We noted his motion and resolved to decide the two (2) cases. I The subject property in this case is one of the four (4) properties in Japan acquired by the Philippine government under the Reparations Agreement entered into with Japan on May 9, 1956, the other lots being: (1) The Nampeidai Property at 11-24 Nampeidai-machi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo which has an area of approximately 2,489.96 square meters, and is at present the site of the Philippine Embassy Chancery; (2) The Kobe Commercial Property at 63 Naniwa-cho, Kobe, with an area of around 764.72 square meters and categorized as a commercial lot now being used as a warehouse and parking lot for the consulate staff; and (3) The Kobe Residential Property at 1-980-2 Obanoyama-cho, Shinohara, Nada-ku, Kobe, a residential lot which is now vacant. The properties and the capital goods and services procured from the Japanese government for national development projects are part of the indemnification to the Filipino people for their losses in life and property and their suffering during World War II. The Reparations Agreement provides that reparations valued at $550 million would be payable in twenty (20) years in accordance with annual schedules of procurements to be fixed by the Philippine and Japanese governments (Article 2, Reparations Agreement). Rep. Act No. 1789, the Reparations Law, prescribes the national policy on procurement and utilization of reparations and development loans. The procurements are divided into those for use by the government sector and those for private parties in projects as the then National Economic Council shall determine. Those intended for the private sector shall be made available by sale to Filipino citizens or to one hundred (100%) percent Filipino-owned entities in national development projects. The Roppongi property was acquired from the Japanese government under the Second Year Schedule and listed under the heading "Government Sector", through Reparations Contract No. 300 dated June 27, 1958. The Roppongi property consists of the land and building "for the Chancery of the Philippine Embassy" (Annex M-D to Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 503). As intended, it became the site of the Philippine Embassy until the latter was transferred to Nampeidai on July 22, 1976 when the Roppongi building needed major repairs. Due to the failure of our government to provide necessary funds, the Roppongi property has remained undeveloped since that time. A proposal was presented to President Corazon C. Aquino by former Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Carlos J. Valdez, to make the property the subject of a lease agreement with a Japanese firm - Kajima Corporation — which shall construct two (2) buildings in Roppongi and one (1) building in Nampeidai and renovate the present Philippine Chancery in Nampeidai. The consideration of the construction would be the lease to the foreign corporation of one (1) of the buildings to be constructed in Roppongi and the two (2) buildings in Nampeidai. The other building in Roppongi shall then be used as the Philippine Embassy Chancery. At the end of the lease period, all the three leased buildings shall be occupied and used by the Philippine government. No change of ownership or title shall occur. (See Annex "B" to Reply to Comment) The Philippine government retains the title all throughout the lease period and thereafter. However, the government has not acted favorably on this proposal which is pending approval and ratification between the parties. Instead, on August 11, 1986, President Aquino created a committee to study the disposition/utilization of Philippine government properties in Tokyo and Kobe, Japan through Administrative Order No. 3, followed by Administrative Orders Numbered 3-A, B, C and D.

On July 25, 1987, the President issued Executive Order No. 296 entitling non-Filipino citizens or entities to avail of separations' capital goods and services in the event of sale, lease or disposition. The four properties in Japan including the Roppongi were specifically mentioned in the first "Whereas" clause. Amidst opposition by various sectors, the Executive branch of the government has been pushing, with great vigor, its decision to sell the reparations properties starting with the Roppongi lot. The property has twice been set for bidding at a minimum floor price of $225 million. The first bidding was a failure since only one bidder qualified. The second one, after postponements, has not yet materialized. The last scheduled bidding on February 21, 1990 was restrained by his Court. Later, the rules on bidding were changed such that the $225 million floor price became merely a suggested floor price. The Court finds that each of the herein petitions raises distinct issues. The petitioner in G.R. No. 92013 objects to the alienation of the Roppongi property to anyone while the petitioner in G.R. No. 92047 adds as a principal objection the alleged unjustified bias of the Philippine government in favor of selling the property to non-Filipino citizens and entities. These petitions have been consolidated and are resolved at the same time for the objective is the same - to stop the sale of the Roppongi property. The petitioner in G.R. No. 92013 raises the following issues: (1) Can the Roppongi property and others of its kind be alienated by the Philippine Government?; and (2) Does the Chief Executive, her officers and agents, have the authority and jurisdiction, to sell the Roppongi property? Petitioner Dionisio Ojeda in G.R. No. 92047, apart from questioning the authority of the government to alienate the Roppongi property assails the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 296 in making the property available for sale to non-Filipino citizens and entities. He also questions the bidding procedures of the Committee on the Utilization or Disposition of Philippine Government Properties in Japan for being discriminatory against Filipino citizens and Filipino-owned entities by denying them the right to be informed about the bidding requirements. II In G.R. No. 92013, petitioner Laurel asserts that the Roppongi property and the related lots were acquired as part of the reparations from the Japanese government for diplomatic and consular use by the Philippine government. Vice-President Laurel states that the Roppongi property is classified as one of public dominion, and not of private ownership under Article 420 of the Civil Code (See infra). The petitioner submits that the Roppongi property comes under "property intended for public service" in paragraph 2 of the above provision. He states that being one of public dominion, no ownership by any one can attach to it, not even by the State. The Roppongi and related properties were acquired for "sites for chancery, diplomatic, and consular quarters, buildings and other improvements" (Second Year Reparations Schedule). The petitioner states that they continue to be intended for a necessary service. They are held by the State in anticipation of an opportune use. (Citing 3 Manresa 65-66). Hence, it cannot be appropriated, is outside the commerce of man, or to put it in more simple terms, it cannot be alienated nor be the subject matter of contracts (Citing Municipality of Cavite v. Rojas, 30 Phil. 20 [1915]). Noting the non-use of the Roppongi property at the moment, the petitioner avers that the same remains property of public dominion so long as the government has not used it for other purposes nor adopted any measure constituting a removal of its original purpose or use. The respondents, for their part, refute the petitioner's contention by saying that the subject property is not governed by our Civil Code but by the laws of Japan where the property is located. They rely upon the rule of lex situs which is used in determining the applicable law regarding the acquisition, transfer and devolution of the title to a property. They also invoke Opinion No. 21, Series of 1988, dated January 27, 1988 of the Secretary of Justice which used the lex situs in explaining the inapplicability of Philippine law regarding a property situated in Japan. The respondents add that even assuming for the sake of argument that the Civil Code is applicable, the Roppongi property has ceased to become property of public dominion. It has become patrimonial property because it has not been used for public service or for diplomatic purposes for over thirteen (13) years now (Citing Article 422, Civil Code) and because the intention by the Executive Department and the Congress to convert it to private use has been manifested by overt acts, such as, among others: (1) the transfer of the Philippine Embassy to Nampeidai (2) the issuance of administrative orders for the possibility of alienating the four government properties in Japan; (3) the issuance of Executive Order No. 296; (4) the enactment by the Congress of Rep. Act No. 6657 [the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law] on June 10, 1988 which contains a provision stating that funds may be taken from the sale of Philippine properties in foreign countries; (5) the holding of the public bidding of the Roppongi property but which failed; (6) the deferment by the Senate in Resolution No. 55 of the bidding to a future date; thus an acknowledgment by the Senate of the government's intention to remove the Roppongi property from the public service purpose; and (7) the resolution of this Court dismissing the petition in Ojeda v. Bidding Committee, et al., G.R. No. 87478 which sought to enjoin the second bidding of the Roppongi property scheduled on March 30, 1989. III In G.R. No. 94047, petitioner Ojeda once more asks this Court to rule on the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 296. He had earlier filed a petition in G.R. No. 87478 which the Court dismissed on August 1, 1989. He now avers that the executive order contravenes the constitutional mandate to conserve and develop the national patrimony stated in the Preamble of the 1987 Constitution. It also allegedly violates: (1) The reservation of the ownership and acquisition of alienable lands of the public domain to Filipino citizens. (Sections 2 and 3, Article XII, Constitution; Sections 22 and 23 of Commonwealth Act 141).
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(2) The preference for Filipino citizens in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony (Section 10, Article VI, Constitution); (3) The protection given to Filipino enterprises against unfair competition and trade practices;

(4) The guarantee of the right of the people to information on all matters of public concern (Section 7, Article III, Constitution); (5) The prohibition against the sale to non-Filipino citizens or entities not wholly owned by Filipino citizens of capital goods received by the Philippines under the Reparations Act (Sections 2 and 12 of Rep. Act No. 1789); and (6) The declaration of the state policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Section 28, Article III, Constitution). Petitioner Ojeda warns that the use of public funds in the execution of an unconstitutional executive order is a misapplication of public funds He states that since the details of the bidding for the Roppongi property were never publicly disclosed until February 15, 1990 (or a few days before the scheduled bidding), the bidding guidelines are available only in Tokyo, and the accomplishment of requirements and the selection of qualified bidders should be done in Tokyo, interested Filipino citizens or entities owned by them did not have the chance to comply with Purchase Offer Requirements on the Roppongi. Worse, the Roppongi shall be sold for a minimum price of $225 million from which price capital gains tax under Japanese law of about 50 to 70% of the floor price would still be deducted. IV The petitioners and respondents in both cases do not dispute the fact that the Roppongi site and the three related properties were through reparations agreements, that these were assigned to the government sector and that the Roppongi property itself was specifically designated under the Reparations Agreement to house the Philippine Embassy. The nature of the Roppongi lot as property for public service is expressly spelled out. It is dictated by the terms of the Reparations Agreement and the corresponding contract of procurement which bind both the Philippine government and the Japanese government. There can be no doubt that it is of public dominion unless it is convincingly shown that the property has become patrimonial. This, the respondents have failed to do. As property of public dominion, the Roppongi lot is outside the commerce of man. It cannot be alienated. Its ownership is a special collective ownership for general use and enjoyment, an application to the satisfaction of collective needs, and resides in the social group. The purpose is not to serve the State as a juridical person, but the citizens; it is intended for the common and public welfare and cannot be the object of appropration. (Taken from 3 Manresa, 66-69; cited in Tolentino, Commentaries on the Civil Code of the Philippines, 1963 Edition, Vol. II, p. 26). The applicable provisions of the Civil Code are: ART. 419. Property is either of public dominion or of private ownership. ART. 420. The following things are property of public dominion (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks shores roadsteads, and others of similar character; (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. ART. 421. All other property of the State, which is not of the character stated in the preceding article, is patrimonial property. The Roppongi property is correctly classified under paragraph 2 of Article 420 of the Civil Code as property belonging to the State and intended for some public service. Has the intention of the government regarding the use of the property been changed because the lot has been Idle for some years? Has it become patrimonial? The fact that the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy service does not automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use (Cebu Oxygen and Acetylene Co. v. Bercilles, 66 SCRA 481 [1975]). A property continues to be part of the public domain, not available for private appropriation or ownership until there is a formal declaration on the part of the government to withdraw it from being such (Ignacio v. Director of Lands, 108 Phil. 335 [1960]). The respondents enumerate various pronouncements by concerned public officials insinuating a change of intention. We emphasize, however, that an abandonment of the intention to use the Roppongi property for public service and to make it patrimonial property under Article 422 of the Civil Code must be definite Abandonment cannot be inferred from the non-use alone specially if the non-use was attributable not to the government's own deliberate and indubitable will but to a lack of financial support to repair and improve the property (See Heirs of Felino Santiago v. Lazaro, 166 SCRA 368 [1988]). Abandonment must be a certain and positive act based on correct legal premises. A mere transfer of the Philippine Embassy to Nampeidai in 1976 is not relinquishment of the Roppongi property's original purpose. Even the failure by the government to repair the building in Roppongi is not abandonment since as earlier stated, there simply was a shortage of government funds. The recent Administrative Orders authorizing a study of the status and conditions of government properties in Japan were merely directives for investigation but did not in any way signify a clear intention to dispose of the properties.

Executive Order No. 296, though its title declares an "authority to sell", does not have a provision in its text expressly authorizing the sale of the four properties procured from Japan for the government sector. The executive order does not declare that the properties lost their public character. It merely intends to make the properties available to foreigners and not to Filipinos alone in case of a sale, lease or other disposition. It merely eliminates the restriction under Rep. Act No. 1789 that reparations goods may be sold only to Filipino citizens and one hundred (100%) percent Filipino-owned entities. The text of Executive Order No. 296 provides: Section 1. The provisions of Republic Act No. 1789, as amended, and of other laws to the contrary notwithstanding, the abovementioned properties can be made available for sale, lease or any other manner of disposition to non-Filipino citizens or to entities owned by non-Filipino citizens. Executive Order No. 296 is based on the wrong premise or assumption that the Roppongi and the three other properties were earlier converted into alienable real properties. As earlier stated, Rep. Act No. 1789 differentiates the procurements for the government sector and the private sector (Sections 2 and 12, Rep. Act No. 1789). Only the private sector properties can be sold to end-users who must be Filipinos or entities owned by Filipinos. It is this nationality provision which was amended by Executive Order No. 296. Section 63 (c) of Rep. Act No. 6657 (the CARP Law) which provides as one of the sources of funds for its implementation, the proceeds of the disposition of the properties of the Government in foreign countries, did not withdraw the Roppongi property from being classified as one of public dominion when it mentions Philippine properties abroad. Section 63 (c) refers to properties which are alienable and not to those reserved for public use or service. Rep Act No. 6657, therefore, does not authorize the Executive Department to sell the Roppongi property. It merely enumerates possible sources of future funding to augment (as and when needed) the Agrarian Reform Fund created under Executive Order No. 299. Obviously any property outside of the commerce of man cannot be tapped as a source of funds. The respondents try to get around the public dominion character of the Roppongi property by insisting that Japanese law and not our Civil Code should apply. It is exceedingly strange why our top government officials, of all people, should be the ones to insist that in the sale of extremely valuable government property, Japanese law and not Philippine law should prevail. The Japanese law - its coverage and effects, when enacted, and exceptions to its provision — is not presented to the Court It is simply asserted that the lex loci rei sitae or Japanese law should apply without stating what that law provides. It is a ed on faith that Japanese law would allow the sale. We see no reason why a conflict of law rule should apply when no conflict of law situation exists. A conflict of law situation arises only when: (1) There is a dispute over the title or ownership of an immovable, such that the capacity to take and transfer immovables, the formalities of conveyance, the essential validity and effect of the transfer, or the interpretation and effect of a conveyance, are to be determined (See Salonga, Private International Law, 1981 ed., pp. 377-383); and (2) A foreign law on land ownership and its conveyance is asserted to conflict with a domestic law on the same matters. Hence, the need to determine which law should apply. In the instant case, none of the above elements exists. The issues are not concerned with validity of ownership or title. There is no question that the property belongs to the Philippines. The issue is the authority of the respondent officials to validly dispose of property belonging to the State. And the validity of the procedures adopted to effect its sale. This is governed by Philippine Law. The rule of lex situs does not apply. The assertion that the opinion of the Secretary of Justice sheds light on the relevance of the lex situsrule is misplaced. The opinion does not tackle the alienability of the real properties procured through reparations nor the existence in what body of the authority to sell them. In discussing who are capableof acquiring the lots, the Secretary merely explains that it is the foreign law which should determinewho can acquire the properties so that the constitutional limitation on acquisition of lands of the public domain to Filipino citizens and entities wholly owned by Filipinos is inapplicable. We see no point in belaboring whether or not this opinion is correct. Why should we discuss who can acquire the Roppongi lot when there is no showing that it can be sold? The subsequent approval on October 4, 1988 by President Aquino of the recommendation by the investigating committee to sell the Roppongi property was premature or, at the very least, conditioned on a valid change in the public character of the Roppongi property. Moreover, the approval does not have the force and effect of law since the President already lost her legislative powers. The Congress had already convened for more than a year. Assuming for the sake of argument, however, that the Roppongi property is no longer of public dominion, there is another obstacle to its sale by the respondents. There is no law authorizing its conveyance. Section 79 (f) of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 provides Section 79 (f ) Conveyances and contracts to which the Government is a party. — In cases in which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is a party to any deed or other instrument conveying the title to real estate or to any other property the value of which is in excess of one hundred thousand pesos, the respective Department Secretary shall prepare the necessary papers which, together with the proper recommendations, shall be submitted to the Congress of the Philippines for approval by the same. Such deed, instrument, or contract shall be executed and signed by the President of the Philippines on behalf of the Government of the Philippines unless the Government of the Philippines unless the authority therefor be expressly vested by law in another officer. (Emphasis supplied) The requirement has been retained in Section 48, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292).

SEC. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. — Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) For property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer. (2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality. (Emphasis supplied) It is not for the President to convey valuable real property of the government on his or her own sole will. Any such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by the Congress. It requires executive and legislative concurrence. Resolution No. 55 of the Senate dated June 8, 1989, asking for the deferment of the sale of the Roppongi property does not withdraw the property from public domain much less authorize its sale. It is a mere resolution; it is not a formal declaration abandoning the public character of the Roppongi property. In fact, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is conducting hearings on Senate Resolution No. 734 which raises serious policy considerations and calls for a fact-finding investigation of the circumstances behind the decision to sell the Philippine government properties in Japan. The resolution of this Court in Ojeda v. Bidding Committee, et al., supra, did not pass upon the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 296. Contrary to respondents' assertion, we did not uphold the authority of the President to sell the Roppongi property. The Court stated that the constitutionality of the executive order was not the real issue and that resolving the constitutional question was "neither necessary nor finally determinative of the case." The Court noted that "[W]hat petitioner ultimately questions is the use of the proceeds of the disposition of the Roppongi property." In emphasizing that "the decision of the Executive to dispose of the Roppongi property to finance the CARP ... cannot be questioned" in view of Section 63 (c) of Rep. Act No. 6657, the Court did not acknowledge the fact that the property became alienable nor did it indicate that the President was authorized to dispose of the Roppongi property. The resolution should be read to mean that in case the Roppongi property is re-classified to be patrimonial and alienable by authority of law, the proceeds of a sale may be used for national economic development projects including the CARP. Moreover, the sale in 1989 did not materialize. The petitions before us question the proposed 1990 sale of the Roppongi property. We are resolving the issues raised in these petitions, not the issues raised in 1989. Having declared a need for a law or formal declaration to withdraw the Roppongi property from public domain to make it alienable and a need for legislative authority to allow the sale of the property, we see no compelling reason to tackle the constitutional issues raised by petitioner Ojeda. The Court does not ordinarily pass upon constitutional questions unless these questions are properly raised in appropriate cases and their resolution is necessary for the determination of the case (People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 [1937]). The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record if the case can be disposed of on some other ground such as the application of a statute or general law (Siler v. Louisville and Nashville R. Co., 213 U.S. 175, [1909], Railroad Commission v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496 [1941]). The petitioner in G.R. No. 92013 states why the Roppongi property should not be sold: The Roppongi property is not just like any piece of property. It was given to the Filipino people in reparation for the lives and blood of Filipinos who died and suffered during the Japanese military occupation, for the suffering of widows and orphans who lost their loved ones and kindred, for the homes and other properties lost by countless Filipinos during the war. The Tokyo properties are a monument to the bravery and sacrifice of the Filipino people in the face of an invader; like the monuments of Rizal, Quezon, and other Filipino heroes, we do not expect economic or financial benefits from them. But who would think of selling these monuments? Filipino honor and national dignity dictate that we keep our properties in Japan as memorials to the countless Filipinos who died and suffered. Even if we should become paupers we should not think of selling them. For it would be as if we sold the lives and blood and tears of our countrymen. (Rollo- G.R. No. 92013, p.147) The petitioner in G.R. No. 92047 also states: Roppongi is no ordinary property. It is one ceded by the Japanese government in atonement for its past belligerence for the valiant sacrifice of life and limb and for deaths, physical dislocation and economic devastation the whole Filipino people endured in World War II. It is for what it stands for, and for what it could never bring back to life, that its significance today remains undimmed, inspire of the lapse of 45 years since the war ended, inspire of the passage of 32 years since the property passed on to the Philippine government. Roppongi is a reminder that cannot — should not — be dissipated ... (Rollo-92047, p. 9) It is indeed true that the Roppongi property is valuable not so much because of the inflated prices fetched by real property in Tokyo but more so because of its symbolic value to all Filipinos — veterans and civilians alike. Whether or not the Roppongi and related properties will eventually be sold is a policy determination where both the President and Congress must concur. Considering the properties' importance and value, the laws on conversion and disposition of property of public dominion must be faithfully followed. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petitions are GRANTED. A writ of prohibition is issued enjoining the respondents from proceeding with the sale of the Roppongi property in Tokyo, Japan. The February 20, 1990 Temporary Restraining Order is made PERMANENT. SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Bidin, Griño-Aquino and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., concurring:

I concur completely with the excellent ponencia of Mr. Justice Gutierrez and will add the following observations only for emphasis. It is clear that the respondents have failed to show the President's legal authority to sell the Roppongi property. When asked to do so at the hearing on these petitions, the Solicitor General was at best ambiguous, although I must add in fairness that this was not his fault. The fact is that there is -no such authority. Legal expertise alone cannot conjure that statutory permission out of thin air. Exec. Order No. 296, which reads like so much legislative, double talk, does not contain such authority. Neither does Rep. Act No. 6657, which simply allows the proceeds of the sale of our properties abroad to be used for the comprehensive agrarian reform program. Senate Res. No. 55 was a mere request for the deferment of the scheduled sale of tile Roppongi property, possibly to stop the transaction altogether; and ill any case it is not a law. The sale of the said property may be authorized only by Congress through a duly enacted statute, and there is no such law. Once again, we have affirmed the principle that ours is a government of laws and not of men, where every public official, from the lowest to the highest, can act only by virtue of a valid authorization. I am happy to note that in the several cases where this Court has ruled against her, the President of the Philippines has submitted to this principle with becoming grace.

PADILLA, J., concurring:

I concur in the decision penned by Mr. Justice Gutierrez, Jr., I only wish to make a few observations which could help in further clarifying the issues. Under our tripartite system of government ordained by the Constitution, it is Congress that lays down or determines policies. The President executes such policies. The policies determined by Congress are embodied in legislative enactments that have to be approved by the President to become law. The President, of course, recommends to Congress the approval of policies but, in the final analysis, it is Congress that is the policy - determining branch of government. The judiciary interprets the laws and, in appropriate cases, determines whether the laws enacted by Congress and approved by the President, and presidential acts implementing such laws, are in accordance with the Constitution. The Roppongi property was acquired by the Philippine government pursuant to the reparations agreement between the Philippine and Japanese governments. Under such agreement, this property was acquired by the Philippine government for a specific purpose, namely, to serve as the site of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Consequently, Roppongi is a property of public dominion and intended for public service, squarely falling within that class of property under Art. 420 of the Civil Code, which provides: Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion : (1) ... (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. (339a) Public dominion property intended for public service cannot be alienated unless the property is first transformed into private property of the state otherwise known as patrimonial property of the state. 1The transformation of public dominion property to state patrimonial property involves, to my mind, apolicy decision. It is a policy decision because the treatment of the property varies according to its classification. Consequently, it is Congress which can decide and declare the conversion of Roppongi from a public dominion property to a state patrimonial property. Congress has made no such decision or declaration. Moreover, the sale of public property (once converted from public dominion to state patrimonial property) must be approved by Congress, for this again is a matter of policy (i.e. to keep or dispose of the property). Sec. 48, Book 1 of the Administrative Code of 1987 provides: SEC. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. — Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) For property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer.

(2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality. (Emphasis supplied) But the record is bare of any congressional decision or approval to sell Roppongi. The record is likewise bare of any congressional authority extended to the President to sell Roppongi thru public bidding or otherwise. It is therefore, clear that the President cannot sell or order the sale of Roppongi thru public bidding or otherwise without a prior congressional approval, first, converting Roppongi from a public dominion property to a state patrimonial property, and, second, authorizing the President to sell the same. ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to make PERMANENT the temporary restraining order earlier issued by this Court.

SARMIENTO, J., concurring: The central question, as I see it, is whether or not the so-called "Roppongi property' has lost its nature as property of public dominion, and hence, has become patrimonial property of the State. I understand that the parties are agreed that it was property intended for "public service" within the contemplation of paragraph (2), of Article 430, of the Civil Code, and accordingly, land of State dominion, and beyond human commerce. The lone issue is, in the light of supervening developments, that is non-user thereof by the National Government (for diplomatic purposes) for the last thirteen years; the issuance of Executive Order No. 296 making it available for sale to any interested buyer; the promulgation of Republic Act No. 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, making available for the program's financing, State assets sold; the approval by the President of the recommendation of the investigating committee formed to study the property's utilization; and the issuance of Resolution No. 55 of the Philippine Senate requesting for the deferment of its disposition it, "Roppongi", is still property of the public dominion, and if it is not, how it lost that character. When land of the public dominion ceases to be one, or when the change takes place, is a question our courts have debated early. In a 1906 decision, 1 it was held that property of the public dominion, a public plaza in this instance, becomes patrimonial upon use thereof for purposes other than a plaza. In a later case, 2 this ruling was reiterated. Likewise, it has been held that land, originally private property, has become of public dominion upon its donation to the town and its conversion and use as a public plaza. 3 It is notable that under these three cases, the character of the property, and any change occurring therein, depends on the actual use to which it is dedicated. 4 Much later, however, the Court held that "until a formal declaration on the part of the Government, through the executive department or the Legislative, to the effect that the land . . . is no longer needed for [public] service- for public use or for special industries, [it] continue[s] to be part of the public [dominion], not available for private expropriation or ownership." 5 So also, it was ruled that a political subdivision (the City of Cebu in this case) alone may declare (under its charter) a city road abandoned and thereafter, to dispose of it. 6 In holding that there is "a need for a law or formal declaration to withdraw the Roppongi property from public domain to make it alienable and a land for legislative authority to allow the sale of the property"7 the majority lays stress to the fact that: (1) An affirmative act — executive or legislative — is necessary to reclassify property of the public dominion, and (2) a legislative decree is required to make it alienable. It also clears the uncertainties brought about by earlier interpretations that the nature of property-whether public or patrimonial is predicated on the manner it is actually used, or not used, and in the same breath, repudiates the Government's position that the continuous non-use of "Roppongi", among other arguments, for "diplomatic purposes", has turned it into State patrimonial property. I feel that this view corresponds to existing pronouncements of this Court, among other things, that: (1) Property is presumed to be State property in the absence of any showing to the contrary; 8 (2) With respect to forest lands, the same continue to be lands of the public dominion unless and until reclassified by the Executive Branch of the Government; 9 and (3) All natural resources, under the Constitution, and subject to exceptional cases, belong to the State. 10 I am elated that the Court has banished previous uncertainties.

FELICIANO, J., dissenting

With regret, I find myself unable to share the conclusions reached by Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr. For purposes of this separate opinion, I assume that the piece of land located in 306 Roppongi, 5-Chome, Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan (hereinafter referred to as the "Roppongi property") may be characterized as property of public dominion, within the meaning of Article 420 (2) of the Civil Code: [Property] which belong[s] to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service -. It might not be amiss however, to note that the appropriateness of trying to bring within the confines of the simple threefold classification found in Article 420 of the Civil Code ("property for public use property "intended for some public service" and property intended "for the development of the national wealth") all property owned by the Republic of the Philippines whether found within the territorial boundaries of the Republic or located within the territory of another sovereign State, is notself-evident. The first item of the classification property intended for public use — can scarcely be properly applied to property belonging to the Republic but found within the territory of another State. The third item of the classification property intended for the development of the national wealth is illustrated, in Article 339 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, by mines or mineral properties. Again, mineral lands owned by a sovereign State are rarely, if ever, found within the territorial base of another sovereign State. The task of examining in detail the applicability

of the classification set out in Article 420 of our Civil Code to property that the Philippines happens to own outside its own boundaries must, however, be left to academicians. For present purposes, too, I agree that there is no question of conflict of laws that is, at the present time, before this Court. The issues before us relate essentially to authority to sell the Roppongi property so far as Philippine law is concerned. The majority opinion raises two (2) issues: (a) whether or not the Roppongi property has been converted into patrimonial property or property of the private domain of the State; and (b) assuming an affirmative answer to (a), whether or not there is legal authority to dispose of the Roppongi property. I Addressing the first issue of conversion of property of public dominion intended for some public service, into property of the private domain of the Republic, it should be noted that the Civil Code does not address the question of who has authority to effect such conversion. Neither does the Civil Code set out or refer to any procedure for such conversion. Our case law, however, contains some fairly explicit pronouncements on this point, as Justice Sarmiento has pointed out in his concurring opinion. In Ignacio v. Director of Lands (108 Phils. 335 [1960]), petitioner Ignacio argued that if the land in question formed part of the public domain, the trial court should have declared the same no longer necessary for public use or public purposes and which would, therefore, have become disposable and available for private ownership. Mr. Justice Montemayor, speaking for the Court, said: Article 4 of the Law of Waters of 1866 provides that when a portion of the shore is no longer washed by the waters of the sea and is not necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for coast-guard service, the government shall declare it to be the property of the owners of the estates adjacent thereto and as an increment thereof. We believe that only the executive and possibly the legislative departments have the authority and the power to make the declaration that any land so gained by the sea, is not necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for coast-guard service. If no such declaration has been made by said departments, the lot in question forms part of the public domain. (Natividad v. Director of Lands, supra.) The reason for this pronouncement, according to this Tribunal in the case of Vicente Joven y Monteverde v. Director of Lands, 93 Phil., 134 (cited in Velayo's Digest, Vol. 1, p. 52). ... is undoubtedly that the courts are neither primarily called upon, nor indeed in a position to determine whether any public land are to be used for the purposes specified in Article 4 of the Law of Waters. Consequently, until a formal declaration on the part of the Government, through the executive department or the Legislature, to the effect that the land in question is no longer needed for coast-guard service, for public use or for special industries, they continue to be part of the public domain not available for private appropriation or ownership.(108 Phil. at 338-339; emphasis supplied) Thus, under Ignacio, either the Executive Department or the Legislative Department may convert property of the State of public dominion into patrimonial property of the State. No particular formula or procedure of conversion is specified either in statute law or in case law. Article 422 of the Civil Code simply states that: "Property of public dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State". I respectfully submit, therefore, that the only requirement which is legitimately imposable is that the intent to convert must be reasonably clear from a consideration of the acts or acts of the Executive Department or of the Legislative Department which are said to have effected such conversion. The same legal situation exists in respect of conversion of property of public dominion belonging to municipal corporations, i.e., local governmental units, into patrimonial property of such entities. InCebu Oxygen Acetylene v. Bercilles (66 SCRA 481 [1975]), the City Council of Cebu by resolution declared a certain portion of an existing street as an abandoned road, "the same not being included in the city development plan". Subsequently, by another resolution, the City Council of Cebu authorized the acting City Mayor to sell the land through public bidding. Although there was no formal and explicit declaration of conversion of property for public use into patrimonial property, the Supreme Court said: xxx xxx xxx (2) Since that portion of the city street subject of petitioner's application for registration of title was withdrawn from public use, it follows that such withdrawn portion becomes patrimonial property which can be the object of an ordinary contract. Article 422 of the Civil Code expressly provides that "Property of public dominion, when no longer intended for public use of for public service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State." Besides, the Revised Charter of the City of Cebu heretofore quoted, in very clear and unequivocal terms, states that "Property thus withdrawn from public servitude may be used or conveyed for any purpose for which other real property belonging to the City may be lawfully used or conveyed." Accordingly, the withdrawal of the property in question from public use and its subsequent sale to the petitioner is valid. Hence, the petitioner has a registrable title over the lot in question. (66 SCRA at 484-; emphasis supplied) Thus, again as pointed out by Sarmiento J., in his separate opinion, in the case of property owned by municipal corporations simple non-use or the actual dedication of public property to some use other than "public use" or some "public service", was sufficient legally to convert such property into patrimonial property (Municipality of Oas v. Roa, 7 Phil. 20 [1906]- Municipality of Hinunganan v. Director of Lands 24 Phil. 124 [1913]; Province of Zamboanga del Norte v. City of Zamboanga, 22 SCRA 1334 (1968).

I would also add that such was the case not only in respect of' property of municipal corporations but also in respect of property of the State itself. Manresa in commenting on Article 341 of the 1889 Spanish Civil Code which has been carried over verbatim into our Civil Code by Article 422 thereof, wrote: La dificultad mayor en todo esto estriba, naturalmente, en fijar el momento en que los bienes de dominio publico dejan de serlo. Si la Administracion o la autoridad competente legislative realizan qun acto en virtud del cual cesa el destino o uso publico de los bienes de que se trata naturalmente la dificultad queda desde el primer momento resuelta. Hay un punto de partida cierto para iniciar las relaciones juridicas a que pudiera haber lugar Pero puede ocurrir que no haya taldeclaracion expresa, legislativa or administrativa, y, sin embargo, cesar de hecho el destino publico de los bienes; ahora bien, en este caso, y para los efectos juridicos que resultan de entrar la cosa en el comercio de los hombres,' se entedera que se ha verificado la conversion de los bienes patrimoniales? El citado tratadista Ricci opina, respecto del antiguo Codigo italiano, por la afirmativa, y por nuestra parte creemos que tal debe ser la soluciion. El destino de las cosas no depende tanto de una declaracion expresa como del uso publico de las mismas, y cuanda el uso publico cese con respecto de determinados bienes, cesa tambien su situacion en el dominio publico. Si una fortaleza en ruina se abandona y no se repara, si un trozo de la via publica se abandona tambien por constituir otro nuevo an mejores condiciones....ambos bienes cesan de estar Codigo, y leyes especiales mas o memos administrativas. (3 Manresa, Comentarios al Codigo Civil Espanol, p. 128 [7a ed.; 1952) (Emphasis supplied) The majority opinion says that none of the executive acts pointed to by the Government purported, expressly or definitely, to convert the Roppongi property into patrimonial property — of the Republic. Assuming that to be the case, it is respectfully submitted that cumulative effect of the executive acts here involved was to convert property originally intended for and devoted to public service into patrimonial property of the State, that is, property susceptible of disposition to and appropration by private persons. These executive acts, in their totality if not each individual act, make crystal clear the intent of the Executive Department to effect such conversion. These executive acts include: (a) Administrative Order No. 3 dated 11 August 1985, which created a Committee to study the disposition/utilization of the Government's property in Japan, The Committee was composed of officials of the Executive Department: the Executive Secretary; the Philippine Ambassador to Japan; and representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Asset Privatization Trust. On 19 September 1988, the Committee recommended to the President the sale of one of the lots (the lot specifically in Roppongi) through public bidding. On 4 October 1988, the President approved the recommendation of the Committee. On 14 December 1988, the Philippine Government by diplomatic note informed the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic's intention to dispose of the property in Roppongi. The Japanese Government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied that it interposed no objection to such disposition by the Republic. Subsequently, the President and the Committee informed the leaders of the House of Representatives and of the Senate of the Philippines of the proposed disposition of the Roppongi property. (b) Executive Order No. 296, which was issued by the President on 25 July 1987. Assuming that the majority opinion is right in saying that Executive Order No. 296 is insufficient to authorize the sale of the Roppongi property, it is here submitted with respect that Executive Order No. 296 is more than sufficient to indicate an intention to convert the property previously devoted to public service into patrimonial property that is capable of being sold or otherwise disposed of (c) Non-use of the Roppongi lot for fourteen (14) years for diplomatic or for any other public purposes. Assuming (but only arguendo) that non-use does not, by itself, automatically convert the property into patrimonial property. I respectfully urge that prolonged non-use, conjoined with the other factors here listed, was legally effective to convert the lot in Roppongi into patrimonial property of the State. Actually, as already pointed out, case law involving property of municipal corporations is to the effect that simple non-use or the actual dedication of public property to some use other than public use or public service, was sufficient to convert such property into patrimonial property of the local governmental entity concerned. Also as pointed out above, Manresa reached the same conclusion in respect of conversion of property of the public domain of the State into property of the private domain of the State. The majority opinion states that "abandonment cannot be inferred from the non-use alone especially if the non-use was attributable not to the Government's own deliberate and indubitable will but to lack of financial support to repair and improve the property" (Majority Opinion, p. 13). With respect, it may be stressed that there is no abandonment involved here, certainly no abandonment of property or of property rights. What is involved is the charge of the classification of the property from property of the public domain into property of the private domain of the State. Moreover, if for fourteen (14) years, the Government did not see fit to appropriate whatever funds were necessary to maintain the property in Roppongi in a condition suitable for diplomatic representation purposes, such circumstance may, with equal logic, be construed as a manifestation of the crystalizing intent to change the character of the property. (d) On 30 March 1989, a public bidding was in fact held by the Executive Department for the sale of the lot in Roppongi. The circumstance that this bidding was not successful certainly does not argue against an intent to convert the property involved into property that is disposable by bidding. The above set of events and circumstances makes no sense at all if it does not, as a whole, show at least the intent on the part of the Executive Department (with the knowledge of the Legislative Department) to convert the property involved into patrimonial property that is susceptible of being sold. II Having reached an affirmative answer in respect of the first issue, it is necessary to address the second issue of whether or not there exists legal authority for the sale or disposition of the Roppongi property. The majority opinion refers to Section 79(f) of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 which reads as follows:

SEC. 79 (f). Conveyances and contracts to which the Government is a party. — In cases in which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is a party to any deed or other instrument conveying the title to real estate or to any other property the value of which is in excess of one hundred thousand pesos, the respective Department Secretary shall prepare the necessary papers which, together with the proper recommendations, shall besubmitted to the Congress of the Philippines for approval by the same. Such deed, instrument, or contract shall be executed and signed by the President of the Philippines on behalf of the Government of the Philippines unless the authority therefor be expressly vested by law in another officer. (Emphasis supplied) The majority opinion then goes on to state that: "[T]he requirement has been retained in Section 4, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292)" which reads: SEC. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. — Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) For property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer. (2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality. (Emphasis supplied) Two points need to be made in this connection. Firstly, the requirement of obtaining specific approval of Congress when the price of the real property being disposed of is in excess of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) under the Revised Administrative Code of 1917, has been deleted from Section 48 of the 1987 Administrative Code. What Section 48 of the present Administrative Code refers to isauthorization by law for the conveyance. Section 48 does not purport to be itself a source of legal authority for conveyance of real property of the Government. For Section 48 merely specifies the official authorized to execute and sign on behalf of the Government the deed of conveyance in case of such a conveyance. Secondly, examination of our statute books shows that authorization by law for disposition of real property of the private domain of the Government, has been granted by Congress both in the form of (a) a general, standing authorization for disposition of patrimonial property of the Government; and (b) specific legislation authorizing the disposition of particular pieces of the Government's patrimonial property. Standing legislative authority for the disposition of land of the private domain of the Philippines is provided by Act No. 3038, entitled "An Act Authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources to Sell or Lease Land of the Private Domain of the Government of the Philippine Islands (now Republic of the Philippines)", enacted on 9 March 1922. The full text of this statute is as follows: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Legislature assembled and by the authority of the same: SECTION 1. The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (now Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources) is hereby authorized to sell or lease land of the private domain of the Government of the Philippine Islands, or any part thereof, to such persons, corporations or associations as are, under the provisions of Act Numbered Twenty-eight hundred and seventy-four, (now Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended) known as the Public Land Act, entitled to apply for the purchase or lease or agricultural public land. SECTION 2. The sale of the land referred to in the preceding section shall, if such land is agricultural, be made in the manner and subject to the limitations prescribed in chapters five and six, respectively, of said Public Land Act, and if it be classified differently, in conformity with the provisions of chapter nine of said Act: Provided, however, That the land necessary for the public service shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act. SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect on its approval. Approved, March 9, 1922. (Emphasis supplied) Lest it be assumed that Act No. 3038 refers only to agricultural lands of the private domain of the State, it must be noted that Chapter 9 of the old Public Land Act (Act No. 2874) is now Chapter 9 of the present Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended) and that both statutes refer to: "any tract of land of the public domain which being neither timber nor mineral land, is intended to be used for residential purposes or for commercial or industrial purposes other than agricultural" (Emphasis supplied). In other words, the statute covers the sale or lease or residential, commercial or industrial land of the private domain of the State.
i•t•c-aüsl

Implementing regulations have been issued for the carrying out of the provisions of Act No. 3038. On 21 December 1954, the then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources promulgated Lands Administrative Orders Nos. 7-6 and 7-7 which were entitled, respectively: "Supplementary Regulations Governing the Sale of the Lands of the Private Domain of the Republic of the Philippines"; and "Supplementary Regulations Governing the Lease of Lands of Private Domain of the Republic of the Philippines" (text in 51 O.G. 28-29 [1955]). It is perhaps well to add that Act No. 3038, although now sixty-eight (68) years old, is still in effect and has not been repealed. 1 Specific legislative authorization for disposition of particular patrimonial properties of the State is illustrated by certain earlier statutes. The first of these was Act No. 1120, enacted on 26 April 1904, which provided for the disposition of the friar lands, purchased by the Government from the Roman Catholic Church, to bona fide settlers and occupants thereof or to other persons. In Jacinto v. Director of Lands (49 Phil. 853 [1926]), these friar lands were held to be private and patrimonial properties of the State. Act No. 2360, enacted on -28 February 1914, authorized the sale of the San Lazaro Estatelocated in the City of Manila, which had also been purchased by the Government from the Roman Catholic Church. In January 1916, Act No. 2555

amended Act No. 2360 by including therein all lands and buildings owned by the Hospital and the Foundation of San Lazaro theretofor leased by private persons, and which were also acquired by the Philippine Government. After the enactment in 1922 of Act No. 3038, there appears, to my knowledge, to be only one statute authorizing the President to dispose of a specific piece of property. This statute is Republic Act No. 905, enacted on 20 June 1953, which authorized the President to sell an Identified parcel of land of the private domain of the National Government to the National Press Club of the Philippines, and to other recognized national associations of professionals with academic standing, for the nominal price of P1.00. It appears relevant to note that Republic Act No. 905 was not an outright disposition in perpetuity of the property involved- it provided for reversion of the property to the National Government in case the National Press Club stopped using it for its headquarters. What Republic Act No. 905 authorized was really a donation, and not a sale. The basic submission here made is that Act No. 3038 provides standing legislative authorization for disposition of the Roppongi property which, in my view, has been converted into patrimonial property of the Republic. 2 To some, the submission that Act No. 3038 applies not only to lands of the private domain of the State located in the Philippines but also to patrimonial property found outside the Philippines, may appear strange or unusual. I respectfully submit that such position is not any more unusual or strange than the assumption that Article 420 of the Civil Code applies not only to property of the Republic located within Philippine territory but also to property found outside the boundaries of the Republic. It remains to note that under the well-settled doctrine that heads of Executive Departments are alter egos of the President (Villena v. Secretary of the Interior, 67 Phil. 451 [1939]), and in view of the constitutional power of control exercised by the President over department heads (Article VII, Section 17,1987 Constitution), the President herself may carry out the function or duty that is specifically lodged in the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Araneta v. Gatmaitan 101 Phil. 328 [1957]). At the very least, the President retains the power to approve or disapprove the exercise of that function or duty when done by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources. It is hardly necessary to add that the foregoing analyses and submissions relate only to the austere question of existence of legal power or authority. They have nothing to do with much debated questions of wisdom or propriety or relative desirability either of the proposed disposition itself or of the proposed utilization of the anticipated proceeds of the property involved. These latter types of considerations He within the sphere of responsibility of the political departments of government the Executive and the Legislative authorities. For all the foregoing, I vote to dismiss the Petitions for Prohibition in both G.R. Nos. 92013 and 92047.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Gancayco, Cortes and Medialdea, JJ., concurring.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., concurring:

I concur completely with the excellent ponencia of Mr. Justice Gutierrez and will add the following observations only for emphasis. It is clear that the respondents have failed to show the President's legal authority to sell the Roppongi property. When asked to do so at the hearing on these petitions, the Solicitor General was at best ambiguous, although I must add in fairness that this was not his fault. The fact is that there is -no such authority. Legal expertise alone cannot conjure that statutory permission out of thin air. Exec. Order No. 296, which reads like so much legislative, double talk, does not contain such authority. Neither does Rep. Act No. 6657, which simply allows the proceeds of the sale of our properties abroad to be used for the comprehensive agrarian reform program. Senate Res. No. 55 was a mere request for the deferment of the scheduled sale of tile Roppongi property, possibly to stop the transaction altogether; and ill any case it is not a law. The sale of the said property may be authorized only by Congress through a duly enacted statute, and there is no such law. Once again, we have affirmed the principle that ours is a government of laws and not of men, where every public official, from the lowest to the highest, can act only by virtue of a valid authorization. I am happy to note that in the several cases where this Court has ruled against her, the President of the Philippines has submitted to this principle with becoming grace.

PADILLA, J., concurring:

I concur in the decision penned by Mr. Justice Gutierrez, Jr., I only wish to make a few observations which could help in further clarifying the issues. Under our tripartite system of government ordained by the Constitution, it is Congress that lays down or determines policies. The President executes such policies. The policies determined by Congress are embodied in legislative enactments that have to be approved by the President to become law. The President, of course, recommends to Congress the approval of policies but, in the final analysis, it is Congress that is the policy - determining branch of government.

The judiciary interprets the laws and, in appropriate cases, determines whether the laws enacted by Congress and approved by the President, and presidential acts implementing such laws, are in accordance with the Constitution. The Roppongi property was acquired by the Philippine government pursuant to the reparations agreement between the Philippine and Japanese governments. Under such agreement, this property was acquired by the Philippine government for a specific purpose, namely, to serve as the site of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Consequently, Roppongi is a property of public dominion and intended for public service, squarely falling within that class of property under Art. 420 of the Civil Code, which provides: Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion : (1) ... (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. (339a) Public dominion property intended for public service cannot be alienated unless the property is first transformed into private property of the state otherwise known as patrimonial property of the state. 1The transformation of public dominion property to state patrimonial property involves, to my mind, apolicy decision. It is a policy decision because the treatment of the property varies according to its classification. Consequently, it is Congress which can decide and declare the conversion of Roppongi from a public dominion property to a state patrimonial property. Congress has made no such decision or declaration. Moreover, the sale of public property (once converted from public dominion to state patrimonial property) must be approved by Congress, for this again is a matter of policy (i.e. to keep or dispose of the property). Sec. 48, Book 1 of the Administrative Code of 1987 provides: SEC. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. — Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) For property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer. (2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality. (Emphasis supplied) But the record is bare of any congressional decision or approval to sell Roppongi. The record is likewise bare of any congressional authority extended to the President to sell Roppongi thru public bidding or otherwise. It is therefore, clear that the President cannot sell or order the sale of Roppongi thru public bidding or otherwise without a prior congressional approval, first, converting Roppongi from a public dominion property to a state patrimonial property, and, second, authorizing the President to sell the same. ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to make PERMANENT the temporary restraining order earlier issued by this Court.

SARMIENTO, J., concurring:

The central question, as I see it, is whether or not the so-called "Roppongi property' has lost its nature as property of public dominion, and hence, has become patrimonial property of the State. I understand that the parties are agreed that it was property intended for "public service" within the contemplation of paragraph (2), of Article 430, of the Civil Code, and accordingly, land of State dominion, and beyond human commerce. The lone issue is, in the light of supervening developments, that is non-user thereof by the National Government (for diplomatic purposes) for the last thirteen years; the issuance of Executive Order No. 296 making it available for sale to any interested buyer; the promulgation of Republic Act No. 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, making available for the program's financing, State assets sold; the approval by the President of the recommendation of the investigating committee formed to study the property's utilization; and the issuance of Resolution No. 55 of the Philippine Senate requesting for the deferment of its disposition it, "Roppongi", is still property of the public dominion, and if it is not, how it lost that character. When land of the public dominion ceases to be one, or when the change takes place, is a question our courts have debated early. In a 1906 decision, 1 it was held that property of the public dominion, a public plaza in this instance, becomes patrimonial upon use thereof for purposes other than a plaza. In a later case, 2 this ruling was reiterated. Likewise, it has been held that land, originally private property, has become of public dominion upon its donation to the town and its conversion and use as a public plaza. 3 It is notable that under these three cases, the character of the property, and any change occurring therein, depends on the actual use to which it is dedicated. 4 Much later, however, the Court held that "until a formal declaration on the part of the Government, through the executive department or the Legislative, to the effect that the land . . . is no longer needed for [public] service- for public use or for special industries, [it] continue[s] to be part of the public [dominion], not available for private expropriation or ownership." 5 So also, it was ruled that a political subdivision (the City of Cebu in this case) alone may declare (under its charter) a city road abandoned and thereafter, to dispose of it. 6 In holding that there is "a need for a law or formal declaration to withdraw the Roppongi property from public domain to make it alienable and a land for legislative authority to allow the sale of the property"7 the majority lays stress to the fact that: (1) An affirmative act — executive or legislative — is necessary to reclassify property of the public dominion, and (2) a legislative decree is required to make it alienable. It also clears the uncertainties

brought about by earlier interpretations that the nature of property-whether public or patrimonial is predicated on the manner it is actually used, or not used, and in the same breath, repudiates the Government's position that the continuous non-use of "Roppongi", among other arguments, for "diplomatic purposes", has turned it into State patrimonial property. I feel that this view corresponds to existing pronouncements of this Court, among other things, that: (1) Property is presumed to be State property in the absence of any showing to the contrary; 8 (2) With respect to forest lands, the same continue to be lands of the public dominion unless and until reclassified by the Executive Branch of the Government; 9 and (3) All natural resources, under the Constitution, and subject to exceptional cases, belong to the State. 10 I am elated that the Court has banished previous uncertainties.

FELICIANO, J., dissenting

With regret, I find myself unable to share the conclusions reached by Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr. For purposes of this separate opinion, I assume that the piece of land located in 306 Roppongi, 5-Chome, Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan (hereinafter referred to as the "Roppongi property") may be characterized as property of public dominion, within the meaning of Article 420 (2) of the Civil Code: [Property] which belong[s] to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service -. It might not be amiss however, to note that the appropriateness of trying to bring within the confines of the simple threefold classification found in Article 420 of the Civil Code ("property for public use property "intended for some public service" and property intended "for the development of the national wealth") all property owned by the Republic of the Philippines whether found within the territorial boundaries of the Republic or located within the territory of another sovereign State, is notself-evident. The first item of the classification property intended for public use — can scarcely be properly applied to property belonging to the Republic but found within the territory of another State. The third item of the classification property intended for the development of the national wealth is illustrated, in Article 339 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, by mines or mineral properties. Again, mineral lands owned by a sovereign State are rarely, if ever, found within the territorial base of another sovereign State. The task of examining in detail the applicability of the classification set out in Article 420 of our Civil Code to property that the Philippines happens to own outside its own boundaries must, however, be left to academicians. For present purposes, too, I agree that there is no question of conflict of laws that is, at the present time, before this Court. The issues before us relate essentially to authority to sell the Roppongi property so far as Philippine law is concerned. The majority opinion raises two (2) issues: (a) whether or not the Roppongi property has been converted into patrimonial property or property of the private domain of the State; and (b) assuming an affirmative answer to (a), whether or not there is legal authority to dispose of the Roppongi property. I Addressing the first issue of conversion of property of public dominion intended for some public service, into property of the private domain of the Republic, it should be noted that the Civil Code does not address the question of who has authority to effect such conversion. Neither does the Civil Code set out or refer to any procedure for such conversion. Our case law, however, contains some fairly explicit pronouncements on this point, as Justice Sarmiento has pointed out in his concurring opinion. In Ignacio v. Director of Lands (108 Phils. 335 [1960]), petitioner Ignacio argued that if the land in question formed part of the public domain, the trial court should have declared the same no longer necessary for public use or public purposes and which would, therefore, have become disposable and available for private ownership. Mr. Justice Montemayor, speaking for the Court, said: Article 4 of the Law of Waters of 1866 provides that when a portion of the shore is no longer washed by the waters of the sea and is not necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for coast-guard service, the government shall declare it to be the property of the owners of the estates adjacent thereto and as an increment thereof. We believe that only the executive and possibly the legislative departments have the authority and the power to make the declaration that any land so gained by the sea, is not necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for coast-guard service. If no such declaration has been made by said departments, the lot in question forms part of the public domain. (Natividad v. Director of Lands, supra.) The reason for this pronouncement, according to this Tribunal in the case of Vicente Joven y Monteverde v. Director of Lands, 93 Phil., 134 (cited in Velayo's Digest, Vol. 1, p. 52). ... is undoubtedly that the courts are neither primarily called upon, nor indeed in a position to determine whether any public land are to be used for the purposes specified in Article 4 of the Law of Waters. Consequently, until a formal declaration on the part of the Government, through the executive department or the Legislature, to the effect that the land in question is no longer needed for coast-guard service, for public use or for special industries, they continue to be part of the public domain not available for private appropriation or ownership.(108 Phil. at 338-339; emphasis supplied) Thus, under Ignacio, either the Executive Department or the Legislative Department may convert property of the State of public dominion into patrimonial property of the State. No particular formula or procedure of conversion is specified either in statute law or in case law. Article 422 of the Civil Code simply states that: "Property of public dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public service, shall form part of the patrimonial

property of the State". I respectfully submit, therefore, that the only requirement which is legitimately imposable is that the intent to convert must be reasonably clear from a consideration of the acts or acts of the Executive Department or of the Legislative Department which are said to have effected such conversion. The same legal situation exists in respect of conversion of property of public dominion belonging to municipal corporations, i.e., local governmental units, into patrimonial property of such entities. InCebu Oxygen Acetylene v. Bercilles (66 SCRA 481 [1975]), the City Council of Cebu by resolution declared a certain portion of an existing street as an abandoned road, "the same not being included in the city development plan". Subsequently, by another resolution, the City Council of Cebu authorized the acting City Mayor to sell the land through public bidding. Although there was no formal and explicit declaration of conversion of property for public use into patrimonial property, the Supreme Court said: xxx xxx xxx (2) Since that portion of the city street subject of petitioner's application for registration of title was withdrawn from public use, it follows that such withdrawn portion becomes patrimonial property which can be the object of an ordinary contract. Article 422 of the Civil Code expressly provides that "Property of public dominion, when no longer intended for public use of for public service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State." Besides, the Revised Charter of the City of Cebu heretofore quoted, in very clear and unequivocal terms, states that "Property thus withdrawn from public servitude may be used or conveyed for any purpose for which other real property belonging to the City may be lawfully used or conveyed." Accordingly, the withdrawal of the property in question from public use and its subsequent sale to the petitioner is valid. Hence, the petitioner has a registrable title over the lot in question. (66 SCRA at 484-; emphasis supplied) Thus, again as pointed out by Sarmiento J., in his separate opinion, in the case of property owned by municipal corporations simple non-use or the actual dedication of public property to some use other than "public use" or some "public service", was sufficient legally to convert such property into patrimonial property (Municipality of Oas v. Roa, 7 Phil. 20 [1906]- Municipality of Hinunganan v. Director of Lands 24 Phil. 124 [1913]; Province of Zamboanga del Norte v. City of Zamboanga, 22 SCRA 1334 (1968). I would also add that such was the case not only in respect of' property of municipal corporations but also in respect of property of the State itself. Manresa in commenting on Article 341 of the 1889 Spanish Civil Code which has been carried over verbatim into our Civil Code by Article 422 thereof, wrote: La dificultad mayor en todo esto estriba, naturalmente, en fijar el momento en que los bienes de dominio publico dejan de serlo. Si la Administracion o la autoridad competente legislative realizan qun acto en virtud del cual cesa el destino o uso publico de los bienes de que se trata naturalmente la dificultad queda desde el primer momento resuelta. Hay un punto de partida cierto para iniciar las relaciones juridicas a que pudiera haber lugar Pero puede ocurrir que no haya taldeclaracion expresa, legislativa or administrativa, y, sin embargo, cesar de hecho el destino publico de los bienes; ahora bien, en este caso, y para los efectos juridicos que resultan de entrar la cosa en el comercio de los hombres,' se entedera que se ha verificado la conversion de los bienes patrimoniales? El citado tratadista Ricci opina, respecto del antiguo Codigo italiano, por la afirmativa, y por nuestra parte creemos que tal debe ser la soluciion. El destino de las cosas no depende tanto de una declaracion expresa como del uso publico de las mismas, y cuanda el uso publico cese con respecto de determinados bienes, cesa tambien su situacion en el dominio publico. Si una fortaleza en ruina se abandona y no se repara, si un trozo de la via publica se abandona tambien por constituir otro nuevo an mejores condiciones....ambos bienes cesan de estar Codigo, y leyes especiales mas o memos administrativas. (3 Manresa, Comentarios al Codigo Civil Espanol, p. 128 [7a ed.; 1952) (Emphasis supplied) The majority opinion says that none of the executive acts pointed to by the Government purported, expressly or definitely, to convert the Roppongi property into patrimonial property — of the Republic. Assuming that to be the case, it is respectfully submitted that cumulative effect of the executive acts here involved was to convert property originally intended for and devoted to public service into patrimonial property of the State, that is, property susceptible of disposition to and appropration by private persons. These executive acts, in their totality if not each individual act, make crystal clear the intent of the Executive Department to effect such conversion. These executive acts include: (a) Administrative Order No. 3 dated 11 August 1985, which created a Committee to study the disposition/utilization of the Government's property in Japan, The Committee was composed of officials of the Executive Department: the Executive Secretary; the Philippine Ambassador to Japan; and representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Asset Privatization Trust. On 19 September 1988, the Committee recommended to the President the sale of one of the lots (the lot specifically in Roppongi) through public bidding. On 4 October 1988, the President approved the recommendation of the Committee. On 14 December 1988, the Philippine Government by diplomatic note informed the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic's intention to dispose of the property in Roppongi. The Japanese Government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied that it interposed no objection to such disposition by the Republic. Subsequently, the President and the Committee informed the leaders of the House of Representatives and of the Senate of the Philippines of the proposed disposition of the Roppongi property. (b) Executive Order No. 296, which was issued by the President on 25 July 1987. Assuming that the majority opinion is right in saying that Executive Order No. 296 is insufficient to authorize the sale of the Roppongi property, it is here submitted with respect that Executive Order No. 296 is more than sufficient to indicate an intention to convert the property previously devoted to public service into patrimonial property that is capable of being sold or otherwise disposed of

(c) Non-use of the Roppongi lot for fourteen (14) years for diplomatic or for any other public purposes. Assuming (but only arguendo) that non-use does not, by itself, automatically convert the property into patrimonial property. I respectfully urge that prolonged non-use, conjoined with the other factors here listed, was legally effective to convert the lot in Roppongi into patrimonial property of the State. Actually, as already pointed out, case law involving property of municipal corporations is to the effect that simple non-use or the actual dedication of public property to some use other than public use or public service, was sufficient to convert such property into patrimonial property of the local governmental entity concerned. Also as pointed out above, Manresa reached the same conclusion in respect of conversion of property of the public domain of the State into property of the private domain of the State. The majority opinion states that "abandonment cannot be inferred from the non-use alone especially if the non-use was attributable not to the Government's own deliberate and indubitable will but to lack of financial support to repair and improve the property" (Majority Opinion, p. 13). With respect, it may be stressed that there is no abandonment involved here, certainly no abandonment of property or of property rights. What is involved is the charge of the classification of the property from property of the public domain into property of the private domain of the State. Moreover, if for fourteen (14) years, the Government did not see fit to appropriate whatever funds were necessary to maintain the property in Roppongi in a condition suitable for diplomatic representation purposes, such circumstance may, with equal logic, be construed as a manifestation of the crystalizing intent to change the character of the property. (d) On 30 March 1989, a public bidding was in fact held by the Executive Department for the sale of the lot in Roppongi. The circumstance that this bidding was not successful certainly does not argue against an intent to convert the property involved into property that is disposable by bidding. The above set of events and circumstances makes no sense at all if it does not, as a whole, show at least the intent on the part of the Executive Department (with the knowledge of the Legislative Department) to convert the property involved into patrimonial property that is susceptible of being sold.

II
Having reached an affirmative answer in respect of the first issue, it is necessary to address the second issue of whether or not there exists legal authority for the sale or disposition of the Roppongi property. The majority opinion refers to Section 79(f) of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 which reads as follows: SEC. 79 (f). Conveyances and contracts to which the Government is a party. — In cases in which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is a party to any deed or other instrument conveying the title to real estate or to any other property the value of which is in excess of one hundred thousand pesos, the respective Department Secretary shall prepare the necessary papers which, together with the proper recommendations, shall besubmitted to the Congress of the Philippines for approval by the same. Such deed, instrument, or contract shall be executed and signed by the President of the Philippines on behalf of the Government of the Philippines unless the authority therefor be expressly vested by law in another officer. (Emphasis supplied) The majority opinion then goes on to state that: "[T]he requirement has been retained in Section 4, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292)" which reads: SEC. 48. Official Authorized to Convey Real Property. — Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) For property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer. (2) For property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality. (Emphasis supplied) Two points need to be made in this connection. Firstly, the requirement of obtaining specific approval of Congress when the price of the real property being disposed of is in excess of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) under the Revised Administrative Code of 1917, has been deleted from Section 48 of the 1987 Administrative Code. What Section 48 of the present Administrative Code refers to isauthorization by law for the conveyance. Section 48 does not purport to be itself a source of legal authority for conveyance of real property of the Government. For Section 48 merely specifies the official authorized to execute and sign on behalf of the Government the deed of conveyance in case of such a conveyance. Secondly, examination of our statute books shows that authorization by law for disposition of real property of the private domain of the Government, has been granted by Congress both in the form of (a) a general, standing authorization for disposition of patrimonial property of the Government; and (b) specific legislation authorizing the disposition of particular pieces of the Government's patrimonial property. Standing legislative authority for the disposition of land of the private domain of the Philippines is provided by Act No. 3038, entitled "An Act Authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources to Sell or Lease Land of the Private Domain of the Government of the Philippine Islands (now Republic of the Philippines)", enacted on 9 March 1922. The full text of this statute is as follows: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Legislature assembled and by the authority of the same: SECTION 1. The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (now Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources) is hereby authorized to sell or lease land of the private domain of the Government of the Philippine Islands, or any part thereof, to such persons, corporations or associations as are, under the provisions of Act Numbered Twenty-eight hundred and seventy-four, (now

Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended) known as the Public Land Act, entitled to apply for the purchase or lease or agricultural public land. SECTION 2. The sale of the land referred to in the preceding section shall, if such land is agricultural, be made in the manner and subject to the limitations prescribed in chapters five and six, respectively, of said Public Land Act, and if it be classified differently, in conformity with the provisions of chapter nine of said Act: Provided, however, That the land necessary for the public service shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act. SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect on its approval. Approved, March 9, 1922. (Emphasis supplied) Lest it be assumed that Act No. 3038 refers only to agricultural lands of the private domain of the State, it must be noted that Chapter 9 of the old Public Land Act (Act No. 2874) is now Chapter 9 of the present Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended) and that both statutes refer to: "any tract of land of the public domain which being neither timber nor mineral land, is intended to be used for residential purposes or for commercial or industrial purposes other than agricultural" (Emphasis supplied). In other words, the statute covers the sale or lease or residential, commercial or industrial land of the private domain of the State. Implementing regulations have been issued for the carrying out of the provisions of Act No. 3038. On 21 December 1954, the then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources promulgated Lands Administrative Orders Nos. 7-6 and 7-7 which were entitled, respectively: "Supplementary Regulations Governing the Sale of the Lands of the Private Domain of the Republic of the Philippines"; and "Supplementary Regulations Governing the Lease of Lands of Private Domain of the Republic of the Philippines" (text in 51 O.G. 28-29 [1955]). It is perhaps well to add that Act No. 3038, although now sixty-eight (68) years old, is still in effect and has not been repealed. 1 Specific legislative authorization for disposition of particular patrimonial properties of the State is illustrated by certain earlier statutes. The first of these was Act No. 1120, enacted on 26 April 1904, which provided for the disposition of the friar lands, purchased by the Government from the Roman Catholic Church, to bona fide settlers and occupants thereof or to other persons. In Jacinto v. Director of Lands (49 Phil. 853 [1926]), these friar lands were held to be private and patrimonial properties of the State. Act No. 2360, enacted on -28 February 1914, authorized the sale of the San Lazaro Estatelocated in the City of Manila, which had also been purchased by the Government from the Roman Catholic Church. In January 1916, Act No. 2555 amended Act No. 2360 by including therein all lands and buildings owned by the Hospital and the Foundation of San Lazaro theretofor leased by private persons, and which were also acquired by the Philippine Government. After the enactment in 1922 of Act No. 3038, there appears, to my knowledge, to be only one statute authorizing the President to dispose of a specific piece of property. This statute is Republic Act No. 905, enacted on 20 June 1953, which authorized the President to sell an Identified parcel of land of the private domain of the National Government to the National Press Club of the Philippines, and to other recognized national associations of professionals with academic standing, for the nominal price of P1.00. It appears relevant to note that Republic Act No. 905 was not an outright disposition in perpetuity of the property involved- it provided for reversion of the property to the National Government in case the National Press Club stopped using it for its headquarters. What Republic Act No. 905 authorized was really a donation, and not a sale. The basic submission here made is that Act No. 3038 provides standing legislative authorization for disposition of the Roppongi property which, in my view, has been converted into patrimonial property of the Republic. 2 To some, the submission that Act No. 3038 applies not only to lands of the private domain of the State located in the Philippines but also to patrimonial property found outside the Philippines, may appear strange or unusual. I respectfully submit that such position is not any more unusual or strange than the assumption that Article 420 of the Civil Code applies not only to property of the Republic located within Philippine territory but also to property found outside the boundaries of the Republic. It remains to note that under the well-settled doctrine that heads of Executive Departments are alter egos of the President (Villena v. Secretary of the Interior, 67 Phil. 451 [1939]), and in view of the constitutional power of control exercised by the President over department heads (Article VII, Section 17,1987 Constitution), the President herself may carry out the function or duty that is specifically lodged in the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Araneta v. Gatmaitan 101 Phil. 328 [1957]). At the very least, the President retains the power to approve or disapprove the exercise of that function or duty when done by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources. It is hardly necessary to add that the foregoing analyses and submissions relate only to the austere question of existence of legal power or authority. They have nothing to do with much debated questions of wisdom or propriety or relative desirability either of the proposed disposition itself or of the proposed utilization of the anticipated proceeds of the property involved. These latter types of considerations He within the sphere of responsibility of the political departments of government the Executive and the Legislative authorities. For all the foregoing, I vote to dismiss the Petitions for Prohibition in both G.R. Nos. 92013 and 92047.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Gancayco, Cortes and Medialdea, JJ., concurring.

Property 2: G.R. No. L-5897

April 23, 1954

KING MAU WU, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FRANCISCO SYCIP, defendant-appellant.

I.C. Monsod for appellant. J.A. Wolfson and P. P. Gallardo for appellee.

PADILLA, J.:

This is an action to collect P59,082.92, together with lawful interests from 14 October 1947, the date of the written demand for payment, and costs. The claim arises out of a shipment of 1,000 tons of coconut oil emulsion sold by the plaintiff, as agent of the defendant, to Jas. Maxwell Fassett, who in turn assigned it to Fortrade Corporation. Under an agency agreement set forth in a letter dated 7 November 1946 in New York addressed to the defendant and accepted by the latter on the 22nd day of the same month, the plaintiff was made the exclusive agent of the defendant in the sale of coconut oil and its derivatives outside the Philippines and was to be paid 2 1/2 per cent on the total actual sale price of sales obtained through his efforts in addition thereto 50 per cent of the difference between the authorized sale price and the actual sale price. After the trial where the depositions of the plaintiff and of Jas. Maxwell Fassett and several letters in connection therewith were introduced and the testimony of the defendant was heard, the Court rendered judgment as prayed for in the complaint. A motion for reconsideration was denied. A motion for a new trial was filed, supported by the defendant's affidavit, based on newly discovered evidence which consists of a duplicate original of a letter dated 16 October 1946 covering the sale of 1,000 tons of coconut oil soap emulsion signed by Jas. Maxwell Fassett assigned by the latter to the defendant; the letter of credit No. 20122 of the Chemical Bank & Trust Company in favor of Jas. Maxwell Fassett assigned by the latter to the defendant; and a letter dated 16 December 1946 by the Fortrade Corporation to Jas. Maxwell Fassett accepted it on 24 December 1946, all of which documents, according to the defendant, could not be produced at the trial, despite the use of reasonable diligence, and if produced they would alter the result of the controversy. The motion for new trial was denied. The defendant is appealing from said judgment. Both parties agreed that the only transaction or sale made by the plaintiff, as agent of the defendant, was that of 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion f.o.b. in Manila, Philippines, to Jas. Maxwell Fassett, in whose favor letter of credit No. 20112 of the Chemical Bank & Trust Company for a sum not to exceed $400,000 was established and who assigned to Fortrade Corporation his fight to the 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion and in the defendant the letter of credit referred to for a sum not to exceed $400,000. The plaintiff claims that for that sale he is entitled under the agency contract dated 7 November 1946 and accepted by the defendant on 22 November of the same year to a commission of 2 1/2 per cent on the total actual sale price of 1,000 tons of coconut oil emulsion, part of which has been paid by the defendant, there being only a balance of $3,794.94 for commission due and unpaid on the last shipment of 379.494 tons and 50 per cent of the difference between the authorized sale price of $350 per ton and the actual selling price of $400 per ton, which amounts to $25,000 due and unpaid, and $746.52 for interest from 14 October 1947, the date of the written demand. The defendant, on the other hand, contends that the transaction for the sale of 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion was not covered by the agency contract of 22 November 1946 because it was agreed upon on 16 October 1946; that it was an independent and separate transaction for which the plaintiff has been duly compensated. The contention is not borne out by the evidence. The plaintiff and his witness depose that there were several drafts of documents or letter prepared by Jas. Maxwell Fassett preparatory or leading to the execution of the agency agreement of 7 November 1946, which was accepted by the defendant on 22 November 1946, and that the letter, on which the defendant bases his contention that the transaction on the 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion was not covered by the agency agreement, was one of those letters. That is believable. The letter upon which defendant relies for his defense does not stipulate on the commission to be paid to the plaintiff as agent, and yet if he paid the plaintiff a 2 1/2 per cent commission on the first three coconut oil emulsion shipments, there is no reason why he should not pay him the same commission on the last shipment amounting to $3,794.94. There can be no doubt that the sale of 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion was not a separate and independent contract from that of the agency agreement on 7 November and accepted on 22 November 1946 by the defendant, because in a letter dated 2 January 1947 addressed to the plaintiff, referring to the transaction of 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion, the defendant says — . . . I am doing everything possible to fulfill these 1,000 tons of emulsion, and until such time that we completed this order I do not feel it very sensible on my part to accept any more orders. I want to prove to Fortrade, yourself and other people that we deliver our goods. Regarding your commission, it is understood to be 2 1/2 per cent of all prices quoted by me plus 50-50 on over price. (Schedule B.) In another letter dated 16 January 1957 to the plaintiff, speaking of the same transaction, the defendant says — As per our understanding when I was in the States the overprice is subject to any increase in the cost of production. I am not trying to make things difficult for you and I shall give you your 2 1/2 per cent commission plus our overprice provided you can give me substantial order in order for me to amortize my loss on this first deal. Unless such could be arranged I shall remit to you for the present your commission upon collection from the bank. (Schedule C.) In a telegram sent by the defendant to the plaintiff the former says — . . . Your money pending stop understand you authorized some local attorneys and my relatives to intervene your behalf. (Schedule D.) The defendant's claim that the agreement for the sale of the 1,000 metric tons of coconut oil emulsion was agreed upon in a document, referring to the letter of 16 October 1946, is again disproved by his letter dated 2 December 1946 to Fortrade Corporation where he says: The purpose of this letter is to confirm in final form the oral agreement which we have heretofore reached, as between ourselves, during the course of various conversations between us and our respective representatives upon the subject matter of this letter.

It is understood that I am to sell to you, and you are to purchase from me, 1,000 tons of coconut oil soap emulsion at a price of $400. per metric ton, i.e. 2,204.6 pounds, F.O.B. shipboard, Manila, P.I. (Exhibit S, Special. Emphasis supplied.) The contention that as the contract was executed in New York, the Court of First Instance of Manila has no jurisdiction over this case, is without merit, because a non-resident may sue a resident in the courts of this country1 where the defendant may be summoned and his property leviable upon execution in the case of a favorable, final and executory judgment. It is a personal action for the collection of a sum of money which the Courts of First Instance have jurisdiction to try and decide. There is no conflict of laws involved in the case, because it is only a question of enforcing an obligation created by or arising from contract; and unless the enforcement of the contract be against public policy of the forum, it must be enforced. The plaintiff is entitled to collect P7,589.88 for commission and P50,000 for one-half of the overprice, or a total of P57,589.88, lawful interests thereon from the date of the filing of the complaint, and costs in both instances. As thus modified the judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs against the appellant.
Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo, Bautista Angelo, and Concepcion, JJ., concur.